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Pinoy Big Brother: Presidential Edition (FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES’ 6th anniversary special)

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It was reported a few days ago that the budget for the refurbishment of the more than 80,000 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines that will be used for next year’s presidential elections has been raised from ₱2.07 billion to an astonishing ₱3.13 billion. Wow. Imagine that. It’s just for refurbishment. But Commission on Elections (COMELEC) chief Christian Robert Lim even boasted that this move is the most cost effective option by the said constitutional commission for next year’s automated election system.

Will that humongous amount even be worth it? Of course it remains to be seen. However, we here at FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES do not concur with this cost effectiveness. Besides, those billions of pesos could have been used for more poverty alleviating projects. Other than that, it was reported recently that COMELEC is planning to hold voting in malls during next year’s elections for the sake of convenience. Nice.

The way we see it, the most cost effective and convenient option we see fit is to have all our presidentiables live inside “Bahay ni Kuya“.

Yes. we’re talking about ABS-CBN’s hugely popular Pinoy Big Brother (PBB).

For the past decade, this reality show has had several iterations: Celebrity Edition, Teen Edition, Unlimited, etc. We thought of coming up with something different, something that is more noble, and certainly something that is not only cost effective but transparent and convenient to all voters. So why not COMELEC, ABS-CBN, and other related government agencies team up together to form Pinoy Big Brother: Presidential Edition? Instead of having these noble and dignified presidentiables launch costly and “security nightmare” campaigns, have them stay inside the PBB house during the campaign period, preferably for a period of two to three months. The whole country (and the rest of the world) will be able to see these “presidential housemates” together under one roof, seeing their true colors while performing weekly tasks related to the coveted presidential throne. We’ll see them interact with one another on a 24/7 basis through live streaming, witness them dance the nae nae upon waking up every morning, that sort of thing. The last man (or woman) standing, or that person who would survive succeeding evictions, will be declared as the President of the Republic of the Philippines. Viewers, of course, will be asked to vote via SMS, voice messaging, Facebook likes, or even tweets, for whoever they wanted to stay longer in the house. Presidential housemates can also vote for those they would like to evict on occasions to be decided by Kuya, whoever that pr!ck is (it’s probably Eugenio López III himself using a voice changing device for all we know).

So far, those who have already confirmed their candidacy, including those who are still playing coy f0r the position, are as follows:

Alan Peter Cayetano
Míriam Defensor-Santiago
Rodrigo Duterte
Chiz Escudero
Jinggoy Estrada
Pánfilo Lacson
Bongbong Marcos
Grace Poe
Mar Roxas

POSSIBLE SCENARIO (déjà vu alert!)

On day one, Bínay will be immediately evicted by both viewers and presidential housemates for obvious reasons — nobody likes him. Not even Kuya himself. It will be a record first in PBB for being the earliest eviction ever.

Before the second eviction takes place, Defensor-Santiago will certainly walk out (nothing new, really), but not without blurting out her disapproval:

“This electoral contest is a travesty of the highest order!” we could almost hear her complain. “It is a grave insult not only to my intellect but to the intellect of the general viewing public who deserves better! Thus, I would like to invoke my right to gracefully exit this discombobulating patchwork of pastel-colored cardboards that you call a house!”

All the housemates will also gang up on Duterte by evicting him after the latter played with a knife and pointed it directly at Bongbong due to some light argumentation about human rights abuses.

In one episode, Lacson will reveal to newfound BFF Poe what televiewers have been suspecting all these years:

LACSON (sobbing): “I’m gay. Sinasabi ko sa ‘yo ngayon, sinasabi sa ibang tao na hindi ako masamang tao.”
POE: “Grabe… nire-respect kita…”

Kuya will forcefully have to pull out Escudero from the list of presidential housemates because ABS-CBN’s hugely popular reality television singing competition will lose Bamboo due to a high-profile murder. It turned out that the evicted Mayor Duterte, inspired by his singing stint in a recent Gandang Gabi Vice episode, tried his luck in The Voice of the Philippines. But no one among the judges turned their chairs. Worse, he received an honest to goodness criticism from Bamboo. The rock artist was found dead the next day. But ABS-CBN wouldn’t want any of this scandalous murder get mainstream attention. Management simply thought of replacing the fallen rocker with a “kalokalike“.

Kuya then introduces a guest candidate: JV Ejército, much to Estrada’s chagrin. In the ensuing days, the half-brothers rivalry heated up to unbearable proportions. They ended up in a nasty brawl, but Estrada’s penguin-like frame was simply no match to his younger half-bro’s Wilson-Fisk-like frame. He ended up in a bloody pulp, resulting in Ejército’s immediate eviction. Estrada then garnered sympathy votes from sympathetic and teary eyed fans.

In the ensuing months, tasks here and there decided the fate of the remaining presidentiables. But the final eviction night will see only two candidates: Roxas and Estrada. But because of the sympathy garnered by Estrada from the butt whoopin’ he received from his half-bro, Planet Pinoy will opt for hin instead of “Mr. Palengke”.

And so we have a winner!

Unfortunately, President Jinggoy Estrada will remain on house arrest because of his ongoing pork barrel case. He will thus hold office at the PBB house until 2022.

So may the MTRCB have mercy upon the weary Pinoy televiewers by leaving Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) alone! Don’t they realize that this hugely popular reality TV program is the people’s nightly lotus? For all intents and purposes, PBB provides our weary Pinoy lotus-eaters a peaceful apathy that they deserve after a day’s toil which in turn produces the same income tax that feeds the very same government agency that harasses them.

Pinoy ako, pinoy tayo! (pwe!)

Noynoy Aquino’s inspiring college yearbook message

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Somebody got hold of President Aquino’s college yearbook profile and released it recently on the Internet. It has since been spreading like wildfire on social media much to the delight of an enraged Filipino nation in the light of the Mamasapano tragedy two months ago. But delight is too tame a word. The netizens in fact were amused, if not flabbergasted, with the president’s seemingly hard-to-decipher message. Here’s why:

It is not unfamiliar to many how the president’s critics love to make fun of his psychiatric prowess even when he was still campaigning for the presidency years ago. Because of some poorly made decisions, I have since disliked this president myself. But I do not approve of how people make fun of him. It’s too personal already. I think we are starting to become too judgmental of the president. Take how Filipino netizens make fun of his collegiate message, for example. Just because the message made use of highfalutin phraseology to weave his thoughts doesn’t necessarily make him guilty of poetic pompousness. One must read his message not once but many times, and with constant care, in order to fathom the deep recesses of President Simeón Benigno III Aquino’s brilliant intellect.

Once digested with an open mind and a heart free from any form of rancor, only then will people realize the enormous inspiration that a younger Noynoy had to offer for the Filipino people. I myself am greatly inspired by his misunderstood message (as evidenced by this humble blogpost). There seems to be a tendency for the anti-Aquino camp to attack him whenever they could without realizing the hidden truths in many of the president’s pronunciations. This collegiate message of his is not really difficult to understand, neither is it cryptic. It is a literary gem in each and every angle. What he wrote was true: to be understood or misunderstood is not so much a struggle as it is with a burger stand in upstate New York where he allegedly had a psychiatric consultation decades ago. You see, everything else is connected — his almost insane passion for world peace and his support for the Bangsamoron Basic Flaw, his republican repulsion for a Nobel Peace Prize award, his deep respect for the wisdom of the ages, the magnanimity of video game characters that he has been using during spiritual moments, his rather tumescent opposition towards those who criticize sports cars in times of economic crises, and everything else. This does not even discount the afterbirth of nationalistic principles in each and every patriotic mall scattered throughout the archipelago. But what really matters is our struggle against those that oppose truth, justice, and the much-coveted American way of life found in the hearts of the people we admire and desire. And he hit the nail correctly in Frankenstein’s ponderous head when he submitted his motion for consideration that our sincerity towards life should not go against or above or below the law because, according to the ancient Greek mathematicians of the Industrial Revolution, “the law applies to all, otherwise, cottonball”. And that is what President Aquino precisely meant: in high altitudes, a moment’s self-indulgence may experience political hypoxia, if not turbulence. For through the thick, interlocking branches of alchemical nationalism, we too shall emerge victorious like Godzilla dancing to the tune of Sia’s cannibalistic “Chandelier” in the icy parts of Puerto Princesa. That is, in fact, the only reason why whenever we have to remember the president and his bombastic DILG secretary in our symbiotic thoughts, we should all pause for a few minutes to meditate about the mortality rate of cockroaches deep within the sewage system of EDSA corner Shaw Boulevard. So verily, I say unto you: wear yellow-colored curtains during the “Moment of Truth” which was one of the songs of Survivor and was included in the soundtrack of the movie “The Karate Kid”, another inspirational stuff of the Ysidra Cojuangco kind. Together we shall struggle through the rubble and the bubble. With a telescope called Hubble.

So next time, don’t immediately criticize our workaholic president. Look for ways on how President Aquino will inspire you. I even call for this college yearbook message of his to be incorporated in textbooks throughout the country. And lastly, don’t be too “KJ”. Maciado casí ninióng binobola si Getulio Napeñas, eh.

Friendly advice: when you’re fuming mad, stay away from social media

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That’s one lesson I learned… the hard way. And embarrassingly, too.

Two Sundays ago, just a few minutes before going to late afternoon Mass in Barrio Landayan, I was engaged in a filthy word war with a troll account in Twitter (yeah, I know… not a spiritual way to prepare for Mass, mea culpa). The troll account is a supporter of Barrio San Antonio Chairman Eugenio Ynión, Jr., the man who sent me a death threat last summer, and a rabid hater of Mayor Lourdes Catáquiz and her husband, former Mayor Calixto Catáquiz.

The troll account won the word war simply because I fed its trolling. We are reminded of that well-known online adage: don’t feed the troll. But in a rage, I completely forgot all about it. The troll account I was up against is an expert roaster, a veteran even (in real life, this troll —whose identity is not a secret among San Pedrense netizens— is actually already a veteran, agewise). And since my family was hurrying me up to get dressed and my mind was blackened with spite, my replies got too clumsy, giving the troll account  the upper hand. Boy, did it give me some serious a$s-whooping.

I have joined a couple of online forums even before social media became in vogue. The forums that I join usually engage in topics which tackle Philippine History and other related subjects (my forte, I’d like to think). Throughout the years of my online existence, I’ve been a commenter, an observer, a moderator, and even a troll myself, haha. Whenever I am engaged in a heated real-time or live debate, and I am already on the verge of losing my cool, the opponent more often than not gets the better of me. Yes, I confess that I am a slow thinker.

But when I think slowly, I think surely.

Anyway, I already noticed this turtle-paced mental process of mine way back in college when my alma mater, mistakenly thinking that they have at last discovered a new JB Lazarte, entered me in an impromptu essay writing contest. When the topic was revealed, and the moment the timer started ticking, all the contestants were already jotting hurriedly. Me? I was paralyzed with anxiety, sweating profusely on my seat, helplessly watching the rest scribble it out like there’s no tomorrow. Nothing came out from my ink because that tension-filled moment was squeezing my brain. I only started writing when I decided to just give it up — and that was about half past the allotted time.

Now, going back to that online a$s-whooping I received. Nothing comes close to trolling than this Catáquiz hater who has found an ally in the person of one Manuel Mejorada, an Ynión attack dog based in Iloílo City disguised as a respectable a journalist. The troll account got the better of me, especially when I made a major boo-boo: when I referred to the Court of Appeals as “the court of last resort”, haha. And when Mejorada found out about my carelessness later on, he was so overjoyed that he even took time to make a screenshot of it then posted it on his Facebook account…

Thanks for the appeal for forgiveness, Boy Remedio. I appreciate it. I owe you one for your show of sympathy.


Before becoming a PR guy for Jun Ynión (and the mentally unstable Rommel Ynión), Mejorada was a former provincial administrator of Iloílo; if I’m not mistaken, he served under the term of former Governor Niel Tupás, Sr. So just imagine my amused surprise that this “VIP”, a self-proclaimed defender of the truth, took time to give me special space on that bastion of justice that is his Facebook account. For Mejorada and that Twitter troller, my “court of last resort” slip up was a huge event complete with fireworks and lechón and marching bands. They were having such a grand time as if it mattered all the world. It’s like, hey, who the heck am I to deserve such attention from a political and journalistic figure in Panay Island? In one comment of his, Mejorada himself even said that I’m just a mere “butete” compared to the others he usually defames… err, attacks rather.

Of course I got annoyed. However, the underlying sentiment I had was that of flattery. To make it more simple, and to Manuel Mejorada’s credit, who in blue blazes am I when made to stand side by side with a giant? (“wow, pinatulan ang isáng tulad có, haha.“) 😀 Yes sir. Make no mistake. Manuel Mejorada is a giant (figuratively AND literally speaking). That is why inspite of all the insults I received from his august Facebook account, I couldn’t help but feel being a little bit special… I must have surely made a mark to deserve this kind of attention! 🙂

Be that as it may, this blogpost, of course, will be deemed by those two Ynión attack dogs as nothing more but a deodorant to hide the stench of my “ignorance” (Mejorada’s words). Rest assured, dear reader, that I am and have always been cognizant of the fact about which institution is the court of last resort. Proof? Why, even those idiotic attack dogs know about it.

So there, dear friends. Let this be a lesson to you, most especially to slow-thinkers such as myself: never ever touch that mouse or keyboard when you are angry and/or in a hurry during an online argument. You might not like what you’ve been typing. When you feel like you are already losing your temper, better leave your opponent for a while. Breathe, take a break, then return to the battlefield once you’ve gone back to a relaxed demeanor. Besides, online arguments are not formal ones, especially with what had transpired between me and that troll two Sundays ago.

Speaking of a relaxed demeanor, I’m now wondering if Mejorada was in that particular state of mind and body when he posted this idiocy on Facebook:

Please forgive his ignorance too. Por favor. Have mercy on this travesty brought about by senility…

As mentioned earlier, Manuel Mejorada, aside from being a seasoned (yellow) journalist in Iloílo Province, is no stranger to politics, as he was once a provincial administrator (I learned that he also used to be the Twitter handler of Senator Franklin Drilón but there was a falling out). Having said that, didn’t it even occur to him that the incumbent leadership in a local government unit incurs advances from a previous administration? At capág may mg̃a dadaúsing eventos, programas, etc., ang mg̃a organizador ang cumucuha ng cash advance, hindî ang alcalde o ang alcaldesa. Naturally, only those who request cash advances are tasked to have them liquidated, and an order is issued to have those advances liquidated within a certain period of time.

Furthermore, it is not uncommon that unliquidated cash advances are handed down from a previous administration to the present one. Besides, even if Mejorada doesn’t do any pestering, these matters are under the watch of a city or municipal hall’s resident auditor from the Commission on Audit (COA).

I reiterate: this yellow journalist-turned-PR guy for the Ynión Brothers was a former “public servant” himself. That is why it is now puzzling as to why Mejorada should “pester” the COA about something which COA is very cognizant about.

So, should we also forgive Manuel Mejorada’s IGNORANCE on LGU state of affairs, something he is supposed to know about?

The Alfred Romuáldez — Mar Roxas tiff: the (pictorial) story so far

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All this political hilarity brought to you by Aling Yolanda (who could have very well been a man-made meteorological monster).

Classifying Teodoro Agoncillo’s history book

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I was with my family in some mall this afternoon. We went to a popular bookstore to buy some stuff. Then I saw a copy of Teodoro Agoncillo’s much revered History of the Filipino People which made me see red. Rather than ripping it apart and end up being apprehended, I just placed it in a section where it should really belong…

This is where you belong.

There. At may casama pang Zodiac Sign. Blast it.

The year of the “digital karma”

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In the Philippines, at least, the year 2012 has ushered in the “Age of the Digital Karma”.

Thrilla in NAIA (6 May 2012)

Motorist bullies MMDA officer (14 August 2012)

Man attacks female restaurant cashier (21 October 2012)

Amalayer (14 November 2012)

Moral lesson: RESTRAINT. If you don’t want to be the next viral superstar of the worst kind, take this 90s advice from Prettier Than Pink:

So next time you’re caught on camera doing the nastiest, don’t say that you were not informed.

The Seven Lakes of San Pablo City, La Laguna

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San Pablo City is famously known as “The City of Seven Lakes”. And for good reason. Because it really has seven lakes, though not as large as nearby Laguna de Bay. And definitely NOT artificial like the one in Nuvali (in Santa Rosa City). These seven lakes are not ordinary water formations since they have a subterranean background with a “volcanic touch”.

Scientifically, the seven lakes of San Pablo are classified as “maars” or low-relief volcanic craters. Maars were formed by what volcanologists call a phreatomagmatic eruption (heck knows how it’s pronounced; I might be able to do it with a mouthful of polvorón). Such eruptions are rare; they occur only when groundwater comes into contact with magma.

The lakes have queer native names, some of which are familiar to Tagalog speakers. Nobody knows who gave them their names. But as is the usual case in our culture, legends have been passed on from generation to generation. And since hundreds of years ago, nobody knew the difference between a phreatomagmatic eruption from a scorned lady, people really had to come up with stories about their origins.

Here are the brief profiles of each lake as well as their legends.

1) Lake Bunót (30.50 hectares; 23 meters average depth)

Lago Bunót

Bunót was named after —you got it— that whatnot cleaning item that you use to make the floor as shiny and sparkling as your high school classmate’s oily face. Its origin comes from the never-ending Spanish-indio– miscommunication story. Spanish soldiers who were new to the place inquired the name of the lake from a man who was husking coconuts by the lakeshore. Thinking that the soldiers were asking for the native name of the coconut husk, the man, probably Raymart Santiago’s ancestor, innocently replied bunót.

2) Lake Calibató (42 hectares, 135 meters average depth)

Lago Calibató

Calibató was said to be the turf of a nature spirit locally known as a diwatà. The place was once a rich valley filled with wild game and fruit-bearing trees. But she was angered when natives constructed rocky pathways which criss-crossed her haven. She must have turned green and big like the Incredible Hulk because she caused an earthquake. Afterwards, she must have transformed into Ororo Munro of the X-Men to cause a severe storm that transformed the valley into what it is today: a lake, but which provides abundant fish (probably those who constructed the pathway, just a crazy guess). It is believed that the name Calibató was a combination of “Cali”, a corruption of the Spanish word “calle” or street, and “bató”, Tagalog for “rock” (sorry, no crystal meth jokes allowed).

3) Lake Mojicap (14.50 hectares; 80 meters average depth)

Lago Mojicap

The story of Mojicap (spelled nowadays as Mohicap) is about a religious couple who had a very sickly daughter named Mónica. They made a promise to do anything if God heals her. God granted their prayer on condition that the child should only stay inside their elevated hut and must never set foot on mother earth. One day, while Mónica was sewing her dress, the ball of thread that she was using fell on the bamboo slat floor and slid towards the earthen ground. Her parents were out on a date so they were not around to retrieve it. The poor child had to recover the ball of thread by herself. Reminiscent of nighttime TV soaps, it was apparent that the parents were too secretive towards their daughter regarding their pre-natal deal with God, because the girl didn’t wait for her parents to retrieve the ball of thread. So upon stepping on the ground for the first time in her life, she immediately collapsed, then water spewed forth from the earth, drowning her and the entire neighborhood. Voila, a new lake emerged. For some reason, the name Mónica eventually became Mojicap (this means that actress Danica Sotto has a fair chance of having her name changed to Dajicap Sotto pretty soon). Mojicap, by the way, is my wife’s favorite lake among the rest. She finds its turquoise-colored waters fascinating.

4) Lake Palacpaquin (43 hectares; 7.50 meters average depth)

Lago Palacpaquin

Nope, Palacpaquin has no “let’s-give-them-a-round-of-applause” (or “magpalacpacan tayo“) myth. Elders instead will tell you that it was once a river where a mysterious lady (probably a diwatà again) used to wash her long hair every full moon by the hollow trunk of an ancient tree called palacpaquin. A big fish also appears in the river every time the lady washes her hair. Hmmm… May crush yatà. Anyways, nobody dared to catch the fish, fearing that it was owned by the lady. And maybe because it was too big to be caught, if I may add. One day, a stranger suddenly thought that he’s Sherlock Holmes, so he started to investigate the mysterious lady and her queer fish pal. One moonlit night, he saw the mysterious damsel. As he approached her, thunder and lightning shook the earth, causing the river to swell. No, Thor wasn’t there (he’d rather visit a First World country). It’s just that no mortal man was allowed to go near the damsel. So in a matter of minutes, the river had become a lake. There was no more sign of the stranger, the lady, and the fish. But in their place was a large quantity of shrimp from which the popular cuisine Hipong Palacpaquin originated.

5) Lake Pandín (20.50 hectares; 63 meters average depth)

Lago Pandín

Now this lake is paradise! My personal favorite, and the most popular among travelers. And this lake has a twin: Yambó, which can be reached on the other side via raft. Or if you think you can be the next Michael Phelps, go ahead and do a butterfly stroke towards the other bank. Anyway, both Pandín and Yambó are separated by a narrow strip of elevated hill. The story of these is almost similar to that of Mojicap’s. It tells of a story of a barren couple who kept on praying for a child. One day, a diwatà (I wonder if she’s the same femme fatale from the Calibató and Palacpaquin tales) appeared to them and told them that they will be granted a daughter only if they promised not to allow her to set foot on the earth, to which the couple agreed. They named the girl Pandín who grew up to become the hottest chick in town. One day, a suitor of hers, Yambó by the name, invited her to come down from her hut while she was sewing. But Pandín, faithful to her parents’ instructions, objected. Without saying a word, Yambó immediately climbed up the hut, grabbed Pandín’s ball of thread, then threw it outside. In anger, the girl totally forgot her parents’ instructions. She angrily went down the hut to fetch her ball of thread, and to probably give Yambó a beating a la Claudine Barretto. The next thing that happened? I bet you already know — two gigantic waterfalls appeared! Joke.

6) Lake Sampáloc (104 hectares; 10 meters average depth)

Lago Sampáloc

Sampáloc, the largest of San Pablo’s seven lakes, took its name from a tamarind tree popularly known in Tagalog as champuy. Oh, I’m so nuts today. It’s sampáloc, actually. As I was about to say… a long time ago, a sampáloc tree grew in the garden of a stingy old hag who drove away a hungry old man asking for some fruit as a cure for his ailing grandson. Instead of helping him, the stingy old woman had him driven away by her ferocious dogs. Little did she know that the old man was actually a diwata in disguise (probably the first case of folkloric closet queenliness). As punishment for her selfishness, her garden and its surroundings sank into a colossal pit which was eventually filled with water. The new lake was called Sampáloc after the old tree. And thank goodness it is not called Champuy Lake.

On a side note, Sampáloc was the original name of San Pablo before the Super Spaniards came.

7) Lake Yambó (28.50 hectares; depth unclassified)

Lago Yambó

My arthritic hands are stiff and tired. But thanks to item# 5 (Lake Pandín), there’s no need to retell the Yambó story. So I am going to finish my breakfast now.

In closing, do I really have to describe in detail the prettiness of each lake? Sans the occasional eyesore (informal settlers, a couple of plastic water bottles here and there, pesky fish pens that are already stressing out Lake Bunót, etc.), even that would have been an injustice. All I can say is simply this: visiting all these lakes and reminiscing the scenes in your mind will surely make you hilariously happy that you would go nuts writing, or on whatever it is that you are doing. 🙂


NOTE: All photos, except for Lake Calibató, were taken last 16 April 2012. The photo for Lake Calibató was taken the next day.

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