Saturday, July 26, 2008 


by TheDivineMissM!

Being away from the Philippines, it is so easy to forget that this happens everyday. They are our brother, they are our sisters. They were like us once, studying for the UPCAT, they stood under the shadows of Oble, scampered to buy Blue Books before an exam, photocopied readings, joined "mobs". If we were the same batch, they could have sat next to us at orientation. We could have stood next to them at concerts. We may even have been in the same queue to use those abominable students toilet.

But we are not them. Because we never made the choices they did. They went out and acted on the lessons they learnt at UP. They continued the tradition of organising communities and speaking out. And they fell victim, like many UP students before them. When will it ever stop? Will we ever find our voice to do something about it?

If they had not met this fate, would they have turned out like us? All the idealism and isko spirit seeping out of us with each year that passes, replaced with middle-class concerns like bills and taxes, and our belief that we will change the country is slowly eclipsed by a lifestyle of conspicuous consumerism.

I am proud to be a UP grad. Can UP be proud of me...?

Mothers of 'desaparecidos' left to seek children, justice on their own
07/17/2008 | 09:15 PM

If there is one person best placed to explain why the best definition of torture includes the deliberate infliction of mental as well as physical pain, it is Erlinda Cadapan, the 59 year-old mother of missing university student Sherlyn.

It is now more than two years since her daughter was abducted by suspected military agents and joined the long list of desaparecidos -- human rights activists and political leaders who have ‘been disappeared’ and simply vanished.

Sherlyn, a sports science student at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City, was taken at gunpoint on June 26, 2006 alongside fellow student Karen Empeño and farmer Manuel Merino, who stepped in to try and help after hearing the girls' scream. All three were reportedly bundled into a stainless steel jeep with license plate number RTF597.

The three disappeared two years ago last month while working as community organizers in Bulacan just north of Manila. Jonas Burgos was similarly working there at the time he was famously abducted from a shopping mall in Quezon City 10 months later.

"The only thing normal in my life is the abnormality of it," said Mrs. Cadapan who, like Edita Burgos, mother of missing Jonas, refuses to give up looking or simply stay home waiting for news that might not ever come.

While the government and the executive may be systematically failing all those missing -- unable or simply unwilling to help -- the families of the disappeared refuse to give up and become silent victims themselves.

Mrs. Cadapan can no longer count how many times she travels three hours to Manila each week to give interviews, attend forums and speak at meetings. Often she arrives home late at night only to receive a text asking her to return to the capital the following day for another event.

Despite financial constraints and the incessant traveling that is taking its toll, she welcomes each and every invitation to speak.

"I have to do this as mothers who give up never find their children," she told the Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project.

"I really need to remain active so the international community, our local media, even the authorities and, too, the perpetrators know that I know where my daughter is. The military is holding her and it is the military's responsibility to help me find my daughter," Mrs. Cadapan said.

Speaking last month in a live television debate, Mrs. Cadapan explained how she had repeatedly been turned away by soldiers at gunpoint when turning up at military bases to look for her daughter.

Last December, two farming brothers testified at the Court of Appeals how they had been held captive by the military alongside Sherlyn and the two others.

Raymund Manalo provided a detailed account of the time he spent with Sherlyn, Karen and Manuel as part of a petition for a writ of amparo served on the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) by Mrs. Cadapan.

The writ of amparo obliges respondents to prove they did not violate the human rights of the named people.

Manalo, whose testimony corroborated accounts given by other abductees, stated how he and his brother had been held captive alongside Sherlyn and the others in Camp Tecson in San Miguel in Bulacan. Camp Tecson hosts the First Scout Ranger Regiment. He added that they were then all transferred to the 24th Infantry Battalion (IB) camp in Limay in Bataan.

He testified how Sherlyn, who was expecting her first baby when abducted, was chained up, tortured and repeatedly raped. He also claimed that the two women suddenly disappeared from the military camp one day in June 2007 when he, his brother and Merino were all taken out and forced to sleep overnight in a nearby forest.

Manalo testified that they were brought back the following day but that neither he nor his brother ever saw Sherlyn and Karen again. He claimed Merino was subsequently killed and his body burnt inside the camp, and was told by a soldier not to bother looking for Sherlyn or Karen as they and Merino were "already together."

The AFP continues to deny any responsibility for the abductions or knowledge about their whereabouts. However, the Court of Appeals has ruled that there was strong evidence that Merino and the others were abducted by the military. It moreover found that Major General Jovito Palparan, former commander of the 7th Infantry Battalion, "was not telling the whole truth," and his men were "evasive and contradictory" in their claims to know nothing about the case.

Palparan, the army's former counter insurgency chief and a fierce anti-Communist, has been charged by the media and human rights groups with responsibility for abductions and extra judicial killings. When it was finally published in February last year, the government's own Melo Commission report claimed "there was an increase in activist killings in the areas where Gen. Palparan was assigned."

Palparan denies any responsibility for extra judicial killings.

Still hoping

Yet despite testimonies, both Mrs. Cadapan and Karen's mother, Mrs. Concepcion Empeño, are still hoping that their daughters will one day return safely home.

"The only hope I am holding on right now is that I will be able to see Karen soon," Mrs. Empeño said in a phone interview. "We are always waiting for her. I will always keep on searching."

Says Mrs. Cadapan: "I never thought that something bad would happen to my child because I see nothing wrong with her being an activist, helping the people who were not familiar with the laws and the benefits they should be receiving. To me this constitutes helping the government but the government obviously thinks otherwise."

Mrs. Cadapan added that it was only after her daughter disappeared that she realized their family had been under some kind of surveillance. Still, though, she cannot quite believe it.

"I never thought my family would be a victim of a human rights violation by the government. I am respected in our community as the secretary of the homeowners association. When the head is not available, people come to me and so I never had any inkling that we had a problem with the authorities," she said.

Now though her heart is full of pure anger for those she considers responsible for her daughter's disappearance.

"When I imagine how they tortured my daughter, my anger with the government boils up as I expect them to protect and serve the people as mandated by our Constitution," Mrs. Cadapan said.

Perhaps not unexpectedly, the case of their missing daughters has turned both mothers into activists themselves. It is both part therapy and part solidarity. The mothers of the disappeared help and strengthen each other. Many of them also look to and receive support from the human rights group Karapatan.

According to its general secretary, Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Karapatan provides a range of services to the families of victims including legal support, assistance and even counseling.

"Our office is an office in the morning and a safe house in the evening for people to come when they need to," she said, adding that they encourage the relatives to organize themselves into a group "because it is only when they are together that they see hope".

Mrs. Cadapan agrees. By bonding together and with the support of groups like Karapatan and support among the media, the families of the victims are able to gain strength from each other, and to make a lot of noise and heap pressure on those deemed responsible for the desaparecidos -- both perpetrators and the politicians who claim to be in charge. - Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project

Thursday, February 28, 2008 

Wo Ai Glo?

by MrsPartyGirl

Once upon a time, in old Europe, the act of treason was punishable by beheading. I guess, it won't be too much of a loss to chop off one particular head today.

Read on guys...


by Ricky Carandang

Allow me to expound a little on a story I did for The Correspondents on February 19th.

Seven countries claim ownership of the disputed Spratly Islands, just off of Palawan. China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and the Philippines all claim to own part or all of the Spratlys.

These overlapping claims have been a source of tension over the years since the Spratlys (we Filipinos call them the Kalayaan Islands) are believed to contain significant reserves of oil and natural gas. China was the most aggressive in pursuing its claim. In 1999, the Philippines - under President Joseph Estrada - led an effort to prevent tensions by getting all the claimants to agree not to take actions to provoke other claimants.

But in 2003, the Philippines-now under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo- rocked the boat that it previously steadied when it signed an agreement with China to jointly undertake seismic studies of the Spratlys and explore for oil and natural gas. Naturally, the other claimants were angry.

After getting them to agree not to rock the boat, the Philippines sucker-punched them with the China deal. China's traditional ally, Vietnam was so angry they it had to be let in to the deal to appease them.

Aside from angering our neighbors and potentially undermining regional stability, Arroyo's action may also be illegal. Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez-who was then acting justice secretary-told former Senator Frank Drilon, who was then allied with the administration, that she believed that the deal violated the constitution, because while it was a deal between the state owned oil firms (PNOC of the Philippines and CNOOC of China) of the two countries, it implicitly gave China access to our oil reserves. Officers of the Foreign Affairs Department were
also upset because the deal effectively strengthened China and Vietnam's claim to the Spratlys.

What would compel Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to sign a deal that potentially undermines regional stability, possibly grants China parity rights to oil reserves in the Spratlys that we claim to be ours, and likely violates our constitution?

How about $2 billion a year? After the Spratly deal was signed, the Chinese government committed $2 billion in official development assistance a year to the Philippines until 2010, when Arroyo is supposed to step down from office. My sources tell me that the Spratly deal was an explicit precondition to the loans.

A sizable amount to be sure, but for the Arroyo administration the China loans are particularly appealing. Not so much because the interest rates are so low and the repayment terms so lenient, but because Chinese loans do not have the cumbersome requirements that loans from the US, Japan, the EU, and big multilateral lenders have.

Requirements for documentation, bidding, transparency and other details that make it very difficult for corrupt public officials to commit graft. In fact, in November of last year, those cumbersome requirements made it impossible for some government officials and private individuals with sticky fingers to avail themselves of the
World Bank's generosity.

It had gotten to the point where a corrupt government could no longer make a dishonest buck. That is until China's generous offer came along. Given China's laxity with certain conditions, its no wonder why almost every big ticket government project funded by Chinese ODA has been the subject of allegations of graft and corruption. There's Northrail, Cyber Education, the Fuhua agricultural projects,
Southrail, and of course the ZTE National Broadband project.

Until the ZTE National Broadband scandal, the Chinese government has had little official reaction to any of these allegations. Why should they? The $8 billion is a loan, not a grant. It enhances their influence in the region, strengthens their claim to the Spratlys, and expands their influence in the Philippines. The best part is, regardless of what Philippine officials do with the money-whether they
put it to good use or steal it-it still has to be paid back. Its no wonder that anytime some midlevel Chinese official comes to the country, congressmen and administration officials literally trip over themselves to roll out the red carpet.

For corrupt Administration officials and their cronies, $8 billion represents unprecedented opportunities for graft on a scale that would shock ordinary Filipinos.

And at the end of the day, that $8 billion is going to be paid back. Not by the grafters in and out of government; not by the Chinese citizens; but by the millions of ordinary middle class Filipinos who go to work everyday, pay their taxes, struggle and to keep their small and medium businesses afloat. The price will also be paid indirectly by tens of millions of poor Filipinos who will not have access to
health care, quality education, and a functioning court system because those resources are not going where they should be going.

There's a word for that. Its called Treason.

Thursday, November 29, 2007 

Oops, He Did It Again

by MrsPartyGirl

When I heard that Sen. Trillanes did another seige thing, no kidding, I wanted to be the one to drive the tank through the lobby of the Manila Peninsula.

I wasn't able to identify what I was feeling at the time I read about this piece of news, but now I know... our country just went through a harrowing couple of months (2 bombings, a typhoon, and an earthquake, too!), and for an elected senator to spearhead something like this now... I think this one is pretty below the belt.

I understand what they hoped to achieve with this "coup" in the name of better governance but, how can one motivate the people to rally behind one's cause with this kind of a stunt??

He's supposedly a senator now so he already has a legitimate track towards making changes in the government. One would think that he would finally use this "power" to further his causes the constitutional way. But no. He chose to go the renegade way. Again.

So, ok, the Senate is not allowing him to fulfill his duties as Senator because he has a case pending... well, that's the law - even the lowliest government clerk is given preventive suspension until he/she is cleared of any administrative complaints. Besides, this action reeks of his conceit - he's not yet a celebrated lawman, yet he feels he is already above the law. If Trillanes has problem with the law, he can change it as a lawmaker - not as a law-breaker.

Yes, he did it again. And failed to get the support of the people, again. And plunged the country into economic and political instability, again. Our country needs a lot of things, but this is something that it doesn't need.

What about the voters who cast their ballots for him? I'm guessing, the consensus is a big: "oops".

Wednesday, November 07, 2007 


by MrsPartyGirl

As in Pinoy Big Briber.


I've never been a fan of the Big Brother show per se, but I do know that viewers basically have the power to evict housemates for violations of house rules, or for at least being weak players.

If only it were that easy in real life.

What happens if its the Big Sister - the one who solemnly swore to faithfully and conscientiously fulfill her duties as Big Sister of the PBB house, to preserve and defend its House Rules, execute its laws, do justice to every housemate, and consecrate herself to the service of the housemates and the viewers - abuses her position of power and mocks the trust given to her by the very people she promised to be stewards of?

Common sense dictates that Big Sister be sent packing. Hopefully, whoever would replace her may gentrify the House to reclaim its integrity. (*crossed fingers*)

I guess, if we can pick up a cellphone to call or text to vote for people running something as mundane as a TV show, it shouldn't be as hard to give the same effort in scrutinizing the people who run (or in this case 'ruin') our beloved country.

Saturday, October 27, 2007 

To Err Is Human...

by MrsPartyGirl

But to forgive a plunderer? How ever which way I look at it, there's nothing divine about that.

I've offered prayers to the victims of the recent explosion in Glorieta. I do not discount nor wish to trivialize the horror of this unfortunate incident in any way. However, this blast, if it were indeed a deliberate attack on the country as some people see it, doesn't begin to compare to the kind of attack PGMA has waged against her own people.

Erap stole from the people. He was overthrown by a "second People Power". He was judged guilty for this by the Sandiganbayan in a costly courtroom drama spread over six years. His Php142 million Boracay Mansion, evidently a product of the proceeds he gained from supporting illicit gambling activities, has been seized by the QC government - one of many mansions he built on money better spent on our impoverished countrymen.

My question is, why pardon him?? Why??

Perhaps, by applying for pardon, Erap ultimately acknowledged PGMA as the legitimate President of the country. Honestly, was PGMA trying to settle this issue once and for all? Nonsense. Erap, by virtue of being a criminal could no longer hold office anyway. For all intents and purposes, PGMA's presidency is secured.

Was PGMA trying to project an image of benevolence? Well, she definitely needs to change a lot of things about her image after all the graft and corruption charges being brought up against her and her husband. Given the myriad of evidence piling up against her, I won't be surprised if she lands behind bars to take Erap's place in Bilibid. Had she wanted to project benevolence, hundreds of prisoners have been serving life sentences for crimes they might not have committed - why not pardon these innocent guys instead?

Was PGMA paid to do this by Erap's camp? Seeing how both camps operate, I can't say its not a possibility.

Was it a show of respect for a former President of the country? That ex-President milked our country's coffers for what its worth. He never respected his position, his country, his people - why should we respect him back? He never earned it.

Erap would return all of his ill-gotten wealth? If so, then indeed money makes the world go round.

Divine forgiveness? More like short-term memory, if you ask me. Or a queen taking a pawn in a shrewd mind game.

So what is it really? Is there no justice in our country anymore?

All I know is we, the Filipino people, have been screwed.

We are now the ultimate Erap joke.

Friday, October 26, 2007 

Glorietta Bombing...Again

by kpj

(first published in Mang Oca's Razor, 19 Oct 2007)

Kawawa naman ang mga kababayan ko. Kinaplog na naman ng mga terorista. Di ko masabi kung napigilan sanang nangyari ‘to, o wala talagang kawalan. Kasi sabi nung isang report, isang delivery van daw ang nagpasok ng bomba kaya ang direksyon ng pagsabog, mula baba pataas, dahil galing siguro sa basement yung bomba. Kaso pwede rin namang isa-isang pinuslit yung components ng bomba. Eh susko, ang dali-dali gawin yun.

Ilang beses na ba akong dumadaan sa mall security na di man lang binubuklat ang bag ko? Como ba nakabihis ka ng maayos at babae ka, di ka na dapat kapkapan? Yung minsan naman na nabubuklat ang bag ko, ni hindi man lang sipatin ng maayos ang laman, pinapakayod-kayod lang nung guard yung stick na hawak niya, eh akala mo naman may mata yung stick na pwedeng tumingin para sa kanya!

Kung gusto mo naman, itaas pa natin, kung sana di na lang outsourced ang security ng malls sa security agencies. Kung in-house staff na lang at pinapasahod ng maayos, eh di mas may malasakit sila para mag-inspect ng maayos? Kaya? Di mo rin talaga masabi eh. Kasi, kung di man nangyari sa Glorietta yan, pwede rin naman sa Podium o sa Megamall dahil major business district din naman ang Ortigas.

Bottomline, gago yung mga gumawa nun. Kahit sino pa sila, mereseng mga destabilizers ni Gloria, o mga abu sayad (oo, sinadya kong wrong spelling yan dahil malaki sayad nung mga yun sa utak!) Sana sila na lang yung sumabog.


Pacquiao, A National Hero?...Why Not?

by kpj

(first published in Mang Oca's Razor, 7 Oct 2007)

Woohoo!!! Nanalo na naman si Pacquiao! Alam ko mababaw pero nung tinanong ko yang title na yan sa sarili ko, bakit nga naman hindi? Alam ko rin nadagdagan na naman milyones niya, pero ano ngayon? Wala naman akong pakelam sa pera niya eh, pinaghirapan niya yun. Nagkandabasag-basag ang panga at ilong niya para kumita ng ganon. Pano ka di hahanga sa tao na ’to, lagi niyang hinahangad manalo dahil alam niya dadagdag yun sa ikatataba ng pusong Pinoy. Ewan kung press release yung sinasabi niya, pero tingin ko hindi. Napaka-simpleng tao nito eh. Bakas talaga sa mukha niya na gusto niyang manalo dahil gusto niyang may maipagmalaki ang Pilipino. Alam niya, madalas tayo daragin ng ibang bansa, eh mano man lang makilala tayo sa larangan ng palakasan? At bawat tapos ng laban, kita mo kung Sino ang una niyang pinasasalamatan di ba? Kaya ganon na lang ang paghanga sa kanya ng Pinoy eh. Subukan mo maglakad sa mga kalye, sa Maynila halimbawa, itaon mo na may laban si Pacquiao. Tingnan mo kung may masasakyan kang jeep o tricycle. Walang pinipili yan ha? Mapa-babae o lalaki, matanda man o bata, nakatutok yan sa TV. Wag mo na ring balaking bumili sa tindahan, istorbo ka lang eh, baka mamura ka pa ng tindera. Ayaw ka maniwala? Hintayin mo yung susunod na laban ni Pacquiao. Tapos, ipagtanong mo na rin kung bakit namatay si FPJ (sumalangit nawa).

Sana lang magkaroon siya ng mga matitinong tagapayo. Hindi yung mga tipong hihimok sa kanyang tumakbo sa pulitika. Sumemplang siya don eh. Maraming paraan para makatulong sa mga kababayan mo, di mo kailangang makidawdaw sa napaka-salimuot na mundo ng pulitika. Ipaubaya mo na lang yan dun sa mga taong katulad nung mandurugas na nakaupo sa Malacañang. Sori p’re, di ka talaga nababagay sa mundong ‘yan, lalo na kung nasanay kang lumalaban ng patas.

Sa mga eskaparate sa karamihan ng pampublikong paaralan, kadalasan naka-display ang mga litrato ng mga bayaning Pilipino. Siguro naman, di na nakapagtataka kung balang araw eh itabi dun ang litrato ni Pacquiao, katabi ng litrato ng mga OFW. Siguro naman wala nang kokontra.


Dare I Hope?

by kpj

(first published in Mang Oca's Razor, 10 Oct 2007)

The optimist in me cringed at some predictions I heard some time ago. Apparently, there is no bright future looming for the Philippines. No significant economic improvement in sight. Especially so, because there doesn’t seem to be a political figure with the potential to be a Mahathir or a Lee Kuan Yew, in sight. However, the recent senatorial elections showed a very promising trend. The voting public is becoming more discerning. So discerning, it actually eschewed all of GMA’s known allies and went for the ‘opposite direction’, well save for a fluke, that is so totally obvious. So maybe, in future elections, we could expect more of the same. Kaya?

Okay, I am not going to mince words and pretend I’m this political crackerjack, I just want to think there’s still hope. I know there’s still hope. I’ve been watching him for a year now and I think Senator Francis Escudero has what it takes to be the leader our country needs to go forward. I also know for sure, that I am not alone in thinking this. (That’s why he’s no. 2 in the recent senate polls). I just hope he doesn’t lose sight of his ideals, or his principles derailed. He shows such promise. But lately though, he seems awfully quiet. Hmmm...maybe because he’s still getting his bearings? We’ll see.



by kpj

(first posted in Mang Oca's Razor, 18 Aug 2007)

Never ceases to amaze me how the government can continue to allot pork barrels but not a centavo towards increasing the salary and compensation packages of our soldiers, significantly. Fifteen more marine soldiers died in Basilan recently in a clash with the Abu Sayyaf. (Putres, di ko maintindihan bakit di mamatay-matay yang mga abu na yan.) When you think about it, we rest easy in our beds at night while these soldiers, especially those assigned in Mindanao, sleep in sparse bunks and enjoy little comfort. When some do come back from duty, or are in town on a brief furlough, do you hear any fanfare? Do you see welcome banners or whatnot? Wala lang. They arrive as silently as they left for duty. Kakainis.

Cannot help but compare their situation to that of the armed forces here. People here value their soldiers, one can see that. I remember the overwhelming sense of appreciation depicted by that short video P featured in an old blog. I cannot help but hear the pride and the worry in the voices of parents/relatives interviewed on TV, and even from the news anchors themselves. There’s even this PBS special which included a feature on food scientists hard at work on developing food which could last for months and yet still taste good - targeted specifically for the American soldier in a protracted war. Wow. Whereas our own government cannot even provide a decent arsenal for its soldiers. Hence the ten beheaded soldiers in last July’s Basilan ambush.

Why can’t we do this? Oh c’mon, we DO have the money for this. The government can buy luxury vehicles for the use of its officials and allot millions for Congress’ CDF, why can’t they increase the budget for the Armed Forces? Not just increase the budget but ensure that the money was well spent. Hindi pinambili lang ni general ganito ng isang mansion sa Corinthian Gardens, or pinang-Vegas lang ni colonel ganire. I sincerely hope, Senator Trillanes can make full use of his office and indeed be the hope of the Filipino soldier.

I am not claiming to be knowledgeable about things political but do you need to be, to be concerned for our Sundalo?

Monday, May 14, 2007 

A Mother's Dilemma

by Dyes

something that i wrote in my blog last friday which meeya thought worth posting here....


less than four days to go and my kodigo is still blank. this coming Monday, unlike any other Second Mondays of May three, six, nine or even twelve years ago, is most significant because i will now cast my vote as a Mother with my son's future in mind.

what shall be my standards for giving my trust to these persons who would have a hand in steering the future of my son? i certainly do not want my son to grow up in a country with no greens and under the sea. i do not want to see him looked down by foreigners merely because he is a Filipino. and in this sense, i do not want the Filipinos to be branded as corrupt, immoral and without dignity. Yes, many of us may be slaves in foreign lands. but we are not the first to be one. and from history, those nations stood up and became important. I am still expecting that one day, we might achieve such greatness. and, hopefully it will be in my son's lifetime, if not my own.

with this in mind, there is no doubt that i will heed the 10 Commandments. i have been listening to the podcasts of the senatoriables at Inquirer website and viewing Isang Tanong of GMA News these past few days to make a somewhat intelligent vote (since my vote could only be as intelligent as the candidate).

and surprisingly, i must say that a certain political party has impressed me. Their candidates are no nonsense professionals who are running for platforms and what they believe in. Dr. Bautista particularly has moved me through his interview with Lynette Luna wherein he said, "[p]olitics here is so corrupt because politicians make a living out of it. Once a politician is going to depend on politics as a means of making a living, it's going to be treated like a cottage industry where all your sisters, brothers, friends, are going to depend upon you to make a living. And that's the number one biggest cause of corruption in the Philippines. It's become a way of life." And i completely agree with him that politicians made it their family business, especially in local politics. Why else would they ask their son, wife, daughter to run when their term has ended? To remain in power. Name recall is all there is in politics, and they cheapen it more by espousing, more yet encouraging it.

but i guess i was not the only one impressed by them. mike enriquez, a staunch journalist who cannot be bought, gave them airtime this morning in his radio program. mike repeatedly stated that he was not endorsing these candidates, and i do believe him because what he was endorsing was their programs, platforms and how simply they campaign not for gain.

it takes more than opposing the administration to become a good leader. if you do not agree with their programs or how things are becoming, provide an alternative solution at wag kyaw-kyaw na lang ng kyaw-kyaw. a senator's principles must be defined and very well articulated to the people. no more turn-coatism or personality-based decisions.

i do not want my son to grow up with a government as the biggest example of crab mentality or power-tripping. public service is a noble endeavour, and those reserved only for noble wo/men.

is my kodigo filled-up after writing this article? nope, because we really do lack qualified leaders.


As of this date, it seems that those 3 candidates are no longer in the running. Well, at least we tried. And it is a big step toward change, especially if they reach at least a hundred thousand votes. Maybe next time...

Sunday, May 13, 2007 


by TheDivineMissM!

Para sa mga "bagong bayani" tulad ng aking ama, saan pa sila mag ba-balikbayan?

Abra is our hometown, the place I dream of building a resort-like home for my parents to retire in. Nasaan ang pag-asa ng bago at mapayapang buhay?


Fear and loathing on the campaign trail in Abra
By Jason Gutierrez
Agence France-Presse
Last updated 08:21pm (Mla time) 05/13/2007

BANGUED, Philippines--Congressional candidate Cecy Luna wore a St. Benedict medallion around her neck as she wrapped-up her campaign in the northern frontier province of Abra, where public office is considered a birth right protected by hired guns.

Less than two weeks ago, six of Luna's cousins and nephews were cut down in a hail of machine gun fire in a remote Abra village, their bodies left inside their mangled vehicle for hours before they were retrieved.

More than 200 M-14 and M-16 bullets were found around the campaign truck in what police and Luna suspect was a chilling message from her political rival, long-time governor Vicente Valera.

And just 24 hours before polls open around the country in midterm elections, Luna, a 54-year old mother of eight grown children, is not about to take any chances.

Six policemen provided as security escorts by the local elections office hovered around her as she mingled with the crowd in Bangued, Abra's capital town where all political rivals live in close proximity to each other.

Men in dark glasses with hand guns tucked into their waistbands swept across the road, checking for anything that would signal an ambush. Two black pickup trucks carrying men with automatic rifles hidden on the floor prowled the street as residents peeked from their doors and windows.

"My political rival wants me dead. There is a contract out on me, and I fear for my life," Luna told AFP, a slight quiver in her voice betraying her steady gaze. "I am afraid, but I am also adequately protected."

Luna said her friends, uncles, nephews and other volunteers form the core of her security detail, and they would be willing to die for her.

"It is difficult to hire an outsider," she said.

Her predicament is shared by Luna's political ally and candidate for governor, Eustaquio Bersamin, whose brother Luis was the incumbent congressman of the province before being brutally murdered on the steps of a Manila church in December while attending a wedding.

Like Luna, Bersamin suspects Valera of being behind the assassination, a claim that the latter consistently denies. One of the gunmen who was arrested however has told police that Valera paid him and two others five million pesos (about 105,000 dollars) to do the job.

"Of course I am afraid for my life. But I have friends who protect me because somebody has to stand up to this tyranny," said Bersamin, whose campaign slogan is the commandment "Thou shall not kill."

Both know that they are going against a well-entrenched, powerful politician in Valera, who has controlled this impoverished, landlocked province in northern Luzon for two decades.

"I am innocent of these charges," Valera said, but has restricted his movements to ease tensions.

A lawyer by profession, Valera was first named officer in charge of this unruly mountain area in 1986, when a popular revolt removed dictator Ferdinand Marcos from the presidency.

Marcos however had for years allowed the area to sink deep into poverty exacerbated by an anti-Marcos communist guerrilla movement that later degenerated into general lawlessness in its interior towns.

Surrounded by the towering mountain ranges of the Ilocos in the west and the Cordilleras east, Abra's extremely rugged terrain has made it an ideal base for hired guns whose loyalties can be bought with a hand gun and who would kill for as little as 5,000 pesos (about 105 dollars).

The Valeras and Bersamins are powerful clans who once dreamt of bringing Abra into the 21st century. But politics and greed have driven a deadly wedge between them, one that will likely last for generations to come.

A race to control millions in funds being funnelled into the region, as well as the vast and still untapped mineral reserves here are often cited as chief causes of heated political rivalry.

"Patronage politics here is a dirty game. It is money, money, money. Whoever can hire the most number of armed men and who can intimidate and buy votes win," said a local lawyer from a prominent family who did not want to be named.

"Political families believe that public office is a birth right, and is passed from one member to another during elections," he said.

A check with poll officials showed that in Abra's 27 municipalities, nearly all candidates are either relatives or rivals from close families. In two towns, two mothers are pitted against their own sons for mayoralty posts, while in another, a mayor is being challenged by his estranged wife.

Police said that 10 political families controlled private armed groups in Abra, and they have become either too elusive or powerful that going after them could be a death wish.

Tension was high on the eve of the elections, and while Valera was safely protected in his hilltop ranch overlooking the majestic Abra river and its flood plains, Luna and Bersamin pounded the streets to ensure people's support.

But whoever wins in the elections, the cycle of violence will likely continue.

Copyright 2007 Agence France-Presse.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007 

Are You Ready?

by MrsPartyGirl

The Philippine elections are only a few days away. What's your gameplan?

As a Filipino living overseas, I am literally removed from the local political arena. However, I still try to keep myself abreast with the election situation at home. I'm grateful that there are opportunites for me to do so, even remotely. For instance, I highly subscribe to GMA7's voters education programming. I commend GMA7 for coming up with shows like "Philippine Agenda" and "Isang Tanong". The shows are relevant, straightforward, and exceptionally thought-provoking.

For a change, I am quite pleased to observe that our countrymen seem to be showing an active interest in involving themselves in this electoral exercise. I hope this is a sign of our nation's growing political maturity. We'll see after the elections if this proves to be true.

Anyway, I am posting the "Isang Tanong" and "Pito-Pito sa Mayo" episodes here. After watching these, it's clear that some of the senatoriables have their own (personal) issues to put forward, and some are even addressing micro-issues that are best left to the attention of local governments. Per se, I think that's not bad. However, if one is aiming for a national position, it's not enough that one has a specific agenda. A candidate's platform should encompass a greater number issues, to benefit the greater number of people. Also, I can feel that some senatoriables have a genuine desire to serve the country but are greatly overshadowed by those who are naturally good public speakers (i.e. magaling mambola). I guess, it really takes a great deal of scrutiny and introspection to separate bona fide from the bluster.

Of course, you may or may not agree with me.

Anyway, there are 12 blank spaces on the ballot. You decide.

Videos grabbed from GMANews.TV

ISANG TANONG: EPISODE 1 (Aired 29 April 2007)

Isang Tanong: Martin Bautista, Miguel Zubiri, Chiz Escudero

Isang Tanong: Antonio Trillanes IV, Nikki Coseteng, Ed Angara

Isang Tanong: Noynoy Aquino III, Felix Cantal, Bobby Enciso

Isang Tanong: Alan Cayetano and Adrian Sison

Isang Tanong: Sonia Roco and Chavit Singson

Isang Tanong: Bakit Ikaw Ang Dapat Iboto?

ISANG TANONG: EPISODE 2 (Aired 06 May 2007)

Isang Tanong: Loren Legarda, Mike Defensor, and Richard Gomez

Isang Tanong: Ping Lacson, Zosimo Paredes, and Victor Wood

Isang Tanong: Cesar Montano, Oliver Lozano, and Butch Pichay

Isang Tanong: Kiko Pangilinan, Mel Chavez, and Tessie Oreta

Isang Tanong: Koko Pimentel and Ed Orpilla

Isang Tanong: Bakit Ikaw and Dapat Iboto?

The PITO-PITO SA MAYO Segments can be viewed HERE.

Sunday, March 04, 2007 

What Will Make Meeya Not Return to the Philippines

by MrsPartyGirl

I got this in my email but, like the spam and forwarded-email hater that I am, I promptly relegated this to my trash bin. And then, I saw this Harvey guy in the news and wondered what the fuss was all about regarding his sensational email message. Chismosa that I am, I promptly fished it out of my trash bin and began to read.

Now, I'm in the loop. And perhaps so should we all, if we care enough about this political brouhaha happening in the Philippines called "National Elections". Item number 5 TKOs it for me.

Oh, and I guess at the time he wrote this, he hasn't heard about Cesar Montano yet.

With my apologies to Mr. Keh, I am posting his message, verbatim, here.


Re: What Will Make Me Leave the Philippines... An Open Letter to Every Filipino

Dear Fellow Filipino,

Good day to all of you! Before I begin my letter... just a disclaimer, for people who know me they know that I love the Philippines very much and I am not really one who rants and complaints to high heavens about what is happening to our country and does nothing about it, in fact, I feel that at my relatively young age of 27, I have done much service to the Philippines by setting up Pathways to Higher Education which has sent more than 500 poor but deserving students to college and AHON Foundation which has already built two public elementary school libraries that have benefitted more than 3,500 students. Yet, after seeing how events in our nation have transpired the past few weeks and talking with some friends, I feel the urge to share with you my own thoughts and feelings.

Over the weekend, we saw the completion of two major political alliances for this coming Senate Elections that has just began here in the Philippines . Now we have two political forces with familiar faces nonetheless on opposite sides of the fences. On one end, you have Tito Sotto and Tessie Aquino-Oreta who were two major stalwarts of the opposition and the FPJ Campaign in 2004 hobnobbing with the woman (Pres. GMA) whom they claimed to have cheated FPJ in the last Presidential Elections.On the other side of the fence, you see Manny Villar, the former house speaker who was actually responsible for impeaching Erap now part of the United Opposition who is led by no less than... Erap himself. Now if you don't see anything wrong with this picture then you must be one of the many Filipinos who have accepted this very sad reality that there is indeed no permanent ideals that our government leaders stand up for but rather they just go where there self-interests can best be served. It is this kind of politics why I no longer wonder why good people like Ramon Magsaysay Awardee Mayor Jesse Robredo of Naga City or outstanding Bulacan Governor Josie Dela Cruz will find it hard or worse, never be elected to national positions.

It is with these in mind that I'd like to share with you what are events this coming May elections that will make me consider leaving the Philippines :

1.) If former COMELEC Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano of Hello Garci fame wins in his bid to become Congressman of Bukidnon...seeking to replace a good man no less in incumbent Cong. Neric Acosta... We would really be the laughing stock of the whole world if we allow a man with the reputation of Garci to be one of our so called "Honorable Gentlemen".

2.) If Dancing Queen Tessie Aquino Oreta reclaims her seat at the Senate... I hope that all of us would still remember that dance that she did during the 2001 impeachment hearings after they voted to overrule the decision of then Chief Justice Davide... let us make sure that people like her never make it to the Senate again.

3.) If Richard Gomez becomes a senator... what does he know about making laws? We already have the likes of Bong Revilla and Lito Lapid in the Senate and their performance or lack of it would be reason enough not to elect another actor who has no prior experience in government to the distinguished halls of the Senate.

4.) If Gringo Honasan wins again.... have we not learned our lesson? I cannot believe that just because someone is charismatic then we will just elect him to become one of our senators despite the fact that he has time and again caused so much instability in our country... if we want a military junta similar to that of Thailand ... then lets all vote for this guy....

5.) If Manny Pacquiao becomes Congressman of General Santos City... everybody loves Manny the Boxing Champ but Manny the Lawmaker? Lets be realistic here, Manny is our Hero alright but I think it takes more than just great boxing skills and a desire to serve to be able to make appropriate laws that would help uplift the lives of the many Filipinos who live in Poverty.

6.) If Lito Lapid wins for Mayor of Makati City... I don't like Jojo Binay as well but Lito Lapid as city mayor of the country's finance and business center?!?! And do you really think he is from Makati and has good plans for the city? The Arroyos asking someone like him to run just goes to show you how much love and concern this government has for our country.

7.) If Chavit Singson becomes a Senator, Illegal Gambling = Chavit... enough said.

Now if all of these 7 things happen during this coming elections then don't be surprised if I decide to leave this country that I love dearly. Like I said during the first part of my letter, I feel that I have done much for this country but I think its time that Filipinos become more vigilant and critical in selecting our leaders for the sake of our future and the generations that will go beyond us. So I appeal to every Filipino who asks what can I actually do for my country... Choose and vote for the right people this coming elections, huwag na tayong magpaloko sa mga kandidatong maganda lang ang jingle o gwapo lang sa mga poster. Let us choose leaders who have a good track record for service and who are genuinely committed towards serving our country.

Manindigan naman tayong lahat para sa ating Kinabukasan at para sa Kapakanan ng ating Bayan!

Thank you very much for your time in reading this letter.


Harvey S. Keh

Thursday, March 02, 2006 

News analysis: Military often the trigger in Philippines' politics

by dial_qt

From the International Herald Tribune


MANILA At the point of highest tension this past week, as troops and armored vehicles took positions at a military camp, a burly marine stepped forward and declared, "The only thing we want is a clean election."

It seemed a surprising thing to say at a moment when the country seemed poised for one more in a long string of coup attempts.

But in its coded meaning, it embodied the grievances, the idealism and the adventurism of a politicized military that has kept the Philippines on edge for the past 20 years.

The standoff Sunday night ended peacefully and any plans for a coup have been blunted for the moment. But experts on the military say that nothing has changed in the dynamics of coup- plotting and that the pattern of destabilization is sure to continue.

Since the foiled coup that sparked the people power uprising in 1986 and led to the ouster of former President Ferdinand Marcos, coups, coup attempts and unsettling coup rumors have been part of what might be called the Philippine version of democracy. Each new generation of young officers seems to replicate the reformist passion and sense of mission - and sometimes the tactics - of those who went before.

Two of the past five presidents have been ousted by what amounted to civilian-backed military coups. Two others owe their presidencies to these same coups. The only one who entered and departed without military intervention was himself a general.

Along the way there have been innumerable feints and jabs by groups of junior officers whose youth and sense of mission sometimes made them vulnerable to manipulation by civilians with political agendas.

As a result, every Philippine president in effect serves at the pleasure of the military, and for every president, the care and feeding of senior officers is an important part of the job.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has struggled ostentatiously to hold the loyalty of the generals, promoting eight of them, one after another, to be chief of staff in the past five years.

This has been a crucial exercise for her because she was handed the presidency in 2001 when the military "withdrew its support" from her predecessor, Joseph Estrada, who had won office through the ballot box three years earlier.

"Withdrawal of support" has since become a code word for a coup. On Feb. 24 she declared a state of emergency and began a series of arrests after factions of that same military in effect withdrew their support from her.

The spark for some of the soldiers this time, as the burly soldier said Sunday night, was the question of "clean elections." The marines have been angry since 2004, when, according to many accounts, Arroyo corrupted their ranks by enlisting their generals to manipulate her re-election.

That grievance is the latest example of the corruption, patronage and abuse of power, in both the military and society at large, that has been at the root of much of the discontent in the armed forces.

Because of these abuses, the soldiers say, they are poorly armed, poorly trained, poorly paid, poorly fed and left to die on the country's battlefields while many generals in Manila grow rich at their expense.

"They feel the world is not fair," said Marites Danguilan Vitug, editor in chief of Newsbreak, a magazine that has examined the dynamics of the military. "They pledge that they'll repair the military if they get in command."

The adventurism arises from a special sense of mission that found heroic expression in 1986 and has animated the military ever since, said Senator Rodolfo Biazon, a former marine who now heads the Senate Committee on National Defense.

The Philippine Constitution itself is part of the problem, he said.

"There is a provision that has always been invoked in these coups, that a soldier is the protector of the people and the state," he said. "So the impression is that they have the right to judge the government, and if the national leader fails to measure up to what they expect, it is their duty to replace that leader."

As a result, along with training and fighting, the ranks of the military are constantly alive with political discussions and often with plots and plans.

"This is at the bottom of things," Biazon said, "and I do not know how to provide a solution."

The high standards taught at the Philippine Military Academy, may, perversely, play into this problem. They are so at odds with the rest of Philippine society that a clash seems inevitable.

A presidential commission investigating a failed coup attempt in 2003 put it this way: "There is the idealism taught at the PMA which is later challenged by the realities of combat duty and life in the real world," it said.

"This creates a powerful emotive force that when combined with the issue of graft and corruption and the poor conditions in the field, could make soldiers vulnerable to recruitment by both military and civilian coup plotters."

A culture of leniency, in which some coup participants have been punished only by being ordered to do pushups, insures that the ranks of the military are permeated with politicized officers.

"There's no punishment that would be a deterrence to coups," said L. Scott Harrison, an expert on the military who is managing director of Pacific Strategies and Assessments, a business- risk consulting group with offices around Asia. "Maybe house arrest or detention in a military facility, and then after a while amnesty, and you have your 15 seconds of fame to boot."

Veterans of other coup attempts have continued to rise through the ranks into ever more senior positions and some of their names have also been linked with these events. When a formal investigation into corruption in the 2004 election went nowhere, said Glenda Gloria, an expert on the military, the pressure built again within the armed forces. "An outburst was inevitable," she said. "It had to happen."

MANILA At the point of highest tension this past week, as troops and armored vehicles took positions at a military camp, a burly marine stepped forward and declared, "The only thing we want is a clean election."

It seemed a surprising thing to say at a moment when the country seemed poised for one more in a long string of coup attempts.

But in its

Wednesday, March 01, 2006 

In the News - 'Diliman Republic'

by TheDivineMissM!


MANILA, March 1, 2006 (MALAYA) STUDENTS and professors yesterday declared University of the Philippines as a state of emergency-free zone, saying their academic freedom would not be muzzled by Arroyo’s Proclamation 1017.

Professors said they would hold alternative classes to explain the effects of the proclamation, especially on people’s rights.

"Kakausapin natin ang mga faculty members to still hold classes so we can discuss the meaning of this proclamation, our rights and what we should do," Maris Diokno, a professor of history, said in a press conference at the Palma hall.

The Palma hall, formerly known as the Arts and Sciences building, was the center of student protest actions during the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.

"Hindi ko alam kung pasasalamatan ko si GMA (Arroyo) for 1017 because now we can explain what martial law was. Pagkakataon ito para maunawaan natin ang sitwasyon," she said.

UP president Emerlinda Roman in a statement dated February 26 said the administration affirms its commitment to the fundamental and human rights of its students.

These include the right to freely express their views either individually or collectively, through speeches or through various forms of media including student publications and radio; to peaceably assemble to petition the government for redress of grievances; to pursue and realize academic freedom; to decide on the content of their classroom discussions as well as their publications; and to be free from arbitrary and form of illegal arrests and detention.

"Consistent with our traditions as the University of the Philippines, we expect that forums which will provide information, catalyze analysis and debate on the current state of affairs will not be suppressed. We find ourselves at an important historical conjuncture. Let us not miss out on this chance to remain relevant as a University of our people," Roman said.

Former UP president Francisco Nemenzo Jr. said the UP community should embrace other schools which would like to hold protest actions in its campus.

"You have the duty to carry on the struggle of your predecessor,"
Nemenzo, who is chairman of Laban ng Masa, told students.

Sociology professor Randy David said the lifeline of a real university is academic freedom.

"A real university should stimulate social consciousness. And that is impossible without academic freedom. We can’t function as a university for as long as 1017 is there," David told the students, whom he addressed as "citizens of the Republic of Diliman.

David, lawyer Argee Guevarra and Akbayan president Ronald Llamas were briefly held for questioning at Camp Karingal in Quezon City after they, along with 2,000 members of the Laban ng Masa, tried to march to the People Power Monument last Friday.

"Hindi tayo mawawala sa loob ng UP. May klase tayo at tayo’y papasok para talakayin ang sitwasyon at ang ating mga gagawing kilos hanggang sa i-lift and proclamation na ito," said Juan Paolo Alfonso, head of the Student Council’s Students Rights and Welfare Committee.

The university Student Council condemned the deployment of military and police personnel at the campus supposedly to "conduct inquiry."

Alfonso said that SWAT and military teams were seen roaming the campus over the weekend.

He said these teams inquired about the location of the Office of the Student Council, the Office of the Student Regent, and the identities of student leaders.

"Arroyo knows the influence of UP’s student leaders in harnessing mass support for the ever-growing dissent of the people against her regime.
That’s why it’s on a double lookout for us," said Alfonso.

The Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP
(Stand-UP) said government cannot turn campuses into garrisons.

"We will not allow her to relive the martial law paranoia. If the Arroyo regime is hell-bent on dispersing mass actions in the streets, let’s see if she can try it in UP," said Stand-UP chair Isa Artajo. – Reinir Padua

Monday, February 27, 2006 

Holding Out for a Hero

by TheDivineMissM!

The last few days have been the most politicized of my life since graduating from UP. Nung Friday, actually nakalimutan ko na People Power Anniversary. The truth is, sobrang disoriented ako I thought it was a Thursday. When I came out of my flat, may paskil sa lift about the traffic re-routing and I couldn't understand what all the fuzz was about.

I didn't even know that the country was under a State of Emergency until Portia sent me an IM at work.

I missed EDSA Dos and Tres. I didn't feel as appaled as other people with the blatant corruption of the Estrada administration, and I felt distanced from the issue of social injustice that spurred Edsa Tres. Despite my fascination for men in uniform, I couldn't give a shit about the Oakwood mutiny. In fact it was Vergie who told me about despite living two blocks from that posh building.

Just now a cabinet secretary is showing slides of economic indicators. They are so disconnected with the people that they think that showing us growth rates will make us feel better? Life is so hard, even I worry about just how much I can afford these days. I know people who struggle with day to day living expenses. Do you really think that showing me inflation rates will make it easier to sleep at night on an empty stomach? Who is the audience of this administration???? Not the family who lives across our parking lot, going through the rubbish bin of the pampered people. It is so obvious that they are targetting the foreign press and foreign governments with their slides. Its not about getting the hearts and minds of the people. Its about spin.

In Search of a Hero

I saw a re-run of The American President on HBO and Michael J Fox had a line that goes something like: "People are looking for a leader. They are so thirsty for leadership they will cross the desert to find it. And if they get there and find out it's a mirage, they will drink the sand."

The Fort Bonifacio incidence is like that. A mirage. People are looking for a leader, a cause to rally around. They are so desperate they will lap up sand.

We are looking for a hero. I am glad I wasnt at EDSA Dos. I will probably chew my arm off now, and hit myself over the head with it in utter despair and regret. Why have I taken offense against this president? Her arrogance. As if the Office is her birthright, a special present at Christmas. The basic principle we were taught in Political Science is that sovereignty rests in the people. THE PEOPLE. My sovereignty is on loan -- and I can take it back.

PO 1017 and why I am royally pissed

What tipped me over? Proclamation Order 1017. Suddenly it became personal. For some reason Proclamation Order 1017 hit me. Seeing Cory walking down Ayala again made me realise that twenty years on, things haven't changed. Ironic that she started the whole PO1017 trend.

Who will make it happen? Aren't we getting old to be raging against institutions? Isn't it time to say the buck stops here? Aren't we running out of excuses why it's somebody else's job to effect change? A newspaper -- one I dont even read -- was raided. How can that not become personal?

PO 1017 is very personal. It made me scared that my action and my words or those I know would be interpreted as "inciting to sedition". I am afraid of censorship. And I don't like being made scared. Especially by a government that has lost its legitimacy in my eyes (if they ever had it in the first place).

I am a free person. My religion, and my constitution says that I am born free. I am free to think. I am free to doubt. I am free to speak. I will not be cowered by a midget hiding behind PO 1017.

Where have all the good men gone
And where are all the gods?
Where’s the street-wise Hercules
To fight the rising odds?

Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed?
Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream of what I need

I need a hero
I'm holding out for at hero 'till the end of the night
He's gotta be strong
And he's gotta be fast
And he's gotta be fresh from the fight

I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero 'till the morning light
He’s gotta be sure
And it’s gotta be soon
And he’s gotta be larger than life
Larger than life

Friday, February 24, 2006 

Two Decades On

by TheDivineMissM!

We were between ten and eleven years old when People Power happened. My dad has already resigned from the military less than two years earlier, and was already working in Saudi Arabia. But we still had relatives who were in the military, and my family were notoriously pro-Marcos so not surprisingly, we weren't in EDSA.

But I came of age with the images and music and sentimentality of People Power. Even today, I get an unexplainable stirring at the pit of my stomach when I hear the strings of the song Bayan Ko. I swear when I got married to a non-Filipino that no matter where my children are born or how they will be raised, they will learn to sing with emotions:

Ang bayan kong Pilipinas
Lupain ng ginto't bulaklak
Pag-ibig ang sa kanyang palad
Nag-alay ng ganda't dilag

At sa kanyang yumi at ganda
Dayuhan ay nahalina
Bayan ko, binihag ka
Nasadlak sa dusa

Ibon mang may layang lumipad
Kulungin mo at umiiyak
Bayan pa kayang sakdal dilag
Ang di magnasang makaalpas

Pilipinas kong minumutya
Pugad ng luha ko't dalita
Aking adhika
Makita kang sakdal laya

Today, I heard the song again, right outside my office window. Looking out I saw confetti floating down from the top of our building. Everyday when I look out that window, all I see are the traffic below and the gym across the street. Today, the gym people were also staring out, and on almost every building top on Ayala were people raining down confetti on the yellow-clad crowd below.

I can't believe that I am not ten years old anymore watching all these on TV and the grown-ups debating over politics. I am now among those who are part of the story, writing about it. I am one of those Makati office workers on the street and leaning out their office windows watching the marchers, still in their yellow shirts, still flashing the "Laban" sign, and still calling for the President to resign.

What changed? Camera phones. Yup, Makati office people, and even the vendors had their cellular phones out and clicking away. Other than that, nothing has changed. The shade of yellow has changed, and the players have more lines and grey hair. But people are still getting arrested, communication (albeit now texting) is still being intruded upon, and people are still struggling.

Twenty years on... laban pa rin.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 

Party Poopers

by MrsPartyGirl

After the seeming deluge of happy news our country has been getting, suddenly there's the Wowowee Tragedy - a perfectly horrific example of, really, how expendable the lives and hopes of the poor people are to the ratings-hungry networks - and now THIS, our boxing hero, Manny, is involved in quite a "sensational" extramarital affair.

I mean, come on. I am all for providing support to illegitimate kids, it's their right after all. But, if this chismis about Manny were indeed true, and if this lady truly cared about the champ and their love child, then she should have protected their reputation by at least being discreet.

But, heck no.

Whether it's waiting in line for days at the risk of being crushed to death, or good ole blackmail, some people will resort to anything for a share of the pie.

Sunday, February 05, 2006 

The Emperor Wears No Clothes

by dial_qt

Who would dare tell that the emperor has no clothes on? And those who dared, are their hands not soiled as well?

Entangled in wicked web lies, you would no longer recognize the truth even if it hits you on the face.


In my early years as a public servant, I have taken pride of the profession I have chosen. I took the "Iskolar ng Bayan" to heart and so went on to repay my countrymen who subsidized my education and worked for the government


Ten years hence, no longer was I the wide-eyed, innocent and idealistic girl that I was before I entered the corridors of power. Eight years of working in this institution despite the measly pay, where OT means "over tawad," being forced to report for work with a burning fever, and what am i now? frustrated and cynical.


When the current head asumed office, we dismissed his appointment as another political paybackand thus, unlearned on the workings of the bureaucracy and the role of this institution. Suprisingly though, he was not one of those "typical" appointees, this one has something between his ears. He may be "bugnutin" as my boss told him but he is a very adept and intelligent technical person.


That's why when he gave instructions to do an honest-to-goodness assessment of the organization to address the vacuum in decision-making at the highest office, I saw a ray of hope for this administration. Even if my boss gave me a few days to finish this assignemnt, I didn't mind because I thought that this would be ny contribution to the bureaucracy, my service to my people. So work I did with passion and enthusiasm.


So after a week of working my a** off and pressuring my staff to produce the information that I needed. I gave it to my boss with dignity and pride, telling myself that its one of the best and worthwhile assignments that I worked on. Its a 20-something paged assessment of the organization. It included a candid situationer on the institution which is impottant if we want to squarely address the issues plaguing the organizaton.


The numerous duties of the President required the creation of a dedicated office to support him in the effective management and the administration of the affairs of the state. Since its creation, the structure of the OP has evolved and expanded, depending on the management style of the President and the exigencies of the times

When PMS was first created, its policy-making function was not meant to duplicate that of the departments but ensure that executive policies are coordinated and consistent. Since the departments each have their own sectoral focus, it is not unexpected that there would be policies that would conflict with each other. In the event that conflicts would arise, the PMS is called upon to provide a total and integrated review of the Departments' proposals to the President and provide him/her with an objective appraisal and alternatives. In this way, the PMS assists in Presidential decision-making.

The focus on politics and survival has marginalized the potential of PMS in policy-making, and has reduced it to addressing the immediate administrative needs of the President. When PMS was created, its operations were intended to be insulated from politics, even as it assesses the potential feasibility of its recommendations and proposals.

In its early years, it was clear that the role of PMS in OP is to assist in presidential decision-making through the conduct of policy studies and research. Structurally, the PMS is under the ES and headed by undersecretary who reports to the ES. The working norms were “passion for anonymity” and “complete staff work”. The PMS staff worked silently behind the scenes, supporting the President in his decision-making functions. PMS was insulated from politics which is important in coming up with policy recommendations that transcends sectoral/parochial interests. The PMS provided the President with the most relevant facts and issues to be properly chosen and conveniently highlighted, presenting the different perspectives for looking at those issues and the other considerations for weighing them and finally certain, if not the best, decisions are offered.

However, the “dynamic flexibility” of PMS as an institution, i.e. being able to respond timely, efficiently and responsively has become both a bane and a boon to PMS. Presidents trusted PMS’ capability to deliver and have entrusted the organization with other functions other than policy-making. While PMS continued to dutifully perform any task assigned to, it has become alienated in the OP where it is a part of. Relying on this institutional image, PMS heads have used is a leverage to gain proximity to the President. In so doing, it had muddled the flow of communication and work between OP and the PMS, the Executive Secretary and the PMS Head and other officials. This has resulted in silent power struggles in the OP. While the PMS was able to most, if not all of the President, needs, internally it was bleeding. Its relationship with the OP has become strained, an organization with no clear direction, acting on what the PMS head would direct it to do. The PMS head was elevated to secretary level reporting directly to the president, blurring the lines of authority, inconsistent with the provisions of EO 292 that the ES shall provide consultative, research fact-finding and advisory to the President. Supposedly, the PMS is to assist the ES in the performance of this function. With the ES and PMS head now on the same level, service to the presidency has suffered as well, there would be duplication of efforts, policy recommendation that have not undergone CSW would reach to the president resulting from a contest on who gets the president’s listening ears first. Booty would come in the form of additional functions: Processing of presidential appointments which used to be performed by the personnel group in the office of the president became a function of the PMS; review of government infrastructure contracts which used to be performed by NEDA; and even the preparation of the President’s talking points in his foreign trips.

An attempt was made to put the house in order with the creation of the Office of the Chief of Staff which was tasked to manage the day to day activities of the president and requirements of the President. While the COS was also tasked to provide inputs in the President’s decision making, this is corollary/complementary to the ES’ functions as the head of the executive office. The set-up looked ideal in paper, however, the political reality hindered it from achieving its objective. The first COS appointed talked too much, unwittingly exposing the “excesses” of the President and was untimely booted out of office. It didn’t deliver the change expected as a political storm was brewing on the homefront. The management style of the president or the lack of it was deemed as the main culprit for all the troubles that the administration was suffering. Another executive order was issued instituting meaningful reforms and modernizing the office of the President. However, a close review of the said order showed that the power of the ES was strengthened with the president heavily relying on him for all executive decisions. A few days after it was issued, the President was removed from office via the EDSA mechanism and the country’s second in command was sworn in office.

Like spoils of war, political appointments were handed out left and right. The Office of the President became more bloated than it already was. Lines of communication and workflow remained as blurry as ever. In the executive office were the executive secretary, the chief of staff, the Head PMS who are all secretary rank who all report directly to the President, add to this other officials in the OP who hold the title of secretaries whose functions and jurisdiction are unclear. In PMS, although it was business as usual, the focus and direction vary depending on the focus and pressing need of the president at the moment. Thus, the policy making function was not utilized to its fullest potential.

Well, I guess i took the "honest" part too seriously. It almost gave teh boss a heart attack and feared of a lawsuit by the original "dragon lady."

Now, what do you think will happen next? Will this paper ever see the light of day?Is there really such a thing as honest-to-goodness in government or more specifically in this administration? "How can you face a problem when the problem is your face?," I heard once. So who would dare tell the President that she is the problem? But the bigger question is would she listen? And the much bigger question is what happens to those who dare speak the truth?


I have always thought that my mission in life is to serve my people. I still think so and I hope I never lose sight of that...

Tuesday, January 31, 2006 

by Dyes

just re-posting an article culled from the philippine star at this site:

This is how politics works in da beloved country.


SMC deal costs PCGG ’06 budget
By Marvin Sy
The Philippine Star 01/31/2006

For refusing to answer questions on the reported "compromise agreement" with San Miguel Corp. chairman Eduardo Cojuangco on contested SMC shares, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) will get a zero budget for this year.

Senators denied the PCGG any allocation this year after the agency’s chairman Camilo Sabio cited an Aquino administration executive order in declining to reveal any deal with the former Marcos crony and whether or not it had the blessing of President Arroyo.

According to Sabio, the position of the PCGG was consistent with the decisions issued by the Supreme Court on the issue of the coco levy funds, which were used to buy shares in food and beverage conglomerate SMC.

During the hearing on the budget of the PCGG at the Senate yesterday, Sen. Joker Arroyo asked Sabio if his position in favor of a compromise agreement with Cojuangco on the SMC shares had the approval of the President.

Arroyo was referring to the statement issued by Sabio last year that the PCGG was open to compromise with Cojuangco.

Sabio had vowed to quit his post if there was no resolution on the claims of the various farmer groups over the estimated P130-billion coco levy funds by the end of the year.

"Pursuant to decisions of the Supreme Court, the PCGG is open to a compromise with respect to the parties in the cases involved," Sabio had said.

Arroyo argued that the PCGG had no authority to make such a decision on the coco levy funds, particularly in a case of this magnitude.

He emphasized that the "parties involved" in the cases are the Republic of the Philippines and Cojuangco, and considering the amount involved, it is the President who should be making the decisions.

"An agreement of this size cannot be made by the chairman of the PCGG. It has to be the President because that’s a policy decision," Arroyo said.

In response to the query of Arroyo and apparently anticipating the line of questioning, Sabio read a prepared statement citing Section 4-b of Executive Order No. 1 issued by former President Corazon Aquino creating the PCGG.

Section 4b of EO No. 1 states: "No member or staff of the commission shall be required to testify or produce in any judicial, legislative or administrative proceeding concerning matters within its official cognizance."

Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile also asked Sabio about the status of the documents he asked for during the PCGG’s previous hearing including the listing of all companies taken over by the PCGG; their condition at the time of the takeover; and their condition now.

In addition, Senate President Franklin Drilon asked the PCGG to submit a breakdown of all bonuses, per diems and all other benefits received by the PCGG officials from the corporations they are handling.

Sabio also invoked the same EO in refusing to answer Enrile.

Enrile scolded Sabio for his unwillingness to recognize the authority of Congress to review the budget of the PCGG and moved to deny the agency any funding for 2006.

"We are not investigating you. We are asking information about your performance. It’s germane to the budget. Now I do not give a damn if you are PCGG. You are in fact a creation of our effort. Who are you to defy the powers of Congress?" Enrile asked.

Speaking before reporters at the end of the hearing, Sabio said that it was not necessary for him to answer the question of Arroyo in the first place.

"There were several compromise agreements which have not been expressly authorized by the President," Sabio said.

"Whatever is necessary to protect the office," he said when asked how far he would keep his silence before the Senate — even at the risk of losing the PCGG’s budget.

According to Sabio, the PCGG is not involved in the negotiations for the compromise agreement as it is up to the parties involved to do this.

"If a compromise agreement is presented to the PCGG and it is not grossly disadvantageous to the government and it is not contrary to law, morals, public order, public policy then we might approve it," he said.

"Anyway, that compromise agreement, if ever something would come up, would not only be presented to the PCGG but to the Sandiganbayan and also to the Supreme Court. There should be no fears about that," he added.

Arroyo said that Sabio appears to be hiding something in his silence on the issue.

He pointed out that several groups were interested in the coco levy funds so judging by Sabio’s statements, there seems to be one group being favored.

Arroyo said it was unclear whether the SMC shares being discussed under the compromise agreement refer to the 27 percent held by the government or the 20 percent of Cojuangco.

The control of the shares is still under litigation as both the government and Cojuangco claim ownership.

A Supreme Court ruling in 2001 stated that the coconut levy funds were prima facie public funds and that the government, through PCGG, should continue to vote in representation of the coco funds.

The high court clarified in a later opinion that the 2001 ruling was only a preliminary finding for the purpose of allowing the government to vote in favor of the shares.

Sabio said that the High Tribunal called on the Sandiganbayan to try the case and determine the owners of the enterprises funded by the coco levy funds.

Monday, January 23, 2006 

Sports To Unite Our Country

by Dyes

Sports is the unifying factor of our country. These words came from Chairman Butch Ramirez during our first meeting last year. He uttered it during the time when PSC was still raising and soliciting funds for the SEA Games. Probably not many people know that the venues for the SEA games were not ready and finished until the last minute. If it weren’t for FG and his influence, there would be no funds for the construction or renovation of the sites and our athletes would not have adequate training. I sincerely doubt if our dearly beloved congressmen and senators sliced out their pork barrels to contribute for the success of the games. And yet, upon winning 100+ medals, their faces are pasted everywhere.

Now, Manny won over Morales. Again, you see the faces of our dearly beloved congressmen and senators congratulating him for a job well done. But, where were they when he was merely an amateur boxer? Where were they when he was probably just making the ends meet during his training years, like our usual athletes who have yet to encounter fame? More importantly, where was their support, financial and moral, when he most needed them?

These were my thoughts upon seeing Korina’s show on our athletes receiving a measly P11,000 a month; after seeing Sheila Perez, a three-time gold medalist, still laundering her own clothes after practice in a run-down RMSC.

Everybody loves a winner. Manny is loved by all Filipinos. Indeed, his win united our country.

And though it may be a wishful thinking, I hope that our dearly beloved congressmen and senators would realize that support is needed not only during winning time, but moreso during training before stepping up the ladder.


Manny Mania

by MrsPartyGirl

In an interview that Hubby ang I watched this morning, Manny said something like this:

"Kung ito lang pala ang paraan para mag-kaisa ang mga Pilipino, kung kinakailangang lalaban ako araw-araw ay gagawin ko."

On the day of his fight, it was like Christmas day. There was virtually no traffic, almost no crime was being committed, opposing politicos watched side-by-side at cinemas, crappy variety shows stopped screeching at hapless ears (for once), and everyone - rich or poor, old or young, man or woman, married or single, pro or anti-GMA, Christian or Muslim, sikat or starlet, whether in the Philippines or abroad - was happy, eager, and only cared about one and only one thing: supporting Manny.

For one day, we, the Filipino people, became one. It was so beautiful, I almost shed tears. I hope each Pinoy felt this "miracle" somehow, and realized that we are indeed capable of having peace and unity pala.

Unfortunately, I have this huge hunch that a lot of people will take advantage of Manny's victory. The cynic in me knows this for sure. The dreamer in me recognizes this nightmare-in-the-making. The Filipino in me waits with abaited breath. Please, please, I want to be proven wrong.

For all our sakes, I hope we won't let Manny do all the work by risking his brains out boxing everyday for the rest of his life in order to bring peace and unity in the country. He's thrown the first punch, it's up to us to continue this fight.


Have any of you noticed that no one in the media has brought up the issue of Manny's estranged father to him after his win?

Even the media knows when to shut its mouth. No one wants to be the party pooper. Or at the receiving end of Manny's Reyes gloves.


What is nanghihinayang in English?

Morales received a broken nose, broken ribs, and a dislocated jaw. It didn't make me any happier when I heard about his injuries. I'm just thankful that it wasn't Manny who sustained these.

Nanghihinayang ako for Morales. In effect, this Battle heralded the end of his career. He's probably one of the smartest (and most pogi) boxers ever produced by Mexico.

In the end, it was not his face nor his ribs, but his spirit, that was the most battered of all.

But I'm still happy we won. :P


Manny, please spend your money wisely. We don't need another Navarete.

Jinky, please keep him in check. Please be his pretty anchor when the long-winded ones try to blow him away.

To his new managers, thank you for doing a great job of promoting him. We have some more great boxers here, should you wish to make some more money.

To the people who think they can squeeze something out of Manny, shame on you! Let the guy spend his millions in peace. He deserves it.

To the politikos who will ride the tide of his fame, may Chavit Singson's tigers and boa constrictors be unleashed upon you.

To the Mexican people, you too are a nation of fighters and we salute your talent and courage. Until we meet again.

To Barrera, are you ready? :D

Sunday, January 22, 2006 

Pacquiao: A Showcase of Pinoys' Guts and Glory

by Dragon Lady

This happens to be my first ever (hopefully not the last!) post in our group blog. Sorry for intentionally choosing to be apolitical for the past months or so.... I didn't get so inspired to contribute in our blog and tried to ignore the fact that like the rest of you, I finished a college degree in Political Science after all.

Oh well. I believe that every single Filipino across the world is truly joyous and proud of our very own Manny Pacquiao's win against Erik Morales of Mexico yesterday, 22 January (Manila tme). It was truly a great fight that Pacman stood up for. Indeed, he proved to be The Destroyer after knocking down Morales on the tenth round.

What is so admirable about this man was his firm resolute that this boxing fight was not in honor of him nor his family; it is for our country and for the rest of the Filipino people.

Thank you, Manny, for standing brave and strong on behalf of all our fellow Pinoys. You are a great inspiration for us all amidst the alarming political crisis our nation is going through. I'd like to believe that your fight somehow brought unity, peace and joy in our beleaguered country and to the hearts and minds of our fellow countrymen.

Mabuhay ka, Manny Pacquiao!

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

Mabuhay ang sambayanang Pilipino!

Thursday, January 19, 2006 


by Dyes

pano mo nga ba masasabi na ang isang tao ay successful?

si rose (di tunay na pangalan) ay nagulat nang makita nya na ang kanyang sahod mula sa bagong trabaho ay kalahati lamang ng sinasahod nya sa hotel na kanyang pinagta-trabahuhan dati. Almost 30K ata ang take-home pay sa hotel.

si ellen (di tunay na pangalan) naman ay nagdidildil sa isang maliit na law firm na mababa ring magpasahod. ilang beses na syang pinangakuan na magtataas ang profit-sharing, pero ang pangakong iyon ay sadya nga yatang pinapako. kahit anong sabihin ng mga kaibigan na umalis na sa trabaho, hindi pa rin iniinda ni ellen sapagkat ang experience na mararanasan nya raw sa firm na ito ay hindi matatawaran.

si sheryl (di tunay na pangalan) ay di nagtapos sa mga pretigious schools tulad ng up, la salle at ateneo. pero sa edad na late twenties, kumikita sya ng halos P50K/month bukod sa mga benefits na kanyang natatanggap. sya ay matatawag mong credit-grabber, pero dahil sa napaka friendly nya pag kaharap mo, hindi mo maiisip na magalit sa kanya dahil wala namang matibay na ebidensya na sya nga ay masama, bukod pa sa dami ng mga taong makakaaway mo dahil sya ay kaibigan nya. at malay ba natin kung naunahan ka na nyang siraan sa mga ibang tao.

so, ano nga ba ang measurement ng success?
sa laki ba ng tseke na natatanggap mo kada buwan?
sa pagsasakatuparan ng pangarap mong maging isang professional kahit na maliit ang sahod at naghihirap na mamasahe?
o sa malugod na pagtanggap ng sariling pagkatao at pagiging masaya sa sarili?

Sunday, January 15, 2006 

Global Pinoy

by TheDivineMissM!

A little too upbeat for me, but what the hell....

Global Filipinos

No group of people, perhaps, could assimilate with other cultures better than the Filipinos do. No other group, perhaps, has spread across the globe as massively as the Filipinos have. There are Filipinos in every country, and chances are, there are Filipinos traveling in every known sea.

Ferdinand Magellan, the Spanish explorer who discovered the Philippines in 1521, is known as the first man to have circumnavigated the globe. Ironically, he never did so because he died in the Philippines on the way. What Magellan failed to do, the Filipinos have achieved.

Today, almost all merchant ships crossing the oceans are manned by Filipinos. Anywhere on Earth, Filipinos have made their presence felt. They are active workers, helping rebuild cities and modernize economies.

They are in the Middle East and Africa, working as engineers and construction workers; in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan as technicians, factory workers and entertainers; in Europe as hotel and restaurant employees; in Hong Kong and Singapore as managers, office personnel and household maids; in Australia and South America as professionals; and in the U.S. and Canada as doctors, lawyers and computer programmers.

There are about seven million Filipinos (although an exact number cannot be determined) living, working and studying in other countries. In the U.S. and Canada alone, there are around three million residents of Filipino origin. And the number is still growing.

Filipinos have acquired great distinction abroad. For example, in New York, the world's richest city, Filipinos were once tagged as the wealthiest of all ethnic groups. A 1990 census reported that the Filipino Americans have a median income of $45,000, the highest among all races including the whites.

Filipinos can be aptly called the Global Pinoy. Long before a Filipino married the first ever Miss Universe, Filipinos have already shown the characteristics of a global citizen. It was the national hero Jose Rizal who first showed these characteristics when he traveled across Asia and Europe and visited America. He learned different cultures and spoke Spanish, English, German, French, Japanese, Chinese and other languages.

Filipinos, today, may not be able to speak all these tongues but they have a good facility of the English language which is widely used. In fact, many of them are hired as teachers and translators in Japan and the Middle East. The Philippines is the world's third largest English-speaking nation, after the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

But apart from the technical skills and knowledge of the English language, there is something more that makes Filipinos at home with the world. It is their humility and gentleness that integrate them into foreign cultures. It is their faith in God that gives them assurance of safety and peace even when in the farthest lands. It is their sense of humor that helps them through cultural boundaries. It is their enthusiasm and hope of a better future that give them strength.

One can easily spot Filipinos in a crowd. Usually, they are the ones who wear the biggest smile. In a regional survey, the Filipinos were tagged as the happiest people in Asia. Ironically, the wealthy Japanese appeared at the bottom of the list.

Aside from enjoying life, Filipinos are those who love to talk about God. They are pious Christians who, at the time atheism draws massive followers, still believe in miracles. Many Filipinos brought their faith abroad and preached the Gospel, even to the extent that some of them were beheaded in Saudi Arabia.

What's interesting about the Filipinos is the way they show humility and still keep the sense of nationalism. Nobody, perhaps, is as humble as the Filipinos. They serve as nannies in Hong Kong, caregivers in Canada, gardeners in Europe, laborers in the Middle East and entertainers in Japan. Despite such positions, they manage to smile and feel proud of their country.

Filipinos are always proud of their country. In any section of the world, Filipinos are heard talking about their beautiful country where beaches are spectacular and people are heartwarming. They claim that given the choice and opportunity, they would always come back to their native land.

And what a paradise is their native land. It is teeming with life and sunshine, perhaps as lively as its people. The level of biodiversity in the Philippines is considered the world's highest. This remains despite the numerous calamities hitting the Philippines each year. The country experiences the most number of typhoons in the world, estimated between 20 and 30 every year.

But no typhoon, not even the strongest one, could dump the enthusiasm of the Filipinos. They always look up at the sky, and when the panorama is dark, raise hope that the sun will shine bright the next morning.

About This Weblog

    Previously, a blog about how life has treated us after our last duel on the piste. Now, unmasked, we reveal ourselves as political scientists first, fencers second.

    Our country is the Philippines - where the University that brought us together stands. Though we'd rather pretend that eveything is fine, it is not.

    We've laid down our swords and sharpened our words. Now we raise our mightier pens and say: en garde.

    For Pinas. Our guts, your glory.
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