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Nuestra Patria / Bayan Ko

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DID YOU KNOW? The famous patriotic song “Bayan Ko” was originally written in Spanish by General José Alejandrino, a close associate of General Antonio Luna. The original title was “Nuestra Patria“. The Spanish lyrics were originally written for the famous 1898 zarzuela Walang Sugat” (No Wound) by Severino Reyes, and it expressed opposition to the ongoing United States Occupation. It was later translated into Tagalog by José Corazón de Jesús; the music was written by Constancio de Guzmán.

The Tagalog version became more popular during the Marcos dictatorship. It was heavily played during the funeral of opposition leader Benigno Aquino, Jr., during the People Power Revolution of 1986, and most recently during the funeral of Aquino’s widow, former president Corazón Aquino.

I could just imagine what song they would play in case the current president leaves us too soon. Anyway, the video below is a more popular rendition of Bayan Ko by folk musician Freddie Aguilar.

Click here for the original lyrics in Spanish!

The mysterious Lang Dulay

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The mysterious Lang Dulay

It’s not everyday that you get to meet a National Living Treasure Awardee. Here I have the rare opportunity to meet Lang Dulay, the famed T’boli “dreamweaver” of the colorful T’nalak cloth. The delicate and intrinsic geometrical patterns of the T’nalak cloths that she wove (such as those behind us) originated from her dreams, thus the “dreamweaver” tag. Strange but true.

Photo taken last week, 07/16/2013, during the Familiarization Tour of Travel Writers to Allah Valley 2013 in Lake Sebú, Cotabato del Sur (South Cotabato).

Happy 442nd birthday, Filipinas!

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Today we should celebrate not only Manila’s foundation date; today is also the 442nd birthday of our country! Because Manila was founded as the CAPITAL city on 24 June 1571.

Take note that I put emphasis on the word CAPITAL.

Remember that Manila was founded and established as the CAPITAL CITY on this date 442 years ago. Because it is a fact that the Filipino State (el Estado Filipino) was simultaneously founded with the establishment of Manila as capital city on 24 June 1571. Think about this: why in the world should there be a CAPITAL CITY —the seat of a central government with laws— WITHOUT a corresponding State to govern in the first place?

Our history teachers and books often teach us that Manila was founded on 24 June 1571 as the capital city. And just that. Nothing else follows. The question now is: the capital city of WHAT?! Logic dictates that if there is a capital city, naturally there should be a state that it has to govern, and it doesn’t even matter if this state is a colony or and independent one. These history teachers and books always fail to teach us that with the establishment of Manila as the city capital, the founding of the Filipino State was also established.

And it is wrong to say that 12 June 1898 is the birth of our country. The existence of our country did not happen overnight. It had to evolve from something else. Here is an analogy: my alma mater, Adamson University, is now 81 years old. But it did not immediately start as a university. It was first founded in 1932 as the Adamson School of Industrial Chemistry. It only achieved university status in 1941. Should we now say that there was no Adamson before 1941? In the same vein, should we say that there was no Filipinas before 1898?

Happy 44nd birthday, Filipinas!!! :D

Father’s Day today?

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They say it’s Father’s Day today. I say, “no way”.

For us Filipinos, the real Father’s Day (Día del Padre) should be commemorated every March 19th. Our forefathers knew this. It was the US neocolonialist pigs who subtly imposed the modern-day commemoration of Father’s Day every 3rd Sunday of June for commercial purposes: to sell greeting cards, items that fathers’ love (such as tools, electronics, and other similar gadgets), special promos in restaurants, discounts in resorts, and the like. In short, today’s celebration of Father’s Day (and Mother’s Day) is BASED ON PROFITEERING whereas the real Filipino celebration of Father’s Day is SPIRITUAL (feast of Saint Joseph, the adoptive father of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the patron saint of fathers).

The Father’s Day that Filipinos celebrate today has its origins from the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in Spokane, Washington. Sonora Smart Dodd, daughter of a US Civil War veteran, was inspired by a sermon from Anna Jarvis who was promoting Mother’s Day the year before, in 1909. Dodd then thought of a noble idea to honor fathers as well. And she was doubly inspired because her dad was a single parent who raised six children on his own. She then suggested to a pastor in the YMCA to organize a Father’s Day celebration that will complement Jarvis’s Mother’s Day. Dodd initially suggested to hold the very first Father’s Day celebration on June 5, on her father’s birthday. However, YMCA pastors did not have enough time to prepare their sermons, so it was decided that they celebrate Father’s Day two Sundays later: on June 19, 1910. That date was the third Sunday of the month. Since then, it has become a tradition to hold Father’s Day every third Sunday of June.

Unlike Jarvis’s Mother’s Day, Dodd’s concept did not become a huge hit on its first few years. She even stopped promoting it to pursue further studies in Chicago, Illinois during the 1920s. A decade later, she returned to Spokane and revived Father’s Day, with the motive of raising awareness at a national level. Interestingly, she received help from trade groups who were thinking of other opportunities: profit. These trade groups had interests in the manufacturing of ties, tobacco pipes, and other typical items that would be of interest for fathers. Hungry for profit, they worked hard in order to make Father’s Day the “Second Christmas’ for all the men’s gift-oriented industries” (See Leigh Eric Schmidt’s CONSUMER RITES The Buying and Selling of American Holidays. NJ, USA: Princeton University Press, 1995, pp. 256-292).

Both Jarvis and Dodd’s objectives were simple and noble: to honor parents. But their noble vision was buried by commercialization which still pervades to this very day. All in the name of US imperialism. So why do we Filipinos have to identify ourselves with something that is not ours, that is not us? That is why I told my Facebook friends yesterday that they may greet me a “Happy Father’s Day” every third week of June only when I have lost my self-respect and dignity as a Filipino. And they will immediately know that once I have cheered for any NBA team or other similar US-centric inanities.

I am a Filipino. Soy filipino. Not a little brown Kanô.

Did social media affect 2013 Philippine polls?

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Did social media affect PH 2013 polls?

By Kathlyn dela Cruz and Ivy Jean Vibar, ABS-CBNnews.com
Posted at 05/15/2013 10:29 AM | Updated as of 05/15/2013 10:29 AM

MANILA, Philippines – The 2013 elections did not yield a social media-driven, “Obama-like” miracle win. As a matter of fact, it may be said that what happened was the very opposite—social media lent little weight to the outcome of the mid-term polls.

Some of the most talked-about senatorial candidates online did not reach the coveted top 12, and despite the viral posts shedding negative light on certain candidates, they still were able to garner millions of votes, and were not even relegated to the bottom of the list.

Despite being said to have mattered very little in the recent elections, the social media seeds planted during this time may blossom in future. After all, the 2013 elections became only the second during which candidates extensively used social media to push their campaigns forward. Social media was already in use in earlier elections, but not by all national candidates.

The monitoring of online traffic seemed to be more intensive during this year’s polls, as media and technology companies partnered to create social media trackers to gauge the impact of online conversation on offline electoral decisions.

Several personalities were highlighted on social media during the past elections. Their mentions spiked as interest in them as offline events crossed over to the internet and social media. Some were also talked about due to events which occurred only online.

This, despite analysts saying social media does not quite have an impact.

Not much fuss over buzz

As of writing, Grace Poe Llamanzares is in the lead in the senatorial race according to partial and unofficial results sourced by ABS-CBN from the Comelec Transparency Server. She is followed by Loren Legarda, Alan Peter Cayetano, Chiz Escudero, Nancy Binay, Sonny Angara, Bam Aquino, Koko Pimentel, Antonio Trillanes IV, Cynthia Villar, JV Ejército Estrada, and Gringo Honasan.

Click here for more!

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. :-)

Norvic Solidum, Mayor of San… Vicente?

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Two days ago, the Manila Times ran a rather disturbing story about a political “tug of war” that is happening in the erstwhile municipality of San Pedro in La Laguna province:

Tug of war over La Laguna town seethes

Published on 03 April 2013
Written by ROSELLE AQUINO CORRESPONDENT
SAN PEDRO, La Laguna: Machinations by políticos and their minions seeking to carve their turf in a huge section of this highly urbanized municipality has stirred residents and old-timers into a furor.

Frantic San Pedro residents are begging Malacañang to speed up the conversion of their municipality into a city to thwart attempts at chopping off a large portion of their town.

Officers and members of the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Rotary Club of San Pedro, who asked not to be named for fear of political reprisal, expressed apprehensions over ongoing attempts to slice off Barangay San Vicente —a big portion of San Pedro— and convert it into another municipality.

“San Pedro has a lot of economic potentials that are waiting to be harnessed and a key to unlocking these potentials is the conversion of this booming municipality into a city,” the concerned leaders said, adding that San Pedro’s neighbors Biñán, Santa Rosa, Cabuyao, and Calambâ have turned into booming cities.

Behind the alleged move to split San Pedro into two municipalities is a group led by Vice Mayor Norvic Solidum and his erstwhile political protégé, San Vicente barangay chieftain Allan Mark Villena.

The two successfully swayed the entire Sangguniang Barangay of San Vicente to approve Barangay Resolution No. 11-33 on August 12, 2011 asking La Laguna Governor ER Ejército and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to create the new San Vicente town. The one-page Resolution 11-33 was signed by Villena and barangay councilors Vicente Solidum, Jr., César Caísip, Vicente Facundo, Wilfredo Álvarez, Lolito Márquez, John Dell Blay, and Alfredo Flores.

Solidum and Villena then teamed up in arguing their case before the La Laguna Sangguniang Panlalawigan in a hearing on September 19, 2011. Records released by the SP legislative staff of the La Laguna SP showed that they formally presented their case to the Joint Committee on Laws and Procedures and Barangay Affairs, presided by La Laguna board member Benedicto Mario “Bong” Palacol. Also in attendance during the hearing were board members Floro Esguerra, Gab Alatiit, Rey Parás, and Juan Único.

But there is obviously no tug of war happening. Vice Mayor Norvic Solidum —if the merits and motives of Resolution 11-33 are indeed true— does not appear interested in wresting the whole of San Pedro from his rival, San Pedro Mayor Calixto “Calex” Catáquiz. He is only interested in slicing off a piece from the cake. And that tasty slice, according to the said report, is Barrio San Vicente. At 665 hectares, it is San Pedro’s second largest barrio (or barangay). Before becoming Vice Mayor, Solidum was its capitán del barrio. His brief stint as the head of that barrio must have inspired him to come up with such an ambitious plan.

Or had it?

Reading the news report further:

Homeowners associations leaders, led by Rosario Complex president Ding Latoja, and barangay leaders led by Santo Niño barangay chair Nap Islán, said that should Solidum and Villena succeed, San Pedro will not qualify as a city and would revert and be doomed to a third class municipality status.

San Pedro electorate deplored Solidum and Villena’s attempt to sabotage the town’s cityhood bid via a “backdoor move” to separate San Vicente from San Pedro.

Resolution 11-33 was filed with the La Laguna SP after La Laguna 1st District lawmaker Dan Fernández has filed on August 22, 2010 with the Committee of Local Government of the House of Representatives House Bill No. 5169 entitled “Converting the Municipality of San Pedro in the Province of La Laguna into a Component City to be known as City of San Pedro”. The filing of Resolution 11-23 was suspiciously timed to pre-empt approval by the House Committee of the bill which had scheduled a public hearing on December 2011. The Committee unanimously approved the San Pedro cityhood bill in that hearing.

San Pedro Mayor Calixto Catáquiz vehemently opposed Solidum and Villena’s proposal in a letter to the La Laguna provincial board on September 19, 2011, arguing that the Sangguniang Bayan of San Pedro was bypassed because it “was not notified and given opportunity to be heard”. The Local Government Code requires that all barangay resolutions and ordinances should be submitted to the Sanggunian for review.

Both the House and Senate has passed the cityhood measure which has been submitted to the President for enactment.

A plebiscite will be held upon the President’s approval of the bill. San Pedro’s conversion into a city is expected to further spur its development and further enhance delivery of basic social services to its people, particularly in public health, social welfare, education, employment and infrastructure.

So there. If we are to believe the veracity of this news report, then what do we San Pedrenses make of Vice Mayor Solidum?

Unfortunately for his supporters, it is difficult to doubt this news report. Aside from the fact that it’s not coming from the “Balanced News, Fearless Views” camp, the report made mention not only of the resolution number but also members of the provincial board who participated in the public hearing to hear it out. If this plan of making Barrio San Vicente as a new Lagunense municipality was merely hearsay, then Manila Times has just placed itself in the lion’s den where there are no big cats but big libel charges ready to pounce on it (that is, if Mr. Solidum is the kind of man who does not allow anyone to trample upon his dignity).

So what if you chose San Pedro? No disrespect, but are you some kind of a gem that we should be proud of? My golly. Vice Mayor, your campaign slogan reeks of egomania if you haven’t noticed it yet. Better fire all of your PR staff.

The Manila Times, however, failed to disclose the text of the controversial Solidum-Villena resolution. What was really the motive behind this wretched plan? I say wretched, because there is really no need to make San Vicente into a new town, whether its revenues are increasing or not. And if the the barrio”s internal revenues indeed have risen, then why separate it from the town matrix? Is that reason enough? What kind of greed is this? And how about the people? Walk through the streets of San Vicente and ask around; they will certainly say no to any plans of separating their beloved barrio from their beloved San Pedro.

In view of the above, I am reminded of the late National Artist Nick Joaquín’s observation regarding this immature practice of slicing up towns to create new ones:

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.

“The moment a town grows big it becomes two towns,” Nick astutely quipped. This is especially true in San Pedro’s case. It has really been growing these past few years, so now outside forces wanted it to be split. However, San Pedro’s growth was already unstoppable; just last month, March 27, it was proclaimed a city by virtue of Republic Act No. 10420:

Republic Act No. 10420

If Solidum still has plans of continuing his political adventurism in San Pedro, it is rather too late. San Pedro is now the newest city in the prosperous province of La Laguna. :D

In his campaign posters spread all over the city, Solidum proudly states: “San Pedro ang Bayan Ko, Ito ang Pinili Ko!” (San Pedro is my town, it is what I chose). It should be noted that Solidum is a native of Romblón. He is not a native San Pedrense like Mayor Calex but has been living here for about three decades already. But still, he wishes to show his adoptive people of his supposedly genuine love and concern for San Pedro. Well and good. If that is true, which at this point is highly doubtful, then why does he want San Vicente to be taken off from San Pedro’s map? Is it merely to embarrass Mayor Calex’s cityhood efforts for San Pedro? And as respect for his adoptive hometown’s history and heritage, shouldn’t Solidum instead create plans of keeping San Pedro intact and united and progressive? San Vicente has been a part of San Pedro since Spanish times. It took centuries and a time-honored history for it to bloom into a thriving San Pedrense community that it is today. And now it will take only a single (and immature) action of just one ambitious OUTSIDER to uproot it from its stronghold?

There is also speculation of a lust for power on Solidum’s part. As main petitioner, he would have automatically become mayor of San Vicente in case the divisive Resolution 11-23 has come into fruition. This is reminiscent of Nagcarlán’s case during the early 1900s. Fortunato Arbán, a municipal councilor, led two of his colleagues in filing a petition to separate the barrios of Antipolo, Entablado, Lagúan, Maytón, Paúlî, Poóc, Tuy, and Talaga to form a new municipality. Their petition was granted which gave rise to a new municipality: Rizal (of Tayak Hill fame). And as main petitioner, Arbán became its first municipal president (or town mayor). This kind of setup has also happened in other towns inside and outside of La Laguna.

Was this Solidum’s plan all along?

With the 2013 Philippine general election just a month away, Vice Mayor Solidum has a lot of explaining to do.٩(•̮̮̃̃)۶

*******

Incidentally, today is the fiesta of Barrio San Vicente. The barriofolk of San Vicente should have a double celebration: to honor its Spanish patron saint San Vicente Ferrer, and; of its continued status as a proud barrio/barangay of La Laguna province’s newest City of San Pedro!

¡Feliz fiesta al barrio san pedrense de San Vicente Ferrer! ¡Viva!

Easter Sunday 2013 is the 492nd anniversary of the first Mass in the Philippines!

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DID YOU KNOW? Today, Easter Sunday, is the 492nd anniversary of the first Mass in our country that was celebrated in Isla Mazaua! It happened on 21 March 1521 which was also an Easter Sunday!

The traditional “salubong” between our Lord Jesus Christ (left) and His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary (right). Photo taken early this morning by Yeyette Perey de Alas at our town plaza.

It was Fernando de Magallanes, otherwise known as Ferdinand Magellan, who ordered the celebration of the Holy Mass in Mazaua. It was officiated by Fray Pedro de Valderrama (O.S.A.). It is sad to note that Magallanes, a devout Roman Catholic and a kind-hearted gentleman, is one of the most vilified and hated characters in Philippine History today when, ironically, he was the catalyst for the birth of Christianity in our country.

Something is just not right. Something is obviously twisted. We are a Christian —a Catholic— nation. Yet we hate the medium that brought our beloved faith to our shores.

It is the bitterness that was taught to us in US-centric schools that inhibits us from discovering the truth about ourselves. Indeed, “those years cry for a fresher appraisal“. I pray that Easter Sunday 2013 will be the commencement of the “resurrection” of our buried but glorious past.

Happy Easter everyone!

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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