Saturday, August 22, 2009


On every special occasion like Christmas or a birthday, one of the questions persistently asked is what makes a man stick to one particular woman, even if there are much prettier and more attractive others in the field. Of course, to be faithful to your woman is something men must always be. Every man, of course, has to spend the precious Christmas Eve dinner with his special someone, whether it be his wife or his girlfriend. I'd like to stretch it a bit further - spending a special occasion with mother dear. The same thing is applied to birthdays. Hence, what makes these special girls tick?

There may not be really one hard-and-fast answer to this question. The best I can do is to tell a story of the late German dictator Adolf Hitler, who married his long-time mistress Eva Braun, hours before both of them committed suicide and their bodies were doused with gasoline and then burned.

Hitler said Eva would "go to her death with me at her own wish." Their brief marriage he explained, would "compensate us both for what we have lost in my work in the service of my people." What the artist-dictator admired most in Eva, who was a mere store clerk in Munich when he met her, was her "lack of intellectual ability" and "unquestioning loyalty."

A lot of Filipino women, especially those identified with the activist circles and the academe will protest my making Hitler's idea of the most desirable traits in women as an example here. Apologies then are in order. It's only because I thought Hitler made a lot of sense and articulated what most of us men would really want in our women - on the "unquestioning loyalty" part. Wasn't this also what our fathers and their fathers before them wanted in their women - to stay home and take care of the children and stick to their men through thick and thin, not asking why? Just pratlling off some thoughts.

Friday, August 21, 2009


It turns out that when the late Vice-President Salvador 'Doy' Laurel was foreign secretary during the term of President Corazon Aquino, he had issued Foreign Service Circular 221-86 requiring all foreign service personnel to assist any Filipino national, especially OFWs in need of help in a foreign country.

These personnel were required to submit a weekly report on Pinoys facing court charges and how they had been assisted by these foreign service personnel. They were also required to visit their countrymen who end up in jail, and see to it that they were given adequate legal assistance. The labor attaches were required to be on call at all times to serve OFWs in trouble and make regular reports of their activities to the DFA.

This circular was completely ignored when Laurel was canned by Aquino. The foreign secretaries that followed had a sorry history of ignoring our OFWs. President Arroyo would do well to order the DFA to resuscitate that Laurel circular and require strict compliance with it by all DFA personnel henceforth.

In asking for the revival of the circular, Arroyo could also order all chiefs of mission and other diplomatic officers to get rid of a common practice among DFA staffers of looking down, sometimes with disdain, on our OFWs who run to them for help. Most of these "diplomats" are more obsessed with rubbing elbows with officials of the countries they are assigned to and other diplomatic corps members, than spending time helping our OFWs. If they ever help at all, this would be at a minimal and mostly delegated to low-ranking consular staffers who are anyway also prejudiced against OFWs, in pretty much the same as their superiors are. Arroyo should order ambassadors and other chiefs of mission to personally attend to the plight of our OFWs under pain of separation from the service if they fail or refuse to do so. The President could order presidential monitors to report on the activities of our foreign service people and blacklist those found wanting in their assistance to our OFWs. She should recommend the dismissal of these people from the foreign service. The DFA has embassy inspectors of its own who are supposed to monitor our embassies abroad. Why have their mouths been shut for so long?

As a suggestion, all heads of diplomatic missions abroad should be lawyers or at least have a lawyer in their office to immediatly assure legal assistance to OFWs. There are too many OFWs facing criminal prosecution, and since they have no sufficient knowledge of the law, including customs and traditions of their country of employment, they almost always lose legal cases they face. When a Filipino abroad is investigated, a Filipino lawyer must assist the lawyer assigned by the foreign government. This will ensure that the OFW is not denied due process.


Today, August 21 is the 26th anniversary of Ninoy's death, and I hate to be a killjoy to his many followers but, the proposal to have Congress declare the late Senator Benigno 'Ninoy' Aquino Jr. and former President Corazon 'Cory' Aquino national heroes is ill-advised. But I guess it's too late to be carping about it now. The Batasan Pambansa recently approved on second reading a joint resolution declaring Corazon Aquino a national hero. So be it. However, generally speaking, the status of national hero cannot be legislated. As the late historian-writer Renato Constantino said in a past column of his - "Ninoy was a martyr. But whether or not he will have the stature of a national hero, we will have to wait historical scrutiny." Legislative action now could create a precedent that may eventually cheapen the concept of a hero.

Many who are now opposed to the idea ask how Ninoy can claim such honors even ahead of others who had done much for the country, such as Andres Bonifacio, Claro M. Recto and Jose P. Laurel. Even the late Justice Jose Abad Santos, who was executed by the Japanese during the Occupation has yet to be officially proclaimed a national hero.

A stinging editorial once said there was need to carefully scrutinize Ninoy's life, including family background. It raised the fact that Ninoy's father was head of the pro-Japanese Kalibapi, which provided aid and comfort to the Japanese invading forces. Ninoy's supporters claim that by giving up his life, he inspired a national upheaval which resulted in the ouster of Ferdinand Marcos and the restoration of democracy in the country. The EDSA Revolution was led by a breakaway group of Marcos people led by Juan Ponce Enrile and Fidel Valdez Ramos. Observers say that the proposal may face rough sailing even in the two halls of Congress, where many legislators share Professor Constantino's thesis that the status of a national hero cannot be legislated. Even some friends of Ninoy Aquino admit that a move in Congress to declare him a national hero could backfire on him. His political enemies may bring out derogatory aspects of his life that could blacken his memory in the public mind. Ninoy already occupies a lofty place in the country's history. It may be better to leave things as they are instead of trying to stir up another divisive national debate by having him declared a national hero. Let him rest in peace, his many friends say.

And as for Cory, history books will be kind to her, and in the hearts of the Filipino people, she is far more than that of a national hero. She, to them was their symbol of democracy. So potent is the democratic spirit she has left behind to the nation, even making Senator Mar Roxas originally suggest EDSA be renamed to President Corazon Aquino Avenue, but is now torn and having uncontrollable second thoughts about it simply because the Liberal Party is presently in a dilemna between him and Noynoy Aquino as their party's presidential standard bearer. Mister Palengke-turned-Padyakero now has a yellow streak running through his spine. Mar's true color is now showing - and it's Mar-oon.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009


Reading recently an old magazine featuring former French President Francois Mitterand, with pictures of him and his illegitimate daughter named Mazarine who was then about 20 years old. Indeed, unlike the British who delight in reporting on the peccadilloes of their royals, the French have always kept mum about the hanky-panky of their top officials. Under French law, it is illegal to publish photographs without the permission of the subject especially if he or she is a public figure.

The reports from Paris about the Mitterand lass who had been kept from the public eye would have surely tittilated local circles, where dangerous liaisons of public figures are staple fare each and every day of the week. Pinoys love to brag that in this country, the public official and business tycoon who does not have backstreet affairs are the exception. They will tell observers that Filipino voters support candidates with fascinating reputations for their machismo. Joseph Estrada was the perfect example. The more he flaunted his extra-marital affairs and his illegitimate children, the more votes he obtained. It was certainly wrong and immoral, but it delivered for him what he needed from the citizenry.

For Pinoys certainly love to relate how their leaders, from Jose Rizal to Jose Pidal, are famous lovers. Pinoys will even argue that this is the reason why some men are great leaders. While the nation awaits Erap's "announcement," will he again flaunt his paramours to the delight of the masa, or will he be a "proper presidentiable" this time around and get down to serious business of governance? It's now a waiting game.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Do we really need so many congressmen, not to mention the lavish spending-sprees each time they just "feel like it?" Our country has been doing quite fine with some 76 or so governors. Hence, there really is no logical point why we should not have only 76 congressmen and only 15 senators, who should be elected by region. Can you imagine the money we can save with a smaller congress and senate?

By way of comparison, the United States, which is 300 times bigger than the Philippines and about 7 times bigger in population has only about 435 congressmen and 100 senators.

It's time we take a closer look at the matter for the benefit of the Filipino people. That would also mean a smaller bill for us each time they dine in some classy restaurant overseas. Just a thought, wouldn't you agree?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Speaker Prospero Nograles, Secretary Cerge Remonde and Attorney Romulo Macalintal may be interested about a few words from former US President Richard Nixon on how to deal with the press, as reported in an old copy of Time Magazine I had recently unearthed from my baul. Nixon should know the subject very well, after more than 40 years of a love-hate relationship with media. It should also be a reminder to these gents that the media is the Fourth Estate, meaning, the fourth branch of government, and among its functions is to report how government people behave - and dine in public places.

I have chosen the following Nixon quotes which should be of interest to Boy, Cerge and Romy, and to every Tom, Dick and Harry in public office for that matter: Nixon says, "One tactic that should be used only sparingly is for a public official who has been attacked by the press to counter-attack. He may win in the short run, but in the long run, the press has the last word and they will never forgive him for taking them on. This does not mean he should take their barbs lying down or that he should go crawling after them to win their support. It does mean that he should give as good as he receives, but in a manner that will not expose him to the charge that he is taking on the press to divert attention from his own vulnerabilities."

"Based on 44 years of dealing with media on the national level, I can say they are above average in intelligence. They are proud of their profession and sometimes find it difficult to hide their contempt for the less-educated politicians and businessmen they cover. Many believe they are underpaid compared to the lobbyists and PR flacks who rip off their employers so shamelessly. Finally, most are interesting people. An off-the-record session with a group of top-notch reporters can be far more stimulating and informative than with a meeting with a group of senators and congressmen."

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Among the austerity measures Malacanang and both houses of Congress must agree on are the prevention of misuse of government vehicles and prohibition of foreign travels (a.k.a. junkets) by government people. Ban abuse of government vehicles and ban foreign travels? Such already have whiskers and people think they are one big joke. Indeed, what the master does, the slave shall do as well.

Previous administrations mounted campaigns against the abuse of government cars, but nobody obeyed directives that all government vehicles be marked "For Official Use Only." Honestly, how many of these government vehicles do you see on the streets with these markings? Only a few, right? Hence, these numerous vehicles must be used only during office hours and should be issued trip tickets, and a definite ban on "security plates" must be strictly enforced. Users and abusers of these plates include cabinet members, undersecretaries and assistant secretaries, senators, congressmen, governors, mayors etc.

Malacanang should order the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to immediately recall all these plates and stop issuing new ones. This is one way of checking misuse of government vehicles, and millions of pesos will be saved if the campaign against such rampant abuse of official cars is carried out in earnest. People are fed-up with these abuses even by the wives and children of officials who use them to the market and to schools, golf courses and even out of town family road trips.

Well, they really form part and parcel of the lure of a government job, don't they? It's about time something is done to really ban these frequent abuses. A no-nonsense order from Malacanang must be followed that all government vehicles be marked "For Official Use Only" on each side of the vehicle. And, the Palace can curb this scandal by simply banning the use of security plates - the only thing that enables officials to mock the flood of orders against abuse of government vehicles. There should also be no exemption whatsoever from this ban. But of course trouble is, most Palace officials are always the first to violate such orders.