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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’s sense of gratitude and loyalty (or the apparent lack of it)

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Much has been said for and against incarcerated senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Ejército Estrada, and Ramón “Bong” Revilla, Jr. Despite alleged evidence against them regarding their double-dealing relationship with pork barrel queen Janet Nápoles, we have to face the sad fact that they are yet to be proven guilty. Same thing goes with the much-hated Bínay father-and-son tandem.

No, I am not trying to exonerate these people. For all we know, they could really be guilty of the accusations hurled against them. But like what I said, they’re still considered innocent until proven as crooks. And I’m inclined to give them the benefit of a doubt because if there’s one thing that we can really be sure of, it is this: they are all opponents of the Liberal Party of the Philippines, the political team of President Noynoy Aquino. It is the same party that had a hand, directly or indirectly, in tormenting its political rivals in the local government unit. The party’s name was palpable in the removal of Emilio Ramón Ejército as governor of La Laguna Province last year, in the disqualification of Calixto R. Catáquiz for his final bid as mayor of San Pedro Tunasán during the 2013 elections, and in the suspension of Cebú Governor Gwendolyn García during the final days of 2012. It was also the same party that tried to remove Manila Mayor Joseph Ejército Estrada not too long ago, but failed.

The funny thing here is that the mentioned LGU personalities were victimized by an obvious witch hunt not because of corruption in office but mainly because of their rivalry with their LP counterparts. But the part that hurts the most is that these political casualties, with the exception of the Ejércitos, Revilla, and García, all risked their lives, careers, and even reputation in EDSA back in 1986 when an emotional crowd was protesting against a dictator whose main rival at that time was none other than President Noynoy’s mother who was not even there (one instance: a young Calex Catáquiz was kicked out from his home by his own parents who were friends with Marcos upon learning that their son was supporting the People Power Revolution). Those politicians who gave their all-out support to the mother have instead gotten the shorter end of the stick from the son.

Has the president forgotten?

This bizarre sense of gratitude coming from President Noynoy comes into question now that his presidency is being beleaguered by reproach, nay, anger from the same voting public which catapulted him to power five years ago on account of his (covert) involvement in the Mamasapano tragedy. And this national anger is being fanned all the more by his seeming loyalty towards the selfish cause of a known terrorist group toying around with the word “revolution” despite this group’s manifest participation in the aforementioned tragedy. Where does his loyalty really belong, to the Filipino people who has supported him and his family throughout the decades, or to those troublesome pre-Filipino savages in the south?

Time and again, the president has beamingly declared that we are his bosses, and he our faithful servant. But looking back to how he has been walking on the tightrope that is contemporary history, it appears that the balance pole he is using has been carved out from the forests of Malaysia.

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Rizal wrote a patriotic letter to Blumentritt on his 26th birthday

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I wonder: if the Sandiganbayan did not issue a hold departure order against Senator Jinggoy Estrada, would the latter have left the country to escape allegations of his involvement in the telenovela that is the PDAF scandal?

Meanwhile, another co-accused, Senator Ramón “Bong” Revilla, Jr., openly declared that he will not leave the country and will squarely face the charges against him.

Both senators, despite their ordeal, are still determined to pursue their political plans in the next national election on 2016. As always, “public service” is their mantra, nay, excuse for doing so. But in fairness to them, their decision to stay put in the country rather than escape means that there is indeed an intention for them to clear their names, that they could be, perhaps (and just perhaps), innocent of the charges filed against them. We are then reminded of an incident not too long ago of a former senator, Pánfilo “Ping” Lacsón, who sneaked out of the country rather than face the charges against him in connection to the grisly murder of publicist Salvador Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito 14 years ago. Rather than fight it out tooth and nail, he opted for the safe way out: by flying out of the country (his ordeal later on inspired a film). On the other hand, it is difficult to blame the former Director-General of the Philippine National Police (who once declared that he hated politics and politicians) for he was up against a formidable wall: the Arroyo Administration.

These three lawmakers’ varying decisions on how to deal with high-profile court cases now remind us of how our national hero, whose birthdate falls today, comported himself in times of crisis. We all know how José Rizal got himself into trouble when he joined Freemasonry and started attacking the friars through his writings, particularly his novels and essays. During his first trip to Europe, the Calambeño wrote and published there his first novel, Noli Me Tangere. It was published in early 1886, and one of the first copies was sent to his Austro-Hungarian BFF, Ferdinand Blumentritt. Copies were subsequently sent to Filipinas.

Rizal and Blumentritt met only once, but they had been sending each other tons of letters for many years since 1886 (the last of this snail-mail correspondence was written from Rizal’s Fort Santiago cell on the eve of his execution); in an age when there was still no Internet and electricity, we can say that the two formed part of an earlier generation of social media users. Even though they were miles apart, they had formed a kindred bond, like that of brothers. So when Blumentritt finished reading Rizal’s first novel, alarm struck his heart for he realized the potential danger caused by his dear Filipino friend’s pen. He advised Rizal to just stay in Madrid for good and from there continue his Propaganda activities.

Rizal responded to Blumentritt. In a letter dated 19 June 1887, the patriot wrote:

Su consejo de quedarme en Madrid y escribir allá es muy benévolo; pero no puedo ni debo aceptarlo. No puedo soportar la vida en Madrid; allá todos somos “vox clamantis en deserto”; mis parientes quieren verme y yo quiero verlos también; en ninguna parte la vida me es tan agradable como en mi patria, al lado de mi familia. Todavía no estoy europeizado como dicen los filipinos de Madrid; siempre quiero volver al país de mis aborígenes. “La cabra siempre tira al monte”, me dijeron.

(MY TRANSLATION: Your advice for me to stay in Madrid and write from there is very kind of you, but I cannot even accept it. Life is difficult in Madrid. All of us there are but “vox clamantis in deserto”.* My relatives preferred seeing me and I feel the same way. In no place is life as nice as the one in my country, with my family right by my side. I’m still not Europeanized, as Filipinos say in Madrid. I always want to return to my native country. As they say, “the goat always goes to the mountain”.**)

Did you know? Rizal wrote in excellent German. A few years ago, I purchased volume 5 of the Epistolario Rizalino, composed of two parts, from eminent historian Benito Legarda, Jr. This letter of Pepe Rizal to his German-speaking penpal, Ferdinand Blumentritt, was written on the day the former turned 26, and it appears in the Epistolario’s first part.

The letter, originally in German, was written from Geneva, Switzerland. It was a long one and covered other topics. But the above lines stood out from the rest of the letter’s content as having more heart. It illumined our national hero’s affection not only for his country but for his family as well. We are accustomed to hear about Rizal the Patriot but rarely about Rizal the Family Guy. Of course, his courage speaks volumes here, something to be marveled at (a decade later, however, at the outbreak of the Tagalog rebellion, Rizal was singing a different tune: there was no more swagger left in him when he set sail to Cuba, but that’s another story and matter).

Rizal did not even remind Blumentritt in that letter that it was his birthday; anyway, birthdays were not celebrated back then as they are celebrated today (perhaps that fact could be another interesting topic for a future blogpost).

May this letter serve as an inspiration to our so-called public servants: country and family first, before the Self. And yes, conviction… but in the right place.

*F*I*L*I*P*I*N*O*e*S*C*R*I*B*B*L*E*S*

* “A voice crying out in the wilderness”, a reference to John the Baptist (Isaiah 40:3, Mark 1:3, John 1:23).
** A Spanish proverb which means a person’s fondness or attachment to one’s native land.

Noynoy’s proclamation: a brief observation

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Senator Benigno Simeón “Noynoy” II Aquino y Cojuangco was proclaimed as the 15th president of the Philippines yesterday at the Batasang Pambansâ. In the same historic event, former Macati City Mayor Jejomar Binay was declared as Noynoy’s Vice President. Earlier during that day, Joseph “Erap” Estrada finally conceded (through the lips of his son Jinggoy who was reelected into the Philippine Senate).

But wait… I thought I saw Charo Santos de Concio in the crowd! She was seated with the Aquino sisters (accompanied by Boy Abunda) who were all dressed in black. That “special appearance” finally puts to rest the allegations that ABS-CBN was favoring a presidential candidate during the recently concluded 2010 Philippine National Elections.

*******

The crowd was in a frenzy. Some were still holding the “Laban” hand sign. There were cheers of “Noynoy! Noynoy!” and “Cory! Cory!” Some even cheered “Noy-Bi! Noy-Bi!”

*******

It took some time before Noynoy was escorted into the podium. Media reporters dashed onto him in a mad scramble. In a mad and futile scramble as always.

*******

Juan Ponce Enrile was in a pensive mood all the time. But when Jejomar went up the podium, his face beamed with delight! Meanwhile, his congressional counterpart, Próspero Nograles, was furiously banging the gavel whenever he had the chance.

*******

After the proclamation was the press conference. Vice President Binay didn’t join Noynoy in that event. Not a surprise. But what was surprising was the way Noynoy handled the interview. He always had a quick and ready answer to all the questions the media threw at him. He was, however, a bit irked with a reporter from Radio Veritas. That reporter questioned Noynoy’s stand against the controversial RH Bill to which Noynoy had a quick retort: that he had already explained his stand on the issue numerous times during his campaign sorties. But he still patiently enumerated his plans about the reproductive health issue.

*******

With regards to the status of the nation’s coffers, Noynoy said that he will be very transparent about it. As much as possible, he said that he will update the nation of our true economic state no matter what. It appears that he will not “paint a rosy picture of our economy”.

Shades of Erap.

*******

He was asked many times about what his plans are during his first 100 days. Even the last reporter who asked him –a Japanese lady from the NHK media network– threw in the same question. A visibly irked Noynoy, who was still all smiles, finally refused to answer it and said that he will just have one of his staff give the Japanese reporter an English translation of what he said just a few minutes back. The Japanese reporter didn’t give up. So Noynoy cleverly told her that he’s not a jukebox that can be made to repeat itself by someone ¡Ang taray!.

Shades of Tita Glo.

The torch was passed to clamorous cheers in a blaze of yellow as Congress Wednesday proclaimed Sen. Benigno Aquino III the country’s next president and Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay vice president.

It brought a festive end to eight days of contentious canvassing following the country’s first nationwide automated elections.

Wild applause and loud cheering filled the session hall of the Batasang Pambansâ in Quezon City as Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Speaker Próspero Nograles raised the hands of the country’s next leaders.

Aquino was declared winner at exactly 4 p.m., paving the way for a peaceful transition of power as President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is set to step down on June 30 after nine years in office. Binay was proclaimed at 3:56 p.m.

The winners’ families joined them at the podium, but Aquino’s girlfriend Shalani Soledad remained seated in the VIP gallery.

Ex-President Joseph Estrada, ousted in a popular uprising in 2001 and later convicted and imprisoned in 2007 on plunder charges only to be pardoned weeks later, accepted his political defeat.

“I join our people in extending unqualified support to the new President with both hope and prayers he will serve our country faithfully and will perform his duties honorably without fear or favor,” Estrada said in a statement read by his son Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada.

No objections were heard at the joint session as the floor leaders moved for the proclamation, and the affirmative rulings sent the Aquino and Binay supporters into a frenzy of chanting.

Binay’s supporters were more vocal, loudly chanting “Binay, Binay” at every chance they got.

The side of the gallery filled with Aquino’s supporters, who formed a sea of bright yellow, also chanted “Noynoy” and “Aquino” at various intervals, but their shouts were sometimes drowned out by the Binay supporters.

At one point, the Binay side of the gallery chanted “Noy-Bi,” but the Aquino side did not join it. Aquino’s running mate, Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, was not present at the proclamation.

The cheering got so loud that Enrile had to remind the gallery to maintain order and to sit down.

Aside from their supporters in the gallery, Aquino and Binay did not lack for backers on the floor. Lawmakers from various political parties lined up on the aisle where they would walk, waiting to offer their congratulations. Inquirer.net

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