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Monthly Archives: August 2010

Selling PAGCOR to get rid of the deficit is probably a good deal for the country

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PAGCOR in my hometown of Ciudad de Parañaque.

I think this Noynoy guy is doing a good job so far.

After delivering his inaugural speech in Tagalog, a language that is now generally understood throughout the archipelago, he immediately issued Executive Order No. 1 to investigate the previous administration’s corruption whose legacy of deceit, poverty, and greed was carried over to the present one. Noynoy then brazenly fired GMA’s midnight apointees as well as an inefficient PAGASA chief. He also made true to his promise about solving the decades-old impasse in his family’s controversial Hacienda Luisita (although many farmers still disagree with him).

Now here is an opportunity for P-Noy to finally get rid of that irritating budget deficit that has been harassing our economy for countless years:

$10B offered for Pagcor
Tycoon Ramón Ang bids for gambling firm

With President Benigno Aquino III facing cash problems, San Miguel Corp. vice chair Ramón S. Ang is proposing the privatization of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to raise as much as $10 billion and transform the country into a tiger economy.

Should Mr. Aquino listen to his suggestion, Ang said in a recent interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer that he himself planned to make a bid to acquire Pagcor with Malaysia’s “big boys.”

Ang was referring to Robert Kuok, the richest man in Southeast Asia with a net worth of $10 billion; Ananda Krishnan, second wealthiest in the region with a net worth of $7.4 billion; and Francis Yeoh, who runs YTL, one of Malaysia’s biggest conglomerates.

“They’re all my friends and they are interested in Pagcor,” said Ang, whose first investment outside the Philippines was in Malaysia in partnership with former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in 1998.

“San Miguel is not interested in going into gambling and I am going in this on my own. I do not intend to hold on this for long,” he said.

In his first State of the Nation Address, Mr. Aquino revealed his strategy of public-private partnerships and selling or leasing government assets to raise money for the government grappling with a deficit likely to hit P350 billion this year.

Last month, Mr. Aquino announced that he was open to privatizing Pagcor after assessing its assets and existing contracts.

Spectacular deal

“The sale of Pagcor fits in well with the President’s agenda. We are not asking him for anything but be true to his campaign promise of ensuring a level playing field for all businessmen,” Ang said.

“Why wait for six years to have $10 billion when he can have $10 billion in just six months? His government does not have to sell anything else and he will make the country a tiger economy immediately. Isn’t this a spectacular deal?”

Ang said that Pagcor would be worth at least P450 billion based on its 2009 gross income of P29.78 billion and the minimum 15 times premium value investors were willing to pay for a monopoly gambling business like Pagcor.

“It could go as high as 17 times premium compared to an average gambling firm which fetches an average premium of 10 times,” he said.

Indeed, if Noynoy decides to sell PAGCOR, then that will place our country on a much higher economic level in Southeast Asia. Never mind if this is all paquitang-guilas (an act of showing-off) on the part of Noynoy for his first 100 days in office. Never mind if Ramón Ang is his uncle Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco’s most trusted man. As long as selling PAGCOR will benefit the economy, then P-Noy should strike while the iron is hot.

You may read the rest of the story here.

King George III and his “peacock”

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A few days ago, Yeyette and I bought a picture book for Krystal entitled True Facts (1000s of Freaky, Scary, Gross, Extraordinary, and Simply Unbelievable Facts!) by John Guest. It contains interesting facts about the sciences, world history, and various topics such as the case of a Kansas tornado that lifted an 88-coach train from the track, or that of the price of Russia’s Diamond Crypto SmartPhone which costs more or less $1,300,000.

What caught my interest more was a freakily funny entry about King George William Frederick, otherwise known as King George III:

THE MADNESS OF GEORGE III

British King George III (1738-1820) had a mental illness. For a time, he ended every sentence with the word “peacock.” He also sometimes spoke for many hours without pause, and claimed to talk to angels.

A portrait of the King George III by English portrait-painter William Beechey.

King George III, by the way, was the monarch during the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763). The British, under the command of his daring peacocks Admiral Samuel Cornish and Brigadier General William Draper, invaded Manila on 23 September 1762. After a fierce battle, Intramuros finally fell the following month, 4 October 1762. Aside from the capital, however, the Brits were only able to hold captive Cavite and Pásig; their occupation of Malolos, Bulacán, was short-lived. Finally, when the war ended, the Brits left two years later.

George III was also the same king who lost the United States in 1776. Many years later, he lost his favorite daughter, Princess Amelia, to lingering illnesses. Whereupon he lost his mind.

But his peacock wasn’t lost on me, LOL!!!

Although I already know of King George’s madness, I didn’t know about the hilarious “peacock” part! It was infectiously funny; I couldn’t help ending all my sentences with that word, too, much to the ire of Yeyette, hahaha! Of course, I was just playing around peacock. But you know, my wife is so picón (touchy) peacock. So I better shut up peacock.

Well, gotta go peacock. It’s getting late peacock.

Have a good peacock! ;-)

GGR’s angels

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José Miguel García, yo, y Arnaldo Arnáiz -- los últimos filipinos que luchan contra una realidad enroscada.

The three of us, together with our leader, GGR (Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera), have been planning this filipinista website for months. We have already consolidated our ideas and other plans regarding it. But where the heck is the website?

We need funds first, LOL!!!

Somebody out there with deep pockets (and who believes in our humble cause), please — have mercy, hahaha!

Tabuco (Cabuyao, La Laguna)

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After our Santa Rosa Easter Sunday walk, Krystal and I proceeded to nearby Cabuyao town.

A handsome bahay na bató across Saint Polycarp Church's south transept.

A long time ago, the northern part of La Laguna province was once a very huge town. It used to comprise what are now known as San Pedro, Biñán, Santa Rosa, Cabuyao, Rizal’s beloved Calambâ, and perhaps areas of today’s Santo Tomás town in Batangas province. This large lakeshore town was then known as Tabuco (usually spelled as Tabuko).

Like in many parts of the pre-Philippine era, Tabuco was then inhabited by people who originated from Malay nations. When Manila was possessed by Miguel López de Legazpi in 1570, he sent his grandson, Juan de Salcedo, to explore these parts of La Laguna de Bay. But the first indio settlement conquered by capitán de Salcedo was the lake’s eastern portion known today as Taytay and Caintâ in the province of Morong (now Rizal province). Afterwards, he and his men crossed the lake and Acherón at Barrio Pinagsañgahán (now known as Pagsanján, La Laguna). They continued inland and conquered the nearby settlements of Nagcarlán and Majayjay, also in La Laguna.

Since the place was already mountainous, the party of de Salcedo went back to the Lake of Bay (or Ba-í) and continued to conquer the lakeshore’s northern settlements. Later on, they anchored along the shores of Tabuco. Just like the settlement of Bay, the Spaniards discovered that Tabuco had large plains and thick forests. Among them who were knowledgeable with agriculture agreed that Tabuco’s climate was also suitable to farm crops.

On 16 January 1571, Miguel López de Legaspi converted Tabuco into an encomienda or a town under the helm of Gaspar Ramírez. The barrios of Malabanan (Biñán), Santa Rosa, and other territories was placed under the administration of the Tabuco government. The boundary to the north was: San Pedro Tunasán (which was also a part of Tabuco; it is now simply known as San Pedro; Tunasán is now a mere barrio or barangáy of Ciudad de Muntinlupà); to the south was the town of Bay (a stone’s throw away from Los Baños); west was Suñgay (now divided into two barrios of Ciudad de Tagaytay, Cavite: Suñgay del Norte and Suñgay del Sur), and; to the east was the Lake of Bay (or Laguna de Bay).

A couple of years later, the barrios which made up Tabuco became independent from the local central government. Barrio San Pedro (my current residence), for instance, became a separate town on 18 January 1725. Biñán, Santa Rosa, etc. followed suit. All that is left of that local government is what we now know as the Municipality of Cabuyao, the town that is sandwiched by the cities of Santa Rosa and Calambâ.

Up to 1997, the people of Cabuyao celebrated 16 January as their town’s feast day. But former Santo Sepulcro (in Landayan, San Pedro) parish priest Monsignor Jerry Bitoon changed it to 23 February which is the feast day of Saint Polycarp.

Inside a jeepney, on our way to Cabuyao from Santa Rosa (04/04/2010).

A Nestlé Philippines plant along Mahárlica Highway is one of Cabuyao's industrial engines. A dear uncle of mine was a top-ranking manager here before he transferred to Malaysia.

National Road/Mahárlica Highway.

True Brown Style!

When Tabuco was transformed into an encomienda, The Order of Missionaries of the Augustinian Recollects arrived. This is, of course, due to the fact that the receiver of the grant (which, in this case, was Ramírez) had the responsibility to protect the indios from warring tribes (and from warring against each other), to teach them the Spanish language, and to Christianize them. A little later, the Augustinian Recollects handed Tabuco over to the Franciscans.

Like most towns, Cabuyao also has its share of legends as to how its name originated. It is said that when the Franciscans arrived by boat, they saw women washing clothes along the lakeshore. They asked these women the name of the place. Due to language barriers, the ladies thought that the friars were asking for the name of the fruit extract that they were then using to wash their clothes. These fruits were from the nearby cabuyao (or cabullao) trees. And so these unknowing ladies replied “cabuyao” to the friars. Another similar version says that the women thought that the friars were asking for the names of the trees growing around the wharf where they first docked.

In compliance to Spain’s Christianization mission, the friars started building a stone church for the indios in the second half of the 1700s. It was actually the second church to be built since the first one was destroyed by floods and strong waves. The church was finally finished some time in 1771. It was dedicated to Saint Polycarp — bishop, martyr, and titular head of the Catholic Church in Asia.

Thankfully, the church has retained its original feature throughout the years. It is also famous for having the controversial secular priest Father Mariano Gómez of the GómBurZa as its parish priest from 1848 to 1862. Together with the town’s alcalde, José Deasanta Rivera, Fr. Gómez built a cemetery in front of the church on the right side of the tribunal. Eerily, this site is now the home of the Monastery of Saint Clare.

During the American era, The Church of Saint Polycarp was witness to the town’s single bloody event in its history: the Sakdalista attack of 1935. The Sakdalista was an anti-American movement founded by Senate employee Benigno Ramos (the same man who, together with Artemio Ricarte, organized the infamous MAkabayan KAtipunan Ñg Mg̃a PILIpino or Alliance of Philippine Patriots, more popularly known in its abbreviated form MAKAPILI). When Ramos’s opposition to the Tydings-McDuffie Law failed (because he demanded for the Philippines’ absolute independence from imperialist US), his 20,000-strong group attacked 14 towns in various provinces. One of the ill-fated towns was Cabuyao, La Laguna. Today, one can still see bullet marks within the vicinity of the church.

Crossing a road to get to Cabuyao's parish church.

Iglesia de San Policarpo de Esmirna.

Behind the calachuchì.

Shrouded by an acacia tree.

St. Polycarp, the martyred Christian bishop of Smyrna (in parts that is now covered by the Republic of Turkey).

Liceo de Cabuyao, located within the vicinity of the Church of Saint Polycarp.

The church's nave is not that long.

The simple yet appealing altarpiece.

Cupola.

The good news on Easter Sunday (04/04/2010).

A painting of Saint Polycarp being martyred (somebody get rid of that wall clock, hahaha!).

A chapel dedicated to the Saint Polycarp, located inside the church's north transept.

The church's old bell, dating back to the Spanish times. No longer in use due to a crack, it is now on display outside the church. I wasn't able to figure out if it was made by Hilarión Sunico of San Nicolás, Manila because the bell was protected by a steel fence.

At the choirloft.

Church tower.

Krystal just loves church towers!

A wall painting at the choirloft, probably of a saint. I asked the choirmaster who she is, but he didn't know.

A holy water stoup with Spanish inscription.

Krystal with the young choir.

The choirmaster did not allow us to go further up the church tower.

The entrance to the Monastery of Saint Clare fronts the church and the town plaza.

A wide chapel within the monastery grounds.

The town plaza is in front of the monastery and beside the town church.

It's tocayo again.

Only a handful of Antillean houses or bahay na bató is left here in Cabuyao. Fortunately, they are well taken care of by the owners.

Nestlé break. A show of support for Uncle Amador Alas y Évora who helped my family dearly many years ago. =)

I had a hard time taking a picture of this house, whether near...

...or far.

Commercial boon/bane.

Like the UnionBank branch in Santa Rosa whose photo I took, this bahay na bató is now known as Rose Pharmacy.

Going home.

I just love taking pictures of roads (especially the smooth ones) while inside vehicles!

It is sad to note that Cabuyao has somehow lost its touch of rural charm, something that the Philippines is known for, and something which still sparks our generation’s childhood delights and memories. The curse of cityhood is slowly creeping into the municipality. Gone are the large farmlands and thick forests, and its share of the lake is not fit anymore for swimming nor frolic like it used to be in the glory old days of Spanish Philippines. But the unchanging Church of Saint Polycarp and the few remaining bahay na bató still stand as living testaments to this town’s hispanic past.

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