Friday, August 29, 2008

Our Olympics performance

After the debacle comes the blame game, very typical of our "damaged" culture. Sports officials point to each other, even congressmen want to investigate.

Today I am publishing a very good analysis of the Philippine non-performance in the recently concluded Beijing Olympics. It is written by Mario Taguiwalo, former Undersecretary of Health in the Aquino presidency, who has distinguished himself among former senior government officials for his keen appreciation of the governance issues that bedevil most every aspect of life in these benighted isles. Here is his take on yet another dashed dream for the elusive Olympiad recognition:


The 2008 Beijing Olympics is over. Let us examine Philippine performance at the Olympics level.

Outcomes were poor.

A total of 15 Filipino athletes competed in 17 events. Twelve of our athletes qualified for 14 events, while three athletes were wild cards entered as part of mandatory participation. Our contestants in shooting, archery, boxing, and taekwondo were all eliminated in their first matches. None of our swimmers and divers progressed to the semi-finals. Our wild cards in men’s and women’s long jump and weightlifting did no better than our qualifiers, or rather our qualifiers did no better than our wild cards. All our contestants ended up at the bottom half of the international field despite their already being the result of national selection and focused attention and effort. Our country did not qualify to participate in any team sport like basketball, volleyball or football. This is already the third Olympics where we did not get any medal, representing a 12-year medal drought. The gaps between world record performance and national record performance in many sports are widening rather than narrowing.

Why would this matter?

If you see any medal awarding ceremony you will understand why this matters. A gold medal performance by one’s countryman in an Olympic event is accompanied by the playing of one’s national anthem while the nation’s flag is raised. We can only imagine the unique power of this symbolic event as far as a nation’s pride, unity and sense of achievement are concerned. Olympic achievement seems to have the power to validate or affirm a nation’s idea of itself as a good, capable and achieving community. It is hard for us Filipinos to imagine how winning a gold medal would benefit our nation but it is clear to many other nations of the world that winning at the Olympics matters a lot to their people.

An Australian expert estimated that it cost his country up to $100 million for each of the 13 gold medals his country won at the Beijing Olympics. Whatever might be the actual monetary cost of achieving every country’s medal harvest, it seems that many nations find the effort worth whatever they are spending on it. Why might this be so?

I think there are two basic benefits from Olympic achievement. First, there is the benefit of winning in terms of pride, affirmation, and satisfaction from being among those countries recognized as among the best in the world in some area of competitive performance. This sense of achievement has the power to induce many good things for the fortunate nation. While there is an element of luck in winning, there is clearly a large portion of preparation and discipline necessary to benefit from any luck that comes one’s way.

The role of preparation and effort necessary to benefit from luck defines what I think is the more important benefit from winning in the Olympics. The effort necessary and actually undertaken to win at the Olympics galvanizes social action that already yields many benefits even before the first gold medal is won. For every Olympic gold medal won, there are probably millions of others who helped win that medal, from parents who nourished their children well enough to become athletes, to teachers who encouraged and guided young people to competitive sports, to businesses that generated the resources necessary to compete at the highest levels, to governments that create the environment to succeed, and the many young people with talent who aspired, competed and succeeded. Winning a medal validates all the social effort and resources devoted to the national goal, even as the social effort and resources expended along the way would have already created their own positive dynamic to strengthen the society and economy.

So why have Philippine outcomes at the Olympics been so poor?

At one level, we might regard our Beijing debacle as a failure of this particular batch of 15 athletes. But since this is our third Olympics with different contingents but with similar results, we should not really blame the individual athletes but rather the sports organizations that yielded them. But since our elite sports organizations can only build upon the larger base of potential talent from our population, their failures might properly be due to our larger social arrangements for sports participation and competition in the whole country. In short, we need a more systemic understanding of the sources of our Olympics failure so that we might discover the appropriate systemic changes to build on the sources of our potential Olympics success.

Let me cite two interesting examples from other countries.

Jamaica is a poor country with a population of 2.6 million. It now has the world’s fastest men and women. It has already won 43 Olympic medals, 42 of which come from the track, with all but one at distances of 400 meters or under. Its population watches football and basketball on TV, but its kids run. It has a championship race for high school runners, called the Champs, which was founded in 1910 and continues today as Jamaica’s biggest annual sporting event attracting up to 2,000 athletes and crowds of 30,000 or more. Every great Jamaican sprinter appears on the Champs honors list. Yet it is merely the tip of a competition pyramid that sees children across the country take part in sprint races from age five.

Despite these long standing strengths, however, the current peak of Jamaican track performance at Beijing has been traced to the country’s effort to keep their top athletes from being pirated by other countries via a scholarship program started 30 years ago. There are now 300 sprinters in this scholarship program. There is a mindset of confidence about them that genuinely believe they can conquer. Their country may be small; they may be poor; but they believe in themselves.

Another example is England, which has seen its performance in Beijing at its best in decades. The country has unveiled a Sport England Strategy 2008-2011, which declares its intention to make the Olympics as its focal point for developing a world-leading community sport system. The strategy is a prime example of what a good country strategy for better Olympic performance in the future might look like.

The strategy aims for a community sports system that will increase public participation in sports, identify and nurture talented people early to progress at the elite level, and insure a quality experience for everyone who plays sports. The aim is to create a "vibrant sporting culture". The strategy provides a broad framework for social participation in Olympics sports that involves government, communities and sports organizations.

What we should be doing?

The first thing we should do is to recognize that we have hit bottom. When the USA basketball team of NBA stars was able to win only the bronze medal at Athens Olympics, its leadership decided that it had hit bottom. They said: "The experience left such a poor taste in everyone’s mouth with our attitude and our performance. Even our own fans were booing the team. It was a sad state of affairs, and we had to make a change." Their gold medal in Beijing is the result of that change, but they did that because they decided they had hit bottom. They did not console themselves with having won a medal.

The second thing we should do is to undertake a credible and systematic evaluation of our country’s Olympic performance. Many countries commission expert teams to look at their sports systems. Even individual institutions undertake periodic evaluation of their sports program. One evaluation I read had this finding: "Leaders lack full understanding of what is needed for athletic success." I wonder if this finding might also apply in the Philippines.

An evaluation should really assess the real potential for the unique contribution of sports to Philippine identity, culture and society and outline what we might realistically do to realize such potential. It is important to identify intermediate goals we should be seeking to meet on the road to eventually becoming a real competitor for Olympic success in the future. The way we evaluate will be crucial to the way we get our act together.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Plaka at kayabangan

Nagbabanggaan ang LTO at ilang mga congressmen sa pamumuno ni Prospero Nograles. Kasi, sinisita ng pinuno ng LTO na si Bert Suansing ang pag-abuso sa paggamit ng tinatawag na “protocol” plates. Ang protocol plate ay plaka ng sasakyan na mababa ang numero, binibigay sa mga matataas na opisyal ng pamahalaan. Si GMA ay Numero Uno, si Kabayan,

Numero 2; si Manny Villar, Numero Tres; si Nograles ay Kuwatro; si Chief Justice Puno ay Singko; ang mga miyembro ng gabinete ni GMA ay Sais; habang Siyete ang mga senador at Ocho ang mga congressmen.

Ang siste, may mga congressmen na ginagamit ang plaka nila para ikabit sa mga smuggled o hot cars, gaya ng mga nanggagaling sa Cagayan Export Processing (kuno) Zone. Ang iba naman ay pinahihiram,

o pinagagamit ang plakang Ocho sa mga kaibigan o nagbayad na mga Chinoy. Libre huli nga naman, at nakapang-aabuso sa kalsada. Mahal ang bayad diyan, bata. Kaylaki na ng kurakot sa kanilang pork barrel, may masisiba pang rumaraket sa Numero Ocho’ng plaka. Pati ito binebenta? Magkano kaya?

Para matigilan na ang pang-aabuso, simple ang solusyon. Tanggalin na ang tinamaan ng lintik na mababang plaka, o “protocol” plates. Kung gusto ng pangulo at pangalawang pangulo, sila na lang. Aba e sa Maynila nga, mayroon pang konsehal lamang na nagsipagpagawa ng plaka na ang nakalagay ay malaking numero ng kanilang distrito, gaya halimbawa ng “5”,

na akala mo sa malayo ay Chief Justice, iyon pala, konsehal lamang ng Distrito 5. Mapanlilinlang pa, makapagyabang lamang. Kaya’t uulitin natin -- tigilan na lahat ng protocol plate. Tutal, mas “secure” pa ang mga opisyal kung walang plakang mababa. Hindi sila mabibisto ng mga kriminal o terorista, o ng kanilang mga misis kung may sakay silang ibang babae sa kanilang sasakyan.

At pwede ba, Mamang Pulis Sonny Razon, o sinuman ang papalit sa kaibigan natin, ipagbawal na ang mga motorcycle at mobile patrol escorts sa mga VIP? Nu’ng panahon ni Pangulong Erap, at ako naman ay naka-6 na plaka rin noon, iisa lang sa amin ang may pa-escort-escort pa. Maging si Ronny Zamora na Executive Secretary, walang escort, walang wang-wang. Maging si Ping Lacson na hepe ng PNP, walang nakangusong motorsiklo. Sino lang ang mahilig sa ganitong kayabangan? E ‘di yung bossing ngayon ni Sonny Razon sa gabinete, na bata rin ni Erap nu’ng panahong iyon.

Pero ngayon, pagkadaming opisyal ang isang damukal na ang body­guard, e kuntodo wang-wang at motorsiklo pa. May senador nga diyan, wala namang kontrobersyal na kasong iniimbestigahan, kung bumiyahe ay kulang na lang pangulo ng bansa ang dami ng nakabuntot. At may dalawa pang naka-motorsiklong escort na pulis.

Minsan ay nagtaka ako nang pumasok sa isang restawran at sa labas ay isang platoon ng naka-polo barong na bodyguard ang istambay. Ni hindi ko tinanong kung sino ang may army sa loob, at tuluy-tuloy ako sa itaas kung saan may kausap ako. Driver ko na lang ang nagsabi paglabas ko kung may kilala raw akong Villar na hindi naman si Senate President.

Kamakailan, ang mga bodyguard nito ay nanggulpi ng isang Chinoy na negosyante sa isang hotel sa Makati. Bakit? Kasi ihing-ihi na ang kaawa-awang Chinoy, pero ayaw papasukin ng mga bodyguard ni Villar. Hindi naman si Villar ang nasa loob, na ayaw maistorbo ng kanyang mga bodyguard. Nandoon sa restawran ng hotel ang kanilang amo. Ang ayaw nilang maistorbo ng ibang parokyano ng hotel ay mismong kapatid na saksakan ng kapangyarihan, na siya palang kausap ni Villar sa restawran.
Ayaw papasukin ng mga bodyguard ni Villar ang Chinoy na si Simon Paz,

e hindi naman ito babae, sa palikuran ng mga lalaki na marami namang ihian at kubeta. Pumalag ang Chinoy, ginulpi. Ayon, nasa ospital pa ang kawawa, at ilang araw bago nabalikan ng malay.

Talagang sobra-sobra na ang pagmamalabis at pang-aabuso ng mga makapangyarihan sa lipunang sadlak naman sa hirap at pagdurusa ng ordinaryong mamamayan.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Aksyon ni Kabayan

Matapos nating ilathala sa pitak na ito sa Abante ang suliranin ni Ginang Bea Mendoza, na lumiham sa atin ukol sa kuryente nila sa Mahogany Villas Subdivision sa Barangay Looc sa Calamba, Laguna, na pinamagatang “Pana­wagan kay Kaba­yan”, nakatutuwa naman ang dagliang reaksyon ni Panga­lawang Pangulo Noli de Castro.

Agad siyang lumiham sa ating email address, at nagpapasalamat na ipina­abot sa kanyang pansin ang suliraning ito sa pamamagitan ng ating pitak na Konting Pananaw. Pina-check daw ng kanyang tanggapan sa Meralco, Calamba branch, ngunit wala naman daw record si Gng. Mendoza, at baka raw ang subdivision developer pa, ang Malate Construction and Development Corporation ang siyang nagsu-supply ng kuryente, at siya ring naniningil.

Gayunpaman, inatasan daw niya ang ahensyang HLURB o Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board na magpadala ng tauhan nila upang siya­satin ang hinaing ni Gng. Mendoza. Sumunod na araw, lumiham naman sa atin si Gng. Belen Ceniza ng HLURB na sinasabing ipadadala raw nila si Engr. Rey E. Musa ng kanilang Development Monito­ring Group sa naturang subdivision upang magsiyasat. Kalakip ng liham ni Gng. Ceniza ay isa ring liham na naka-address sa isang Giovanni Olivares ng Malate Construction and Deve­lopment Corporation, kung saan binibigyan ang natu­rang kumpanya ng sampung araw upang sagutin ang daing ni Ginang Mendoza na nailathala sa ating pitak dito sa Abante.

Kahanga-hanga ang aksyon agad na ipinamalas ng tanggapan ni Panga­lawang Pangulo Noli de Castro. Kung sadyang ganito ang mga tanggapan ng pamahalaan, ay matutugunan ang mga suliranin ng mamamayan. Aantaba­yanan natin ang resulta ng kanilang imbestigasyon, at nawa’y masaya naman ang lumiham sa ating si Gng. Bea Mendoza, sa aksyong ginagawa ng ating HLURB at HUDCC na pinamumunuan ni Kabayan Noli de Castro.

Sa iba namang banda, nakaiinis na ang pabale-balentong na pahayag ng Malacañang ukol sa kapalpakan nila sa MOA ukol sa ancestral domain na hinihingi ng MILF. Una ay umatras ng panandalian habang hihintayin ang desisyon ng Korte Suprema na pumigil sa pagpirma ng MOA. Dahil sa mga ginawang pagpatay at kaguluhan ng mga kumander ng MILF sa North Cotabato, Saranggani, Sultan Kudarat at Lanao del Norte, sumiklab ang gulo sa Mindanao. Ginamit itong dahilan upang sabihin ng Malacañang na hindi na nila itutuloy ang kasunduang nakalahad sa MOA. At nagmatapang pa si Donya Gloria na nagdeklara na tugisin ang mga kumander ng MILF na sina Bravo at Kato. Ngayon naman, sa pangalawang hearing ng Korte Suprema, sinabi ni Rodolfo Garcia, ang chief negotiator ng peace process, na wala raw siyang awtoridad upang lagdaan ang MOA galing sa kanyang pangulong si GMA. Ito ngayon ang ginagamit na palusot upang sabihing wala naman talagang MOA sa MILF. Sa madaling salita, nanloloko lamang pala ang pamahalaang Arroyo. E bakit pati sina Embahadora Kristie Kenney at ang mga embahador ng Hapon, Australia at testigo ng Malaysia ay dumalo sa isang “moro-moro”. Ganito ba talaga kairesponsable ang ating pamahalaan? O ginagamit lang na “fall guy” itong kawawang basang sisiw na si Rodolfo Garcia?

Sadya bang naglalaro ng apoy si Ginang Arroyo, at ang mga biktima ay sambayanang napapatay at sundalong nagpapakamatay?

Car plates and brain tests

Why are congressmen ganging up on poor Bert Suansing of the LTO who is merely doing his job? These congressmen, led by their "prosperous" speaker, probably think that just because they constantly suck up to their Boss Woman in the stinking palace beside the stinking river, they have become as "majestic" as she. And so, Bert Suansing is guilty of "lese majeste."

No wonder there was this story about how a Metro Manila congressman got so mad when the LTO could not deliver his Numero Ocho car plates on time. He probably had peddled them to some Chinoy hotshots who would pay top price for the privileges that an "8" in front of their cars bring. Walang huli, pwedeng abusuhin ang traffic rules, hindi ba? How much, pray tell?

There is also this former congressman, very close to the Palace, who is one of the "frequent users" of CEZA’s "exclusive" privilege to smuggle (technically though; CEZA claims they import legally) used high-end cars and SUV’s. Does he also sell these complete with Numero Ocho in front?

I completely agree with Sen. Nene Pimentel, who proposes to do away with all low-numbered car plates, except for the Doña, and perhaps her Numero Dos. Wala na lahat. Level the playing field, at least as far as traffic is concerned.

And while they’re at it, could Sonny Razon, Mamang Pulis, please issue a memorandum disallowing any, and I mean any, motorcycle cop from escorting the convoys of high officials, including his boss, Ronnie Puno, who struts around like he was Numero Dos?

Why are they so enamored with pomp and circumstance anyway? One of these days, the MILF or their compatriots might just target for assassination all who ride cars sporting low-numbered plates. I wonder if anyone other than their families would shed a tear if such happens. Buti nga sa inyo, many would say. Ang yayabang n’yo kasi.

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) has attacked the government’s plan to require every Filipino seeking overseas employment as a domestic helper to first pass a mandatory psychiatric test before they may qualify for recruitment. And rightly so.

"The proposal is downright ridiculous. The number of foreign-bound Filipino domestic helpers with potential psychiatric issues is insignificant compared to the overall volume," said former Senator Ernesto Herrera, TUCP general secretary.

"A number of them develop behavioral issues on the job overseas, but this is mainly due to vicious foreign employers who practically enslave their maids, and force them to work and live under inhuman conditions. Some abusive employers resort to basically detaining their domestic staff, and denying them normal access to the outside world. Naturally, the maids risk developing behavioral issues over time," he said.

"Thus, their psychiatric problems are largely environmentally induced, not necessarily organic," added Herrera, former chairman of the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development.

I could not agree more with Boy Herrera. These smart asses at the DFA and DOLE are perhaps just looking for ways to earn some commission from "licensed" psychiatric testing centers, at the expense of poor OFW’s forced to leave the country because Gloria’s economy provides them nothing that could keep body and soul together.

Seeing how rackets thrive in this "soft state", and everybody is trying to make a fast buck, what foreign country would be assured enough about just one more additional certification from this "most corrupt" country anyway?

Boy Herrera also questions our capability to process the number of OFW’s who want to be domestic helpers in foreign countries. Do we have enough psychiatrists in this country? Why, even former Sen. Loi Estrada would refuse to demean her countrymen so. And she’s probably one of less than a hundred who have specialized in this field.

So what will OWWA and DFA do, hire those urine testers of LTO to do their psychiatric tests?

Still on labor, my friend John T reports that on a recent flight to Hong Kong via the flag carrier, he learned that there are two different retirement standards for stewards and stewardesses at Philippine Airlines. Men retire at age 60, while ladies have to go at 55. Now surely that’s no way to treat purveyors of the best in-flight service in the world. There are many things to complain about PAL, from delayed flights to decayed facilities, but most Filipinos take it because the in-flight service is always warm and caring, so unlike those Caucasian mamas in most every American airline. Try some European carriers and you’ll see what I mean.

Maybe our friend PAL president Andy Bautista, can explain? Both John T and Andy went to the same school, incidentally.

De La Salle University’s annual LaSallian Scholarum Awards honored the country’s outstanding print, photo, broadcast, and campus journalists for their impressive reportage on various youth and education issues recently.

For responding to this year’s theme, "Be the Lead," winners from the five categories (published feature story on youth and education, published photograph on youth and education, televised feature on youth and education, published feature story on youth and education in a school organ, and published feature story on DLSU-M) each received cash prizes and an Orlina glass sculpture trophy.

The winners were: Manila Bulletin’s Blooey Singson (Ang Jeep ni Kuya) and Ronald Lim (Sun’s the limit) won outstanding published feature on youth and education, outstanding feature on DLSU honors, respectively.

GMA’s Sandra Aguinaldo, meanwhile, bagged her first Scholarum Award for her docu, "Iskul Ko No. One". De La Salle Dasmariñas Heraldo Filipinos’ Justine May Papina won outstanding feature on youth and education plum for the article "Dwindle, Dwindle, Little Child".

Associated Press’ Bullit Marquez received the outstanding photograph on youth and education for "A Homeless Girl" while Jonjon Vicencio’s photo "Water Acrobats" received an honorable mention.

The Scholarum Awards, which is now on its fifth year, is DLSU’s way of encouraging journalists to provide the public with an intelligent discussion of timely youth and education topics in mass media. The Awards also aim to urge various sectors, including government and private organizations, to be actively involved in addressing the critical issues confronting the youth, particularly their education. This endeavor is envisioned to motivate key sectors and individuals to contribute towards youth development through various initiatives in education.

In the land of the benighted, sometimes there are oases, patches of small green in a desert of hopelessness. Thank God for small mercies.

Malaya, August 26, 2008

Saturday, August 23, 2008


The shit has really hit the fan, and oh what an aw-ful mess Doña Gloria and her "peace-niks" have made.

Take a look at her most recent pronouncement. By the time you read this article, she or her toadies in Malacañang may have flip-flopped again.

"These recent developments in the South lead to a change in the basic premise of our peace efforts...The focus of our talks shall shift from the armed groups to the communities...from negotiations to dialogues with the communities, or government conducting authentic conversations or dialogue with the people," the Doña intoned on the day three former presidents joined in commemorating the 25th anniversary of Ninoy’s martyrdom.

Hello? Come again? So now government admits there were no "authentic" consultations with the stakeholders – the residents of Mindanao, before she ordered Esperon to sign for and in behalf of the government, in Kuala Lumpur? And how, pray tell, will government dialogue now with the communities? Madam Doña, they are running in fear of attack from the MILF "lost" commands, the guys Murad and Iqbal claim they did not authorize to go into merciless rampage the past week. Now that the military and police forces are in hot pursuit of the "enemy," she orders "dialogues" and "conversations"?

Yet the day before, after the Chief of Staff, Gen. Alexander Yano ordered the soldiers of the people to go after the perpetrators of the Lanao massacres and the Saranggani pillage, as rightfully he did, Doña Gloria, tantrums and all, had to assert her "majestic" and "take-charge" superfluity by going on a post-facto "declaration of war" against the marauders. She "ordered" the troops to the field, and nobody in Malacañang whispered to her that Yano had already done his job. They must have trembled at her imperious temper. Baka batuhin sila ng laptop, o sipain ‘yung kaisa-isang teleprompter ng palasyo.

Ah, but her terms have taken a 180-degree turn. Where before August 5 she was fawning all over in meek surrender to the terms of the Bangsamoro, now she’s talking about "disarmament, demobilization, and rehabilitation, or DDR".

Hello? Come again? Disarm the Muslim community? That means war.

Demobilize the MILF, and other secessionist groups? You’d have to go to war to do that.

And rehabilitate? Only after the war is concluded, and government prevails.

Erap did that in 2000, and every peace-nik in town, as well as guys like Bill Clinton, bade Erap to hold his peace. Erap asked Ben Diokno to prepare a President’s budget for 2001 that would have been an "affirmative action" blueprint to "rehabilitate" and develop Muslim Mindanao, confident that he would overrun Busra and Abubakar. He did. But months later he was deposed, not by the Muslims, but at the instance of an ethnic Ilocano from Ciudad Fernandina en Nueva Segovia, Chavit Singson. Erap demobilized, partly disarmed, and vowed to rehabilitate. But Edsa Dos came, and Gloria allowed the MILF to reclaim their camps, re-mobilize and re-arm. From a vantage position of strength which the hapless Erap bequeathed her government, she went into a position of weakness, and allowed foreign interests to intrude in the "interest of peace." Thus, her meek acceptance of the terms of the MILF, which for all intents and purposes, were terms of surrender.

Erap won the war, Gloria lost the peace.

Now she wants to wage war. Down to the last soldier of the Filipino people? Down to the last Christian? In the hope that her "iron will" (kuno), and her newly-found "toughness" (kuno na sab) can terrorize Umbra Kato and Commander Bravo? If there is any word to describe the madness, it is certainly most discombobulating.

And her toady who is primus inter pares among her other toadies, the once tough guy from Balayan in Batangas tamed by the shrew from Iloilo (ask him who I refer to), says "disarmament is an essential ingredient in finding the elusive peace in Mindanao". E ganun pala naman, barakong kabayan, e bakit hindi ninyo ginawang kondisyon bago kayo mag-MOA-MOA?

Former Senate President Frank Drilon, Senator Mar Roxas and I were trying to make heads and tails of the discombobulation that is Doña Gloria’s MOA, while waiting for the mass for Ninoy to begin at the Don Bosco Church last Thursday morning. Mar thought "her boys just did not know what they were doing" and they just "fell all over the place". Frank thought otherwise. "There must be method in the madness", the former Senate President said. "Hindi naman siguro sila ganoon ka-tanga", he observed.

Either sheer incompetence, or a methodical, diabolical plan to play with Mindanao fire to promote her political interests.

Now that Mindanao is on fire once more, thanks to Doña Gloria and her bumbling peace-niks, with an eerily silent Norberto Gonzales and his Jesuit mentor lurking in sinister ever-presence like the Penguin and the Joker in a Batman noveleta, how else do we describe the "puzzlement" but discombobulated?

With the lives of everybody in these benighted isles in nervous discombobulation as well, even as innocent lives are wasted in Mindanao because of the folly of poor governance or the mischief of diabolical minds.

God, where are you?

Malaya,August 23, 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Remembering Ninoy

August has always been a dreary month. Ever since I could remember, August is when the rains pour from the heavens most, and whenever the sun peeps after days of rain, it would be scorching hot. For the Chinese, August, more often than not the seventh month in their lunar calendar, is called "ghost month". It is when the spirits of the dead roam the earth. It is not an auspicious period to start a business, open a store, move house, or choose a lifetime partner. Everything is put off until after the ghost month, which is marked happily by moon cakes and tea festivals.

On a personal note though, August is the birth month of the wife and a daughter, so ghost month or whatever, it is occasion for the family to somehow celebrate. But on August 21, 1983, when I left the house before six in the morning to supervise the positioning of welcome streamers and placards for Ninoy Aquino's homecoming at the international airport, the "ghost" month became more meaningful. I first motored to our family compound in Pasay, where an Isuzu Forward truck was waiting to be loaded with the streamers on which were printed the words, "Ninoy, Hindi Ka Nag-iisa", and a small UNIDO logo at the right hand corner. I also brought sandwiches and cold drinks as Ninoy would be coming in at about noon, or so Tita Eva (Sen. Eva Estrada-Kalaw, Ninoy's cousin) intimated the day before. (The homecoming was originally floated as August 7, which was why on July 30, during the small birthday celebration of my wife in our Tagaytay home, I intimated to Doy and Eva and Tessie Aquino-Oreta the slogan we planned for his arrival.)

I need not recount what happened hours after at the tarmac, and the pathos thereafter. That is well recorded in the annals of our contemporary history.

But today, as we reminisce about the man who reminded millions of Filipinos that they are "worth dying for," let me share with you excerpts from a letter he wrote to me six months to the day before he was killed. It was written on February 21, 1983, in San Francisco, and hand-carried by his friend Doy Laurel, my ninong who was the head of the main opposition coalition at the time, UNIDO, of which I was deputy secretary-general.

"It is most encouraging to learn that you have cast your lot with the opposition and Doy tells me that you're doing a terrific job. I read your papers and I wanted to respond earlier but didn't know how to get to you safely. This is the first great opportunity.

"I think the (latest) position paper you drafted which Doy showed me is excellent. However, I have my doubts on the last page recommendation because I've done a lot of re-thinking since we last discussed our problem at length and I really am now convinced that violence should be resorted to only as the last final resort (he underlined these words) and even then I doubt whether it will really solve our problem. I've been reading and re-reading Gandhi and I've been reading every book I can get my hands on the Cuban and Nicaraguan experience. I have a book in Boston which I will try to get to you and Doy, written by Manuel Llorena entitled "The Unexpected Revolution". The author was the spokesman of (Fidel) Castro's July 26th Movement and was responsible in getting Herbert Matthews to Sierra Maestra and introduce Castro's revolution to the world. He broke off with Castro six months before victory was achieved because he saw the drift of the revolution towards communism as crafted by Che Guevarra and others. This book details the fate that awaits moderates in the current struggle.

"The other book deals with the Nicaraguan revolution by Henri Weber. This book also details how the moderates lost out to the Sandinistas once victory was achieved. My point is: our opposition takes the road to violence, since we are all amateurs in the game, the veteran revolutionaries will swallow all of us whole, and as Mao said, "politics emanates from the end of the barrel of the gun". The bottom line is, the moment we take the high road of violence, we must be ready to bed with the communists with all the consequences this would entail. Marcos is a temporary phenomenon because his entire KBL revolves around his persona. The moment he dies, the entire dictatorship goes out with him. Communism is an institution. The moment it gets its foot in the door, there is no backing out. A man may die as a dictatorship will surely die, but an institution lives on. There has never been a successful communist revolution that was reversed. The moment the genie is out of the bottle, there is no putting it back.

"I'll be elaborating on this thesis in my aide memoire to Doy which I hope he will share with you. If you have better ideas, please feel free to amend, or add your thoughts. Doy will explain to you the other details."

Six months later, he was brutally shot in the tarmac of the international airport, after he was accosted by armed soldiers from a China Airlines plane. But his death provided the spark that finally ended the long night of our generation.

Today we find ourselves in similar fettle. As his son Noynoy, now senator of the republic, noted after a mass at the Ateneo last Sunday, "after 25 years, it's as if the nation has not moved at all". The world has changed dramatically since Ninoy wrote about Cuba and Nicaragua. Communist governments have learned to live with the economics of free markets, and some of them have in fact revelled in levelled playing fields. Most nations of that changed world have in fact passed us by, when two generations ago their sons and daughters looked upon us with a tinge of envy. Now we are pariahs, sons and daughters of one of the most corrupt countries in the planet, a people so wretched that they could not even stand up against one who defiled the most fundamental sanctums of democracy - the free and honest vote.

And those who moved against Marcos, before or after Ninoy's death, are now nearing the twilight of their lives. The generation that is now called upon to move are those who grew up when Marcos was in power, and were perhaps young men and women when Ninoy died, along with those who never knew what it was like to be under a dictatorship that for a while "made the trains run on time", and those who saw their hopes for a better life dissipate under the ravaged institutions of a restored democracy that does not work.

Twenty-five years after, and we find ourselves where we were before, even worse. Twenty-five years ago, the prices were lower, the living was easier. The regime was intolerant, media was shackled, but for a brave newspaper called We Forum, now Malaya. (Ironically, the son of the man who founded this paper was abducted a year and three months ago by uniformed men, and after the usual reactions of concern, people do not seem to care, or remember.)

Today, prices are sky-high, the living is miserable. The regime lies and cheats and steals, and even if media reports incidents of the same, the people seem unmoved, unwilling to take the burdens of forging a new nation, a real democracy, from the fetters of a dictatorship removed and replaced by the forms of a democracy that simply does not work because its institutions have died after assaults upon integrity had been tolerated for long.

Dreary, this August of our lives in this eighth year of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's illegitimate reign. The economy wobbles and life is harsh. The national territory is about to be dismembered. The dogs of war have been unleashed once again in the southern front, not by a government in control of the situation, or morally justified in taking arms, but a government obsessed merely with prolonging its hold on power. Sons and daughters of the race, both the uniformed soldier and the helpless civilian, will once again be the victims of violence both senseless and unwarranted, veritably sacrificed at the altar of political expediency and absolute incompetence. Nothing could be more criminal.

Meanwhile, justices in majestic robes quarrel about the dung in their midst, not because they want to throw away the dirt, but because some were smarter than the others. Meanwhile too, legislators wallow in the putrid excess of fat from pork barrels, unable to give up their addiction and for once consider lofty national interest, mindful only of how to buy off, and cheat, in the next farce of an election. Meanwhile even, lord bishops of the Church of our birth incant prayers for patience and sacrifice, even as they connive with the ruling evil to protect parochial and byzantine interests.

Who shall the people run to? There is no Ninoy in the horizon to risk life for nation or provide inspiration for struggle much easier in truth than when Marcos was alive. To be playthings of Marcos for thirteen and a half years, and then playthings once more of Gloria for seven years and seven months running, we must truly be the most masochistic race on earth.

What a country!

Malaya, August 21, 2008

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Panawagan sa Senado ng FSGO

Kahapon ay nagtungo sa Senado ang mga dating opisyal ng iba’t ibang nagdaang pamahalaan, ang samahan ng Former Senior Government Officials (FSGO) at ibinigay, sa pangunguna ni dating senador at dating kalihim Vicente Paterno, ang panawagang nakalahad dito sa ating mga senador. Minabuti naming isalaysay dito ng buo ang kanilang napapanahong panawagan.

“Dati kaming matataas ang posisyon sa gobyerno. Patuloy kaming kumikilos upang manatiling tapat sa bayan ang mga institusyon ng gobyerno.

“Mahirap ang buhay natin ngayon. Mabilis na tumataas ang presyo ng mga bilihin. Maraming nawawalan ng trabaho. Maraming kulang na ang sahod.

Naghihingalo ang ekono­miya. Nagdurusa ang milyun-milyong mahihirap at karaniwang pamilya. Lumalala ang karalitaan at gutom (na dati nang mga problema kahit noong mabuti pa ang ekonomiya) dahil sa pagtaas ng presyo ng langis at pagkain.

“Hindi pa nakakabangon ang maraming komunidad mula Panga­sinan hanggang Samar at Panay sa pinsalang dala ng bagyo at baha.

Nagbabanta pa sa ilalim ng dagat ang mga kemikal na lulan ng MV Princess of the Stars sa Sibuyan. Libu-libong kamag-anak ng mga nasawi dahil sa masamang pamamalakad ng Sulpicio Lines ang naghihintay pa rin ng hustisya at bayad-pinsala. Hindi pa rin naiwawasto ng gobyerno ang mga kamalian nito na nagpalala sa mga sinapit ng mga biktima.

“Ilan lamang ito sa mga pasakit na dinaranas ng karaniwang mamamayan sa kamay ni Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Habang nagdurusa tayo ay buong saya namang nagpasasa siya sa America at China. Hindi niya pinamumunuan ang gobyerno para tulungan kahit kaunti ang mga mamamayan. Sa halip ay lalo pa niyang pinalulubha ang ating mga

problema. Una, nakipagkasunduan siya sa MILF kahit na hindi niya tinanong muna ang mga komunidad na maaapektuhan ng gusto niyang mangyari. Lalo pa ngang lumaki ang posibilidad na magkakadigmaan sa Mindanao. Ikalawa, hinahamon niya ang taumbayan na pigilin siya sa balak niyang magpatuloy sa Malacañang, isang balak na malinaw na nasa likod

ng kanyang pagdeklara ng “all systems go” sa pagpapalit sa Saligang Batas. Dahil sa mga ginagawa niya, nahahati ang ating bayan, hindi nagagampanan ng gobyerno ang tungkulin nitong pagandahin ang takbo ng ating buhay, at lumalala ang galit, pagkawalang-tiwala, ‘di-kasiyahan, at pagtanggi ng tao sa kanyang administrasyon.

“Lumalapit kami ngayon sa Senado bilang huling pag-asa namin na magiging responsable ang ating mga pinuno. Kapag mabilis at tiyak na kikilos ang Senado, mapipigilan nito ang paglubog ng ating bayan sa

paghahati-hati at kaguluhan. Tinatawagan namin ang isang dosena at higit pang mga senador na ipahayag agad ang kanilang ‘di pagsang-ayon sa pagbabago ng Saligang Batas habang nasa poder pa si Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Kapag nawala na ang posibilidad na magpapatuloy siya sa poder pagkaraan ng 2010, matutuunan na ng pansin ng gobyerno ang tunay na mga problema ng ekonomiya at lipunan. Siguradong mahahati lamang ang ating mga kababayan at mawawala lamang sa ating isip ang mahahalaga nating dapat gawin kung babaguhin ang Saligang Batas bago ang 2010.

“Malinaw na ang tanging nasa isip ni Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo ay hindi ang kapakanan at kinabukasan ng bayan, kundi ang pagpapatuloy niya sa Malacañang pagkaraan ng 2010. Hindi dapat payagan ng Senado si Arroyo na sirain ang bayan para lamang sa sarili niya.

“Tinatawagan namin ang Senado na gawin ang tungkulin nito bilang check and balance. Tinatawagan namin ang Senado na magkaroon ng isang resolusyon na pipigil sa pagbabago ng Saligang Batas sa panahon ni Arroyo.”

Abante, Agosto 20, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The morning after

I received so much mail these past few days from friends as well as readers from all over, who, reacting to last Saturday's article, had basically the same message, "Huwag kang mapapagod (Do not get tired) in fighting this evil administration through your pen."

I am reminded of a personal experience in May of 1978. The dictatorship had scheduled elections for the Interim Batasang Pambansa, its attempt to present to the world a facade of democratic normalization. It would have been another of those hao shiao palabas of the wily Marcos, had it not been for Laban, which fielded a 21-man slate in the National Capital Region. What made that attempt at real opposition more heroic was that Ninoy Aquino, confined to the stockade, was their lead candidate.

I was a businessman at the time, doing fairly well, minding my own business, like most peers in my generation. But as the flickering light of a candle draws moths to come closer, I found myself eagerly following the rallies of Laban. We all watched in awe when the dictator allowed a confined Ninoy to be interviewed live on government television. It was his way of showing the world, which was his public more than the Filipino people, that he was giving Laban a fair shake. One in the panel of selected interviewers was even my former teacher in English, Teddy Owen of the Manila Bulletin. I wish I could get a recording, if any, of that interview. Ninoy demolished the enemy, which was the dictatorship, with rapier-sharp wit and machine-gun fired articulation. It became such a huge embarrassment for the dictatorship.

Anyway, everybody knew that on Election Day, they would vote for Ninoy. They may not even remember some of the less stellar names in Laban's list of 21, but Ninoy would most certainly be on top of their list. But everyone also had that feeling in his pits that told him, "Ano kayo, siniswerti?" With Madam Imelda herself front-lining the KBL slate? Perish the thought.

So someone had the bright idea of trying out a noise barrage. Get the people in the streets. Since our votes will most likely not be counted, let us vote the night before with our noise - pots and pans, whistles, car horns, anything to demonstrate our solidarity with Laban and Ninoy in prison.

I organized a few friends to join me in our own small motorcade. Five agreed. I asked a friend of mine who was a good driver to drive around with me in my newly-purchased though second-hand Mercedes Benz 280, my first personally bought big car. Before that I could only afford VWs and Austins, installment at that. I wanted to be free to roll up the windows, flash the famous hand sign, and shout at the top of my voice. We were exhilarated at the experience, surprised at the reaction of ordinary people who harkened to the call for noise as protest demonstration. Along Taft Avenue, from Baclaran all the way to United Nations, people lined up and merrily banged at anything they had, while we banged our horns unmindful of the car battery. We went as far as Rizal Avenue, down crowded downtown to still crowded Blumentritt and the Grace Park boundary, before we went back to Makati to share drinks and rest in a friend's house.

Towards midnight and the usual booze and pulutan, the young Chinoy husband of a lady friend who joined us in the motorcade came to fetch his wife. He sobered us with a very pragmatic statement, "Bukas, balik sa dati ang kwento. Panalo pa rin si Marcos".

Yes indeed. The morning after, when I went to the polls, I voted straight Laban, even if I had wanted to vote for some good guys in the KBL slate. Certainly I wanted to vote for a decent man like Vicente Paterno, who after all, gave my fledgling firm in 1973 a big break as BOI Chairman. But a clear political statement, I thought, had to be made, with personal conviction. In the late afternoon, as the votes were canvassed, our Chinoy friend was proven right. Imagine a certain Roger Quiambao or whoever else beating Ninoy, who was on 22nd? Of course, the "glorious" Imelda was on top, tens of thousands of manufactured votes ahead of her own KBL cohort.

But things were never the same after that, never mind the morning after experience. Somehow, people in the coffee shops were more animated. Mild criticisms became a bit more pronounced. Business conferences were slowly becoming fora for political agitation.

Of course it had to take the dastardly killing of Ninoy Aquino at the tarmac of the international airport to turn the situation around. When I initiated the slogan "Ninoy, Hindi Ka Nag-iisa" in preparation for his homecoming, I never imagined it was to become the bellow of the nation's collective angst. The nation was suddenly awake, thanks to my friend Ninoy. Yet it would take more to finally topple an entrenched and wily authoritarian. There was signal victory when in the summer of 1984, UNIDO, the umbrella coalition which participated in the regular Batasan elections, managed to win 59 seats out of 180. That was also my first foray into electoral politics, as assistant campaign manager of the coalition Doy Laurel painstakingly stitched together.

And then, in an attempt at political machismo some year and a half later, buoyed by the warm welcome Ronald Reagan ostensibly gave him at the White House, Ferdinand Marcos dared the opposition to fight him in "snap" elections. Doy gave way, Cory became the people's champion against Marcos. She was cheated. The rest is history.

There have been many "mornings after" in the struggle to oust a leadership who has ceased to represent the best in the Filipino, and has instead metamorphosed into the worst in us. In the wake of Hello Garci, I thought her days were numbered, only to get thoroughly disappointed at the lack of response similar to the days after Ninoy died. I thought it was curtains down when the Hyatt Ten resigned. How FVR and Joe de Venecia saved the political day for her is something that still puzzles me to this day. Was there an "unseen" hand behind the power play? When the impeachment was thrashed by a concoction of transactional politics and plenty of money showered upon the immoderately greedy, I thought the people would not accept it as meekly as they did. The morning after syndrome.

And now this - to treacherously allow the prospects of dismemberment as cover for a naked attempt to perpetuate herself in illegitimate power through charter change. Or worse, as sinister a game plan as wilfully unleashing the dogs of war as pretext for martial rule or emergency powers. The more legally sophisticated among us believe both to be unthinkable. But hey, unlike Marcos who was a stickler to legal form, we are confronted by an economist for whom all that matters are the statistics in the bottom line, for whom ends justify all means, an amoral person whose lust for power and its attendant profits knows no bounds.

Must the Filipino people, civilian or military, secular or religious, Christian or Muslim, give her another morning after?

Malaya, August 19, 2008

Panawagan kay Kabayan

Para sa isang pamil­yang Pilipino, pinakama­laking mithiin na siguro ang magkaroon ng sariling bahay. Ito’y patuloy na pinag-iipunan, at mara­ming ibang pangangaila­ngan ang sinasakripisyo upang magkaroon ng sari­ling bahay.

Ano ngayon ang protek­syon ng ordinaryong mamamayan na nagpunyagi upang magkaroon ng bahay, at ma­ta­pos na makapaglagak ng mala­king puhunan para rito, ay madaya, o maiisahan lang pala ng nagtayo ng bahay, o nag-develop ng subdivision? Ito ang dahilan kung bakit may mga

ahensyang itinayo ang pamahalaan, tulad ng HLURB, at iba pang sangay ng HUDCC o Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council na pinamumunuan ng pangalawang pangulo, si Noli de Castro.

Lumiham sa atin si Ginang Bea Mendoza, isang kumuha ng housing unit sa Mahogany Villas sa Barangay Looc, Calamba, Laguna. Ang developer na binilhan ay ang Malate Construction and Development Corporation (MCDC) na ang tanggapan ay nasa Filinvest Center sa Alabang.

Sila na kanyang pamilya ay nagpa-take-out ng bahay na hindi pa tapos at kulang-kulang sa pamamagitan ng pag-utang sa Pag-IBIG, ang ahensyang nangongolekta ng kontribusyon para sa murang pabahay, at siya ring nagpi-finance ng low-cost at socialized housing.

Nagbayad sila Ginang Mendoza ng bayad sa metro ng kuryente, pero hanggang ngayon ay wala pa rin silang metro, subalit sinisingil naman sila para sa kuryente. Kung ano ang malinaw na basehan sa paniningil, ay hindi ko maintindihan. Napakahina naman ng kuryente sa kanilang

subdivision kaya’t nagkasira-sira na ang kanilang mga appliances dahil sa pabugsu-bugso ng daloy ng kuryente. Ito’y kanila nang inireklamo sa

opisina pero wala namang nangyayari. Ang iba namang bahay sa subdivision nila ay ni walang kuryente, bagama’t may mga naninirahan na roon. Tuloy ay nangangamba ang marami na nagsipaglipatan na bagama’t kulang-kulang pa ang mga batayang serbisyo, sa pag-asang hindi naman magtatagal ay maaayos din ito.

Nais na nga nilang ipagbili ang kanilang unit, ngunit sino nga ba naman ang bibili kapag ganito ang kundisyon ng pamumuhay sa naturang Mahogany Villas? (Ang galing ng mga developer sa pangako, pati na rin sa pagbibigay-ngalan sa kanilang mga sundivision at housing units. “Villa” pa manding itinuturing, pero umangat lang ng kaunti sa barong-barong.)
Lubhang nakakaawa ang mga kababayan na­ting umaasa sa mga kumpanyang binilhan ng kanilang mi­nimithing kabahayan.

Abante, Agosto 19, 2008

Sunday, August 17, 2008


The lower House is all agog about positions with lofty titles signifying little. Honorifics, that’s what they are going ga-ga about.

The perpetually compromising and quintessential trapo, Jose de Venecia, will always accommodate what his "natives" demand. After all, he is "the" power in the lower, and all he gives are titles to nothing. Speaker for the fifth time, he now has five deputy speakers. They take turns at presiding over their peers, most of whom do not bother to listen, and give it a few more weeks, do not bother to attend sessions even.

Until JDV, if memory serves me right, our House had one Speaker and one Speaker pro-tempore. To give honorifics to those who were left out in the assignment of committee chairmanships, JDV makes them his deputies. So, there are two deputies from Luzon, one for the Visayas, and another for Mindanao. Then, at the instance of the ladies of the House, who constitute more than a fifth of the membership, he has created another position of deputy speaker. And named Amelita Villarosa of Mindoro Occidental, whose husband, once governor of their poor fiefdom, is now serving prison time for murder.

As wags say, soon there should be a deputy speaker for the third sex. Tell you what, in a future Congress, we’ll have 16 deputy speakers, one for each administrative region.


Our officials have such an empty, literal notion of "self-respect" that they think a lofty title buys them such. Go to Mandaluyong, or most any city or town in Metro-Manila, and you will see signs or arches proclaiming territorial distinction for every barangay. And conspicuously painted are the names of the barangay chairman and his kagawads. Prefixed over their names is "Hon.", meaning honorable.

A town councilor is always addressed as "honorable". A municipal trial court likewise. Almost every government functionary preens over being "honorable". They festoon the shingles of their office with cheap acrylic, sometimes a tad more expensive "brass" sign that proclaims to all and sundry their entitlement to being "honorable". Atop their tawdry desks is a nameplate, in Romblon marble or anodized aluminum made to look like brass, or again, cheap acrylic, proclaiming their name, their position, and, never to ever forget, "Hon."

Never mind if honor is so foreign to their character or their money-making proclivities. Basta’t "honorable", and never ever forget that.


When one gets appointed to a government position, a friend or even "sipsip" functionary gifts you with a table nameplate, made of either Romblon marble that looks like a tombstone, or cheap acrylic or cheap-looking ":brass". You are supposed to emblazon that atop your desk. The first time I entered government, as postmaster-general, I was too embarrassed to throw away what was gifted to me, because the giver was a division chief who would always see his "lofty" gift. Trying to be politically correct, as in dyahe naman kung itatapon, I placed it on the working desk at my back.

The point is – any visitor wanting to see me had reason for seeking a face-to-face meeting, "audience" these reverential nincompoops in government label a meeting with a government official, and surely your name and your position is known to the visitor. Why the hell proclaim it?

Ah, but that’s not being "Pinoy".


A lady undersecretary who was a guest at an affair where I was the main speaker was asked to give the opening remarks. She tried to be cute by saying that the reason she preferred her position more than mine, although the salary grade was the same, was because my position as general manager of the Philippine Tourism Authority only carried the title "Mr.", while as undersecretary, she was "honorable". As if she preferred honorific title to the perks and power of the department’s most coveted post other than secretary. Perhaps she did.


Seriously, the presidential management staff (who’s on top of it, by the way?) should craft a protocol on titles and honorifics, which Malacañang could then distribute to the entire bureaucracy. That protocol should define who is addressed "honorable" and who should not. And how to address the president of the land, as in how do you say "excellency" in Pilipino. Many sipsips use "Ang kanyang kamahalan" which is the same introduction given to kings and queens. Do we have "majesties" in this benighted land? On second thought, some people think they are.

My own feeling is that nobody unelected, save only for the magistrates of the Supreme Court, should be addressed as "honorable". And then, nobody lower than a governor or city mayor, should be addressed as "honorable" either. Let everybody else be happy with a "Mister" or a "Madam".


Which brings me to the subject of my friend Romy Neri, who has been "demoted" from being the NEDA director-general and sent to "trouble-shoot" in the Commission on Higher Education. It was really Malacañang’s way of showing petulant displeasure over Romy’s candor in describing "glowing" statistics as damn dirty "numbers", and conveniently too, so he would make no further noises about the ZTE broadband deal.

Romy "gladly" accepted, like a perfectly good soldier, without checking that the CHED high commissioner needed to be a Ph.D. holder (academically-earned, not an honorific). And Malacañang was either guilty of incompetent oversight, or an evil genius in situ purposely did it.

The person questioning Romy’s academic credentials is Gonz Duque, who presides over the association of universities and diploma mills. He also happens to be the older brother of the health secretary, Francisco Duque II of Aguilar and Dagupan in Pangasinan. Their father was the health secretary of the father of "ang kanyang kamahalan".

Really, Romy, just quit "her" government. You don’t deserve to be treated this way.


And now a funny postscript:

Senator Erap approached his friend and colleague, Senator Orly Mercado, in the Senate Lounge while the latter was having merienda with me, several Congresses ago.

"Orly, hindi ba nag-du-doctorate ka?", asked Erap.

"Oo, sa UP", Orly replied.

"Mauunahan pa kita. Sa makalawa magiging "Doctor" na ako, Erap preened. "Sa UP", he added.

Orly was incredulous. How could his beloved alma mater, the State University, do this to him, he thought. Senador din naman siya, at No. 3 pa nung eleksyon, lubhang mataas ang boto kaysa kay Erap, Majority floor leader pa mandin.

"University of Pangasinan!", Erap explained, and all of us broke into hilarious laughter.

The person who made Senator Joseph Estrada an honorary doctor was Gonzalo Duque, no less.

Eat you heart out, Romy.

Malaya, August 17, 2008

Saturday, August 16, 2008


While there were many who wrote encouraging reactions to our last two articles, "Legacy" and "Beyond shame" (Tuesday and Thursday this week), asking us to continue writing the sordid truth about the persona and character of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, there were a few readers who tauntingly asked, "Hindi ka pa ba napapagod?" There were some who wondered why but for the "usual" noise from the "usual" characters, there seemed to be only cold indifference from the public-at-large to the burning issues of that controversial, nay, give-away MOA on Ancestral Domain with the MILF, or the clear attempt to piggyback charter change on federalism and the provisions of the pact with the Muslim secessionists. Where is the outrage, many ask?

Too busy with day-to-day survival, the average Filipino just blacks out the more lofty concerns from their minds, because at the end of the day, it's what's going to cook in the pot tomorrow that matters to him and his brood. And this, it would seem, is precisely how the evil geniuses in the stinking palace beside the stinking river have had it all figured out.

"Basta't siguruhin ninyong hindi kakapusin sa bigas at instant noodles," the Boss Woman orders, "forever and ever na tayo".

Have we been reduced to this state?

"Hayaan mo na lang yung mga Muslim sa Mindanao...mabuti nga at mahihiwalay na sila sa atin", an ex-seminarian who was a classmate in some post-graduate courses wrote. So myopic. So parochial. So very tribal. Absolutely no sense of nation.

But a soldier assigned in the Cordilleras warmed the cockles of my heart: "Ano po ang isusunod? Will the Ifugaos and the Kankaneys next demand a Cordillera Juridical Entity? All they need is arms, and then a declaration of belligerency, and the Philippine government will surrender. If I were Jose Ma. Sison, I would concentrate all the forces of the NPA in Eastern Visayas, or Bicol, and then follow the path taken by the MILF. As you wrote in your Abante column, "talagang wasak" na ang ating bansa."

Thank God for that soldier. Would that his superior officers think and feel the same way as he, never mind the Esperons of this wretched world. I was tempted to ask the soldier, would you fight, would you die, for this kind of government, for this treacherous commander-in-chief?

And then there are these excerpts from a long letter of angst sent by a lady whom I shall not identify, because her position in a multilateral agency might be jeopardized, even if in truth, she courageously identified herself:

"Every night, I come home and am compelled to turn on my TV to watch the latest turn of events. I am mesmerized by these characters (I see). They are not men. They are caricatures of men - too unreal to be believable and too bad to be real. To see these 'honorable' crooks lambaste each other, call each one names, look each other in the eye and accuse the other of committing the very same crimes that they themselves are guilty of, is so comical and appalling that I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

"I have never seen so many criminals roaming around unfettered and looking smug until now. These criminals wear suits and barongs, strut around with the confidence of the rich and famous, inspire fear and awe from the very citizens who voted them to power, bear titles like 'Honorable', 'Senator', 'Justice', 'General' and worse, 'President'. Ironically, these lawless individuals practice law, make our laws, enforce the law. And we wonder why our policemen act the way they do! These are their leaders, and the leaders of this nation ? Robin Hoodlum and his band of moneymen. (Robina Hoodlum and her band, perhaps? But then again, good lady Robina Gokongwei might take offense.) Their motto? 'Rob the poor; moderate the greed of the rich.

"It makes me wonder where on earth these people came from, and what kind of upbringing they had to make them act the way they do for all the world to see. It makes me wonder what kind of schools they went to, what kind of teachers they had, what kind of environment would produce such creatures who can lie, cheat and steal from an already indebted country and from the impoverished people they had vowed to serve. It makes me wonder what their children and grandchildren think of them, and if they are breeding a whole new generation of improved Filipino crooks and liars with maybe a tad more style but equally negligible conscience. Heaven forbid!

"I am an ordinary citizen and taxpayer. I am blessed to have a job that pays for my needs and those of my family's, even though 30 percent of my earnings go to the nation's coffers. Just like others in my lot, I have complained time and again because our government could not provide enough of the basic services that I expect and deserve. Rutty roads, poor educational system, poor social services, poor health services, poor everything. But I have always thought that was what all Third World countries were all about, and my complaints never amounted to anything more.

"And then this. Scandalous government deals. Plundering presidents pointing fingers. Senators associated with crooks. Congressmen who accept bribes. Big time lawyers on the side of injustice. De Venecia ratting on his boss only after his interminable term has ended, Enrile inquiring about someone's morality! The already filthy rich Abalos and Arroyo wanting more money than they or their great-grandchildren could ever spend in a lifetime. Joker making a joke of his own 'pag bad ka, lagot ka!' slogan. Defensor rendered defenseless. Gen. Razon involved in kidnapping. (That is news to this writer. I must have missed that news report.) Security men providing anything but a sense of security. And it's all about money, money, money that the average Juan de la Cruz could not even imagine in his dreams. Is it any wonder why our few remaining decent and hardworking citizens are leaving to go work in other countries?

"And worst of all, we are once again saddled with a power-hungry president whose addiction has her clinging on to it like barnacle on a rusty ship. 'Love (of power) is blind' takes a whole new meaning when PGMA time and again turns a blind eye on her husband's financial deals. And still blinded with all that is happening, she opts to traipse around the world with her cohorts in tow while her country is in shambles.

"They say the few stupid ones like me who remain in the Philippines are no longer capable of showing disgust. I don't agree. Many like me feel anger at the brazenness of men we call our leaders, embarrassment to share the same nationality with them, frustration for our nation and helplessness at my own ineffectuality.

"It is not that I won't make a stand. It is just that I am afraid my actions would only be futile. After all, these monsters are capable of anything. They can hurt me and my family. They already have, though I may not yet feel it.

"But I am writing this because I need to do something concrete. I need to let others know that ordinary citizens like me do not remain lukewarm to issues that would later affect me and my children. I want to make it known that there are also Filipinos who dream of something better for the Philippines. I want them to know that my country is not filled with scalawags and crooks in every corner, and that there are citizens left who believe in decency, fairness, a right to speak, a right to voice out ideas, a right to tell the people we have trusted to lead us that they have abused their power and that it is time for them to step down. I refuse to let this country go to hell because it is the only country I call mine and it is my responsibility to make sure I have done what I could for it."

The letter is actually much longer, but I guess this will do for now. If only more of us in this benighted land would have the kind of outrage this noble lady feels. Yes, Philippines; yes, Filipinos, there is hope. Feel it yourselves, in the marrow of your bones.

And if I might add a constant refrain: there is a God. Gloria and her cohorts might have overlooked this in their obsession and lust for power and all that it brings them, but yes, Philippines, there is a God who does not sleep.

Malaya, August 16, 2008

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Beyond shame

My friend Conrad de Quiros has been consis-tently saying that her gravest of sins is her illegitimacy. Nothing could be worse than stealing the people's vote, he always writes. The lying and the stealing will always follow the cheating. How absolutely correct.

When the FSGO wrote about the seven curses brought about by the Arroyo regime, it listed her illegitimate leadership as Curse Number Six, and Conrad disagreed with the hierarchy of the litany of curses. Of course the FSGO titled its pre-SONA statement as "The Stolen Republic," as contra-distinguished from what Gloria Macapagal Arroyo keeps touting as her "strong" republic.

In this space, for months on end, we have been writing a definitive conclusion that some of our friends found too speculative: That she will not go quietly into the night after her stolen term ends on June 30, 2010. No, it's not like Cory refusing to extend her stay in power, even if she had a legal peg. She was elected under the aegis of the Marcos Constitution of 1973, in a framework of dictatorial rule. The transitory provisions of the 1987 Cory Constitution did not expressly restrict the incumbent president from seeking election under its framework. But Cory Aquino had class. She refused the blandishments of extended power, and she transferred power to Fidel V. Ramos with absolute grace.

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has absolutely no class. And the grace of self-abnegation is alien to her persona, certainly not in character. When Joseph Estrada appointed her his social welfare secretary, she and her husband started plotting, along with faithful acolytes some of whom have regretted their participation, on how to prematurely eject the duly elected president. Estrada had the grace to conscript her in his government, the kind of grace Carlos P. Garcia did not deign her father Diosdado, who was his elected vice-president, worthy of. But her father Diosdado plodded on, and defeated Garcia fair and square in the elections of 1961. And Garcia had the grace to accept defeat.

Not his daughter Gloria, though. She conspired with many to eject Estrada. She succeeded, by "grace" of Sin and the treachery of Estrada's military generals.

Claiming after two years in power that she had failed to heal the wounds inflicted upon the nation by the "divisiveness" her act of usurpation had spawned, she pledged, with the national hero's monument as witness, that she would voluntarily remove herself from the electoral contest of 2004. At that very instant, I did not believe her. I just wondered how she would wiggle out of her avowal. I was right. In October of 2003, this time in her father's Kapampangan homeland, she took back the words that nine months before she declared in Baguio. Her excuse? The opposition taunted her with false charges. Instead of harkening to her proffered political "sacrifice" and uniting behind her, the opposition continued to fight her. And so she will fight, she said then. He, he, he. Only the naive believed her in December 30, 2002 anyway.

But perhaps that was in character. Her father Diosdado also promised his fellow Liberal Party leader, Ferdinand Marcos, that he would rule for only one term. He was not true to his spoken word, so Marcos jumped ship, joined the rival Nacionalista Party, and became its standard bearer in 1965. But here is where father and daughter differ. Diosdado accepted his defeat, and as far as political history writes, he did not attempt to cheat to prevail over his political rival. So he served his one and only term, content, as he later wrote, that he had contributed a "stone to the edifice" of nation-building.

In the case of Diosdado's daughter, she was not beneath conspiring, as constitutional successor, to destroy and eventually eject her elected president. Then, she dishonored her own vow not to seek election. And worse than all these, she conspired with election officials and military generals who have no concept of honor to ensure her victory. Nothing could be more dishonorable.

When we had the chance to eject her because we all discovered her illegitimacy, "not once, but twice" as her cheated and fallen rival's widow charged, we failed. Why?

Because Gloria's amoral use of power and public money prevailed against the puny if sincere attempts of many of us to save the nation from this paragon of lying, cheating and stealing. She beat us, even the less than fifty congressmen who remained steadfast despite the bribes and the pressures, simply because she was "beyond shame."

(After Hello Garci burst her electoral claim, some members of what contemporary history calls the Hyatt Ten, asked her to consider the honorable act of relinquishing power. In the welter of their arguments, she supposedly told them, "I am already beyond shame".)

Attempts to recreate people power then went for naught, among other reasons being the trepidation to jump into the unknown of a Noli de Castro succession. Where in the first people power revolt, we summoned the best in our national character and made a courageous leap into the future, when it came to ejecting the unelected and the cheat, we quibbled, we hesitated, and decided by apathy and inaction, to accept what ought to be patently unacceptable. How our mores have changed.

And so now we try to survive her. We suffer what would be insufferable to other people in other nations who understand what national honor means.

We kept consoling ourselves that this unhappy chapter will end anyway on June 30, 2010. Now it is clear she intends to stay beyond, and perhaps, till death do us part. And she has no qualms about using the Moro card, and sacrificing the lives of soldiers and civilians in the process, just to push naked obsession for continued power and continuing immunity for high crimes. Now she piggybacks on the federalism card, ostensibly to push peace in her time with the Moros, when all she wants is power for all time.

So what are we to do? What should we do?

The answer ought to be simple. Eject her from office that does not lawfully and morally belong to her anyway.

When? The answer ought to be simple too. Now. Because we should have done that earlier.

But how? We removed Marcos. Some of us ejected Estrada. Can we not summon the same courage that animated people power in 1986?

If we cannot, or those of us who are able to - decide not to move, and merely and meekly suffer in abject indifference, preferring instead to "move on" or plod on with our individual lives, never mind the nation's life, never mind the nation's honor, never mind the nation's future, then God help us all.

We might as well line up for immigrant visas to the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity.

Malaya, August 14, 2008

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sabi na nga ba

O hayan, ‘di mismong sa bibig na ng Donya nanggaling, na nais niyang baguhin ang sistema natin patungo sa isang federal na bansa.

Matatandaan ng mga tagasubaybay ng ating mga kolum, na noon pang isang buwan, isinulat natin sa pahayagang Malaya ang isang artikulong pinamagatang “Moro-moro in the works” na nagbibigay-babala sa balakin ni Donya Gloria na gamitin ang negosasyon sa mga MILF upang isulong ang pag-amyenda ng Saligang Batas.

Noong Lunes, sa bangketeng inihain niya sa pangulo ng bansang Suisa, na mukhang nasa pitong talampakan ang taas, dahil sa litrato ay tila abot-sikmura niya lang ang ating Donya Gloria, inamin na ng pumapangulo ng bansa na nais niyang palitan ang sistema, tulad ng sa Suisa, na isang pederasyon ng mga lalawigan o “canton” sa wika nila. Nauna rito, inamin ni Esperon at Dureza na para maisakatuparan ang MOA na kanilang isinusulong, kailangan ngang amyendahan ang Saligang Batas.

Wika nga ni Senador Ping Lacson noong unang lumabas ang ukol sa kasunduang ito, may “maitim na balakin” ang pamahalaang Arroyo.

Masyado naman yatang sinusuwerte si Donya Gloria. Nang-agaw na nga ng kapangyarihan mula kay Erap, at dahil dito ay umupo bilang pangulo mula Enero 21, 2001 hanggang Hunyo 30, 2004. Tatlong taon, limang buwan at sampung araw ang ninakaw kay Erap at sa sambayanang legal na inihalal si Erap. Pagkatapos, sa tulong ni Garci, Abalos, Esperon, Ebdane, Lomibao at iba pa, ninakawan ang sambayanan at si FPJ ng boto.

Kaya’t kung walang mangyayari sa kanya, anim na taong singkad, mula Hunyo 30, 2004 hanggang Hunyo 30, 2010, ay titiisin ng sambayanan ang kanyang liderato.

Walang pangulo, liban kay Marcos, ang naging pangulo sa mas mahabang panahon, at pumapangalawa na si Donya Gloria. Si Quezon ay anim na taong pangulo dito sa Pilipinas, at na-destiyero sa Amerika noong panahon ng pandaigdigang digmaan, hanggang sa doon na binawian ng buhay. Si Quirino ay naging pangulo ng higit anim na taon. Si Osmeña at Laurel ay ilang taon lamang. Si Roxas at Magsaysay ay namatay na ni hindi natapos ang kanilang unang termino. Si Garcia ay namuno ng limang taon at siyam na buwan lamang. Maging ang ama ni Gloria na si Diosdado ay isang buong termino ng apat na taon lamang, dahil tinalo na ni Marcos noong tangkaing magpa-reeleksyon. Matapos naman ang dalawampung taon at dalawang buwan ni Marcos, si Cory ay isang termino lamang, gayundin si Fidel Ramos. Pero si Gloria ay pitong taon, anim na buwan, at 23 araw na ngayon na nasa Malacañang. At malinaw na walang planong lumisan maski tapos na ang termino niya sa Hunyo 30, 2010.

Dahil sa pagnanasang ito, pati ang katahimikan sa Mindanao ay isinangkalan. Pati ang pagkakaisa ng bansa ay winasak. Pati teritoryo ng maliit nating republika ay pinakikialaman. At ngayong nag-umpisa nang sumabog ang kaguluhan, at maaaring maging ganap na pagdanak na muli ng dugo sa Mindanao, heto’t sinusulong na ang kanyang walang katapusang ambisyon.

Personal ang dahilan, sariling interes, at hindi ang kabutihan ng bayan ang siyang isinusulong. Matapos na makita ang kinasapitan ni Thaksin ng Thailand, siguro’y natatakot ang pamilya Arroyo sa maaaring sapitin nila kung wala na sa kapangyarihan. Bagama’t kaalyado sa pulitika ni Thaksin ang kasalukuyang namumuno na si Samak Sundarajev, hindi pa rin napigilang usigin si Thaksin sa kanyang mga kasalanan diumano sa bansa. At kung ating tutuusin, wala sa kalingkingan ng kasalanan ng pamilya Arroyo ang nagawa ng mag-asawang Thaksin Shinawatra.

Ngunit biglang lumisan si Thaksin at kanyang maybahay sa kanilang bansa bago maghatol ang kanilang Korte Suprema na may basehan ang pag-usig at pagkaso sa kanila sa salang graft and corruption. Kasalukuyang naka-destiyero sila sa Inglatera.

Bilog ang mundo, wika nga. Maski sa Pilipinas, bilog ang mundo. Gaya nga ng kasabihan nating mga Pinoy, “may araw ka rin”, at iyan ang kinatatakutan ni Donya Gloria.

Abante, Agosto 13, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I remember the months after her "election" in 2004. A high official sought a meeting with me. In so many words, and after several bottles of beer, the messages delivered were one, healing, and the other, legacy.

The first was standard refrain after every electoral battle. At the time, our impression was the opposition lost because of the preponderance of resources used by the incumbent against an admittedly divided opposition, the main candidate of which was unable to muster the organizational strength required to prevent an avalanche of "command votes" in areas where they could still be produced. Little did we know then that Hello Garci happened.

The other message, was "legacy" or better put, her desire to spend her "elected" term, defined in the Constitution as her one and only six-year term, which would nevertheless make her the longest-serving president after Ferdinand Marcos (three years, five months and ten days of Erap’s truncated term plus six years beats Quezon, Quirino and Garcia, who served more than their four-year elected term, and Macapagal, her father who served only one term of four years, plus Magsaysay and Roxas put together, whose terms were cut short by death. And more years than Cory, who served for six years, 4 months and 4 days, FVR for a single term of six years, and of course, the unfortunate Estrada). More than enough years to "make good" or "do good" and be remembered in history for contributing, in the words of her own father Diosdado, "a stone upon the edifice" of nation-building.

But as you and I and at least 83 percent of the nation based on surveys here and surveys there would show, to our eternal regret, "legacy" was not meant to be the lofty aspiration it was painted then.

"Legacy" would be, take your pick: presiding over the most corrupt administration in Philippine history; presiding over the most acute period of hunger and deprivation in a time of peace, not war; destroying our democratic institutions; and last because it is the worst – being an unelected and therefore, illegitimate leader of the land. Now we are about to add another stone to her "edifice" of destruction, masterminding the willful dismemberment of the Republic.

Now let me flash back to another time, no less perilous to the Republic, but under hands decidedly more decent. The recollection comes of a conversation in 1986 among Mamintal Tamano, yet to be elected to the Senate of the post-Marcos Republic, Vice-President Salvador H. Laurel, and myself, at the latter’s office, then in the Executive House, now the National Museum.

Tamano was talking about a recent trip President Cory and several others had, to Sulu, where she was to meet Nur Misuari, the MNLF leader, in the first of attempts to forge peace in Moroland. He, as a Muslim leader who supported democracy against his friend Marcos was asked to join the trip. As the President’s plane approached Zamboanga airspace, two PAF jets (yes, they had fighter jets yet in those times) zoomed and escorted them. It was probably the first time President Cory witnessed something like that, according to the gentle Mike, as he reported to us how she said "iba pala ang maging presidente!" experiencing, as any mortal would, the exhilaration of pomp and circumstance that power headily brings.

As those were early days, President Cory, observed Tamano, was getting a "feel of the presidency."

Two days after Edsa Dos, upon the other hand, Gloria’s new justice secretary, through a legal opinion signed by him, extended sovereign guarantee to the loans that Impresas Metalurgicas Pescarmona de Argentina, Sociedad Anonima (IMPSA), won during the Ramos administration, to rehabilitate the Kalayaan power plant in Laguna. The project could not take off the ground as financing was withheld by foreign banks which needed "sovereign" guarantee, which, simply put, meant that the Philippine government would pay for the loans, if IMPSA was unable to honor its obligations. That guarantee would have to be extended already by the Estrada administration. But in the wake of the Asian financial crisis, and the discovery that there was excess supply of energy from the combined capacities of several power plants contracted during his predecessor’s term, Estrada’s economic team balked at the extension of any further sovereign guarantees for BOT projects.

To be sure, Pescarmona pulled all the stops in trying to get the guarantee from Estrada. A state visit was arranged for Estrada to the land of the pampas, with President Menem a gracious host. Before flying to Argentina from Santiago in Chile, where our party was also feted in another state visit after the APEC Summit in Auckland, New Zealand, we landed first at the province of Mendoza, headquarters of IMPSA. There, after a tour of their facilities, undoubtedly intended to impress Estrada that they had the capability for the Kalayaan project and more, a sumptuous lunch complete with a tango performance was hosted by the Pescarmonas in their beautiful hacienda home.

But back in Manila, the financial managers were adamant, and the "ligaw" by IMPSA’s foreign and local agents still could not secure the needed sovereign undertaking. Then the political world of Estrada collapsed, after revelations of Chavit were climaxed by the revelations of Clarissa. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo found herself president, not as it turns out, by a confluence of events, but through a conspiracy that ran into good luck.

Two days after stepping foot in Malacañang, the first "stink" in what was to turn out to be the most stinking palace beside the stinking river, was signed, sealed and delivered, to Pescarmona–the sovereign undertaking of the new Arroyo government.

Cory Aquino is remembered for having re-established democracy, after suffering the indescribable pain of losing her husband to an assassin’s bullet. Like any human being suddenly thrust into the apex of political power, she must have turned giddy at the trappings of absolute power, as that vignette from the late Mike Tamano showed. She was likewise tempted by the blandishments of such power. But if there is anything history would fault Cory Aquino for, it would be her lack of appetite for the opportunities that power extended. She was, after all, a virtual dictator by the terms of the Freedom Constitution forged and promulgated days after her ascension. She was on top of the world then, and if she had prolonged the life of her absolutism, the country would have approved. But she did not. She wanted a Constitution, and she, sooner than expected, proclaimed an independent Congress. As she ran under the 1973 Constitution, she could have easily run for another term under the 1987 Constitution. Barristers and even the Supreme Court would have found that too difficult to deny. But she did not. She presided with grace and dignity over democratic transition when she handed the reins of power to Fidel Valdez Ramos. That is legacy.

As fighter escorts made Cory feel the pomp of power, so too did the IMPSA deal make Gloria realize the circumstances that come with power. Those circumstances and its attendant benefits were soon to multiply, as the nation discovered one stinking deal after another, from the overpriced Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard to the unexplainable ZYE-NBN deal. Thus, what former Speaker Jose B. Laurel attributed to the "narcotic effects of power" in the case of Marcos, may well be used to describe the obsession of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to remain in power.

But now she has gone a step much too far. As she dreads the possibilities of prosecution for crimes against the people, not the least of which is usurpation of power by conspiratorial cheating, she would allow anything, even the potential dismemberment of the Republic, if the same would serve as justification for her remaining in power. Thus, the sleight of hand that foisted the MOA on ancestral domain with the MILF, forged under her watch and with her approval, stands as testament, not to a desire to bring lasting peace, but as a ploy to change the Constitution in order to allow the full implementation of the terms of the concordat. What may have started as a sincere initiative for peace on the part of negotiators led by Rodolfo Garcia, is now perceived as a devious scheme presided over by her new peace adviser, not too coincidentally, the former chief of staff of the armed forces whose credentials to promotion were forged on the anvil of the 2004 electoral conspiracy.

Now the scheme has backfired, and pushed the country further away from peace, and closer to renewed hostilities and the beginnings of aggravated civil strife. The Christians in Mindanao despise her. The Moros with whom she parlayed this agreement smell treachery.

Certainly, they could not believe how a unanimous TRO from the Supreme Court materialized, with at the very least five toadies who would do as she bids. Did she bid them to do as their judgment and conscience dictated? Why, her Esperon was too anxious to board the plane Tuesday afternoon, confident that the Supreme Court would not stop his misadventure, or so it seemed to even those who were on the same plane with him to Kuala Lumpur that afternoon.

Now what began as an earnest desire for lasting peace on the part of negotiators, and what was deviously schemed into as a ploy to prolong her term, has metamorphosed into frightful Armageddon.

And so, the final curse, on top of what the FSGO on the eve of her SONA described as the seven curses arising from a "stolen republic" – dismemberment. Such would be the legacy of Doña Gloria.

As this article could not be transmitted in time for last Saturday due to technical difficulties, I couldn’t help but notice, while watching the live CCTV coverage of the spectacular four-hour opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympiad, that while heads of state or even lower-ranked officials who attended were focused upon by the cameras as their national athletes marched, when the small Filipino contingent led by Manny Pacquiao in aqua blue barongs marched in among the last, the cameras failed to pan on the Philippine head of state. Why, even officials from small principalities and dirt poor African countries were seen waving to their respective delegations, but CCTV cameras refused to show Dona Gloria.

Well, might as well be. That would have spoiled what little national pride welled in as our small band of athletes marched by.

Malaya, August 12, 2008

Anong kabutihan?

Noong isang linggo ay nakatanggap ako ng text message mula sa isang kaibigan. Hindi raw niya maturuan ang anak na batang nag-aaral sa elementary. May homework daw mula sa guro, at ang pinasasagot na tanong ay: “Bumanggit ng limang kabutihan (achievement) na nagawa ni Pangulong Arroyo”. Pabiro kong sinagot ng ganito: “Ha ha ha ha ha.

O iyan, lima ‘yan”. Sumagot ang kaibigan ko nang, “Honestly, wala akong maisip na mabuting ginawa”.

Kung kabaligtaran ang tinanong ng guro, kay da­ming maaaring banggitin. At sa panahong ito, liban sa sobrang hirap ng buhay at kawalan ng pag-asa, maaari pang idagdag ang pinakahuling kapalpakan -- ang malabong pakikipagkasundo sa MILF, na imbes na makatulong upang isulong ang pangmatagalang kapayapaan sa Mindanao, ay lalong nagpasiklab ng mga damdamin doon, at maaari pang kung ituloy ay umabot sa pagkakawasak ng ating iisang bansa.

Matama kong pinanood ang pagkaganda-gandang mga seremonya sa pag-umpisa ng ika-29 na Olimpiyada sa Beijing. Talaga namang kahanga-hanga at napakaengrande ng makasaysayang araw na iyon sa palakasan.

Binabati natin ang bansang Tsina sa kanilang nagawa.

Dalawang daan at apat na bansa, maging mga teritoryong hidni naman independiyente ay nagsidalo at sumali sa Olimpiyada. Hintay kami nang hintay sa paglabas ng ating dele­gasyon ng mga atleta, ngunit tatlong oras na ay hindi pa halos lumalabas. Kay dami ng mga atleta ng malalaki at mayayamang bansa, at sa pagmartsa ng kanilang mga delegasyon,

pinakikita ang kanilang mga pinuno ng bansa o ‘di kaya’y matataas na opisyal na nasa espesyal na lugar sa mga nanonood. Sa katagalan,

lumabas din ang siguro’y mga labinlimang delegasyon natin, at ang humawak ng bandila ay si Manny Pacquiao. Ngunit hindi itinapat ng mga kamera ng CCTV ang lider ng ating bansa, na sadyang bumiyahe pa sa Tsina para dumalo sa pagbukas ng Olimpiyada. Samantala, maski mga pinuno ng mas mahihirap na bansa, tulad ng Tonga, ng Benin, ng Niger, ay pinakilala sa mga nanonood. Bakit kaya inisnab ng CCTV si Donya Gloria?


Kay daming nag-react sa ating pitak na pinamagatang “pagpag”. Marami ang nagsipanood sa YouTube matapos mabasa ang nakaaantig-damdaming salaysay natin ukol sa paghalukay sa basura ng mga tira-tira sa mga restawran, at mu­ling pag­luto at pagbenta nito sa mga karinderya.

Lubhang nalungkot sa kinasapitan ng kahirapan sa ating bansa ang mga nagsipagsulat, at marami pa nga ang nagsabing sila’y napaiyak. Ngunit may isang lumiham mula sa labas ng bansa na sinabing hindi na raw dapat na isulat ang ganitong mga hindi magandang pangyayari sa ating bansa.

Bagama’t totoong nakalulungkot ang ganitong kinasapitan ng bayan, hindi maitatago ang katotohanan, anupaman ang pagkubling gawin.

Samantala, habang si DOT Sec. Ace Durano ay patuloy na ibinebenta ang ating magagandang lugar sa mga turista, dayuhan man o lokal, ay eto ang isang medyo bago pa, at mamahaling otel sa Boracay na namimili ng customer na papapasukin sa kanilang restawran.

Isang alkalde pa mandin ng lungsod sa Kamaynilaan ang ayaw papasukin ng manager ng restawran ng Discovery Shores sa Boracay maski na may mga bakante namang lamesa, at nang ito’y umangal, ay pinanindigan pang lalo. Paanong lalago ang turismo kung may mga ganitong establisimiyento, na ang may-ari at nagpa­patakbo ay mga Pinoy rin? Pangdayuhan lang ba ang kanilang otel at restawran?

Abante, Agosto 12, 2008