Monday, April 20, 2009

What do we do with the crocs?

So many miss the good old days, b4 the crocs came marching in with a terrible vengeance. Readers from all over sent us mail to express their gratitude to friend Dennis Garcia’s contribution, and this space for bringing back memories of the good times.

A reader from San Diego in Southern California misses “such productive years compared to the current state of life among Filipinos”. He last visited the country two years ago, and saw “most people dissatisfied, (with) the looks in their faces showing the grim pain of extreme poverty they suffer (on account of) those alligators in government service”.

“When I was studying in the National University in the early sixties, the crime rate was negligible…people were happy and you could see that”, Soc Punay wrote.

Another reader sent in a longer litany of cost-differences between the now and then. Such as making do with a “baon” of just twenty-five centavos when he was in grade school. And jeepney fare was ten centavos. You could buy a hefty serving of lechon in Sta, Cruz, he swore, for only 50 centavos, good enough for two, with rice, (Wow! That must have been the fifties.)

A reader who finished education at the UST, and now resides in Alberta, Canada, is “pained” to read from the internet, about the “bad news” and the “worst leadership our people have to suffer”. Now, he claims “he loves being a Canadian and know how lucky my family is to be living in one of the top 10 countries of the world”. Yet, the Philippines is still “my home”, he says, and “I pray for societal changes, good governance and good citizenship, where leaders have honesty, integrity and compassion for the poor”.

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Oh well… read this and gnash your teeth again.

A once “small-time” contractor from Batangas has scandalized the people of his small town with his ostentatious flaunting of unexplainable wealth. His hamlet of a town, which used to be just a barrio of Lipa City, once thought that their richest inhabitant was the movie actor Aga Muhlach and his family. The matinee idol bought a few hectares of land in Mataas na Kahoy, and built a modest resthouse, where he, his wife and kids learn the joys of gardening and orchard-tending, amidst the relative cool of this mountain hamlet.

But a few years ago, this small-time contractor became big, very big. He has built a ten-room mansion in Mataas na Kahoy worth a cool 150 million. DPWH insiders are amazed at his ability to get big-ticket road construction projects quite easily. The guy even bought a four-story building in Lipa a year ago and had it renovated fabulously. Two years ago, he acquired another 50 hectares of land in Mataas na Kahoy (eat your heart out, Aga!).

And that’s not all. My informant tells me that the instant billionaire bought a huge property in Los Angeles last year, and months after, another house just across the earlier acquisition. Wow! Sino ang konek n’ya?

Now drool further…this guy drives around in style, with a Mercedes Benz GLK, a Hummer H2, another Mercedes Benz, this time a G55, and a Lincoln Navigator. He sometimes uses a Cadillac Escalade, and also a bullet-proof Chevy Suburban. And he also had his Ford Expedition bullet-proofed. Then again, he also owns an Audi R8, a Porsche Carrera S, a Jaguar XJR, a BMW Z4 M Series, another BMW Z4 Convertible, a Volvo sedan, and another Mercedes Benz, this time a Series S 550.

And since he wants to promote his Mataas na Kahoy as a second Tagaytay, he is now building a hotel beside his mansion, worth 250 million pesos.

For the past several years, the Arroyo administration has spent billions upon billions of the people’s money in computerizing the BIR, the LTO, and the Land Registration Authority. All these agencies have to do is cross-check with each other’s record of property acquisition, motor vehicle acquisition, and the incomes declared with the BIR. And catch crocs, or croc-handlers.

But the more important question people want to know is --- how did this guy get so big? What “croc” in government is he handling? What “croc” in government made him so big? Surely that “croc” is bigger than this Batangueno from Mataas na Kahoy?

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Reader Raffy B though, sends in a suggestion on what to do with crocs:
“Maybe you have read about Northern Territory’s (Australia) plan of culling the crocs in the Darwin area after their deadly attacks on humans the last few days. The plan of the government is to allow hunters to kill the crocs at a fee of maybe $5,000 to shoot these beasts.
“It came to my mind that the Philippines should perhaps also introduce this way of getting rid of the crocs that infest the Pasig River or other areas where they prosper (such as in upper Quezon City, not far from the Payatas dumpsite), or in almost every big city or rich province. I know you know who and where they are. Many would shoot our Philippine “crocs” for much less than the Australian government is contemplating on spending”.

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Over the weekend, I found myself in beautiful Palawan. I did not visit the crocodile farm though. I instead listened to factual “Tales of the Palawan Crocs” from various concerned citizens. More on these in succeeding articles.