Saturday, August 01, 2009


Many agree that one sure way to push the economic recovery of the country is for the rehabilitation of our railways both to the north and south of Manila. The modern and efficient rehabilitation of the Bicol Express all the way up to the province of Albay and the reopening of the Ilocos Express up to La Union must be taken into serious consideration by the current administration. Faster trains also mean faster deliveries of basic goods to the marketplace. And the result is that, if more people took to the trains and left their vehicles at home, we could live to see the day where a remarkable drop in air pollution may be a reality.

The biggest stumbling block for these plans are the presence of thousands of squatters along the tracks. Efforts to move them away have been sluggish, and many relocation efforts have ended up in violent confrontations due to the squatters' adamance to be transferred to other sites. Sadly so, they have become so uncontrollable and have contributed to stone-throwing at passing trains, including threatening Philippine National Railways (PNR) personnel with bodily harm.

On a lighter note, the new PNR could help solve the metropolis' traffic woes. Wouldn't it be great to have clean and comfortable PNR trains plying Los Banos to Manila and Malolos to other connecting routes, and then possibly connecting Damortis, La Union and San Jose, Nueva Vizcaya up to the Cagayan Valley? PNR stations could well be made with clean restrooms and snack shops, much like the ones in big American, European and Japanese cities - where commuters arrive by train, leaving their vehicles in the countryside. Or, how about reviving the pre-war streetcar or trambia in Metro Manila? Wouldn't that be something?

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Friday, July 31, 2009


I couldn't help but chuckle over reports that an agreement with Cambodia (Kampuchea) had been signed wherein the Philippines would send advisers there to help develop rural health services, agriculture, animal health, irrigation and farm marketing.

In a few years, I thought, that country could overtake us and may even be exporting their products here. Remember, we taught Thai, Indonesian and Taiwanese students who studied agriculture, engineering and medicine right here and then went back home to become leaders of their respective countries. Applying what they had learned here, their countries overtake us to become Asian economic tigers. In the meantime, we remain in the economic doldrums.

Even Vietnam, devastated by close to 50 years of continuous wars and laid waste by tons of bombs from the US Air Force, has risen from the ashes, and many predict would soon overtake the Philippines in a race to become Asia's next economic tiger - or have they already?

What is puzzling is that many Filipino businessmen have rushed over to Vietnam and Cambodia, establishing varied businesses. Do these businessmen now feel they have more chances to strike gold in those countries than here in RP?

The biggest car manufacturer in Vietnam is a Filipino. He could have remained right here. Many other industrialists have formed partnerships with Vietnamese and Cambodian businessmen confident of economic boom in those Asian nations. How come they don't have the same enthusiasm with their ventures here?
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While many of us have not heard of these war-time publications, I believe recognitions and tributes are in order for the following newspapers and the people behind them.

- Matang Lawin, by Colonel Guillermo Nakar who operated in the Sierra Madre mountains in Nueva Vizcaya.

- The Liberator, by Leon O. Ty, distributed in Manila, Cavite and Bulacan. One of the writers of the Philippines Free Press.

- The Flash, by Pedro dela Llana, which concentrated on war news.

- Ing Masala, the Hukbalahap paper published by the Huks operating in Central Luzon under Luis Taruc.

- Thunderclap, run by the Hunters ROTC guerillas, by Colonel Eleuterio Adevoso, one of the most decorated guerilla leaders during the Occupation.

- Kalibo War Bulletin, by Colonel Macario Peralta.

- Ang Tigbatas, by Colonel Tomas Confesor in Iloilo.

- The Saber, by Wenceslao Q. Vinzons, distributed in Bicol and Laguna.

- The Commentator, by Governor Juan Frivaldo of the Escudero Guerilla Unit of which he was propaganda officer. Distributed in Sorsogon, Masbate and Samar.

- The Bugle, by Colonel Ruperto Kangleon, distributed in Leyte.

These underground newspapers should be given due recognition by no less than the National Historical Institute (NHI), The UP Philippine Historical Society, the National Press Club, the National Museum and the National Library. Let us preserve the memory of these brave editors and writers who fought the Japanese invaders during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines - and risked their lives in the process. Their respective families should be given the honor for their service and bravery in defending the right to information during an oppressive moment in the nation's history.


Many factors have forced numerous Filipino women to work abroad as prostitutes. These include poverty, lack of education, lack of opportunities, and the most hideous of all - a culture that normally treats women as sex objects, as bodies that can be bought, sold, raped, murdered, harassed, ogled at and whistled at. A culture that is not friendly to and at times dangerous and difficult for women.

We need to take a closer look into the lives of these women forced into prostitution to discover that many of them have been sexually abused as children or by their partners and spouses. Most of them had been raped in their early teens by their fathers and step-fathers, uncles and brothers, forcing them to become hookers saying, "wala na ang pagkababae namin, sira na ang buhay namin, sino pa ang papatol sa amin?"

These women sink to the lowest brink of self-esteem and self-worth. Our hypocritical society puts so much premium on virginity and chastity but at the same time nurtures a culture of misogyny wherein women are really left few choices. Menfolk assume the right to sex regardless of the women's consent.

Our government is also to blame for the plight of our women who have gone into prostitution overseas. I think the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) could be the biggest pimp in the country, allowing recruitment agencies to prey on these innocent and desperate victims. Members of Congress should also get the blame, who are supposedly looking into the matter, motivated simply for publicity and propaganda.

Can the POEA for a change embark on a real program to close down all these "talent/promotion agencies" who are really just recruiting women to work as "entertainers" abroad? Entertainers who are expected to transform into prostitutes soon after. Or are government institutions simply interested in the Dollar remittances of our overseas labor force? It's time our honorable legislators look into the POEA and compel the institution to correct any and all practices that obviously hurt and not protect our Filipino women seeking employment overseas.
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The government and civic leaders should give support to an uphill fight by the late great violinist, composer and symphony orchestra conductor Maestro Redentor Romero to preserve the beauty of our own music and culture amid western influences, which drown Pinoys 'round the clock, especially over radio and television.
Statistics show that the Philippine music industry is an over PhP11 billion a year industry, 65 percent of which are foreign recordings and 35 percent local. Out of PhP11 billion, barely 1 percent goes to classical music, which includes the Philippine classics.

Having won countless international recognition and accolades, Maestro Romero's music is perpetuated in timeless Pinoy romantic and classical pop music that have all touched our lives. His arrangements and orchestrations feature a totally different approach. His memory lives on forever.

The various radio stations would be doing a great service to its listening public by playing the type of music played by Red Romero and other great Filipino composers. We are simply too American-oriented in our radio programming. Even our local announcers would like to sound like American DJs, aping their pronunciation and slang. It only makes them sound like inebriated apes. For love of Filipino music gems and compositions, let us support the return of truly original Filipino classics in the airwaves.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


The Spanish Inquisition has been revived in the Philippines, it seems. Catholic zealots have started attacking Freemasons for unexplained reasons. Pastoral letters have been read in parishes banning Masonic societies and prohibiting their members from associating with Masons.

Maybe the successors of the Catholic church hierarchy have not forgiven our national heroes, who were mostly Masons, for leading the fight against abuses of the frailes and church domination over the government. Could it also be because present-day Freemasons have started protesting religious intervention by the current administration?

It is a historical fact that Freemasonry is vibrant under oppressive periods when tyranny exists, and "belief in God" is one major requirement of Freemasonry, but memberhip also means immediate excommunication from the Catholic church. This explains why many Masons have become Protestants. But, many too were already Protestants long before they became Masons.

While I personally do not agree with most of the rituals performed during Masonic meetings and rites including its symbols, I too cannot deny the fact that great Filipinos like Rizal, Bonifacio, del Pilar, Pardo de Tavera, the Luna brothers, Aguinaldo, Mabini and subsequent leaders down to Quezon were all Masons - and most of the founders of the Katipunan were Masons. My very own father is a Protestant Mason. The society may have many ritualistic errors, but it may not be that all bad as the Catholic church claims it to be if all these heroes joined it. Or is it?

It's time we take a closer look at this "secret brotherhood" and find out once and for all the true meaning of its existence. But if we do, then it won't be a secret any longer.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Plans by the government to rehabilitate (again) Corregidor into a major tourist spot presents an opportunity to correct a monumental injustice to the Filipino soldiers who fought valiantly in Bataan and Corregidor to halt the rampaging Japanese troops.

Military historians, mostly Americans, recorded the Bataan-Corregidor battle as purely an American campaign, and the role of the Filipino soldier was totally ignored and deserved only passing comments.

The Bataan-Corregidor delaying action saved Australia and allowed General Douglas MacArthur enough time to regroup and launch a counter-offensive that led to final victory in that Pacific War.

The proposed dioramas and markers on that fortress island must stress that the Filipino troops played an equal if not a larger role than the Americans did, if only because there were much more Filipino soldiers than Americans. Movies and books about that gallant stand on Corregidor showed only the Americans as having fought that war. Even the infamous Bataan Death March focused only the American G.I.s

Years later, many scholars and historians referred to the Bataan-Corregidor action as the war where the Americans fought to the last Filipino.

The government has a golden opportunity here to correct a monstrous historical error.
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An exhaustive report on the activities of cartels was sent to me recently. The paper bares experiments from experts from Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh who had studied the problems of farming in the country, blaming the cartels as a "social malaise" which had impoverished the nation. It seems that the cartels' powerful network from within and outside has bound our helpless farmers into the quagmire of perpetual poverty and hopelessness. It's high time the government embark on a real crackdown on cartels which operate in all levels of Philippine society. I would have been overjoyed to hear President Arroyo declare war on these existing cartels in her SONA yesterday. But in doing so would only mean turning her back on her friends and business associates.

This is how cartels work, suffocating the farmers: The inaccessiblity of government and banking credit facilities to these sectors is where the cartels thrive. They take advantage through the scheme of "offer of a helping hand." They take advantage through the delivery of "the inaccessible credit" to the farmers, the marginal traders, millers and retailers. Credit is given the farmers but their harvests are already mortgaged to the cartel even before planting. Thus, they control the price not only of rice, but also in their grip is the supply of yellow corn, vegetables, coffee, cutflower, mongo, copra, fish and literally whatever crop is harvested by the small farmers and fishermen. Cartels control the delivery of credit to the small farmers and fishermen in the countryside, and in exchange, they virtually dictate the prices of prime commodities. Yes, the vicious tentacles of cartels are there, pervasive as sharks in the sea.

It's time these sharks are cut down to the size of fingerlings.

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Balikbayans have noticed that the Thai rice being sold in the Philippines is not as tasty and of the same high quality Thai rice they have eaten in the U.S. This could be explained by an admission made recently by a member of the Thai embassy here that the rice we have been importing from their country is of the same cheap and poor quality which they export to poor countries in Africa.

Even in the choice of imported grains, our crooked officials have to pick the inferior kind so they can make more money out of overpricing and commissions. And these crooks still lord ot over in their offices and laugh over demands for their ouster knowing they have strong political clout in Malacanang.

Do you think overpriced rice cooked to make lugaw may be called Arroyoz Caldo?


Some years ago, I heard an American television commentator describe Zamboanga City, jokingly saying it to be a place "where the monkeys have no tails." It's an allusion to a song American troops used to sing at the turn of the century. The insulting song went: "Oh, the monkeys have no tails in far Zamboanga ..."

Despite the strong protests of Filipinos, U.S. troops continued to sing the song to their hearts' content. That contemptuous song probably explains why so many American troopers were speared or hacked to death in the South - and why the Yanks never conquered the Muslim warriors of Mindanao. The U.S. Army could not stop the Moro fighters. U.S. Army gunsmiths had to develop the .45 caliber pistol that was powerful enough to stop Moro suicide squads who were charging at rattled U.S. soldiers.

American ambassador Kristie Kenney should be careful next time she travels to Mindanao. Some bitter Muslim might be reminded of the song and may just pull out his Kris on her.

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Monday, July 27, 2009


The Filipino must be supreme in his own country. He must define his national destiny. A people's participation and predominance is vital in defining the national agenda. It should emphasize the primacy of the Filipino in the pursuit of all national goals.

We are a nation divided. The divisions are beginning to develop into fragments, and before long, nothing willl be left but ruins. In the past as in the present, the wealth of the country has been parcelled out among the country's elites. Elites who are greedy and who are without a conscience. Elites without a vision and without competence to manage the affairs of the country for our people. Elites who mouth democracy but practice despotism. In defining our national destiny, the Filipino must be master in his own land. There must be just and democratic allocation of the national wealth among our people. There must be just sharing in the exercise of political and economic power among ethnic groups and various regions of the country.

The Filipino must always be first in his own country. If he comes next to that as in second only, he really never wins the silver. He simpy loses the gold.
Image above is Dr. Jose Rizal, the First Filipino.


A distinguished lawyer recalls that in the past, judges and justices were so virtuous and upright, they practically led the lives of hermits just to avoid any suspicions that might reflect on the judiciary.

In those days, no judge was ever seen in a nightclub or any other similar place. And, as a general rule, judges stayed away from public functions where their presence were not vitally important. Any socializing a judge did was strictly limited to family affairs to which very few outsiders were invited. A judge would not attend a gathering where he might meet a person or persons involved in a case he was judging.

Today, we see judges and justices in places where even imps dare not go. Oh, how times have changed.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


There are some people in the Philippines who will be happy to be reminded about a law in Japan which allows persons born of Japanese parents who were in the Philippines before and after the Pacific War to return to Japan.

Many of these people were sent to the Philippines as spies, working in small department stores, restaurants and halo-halo and mongo con hielo parlors. Quite a number worked as gardeners of affluent people, mostly Americans.

Sorry, but the law, sad to say, does not apply to children of so-called comfort women. Japanese law discriminates against mixed marriages. There is a general racist attitude here against half-breeds.

During the American occupation of Japan, children born of U.S. servicemen and Japanese women were scoffed at and otherwise ostracized by Japanese society. Many had to leave Japan.

In the Philippines, children born of U.S. servicemen and local women had happier fates. Here, children of mixed marriages enjoy privileged status, especially if one of the parents is a Caucasian.

On the other hand, there exists a bill in the U.S. Congress which grants U.S. citizenship to some 50,000 children left behind in the Philippines after the U.S. bases here were closed. Most of these abandoned kids were living around Clark Air Base in Angeles, Pampanga, and Subic Naval Base in Olongapo, Zambales. Many of these kids have been living on charity and not a few have turned to drugs, prostitution and criminality after their stateside fathers failed to send money for their support. Many of their mothers worked in the seedy bars and clubs which sprouted outside the U.S. bases and had illicit relations with American servicemen.

This bill corrects an injustice against Amerasians in the Philippines. A law had been previously passed granting U.S. citizenship to abandoned kids left by American dads in Vietnam and Korea.

It was never the fault of these pitiful children, and that is why they need all the help they can get to be united with their American fathers, or perhaps receive some kind of support if they don't get to step on American soil.


Let me share this with you. There was a time when the late presidential spokesman, literary guru and newspaper columnist Adrian E. Cristobal Sr. got angry at motor-mouth Manoling Morato for pontificating that college drop-outs like Joseph Estrada were not qualified to run for president. Mr. Cristobal claimed Mr. Morato insulted millions of drop-outs in the country.

And this group includes Adrian himself, Blas Ople, Kit Tatad and JV Cruz, them all being superior intellectuals, poets, writers and speechwriters, eloquent speakers and wordsmiths.

The Constitution, which stipulates the candidates' age and birth limits, does not require university degrees or a minimum I.Q., he said.

One of the country's greatest presidents, Ramon Magsaysay, never finished college as well.

The country's biggest cheats and crooks today have offices adorned with framed diplomas and doctorates, including those from Harvard, Yale, Stanford - and yes, Georgetown. Look where they have brought this country to.

And now that Estrada could be seeking a second term, will Morato be whining again like a blooming Banshee?