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Accelerating Philippine Economic Growth (Pananaw Magazine)

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It’s no longer 2011, but this has to be published. Sayang namán casí.

It appears that Pananaw magazine will forever remain in limbo. So I will publish another important article that was supposed to appear on that magazine’s maiden issue but didn’t, and is now long overdue.

During the rush for the said magazine’s supposedly first issue (for January 2011), editor-in-chief JB Lazarte gave me the task of soliciting an article on economics from a prominent person. Coincidentally, I was reviewing a textbook on the same subject at that time. The book is something that is very familiar to many a college student — Economics: An Introduction, authored by the country’s foremost economist, Dr. Bernardo M. Villegas (currently Vice President of the University of Asia and the Pacific). The idea is that a scholarly article will be published on our magazine vis-à-vis an interview with a fortune teller regarding the latter’s economic forecast for the rest of 2011. The technique was to entice readers to become interested in matters of national economics.

I immediately sought Dr. Villegas through his email and asked if he would be so kind to furnish us a brief article about the subject we had in mind. I honestly never expected him to reply; I was just pushing my luck. But to my utter surprise, he obliged!

Unfortunately, just like many startup publications and businesses, Pananaw’s maiden issue was not able to see the light of day. And Dr. Villegas’ precious article remained in my email inbox for the rest of the year.

Until now.

So without further ado, below is the it-should-have-made-them-sit-up-and-take-notice article written exclusively for Pananaw Magazine by the Harvard-educated economist, Dr. Bernardo M. Villegas. You be the judge, dear reader, if his economic forecast for last year came into fruition.

Special pre-launch issue of Pananaw Magazine (December 2010).

ACCELERATING PHILIPPINE ECONOMIC GROWTH
Dr. Bernardo M. Villegas

In economic management, the new competitive advantage of the Philippines is good governance. The upbeat mood of both consumers and investors is clearly due to a perception that the leadership of the country is in the right hands. This perception is being backed up by reality as some early economic wins have been registered by the new Administration of President Benigno Aquino III in less than six months since it came into power.

There have already been two months of budget surpluses, despite the continuing difficulties stemming from the global economic crisis. These surpluses came partly from improved collections as tax evaders were prosecuted with vigor. For the first time in eleven years, the budget was signed by the President in the same year it was passed. Despite an austerity program, the 2011 budget contains large appropriations for infrastructures, education, and other social services. Led by a highly experienced management team, the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) has announced that it will support an investment-led growth by making available a total of P200 billion to jumpstart the national government’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) initiatives.

Just before the Great Recession, the Philippine GDP grew in 2007 at 7.1%. Like all the East Asian economies, the economy suffered a slowdown in the next two years, 4.8% in 2008 and 1.2% in 2009. Its resilience was once again tested (as in the 1997-1998 financial crisis when it was the least adversely affected among Southeast Asian countries) when it was only one of three (with Indonesia and Vietnam) that did not experience a recession in 2009 (excluding China). Like its two ASEAN neighbors, it still managed a positive GDP growth rate in 2009 because of its large domestic market of 93 million of whom at least 60 million are already part of the middle class, a strong foundation for a consumption-led growth.

In the first half of 2010, GDP grew at 7.9% bolstered by elections-related spending in the first four months, remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), a government stimulus package that frontloaded the budget for 2010 and a 40% growth in exports resulting from a strong recovery of the U.S. economy in the last quarter of 2009. This export recovery was especially boosted by the electronics sector that recovered the volumes they lost in 2009.

The strong recovery of electronics and semiconductor components helped the industry sector to grow at 16% during the first semester, making up for the poor performance of agriculture and fisheries that actually declined at -3% because of poor weather conditions. Services—propelled by the BPO, telecom and logistics sectors—grew at 6.7%.

For most of the second half of 2010, growth came from continued strength in exports, from increased OFW remittances that could break the US$20 billion mark for the whole year and from rising investments especially in infrastructure and energy, housing and real estate, mining, BPO, tourism, logistics and agribusiness. These investments started to replace the elections-related spending and pump priming that disappeared during the second half of the year.

There is a significant improvement in investors’ confidence after a relatively peaceful and successful election. Inflation has been controlled at less than 4%, despite the very liquid financial system. The savings rate is at an all-time high of 30% of GDP while the investment rate is still only 17%, leaving room for big ticket projects in the high growth sectors to be funded by local money. In fact, a peso-denominated bond issue was oversubscribed by 13 times. Secretary Cesar Purisima announced in mid-December 2010 that another peso-denominated bond issue is in the offing. As one of the emerging markets of Asia, the Philippines has attracted large flows of portfolio investments, sending stock market prices to unprecedented levels. Dollar inflows have grown rapidly so that the peso has appreciated from P45 to $1 at the end of 2009 to P43-P44 in December 2010, prompting the Central Bank to build its reserves to an all-time high of 9 months of import coverage so as to prevent further peso appreciation. There is a high likelihood that the balance of payments surplus for the whole year of 2010 will top $10 billion.

The downside risk is a slowdown of exports as its major markets, the U.S., the EU and Japan succumb to a double-dip recession or at best stagnant growth at less than 2% in 2011. If exports, especially of electronic components, slow down and quick money flees the Philippine capital market in the worst-case scenario of an escalation of the foreign currency war among the giants, the peso may return to the P45-P46 range in the first half of 2011.

An investment-led growth is getting strong support from the foreign investment community. The Joint Foreign Chambers presented to the Government last December 13, 2010 a roadmap dubbed “Arangkada Philippines” which described in great detail how a 7 to 9% universal growth in GDP can be achieved in the next five to six years. Seven key industries were identified as potential enablers for the Philippine economy to move twice as fast. They are agribusiness; business process outsourcing; creative industries; infrastructures; manufacturing and logistics; mining and tourism, medical travel and retirement.

What is encouraging is that these are the same “sunrise industries” in which the local taipans are investing heavily. The likes of San Miguel Corporation, the SM Group, the Metro Pacific Group, the Ayala Holdings, First Philippine Holdings and the PHINMA Group, among others, are leading the way to an investment-led recovery. The abundance of local financing is helping the recovery. Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) will strongly complement the local investors who have been first in regaining confidence in the Philippine economy.

As both India and Vietnam had accomplished over the last ten years or so, the Philippines is finally poised to grow at 7% or more in the next six to ten years. This growth will be made possible by significant improvements in governance and infrastructures, the two key factors for the high growth of 7% or more, completely indispensable for reducing the poverty line from 30% to 15% of the population in the next ten years.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Villegas for this enlightening article. Also, to apologize to him, because he took the time and effort to write a laudable 2011 economic forecast for a magazine that he has not heard of before, but nobody got to read it but me and my editor. Special thanks also to his secretary, Ms. Louella Orque, for mediating between me and his esteemed boss. ¡Muchísimas gracias a ustedes!

The Corona Impeachment Trial: one positive historical note to consider

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A positive note to consider in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona is the investigation of the income tax returns of his family members. Because of this, Filipinos are now beginning to learn that there are SO MANY TAXES that they have to pay (aside from the withholding tax levied against them if they are employed). But during the Spanish times, which many Filipinos today loathe so much, there were only FIVE (5) forms of taxation whereas the Filipino under this US WASP neocolonial government has over TWENTY (20) or more taxes to pay. “The Reign of Greed” is happening today and not during the Spanish times. Charles Derbyshire is a complete hispanophobic cretin.

Why Spanish?

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WHY SPANISH
Jorge Domecq

Señor Don Jorge Domecq, Spanish ambassador to the Philippines.

On Wednesday, November 23, language teachers and experts from all over the region will assemble in the Instituto Cervantes de Manila for the Second Conference of Spanish as a Foreign Language in Asia and the Pacific which will be inaugurated by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte. Many will remember the common heritage and the historical bonds between our two countries but wonder why reviving the Spanish language is an issue of interest in the Philippines as we enter the second decade of the 21st century.

Way back in 1937, President Manuel L. Quezon, referring to Spanish, said that “the Latin-American people believe and feel that we Filipinos form part of that vast family, the children of Spain. Thus, although Spain ceased to govern those countries many years ago and although another nation is sovereign in the Philippines, those Latin-American peoples feel themselves as brothers to the people of the Philippines. It is the Spanish language that still binds us to those peoples eternally if we have the wisdom and patriotism of preserving it.”

However, the 1987 Philippine Constitution abolished Spanish as an official language of this country. Although this decision could have been avoided, the truth of the matter is that the majority of Filipinos then no longer used Spanish in their daily lives and therefore the constitutional reform only represented a statement of fact.

It makes no sense to look back on the Spanish language just as an element of our common past, which is no longer there in our efforts to enhance our bilateral relations, to get to know each other better and to better understand our history and culture. We must admit, and we would be foolish not to do so, that there is so much about the Filipino culture that can only be understood fully if we have knowledge of the Spanish language.

Without forgetting Rizal, we can affirm that the “Golden Age” of Philippine literature (which paradoxically coincided with the American period in the Philippines and as Spanish began to disappear from all official communications) produced first-class writers like Pedro Paterno, Isabelo de los Reyes, Apolinario Mabini, José Palma and Fernando Mª Guerrero, who wrote all their works in Spanish. We must note that more than 20 percent of Tagalog words are of Spanish origin, although many of the popular expressions have a slightly different meaning. The oldest and some of the most important documents found in the National Archives of the Philippines or in the archives of the University of Santo Tomás can only be best understood and interpreted if one is fluent in Spanish. I am happy to say that we are working closely with Filipino authorities and some private institutions in the country to reverse this situation, among other things, by providing language training to the archivist who will have to ensure that the history that is there will continue to benefit future generations. All these efforts are commendable and need to be continued.

However, that is not the real reason why we are obliged to preserve and promote Spanish among the young and future generations of Filipinos.

Spanish must not be viewed as some archaic and dead language like Latin, that most Filipinos above the age of 50 remember as a compulsory subject in school, which they did not like and which for them was just a waste of time. Spanish should not be regarded either as a language of the elite spoken among Spanish mestizo families or as a legacy of a past that no longer exists. Spanish, along with the English language, is one of the only two global means that exist for communication (even if Chinese is the largest spoken language in the world). Today, more than 500 million people speak Spanish. It is also the second most studied language and the third most used on the Internet.

Furthermore, as far as the Philippines is concerned, Spanish can be a fundamental tool for many young Filipinos seeking employment in call centers or BPO businesses in this country or trying to get a better employment abroad as seafarers, nurses, social workers, etc. The United States is the main land of promise for the citizens of this country, and there are nearly 50 million North Americans who speak Spanish as their mother tongue. In addition, many Latin-American countries are notably increasing their trade and investment relations with Southeast Asian countries, gradually shifting their economic focus toward the Pacific.

If only Spanish were commonly spoken in the Philippines, along with the English language, the Philippines would become the next unbeatable business hub in Asia.

Since I arrived in Manila less than a year ago, I have been constantly asked about the relevance of Spanish in the Philippines of today. I would always reply by saying that I am very confident that Spanish is under no threat of disappearing. Manila has the third biggest Instituto Cervantes in the world in terms of number of students (an annual enrolment of 6,500) and at present, it can hardly take in more students. The real issue is whether we are ready to face the challenge of providing the young generations of Filipinos with the necessary academic backing that will enable them to study Spanish as a language of choice that will open for them a wealth of opportunities in employment. To this end, I hope to work closely with the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education.

*******

This article was first published in Inquirer.net.

Road Map 2020 – San Pedro, La Laguna

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Too bad we won’t be here in San Pedro by 2020 anymore. But we’ll definitely pay this future city a visit when that time comes.

I have one complaint in this video, though. The demonym for the people of San Pedro is San Pedrense, not San Pedronian. I think I have to discuss this with the good mayor the next time we meet.

Here’s hoping that the people of San Pedro will help the mayor achieve these goals. The local government of San Pedro cannot do all this by itself. The people’s support and active participation are a major factor in fulfilling the goals of San Pedro Road Map 2020. The future looks bright. San Pedrenses should keep this momentum going.

Sustainable development: the key to protecting the environment

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Aside from fighting the preposterous leyenda negra by attempting to bring back the Spanish language in order to redeem our Filipino Identity, I have another advocacy: environmentalism. But so much has been written about it already. Any views from me will be a mere drop of water in a filled bucket. All I can say is this: much of the Philippines before, especially during the supposedly “exploitation-filled” Spanish times, was a haven for nature fauna and flora. This beauty inspired the creativity of many a poet and artist. But many of these natural wonders today are either gone or polluted. All this in the name of capitalism inspired by US WASP greed and avarice.

The desecration of our natural resources is a major factor for my travels. My travels are fueled not solely by my passion to search for traces of our country’s Hispanic past, nor are they spurred exclusively by a responsibility to document maltreated Fil-Hispanic heritage sites. I feel an urge to visit our country’s natural wonders because I fear that one day, any time soon, these natural wonders will soon disappear. Or that they might meet the same fate as the Pásig River or once lush forests that are now commercial centers. That is why I keep on taking pictures of beautiful sceneries. Those photos are for my children. When they grow up and these natural beauties are gone, they would still be able to see them, at least through my eyes in all the pictures that I took.

I fear not for myself but for my children. Let me just borrow a few lines (written in original Tagalog spelling) from Filipino folk band Asin to explain this fear:

Ang mğa batang ñgayón lang isinilang,
¿May hañguin pa cayáng matiticmán?
¿May mğa puno pa cayá siláng aaquiatín?
¿May mğa ilog pa cayáng lalañguyán?

Right now, it’s not enough to be simply “environmental” in order to save our natural resources. Protecting the environment nowadays is not just about throwing one’s waste in a designated trash bin or turning off electrical appliances that are not in use. It is not just about tree planting events. This is not just about hating illegal logging. Environmentalism is something that “needs to be done”, and without harming the economy.

The keyword here is sustainable development. The International Institute for Sustainable Development explains this much better:

All definitions of sustainable development require that we see the world as a system—a system that connects space; and a system that connects time.

When you think of the world as a system over space, you grow to understand that air pollution from North America affects air quality in Asia, and that pesticides sprayed in Argentina could harm fish stocks off the coast of Australia.

And when you think of the world as a system over time, you start to realize that the decisions our grandparents made about how to farm the land continue to affect agricultural practice today; and the economic policies we endorse today will have an impact on urban poverty when our children are adults.

We also understand that quality of life is a system, too. It’s good to be physically healthy, but what if you are poor and don’t have access to education? It’s good to have a secure income, but what if the air in your part of the world is unclean? And it’s good to have freedom of religious expression, but what if you can’t feed your family?

The concept of sustainable development is rooted in this sort of systems thinking. It helps us understand ourselves and our world. The problems we face are complex and serious—and we can’t address them in the same way we created them. But we can address them.

Click here and here for more information about sustainable development.

Act now.

Pananaw Magazine, the magazine that never was

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Special pre-launch issue of Pananaw Magazine (December 2010).

When netrepreneur and writer extraordinaire JB Lazarte contacted me late last year for a magazine gig, I was so excited and overwhelmed. Finally, the realization that I might just accomplish all of Cuban hero José Martí’s three-fold mission of what a man ought to do in his life was to become a reality: to “plant a tree, write a book, have a son”. I haven’t fed Mother Earth any seedling yet, but that would be too easy, anyway. And I already have three sons. So probably the most difficult to accomplish among Martí’s real-macho-man attributes is to publish a book.

I haven’t published a book yet. I was commissioned three years ago to co-write a biography of San Pedro, La Laguna’s town mayor (a family friend), but it’s still in developmental hell (and since the good mayor is very busy working for the town’s cityhood, and my writing partner has lost all interest, his biography might not get published anymore). But to write for a magazine is the closest to publishing a book as one could get.

As they say in the world of writing, “publish or perish”.

Blogging today is the in thing. But even in a world that is ever dominated by the Internet, nothing can topple the worth and value and weight and authenticity and command that the contents of a physical book can hold. Thus this ache of getting published. The last time I was published was back in college. But those were verses that were published in our school journal. Seeing one’s writings published in a book or, for this matter, on a national daily or magazine beats all that.

It’s not just the feeling of being known that bites me, or of becoming famous even. It’s this ache of wanting others to know that you do exist, and for some lofty reason.

So back to my story. JB Lazarte is a multi-awarded writer. And he has more contacts to whatever writing gigs there are available for a craving and trying-hard scribbler like me. He contacted me late last year to contribute for a magazine of which he will become one of its editors (the other editor is Palanca awardee Omer Oscar Almenario).

The magazine’s name is Pananaw (Opinyon ng Bayan) published by the “Makabagong Pananaw Foundation, Inc.”, a group allied to the present administration. JB The Magus found my travels published in this blog cute. So he thought that such articles were a good addition to the magazine. Pananaw was also meant to promote agribusiness in the Philippines.

Editorial box with a list of the board of directors of Makabagong Pananaw Foundation, Inc. as well as the magazine's editorial staff.

The first article I’ve contributed was my coverage of the Día del Galeón last year, 6 October 2010. It was published in Pananaw’s special pre-launch issue last December and was chosen as its feature article!

Here it is!

EL GALEÓN ANDALUCÍA
Pepe Alas

To see a Spanish-era galleon ship docked in Manila Harbor’s Pier 13 amidst modern steel ships is not just surreal — it is downright weird (one could not help but be reminded of Walt Disney Picture’s The Pirates of the Carribean film series). And that weird feeling was what exactly my wife and I felt that hot afternoon of 6 October when we visited the visiting Galeón Andalucía! The coming of the said galleon was actually the highlight of the recently concluded Día del Galeón celebration.

No, Andalucía was not a galleon straight out of the past, preserved and renovated. It was only a replica of what a typical 17th century galleon used to look like during the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade (1565-1815). But the Andalucía holds the distinction of being the only actual replica of a Spanish galleon that has ever been built in modern times.

According to Fernando Ziálcita, professor of Cultural Anthropology in Ateneo de Manila University and one of the organizers of the said event, it was Spanish historian Pedro Luengo who informed him last year of the Andalucía’s planned voyage from Seville to Shanghai, China. Professor Ziálcita thought that as the Philippines was the focal point of the Galleon Trade, the said ship should naturally have a stop-over in Manila. Earlier this year (February), Prof. Ziálcita and other concerned individuals had a meeting with the Philippine Academic Consortium for Latin American Studies in Cavite City. Mr. César Virata, former Prime Minister during Ferdinand Marcos’ regime and is now the president of the Cavite Historical Society, was present in the said meeting. He expressed interest in sponsoring an event that will feature the coming of the Andalucía Galleon.

The galleon trade may have a soft spot in Mr. Virata’s heart: aside from Manila Bay, (and occasionally Puerto Galera in Mindoro island), Cavite City used to be a port and construction site for the galleons.

But what really made things official was when Prof. Ziálcita proposed to the national government to sponsor the said event. They were very excited, he said. Thus, through the assistance and efforts of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and Senator Edgardo Angara, a hispanista, the event was made possible. So this past June, the government launched initiatives to celebrate the first international Día del Galeón Festival on 8 October. No less than the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared that the said date should be celebrated annually as the Day of the Galleon in commemoration of the Galleon Trade.

Although the event’s name is called Day of the Galleon, it was actually a month-long affair. The event’s official website (http://www.diadelgaleon.blogspot.com/) lists down a schedule of various lectures, cultural showcases, stage plays, and other cultural showcases, stage plays, and other cultural programs related to the galleon trade. My wife and I were able to attend only one event: the day when the Galleon Andalucía —the main event— “returned” to our shores.

As we were on our way to Manila Bay that afternoon to welcome the galleon, I was briefing my wife about what the event —and the galleon trade— was all about in order for her to appreciate our visit. Admittedly, her knowledge of galleons and of the galleon trade was minimal as is the case, sadly, with many Filipinos today (an ex-office mate of mine even pronounced it as a “Galileo” ship, much to my annoyance). Yearly, Filipino students are given a few hours’ rehash of what had transpired during the galleon trade for more than two centuries; an important epoch not only in our country’s history but in world history as well.

It is never enough to say that the galleon trade was merely a part of Philippine History, nor should it be limited to the retelling of Spanish History in Asia and the Pacific. Such scenario would have been too trifle to say the least. Rather, the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade should stand side by side with “the glory that was Greece” and “the grandeur that was Rome”. It should have equal status to that of the Industrial Revolution or the epic telling of survival during the Age of Depression and other economic revolutions. This would be no exaggeration for, truly, the galleon trade literally turned the world into a global village.

To put in simpler terms, it was the world’s first foray into globalization. Scholars and historians agree today that, although the trade was “limited” between Manila and Acapulco, México, it was in fact global in scope. Good from major markets in Asia, such as China and India, traveled to Amoy and Canton where they were shipped to Manila. From Manila Bay (just across Intramuros, which was then the original Manila) and/or Puerto de Cavite (today’s Cavite City), Asian goods, such as silk, spices, jewels, chinaware, and ivory, traveled across the globe through the Pacific in a perilous journey towards the other side of the world. From there, these goods were both sold and traded for Mexican silver and other goods coming not just from all over the Americas but from Europe as well (which were shipped over from the Atlantic).

The journey indeed was perilous because sea navigation today was different from that era. Lacking modern equipment in maritime affairs, the trip from Manila, which usually began from July or August, could last for six months and a half. The galleons followed the North Equatorial Current that had been discovered by Fray Andrés de Urdaneta on his return trip to México. During that time, it was the only safest route back across the Pacific to México and the rest of the New World (they could not travel eastward due to the Treaty of Tordesillas). Indeed, Spain could not have colonized the Philippines without this oceanic current.

It should be emphasized that it was not a simple sea voyage; as mentioned earlier, maritime voyages were not as sophisticated compared to modern sea navigation. Countless sailors perished out of hunger, thirst, and illness during the galleon trade due to miscalculation in logistics and supplies. As such, mutinies were not uncommon. Also, many a galleon ship perished in ferocious typhoons. Other galleons even met a more tragic fate — they were captured by vicious English buccaneers. Four of them were taken: Santa Ana in 1587; Encarnación in 1709; Covadonga in 1743, and; Santíssima Trinidad —the largest ship during that era— in 1762. Due to poor navigation, some were lost at sea, never to be seen again. Other galleons sank due to overloaded cargoes.

The return trip to Manila was as equally perilous as the voyage to México, but it was shorter: the galleons left Acapulco either in February of March and reached Manila in more or less 90 days. The return trip passed south of the North Equatorial Current, docking briefly in what is now known as the Marshall Islands and Guam.

The Galleon Trade allowed the participation of all Filipinos. An individual or organization must have a boleta (ticket) in order to engage business in the Trans-Pacific trade. The cargo space of a galleon was usually divided into 4,000 units. Each unit was represented by the said boleta. Thus, if the individual has, say, five boletas, he could ship an amount of merchandise to fill five units of cargo space. The government, however, had the privilege of owning over a thousand units (other groups who share such privileges are church leaders and businessmen). However, some individuals would choose to sell their boletas to wealthy businessmen for a higher fee (they were the precursors of today’s scalpers outside the Araneta Coliseum).

The galleon trade was truly epochal for Philippine existence. Through it, our country received different kinds of crops such as camote, sincamás, tomate (tomato), cacahuete or manî, lechugas, corn, avocado, pineapple, tobacco, and countless others. Virtually all the vegetables mentioned in the popular Tagalog folk song “Bahay Kubo” were brought over by the galleons from México and nearby Asian countries. Thus, we could be singing a different version of “Bahay Kubo” today without the galleon trade!

The said trade also gave the Filipinos the piano, the guitar, the violin, the cubiertos (fork, spoon, knives), plates, drinking glasses, cups and saucers; clock and calendar; various complex and simple machines, such as the printing press, the plow, the wheel, hammer and nails, books, pens, and other scholarly materials, etc.

It was not just inanimate things and tools that the galleons brought to our country. They also gave us livestock such as cattle and horses and poultry. Farming techniques written in various papers and books were also brought by these ships. The idea of arts and architecture were not excluded. Friars from various religious orders sailed through the galleons. Also, various laws and edicts and royal letters, as well as the occasional monetary assistance from the Spanish monarch were channeled through these enterprising ships.

The provinces of Lanáo del Norte and Lanáo del Sur in Mindanáo, by the way, were named after these galleons (la nao is another Spanish term for el Galeón).

There was also an exchange of peoples. Some Mexicans who joined the voyage to the Philippines never returned to their native land, and vice-versa. Therefore, sans the Clavería decree of 1849, there are Filipinos today who have Mexican last names such as Aguilar, Álvarez, Carrillo, Cruz, Flores, Guerrero, López, Pérez, del Río, Santibáñez, etc. And here is a shocking fact: there is a 200-year-old clan in México whose surname is Magandá which is the Tagalog word for beautiful!

The cultural exchanges that occurred between the Philippines and México were quite enormous; I might even end up in weeks enumerating everything. But it is safe to conclude that the galleon trade virtually created the Philippines. And almost everything that we Filipinos savor up to this very day we have to thank the galleon trade for. These facts my wife, who is not a history buff like me, discovered on her own during that 6 October visit to the galleon ship because, happily, one of Pier 13′s multi-purpose halls was converted into a temporary waiting area where visitors were able to view various exhibits, murals, and very helpful information and lectures about the Galleon Trade. It helped her and other visitors to the Andalucía to at least have a clearer idea of how the trade went about during those truly gaudy days of Spain in the Philippines, aside from the cultural gifts that we received.

As we stepped on board the Andalucía (it was named by the way after the place where it was constructed: Andalusia, Spain) together with a noisy crowd, I tried to imagine how the sailors fared a long time ago. Observing the Andalucía’s
middle deck, it was indeed amazing how some 4,000 units of cargo space could have fitted there, aside from the provisions for the sailors and the sailors themselves. Looking at the modern ships around the galleon, Andalucía seemed smaller and looked quite fragile. It’s made entirely of hardwood, a clear indication of the ship’s faithfulness to the original galleons.

Also, as I was looking down on the murky waters of Manila Bay softly lapping at the ship’s bow and stern, a stark realization dawned upon me: the last galleon that arrived in the Philippines was in 1815 (fortuitously, it was named Magallanes). That means it has been 195 years since a galleon last visited our shores!

Welcome back!

Those who were able to enjoy and fathom the Andalucía experience will never look at the galleon trade the same way again.

The pre-launch issue never made it to the newsstands. It was distributed only to selected government offices. The first issue was supposed to be on sale last January of this year (where I wrote a short essay about the importance of agribusiness). I also solicited a brief article from leading economist Dr. Bernardo M. Villegas for an economic forecast of the Philippines for the year 2010.

But the publication of Pananaw kept on stalling due to problems unknown to me. Like that biography I’m working on, it appears that Pananaw is still in developmental hell. And it’s almost a year since the pre-launch issue.

Sometimes I am tempted to believe a relative of mine who belittled me several years ago. Hinahabol yata talagá acó ng malas, ¡hahaha! :D

So I thought it wise to publish online what I wrote for that magazine. Because I am confident that whoever received a copy of it, nobody read my galleon trade article. Sayang namán. At least here in FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES, I have a fanbase…

About three or four bored souls.

A quick stop in Tanauan (Tanauan, Batangas)

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DSC09503

Just one of many beautifully maintained Filipino houses (also known as the bahay na bató) found in Tanauan's población

Several months ago, Yeyette and I attended a birthday drinking session of a friend of hers in Tanauan, Batangas. And so I found it an opportunity to stroll around the oldest parts of the town, which is what I always do whenever I have the time to travel. It is because in the oldest parts of a Filipino town (the población, where the ubiquitous church, municipal hall, rustic town plaza, schoolhouse, and the old houses —the legendary bahay na bató— in the sector de mestizos are located) a Filipino can find and realize his identity as a nation, as a people.

Me, wifey, birthday boy Oliver (sporting a mohawk) and friends (09/26/2010).

Tanauan is one of those Batangueño towns/cities that are near Manila. It’s historical significance is mostly attributed to patriot Apolinario Mabini y Maranan and former President José Paciano Laurel y García, both of whom were natives of Tanauan.

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Former President José Paciano Laurel's ancestral house (with its unfriendly dog launching an attack).

Mabini monument.

Apolinario Mabini's monument located at the plaza fronting the city hall. Notice that in this monument, he is not paralyzed.

Wifey Yeyette posing outside the Mabini Shrine. We didn't make it on time (the shrine is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Also, this is the hometown of Telésforo Carrasco’s wife, Dorotea Nazareth. Carrasco was a Spaniard in Emilio Aguinaldo’s army who fought against the US WASP invaders. He was also in action during the catastrophic Battle of Tirad Pass (in his journal, he mentioned in detail how General Gregorio del Pilar was shot and killed — in a not-so-heroic manner).

In Philippine Literature, Tanauan was the hometown of one of Rizal’s characters in El Filibusterismo: Plácido Penitente. The name, in fact, is an oxymoronic technique that was utilized by the national hero. The name means “calm penitent” in Spanish, in a way depicting the turmoils of the said character’s status quo in the novel. The stereotype Batangueño, however, is not known to be calm. He is a raging warrior when provoked, as shown in many Tagalog films of old.

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Pine trees!

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Wifey with Tanaueño kids.

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City Hall.

City Hall.

Batangueño thrashers.

Batangueño thrashers!

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Governor Modesto Castillo Memorial Cultural Center. Still under construction when I took this photo last September. But already looking prim.

According to the Diccionario Geográfico-Estadístico-Histórico de las Islas Filipinas (1851), the old town of Tanauan was originally established in 1581 along the banks of Taal Lake (then known onomatopoetically as Bonbón due to the sound whenever Taal Volcano explodes) together with the old town of Salá. The town as well as the church was then under the patronage of San Juan Bautista.

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Iglesia de San Juan Evangelista. The façade is a combination of Romanesque and High Renaissance architectural styles.

The ecclesiastical supervision of the city was accepted by the Augustinians on 5 May 1584, and Padre Antonio Roxas became the first parish priest (see my photo of the church’s historical marker below). During the final years of the 17th century, the town’s first church was completed. It was made ​​of wood and stood along the banks of the lake. In the year 1732, the stone church was built. But due to the catastrophic explosion of Taal Volcano in 1754, the communities of both Tanauan and Salá were totally destroyed. The surviving Tanaueños moved to a place called Bañadero which later on became one of Tanauan’s barrios (barangáy). Salá, on the other hand, moved to its current site: Barrio Salá which is also in present-day Tanauan (like Bañadero, Salá became a mere barrio as well). After the explosion, the church was rebuilt by Padre José Díaz in 1881.

It is interesting to note here that the aforementioned Spanish soldier, Carrasco, had an unfriendly encounter with Fr. Díaz. It is because Carrasco eloped with Dorotea. And as a consequence of this illicit love affair (unlike today, elopement was highly scandalous during the Spanish times), Fr. Díaz didn’t have nice words to say about the matter. He even accused Carrasco of kidnapping! Since then, an irate Carrasco nicknamed him Muy Reverendo Cura del Demonio Padre José Díaz! :D

During World War II, the church was damaged again. It was rehabilitated by architect José Mª Zaragoza under the supervision of Monsignor Godofredo Mariño in 1948. The present features of the church (particularly the interior) was the result of a renovation made during the late 1960s that was spearheaded by Fr. Leonardo Villa. The façade remains as the only original part from the church’s Spanish-era architecture. Today, the church is now known as the Church of Saint John the Evangelist (San Juan Evangelista).

The old church's historical marker.

Mass was ongoing.

Mass was ongoing. It was a Sunday when we visited Tanauan.

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Instead of the usual retablo, the altar had stained glasses for a background. Cool.

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Heavily renovated interiors. Only the façade retained its original look.

The Diccionario Geográfico-Estadístico-Histórico de las Islas Filipinas describes the parish church as made up of stone but whose roof was composed of bamboo materials (this was when Tanauan was transferred from its original site after the volcanic eruption). The church had a regular priest and is under the patronage of St. John the Baptist/Evangelist. There was an elementary school for boys and one for girls. The cemetery was outside the village, well situated and ventilated (this we didn’t visit anymore). The townsfolk were able to communicate well with those from nearby Lipâ and Santo Tomás due to well-built roads (it should be noted that the Philippines back then was densely forested).

The land was elevated and had good plains where crops were planted. Cultivated lands produced wheat, rice, corn, cacao, coffee, indigo, pepper, cotton, abaca, and various fruits and vegetables. In mountainous areas were bred many kinds of hardwood from which were obtained materials for both furniture and construction purposes (as well as honey and wax!). Tanauan also had good pastures where cattle, horses, and pigs were bred. There was also even a sesame-oil-extraction industry. Others made beautiful fabrics created out of abaca and cotton. Still others produced indigo which gave out a permanent dye.

At the time of the said book’s publication (1851), the town had less than 14,000 people. According to the latest census, there are more or less 150,000 people in Tanauan today.

Today, little of what was written above can be seen in Tanauan. I’m not even sure if it still produces the same crops that it used to produce during the Spanish times. No longer a town, Tanauan now prides itself as a city. But in the Philippines, when one mentions the word city, what comes to mind are images of skyscrapers, fancy restaurants, intimidating highways, heavy traffic, and busy necktied and stockinged office people going to and from each glass- and concrete-covered, neon-lighted structure. Tanauan is far from it (yet), even if it has two Jollibee outlets already. And that is why to my mind, I refuse to consider it as a city as much in the same way that I refuse to consider other old Filipino towns-turned-cities as newly established urban centers (such as Calambâ). Of course, this is all but romanticism from someone who thinks he was born in the wrong century. :-(

Ciudad de Tanauan, Batangas

So even if it morphs into a new Ciudad de Macati or Ciudad de Quezon, Tanauan will still be the same old Hispanic town that I came to know from the books that I’ve read about its romantic past…

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More Tanauan photos below!

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DSC09512DSC09513DSC09514DSC09515DSC09516Iglesia de San Juan Evangelista (09/26/2010)

TANAUAN, BATANGAS, a set on Flickr.

Without the Galleon Trade, there would have been NO Bahay Kubo

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♫ Bahay kubo, kahit munti
Ang halaman doon ay sari-sari.
Singkamas at talong, sigarilyas at mani
Sitaw, bataw, patani.
Kundol, patola, upo’t kalabasa
At saka mayroon pang labanos, mustasa,
sibuyas, kamatis, bawang at luya
sa paligid-ligid ay puro linga. ♪

Did you know that the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade (1565-1815) virtually introduced all these vegetables into Philippine soil?! Therefore, without the Galleon Trade, there would have been no ♫ bahay cubo, cahit muntî… ♪. And worse, our Filipino diet today would have been found severely wanting.

The above stunner is just but one of the Galleon Trade’s countless blessings to our country! And because of these blessings, the Philippines was created, was given life, was given identity. The Philippines was given POWER. It was at the very center of the world’s first foray into globalization.

“How can anybody bad-mouth a medium that brought us such bounty?” (Nick Joaquín)

¡FELIZ DÍA DEL GALEÓN!

After almost 200 hundred years, a galleon ship docked on our shores once again! Behind us is the galleon ship Andalucía which arrived at Pier 13, Port of Manila (10/06/2010).

Celdrán’s comedic act and the RH Bill’s empty orgasmic promises

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I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.
—Romans 12:1-2—

Man is called to a fullness of life which far exceeds the dimensions of his earthly existence, because it consists in sharing the very life of God.
—Evangelium Vitae—

My good ol’ “friend” Caloy is at it again.
But this time, he hit it BIG time.

For argument’s sake, let’s say that I’m a semi-celebrity like Carlos Celdrán. And since I’m a semi-celeb wielding what petty knowledge I have about advocacy and what heroism really is all about, what I will do is pull up a stunt in order for me to be talked about, just like many desperate petty celebs do to make it big, to get noticed, to skyrocket to celebrity status, to be the cream of the public eye.

If I were sincere with what I am fighting for? I will fight for it tooth and nail, but fair and square, with a sincerity that will be (and should be) respected not just by onlookers but even by my most bitter and scornful of enemies.

Sadly, it seems that respect for one’s self —especially for others— was far from the holier-than-thou mind of Celdrán when he pulled a rather wacky publicity stunt yesterday at the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros. Dressed like Rizal, Celdrán interrupted an ecumenical service being administered by both Catholic and Protestant leaders. Moving up to the altar, he drew up a placard which bore the name “Damaso” in reference to the unlikeable friar in Rizal’s first novel, obviously mocking the Catholic hierarchy present at that time.

With that large frame of his, it would have been better for Celdrán if he had dressed up as Padre Dámaso himself instead of Rizal. Más bagay.

It was a stunt that would have made Celdrán’s idol, himself a Catholic convert, turn over in his grave in the Luneta.

In what he thought was a heroic act, Celdrán belted out against the Catholic presbytery in frustration: “Stop getting involved in politics!” He was promptly arrested by the police who were present.

To Celdrán’s “heroic” mind, his arrest must have been his shining moment. Overnight, he became a hero to many a sex-starved individual belonging to an asinine generation who, having just read a couple of lines or pages from, say, Sartre or Marx or Hume, picture themselves as all-knowing intellectuals. These WASP-educated youngsters —misled by a secular adventurism foolishly supported by an equally WASP-controlled State— still cling to, and celebrate, the riveting pleasures guaranteed by the Sexual Revolution brought upon by an erroneous Occidental shift in our country’s extrapolitical affairs (way back in 1898), a shift that was to become a sad turning point for our country’s mangled history.

The bone of contention: contraception

If we may use a bit of Joaquinesquerie here, Celdrán had “gone for lost” because of his zeal for the passing into law of the highly polemical House Bill 5043, otherwise known as the Reproductive Health Bill, that is still hanging on for dear life (no pun intended).

In response to an unbridled poverty, hunger, and depleting natural resources, RH Bill advocates claim that curbing the population is the answer. The proposed law claims to uphold and promote a “responsible parenthood, informed choice, birth spacing and respect for life in conformity with internationally recognized human rights standards”. Furthermore, aside from claims (if not pretense) of a concern for “sustainable human development”, the bill mandates the State to guarantee the Filipino people a “universal access to medically-safe (sic), legal, affordable and quality reproductive health care services, methods, devices, supplies and relevant information thereon even as it prioritizes the needs of women and children, among other underprivileged sectors”.

For just a brief moment, let us ignore the humorous saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. In fairness to the RH Bill, its ultimate end —or what is not “skin-deep” to most of us— is to at least alleviate (if not get rid of) poverty, to promote sustainable development, and generally a better life for all, especially the children. For RH Bill and pro-choice champions, it’s simple mathematics: in order to eliminate all human plight, it is necessary to curb the population to maintain some sort of balance, to sustain a natural equilibrium, of a planet (or, in our case, a country) whose natural resources are hardly replenished. A “manageable” population will bring about prosperity, education (and perhaps land) for all, healthy individuals in a world free from food shortage, etc. These advocates who subscribe to the Malthusian theory of population have been led to believe that “the power of population” is far more superior to “the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man”.

But the bottomline is this: RH Bill is all for population control.

Population + Economy = ?

Now, the million-dollar question: will population control do us any good more than the harm raised by those who fear it? Let us then observe two superpowers, China and the US, where the issue of reproductive health is not even an issue.

When we speak of population control, we should look no further but to our “heavily populated” neighbor, China, whose notorious one-child policy has raised more concerned eyebrows than inspired admiration. Although China is now considered as a superpower, its questionable population-control practices hardly had anything to do with its rise to economic stardom, if at all.

In today’s globalized community, to say that a country has risen from the ashes of poverty is to embrace free trade, a liberal democracy that goes by the name of capitalism. That is the norm, the standard. In recent years, China’s gradual shift from a government harboring a state-controlled means of production to one that now endears itself to a McDonald’s-and-Starbucks culture made capitalist-minded scholars to declare that China, at long last, is at par with the US (officially, we now have two modern empires in our midst that will soon be textbook material for future generations).

With regards to China’s case, we should not even talk about the US anymore, arguably the source of all this modern-day reproductive health hullaballoo, and whose many states have even legalized abortion. Just take a look at what happened to their economy during the last three years. Up to now, it is still trying to wheel itself out of economic danger. Obviously, a controlled population was not able to save them from the brunt of a self-defeating economic system which itself had imposed in many a military-weak country (the Philippines included) all the world over.

Warring against the Church

Since time immemorial, the Catholic Church has been up in arms whenever the issue of birth control is raised. But this is not just about pills and condoms and IUDs and anal sex. The issue is more about life. And the sanctity of it.

On 25 July 1968, Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life) was promulgated, reaffirming the Catholic Church’s stand against artificial methods of family planning as well as abortion. Since this encyclical was against all types of artificial family planning, it became controversial especially to Catholics who were already compromising in their morals and who were already practicing a contraceptive lifestyle (the Sexual Revolution vis-à-vis Rock “music”, drugs, and Pop Culture as a whole). And not only the Catholic flock but the Catholic hierarchy were divided: almost 50% of American and European bishops were against the ideals of Humanae Vitae.

Years later, on 25 March 1995, Pope John Paul II issued perhaps the longest encyclical letter ever written in history: the Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life). It, too, was met by the same hatred and scorn.

Ridiculously, those who point out that the Catholic Church is blind to the poverty surrounding her, as caused by a ballooning population, are shooting themselves on the foot. For if they accuse Church leaders of being inconsiderate towards the RH Bill (which actually has visible loopholes and vagaries to an impartial, considerate, and discerning eye), have they, even for a few seconds, flipped open some pages of the abovementioned encyclicals?

Going back to today’s asinine youth, who seem to claim to have a monopoly of good results (if not the truth), whose laughable ad hominems against the Church make them just that: laughable — in chorus they now sing Celdrán’s infamous words to the priests and the bishops: “Stop getting involved in politics!”

But are they?

If they have been thinking more instead of letting their emotions carry them to comedic heights, have they ever stopped to think that it is the government who is getting involved in Church, nay, metaphysical matters? The Church is entrusted to protect the sanctity of life; the government has breached it. By proposing the RH Bill, the government has tread upon holy grounds, a terra incognita not understood by secularized minds in the government. In effect, the government has declared war against the Church. It was they, not the Church, who made the first volley of shots. CBCP or no CBCP, the Church was merely on the defensive end.

The life covenant

But what really, then, is this life, or “pre-life”, that the Church has sworn to protect?

Anti-Catholics say that there are two main reasons why the Church opposes contraception: because the priests are not married, thus they do not have to live with the economic consequences of a family man, and; the Church want all the Catholics they can have in the world.

Seriously, this is but childish riff-raff.

There is a deeper cause, something sanctifying, amorously metaphysical, logically loveable, even Biblical, philosophically addicting to the extreme.

The reason? Covenant.

This is something I learned during the course of my early married life. It is no secret to close friends and loved ones that my marriage to my wife Yeyette did not start out well. We were young, very young. The marriage was unplanned because the pregnancy was unplanned. Indeed, we committed the usual mistakes of a promiscuous youth (as promiscuous as today’s RH Bill adherents).

When I eloped with my wife, I was a rabid and proud atheist. As the years progressed, my marriage to my wife changed it all. Little by little, during my reconversion to the Catholic Church (aided by books written by yesterday and today’s top theological minds such as Scott Hahn and Patrick Madrid), I realized that our marriage —or marriage as a whole— is actually not a mere social contract (involving the exchange of goods and services) but a covenant, an exchange of persons.

This “marriage covenant” is consummated through a sacred act, a marriage union which nowadays is being belittled, commercialized, trivialized, and treated as mere pleasure stuff. It is called SEX.

Ironically, the anti-Catholic novel, Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, knows more about the sacredness of sex than do these anti-Catholic kids drooling behind Celdrán’s nondescriptive swagger.

Now, whenever this sacred act called sex is enacted and renewed, God uses it to give new life. This marital act shows us the mystical life-giving love of this marriage covenant in a very different way. In various covenants found throughout Holy Scripture wherein God’s love is transmitted and shown, it is only through the covenant of marriage where that love becomes more powerful, more feasible, more real. So visible is this power of love from God that it communicates life: a baby inside the mother’s womb!

“Go forth and multiply,” was God’s first commandment to Adam and Eve. This commandment was actually to image God (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, the Santíssima Trinidad, the “Divine Family”). In the sacred act of sex, the couple becomes one in the covenant of marriage. This “oneness” to which they transform into becomes so manifest, so real that, nine months later, they will have to give it a name.

Therefore, this sacred act, this natural union created by God for man and woman, is thwarted every time contraceptives are used. And that is where the Catholic Church’s ire and indignation comes from. Long before Brown and those people behind him conceptualized “sacred sex”, the Church has already been its most fiercest defender because it already deciphered sex’s “mystical properties” a long, long time ago.

Therefore, contraceptives are, no matter how one puts it, anti-life.

The child miracle

Whenever news of a saintly apparition or perhaps a divine healing is reported on TV, one thing comes to mind: miracles. But miracles happen every day whenever a child is born. Why is this fact so trivialized and given taken for granted?

This I realized when me and Yeyette almost had our first son Momay aborted in late 2003. Thankfully, it never happened. But since then, the way we looked at babies has never been the same.

Having children is the ultimate goal in enacting the marriage covenant. Through marital sex (which is sacred), we fashion a new life, thus we “image” God in the process. The use of contraceptives and other abortifacients inhibits this both sacred and natural act.

And since we arrived at the word natural, why, pray, tell, do we have to put a stop to something natural, i.e., pregnancy?

Before we go off on a tangent, let us go back to the miracle of a newly created life. RH Bill implies that it protects life as well. But it is virtually impossible not to view this implication in a twisted way since it is self-contradicting. All elements within the context of the RH Bill advocate the use of contraceptives. The existence of “it’s all up to the married couple” clauses have already been presupposed simply by the existence and dominance of all these anti-life chemicals, methods, and devices in the said bill.

Whereas Holy Scripture speaks highly of life, RH Bill treats it matter-of-factly.

Nowhere in Scripture will one find an admonition for too much children. On the contrary, virtually every verse in the Holy Bible which has a mention of children spoke of them as only and always a blessing! There is no verse at all which cautioned married couples about the expenses of children outweighing their worth. In the Bible, no blessing was pronounced over those who had perfect spacing between their children, or those who had planned each conception, etc. Even fertility was something to be prized and proud of. It was never considered a curse, a stigma, something that is aberrantly thought of today. It was God who opened and closed the womb. Only He, through marital sex, has the full rights over it, for it is where life is created. And with each new life, a blessing…

A miracle.

To all Christians/Catholics (and those of other denominations, cults, and theists): have you ever asked yourselves if the RH Bill reflect how God saw children?

The logic of this all

In view of the foregoing, one can safely say that all unnatural methods of birth control during sex abort the creation of life. Thus, it is a violation of the natural law. Although one can say that condoms are far more different from clinical abortions —since the former prevents the formation of life, while the latter terminates an already existing life inside the womb—, it is all the same: they both prevent life.

Even if pro-choice proponents point out that human life commences somewhat later than at the moment of conception, one must at the same time recognize that the human fetus is ordered by nature to become an intelligent, free being, an individual fashioned in the image of God. If we deprive even the creation of a human person through marital sex, then we are depriving him or her the right to exist.

I think of my four kids: Krystal, Momay, Jefe, and Juanito. These lovely children of mine would not have existed if I had used artificial methods of family planning. And I will not dare, nor do I have the stomach, to look back to such a possibility of them having not existed at all, a “what if” in my personal history.

What is to be done?

The enemy to poverty is not the Church. Also, the topic of “overpopulation” should be looked into with a more prying mind because, truth to tell, it is virtually a myth. Do not allow congested and overpopulated cities to deceive you. All the problems we have right now which we thought is the result of an overpopulated world is but an imbalance in life brought about by the greed and lust for power by a select few.

And this is true. Otherwise, there would not be militants outside the city streets protesting against the wily powers-that-be, stinking drunk with power and oil and land contracts. All this “politicking” is a subtle war against the Church which has become a poster boy for scapegoating and romanticized attacks by an equally drunk-with-knowledge youth.

Sex is not the culprit here. Uninhibited sex is. And that is exactly what RH Bill is after. Wittingly or unwittingly, it tends to belittle sex as something that is almost routine, like brushing one’s teeth.

If you do not want to have children because you cannot afford to have another mouth to feed, there is a solution for it without having to go through those artificial methods: do not engage in sexual activities. If you claim that it cannot be as simple as that because of the overpowering considerations surrounding your lifestyle, then you have already determined the problem.

We fought for too much freedom, a freedom that we claim can never exist under the Church. So now we got what we want. And this freedom spawned a freak called Pop Culture. And through mass media, Pop Culture has been toying around with man’s baser instincts. Too much freedom has debased human sexuality to a mere plaything. A few years back, you would see semi-naked and naked women only in illicit beer houses and night joints. Now you see semi-naked women gyrating on noontime TV programs in both ABS-CBN and GMA. I won’t be surprised anymore if, say, ten years from now or so, TV dancers will be without clothing anymore. And Celdrán with them, doing the most obscene (perhaps with a placard this time of DOÑA CONSOLACIÓN).

What RH Bill does not tell us

Digging “skin-deep” into the issue now, one should realize sooner or later that the youth are actually being exploited, the same way me and Yeyette were exploited years ago. We all grow up, bound to be curious about sex, about our bodies.

Nothing wrong with that.

But with this youthful curiousness, this innocence, comes a vulnerability with which these conspirators against life are after. And they use the mass media to glamorize sex, to captivate these young people into doing the things that only a couple bound by God’s covenant are ought to be doing.

And to be safe, these conspirators against life subtly create a “sex industry”, for like military matters, sex is BIG BUSINESS. Imagine the millions and perhaps billions of money it would generate for these conspirators.

Also, RH Bill does not, and will never, inform you that many contraceptives are actually abortifacients. They cause early abortion.

Finally, RH Bill, even if enacted into law, will sooner or later show its hollow face. For in reality, contraception is already a failure. Why? Because many Filipinos, like other nationalities, have been using contraceptives long before RH Bill was even framed. The rate of unplanned pregnancy, especially among teenagers, has been rising steadily over the last 30 to 40 years. Many such cases end either in abortion or single parenthood.

Finally, RH Bill, again wittingly or unwittingly, will only promote promiscuity, something that is against the natural order of things. Besides, all promises of contraception, since it was invented during the latter half of the last century, never came through. Instead, we have more promiscuity, therefore more unplanned and unwanted pregnancies, more broken families and single parents, an alarming rise in sexually transmitted diseases, sexual crimes against women and children, pornography (that is being, bit by bit, accepted into the mainstream!), abortion trauma, etc.

So this is the kind of society you want? =(

As for Celdrán’s supporters, look at your “hero” now. He still dons his Pepe Rizal suit, smiling whenever there is a photo op for him. What has he done for you? He only created more fame for himself. And he has paved the way for a much sicker society, a society of sex-starved individuals who will one day rape their own children, notwithstanding pet dogs and goldfishes.

If only Rizal were alive —he who died a Catholic, he who died having repented from his immature ways— he would have slapped Celdrán for having maligned his memory.

Yet you call Celdrán your “new José Rizal” just because you claim that he had the balls to defend the freedom of the human genitals from what is supposed to be sacred?

Before I end this rage, let us, again, for argument’s sake, imagine that the Muslims are also against the RH Bill, and that they are the most vocal, more vocal than the Catholic Church…

Will Carlos Celdrán have the same “balls” to invade a Muslim mosque?

I will bet my life that he wouldn’t dare do so. Whatever “balls” he may have will instantly turn into wrinkled grapefruits if he dares to step inside a mosque.

Cowards like him will only attack a weary institution, such as the Church, which has been in constant attack and bullying ever since Jesus Christ was executed.

In closing, Carlos Celdrán’s stunt proved nothing for pro-RH bill advocates. Why? Because his crazy heckling last Thursday inside the Manila Cathedral failed to sway the beliefs of those who are against the RH bill. He only angered them even more. Thus, his childish prank only made the already divided parties more antagonistic against each other. What kind of heroism is that? He not only maligned the Church; he also placed our national hero in a very bad light.

Rizal would have killed himself if he were to see this travesty inside this cell who is desperate to be tagged as a hero. We need more comedy, Caloy. Please.

No pag-asa in Barrio Bagong Pag-Asa

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Last 16 September, while me and Yeyette were inside an MRT coach with a friend of ours, it slowed down and stopped for a few seconds right in front of one of the largest shanty towns we have ever seen…

A sea of shanties in Barrio Bagong Pag-Asa, Ciudad de Quezon.

Yeyette immediately told me to take a photo of it so that I can feature it one day in either FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES or ALAS FILIPINAS. The photo above was like a premonition, for exactly a week later, violence erupted…

QTV: Violence mars demolition in Brgy Pag-asa, QC – Video – GMANews.TV – Official Website of GMA News and Public Affairs – Latest Philippine News.

We all know that these squatters have no right at all to live on a property that is not theirs in the first place. Also, it was reported that the government had already prepared a relocation site for them. But it is in faraway Montalbán, Morong (now Rizal province). No wonder why a majority of them refused to let go of their illegal homes (3,000 families accepted to relocate there as against 6,000). They have lived there for many years, and many of them have already adapted to a hand-to-mouth existence within the unfriendly streets of the asphalt jungle, something that would be difficult to replicate in Montalbán.

The demolition was put to a halt. P-Noy Aquino, who was at the US during that time, intervened and ordered to put a stop to it. But a temporary restraining order, even if it is from the highest office in the land, will always be that — temporal.

During his first overseas trip as president, P-noy received some $434 million “grant” from the US government to “help” our country alleviate poverty and fight corruption. Even less than a sixteenth of that amount can help stop the stalemate going on right now in Barrio Bagong Pag-Asa. But I doubt that even a trickle of that “grant” will be directed to it, for the verdict is final: the Quezon City Business District should soon stand on that disputed 340-hectare property.

For the elite-backed government, the urban poor will always be expendables. Useless eaters even (except during election season). I see no hope for these poor city dwellers…

On second thought, there’s Matthew 5:3.

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