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124th birth anniversary of Claro M. Recto

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On the occasion of his 124th birth anniversary, FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES would like to pay tribute to one of the greatest Filipino thinkers of modern times, the late senator Claro M. Recto. Here is a brief biographical sketch of the Tayabeño nationalist written by Antonino V. Mico (from the 1965 book Eminent Filipinos which was published by the National Historical Commission, a precursor of today’s National Historical Commission of the Philippines).

CLARO M. RECTO
(1890-1960)

Senator Claro M. Recto is known as a statesman, a constitutionalist, a jurist, internationalist, parliamentarian, poet, scholar, linguist, patriot, and nationalist. He was born on February 8, 1890, in Tiáong, Tayabas (now Quezon), the son of Claro Recto, Sr., and Micaéla Mayo, of Lipâ, Batangas. He obtained his elementary education in Lipâ and in his home town.

As a young man, he was endowed with a marvelous mind, an active imagination, a venturesome spirit, and a firm determination to stick to his personal convictions. At 19, he was already a holder of the Bachelor of Arts degree from the Ateneo de Manila; and at 24, he obtained his Master of Laws degree from the University of Santo Tomás. In 1914, he was admitted to the Philippine bar and was licensed to practice law as a profession.

Recto’s political career began in 1916, when he served as legal adviser to the Philippine Senate. In 1919, he was elected representative from Batangas and served as House minority floor leader until 1925. In 1924, he went to the United States as member of the Parliamentary Independence Mission. He was admitted to the bar in the United States in 1924.

Upon his return to the Philippines, he founded the Demócrata Party, which served as a political thorn to the leadership of Manuel L. Quezon, when the latter was head of the Nacionalista Party and President of the Senate. He was elected senator for the first time in 1931 as a Demócrata and served as minority floor leader for three years.  In 1934, he became majority floor leader and President pro tempore of the Senate. He resigned his Senate seat when President Roosevelt appointed him Associate Justice in the Supreme Court in place of Justice Thomas Street, who retired. He left the Supreme Court in 1941 as a Nacionalista and again in 1953 as guest candidate of the Liberal Party. He ran as an independent Nacionalista candidate for President of the Philippines in the national elections of 1957, but lost.

Considered one of his immortal achievements in public life was his presidency of the Constitutional Convention, which drafted the Philippine Constitution, the first requirement towards the establishment of the Philippine Commonwealth regime.

Recto was a brilliant poet, satirist, and author. He wrote such law books as The Law of Belligerent OccupationValidity of Payments During Enemy OccupationThree Years of Enemy Occupation, several one-act plays in Spanish, and a collection of poems. He was a recipient of the Zóbel Prize for literature and an honored member of the Royal Academy of Jurisprudence and Legislation, of the Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences, and of the Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española.

The then President Carlos P. García appointed Recto Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary on the goodwill and cultural mission to Europe and South America in August, 1960. He was also appointed delegate to the 9th conference of the World Parliament Association in Venice in September, 1960, and was elected vice-president.

While giving a news conference in Rome, Recto suffered a heart attack from which he never recovered. He died in October 2, 1960.

Regarding his death, not a few historians believe that the great poet-turned-politician did not merely suffer from a heart attack. There’s this one interesting account from Raymond Bonner’s 1987 book Waltzing With A Dictator (pp. 41-42) that I’d like to share:

Transplanting democracy meant going after (Ramón) Magsaysay’s domestic political opponents, the most effective of whom was Senator Claro M. Recto, as unrelenting in his opposition to American foreign policy in the region as Magsaysay was slavish in following it. Recto, who was proud of his complete collection of Foreign Affairs, considered himself not anti-American but pro-Philippine. He criticized the bases agreement on the grounds, correctly, that the U.S. agreements under NATO and with other countries were far more favorable to the host country than was the U.S. arrangement in the Philippines. In Spain, the Spanish flag flew over the bases; in the Philippines, it was the American flag. When Washington claimed that the United States owned the lands on which the bases were situated, Recto prepared memorandums setting out the Philippine position that the United States had only leasehold rights, an argument eventually accepted by the United States. Recto was the “spearhead and brains of the national reawakening”.

The CIA set about to destroy Recto, who had been a principal drafter of the 1935 Constitution. It planted stories that he was a Communist Chinese agent who had been infiltrated into the Philippine Senate. To derail Recto’s electoral ambitions, the agency prepared packages of condoms, which it labeled “Courtesy of Claro M. Recto — The People’s Friend”. The condoms all had pinprick-size holes in them at the most inappropriate place. The agency went further. The CIA station chief, General Ralph B. Lovett, and the American Ambassador, Admiral Spruance, discussed assassinating Recto, going so far as to prepare a substance for poisoning him, an assassination plot that has not been publicly discussed before.

Recto wasn’t assassinated, the idea abandoned “for pragmatic consideration rather than moral scruples” (and with Lovett later suggesting that the bottle containing the poison was tossed into Manila Bay). He died of natural causes at the age of seventy.

It is hinted on this book that Recto was “assassinated” in Rome. Also, there have been persistent rumors that Recto did suffer a heart attack, but his medication was not given to him immediately which led to his very untimely death. Rumors they all may be, but there is a saying in Tagalog: “capág may usoc, may apóy” (when there’s smoke, there’s fire). Also, it is interesting to note that the place where he passed away was just a stopover. Recto was really on his way to Spain, the land of his mother tongue which is Spanish. He had never been there all his life, thus the excitement throbbing within his nationalistic spirit. He had already prepared a speech in Spanish, “Por los Fueros de una Herencia“, of which he was to deliver there upon arrival. But because of his demise, it remained unspoken.

The CIA knew that Recto delivering that speech in Spain would have proven catastrophic to their neocolonialistic ventures which were then in its early stages, as the Philippines was granted a phony independence 15 years earlier. That is why it was imperative for Recto to perish before he reached Spain.

One could just imagine what nationalistic and nostalgic fervor Recto would have sparked in Mother Spain had he delivered his speech there. Spain, who was robbed of her islands in the Pacific and the Americas in 1898, would have rekindled “righteous anger” into delivering, perhaps, the final blows of that war that should have ended justly and nobly. What fireworks his speech would have set upon the citizens of our Patria Grande! “Sayang” is all I could utter. Sayang…

Feliz cumpleaños, Don Claro. Tendré una botella de Cerveza Negra en su honor.

2013 Filipino Of The Year — Fr. Jojo Zerrudo!

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Me and Yeyette with our spiritual hero at the Holy Family Church in Roxas District, Cubáo, Quezon City where he currently serves as parish priest. (08/04/2013)

For this year, FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES and ALAS FILIPINAS are so proud to bestow their (not-that-famous-yet) Filipino of the Year award to Fr. Michell Joe Zerrudo!

Fr. Jojo truly deserves this soon-to-be-prestigious online award (wish) not because he officiated that classic “Wedding of the Year” in San Pedro Tunasán (which has just become a city, by the way), La Laguna province last September. It’s because he has exemplified through his life, thoughts, and works the virtues of what a COMPLETE Filipino truly is. He has also been featured several times by the media throughout the year, making curious folk sit up and take notice of this humble servant of the Lord. In that regard, may they all be inspired by him to become better persons the way he has inspired the owner of the above-mentioned blogs, together with his family, to become better Christians.

My disappointment was that in teaching high school, I realized that the students (even of Catholic schools) have the impression that the Spanish friars were all corrupt and they did nothing good for us. I always ask: give me a name of a Spanish friar you know… and they will all say in unison: “Padre Damaso”. Padre Damaso??? A fictitious character of Rizal’s novel??? Students do not know how to discern fact from fiction. Even if they say that Rizal recanted just before his execution, his Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo continue to exert his Masonic influence on young minds.

—Fr. Jojo Zerrudo—

That’s a courageous “against-the-flow” remark from the ranks of today’s much-maligned. Sa totoó láng, isáng tunay na Filipino na lamang ang puedeng macapágsalita ng ganián ñgayón. I bet even Rizal himself would have agreed with him. ‘Nuff said.

Congratulations, Fr. Jojo! May this award win you and your “TLM Team” a trip to Amanpulo! :D

Rizal Day thought

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It was not José Rizal who got shot in Bagumbayan 117 years ago…

…it was Mother Spain. :-(

Is this famous Rizal execution photo real, or is it just a still from a 1912 movie? Click here to find out.

For whom the bells toll: unity against government corruption

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A few days before last Friday, I saw this announcement on my Facebook timeline:

I haven’t been joining protest marches since my forgetful days as a young student activist. Truth to tell, I no longer believe in the power of mass protests, especially in our times when the powers-that-be are at their strongest. Anyway, I had half a mind attending the nationwide pealing of all church bells although our parish church is just a safe walking distance from our apartment. I thought of maybe just listen to the pealing of the bells from our balcony and utter a short prayer to help combat government abuse of the pork barrel.

Friday arrived and it was dark and drizzling, all the more reason to completely cancel my plans of witnessing the pealing of the bells. But for some inexplicable reason, something stirred me from my laziness to attend. So I took up my camera and told Yeyette that I had to cover the event, maybe take a short video of it then go home immediately.

Upon arrival at the church, the drizzle became all the more incessant. I looked up towards the bell tower, but saw nobody up there. I looked around for any sort of activity pertaining to the ringing of bells against government corruption.

Nada.

I went inside the church and saw only carpenters and stone masons (our church is currently under renovation). Perhaps there are people already in the campanario? I decided to have a look and see, introduce myself as a local blogger and one of Mayor Baby‘s writers (more on this in a future blogpost), and ask permission if I could record what they were about to do.

I’ve climbed up our bell tower numerous times already. It wasn’t easy this time because of a lot of construction materials being hoarded in there at the moment. Upon reaching the top of the bell tower, I was dismayed to find out that nobody was there. And it was less than five minutes till 1:00 PM.

Probably nobody in the parish office heard about this call for holy solidarity against a secular evil that is currently besetting the country. Or perhaps they already knew but they didn’t care at all? Really, I dunno.

I looked down towards the parish office. It was closed, and nobody seemed to come out towards the bell tower to ring its old Sunico bell. I harkened in the cold air, straining hard to listen if other nearby parishes were already ringing their respective bells — nothing but vehicular traffic noise. There was no more time to go down to the parish office and inquire. Using my initiative, I had no other recourse but to ring the bell myself.

It was my first time to ring a church bell, so pardon me if I was tolling it lightly. Besides, I was a bit nervous that the people overseeing the parish office might come out and climb angrily towards me. But then I already thought of a justifiable excuse that what I was doing was all over the news, and that they should update themselves once in a while. Surprisingly still, nobody went up to check. It’s either I was really tolling it lightly and they didn’t hear it, or maybe they did but they never cared at all.

I just tolled it for a few minutes, especially since it wasn’t safe for one’s ears to ring a church bell at a very close distance (stupid me, I should have pulled the rope connected to the bell which is right below the campanario).

Did the tolling of church bells against the pork barrel made any difference? Since I myself have already believed in the ineffectiveness of street protests against government iniquities, what difference does the harmless pealing of bells make? Not much. But I think the Church in this country needed to have a voice to speak out against the pork barrel scam. Just last August, news broke out that retired Monsignor Josefino S. Ramírez was renting a posh property owned by controversial Janet Lim de Nápoles for a whopping ₱280,000 a month, making everyone think where does he get all that cash. And even before that, there were already reports that some priests were in the payroll of Nápoles via her dubious company.

The CBCP commented on the issue, even releasing a strongly worded statement last September 5 against pork barrel misuse. But everybody, most particularly the very meek anti-Catholic kiddos in social media, were too busy condemning the priests in particular and (quite laughably) the Church in general. They were, indeed, having a field day.

The tolling of the bells, at least to my mind, was supposed to be another Church statement against thievery in the government. Last Friday’s church protest was more palpable. And if I may add: just in case those priests connected to Nápoles did err, it was just them, not the Church as a whole.

I just hope that if ever there will be another call for unity like this, there would really be a show of unity. Not to mention coordination. I’m trying hard to remember the last time that all the church bells in the entire archipelago were tolled; I couldn’t remember any event.

*******

On another note, ringing those bells myself made it all the more enjoyable as I already have a personal connection to the San Pedro Apóstol Church because that is where I was wed during last month’s Friday the 13th…

Oh shucks… the WEDDING!!! I haven’t even written anything about it yet here on this blog!

OK, up next: OUR FILIPINIANA WEDDING! Stay tuned, folks! :D

Abusive journalism?

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When this seemingly innocent little tweet of mine caught the attention of the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s editorial staff last week, I didn’t intend to make an issue out of it. I just posted a brief comment on my FB account, then that’s it. But then, I got mentioned again by the same newspaper the following day, and this time by one of its most “respected” columnists. So I think that, hey, they really won’t let me be. Blast it.

First of all, I AM NOT a sympathizer of Janet Lim-Nipples. If you ask me, with all the evidence being presented by investigative journalists, I think she really is guilty. I don’t like her one bit. Imagine: buying several mansions and condominiums here and abroad when she and her husband only have four kids! Isn’t one house enough for these greedy people? But that’s them: stinking drunk with wealth and power.

However, I am not out to condemn Janet yet since she has not yet been formally investigated in a court of law nor has she been convicted. I’m not a fan of trial by publicity. But I’m a fan of sarcastic and witty memes, hehe!

When I tweeted that Janet was being bullied by Inquirer reporters, that didn’t necessarily mean that I was already sympathizing with her. It was just an observation of mine. Because that was the truth: she was really being bullied, particularly by Managing Editor Joey Nolasco and photographer Edwin Bacasmas. Imagine: she went to Inquirer on her own accord, ready to air her side, and knowing that she was to speak to only ONE journalist: the editor-in-chief herself, Ms. Letty Jiménez-Magsánoc. But her humble request was denied. Instead, the suspect was shanghaied into a round-panel interview that she was not expecting. Here, check this out (at the video’s 1:18 mark):

Nápoles: Yes, ma’am, I’m sorry po. Kasi ’di ba parang everyday na, tapos wala naman. Tapos sabi ko sa husband ni [pointing to reporter Cathy Yamsúan], first time kong nakita siya si Ma’am Cathy. Sabi ko, Brian, may access ba para sa Inquirer. Para lang umapela ako bilang ina na sana bago isulat, kunin muna side namin. Yun lang ho talaga. Kaya akala ko, mga 10:30, pag wala na hong. Kasi hindi ko alam may mga ganito. First time ko pumunta ng Inquirer. That’s why, Ma’am, na-shock ako sa inyo. “Don’t you know that there’s a roundtable?” Sabi ko, “Ha?”

And throughout the video, the suspect has been pleading the photographer, Mr. Bacasmas, not to take her picture anymore. Bacasmas already had taken several, but he still disrespected the suspect’s pleas. Worse, Mr. Bacasmas was not even admonished by Raúl Pañgalañgan (PDI publisher). What really irritated me is that some of those journalists asked her questions as if they were members of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee! My golly. For instance, listen to Mr. Nolasco’s arrogant questioning (11:03 of the first video above, then at the first few minutes of the video below):

Nolasco: Mrs. Nápoles, tutal nandito na kayo…

Nápoles: Nakakatakot ka, sir, ah. Bakit anong kasalanan ko sa’yo?

[Laughter]

Nolasco: Heto, pagkakataon mo na ’to. Ano ang maling sinulat ng mga reporters namin tungkol sa inyo? Sabihin niyo na ngayon. Ilalabas natin.

Nápoles: Asa anak ko, naka ganun eh [mimics writing/listing]. Naka… [laughs]

Nolasco: Siguro naman naalala mo ’yung mga main points nun. [This refers to Nolasco asking Napoles to talk about inaccuracies in the reporters’ stories on the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam.-Ed.]

Chato Garcellano/Opinion Editor: Oo naman, alam niyo ’yun.

Nolasco: Pagkakataon niyo na ’to.

Nápoles: Mahirap magsalita.

Pañgalañgan: Kahit hindi lahat. Just a few.

Nolasco: Anong naaalala niyo dun? Kasi inaakusahan niyo ’yung mga reporter namin na…

Nápoles: Ah kasi [unintelligible] si Atty. (Lorna) Kapunan ng kaso. Nilagay niya. Eh dun na lang. Baka magalit sa akin yung abogado. Kasi kung [unintelligible].

Nolasco: Ang ibig sabihin, Mrs. Napoles, hindi niyo alam?

Nápoles: Hindi ko alam. Kasi siyempre, nasa dyaryo. Siyempre, hindi naman ho lahat ng sinulat sa dyaryo pwede mong idemanda. Siyempre babasahin mo, pantay ba yung [unintelligible].

Nolasco: O, ano? Ano ang maling sinulat ni ano … ng mga reporter namin? Wala? Wala kang masabi?

Nápoles: Hindi ho, meron siyempre.

Nolasco: O, ano?

Garcellano: Sabihin niyo na.

Mike Suárez/News Service Chief: Sabihin niyo na.

Nolasco: Dahil ’yun ’yung susulatin nila, wala kang masabi.

Blast it, do these journalists really expect the most hated Filipina today to be as articulate as they are, especially in an unexpected round-panel interview? Even I would have stammered like sh*t if I were placed in such a situation even if I wasn’t guilty of anything. So to paraphrase Mr. Mon Tulfo, that candid interview with Nápoles would have won her sympathy from the public had her initial request been respected.

*******

On a related note, I do not believe that the pork barrel would be scrapped that fast. Malacañang almost always uses it as a form of “bribe” to legislators. Cooperative senators and congressmen receive their pork barrel in full and on time. Those who are in the opposition would receive nothing. That’s the sad truth.

So I think the only remedy at hand is to enhance the government’s procurement processes. They should upgrade to e-Procurement wherein all procurement activities of the government are transparent to both buyers and suppliers. In our country, the only Filipino company I know that provides e-Procurement services is Transprocure (not sure if BayanTrade is still around). So why not give e-Procurement a chance? It’s worth a try.

*******

And lastly, Janet’s last name is pronounced as NAH-po-les, not Na-POH-les. Her last name is Spanish for that lovely Italian municipality called Naples, a major international tourist destination (no wonder traveling is in her daughter’s genes, LOL). So if you can’t pronounce it right, go for Janet Lim-Nipples. Blast it.

❤ Mindanáo!!! (FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES’ 4th anniversary special)

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I think I have overused the word AWESOME since Sunday. :-)

But to begin with, my apologies to Dennis Dolojan for using the title of his soon-to-be-iconic website as my blogpost article. I couldn’t help it because it’s catchy, it’s hip, and “LOVE MINDANÁO” are the only fitting words (aside from AWESOME) that I could utter upon visiting and touring that beautiful island for the first time in my life!

Although I don’t exactly tag myself as a travel blogger (because I really am not), I had the privilege to be invited by the Allah Valley Landscape Development Alliance to help promote the region’s ecotourism potential. Also invited are more renowned travel bloggers (such as “prim-and-proper” Gael Hilotin and “oozing-with-sexiness” Gay Miriel Mitra-Emami), members of the media, officers from the Department of Tourism, my boss Ronald Yu (of In-Frame Media Works), and world-renowned photographer George Tapan.

With world-famous and award-winning travel photographer George Tapan somewhere on the heights of Mt. Lambilâ, Lake Sebú, Cotabato del Sur (07/16/2013). Tito George also happens to be a distant relative of mine (he’s from Unisan, Quezon). We just couldn’t figure out how exactly; for all we know, he could be my nephew, haha! :D

Unfortunately, it’s getting late. And because of the week’s activities, I’m now exhausted and spent. So I better hit the sack and leave you guys hanging for a while, hehe! But don’t worry; in the coming weeks, I will definitely serialize on this blog the fun (mis)adventures that I experienced in that promising land in the south that has been unfairly tagged by the media as a dangerous place to visit. For now, all I can say is that “Muslim Mindanáo” is a dirty myth.  And it is NOT TRUE that the whole island of Mindanáo is dangerous. During my brief stay there, I have never felt so secure (and even carefree) for a long time. I even had to be more alert in the asphalt jungles of Metro Manila than in the rough roads leading to the jungles of the Allah Valley. Simply put, Mindanáo is REEKING of FUN and ADVENTURE! So far, my brief Mindanáo sojourn has been the most AWESOME birthday week I ever had!

And happy 4th anniversary to this blog which still has more or less six or seven clueless fans, LOL! Cheers, everyone! :-)

Baby Catáquiz vs Norvic Solidum: the Battle for San Pedro!

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Despite the lack of conclusive and official judgment, it is already common knowledge that the late actor and Filipino cultural icon Fernando Poe, Jr. was cheated during the 2004 presidential, legislative, and local elections. Having lost faith in democratic politics, that was the last time I exercised my right to suffrage. Turning apolitical, I swore to myself never to participate in elections ever again.

Incidentally, it was on the same day when I relocated my family from BF Homes Parañaque to Barrio San Vicente in San Pedro, La Laguna. A female cousin of mine who was married to a native San Pedrense (from the well-known Igonia clan) helped us in finding an apartment unit. Having lived most of my life in urban Parañaque City, I was somehow elated with the idea that me and my family will become provincianos and enjoy a rural lifestyle. I’ve been an urban kid for years. That’s why rural life always revs up the sentient patterns of my behavior toward society. Summer vacations in my father’s rustic hometown during my childhood made the thought even more nostalgic. But I was disappointed with what I saw.

As an aficionado of nature and culture, I was expecting farmlands, tranquility, more of nature, more rustic imagery, and more bahay na bató houses in San Pedro. But upon entering it from Muntinlupà City, what greeted me was a vandalized bridge and welcome arch, a garbage-filled estero, pro-promiscuity Sogo Hotel, smoke fumes from numerous tricycles, boorish traffic on potholed and littered roads, and a motley assemblage of unaesthetic establishments reminiscent of dirty Quiapò, Manila in the 80s and 90s. Simply put, the then Municipality of San Pedro was an exuberance of poor municipal planning. I promptly blamed the current town leader, Felicísimo Vierneza. My reason: command responsibility, if not inept leadership. It was but unfortunate, in my opinion, that he won during the said elections.

In 2007, businessman Calixto Catáquiz —half Tayabeño, half San Pedrense— again entered the scene as San Pedro’s chief executive. I said “again” because he has already managed San Pedro before, starting in 1986, when he was first appointed by the late President Corazón Aquino as Officer-In-Charge, all the way to 1998. 2007 was the year that I truly noticed CHANGE in San Pedro.

One more challenge

I’ve been hearing about Mayor Calex since I was a kid because he is actually a family friend; his father and my father are both from Unisan, Tayabas Province. In fact, one of my uncles is a very close associate of his. And whenever I spend my summer vacations  in Unisan as a young boy, I do remember seeing him in the Rural Bank of Unisan (now Entrepreneur Bank) which was owned by his family (he used to manage the bank). It was just pure coincidence that I transferred my family to San Pedro that has been the home of a fellow Tayabeño.

But that is all I know. I never knew Mayor Calex on a personal level until 2008. During that time, my friend and fellow history buff Arnaldo and I were pondering on how we could make it to the publishing scene. We maintain blogs that deal with Philippine History and Filipino Identity. But we believed that the only way we could make it into the big league (or for our body of work to be seriously noticed) is to get published. Publish or perish, as noted authors will always say. But really, we have no idea how to start.

And then it hit me: why not write a history book for San Pedro? That could be a good start. After all, my nose for history compelled me to read everything that I could regarding my family’s adoptive hometown since 2004. I was confident that me and Arnold could write one. But we needed support. I thought of using my connection to be able to reach out to Mayor Calex. And so one day, I contacted my uncle, and he setup a meeting between us (me and Arnaldo) and the Mayor at the old municipal office (fronting the town plaza and the historic Church of San Pedro Apóstol). But like everyone else, we had to wait for our queue (there were many people who had wanted seek an audience with him that day, and he was also officiating a civil marriage for about ten couples or so). Then came our turn to speak to him. We were led to his desk by his stern but polite staff. The mayor turned out to be a nice guy after all, very accommodating, hearing us out well, and not menacingly intimidating (because of my activist background, I then had reservations of dealing with politicians). And despite his tall stature, Mayor Calex was a soft-spoken man, even showing qualities of timidity that I think is unusual for a politician. I immediately liked him.

We never talked about our Unisan connections. We immediately told him our plans: a history book for San Pedro. But much to our dismay, he revealed that there were already two books published about San Pedro’s history. The most recent was made during the incumbency of his predecessor entitled San Pedro, Laguna: Noon at Ngayon (San Pedro, La Laguna: San Pedro Historical Committee, 2007) by Amalia Cullarín and Sonny Ordoña. Prior to that is the now rare Kasaysayan ng Bayan ng San Pedro Tunasán (Manila: Liberty Press, Co., 1963) by Anastacio Olivárez. However, Mayor Calex did not immediately dismiss us. Little did we know that he was actually planning to have his own biography. He was inspired to have one after having read the best-selling biography of his good friend, the late Comedy King Dolphy (Hindi Ko Ito Narating Mag-isa by Bibeth Orteza, Quezon City: Kaizz Ventures, Inc., 2008). He and Dolphy made a movie together, Home Along da Riber, in 2002. Mayor Calex was then the General Manager of the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), and he conceptualized the said movie to promote environmental efforts for Laguna de Bay, the Philippines’s largest lake.

A book is a book. An opportunity is an opportunity. So we grabbed the chance. And that is how my close association with Mayor Calex started. And I got to know him better.

From municipality to cityhood

While doing research for his biography, we found out that during his first two years as OIC of San Pedro, Mayor Calex was able to accomplish a staggering 110 major projects! It must be noted that the number of projects that Mayor Calex was able to accomplish was already outstanding for a first-time “accidental” politician. Accidental, because he never even planned of becoming Mayor despite his parents’ ties with the late strongman President Ferdinand Marcos. Another remarkable feat: in less than a decade, from his OIC years up to 1995, he was able to raise the coffers of the municipal treasury from ₱6.41 million to a staggering amount of ₱70 million! In 1992, he was able to make San Pedro a 1st class municipality. He could have done more. But in 1998, Vierneza replaced him. And this new leader took hold of San Pedro’s mayoralty seat up to 2007. It was during these years that San Pedro retrogressed into the disappointing municipality that I found it to be in 2004.

In retrospect, how was Mayor Calex able to do such accomplishments even without any formal training in political leadership? He was not from a political family. They were more into business (the Catáquiz family is, in fact, one of the wealthiest —if not the wealthiest— in all of San Pedro). And so with this, he invented a formula: his “50-50″ scheme which means that he had to be a 50% politician and 50% administrator. Using the “banker” side of his character, or his being a 50% administrator, he turned San Pedro’s financial woes into financial gains.

So fast forward to today. For the past few years, Mayor Calex has been working extremely hard for the cityhood of San Pedro. His hardwork finally paid off when, on 27 March 2013, Republic Act 10420 was signed, effectively converting San Pedro into La Laguna province’s newest city.

The failed municipality of San Vicente

Thankfully, this act was signed in due time. Because if not, San Pedro would have fallen into a downward spiral.

In a blogpost that I published last month, I wrote about the selfish plans of Mayor Calex’s political rival, Vice Mayor Norvic Solidum. It turned out that Solidum and his partner/protégé Allan Mark Villena were petitioning the provincial government to split San Pedro into two by having Barrio San Vicente converted into a new municipality. If that ever happened, San Pedro’s income class would have gone down to 3rd class, thus making impossible San Pedro’s bid for cityhood. And as main petitioners, either Solidum or Villena would have been the mayor of this failed municipality of San Vicente.

Such schemes are a pet peeve of mine, for I do not believe in the splitting of towns/cities. Why? Because I always subscribe to this Nick Joaquín dictum, which is logical and highly principled:

Philippine society, as though fearing bigness, ever tends to revert the condition of the barangay of the small enclosed society. We don’t grow like a seed, we split like an amoeba. The moment a town grows big it becomes two towns. The moment a province becomes populous it disintegrates into two or three smaller provinces. The excuse offered for divisions is always the alleged difficulty of administering so huge an entity. But Philippines provinces are microscopic compared to an American state like, say, Texas, where the local government isn’t heard complaining it can’t efficiently handle so vast an area. We, on the other hand, make a confession of character whenever we split up a town or province to avoid having of cope, admitting that, on that scale, we can’t be efficient; we are capable only of the small. The decentralization and barrio-autonomy movement expresses our craving to return to the one unit of society we feel adequate to: the barangay, with its 30 to a hundred families. Anything larger intimidates. We would deliberately limit ourselves to the small performance. This attitude, an immemorial one, explains why we’re finding it so hard to become a nation, and why our pagan forefathers could not even imagine the task. Not E pluribus unum is the impulse in our culture but “Out of many, fragments”. Foreigners had to come and unite our land for us; the labor was far beyond our powers. Great was the King of Sugbú, but he couldn’t even control the tiny isle across his bay. Federation is still not even an idea for the tribes of the North; and the Moro sultanates behave like our political parties: they keep splitting off into particles.

Setting aside his selfish ambitions, it is safe to conclude that, based on the above, Solidum fears bigness and thinks like an amoeba, therefore not fit for public service. Anything large intimidates him.

And because he’s intimidated, he sought to play dirty.

¿Daáng Matuwíd ñga bá talagá?

During the fiesta of Barrio San Vicente last month, a strange document started circulating in various Facebook accounts, pages, and groups concerning San Pedro. The document, dated 5 April 2013, is purportedly from the Office of the President of the Philippines, ordering Mayor Calixto Catáquiz “to vacate his office immediately”:

The strange thing is that these papers first appeared on the internet, that is why it was considered dubious at best. And for many days since the papers first appeared on the web, Mayor Calex still had to receive the hard copies. News of this also reached the major dailies and some radio stations. So upon hearing the news, thousands upon thousands of supporters, many of whom were native San Pedrenses, trooped to the new municipal hall and to the town plaza to show their support for the mayor.

Why these documents first appeared on the web still remains a puzzle. But it is already clear that it is a form of black propaganda to discredit the mayor. It should be noted that Mayor Calex belongs to the Nacionalista Party whereas Solidum is being carried by President Noynoy Aquino’s powerful Liberal Party. Noynoy is known to hate everyone who used to be allied with former President Gloria Macapagal de Arroyo (just ask Renato Corona). And Mayor Calex was an appointee of the former president.

The ghost of LLDA: the real score

The order to vacate the mayoralty seat stems from Mayor Calex’s case with the LLDA. In 2001, ex-president Arroyo appointed him as LLDA General Manager (prior to this, he was already a member of its Board of Directors from 1992 to 1998). One of his well-known achievements as its administrator was securing for Laguna de Bay the “Living Lake” honor from the prestigious Living Lake network, winning the distinction over Brazil’s Pantanal, the world’s largest wetlands, and Poland’s Milicz Pond.

Nothing is too small or too big for Catáquiz as the GM of LLDA. During his administration, he made studies about the feasibility of tapping Laguna de Bay as a source of potable water for Metro Manila, citing that having this as an option would greatly reduce water utility costs. His vision was reinforced by his observance of the Singapore model in which part of used water is recycled. Before leaving LLDA, he had already made this recommendation to the Office of the President.

He was also bent on changing the office culture into a more productive environment the moment he stepped in as its GM. But when he found out about employees playing computer games during office hours, he issued an intra-office memo banning and removing all computer-based games within office premises, much to the dismay of some lazy employees.

This very trivial matter was actually the start of his troubles with the LLDA employees. He was a strict boss, but fair in all his dealings. Corruption? An impossibility. He was already a millionaire even on the day he was born because of his parents banks and other profitable businesses. To put it more bluntly, he never needed the GM job nor any political seat just to enrich himself, as is the practice of many politicians who are not as financially fortunate as him.

Sadly, his strictness was not received well by these employees. Later on, these same employees would join the clamor made by a militant fishing group (whose members lost their illegal fishing fences within the lake courtesy of GM Catáquiz) to replace the GM. Perhaps they were looking for a leader who could tolerate their laziness and other unfair dealings?

GM Catáquiz reasoned out that he always had the employees’ welfare in mind. But he was unwilling to tolerate unprofessional deeds. He was fully expecting that everyone would subscribe to the idea that they would have to abide by the law and that they should have the focused willingness to serve the poor people.

Due to graft charges unfairly hurled against him by some LLDA employees who had personal grudges to bear, Catáquiz parted ways with the organization on a sad note.

NOT convicted

His enemies inside the LLDA prevailed. In 2003, Catáquiz was dismissed as GM “on the grounds of corrupt and unprofessional behavior and management incompetence”. But this is the real score: he was NEVER CONVICTED in a court of law. Instead, he was found guilty of administrative misconduct by a tribunal by the Office of the Solicitor General. Two years later, a resolution from the Office of the President that was based on the findings of the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission imposed the penalties of “disqualification from reemployment in the government service and forfeiture of retirement benefits” on Catáquiz. But he never pursued that anymore because it was already moot and academic.

In simple words, the Supreme Court merely acknowledged that an administrative case was filed against Catáquiz, that it was uncontested, and so that the penalties attached to the case were applied. That was all to it. There was no conviction at all. After this setback, Catáquiz simply went back to private life and just supported his wife Lourdes “Baby” Catáquiz’s political career who was then serving as the town’s Vice Mayor. Eventually, he returned as mayor of San Pedro in  2007.

Simply put, his troubles with the LLDA had NOTHING to do with his being mayor of San Pedro. Therefore, the recent order from Malacañang, signed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr., is ILLEGAL.

The problem now is that during Solidum’s campaign sorties, his group continuously trumpet that Catáquiz was convicted by the Supreme Court when the truth is that the high court took no action at all with the mayor’s past (and questionable) troubles with the LLDA.

Cracks in the Solidum-Almoro tandem?

But in a twist of fate, as mentioned earlier, thousand of angry residents of San Pedro trooped to the city hall to show their support for Mayor Calex, something that Solidum’s camp never anticipated. And it happened for several days last month. Could this overwhelming (and probably unexpected) show of support one reason why the dubious Malacañang order for Mayor Calex to vacate his position never materialized?

And could this also be the reason why Solidum’s camp was rattled? According to a very reliable source, Solidum’s running mate, Sheriliz “Niña” Almoro, already broke away with him. Not only her but two others who are running for councilors under the Solidum bandwagon:

Ina Olivárez, Niña Almoro, and Kim Carrillo reportedly broke away from Solidum’s camp. How true?

The three, however, have kept mum on the issue.

COMELEC unreliable

Nothing happened with the questionable Ochoa papers. So out of desperation, and realizing that Mayor Calex was still popular inspite of the smear campaign against him, the enemy camp made one final blow.

With just a few days left before May 13, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) suddenly decided to disqualify Mayor Calex from seeking reelection:

In a resolution dated May 7, the COMELEC first division granted the petition filed by Catáquiz’s rival, San Pedro Vice Mayor Norvic Solidum, and two others to disqualify the local chief executive, who was also recently ordered by Malacañang to step down.

The COMELEC ruling, signed by Commissioners Lucenito Tagle, Elias Yusoph, and Christian Robert Lim, cited Section 40 of the Local Government Code, which bars “from running for any elective local position … those removed from office as a result of an administrative case.”

Catáquiz, a member of the Nacionalista Party, said he has yet to receive a copy of the COMELEC order but vowed to seek “legal remedies” from a higher body to stop his disqualification.

“With three more days to go (before the elections), this is just a strategy of my opponents to discredit me,” he said in a phone interview Thursday.

But COMELEC decisions are highly unreliable these days. It will be remembered that just a few days ago, they implemented COMELEC Resolution No. 9688 which prohibits the “withdrawal of cash, encashment of checks and conversion of any monetary instrument into cash from May 8 to 13, exceeding P100,000 or its equivalent in any foreign currency, per day in banks, finance companies, quasi-banks, pawnshops, remittance companies and institutions performing similar functions.” But the Supreme Court put a stop to it, declaring it unconstitutional. So how can one rely on COMELEC’s wisdom?

Norvic then made a mad scramble and trumpeted the news. Last Friday, an old yellow model pick-up truck (take note: the plate number was covered) was driving all over the municipality declaring, with its megaphone blurting out that Mayor Calex was already disqualified, and that all who would vote for him will no longer be counted.

But Norvic, party’s not over when it’s really over.

Enter Baby Catáquiz

Just when Solidum et al. thought that they had won (especially since another mayoralty bet, Berlene Alberto, is not really well-known), Cataquiz’s wife Lourdes filed her certificate of candidacy last Friday at the COMELEC office (almost at the same time that Mayor Calex received his copy of the COMELEC resolution that disqualified him from the mayoralty race). The move is legal.

Let it be known that under COMELEC rules:

“The substitute for a candidate who died or is disqualified by final judgment, may file his COC up to mid-day of election day, provided that the substitute and the substituted have the same surnames.” (see COMELEC Resolution No. 9518).

So to all registered San Pedrense voters, please be informed that all votes for Mayor Calex will still be counted. And all of them will be automatically accounted for his legal substitute: Mrs. Lourdes “Baby” Catáquiz.

In less than 24 hours, it’s election time! Let it be known that this blog is not supposed to be a political blog. However, I now feel concerned with the elections in my adoptive hometown, San Pedro Tunasán, La Laguna especially since this has been our home for the past nine years. Despite my rather apolitical stance (I’m not a registered voter), I feel I had to do this because it is a civic duty, and not out of political friendship or bias. And I feel the need to endorse and support Mrs. Baby Catáquiz not out of political ties (they never instructed me nor paid me to write this blogpost, believe it or not). Because I know that it is the RIGHT and JUST thing to do.

Yes, Mayor Calex is a friend of mine. And to my observation, I honestly do find Mr. Solidum as an inept and unfit and uncouth public servant (many witnessed how Solidum made a slit-throat gesture yesterday when his motorcade met Mrs. Catáquiz’s). But I never thought of putting myself in the midst of their rivalry by writing a blogpost in support of Mayor Calex (who am I to do that in the first place? I’m just another blogger).

Nothing really personal with Mr. Solidum. But had he not attempted to divide San Pedro, then this blogpost wouldn’t have existed. During the last elections, in 2010, I never wrote any article/blogpost in support of Mayor Calex. Nor did I attack his challenger (Vierneza) back then.

So to my fellow San Pedrenses, you now know where you stand.

And what of Mayor Calex? His story has not yet ended.

His biography is still in progress. :-)

Remember the Maine

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Later investigations have shown that the reason why the USS Maine (ACR-1) exploded was because of either spontaneous combustion of the battleship’s coal bunker or an explosion of its forward magazines. It is now safe to conclude that the sinking of the Maine was purely an accident. At any rate, speculation won over reason, and it was probable that warmongers used this horrific incident to precipitate war against Spain.

—Culled from my debut book “LA LAGUNA The Heart of the Philippines“, coming very soon!—

Doy Laurel in history

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Today’s version of democracy seems to be more conducive to trade liberalization, an unfair economic setup that benefits only imperialist powers such as the US and China. Never smaller economies such as the one we have. Democracy is like a dinner plate in which to put capitalist grub on. It only fosters gobble-ization. That is why I no longer support it.

But back in the days when Martial Law was the golden calf, democracy must have probably been the best antidote to that era’s political strife. It was, in a way, excusable, an adhesive bandage sort of thing, just to stop the nation from bleeding further. Salvador “Doy” Laurel et al. realized that when they organized the United Democratic Opposition, later to be known as the United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO), at the onset of the 80s. UNIDO served as the catalyst to the political upheavals during the crucial first half of that decade. It later chose Doy to be its standard bearer to challenge strongman Ferdinand Marcos in the 1986 polls. Eventually, however, the reins of the lead war horse was given to recently widowed Corazón “Cory” Aquino.

And the rest, as they always say, is history.

Since then, the nation has been celebrating the victory of democracy every 25th of February, the day Marcos stepped down from Washington’s satellite office which we all know as the Malacañang Palace. Commemorations here, there, and everywhere, toasting the personalities involved—both the self-proclaimed and the wannabes—in Marcos’s downfall, and all that Pinoy hullabaloo we all get from the media all the time the EDSA People Power crops up on our calendars. Sin, Aquino, Marcos, Enrile. These are the familiar names we always hear every February 25. We could just use their initials and come up with SAME to keep it short and simple.

But what of the others? What of Doy the artist and genuine statesman? What happened to UNIDO? Why are they rarely discussed in an important historical event such as the one we’re commemorating today? Unbeknownst to many, the Laurel-led UNIDO was the sole opposition force to defy the Marcos regime when the dictator’s main rival, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, left for the US in 1980 for his heart bypass. The proceeding videos (shown last week in Global News Network‘s Republika ni Érik Espina) provide some answers coming from Doy’s grandchildren: José L. Delgado IV and rock artist Nicole L. Asensio:

ESPINA: Do you ever wonder why his name isn’t in the history books as it should be?

DELGADO: My personal opinion is because the winners write history. The winners are the ones who have a final say as to what is put inside the history books.

Right on, hitting the proverbial nail on its head. But Nicole pretty much sums up why their grandfather and UNIDO are rarely discussed, if at all, in history classes and other EDSA-Revolution-related topics: media is controlled.

That strong statement rattled the host a little, provoking him to say that she’s been saying so many things already. Fodder for conspiracy theorists, one might say (guilty much?). However, the term conspiracy theory was originally meant for those who secretly conspire to accomplish something vile before that term was made synonymous to Jerry-Fletcher type characters. But enough of that. The Laurel cousins’ matter-of-factly statements have now invoked a lot of questions. Who controls the media? And why the cold-shoulder treatment given to Doy? Is it because he opposed Marcos out of  principle rather than on a personal level (they were very good friends before the Martial Law years)? Or is it because the powers-that-be could simply not stomach another potential headache, something that they never experienced with the yellow crowd (whose heroine, by the way, once called Doy a “lañgao” or “fly”)?

If you will ask me, I’d prefer an artist, an idealist, a statesman, a writer over a politician to lead this country. A philosopher king, as Plato would have it. Because a life focused on politics tends to debase the mind. But the arts refine the soul and the celestial spheres.

*******

Have I said too much as well? Because of the foregoing, I am now inclined to publish Bongbong Marcos’s EDSA People Power Revolution statement published a few hours ago in his official Facebook fan page (because the content simply makes pure sense):

Good evening Facebook friends!

It’s that time of the year again (EDSA 1 Anniversary) which, as time goes by, must get more confusing for those that were too young to appreciate history in the making. There’s been a lot of talk about “historical revisionism” as of late, and the need to “get the story ‘right’ for future generations.” As to who holds the “complete and accurate story”, perhaps, belongs to one or two protagonists no longer alive, or a historian that is yet to be born. There is a scramble from many sides to validate their respective points of view through books, documentary films, theatre, TV ”specials” (propaganda) with their endless re-runs, and all kinds of media. I have often stated that a complete and accurate picture of events leading up to EDSA 1 will only be possible when passions have died down and vested interests, political expediencies, and propaganda machineries, are no longer present.

Additionally, there is another way of propagating one’s version of history and that is through legislation, thus, including it in the annals of the State’s statutes that are usually archived in protected government buildings, and classified as “official” for future historians to take note of. In today’s world, they may be stored, too, in some internet “cloud,” either in government computer servers or in a third party cloud provider’s data center.

Recently, a bill was ratified by Congress called the “Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013″ which among other things, grants compensation to the victims of human rights violations during Martial Law up to 1986. In as far as compensating human rights victims is concerned, I, personally, have no problem with that. As a legislator, I did not participate in the discussions and deliberations on the bill knowing very well the futility of my views being heard without people presuming me biased. Some parts of the bill, nevertheless, are by themselves reasonable and more importantly, are fittingly imbued with compassion. However, it begs some questions to be asked: what about the other human rights victims of the last 27 years? Why did the legislators have a mind to address the human rights issue selectively? Why differentiate between a person tortured in the 70s and one tortured in the 90s? By default, the victims of human rights violations from 1987 onward get nothing in compensation for the atrocities they suffered solely because they happened under another administration. To treat their situations with less concern and sympathy is blatantly and cruelly discriminatory and unjust. The bill also ignored the soldiers of the Republic that were captured, tortured, and pitilessly killed by insurgents during the same period that the bill covers — 1972 to 1986. Wives of brave soldiers were widowed at very young ages and their children, made fatherless. The legitimate human rights victims during Martial Law deserve the compensation they will get but why should the other likewise legitimate human rights victims not deserve it, too? Do not these “tradpols” sense the weariness of our people when listening to the same voices pontificate from their podiums blind, by choice, to the fact that their audience are still mired in poverty, joblessness, and privation? And that their only wish is for their lives to improve as was promised to them 27 long years ago and still, they wait. These same politicians are wont to cover up the fact that nothing much has changed since 1986 and they do this by resurrecting old bugaboos, and reviving hackneyed and over-used excuses and scapegoats. The fact is, twenty-seven years later, the chasm between the rich and the poor has widened, and poverty has become more widespread.

Moreover, for those that make the lame comparison between the Martial Law years and the Holocaust, they could be offending the Jews without knowing it with their lack of sensitivity and plenty of nincompoopery. There are Generals and other high ranking officers of the AFP during the 70′s who are still alive today. They can correct me if I’m wrong on whether they implemented and enforced, as heads of their respective commands in the AFP, a state-sponsored, systematic mass execution akin to the holocaust where ten million people were killed in gas chambers and by starvation.

The “freedom fighters”, both the self proclaimed and the wannabes, will say we have a liberated press today and I, too, join them in celebrating “freedom of the press”, and I hasten to add, that should include the Internet. Yet, strangely enough, the Philippines has only recently been called “the most dangerous country, not at war, to live in for a journalist”. This was never the case at anytime up to 1986; so, though we may have a free press today, the extraordinarily high number of murdered journalists that gave us the notorious label of “most dangerous” as aforementioned above, occurred many years after 1986 and the killings have continued unabated to this day. Again, these victims, from the ranks of media no less, have not been given the attention they deserve.

Conclusively, the obvious and glaring question is: what about the tens of thousands of human rights victims of the post Marcos era — the last twenty seven years? That question is like an “elephant in the room” that some politicians, the typically glib, sanctimonious, and self righteous, pretend not to see. In addressing only the human rights violations from 1972 to 1986, a total of 14 years, and ignoring the thousands of documented violations that were committed in the last 27 years (that’s double the number of years covered by the bill), what emerges from that is a writing on the wall that screams: POLITICS. The people have seen twenty seven years go by with no substantial changes in their lives; in fact, millions have had to leave their families to seek work abroad. More politics is the last thing they need from their leaders.

The level of politics in this country has become such that when I ran for Senator some three years ago, there were a few that vigorously campaigned against my election, urging the people to make sure that I would not be elected or we would again be placed under Martial Law. Firstly, I ran for Senator and not for President; and secondly, the act of declaring Martial Law is not genetic in nature. There is a saying that goes: “never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” You can add to that: “though it could be both”.

Either way, I have chosen to ignore such attacks coming from politicians, the “tradpol” types and those that will use this law to reinvent themselves as “freedom fighters against tyranny”. I will continue to focus on ways to unify our country, specially among our youth, and help in creating a more egalitarian society, and a developed and inclusive economy — a goal that is simple, yet formidable and daunting, but achievable. Last year’s GDP was a significant improvement over the dismal year before, and we should commend the administration for that. My unsolicited advice, though, is that job creation and ways of attracting more FDIs should be undertaken incessantly and relentlessly and if we can manage significant progress in both, then we can look forward to a sustainable year-after-year growth that will be felt by everyone; and that it be “felt by everyone” is the crucial and essential metric. We need that 6.6% GDP to trickle down. Enough of the politics that divide us,the “blame game” that delays us, and the excuses that derail us. The people are sick and tired of it, the young are baffled by, and frustrated with it; and ultimately, it does not put food on the plates of the hungry nor does it create jobs. So I hope this 27th anniversary not be again a celebration of polarization or division. It’s time to focus, move forward, and get things done as one indivisible nation. Maraming salamat pô. ¡Mabuhay ang Filipino!

Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.

“History belongs to the youth, the
largest and most idealistic and energetic segment of our
population.”

What goes around comes around.

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I’m not supposed to blog yet because of a deadline. But I just couldn’t let this one pass my restless attention:

MANILA, Philippines – A Manila court found prominent tour guide and reproductive health advocate Carlos Celdrán guilty of “offending religious feelings,” according to a statement made by Celdrán himself on Twitter.

Celdrán was charged with violating Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code (offending religious feelings) after he disrupted a service at the Manila Cathedral on Sept 30, 2010. Clad as the Filipino national hero José Rizal, the outspoken reproductive health advocate held up a sign with the words “Dámaso,” in reference to the villainous priest in Rizal’s famous novel “Noli Me Tangere.”

But here’s the best part:

A copy of the decision tweeted by Celdrán shows that he was sentenced to serve a prison term of not less than two months and 21 days and not more than one year, one month and 11 days.

From Rappler.com.

This photo’s gonna get real soon. But I’ll visit you there, Twitter buddy. I promise.

 

By the way. Today is the birthday of Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Catholic Church’s greatest theologian and philosopher, and patron saint of intellectuals. I just don’t believe that today’s development coinciding with the saint’s birthday is a coincidence. It ain’t. :D

I only have four beautiful words for this ultrapositive development: justice has been served.

Lo que se siembra se cosecha, Carlos. Just ask your dad what the heck does that mean.

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