Sunday, November 2, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
What to do when your husband asks for a divorce and wants to split your assets in two? If your wealth is mainly in terms of bank accounts, bonds and stock shares, it might be a bit difficult to split these shared assets without the attendant legal complications. But if your conjugal property consists solely of one standing house you both lived in for the past 18 years or so together, then the problem might not be that complicated. Solution? Follow this Cambodian couple's way out of a messy divorce. Simply split your house in half.
The husband, together with the help of his relatives, literally chopped off and carved out his share of their house. He took his allocated bits and pieces of the house to his parent's neighboring house, where he now "happily" resides. The wife stayed on her remaining share of the house, which so far, still remains precariously standing. Problem solved. A happy ending, indeed.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Sunday, August 10, 2008
At exactly 8:08 pm, China opened the 2008 Summer Olympics in its capital, Beijing. The show which lasted for three hours featured exactly 2,008 number of classical drummers at one point. I had wanted to catch the RP delegation walking at the newly-built Bird's Nest or Chinese National Stadium, with Pacquiao in tow bearing the national flag, but because had China arranged the countries in order of the Chinese phonetic alphabet, I wasn't able to do. The country listings were jumbled, and countries starting with letter A were suddenly followed with countries starting with letter P, and B to G and so forth. I couldn't really tell when the RP's turn would come next, unless of course I stay glued for show's entire duration. Which I didn't.
But what ever little I saw is enough for me to say that the Chinese opening ceremony was amazing. Others have said that it might even be the best ever. As for me, I liked the visual because it wasn't overboard, it was just perfect. It was creatively beautiful, and you could tell the Chinese exhausted a lot of brain cells conceptualizing the whole spectacle. I think that with this event, China has successfully relayed its underlying political message for the world to see, "We are a new force to reckon with." Indeed, China's slumbering dragon has now fully awakened. With a 1.3 billion strong people and an emerging economy, China is predicted to be another superpower in the very near future.
I'm hoping we win our first-ever Olympic gold this year. The government has promised at least Php 15M in prize money plus a brand new car to any of the 15 Filipino athletes who could bring home the gold. I hope somebody gets to drive a brand new car once the Games are over, and of course with surging oil prices, that cold cash would certainly come in handy. ; )
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Paris Hilton's rebuttal campaign video against Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain is over the top hilarious! Whoever wrote and thought about the
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Viv and Knox (Vivienne Marcheline and Knox Leon, named after Angie's mother and Brad's grandfather, respectively.)
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
I hope the sun comes back this week. I need that 'sun-shiny' feeling again.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Just saw this Neruda poem this afternoon, and couldn't help reciting it.
I just love it.
by Pablo Neruda
I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way
than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Typhoon Frank is a force majeure alright, an act of God for better or for worse. Still, the sinking of the ship is something that could have been and should have been averted. De Quiros was right, the typhoon was a natural disaster but the sinking of the ship was an unnatural man-made disaster.
PGMA is now receiving condolences from US President Bush when she should be here directing orders on how to speed up the process for the recovery and search of possible survivors. Where is she when her country needs her most? She is in the US of A and is scheduled to hobnob with the Washington elites, including potential new US president, Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama. While she wines and dines there together with her entourage of 59 congressmen, one senator, 10 cabinet members, excluding her family members and the family members of her group, the Visayan region, Iloilo in particular, is battling mud and loss of properties, crops and ultimately income in the wake of the disastrous storm.
The Typhoon Frank lashed out its fury in almost the entire country. From central Philippines, it made its presence felt both in Visayas and Mindanao. Not contented, it hit Manila and neighboring Luzon provinces before finally going out of the Philippine territory. This is the first time ever that a storm displayed a deadly magnitude that reached all three geographical regions of the country. Typically, storms just hit one portion of the country and affect neighboring provinces, but the other regions are mostly spared of its fury. Storms that hit the Visayas region are normally not felt in Manila. But this storm is different because after taking its toll on Iloilo and dumping heavy rains in some parts of Mindanao, it changed its course and rampaged Manila and other Luzon provinces as well. It was everywhere.
This event really makes you realize how deadly climate change can get. We need to accept that doing our share in saving Mother Earth is now a necessity and a not a matter of choice. Ours is a dying planet and if we do not act now, we will die with it. Storms as strong and even stronger than that of Frank will soon become a reality of our daily life.
I heard from some relatives in my hometown of Janiuay, Iloilo that it is the first time their place was ravaged by a flash flood. It was all so sudden and unexpected, they say. As a result, critical bridges were destroyed, and those living near the river were caught unaware by the onslaught of the raging water that some even lost their lives. This also happens to be the first time ever that my rural, sleepy and verdant hometown, the place where I could trace my roots and see hundreds of people bearing my maiden name, made news on national TV. Unfortunately, it was because my town was among the hardest hit of the disaster.
I fully well know the impact of such a storm in my townsfolk livelihood. Just this early June, when I went there for a family event, I saw the early rice seedlings already sprouting from the ground. If nonstop rain brought about by a massive storm flood the ricefield, all that hardwork and capital will go to waste. The farmers, the simple folks in my dirt town baranggay, with faces always ready with their genuine smiles, will scrimp and save and still go hungry for the remainder of the year.
Such is the hard fact of life in the province. You toil the land and hope and pray that no storm or other natural disaster comes your way. And if it does, you just do this process all over again. Yet, this they do happily and contentedly. Surrounded by the riches and beauty of the farmland, they spend most of their time communing with nature, and harvesting and partaking of its seemingly inexhaustible bounty. Regardless of their poverty, they live simple and happy lives.
One day, when I am gray and old, I will spend the remainder of my days in this farmland. And when that day comes, I too, will be able to enjoy the simple and happy life that they have on a daily basis.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Free at Last
Ces Orena Drilon, the usually polished and sophiscticated ABS CBN news anchor, looks very harassed in this photo. Who wouldn't be? After nine days of captivity in the deep jungles of Sulu, with Abu Sayyaf bandits threatening to behead you unless your family chokes up PHP15M in ransom, I would look worse than that. Thank God, they got out of this ordeal alive.
Prayers work, indeed.
I really like Ces Crilon. I often watch the late night news and marvel at her poise, intelligence and wit on camera. I remember her undaunted coverage of the Peninsula Coup and how she managed to keep her composure despite the unexpected turn of events. She is a tour de force.
Admittedly though, Ces says it was her own brazenness that put her and cameraman colleagues in harm's way. Her unrelenting pursuit of the hottest story almost costed her her life. Now, she says she values her life more and knows what is truly important is her loved ones and family.
Yesterday, 18 Jun, PGMA signed into law Republic Act No. 9504 or the tax relief act. This law exempts minimum income wage earner from paying income taxes, which amounts to a couple a hundred bucks of savings every payday.
This law also increases tax exemption to Php50k regardless of the person's civil status. Where before, married and head of families earners usually had a bigger tax exemption and as such bigger take home pay, this law places everybody in the same playing (taxing) field. Moreover, this law also raises child tax exemption from a mere Php10k per child to Php25k per child.
This ought to mean a bigger tax exemption for me and yet, I expect it to barely make an impact on my daily living. These days, prices of every consumer items increase at a much faster rate than one's monthly income. In a family with one child and double incomes, I still feel that we are only eking out a living. Though my salary is more than double the income of daily wage earners, I still feel that we are living on a hand to mouth existence.
If I had a choice, I would never pay taxes at all. Government says they are estimated to lose Php14.2 B annually from these tax exemptions. I have always thought that those who earn say 10k or less, or even up to 50k, should not be taxed at all. Where do these taxes go anyway?
You guessed it right. Straight into their own pockets. Government claims the taxes fund vital health, education and infrastructure projects. Yeah right. Just imagine, how it was supposed to fund the ZTE broadband deal until every ordinary Juan and Pedro in this country learned the story about its multi-billion kickbacks. The price of almost all government projects are as big as the kickbacks required to get those inferior and thoughtless projects going. They enter flawed and disadvantageous contract, sometimes even with foreign governments and lenders, precisely because their share of the loot money is so lucrative.
It is estimated that a normal government project always makes room for a 25% kickback for officials responsible for pushing through with that transaction. So the bigger the price of the project, the larger your kickback pay becomes. This is one profitable business venture for most officials of the land. And the most amazing thing about this is that, no matter how ludicrous and hopelessly useless the outcome of their project becomes, they never get sued for it. They are never held accountable and do not feel personal responsibility over the misuse of public resources because they are not spending their own money in the first place. They figuratively get away with murder with no more than a tap on the back as their punishment.
Now, why would I want to shelve my hard earned pesos on that. If I were to give taxes, which I'm perfectly willing to do under different circumstances, I want to be given the right to choose exactly where my money goes. I want to know exactly what foundation or project my money is spent, and to make sure its not getting wasted. Or just used to further enrich these government officials with multiple secret dollar accounts abroad.
Do they really need the money more than us?
17 on 17th
Boo hoo! The LA Lakers should have just handed the trophy straight to Pierce and company's arms. A 39-point advantage in an NBA Finals Game, come on! They should have saved themselves from the embarrassment by choosing not to play at all.
But at least it was a fitting end to the Celtics, who after two decades of drought, got their 17th NBA trophy on the 17th of June.
What the Celtics fans chanted to Kobe Bryant, vaunted best NBA player at the moment, maybe harsh but oh so true, "You are not (Michael) Jordan."
Indeed, he was not.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
I have been to the Underground River myself, an experience I could only aptly describe as unforgettable. We boarded this small engine-propelled banca, strapped our necessary orange life-jackets on, entered the mouth of this cave (as seen above) and saw the most amazing of stalactite and stalagmite formations. Some of these formations were named after what the stones sort of resembled like, i.e., The Pieta for what seemed to be a monument of Virgin Mary holding his dead son, and others that already escape my memory. But another vivid memory though, and one which will never escape me, is of sea snakes happily swimming alongside the banca as the boatman carried a tune in his wooden flute. Our friendly guide/boatman was actually calling on the snakes to come to our sides. While others wanted to jump out of the boat at the sight of the slithering snakes on top of the water, I calmly reminded myself of the fact earlier stated by our very thoughtful boatman, the river is at least 10 feet deep and freezing at that.
Feeling compelled to do my patriotic duties, I then googled the site and voted for the two lone Philippine entries, coupled by other equally enthralling entries from the Asian continent, such as Mt. Fuji, Mt. Everest, the Ganges River and others. I would have voted for the Philippine entries alone but one internet vote cast actually called for seven different choices, and of course, being Asian, I stayed close to home and limited my choices to the other Asian wonders of nature. Not content, I linked the add of the website and sent it to my entire Yahoo mail network so they could also promptly do their share and vote for the Philippines' entries as well.
Having done this, I mentally crossed my fingers and hoped that at least one of our national entry will make it to the final judgment. At that time, only the Tubbataha Reef seemed to be in the running, playing consistently between spots 7 and 8. As I understood it before, only the top entries will get the chance to proceed to the next level of elimination which will be determined by the group's panel of experts by next year, Jan 2009.
That was a couple of months ago. Just today, I read in an article at a travel forum, Four RP Sites in Top Ten of Nature Wonder Search, that the country now has four entries. The Chocolate Hills in Bohol, and the perfect cone-shaped Mayon Volcano in Bicol have been included on the list. Not only that, the ranking of all the Philippine entries have skyrocketed to the top spots. All four of the national entries are included among the top ten, with Tubbataha coming in at number 2 after a famous beach in Vietnam. What can I say? Amazing. The power of Filipino internet voting/blogging is undeniable.
I know for a fact that Filipino accounts as one of the top, if not the top, Friendsters user in the world. We have also consistently voted our Ms. Philippines candidate as the Most Photogenic in the Miss Universe competition for several years in a row. (We can't exactly claim pride in this though.)
Now, if we could only harness this focus and power into changing the course of our national economy and government, that would be more than amazing. It would actually be life-changing.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
This picture says it all. Who wouldn't want to set foot in such a beautiful place, in such a paradise? One certainly wouldn't mind dying if eternity meant living here forever.
I have been to Palawan twice. I was fortunate enough to have visited the beautiful Sabang Beach and its adjacent haunting Subterranean Underground River. That was almost a lifetime ago. I was 16 then, a kid fresh from a stressful high school stint, when I got invited by relatives residing in Puerto Princesa to visit them at their place.
We went to Sabang by jeepney. The ride was interminable and exhausting. After almost a quarter of the day of enduring a bumpy and dusty journey, we arrived at our destination---paradise. It was worth all the ache and pain of my tired and beaten body. I must have cried when I first saw the place. It was my first and only time to see such a pristine and majestic beach complete with towering green mountains as its backdrop. As I enjoyed the sun and gently watched the crystal-clear waters lap my feet like the tongue of warm and loving puppy, I said to myself, "I will go back to this place."
But I never did.
Almost one lifetime forward, at 28 years, I still have not forgotten my promise to go back to paradise. Constrained by time, family, career and financial obligations, it seems almost impossible to do so. Until I stumbled upon this travel website one lonely and quiet afternoon. Byahilo.com revealed to me the secrets of this once-in-a-lifetime chance of visiting Coron, Palawan for free.
SEAIR, a premier airline traveling to scenic vacation spots all over the country, is giving away 6 tickets for free to Busuanga, Coron, Palawan. For more details simply log on to the Seair website which I also separately posted in this blog, or read Byahilo.com instructions on how to join this contest.
To go to Coron via SEAIR for free would be a dream come true for me. Flying, if one could afford it, is definitely the best way to travel. I learned that going to Busuanga, Coron by Seair takes only a mere 35 minutes. That's even faster than traveling to Makati by my place in Pasay. Imagine flying against the vastness of cloud and space to arrive in paradise in a little over half an hour. That is what this SEAIR ride promises. Paradise at the snap of your fingers.
I have previously seen paradise. I want to see it again, this time, in the guise of Coron. If I could get it for free, it would be most lovely.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Today, June 12, 2008, marks the Philippines 110th Independence Day. Rightfully or unrightfully so, we are historically the first republic in Asia to declare ourselves free from colonial rule.
Emilio Aguinaldo, the country's first declared president, waved a blue, red and white flag with three stars in the terrace of his own home, and thus said, "We are free." Cheers, exultation followed this proclamation. Unbeknownst to him, a couple of months forward, the Spanish and Americans will secretly have their tea party in France to seal the deal of the US' purchase of the Philippine soil for US$20,000,000. This agreement is officially called as the 1898 Treaty of Paris. Only a year after declaring independence, Aguinaldo was captured and forced to acknowledge American rule. Following this, the Philippines existed as a colony once more, by the US this time, for 48 more years. They finally gave the country freedom to govern itself on July 4, 1946, incidentally the same day of the US' national independence.
Technically, we were only truly free of colonial rule on that 4th of July day. But even that is not entirely accurate as American bases stayed in the country well until the Marcos era. They were booted out of Subic and finally out of the Philippine soil only during the Cory Aquino presidency. But as a result of the US' forced departure, we fell out of their radar of diplomatic aid and friendship, and thus suffered its adverse economic consequence.
Fast forward to 2008, American forces sporadically come back for supposedly benign US-Phil exercises in the south of the country, and so far, our government is still a consistent lapdog of the US.
So the question remains, "Are we a truly free nation?" And what has this freedom really brought us so far? Can we consider ourselves as free when the majority of our society is shackled by ignorance, poverty, sickness and war. Are we a truly free nation when only the few, elite ruling class lord over the country's vast resource of natural and man-made wealth? Are we truly free when most Filipinos dream of going to a greener pasture to escape poverty and dearth of social opportunities in its own land?
110 years after, are we truly freer today than before? Or have we merely passed on from one oppressor to next, only this time they are of our own?
Monday, May 12, 2008
The day before Mother's Day, I received the sad news of my dear aunt's passing. It was unexpected. She was only 57. In my estimate, she still has 20 or so more years left to live before it was considered forgivable for one to die. She did not even outlive my grandfather, her own father, who at 90 plus is still with us though only barely hanging on to LIFE. My grandfather’s sister, Mamang Ika, who at 98 still vigorously moves and eats around her earthy bamboo bed, has outlived her by almost a lifetime. Give and take their age difference is about 40 years. That's longer than my current age at the moment! She should have had more than quite a lifetime still ahead of her. But it wasn't to be.
My aunt's real name is Caridad, a Spanish name which means charity in its literal English translation. Her name, like all of her other siblings on my father's side, is directly lifted from a calendar of Spanish Saints. Thus, like my father, who goes by the odd name of Perfecto, after a virtual unknown saint, St. Perfecta, all but one of them have names of holy origin. By some Higher intelligence in the universe, her name befits her.
My fondest memory of her was when she gave me this Barbie doll when I was about 7 or 9 years old. I greatly longed for one (esp. the one with a Ken partner) and it was she who rendered my childhood wish a reality. She would almost never forget to gift me thoughtful presents on my birthday and fondly called me "Inday Mic" inspite of my overly bratty behaviour. She was one of my closest, if not the closest, of my long list of aunts.
I really hate it whenever people attribute goodness to a recently departed relative or loved one even if it is totally unwarranted. I see it all the time on TV when a suspected criminal or junkie gets killed by the police and all of a sudden a concerned mother or wife (usually) cries for justice and says that the death was undeserved as this person was the paragon of human goodness when still living. They conveniently forget all the human frailty and evil this dead person has wreaked when left alone breathing. So in the same stance, when I say my aunt was everything good and nice, I know that people might very well question the veracity and sincerity of those words, but there is really no other way to put it. She was really that nice. And why God choose to take away the nice and good people first, I really do not know, except that maybe they deserve something better that this current life cannot offer.
Last May 30, I went to my home province
We buried her the following day, May 31st. Until the end, many relatives and dear friends shed their tears and didn’t want to accept her untimely passing. If the tears and sheer number of people who attended her funeral would account for her short life, it is safe to say that she has loved well and was well-loved in return. I cannot imagine how she has managed to touch so many peoples lives. If I could get just half of the number of people who shared her final moment attend my own in the future (very far, hopefully), I would be most happy. To make a difference in the lives of so much people, or even just to get to know them somehow is a good enough accomplishment in a lifetime.
Good bye my beloved auntie, we will see each other again in the beyond. You are now free to embrace God’s loving kindness and goodness, from where your spirit came forth and will return once more. You will be missed, but you will never be forgotten. We will love you always. Always.
Friday, February 22, 2008
What made a lasting impression on me about the movie was the fact that people could be different persons at the same time. Like Jesse, one could be an excellent father and husband and be a unflinching murderer/robber at the same time. Jesse’s wife was dumbfounded of his murder (by Bob) as she clearly did not know the entire facet of his personality well. The persona that Jesse presented to her was beyond reproach; he was the perfect husband and father to their two young children. If she only knew what her husband was truly like then perhaps she would understand and even condone the act of treachery committed by their family friend Bob. This reminds me of an Anita Shreve book I read entitled "The Pilot’s Wife." The protagonist in the story, the wife, discovered his pilot husband’s affair through the most unusual of circumstance. The plane that his husband was piloting unexpectedly crashed in the Atlantic and initial reports said that it might be a terrorist attack. Shaken by grief, she recalls the memory of their love affair and stable (yet cold) marriage and is convinced that her husband had been a good man, a doting father and a sensitive partner to her. Then out of the blue, the shocking news about the cause of the plane crash becomes public, and she learns about his husband’s involvement with the IRA, a nationalist rebel organization, fighting for the independence of Ireland. She finds out in the end that her husband had been a "runner" for the group and was having an affair with one of its members, a former stewardess in his plane. And not only that, he had two children by this woman and the second one was only six months old. The wife had the shock of her life and was flabbergasted by the "newness" of their affair as evidenced by the six-month baby. Piece by piece, the memory of their flawed marriage becomes apparent to her: How her husband could afford not to make love to her for more than three weeks time which oddly extended to months, something that she justified in her mind as a usual settling down of marriage life. How her husband would suddenly get enraged whenever she asks the simplest of questions, which includes, "Do you still love me?" Somehow, her rational mind banished these fears and mild questions, as during their marriage she couldn’t quite place her finger on what is exactly wrong or missing about their shared love. It finally dawns to her that his husband was leading a double life all along.
So the question in her mind (and my mind) remains, "Can a person who claims he loves you truly loves you when he also loves somebody else?"; "Are the things that you shared remain true despite the fact that he was lying to the whole time?" This question may seem fairly easy to answer with a definite no but, for a woman who believed and was satiated by the normalcy of a marriage, it is really difficult to answer. I guess this is so because people tend to live double lives all the time. For example, one can be a cruel husband but a respectable public persona at the same time or vice versa. Some people may feel obliged to hide their real selves for fear of a public rejection and as such may only reveal what they truly are to a few selected number of people. In life, particularly in these times, people feel the need to hide their true selves more often. There is a growing need to compartmentalize our selves into different parts and choose only which parts to show in public and which parts to keep for our self. However, if we do this, we will experience a sense of vertigo, a loss of a grounding or mooring, and we will question ourselves on who truly are more and more. "Which is the real me? Is it the loving husband or the hardcore criminal?" "Is it my public self or private self?"
My only resolution to this dilemma is to stay true to your "real" self as often as possible. One needs to try to stay out of a clear and definite dividing line between a public and a private self. For example, if you want to be on television playing the Johnny and the Sprites character, you better be a kid-loving and friendly person in real life. You better be sure you are not some crackpot junkie with a promiscuous sex life in your personal life. Otherwise, paparazzi’s may pick up this juicy bit of information and banner it on their tabloids the next morning. And how will you able to explain this apparent great divide between your public and private self then? Politicians and movie stars are the ones always prone to this sort of scandal. This is so because there usually is a huge disparity between their public and private selves. But you can’t really blame them, particularly the movie stars, as their main business is selling an image (which may or may not represent who they truly are) to the public; they merely represent something that the public fancies or desire. Sometimes though, you can lucky or just plain blessed, like Oprah Winfrey. She earns billions of dollars a year by showing her real self in the public and the people just simply love for her it. (She may even get to elect the first black president in the US just because of her influence.) Or be unlucky, like Martha Stewart for example. The public feasted on her stocks scandal years ago as they simply cannot reconcile her homey style living expert public self to the scheming business cheat presented by the prosecutors. But in the end, Martha accepted a plea bargain and was incarcerated for a year and two and the public has forgiven her since for her mistake. She is now back as the decorative home style genius that she is. However, one cannot just disregard the lack public of confidence that she has suffered and is probably still suffering. She may be back in business but people will always have that orange prison wardrobe clad Martha image embedded on their heads. There is now an undeniable crack or fissure between her public image and private self. People now know that she isn’t who she really is in public.
To live a double life is to live a difficult life. (Unless, you are CIA agent or something and get a
kick out having a multiple personality disorder, you will definitely not enjoy having a double life.) One way or the other your true self creeps back and gets hold of you again. Your wife may soon discover your philandering ways through the subtlest change in your manner, or you may have a Freudian slip in public that may shatter the image you are fastidiously portraying. Either way you cannot hide or run away from your "true" self forever. It will catch up on you and when it does it will demand an accounting of what is real and what is false. As such, Socrates did say, "Know thyself." The knowledge of one’s self is your best protection to the lies of your self and to the lies of the world. People may perceive you differently from you really are and as such say things which may not be true of you, but as long as you know yourself, you are safe. If you know yourself, then you can boldly say to yourself and to the world this is the real me and the only me for that matter.
I feel ambivalent about the PGMA resign movement. I strongly believe that she should be ousted and punished for every wrongdoing she has committed to the Filipino people but on the one hand, there is a creeping cynicism inside of me which says disposing her will not necessarily lead for the better. If truth be told, I am bitterly disappointed by her performance as a president. I had such a high expectation of her as she depicted herself as the moral, religious, family-loving opposite of the then philandering actor-president Joseph Estrada. I sincerely thought she was the one who could save this country from the vicious cycle of poverty and corruption. But she proved to be worse than Estrada in the end. She presented her flashy, respectable and dignified self in the public yet in reality, there was a Mr. Hyde lurking on the background. At least Estrada had the temerity to show his real face in the public and to challenge them to either take it or leave. It may be in bad taste and a step backward to feminism, with him having numerous mistresses around, but in the Filipino psyche his act is something that can be condoned.
I believe the public feels the same way I feel now. Although they feel strongly against the leadership of Gloria, they may not be too apt to act on the thought as they simply do not want to go through the whole ordeal of deposing and replacing a government again. I daresay PGMA killed and cheapened the spirit of the Edsa Revolution when she ascended into power and proved, or rather chose, to be the wrong leader. The first Edsa Revolution and the "real" People Power in my opinion was the one triggered by the death of a true hero, Ninoy Aquino. The second one, was right in the sense that most people really wanted Estrada out of power, and yet was misguided and outright disastrous in the sense that it paved the way for Gloria to claim the power and privilege that was not rightfully hers.
It was not rightfully hers as she was not voted as president the first time she took hold of the presidency. (And thing is, she probably never really was ever voted as president, as insinuated by the "Hello Garci" scandal.) Estrada was idolized and catapulted into power by the middle to lower class majority of the society. The elite class can whine and bitch about it but their vote is as good as the vote by the lowliest street vendor (as long as gets himself registered and does not sell his vote to an unscrupulous local public official for a measly hundred bucks). The poor and underprivileged class wanted Estrada and so he became the president of the land. His only mistake was that he got caught doing his own designs of graft and corruption. He was betrayed by his "compadre" and co-conspirator himself, Chavit Singson, when he readily admitted to the Senate that yes, they were doing jueteng collection and yes, Estrada was siphoning public funds into his own wallet through various means of malversation of public funds. And of course, just like the rest, Singson did not claim he wasn’t guilty of it either, its just that compared to what his "compadre" was getting, his share was just a small portion of the pie. And so off Estrada went, together with his legion of crooks, who haughtily announced that the people can erect makeshift houses in Edsa for all they care but no, Estrada will not step down as president. A few days after, when his favored senators danced and cheered their way to prevent a vital piece of information from going out to public, Estrada was eventually booted out of office. What they didn’t know was that their desperate and pathetic attempt to shield Estrada from his plunder charges was the last straw. The public became so furious because the farcical process of unseating a president was so deliberately rigged to favor then president Estrada. And so to announce their indignation as well as to let go of their frustration over the entire affair, they marched to Edsa via a text brigade to be later supported by opposition leaders, church leaders notably, Jaime Cardinal Sin, former presidents Cory Aquino and FVR, and lastly and they key of which was the military. Alas, another "compadre" of his was to betray Estrda. Then Chief of Staff Reyes and the nominal head of the military, turned his back on Estrada, saying he will listen to the voice of the people and protect the right of the people and not the president alone. Now, Reyes is gratefully serving PGMA as a vital government official, through various posts, a happy consequence of his mighty act of choosing public opinion over his personal benefits. He is infinitely happier with his choice indeed.
This is what essentially what the opposition leaders are asking the public again to go through. To experience once again the hysteria and mob of deposing an unrighteous and according to Lozada’s word (told to him in confidence by CHED Chairman Romulo Neri) "evil" president. To what extent the current sitting president is evil, we might never know as Neri himself claims he does not recall ever naming the president as such or even being in such a position to have him say those words. But interestingly, when the press people pressed him further to describe PGMA in one word, he says that he could not and when pressed again to elaborate and to use more than a word if he must, again he seems to be at lost for words on how to describe his own boss. Was it fear that stopped him to utter any potentially politically incorrect word that might come out of his mouth? Is it fear now that is stopping him to go the path that Jun Lozada has taken? Just like Lozada said, Neri was concerned about his financial and physical security, the top two things he will invariably lose once he goes against the president (and who in his right mind wouldn’t be really?) Lozada was reluctant to go the Senate precisely on those reasons and yet, in the end, he chose the more difficult path as he was more concerned about saving his morality, about losing his soul more than the physical comforts of this life.
What is the lesson we can learn from all of these? I personally learned that good intentions do not necessarily lead to good results. The intention of Edsa, both I and II, were definitely aimed for the greater good and yet, the results were not all satisfying, especially with the latter one. Filipinos are clamoring for change and genuinely want reform from the government and yet sadly, their leaders have failed them one after the other. The spirit of the first Edsa still burns alive in the memory and hearts of all Filipinos and this is what led them to again dream of change and a break of the status quo when they marched to the streets once more for the second Edsa. The Filipinos spirit is always pure and strong, always searches for the truth and never settles for what is only second best, and yet it is their leaders that are found wanting. This particular Jun Lozada expose might not go anywhere, his wave of truth might not be strong enough to topple down a greedy and evil president firmly entrenched in her hold of power, but his lesson will never be lost, his courage in the face of danger and evil will never be forgotten.
In the end, the choice is ours to make. We could choose the path that Lozada has taken, a path towards the greater good, the path that will save our souls. Or we could take the road Neri has taken, a path towards personal good and security, but a path that might make us lose our soul. In his unusual display of both courage and fear, Lozada, has emerged the moral victor in this quest for truth. His unmasked sincerity and surprising wit, as shown in his Senate hearing appearances, struck a chord in this nation’s soul still hoping for the realization of the spirit of Edsa. Like he said, "In my choice to come out for the truth, my only intention was to save my own soul. I didn’t know that in the process, I will also touch our nation’s soul as well." As long as there is still one man (or woman) standing and bravely defying the odds for the higher good of this nation, all is still not lost with the Filipino’s quiet quest for idealism and good governance, and as such the true spirit of Edsa remains.
Memorable Quotes resulting from the J Lo Expose:
"Moderate your greed. Exterminate your breed." – from popular poltical slogan these days as lifted from Neri’s instruction to Lozada to moderate the greed for kickback of Abalos and FG Arroyo.
"I thought I was merely standing up for the truth. But now, I learn that the truth is the one standing up for me." –Jun Lozada from his Tagalog version (Akala ko, gusto ko lang maisalba ang katotohan kaya ako nagsalita. Pero ngayon ang katotohanan na ang sumasalba sa akin.)
"I simply cannot recall saying those words." –Romulo Neri, when asked about the veracity of Lozada’s testimony that he called PGMA evil. It is important to note that he did not categorically say, no, I never said it, but only no, I do not recall saying that. This saves him from the accusation of being a complete liar as in effect what he was saying is that he might or might not have said those words. Nevertheless, oppositionist Senator Ping Lacson, after hearing Neri’s answer, immediately called him a liar, telling he was there when Neri said those words just December of last year and further accusing him of having selective amnesia.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Today we are celebrating the Day of Hearts. A non-event really for a person like me who considers such occasions as a mere ploy to trick the middle classes of divesting the hard-earned and depreciated peso from their pockets. In the light of the current economic situation this country is experiencing, such unnecessary and mindless commercialism is uncalled for. Down with Valentines Day and all the overpriced chocolates and roses it entails! Down with the lovey-dovey couples ostensibly holding hands and making other questionable displays of physical emotion!
I am just sour-graping of course! Hehehe.
Now, let us go back to the more important issue of the hour. The J Lo or Jun Lozada expose.
There is only one weapon you can wield to fight off the siege the armies of the night will lay upon you when you take the witness stand, that will leave you standing when the smoke clears, proud and victorious: The truth. ---Conrado de Quiros
One thing is clear from all of this. The government is lying, and not only that, they are doing quite a bad job at it. The Senate hearing on the ZTE-NBN deal makes all the high-ranking government officials sound like a bunch of nincompoops. It really makes you wonder why they occupy such prestigious government positions in the first place. Lying in the Senate hearing is really much more difficult than lying in the ordinary courts. In the Senate, you have like half a dozen senators tediously asking you to repeat every little bit of information you have just stated. They are patiently waiting for the inconsistencies to surface as go along your prepared speech. So if you are not telling the truth, or if you have not 100 percent memorized your concocted story, you will definitely look an eejit in front of national tv. In this case, you don’t need to be the proverbial rocket scientist to know who is telling the truth. Thank God for Lozada.
Jun Lozada or J Lo for FG Arroyo, is what you call the classic unwilling hero. He is not clearly the saint that senators Joker Arroyo and Miriam Santiago are looking for, which is almost non-existent, but he is a hero in my opinion nonetheless. It takes an enormous amount of will power and gumption to go against the powers that be in the government. Not everybody is willing to risk his life and limb just for the Truth to come out. Just think of Neri, Atienza, Defensor, Razon, Bunye, et al to know how difficult it is to tell a simple truth to the public. These government henchmen’s resolve to protect their “boss” far outweigh their desire to help the true ones, “the people,” who provide them their salary and all the other perks they enjoy. It is so easy indeed to be seduced by the dark side. The path towards becoming a Master Jedi is the least road taken. But it is the path that Jun Lozada has taken. As Sen. Mar Roxas said, “May the Force be with you.” And may the force be with us all.
This is not the first time (and I bet you it won’t be the last as long as they remain in power) for the Arroyo government to be caught with its hands on the cookie jar. Who can ever forget the Hello Garci scandal? My officemates (in the government!) had cellphone ringtones in that tune. I listened to the downloadable version of that conversation on the net regardless of what the moldy DOJ Secretary Gonzales was then saying. He threatened to prison everybody who will bother to listen to it as he argued that it was an act against national security. It was an act against the security of PGMA, her questionable tenure of power, but when did she ever represent the nation, the communal interest of people? PGMA does not exactly constitute national security especially since she primarily serves the interest of the elite and chosen few who fight to keep her in power. It is the right and duty of every citizen to know. The government’s main responsibility is to bolster that right and not to smother or downright kill it. Just recently, I heard in the news that the Supreme Court upheld in its ruling that that “illegally” wiretapped sound file can be legally played in Congress for everybody to hear. But that is beside the point of course, as every Dick and Harry, or rather to be more culturally correct, Pedro and Juan, in the country has heard it and knows what that fuss is all about.
Which brings us to the point, what has Comelec Chairman Abalos got to do with a government broadband connection deal? Why is he even a part of the picture when he cannot offer any technical expertise on the matter? And why is he so adamant on his demand for a kickback according to both Jun Lozada and Joey De Venecia’s expose? This was even corroborated by Romula Neri’s damning statement in the Senate, “Sec, me 200 ka dito.” Neri said he understood that statement to be his Php 200 million share of Abalos’ kickback. I can only logically surmise that Abalos possesses such a clout on the government for one reason alone: they owe him something. And what favor can you possibly ask from a Comelec Chairman whose main task is the counting and calculation of votes come election time? You tell me. It isn’t hard to connect the dots after all.
JDV in his final speech as House Speaker insinuated about the cheating in the 2004 elections. However, he safely followed it up with a statement that he will reveal what he knows in a more proper forum. He also mentioned another government project that was supposed to be overpriced. Relatedly, during the questioning of Lozada he also brought up the North Luzon Railways project as another overpriced government that he knows of. According to him, it was overpriced by at least US$70 million dollars. However, it was pushed through without any hitch as it falls under the category of what he termed as “moderate greed.” What Abalos was asking for almost constituted 50% of the entire amount of the deal itself which was originally pegged at about US$150-200 million dollars. Therefore, what Neri tasked Lozada to do was to simply ask Abalos to lessen his amount of kickback to half of his original demand. To which Abalos angrily retorted, “Ang hirap nyo’ng kausap. Kalimutan nyo na lang ang usapan.” (You people are hard to talk to. Just forget about our deal.) Lozada also matter of factly stated that all government projects are overpriced by about 20% of the total amount of the project to accommodate for the kickbacks.
The last statement did not surprise me at all. What did surprise me was Senator Gordon’s reaction to Lozada’s allegedly marvelous claim of corruption in the government. He claimed that Lozada should have been outright indignant about the corruption as even as single centavo or peso of stolen money is valuable and that he should have not accepted the proposition of Neri in the first place out of the purity of his conscience. I am surprised and a little bit disturbed by Gordon’s sentiment as I know that he has been a public servant for such a long time. Surely, he knows how government conducts its business. That corruption is part and parcel of government affairs is a common knowledge. In fact, the people almost expect it, what they simply do not want is for the government to be intemperate in its greed to the point of robbing them of all of the public resources. Just like the memorable Malaysian leader, Mahathir Mohammed, once said (in reference to the
This is precisely why the government’s act of discrediting Lozada via Senators Miriam Santiago, Joker Arroyo and others will not hold water. The insufferable Sen. Santiago accused Lozada of being culpable of corruption himself as he also enacted government projects without proper bidding during his term as President of Philippine Forest Corporation,( a semi-government entity to which Lozada tendered his irrevocable resignation before his expose) and that he had unduly used his influence when he chose his own wife as the agent to supply his own government funded insurance amounting to Php 5 million pesos. Lozada did not flinch when he admitted to his own mistakes and acts of corruption.
Another tale that I won’t forget out of this sordid revelation is Lozada’s brief recollection of a farmer’s tale of simplicity and kindness. He said that on his one sojourn in the province, he saw a tree burdened of ripe guavas and asked the farmer who owned the tree why he didn’t harvest it to sell those produce in the market. The farmer, in his battered rubber sandals (tsinelas) and hole-ridden sando, answered, “Sir, we just leave them there so that the birds could eat something.” You may accuse this farmer of lack of ingenuity and creativity but you cannot accuse him of greed and corruption. Simple folks such as this man may lack all the trappings of the “good life” but it doesn’t mean that that he won’t be able to live a good life. In fact, he may live the best life of all as he is happy and contented with his lot unlike our government officials who squabble and are never contented with their share of millions of pesos and dollars. Do they sleep fitfully at night knowing that they took away all that money that could have been channeled for that farmer’s health care benefits, his children’s education, the livelihood projects of his community, for the construction of roads, hospitals and bridges that could benefit that farmer's life and all the people like him for the better? They may have the grandest and most plush beds that money could buy but one thing they can never have is that simple man’s good sleep. That is, if they still have some conscience and soul left in their systems. Sadly, as exemplified by the recent turn of events, most of our government officials have lost theirs beyond redemption.
In his interview just this morning, Mr. Jun Lozada was asked about his message to PGMA, the mover behind it all, and he exhorted her to “please step into the light.” When one sees the light, will we have the courage to embrace it and do the right thing just like Lozada did? Or would we hover around the corners of darkness just like most of our government officials out of fear for their own behinds? Or worse still, will we choose to order the light out and have it quashed just like PGMA did when she sanctioned the kidnapping/joy-ride of Lozada? I sincerely hope that in our own little moments of reckoning we may have the same courage that Jun Lozada has and still do the right thing in the end.