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Happy 1K to my Facebook page!

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I thought this day would never happen. After 333 years of idleness, my Facebook page has finally received its 1,000th like yesterday! And to think that I was mulling of shutting down this blog and that page for good. No kidding (more of this soon). Anyways, thanks a lot to those patient few who are still following this site. And special mention to Joel Estrada for making this feat happen. I appreciate all this online love.

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The amistad between Nick Joaquín and Guillermo Gómez Rivera

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This newspaper clipping was published exactly 24 years ago today. It appeared in the now defunct Newsday and was written by one Jorge Seurat (never heard of such a columnist before; probably didn’t make it that big after Newsday folded up). The column explains the relationship as well as the converse similarity between writers Guillermo Gómez and Nick Joaquín.

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The great Nick Joaquín, proclaimed “National Artist” during the glorious years of Ferdinand Marcos, has turned seventy-five. Three-fourths of a century. And as he ages into immortality and mythology, the English language appears to be on the way out in the Philippines. Overpopulation, lack of funds, and diploma mills are seeing to that.

This is so, because English has not taken root as Spanish did take root. And if the English language has a Filipino writer like Nick Joaquín, it is because Nick Joaquín’s real language is Spanish. By Hispanizing English, he has succeeded in Filipinizing it. And lo, in the very Filipino works of Nick Joaquín, English has become Filipino! After 92 neocolonial years of deception and bitterness, we only have this writer who can be considered significant in what we may call “Philippines Literature.”

But Nick Joaquín had to will this Filipinization of English. Rizal and Recto did not have to Filipinize Spanish through their writings. Spanish was already the Filipino Language when they wrote in it without having to choose it from English or “Filipino.”

Nick Joaquín,s merit according to his ardent follower, Don Guillermo Gómez Rivera, is his having been able to pour into English a good part of the essential message of what has been Filipino since 1571. No other writer in English has done this.

Gómez Rivera, a generation or two younger than Nick Joaquín, is the Nick Joaquín of contemporary Filipino literature in Spanish. Were Gómez Rivera to write in English as he does in Spanish, he would sound almost, if not exactly, like Nick Joaquín. If Nick Joaquín is a continuation of Claro M. Recto, who wrote in Spanish in local English letters, Gómez Rivera is the continuation of Nick Joaquín back in the same language of Rizal and Recto.

This is so because both Nick Joaquín and Guillermo Gómez Rivera actually belong to the same Filipino tradition even if they don’t write in the same language. Of course, if Nick Joaquín were to write in Spanish, he would in turn sound almost, if not exactly, like Guillermo Gómez Rivera. Don Lorenzo Marasigan’s portrait for his two daughters, Cándida and Paula, has become alive, both artistically and literally. The young man, Anchise, is Guillermo Gómez Rivera, and the old man is Nick Joaquín, and the burning city that both are leaving behind is our country, ravaged and ruined in almost every sense of the word by this despicable galungóng-brained “democracy” that would condemn our people with the Bataán Nuclear Plant. And, possibly, vacuum of power after frustrating so brazenly the national elections without our people really knowing about it until after a few months, or years, later.

And Guillermo Gómez Rivera wrote a poem in homage of Nick Joaquín after the latter had dedicated to him a copy of his play, Portrait, in book form, saying in Spanish, “A Guillermo Gómez Rivera, el nuevo Colón de la música filipina…” this was so, because Gómez Rivera, after recording his third long-playing of Filipino songs, in their original Spanish versions, asked Nick Joaquín to listen to them. Nick Joaquín obliged and enjoyed listening to Gómez Rivera’s singing of “El collar de Sampaguita” with Bert Buena’s rondalla. He went to Gómez Rivera’s office library, that of Solidaridad Filipino-Hispana, Inc., at the third floor of the Citadel Bldg. on Bonifacio Street, way back in 1969. Since then, Gómez Rivera has held Nick Joaquín in utmost reverence and, as a member of the Academia Filipina, he has suggested to the Fundación del Premio Zóbel, to adjudicate, one of these years, the said prize to Nick Joaquín.

The poem titled “Nick Joaquín prismático,” is worth transcribing and translating here:

Traductor de la historial por toda una / generación perdida en inglés./ Maestro / que enseña la verdad: / —luz opurtuna / para los que no tienen / ni alma ni estro

(“History’s translator / for entire generations / lost in the English language. / A teacher who teaches / the truth, that pertinent light / needed by those / who misplaced / their soul / and their poetry of life.”)

Pues,  el candor y el arte. / La sapiencia de toda una cultura: / —la cultura que es la de Filipinas— es la ciencia; / es la gloria; / es toda la emvoltura / de este gran hombre prismático — trazluz / del madero / que alzamos hoy en cruz.

(“Because candor, art / and the knowledge / of an entire culture / which is Filipino / is the science, the glory, and the whole shroud / of this great and prismatic man / who stands / as the background light / for the planks of wood / we’d now lift into a cross.”)

Ese es  / Don Nicolás Joaquín, / flamante / fragua de este país / de sordociegos, / tabla de salvación / del ignorante / que perdió sus estribos / y sus pliegos.

(“That man is / Nick Joaquín, / the burning torch, / over this country of deaf-mutes… / He is the phalanx / of redemption / for those that ignore / what is truly Filpino / because they have lost / their documents / and the running board / upon which they could have stood.”).

Who really deserves to be mayor of San Pedro Tunasán, La Laguna?

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For the past several months, I’ve been itching on writing a blogpost against Eugenio Ynión, Jr., the gentleman who threatened to kill me two summers ago. “What better time than now,” I thought, “because it’s election time. His kind simply has to be stopped.” To those unaware, he is gunning for the mayoralty post of San Pedro Tunasán in sun-soaked La Laguna Province, my family’s home since 2007. Of course I like the idea of him helming my adoptive city very less because of what he did, or would like to do, to me. But my plan has been hindered by several factors: my night job is taking a toll on my exhausted mind, my reflex neurovascular dystrophy gives me plenty of excuses not to write too much, and of course, there’s the concern (for my family, not for myself) that he will violently retaliate.

As election day draws nearer and nearer, I’ve been wanting to discredit him all the more, to destroy his campaign online, to put him to shame. I had wanted to expose him to be the fraud that he really is. But I couldn’t. Because I’m not like him, and I don’t want to become like him. I mean, just check out his Facebook account: it’s filled with calumnies, defamation of character (directed towards his political rivals), dicey accusations, and other negative vibes. So I’d rather not. I simply thought that maybe, just maybe, it would be better to question his character, his real identity, his true motives. But then, that would be boring. As a debt-ridden man, what really interests me now is how he became a tycoon. (his words).

Yes, I admit that I’m jealous of him. Who wouldn’t? He’s got a huge building in the barrio he administers; you won’t see him in the barangay hall because he’s always holed up in that handsome building which he calls SABAK (perfectly rhymes with the Tagálog word “sápac” if you know what I mean 😎). He’s got luxury cars, regularly dines with his family and friends in the most extravagant restaurants, and can go to any dream resort any time he wants (at the expense of his duties as barrio chairman, that is). Of course he can! Because he’s the owner of that famous multi-billion peso conglomerate called Ynión General Holdings, or Yngen for short (if you’ve never heard of it, then you’re surely living under a rock). I checked its website. To be honest, I was impressed! Says the website:

Yngen Holdings, Inc. is a 100% Filipino-owned corporation based in Manila. It is a progressive holdings firm composed of competent companies in various fields and industries such as shipping and logistics, technology marketing, properties and property development, and fine food. Its subsidiaries are Le Soleil International Logistics Co., Inc., Le Soleil Shipping Agencies, Inc. Fil-Port Express Brokerate, Inc., Yngentech, Inc., Yngen Properties Inc., and OWG Coffee Co., Inc.

CEO Jun Ynión proudly declares in interviews that he’s one of the youngest shipping magnates in the country. But I wonder why his Le Soleil Shipping Agencies, apparently an exclusive representative for ZIM Integrated Shipping, created online accounts with other shipping companies but has not done any physical shipping transaction with them, if at all. Well, that statement of mine is not entirely accurate. Outside its activities with Zim, Le Soleil does have a transaction, albeit done very recently. Actually, the company ordered thousands of pounds of chicharón from the Visayas, most of which are now somewhere in Southern Luzón (interestingly, Le Soleil is both the shipper and the consignee for this shipment; such a transaction is not unusual for a logistics company, but one should take note that this chicharón shipment is the only transaction it has outside of Le Soleil for this anonymous company). But I won’t delve on that further if CEO Ynión will use it for his campaign (or perhaps as pulutan for an expected elections victory?). The point here is that if Le Soleil prides itself as Zim’s exclusive representative, then why make outside transactions with other shipping companies just to ship a couple of containers filled with nothing but chicharón? For large conglomerates, this is virtually unprofitable, a total waste of time. Shouldn’t a seasoned CEO like Ynión be aware of that?

Also, conglomerates tend to divest non-performing assets or subsidiaries. Upon careful scrutiny of Yngen’s website, it made me wonder even more. Aside from his “well-known” logistics company, what immediately grabbed my attention was one of his products called On What Grounds? (OWG) Coffee. When me and my family went into hiding because of his and his mentally unstable brother‘s death threats, I had the opportunity to visit his coffee product’s office in Macati. Under an assumed identity, I got to talk to one of his representatives. It turned out that CEO Ynión was just a middleman for the real company  which owns OWG (if memory serves right, that company is based in Australia).

If you haven’t even tasted OWG, you’re probably from another planet. But if you insist that you’re an earthling, then that means it’s only logical for Yngen to have divested OWG a long, long time ago because there’s no chance in hell that it could compete with more well-known brands such as Nescafé and Café Puro.

I could just imagine the hilarity of OWG contributing heavily to Yngen’s bottomline.

But wait! There’s more! Who has not even heard of Yngen’s best-selling Quiti-Kill? It’s an innovative tool for the natural, safe, and effective control of mosquitoes. For sure, Yngen has profited heavily from this very familiar brand so much that CEO Ynión could afford all the riches in life.

Unfortunately for him, Baygon katol is more popular and profitable compared to his Quiti-Kiwhatever-that-junk-is, even in this day and age of airconditioned slums.

For sure, CEO Ynión will insist that the bulk of Yngen’s profits come from Le Soleil. I believe him… but he’s got his dad to thank for. 😂

As CEO Ynión’s die hard fan, I wonder why, for all his press releases of business successes left and right, he never thought of signing up Yngen to the Philippine Stock Exchange. Even more mind-boggling is the fact that Yngen never made it to our country’s list of top 500 companies.

But enough about CEO Ynión. Between him and his rivals, mud-slinging should belong exclusively to him and only him. Besides, I really don’t have that mud to sling at him. He already has his fair share of it. And from deep within that putrid mud of his own making, we see his PR man Manuel Mejorada rearing his not-so-pretty-looking head. But no, I won’t go into details on how mejorada sold his soul to his beloved “Brother’s Ynión” (the people of Iloílo will tell you that fact themselves), nor will I attack him for what he did to me after the Ynión death threats. Mejorada already destroyed himself in the eyes of the world, exposing himself to be a total buffoon of an “investigative journalist” when he relied solely on rumors, gossips, and editable Wikipedia in attacking his nemesis, Senator Franklin Drilón.

The problem with CEO Ynión is that he is overly opportunistic. After befriending former Mayor Calex, the former immediately asked the latter that he handle San Pedro Tunasán’s garbage disposal system and waterworks. But these favors are not cheap toys that could be given away in an instant handshake. Processes and certain qualifications had to take effect. Blinded by ambition and greed, this didn’t sit well with CEO Ynión. That’s why he started to rebel. Using his Facebook account (not to mention a legion of hundreds of fake Facebook accounts as his attack dogs), he started stirring up a hornet’s nest, throwing calumnies and unprovable accusations here and there.

As he allowed ambitious anger to engulf the very fabric of his mind, our poor CEO basically forgot one simple trait that would have probably endeared him to those few people who do not support his rivals: COURTESY and HUMILITY. He should have remembered in the first place that he was an outsider. He only moved to San Pedro Tunasán during the last decade. He failed to blend with the people. He had to pay (and at times slap) his way through them just to be accepted. He should have kept in mind that one does not simply go to somebody’s house and tell the people living there how to run their home or how to live their lives. But that’s exactly what he is doing to the people of San Pedro Tunasán. He made people quarrel with each other, take sides. He may have succeeded in these areas, but he didn’t realize that a true San Pedrense is against calumnying. If Super Ynión had seen anything worth saving and protecting in San Pedro Tunasán, he should have never attacked the people running it. He should have talked with them and worked with them COURTEOUSLY. But he never did.

Hindí gusto ng taal na tagá San Pedro ang táong mahilig manira ng capuà.

As an outsider, this Eugenio Ynión, Jr. failed to see (of course, because he had a different agenda in mind).

It appears that CEO Ynión was hellbent in avoiding the mistakes his imbecile of a brother had committed in Iloílo, if just to create a political niche for himself here in La Laguna Province. Unfortunately, he’s making the very same mistakes his brother did (and is still doing). He had, in fact, become his brother’s doppelgänger.

But I really shouldn’t be blogging about CEO Ynión, his crazed brother, or their gossipy, Wikipedia-minded PR slave. A family friend had advised me a few days ago about this because it will certainly endanger the lives of my loved ones. Very well then. I’ll stop here. What I really wanted to talk about is why, after declaring that I will never participate in political elections ever again, I want to reclaim my right to suffrage.

Nobody took that right away from me. It was I who threw it away. I have become apolitical towards national politics brought about by my cynicism towards democracy (whose rickety strings are attached somewhere else, anyway). However, I now would like to express my willingness to support and endorse the team of Mayor Lourdes “Baby” Cataquiz, the current chief magistrate of SPT. I believe that it is much easier to govern and administer basic public service to a city of only 9.29 sq mi with more or less 300,000 souls compared to a big archipelago, or to other larger cities and municipalities for that matter. In this area, the current administration of SPT has proven itself to be successful.

In the current government setup, the results of local government action are more quantifiable and are much easier felt in the grassroots level. Planning and development are more fast-paced, more transparent, because local government units (LGUs) such as SPT are, in fact, autonomous in several aspects of public administration. Citizen participation in governmental matters is more feasible, not to mention the smoothness of a two-way communication between residents and the LGU (a citizen could even affectionately consider their hometown or city as their “little kingdom”). In SPT, the Catáquiz administration —from former Mayor Calixto R. Catáquiz to current Mayor Baby— has shown its worth in implementing laws and reforms that proved to be beneficial to its constituents. The city is even getting close to achieving its “Road Map 2020” mission and vision.

One sterling Catáquiz achievement was the conversion of SPT from a municipality into a component city on 28 December 2013. Cityhood for SPT was a decades-old dream, almost considered impossible because the number of business establishments, particularly large-scale enterprises, is not enough to reach the annual income requirement of ₱50,000,000. Add to that the reputation (which in fact is a fact) of SPT as simply a dormitory area, mostly for those working in Metro Manila. But former Mayor Calex Catáquiz was able to weave his magic by applying effective fiscal policies, strict budgetary measures, and other workable business strategies that he learned as a seasoned businessman. In no time, SPT was able to earn over ₱350,000,000 a year!

Upon taking the leadership from her husband three years ago, Mayor Baby continued his legacy, his programs and projects, and even more. And the best part of this is that she is the type of leader who will listen to you and take action if, in her good wisdom, she deems that what you say or suggest is beneficial for the city as a whole. Once or twice, I broached to her the idea of establishing a historica group for San Pedro Tunasán. To my delight, she did. Late last year, the San Pedro City Historical Council was organized. This clearly shows her genuine concern for the city’s historical and cultural aspects.

I’m not claiming that the Catáquiz couple made San Pedro Tunasán as the most perfect city in our province. Mistakes and lapses happen from time to time. But I am of the firm belief that anything unpleasant a visitor sees in San Pedro Tunasán is no longer the fault of the hardworking Catáquiz administration but of undisciplined and highly uncooperative citizens (and political rivals) who blatantly refuse to follow even the simplest of laws.

I am confident that our young city is in good hands with Team Cataquiz-Tayao BOOOM HALAL. They are native San Pedrenses. Ergo, their love and concern for the city is genuine and pure compared to scheming outsiders like CEO Ynión. They are set to continue tried and tested strategies and achievements of the past. And more.

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What perhaps stands out from this team is the remarkable humility of its members. Time and again, each and every member of Mayor Baby’s team have shown genuine concern and unselfish dedication towards their duties.

To my fellow San Pedrenses, try them. And let’s not just vote for them. LET’S WORK WITH THEM in getting rid of whatever unpleasantries our city may still have. Road Map 2020 is at hand!

PS: In the event that any member of my family disappears or is violently harmed once this blogpost has been published, you should very well know who the culprits are. Stay safe, everyone. 😉

¿Paano gumauá ng pastillas? Simple lang…

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They say that you’re not a Filipino if you have not tried pastillas de leche, the milk-based candy that has captured the sweet tooth of our countrymen from Luzón in the north all the way down to Mindanáo. It is a favorite pasalubong among travelers and can also be served either as dessert or merienda. Pastillas de leche, or simply pastillas, originated from San Miguel de Mayumò in Bulacán and became widespread throughout Filipinas, particularly in Cagayán and Masbate.

A few months ago, the word pastillas gained some notoriety when ABS-CBN, lagging behind its noontime rival‘s AlDub Phenomenon, chose to exploit a pretty lass whose whimsical YouTube video made the rounds for a couple of weeks, in the hopes of winning the ratings war. In that video, the pretty but huffy sounding lass cleverly alluded to how she was cheated on by her ex-boyfriend as she describes the pastillas making process in sarcastic fashion. She was then recruited by the media giant’s noontime variety show, earning the nickname “Pastillas Girl”, and turned into a virtual tramp in a desperate attempt to beat the rival program.

ABS-CBN lost the ratings war (and is still losing it) while Pastillas Girl has since twerked her way to show business, but to the detriment of that beloved Filipino milk candy she herself had exploited and made fun of out of spite. Since then, any mention of pastillas almost always reminds everyone of ABS-CBN’s frankenstein vamp.

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How is pastillas made? Easy. Just click here to watch La Familia Viajera‘s brief “instructional video”. Then click here for the rest of the photos.

However, the coarse-mouthed, twerking vamp (or at least her YouTube video) is not that popular in faraway Abra de Ilog, Mindoro Occidental, my wife’s idyllic hometown. During a recent vacation early this month, I asked one of her teenage cousins, John-John, if he knows anything about the “Pastillas Girl Phenomenon”; he answered in the negative. Thankfully, pastillas in those parts is still spotless.

And nostalgic.

Pastillas making was introduced to the tiny Población (town proper) of Abra de Ilog by my wife‘s late grandmother, Zenaida del Mundo de Atienza, most probably after the last war. Ináy Zenaida’s roots are from Lemery, Batangas; Tito Raf, John-John’s father, believes that she got the recipe from there. While it can be argued that Abra de Ilog’s pastillas making did not reach cottage-industry levels, it is interesting to note that pastillas is not a delicacy in Lemery. The milk candy was also moderately popular during my wife’s childhood days as it was produced in many homes in the Población and enjoyed by practically all its children (Abra de Ilog’s town proper is so small one can scout all its streets in just half an hour).

Today, this milk candy is no longer as popular as before and is produced only in the home of Mrs. Priscilla Leído who also learned its production from Inay Zenaida. But the old lady and her household members produce this pastillas only when they receive orders.

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My wife with Aling Priscilla at the latter’s home.

There are only two ingredients: carabao’s milk and sugar, but the flavor is surprisingly heavenly (in other parts of the country, processed or cow’s milk is a common ingredient). There is another similar pastillas in nearby Paluán, but the makers there add flour. This means that the pastillas of Yeyette’s grandmother can be considered as endemic to Abra de Ilog, indigenized there by time and tradition (my family reverently calls it pastillas de carabáo for obvious reasons).

Many old towns in our country like to take pride of something native to them, something different that only they can lay claim too (even at a communal level, our country’s many towns are looking for their own separate identities, totally independent from others). Save for its breathtaking treasure trove of environmental wonders, Abra de Ilog doesn’t have much to offer. To an adventurous outsider hungry for novel discoveries, the place has no unique traditions or festivals that one can enjoy observing, no endearing cuisine to sink in one’s teeth, no folk music to enjoy listening to, or any other symbolic cultural trappings to research on. The place has only a handful of ancestral homes to explore, and its old church doesn’t even look that old or Baroque, unfit for selfie sessions. And whatever culture the town has to offer is but indigenous: its Mañguián (or more accurately, Iraya) people. But even they are now embracing modernity, bit by bit turning their backs away from who they really are.

Abra de Ilog’s local government now has this rare chance of preserving, conserving, and even promoting something that be considered as cultural. The ball —or should I say the pastillas— is in their hands.

Simplicity, honesty, and Mayor Vicente del Mundo

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Election day is just around the corner. So I might as well blog about this.

My wife Yeyette had a public servant for a great grandfather. He was Don Vicente del Mundo, former mayor of Abra de Ilog, Mindoro Occidental.

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Mayor del Mundo (1901-1975) traces his roots to Lemery, Batangas. He was married to Marieta Calivara. They had several children; Yeyette’s maternal grandmother, Inay Zenaida (the mother of my mother-in-law), was the second eldest. As mayor of postwar Abra de Ilog, it was said that he had worked for the moral and economic recovery of his town mates from the damages brought by World War II. He administered Abra de Ilog twice: from 1942 to 1947, and then from 1960 to 1963, a total of eight years.

Few people know that, in 1960, Mayor del Mundo worked for the elevation of Sitio Sablay Uway to the status of a barrio (now called barangay) as petitioned by its residents. This sitio south of the town proper had become populous anyway, with parts of a nearby forest cleared to give way to a growing community. When the municipal council approved the petition, Mayor del Mundo immediately submitted it to the provincial board.  Upon its approval by higher authorities, the sitio leaders proposed that Mayor del Mundo’s first name be made as the official name of their newly proclaimed barrio as a show of gratitude. But since it was a Filipino custom during that time to assign names of saints to newly established places, they ingeniously added San (saint) to Mayor del Mundo’s first name. The barrio was thus named after him but was entrusted under the patronage of San Vicente Ferrer of Spain. That is why Barrio San Vicente, although named after Mayor del Mundo, celebrates its fiesta every April 5th, the Spanish saint’s feast day.

When my wife first brought me to his great grandfather’s house more than a decade ago (my first time in Abra de Ilog), I was utterly surprised to find it as nothing more than a modest abode. I was half expecting to see a huge bahay na bató. What I found was a small, postwar two-story house. The first floor had a low ceiling and had tree trunks for posts. I even remember seeing some of its walls in cement finish. I muttered under my breath, “This was where the mayor had lived?” I know of one mayor who, before becoming a politician, lived in a small house made of light materials. After his term, that house of his became a large bungalow.

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La Familia Viajera (with family friend Ate Cora and Yeyette’s teenage cousin John-John) in front of Casa del Mundo. Click here for more photos of our visit last April 3rd.

The del Mundo house has since been renovated. The only thing original in it is its simplicity.

Yeyette doesn’t know much about his great grandfather; he had died a year before she was born (interestingly, the date of his passing is also our youngest daughter’s birth date). But if there’s one thing I’m sure about him, it’s this: he was not corrupt. He had lived as a just and honest public servant. This I remarked to Yeyette a few years ago. Puzzled, she asked me how I knew about it.

Simple: her family’s not rich.

Mayor del Mundo reminds me of Luis Rodríguez Varela (1768-1826), the nationalist creole poet who was the first to call himself a Filipino. He had been the corregidor (district leader) and capitán of Tondo. But when he passed away, it was discovered that he was penniless, with no hacienda to leave to his children. This, considering the fact that he had many opportunities to enrich himself in office.

Who among our current crop of not-so-rich political candidates will end up as honest public servants like Mayor del Mundo and Capitán Rodríguez?

Easter 2016

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Today we commemorate the most important day in all of Christendom…

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Happy Easter!

PiliQUEla: the first Quezon Province Film Festival!

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It’s coming next weekend, folks! See you there!

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