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Shai Hulud October 1, 2016

Posted by Janjan in Armchair Politics, Geekery & Nerdoms.
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N.B.  Herein lie spoilers.

I was reading Frank Herbert’s “God Emperor of Dune” around December of 2015.  My father was in the hospital at this time, and in a few weeks, would leave this earthly realm.  Perhaps because of the specter of Papa’s passing hanging heavily over our lives, I found myself engrossed with the book, as an escape from the sadness and worry.

The book is the third installment of Herbert’s Dune series.  It chronicles the last years of the reign of God Emperor Leto II Atreides, who, in the previous book, merged with the animal deity of Arrakis, the terrible sandworm and had become some bizarre amalgam of man and sandworm.  He had literally become man and god, entombed in one flesh, monstrous in size and horrific in countenance.

As God Emperor, Leto II established absolute dominion and tyranny over the galaxy.  Tyranny in the sense that everything from the ecology of worlds, to the establishment of religions, to the control of the Bene Gesserit breeding program was completely within Leto II’s exacting control and scrutiny.  Rebellions were quickly quashed by his fanatically loyal Fish Speaker army, and not even the wiles of the Bene Gesserit nor the intelligence of the Bene Tleilaxu could measure up to the wisdom Leto II possessed through the countless lifetimes of cellular memories stored in his powerful prescient mind.

I read this book months before the Philippines’ elections and now under the Duterte administration, I can’t help but compare some parallelisms between what Leto II established and what I think President Duterte is trying to achieve.

The word “totalitarian” has an ugly ring to it, and rightly so.  Despite the many attempts to establish autocratic governments, history has proven time and time again that dictators, even with the best of intentions, eventually fall to power’s temptation.  The corruption inherent in sinners and saints eats us within, and as the adage goes, “Absolute power corrupts, absolutely.”  This is not to say that there have been no exceptions, however.  Lee Kuan Yew’s success with Singapore is oft cited as basis for the legitimacy of totalitarian leadership.

This was likewise the point cited in God Emperor of Dune.  Tyrannical as it was, Leto II’s reign established three millenia of absolute peace, order, and abundance in the lives of the humans under his rule, to the point of obsessive-compulsive attention to detail.  For 3,509 years, humans knew no famine, no war, no ignorance, no pain.  Opposition and subversion were quickly suppressed and everyone was made to toe the line upon the pain of torture and death.

This was not to say that Leto II was a cruel creature driven by egotistical concerns, far from it. Upon reading the narrative, as well as the thoughts running in the God Emperor’s head, the reader understands the love and compassion Leto II held for humanity, and that this was all part of a very long and well thought-out plan for humanity’s ultimate survival as a race, as foreseen by Leto II with his prescience, in a vision called the “Golden Path”.

The absolute control served as a countermanding force that created stored up potential energy via repression and suppression of mankind’s innate need to take control of his own life and destiny.  It created within us an unassailable drive to survive at all costs, the trouble which lay beyond the reign of the God Emperor (and told in subsequent books of the Dune series).

This seems to be the rationalization and battle cry of President Duterte’s supporters: There is a method in his madness.  For all his blustering and bravado, behind the President’s potty mouth lies a mind as razor-sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, capable of lobotomizing the criminal tendencies lurking in the dregs of the Philippine subconscious and carrying us forward to Golden Years of freedom and safety.  At the cost, it seems, of swallowing whatever bitter pill the President prescribed for our cure, without question, without struggle, and without protest.

Fundamentally, the dividing line between his supporters and detractors lay on the amount of trust one reposed on the President.

If indeed the story of the God Emperor is applicable to the Philippines’ plight is one that remains to be seen.  While many elements are there, we ask if President Duterte shares the wisdom, foresight and detailed planning that Leto II poured into his vision of the Golden Path.

Nevertheless, everything goes according to Leto II’s plans in the book, and we finally see the wisdom behind the tyranny and fascism in later installments of the series.  We see that despite the great chaos and violence that humankind inflicted upon itself in the great war between the Bene Gesserit and the Honorable Matres subsequent to Leto II’s rule, humankind went out and survived all the far reaches of space, even with the mysterious Old Man and Woman doing its best to obliterate humanity.

I  can neither conclude nor hope that the Philippines will share the same plight as the novel’s.

But this much I can say though.  Leto II planned his own demise because he knew that for humankind to grow, they had to destroy their God Emperor… destroy their own God.  He planted the seeds for his own destruction under the hands of Siona and his own beloved Duncan Idaho, through revolution and assassination.

One hopes that a better story and a better ending lies in store for the Filipino people.  I pray for President Duterte and the desert storm rising in our way.  May we live to find ourselves treading our country’s Golden Path.



Love Will Conquer All April 7, 2008

Posted by Janjan in Armchair Politics, maniniyot, Seriously now….

Despite the looming food shortage and political crisis of our turbulent country, I still have faith that we Filipinos will prevail.

Let our loving and compassionate nature seek to help one another in these times of hardship, and together, we can surmount these tough times.

Money for Food March 15, 2008

Posted by Janjan in All, Armchair Economist, Armchair Politics, Seriously now….
Tags: , , ,

We live in dire times. It is the Ides of March, and the heat of summer brings with it whispers of shortage, famine and economic downturns.

I was reading the column of Alex Magno in the Philippine Star (click on <this link> to read it), and it tells a cautionary tale of how the United States’ impending recession brings with it an adverse effect on the world and our very own Philippines. To quote Mr. Magno:

Analysts are now talking about things that seemed unthinkable only a few weeks ago. Oil, for instance, could reach $120 a barrel very soon.

The reason for that is no longer the dynamics of supply and demand. Oil futures are now under great speculative pressure. As a hedge against the falling dollar, the large institutional funds are putting their money in commodities futures — oil being one major commodity.

Hedging in commodities are pushing prices across the board. It is not only oil that is rising. Grains prices are rising too.

That hits us as well.

Unusual weather the past few months have cut into global grains productions. China, hard hit by extreme cold weather and excessive rains, is prowling all the markets, buying up rice. Vietnam, unsure about its own supply, is not exporting.

We are facing a grains shortage here. Heavy rains in the Visayas and Mindanao drenched the harvest. Imported rice is going to cost significantly more, if we could find enough being exported by other countries.

Rice supply is going to be a problem for us the next few weeks. We are not sure we will be able to procure enough. Even if we do, the commodity is going to cost us more.

The news that the Philippines is hit with a rice shortage is especially frustrating for me. I was just recently in Iloilo, which is one of the country’s major rice producers. During my stay there for the past few days, I’ve been riding the bus going to both Roxas City in Capiz, and Kalibo City in Aklan, and witnessed for myself the endless expanse of ricefields and flatlands, seeing with my own yes how rich our Western Visayas land is. For sure, this is not the only province in the Philippines that has a strong agricultural sector. In Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, we have been blessed with abundant natural resources that will allow our country to be self-sustaining, if only in terms of food production.

And yet, look at us!

We import rice from Thailand and Vietnam, countries that were back before the 1970’s, lagging so far behind us in terms of economy and food production. In fact, the Philippines had the best scientific research institute for the production of rice, which is the International Rice Research Institute in Los Baños, Manila. The Thai and Vietnamese government sent their own scientists to learn how to grow the best rice yield from our country.

But look at us now! We have to beg for rice from our own neighbors who learned how to optimize rice production from us!

It gets even more infuriating when you think about all the opportunities we have had and lost to improve our agricultural sector. The most major opportunity being the “Comprehensive Land Reform Program”, which supposedly empowers our farmers by breaking them from the bondage of agricultural tendency through granting them land which the government mandatorily purchases from private landowners.

Has the CARP really improved our farmers’ lives in any way?

Look at the sugarfields of Negros Occidental, where you still see to this very day, poor and uneducated laborers being paid so much less than minimum wage for backbreaking work. Look at the farms and haciendas that conveniently side-stepped coverage from CARP by allegedly growing “cattle” and having “agricultural corporations” on their land. Go to the farmlands of Capiz where in this age of tractors and the scientific method of farming you still see farmers tilling the land with the lowly carabao and drying their grain by the roadsides where it may be swept away by strong winds and rain.

You see, the problem is not that our population is too big for our food production to supply to. Our problem is that our current agricultural system for the whole country is still stuck on methodologies and farming techniques used at the turn of the 19th Century, which does not yield enough to feed our starving nation. Hence, we have to import food at a higher premium when we have the capacity to solve our own problems with the right farming science and technology.

One of our problems is our very own Filipino farmers. The CARP Law is one major blunder. While the dream of having our own farmers tend to their own land is a laudable objective, the Philippines never developed a comprehensive program that followed up after the CARP. While it is true that SOME of our farmers now own the land that they till, the reality is that these farmers do not know what to do with that land after acquiring ownership. For sure, to increase the land’s yield, they should buy more fertilizer and learn scientific means for better agriculture. If they lacked capital, they could turn to agricultural loans provided by the government, the Asian Development Bank, and a host of private lending institutes offering various credit arrangements for agriculture. They could have sent their children to UP – Los Baños, or to the Visayan State University in order to specialize in courses like BS Agriculture with a Major in Soil Science, and a multitude of other like courses. They could even have banded together through agricultural cooperatives upon which our government grants numerous tax and fiscal incentives, as well as grants and loans.

But most of our farmers did not do any of this! Sometimes, the reason for sticking to the old ways of agriculture is: “I’m old and too set in my ways. I don’t have the time to learn how to use a tractor or these scientific techniques. I just want to farm the way my father did and his father before him.” These farmers do not even want to send their children to agricultural schools because (1) they need the extra manpower in the fields, (2) they would rather send these children to professional schools where they can become office workers, nurses, lawyers and accountants and earn more.

Clearly, these farmers are too poor and ignorant to know that there is a better way for them to improve their lot in life without abandoning their family’s calling to become farmers. It’s just so sad because all the avenues and opportunities have been made within their reach, if only they were not scared to try a different way of farming.

And while our government has been trying hard to encourage our agricultural sector, still, its efforts are not enough. There is still so much room for improvement that it is not taking advantage of.

The government could ultimately solve the peace-and-order situation in Mindanao so that its farmers can finally till the land in peace, and economic development could finally find its way to the fat and abundant agricultural potential of the southern region of the country. It could provide better teachers and facilities to our far-flung barrios, educating our children and making them see that agriculture can and will lead to financial prosperity with the right application of knowledge and skilled endeavor. It could build better roads, provide superior infrastructure, and set up administrative systems to ensure fast and efficient distribution of food and resources.

But what do we have instead? Anybody remember the fertilizer scandal of last year involving a certain unpopular president and her even more unpopular husband?

Our own private institutions are wanting. Instead of encouraging our children to become farmers, scientists, entrepreneurs and skilled workers, we are instead pushing them to become seamen, nurses and medical professionals so that they can go abroad and bring money back to the family. Instead of upholding the dignity of labor and the beauty of the countryside, we have a culture that sneers at probinsyanos and looks down on municipalities that do not have their own shopping malls and fast food outlets. Where we encourage our young to go out and build businesses of their own, instead, we give them the easy way out by becoming call center agents with ludicrous salaries for unskilled work.

We Filipinos are killing our own Philippines! We used to be the richest country in Asia! Japanese housewives came to our country in the 1950’s looking for work as househelpers. When Vietnam used to be just a poor hovel that travelled on rikshaws and on foot, our country already had its own airline service that flew to international destinations.

Look at those countries now! Japan was thrown nuclear bombs but it built itself from the ashes to emerge as one of the leading technological wonders of the world. Vietnam just recently launched its first satellite to outer space!

We used to be so much better than our neighbors, but we’ve become the country that everybody looks down on. Our women have become commodities sold on the internet for lonely and desperate old white men who just want to marry a glorified housemaid. We’ve become entertainers, and minstrels, exporting our skilled and learned by the droves to other countries. We are so poor that we cannot even afford to grow our own rice and buy it instead from neighbors who learned how to culture rice from our own laboratories.

And yet….

There is still hope. There is always hope. I refuse to believe that things are so bleak that we have no other recourse but to desert our country like rats fleeing from a sinking ship instead of working hand in hand to solve our problems. We are so much better than this. We are so much better than we allow ourselves to give credit for.

We need a PARADIGM SHIFT and we need it NOW!

I am calling upon the Philippine government to stop playing politics and start running the country back to track.

I am calling upon the farmers and private institutions to realize the value of a strong agricultural backbone as a means of making our country self-sufficient and economically feasible.

I am calling upon our youth to realize that there’s no such thing as easy money, and challenging them to work towards going back to the farmlands and reaping the true riches from our Philippine soil.

I am calling upon each and every Filipino, from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, to each and every foreign land and clime, this is a wake-up call because it’s no longer a question of will the Philippines become the economic superpower that it once was in Asia.

It has become a question of SURVIVAL and we are soon going to become a dead country unless we get our act together and start making sure that our institutions, systems, values and philosophies are geared towards becoming greater than the morass of pettiness that we have become.

We live in dire times.

It is the Ides of March, and the heat of summer brings with it whispers of shortage, famine and economic downturns.

We need to act NOW!

It All Starts with Taxes…. February 26, 2008

Posted by Janjan in Armchair Politics, Legally Opinionated and Jurisprudent.
Tags: , , ,
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Okay… this is a veeerrrrrryyyy long blog to make up for my verrrrryyyyy long absence from “bLAWgging”. People who have are too busy to read this (i.e., people who have no lives to speak of), shoo… move on. Nothing to see here.

I actually wrote this entry last January, but in the light of recent political events, I find this entry very apt and prophetic. So I’m posting it now. Scathing criticisms shall be met with cold indifference, and an eventual backstab in the dark from an unseen ninja. Fawning praises and songs of adulation will be met with much narcissistic preening and false modesty. So hit me with your best shot…. Fire away!

On April 15 of this year and of every year, I come across my most dreaded prescriptive period of all prescriptive periods (that means “deadlines” for those of you who do not speak Martian). Yup, you know what I mean… it’s the last day of filing of income tax for individuals who rely solely on compensation income, as well as for those juridical entities who follow the calendar year for their accounting systems.

Why do I dread this deadline? Well… when I file my income tax return, I get to see how much of my precious earnings go to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (or BIR), and penultimately, to the government, and when I do see this amount, I can’t help but cringing and saying “OUCH!” Those precious pesoses could well go into a lot of things to make my life more enjoyable… good food, a much-needed vacation, an AF 12-24mm f/4 Tokina lens, or more memory and an extra battery for my trusty and dependable laptop. Or even straight into the bank account where I am diverting funds for buying my first car. (Current balance: Zero. I should’ve taken up photography after I got myself the Power Picanto of DOOM!)

To make the pain of seeing my money go to taxes, I think about the good that it will go to, which will eventually redound to me, in the form of infrastructure, government services, administrative expenses, and the like. I think of all the poor children who will get good textbooks, of the expensive asphalt that’s used to line and maintain our streets, and the hardworking government workers who have money to take home to their families because of my tax contributions. A lot of good has to come out of it, right? For this mandatory sacrifice, society is improved and we citizens are given the security, service, and infrastructure that we need to improve our quality of life.

And then again, I cringe.

What improvement in services, infrastructure or quality of life???

The reality is that when we go to poor rural provinces, we see our children being taught by teachers who have the equivalent educational competency of a Third-grade student in the modern world. In certain city and municipal hospitals, I have heard of the dilution of the hospital’s alcohol with water because there’s really not much to go around for everyone who is in need of medical attention. In our cities, we see multi-million infrastructure projects that remain unfinished, despite the huge budget earmarked for its construction. In our rural courts, I have heard of a shortage of bond paper and office supplies because the court has run out of money for their purchase.

And we wonder…. so much of what we have goes to taxes. It seems like every move we make, we get taxed. When we earn income, we are imposed a hefty income tax. When we buy commodities, we are slapped on with value-added taxes. When we impart gifts to our beloved, there’s a donor’s tax. Heck, even in death, the State finds a way to tax us, in the form of estate taxes. Truly, there is a truism when the sages say that there are three constants in mortal life: Debts, Death and Taxes.

At its extreme, let us examine how corporations are taxed. First of all, the corporate income is slapped on with a hefty 35% tax on net profit. Then, as it is distributed among the corporation’s owners, 6% of the dividends is taxed as well. So effectively, if you are a businessman operating under a corporate structure, you are being taxed 41% of your precious earnings. For every P100 you make, P41 of that goes to the government.

Okay… say it with me now, one, two, three: OUCH!


It would perhaps be more bearable if it weren’t for the fact that we see so many government officials starting out as average people, who, after working in the government, suddenly have a sudden windfall of wealth. Their wives are seen with genuine Prada bags, while the husbands drive around with Terranos or Pajeros or Crosswinds and what have you. They take fancy trips to Europe and Asia while somewhere in a badly-dilapidated wing of an elementary school, three children are sharing a tattered textbook with badly mangled historical facts, listening to an instructor blabber on in pidgin English.

Something has to change.

Unfortunately, our government is stuck in a vicious cycle of corruption and cheating. It’s become another constant in our lives as Filipino citizens. I for one was born under the Marcos era. I have never ever in my life experienced a reprieve from the endless headlines of corruption, bribery, graft and inefficiency in the government. I am so used to it that I honestly take it for granted that a government official WILL be dishonest, WILL steal public funds, and WILL have controversies and irregularities in their election or appointment into office. For me, an honest government official is like a unicorn, or the Philippine team winning a gold medal in the Olympics. There are rumors that they exist, but no one has actually seen one in the flesh.

Okay… I apologize to all honest government officials out there, because to be fair, I have met a lot of them, and they really have done wonderful things for the country. I’m just being my usual hyperbolic self.

But nevertheless, you would agree with me, wouldn’t you? Graft and corruption has become so entrenched that when we hear of honest and oustanding government officials and employees, you can’t help but stand up and preserve the moment with your cellphone camera, just to show to cynics and disbelievers of the fundamental good of the human race that truly, an honest Filipino government worker exists and is serving the public. The next thing you know, our Philippine basketball players might come back from the next Olympics in China astride pure white unicorns, displaying their gold medals for all Filipinos to see. Then I will look for the nearest rock and cower underneath it because it is a sure sign that the world and everything we know has come to an end. Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla! Save us from our mythical enemies! Win for us the much prestigious Metro Manila Filmfest Awards!

My grandparents (God bless their souls) used to tell me that there was a time when corruption was not so prevalent in our government. This was the time of Presidents Osmeña, Quezon, Magsaysay, Roxas and all the wonderful true STATESMEN of yesteryears. “Really Lolo? I don’t believe it!,” I told my grandfather. And he would get that far-away and dreamy look in his eyes, seeing the glory of things as they were and a vision of what should have been. Then he would fart. It was just the fish he had for lunch, after all.

But seriously, so many of those who have gone before me all say that things were so much better in the past. (As most old people are wont to do). Government workers, at least, had the decency to lie low and cover up their tracks when they were corrupt, knowing the shame of getting caught in the act would cause a great stir in society. But old-timers say that the Marcos era came and changed all that. Suddenly, corruption was institutionalized, and government officials, from the most mundane government position and all the way to the most powerful seat in the land have become brazen and wanton in their dishonesty and incompetency. You would see a cashier in an administrative agency tell you to your face that she’s busy then open her cabinet, get her make-up and powder her nose in front of you. After she’s done, she will use the phone to call her Avon lady and make more purchases. You see hearing officers indiscreetly accept sealed envelopes from the opposing counsel before your very presence. You read of Senators, Congressmen and Presidents diverting funds for public projects into mysterious bank accounts which have their own names as signatories. (But I was merely holding it in trust for the Poor Carabao Scouts of Canadia, who asked my help in forming a foundation in their name! Yes, of course, they DO need Ten Million Pesos as a development fund! *look of rightneous indignation* The cassava flour which they need to sell Carabao Scout Balanghoy doesn’t come cheap you know! It’s imported all the way from Vietnam!”)

And when there’s no fear of getting caught, the next step is to see how far they can get away with the theft of public funds, with amounts getting more and more ludicrous with each passage of the General Appropriations Act. Their lifestyles become more and more questionable while less and less of our funds are actually put to public use.

But let’s stop pointing our fingers and blaming so and so government official shall we? My point is that THEY ARE ALL CORRUPT, and they all just came from ordinary Filipinos like you and me (ERGO, we are ALL corrupt). Removing or impeaching one is pointless, because just like every cockroach and rat that develops an immunity to a poison, they keep coming back with different faces and different schemes. If they are not hopelessly corrupt, then they are so hopelessly stupid to the point of being inefficient and running the country to the ground. Given the fact that every government official will be corrupt, then I say at least let us pick officials who are smart enough not to mess up our economy and give something TANGIBLE back to the State.

A lot of idealists and purists out there would hate my Machiavellian view of things (and I would be the first to admit that my flawed logic would only give way to even more complacency and even more graft and corruption), but really, what can you do?

We can complain and impeach and imprison each and every government official we find, but soon we will be left with no one to run our country, because I tell you anyone you put into power will be corrupt and inefficient, in one way or another. Impeachment and imprisonment will not hack it anymore, as former President Estrada has proven time and time again. He will still find the face to say that he was innocent and a victim of politics. Or worse, they will find a way to frustrate the very ends of justice that seeks to punish them, just like the President that I thought I endorsed does. (“Yay! Go team! You can do it Nicky! Survive!!! Survive!!! Survive!!!”)

What we really need to do is to show them that we mean business. I propose that for every government official that gets caught doing an act of bribery, graft or corruption, we should cut off their extremities one by one, including those private individuals who conspired to their act. Then, for serious offenses like plunder, we should hang them by the testicles on the flag pole of Malacanang, with honey, sugar, and Carabao Scout Balanghoy slathered all over their bodies, then release a nest of fire ants at the base. If the government official does not have testicles, then we will hang their husbands instead. If they don’t have husbands, we will marry them off to one. I hear there are some Asian sub-cultures who enjoy that kind of fetish. Maybe they would like to run for politics in the Philippines.

As you well know, it’s a vicious cycle. We get corrupt government officials because we elect and appoint corrupt people into public office. We elect these people into public office because we allow our votes to get bought. We allow out votes to get bought because we don’t have a good ethical foundation. We don’t have a good ethical foundation because as children, our government gave us substandard facilities and education in the public school system. We were given substandard facilities and education because our great statesmen were busy defalcating our public funds to buy a condo in Forbes for their mistresses. We have corrupt government officials because we elect corrupt people into public office and so on and so forth…


There is a way out, a way that ensures a clean start for our new generation. To eliminate corruption in our system, my Tax professor in my review classes has a very succinct solution: “Shoot all Filipinos above the age of 7

Oh well… it’s a dire situation but to be honest, I have not given up hope. I have not lost faith in the bouyant and positive spirit of our Filipino race. I still believe that we have the capacity to change, as long as we work harder at putting fundamental changes in society, and laugh on our foibles and pecularities by reading about the humorous side of corruption in other people’s blogs. (“Perez… the Magnificent Atty. Perez.” It almost sounds like Denny Crane, innit?)

And most of all… invest, invest, INVEST in good public education for our poor and marginalized children. Good facilities, great teachers, the best books. Teach them fundamental ethics and good moral conduct, whether by a generic viewpoint espoused by athiests or by religious underpinings forwarded by whatever faith you follow. Make it a heinous crime to divert funds away from our public education system. Stop using our teachers as watchers and canvassers for the elections and start implementing a computerized voting system. Best of all, take away our lawmen’s pork barrel and divert it into the budget for hiring EXCELLENT and HIGHLY EDUCATED teachers.

(Yeah right Magnificent. Dream on.)

In the meantime, tomorrow, I will withdraw a hefty sum of money from my bank account, and file my income taxes in advance. I will try hard not to wince and think about the things I could have bought for myself with my tax money, and imagine all the wonderful things that our honest and hardworking public officials will use with that money for the common good. Then I will go to the nearest mall and drown my sorrows in the biggest serving of ice cream that I could buy.

Either that or unwrap a package of the best Carabao Scout Balanghoy in this side of the Visayas. Mmmm. Vietnamese cassava goodness.

Radiohead’s Latest Album is called “HAIL TO THE THIEF!” September 12, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, Armchair Politics.

I have absolutely nothing to say about what transpired today, September 12, 2007. No comment, no objection, no affirmation. Nada. None whatsoever.




I do have a song to sing! 😀

*grabs my guitar Carolina and walks over to the stage*

Let’s see now… Key of E…. how does that go again? Oh yeah….






Are we ready, Mr. DJ? Yeah? Can you hear me in the booth? Okay?

*thumbs up*

Ehem ehem ehem!

I lovingly dedicate this song to my parents, especially to my mother and my father. This is the actual lyrics of Radiohead’s hit single, Karma Police. Pramis!


Karma police, arrest this man
He talks in maths
He buzzes like a fridge
He’s like a detuned radio

Karma police, arrest this girl
Her Hitler hairdo is
Making me feel ill
And we have crashed her party

This is what you get
This is what you get
This is what you get when you mess with us

Karma Police
I’ve given all I can
It’s not enough
I’ve given all I can
But we’re still on the payroll

This is what you get
This is what you get
This is what you get when you mess with us

And for a minute there, I lost myself, I lost myself
Phew, for a minute there, I lost myself, I lost myself

For for a minute there, I lost myself, I lost myself
Phew, for a minute there, I lost myself, I lost myself

“Gusto kong buma-et pero di ko magawa, nasa Dios ang awa, nasa tao ang gawa!”

– Tito, Vic and Joey –

Legislative Wish List July 23, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, Armchair Politics, Legally Opinionated and Jurisprudent.
1 comment so far

I hereby append my concurring opinion to Atty. Jaime Soriano’s manifesto:

Legislative wish list

Tomorrow, the Fourteenth Congress of the Philippines begins its regular session with the State of the Nation address of the President.

Thereafter, both the Senate and the House of Representatives are expected to pass legislations that would address the pressing needs of the country or perhaps improve the lives of the Filipino people.

Hopefully in the next three years of the Fourteenth Congress, it enacts legislative measures along these lines:

1. A enabling law that would finally define, prohibit and dismantle political dynasties in the country’s political environment as mandated by the Constitution.

2. A law that would strengthen political parties by prohibiting and punishing political turncoats, granting state subsidy and funding of major political blocks, and assuring transparency in electoral campaign spending and contribution.

3. A law that would at least lessen, if not eliminate, red tape in government particularly in the delivery of frontline public services whereby the general public availing of the services of government is treated as kings and queens by the bureaucracy.

4. A law that would define the appropriate land use classification of every piece of the country’s territory taking into account local and regional profiles and settings and make land as a real engine for economic growth.

5. A law that would impose heavy taxation on idle lands to serve the ends of the economy, the environment and social justice. When land is unproductive, its economic and environmental functions are stifled. What is worse is when landowners derive undue profits from their idle possessions through sheer speculative activities.

6. A law that would grant the Commission on Human Rights and the Commission on Audit quasi-judicial powers or even the authority to prosecute all cases involving government officials and employees that violate laws within their ambit.

7. A law that would exempt from income taxation employees earning below the yearly poverty threshold as determined by the National Economic and Development Authority, and not merely based on existing minimum wage structures as proposed, and lift taxes or prohibit imposition of charges on small time deposits and investments.

8. A law that would ensure prosecution of tax cheats by prohibiting taxpayers from entering into a compromise with the Bureau of Internal Revenue or the Bureau of Customs after deliberately evading the payment of taxes or duties.

9. A law that would automatically give scholarship to any or all students who demonstrated excellent academic performance in any school of their choice within the Philippines, private or public.

10. A law that would support, finance, subsidize, or give incentives to Filipino inventors and their inventions.

Of course, this list can go on and on as if there is a shortage of laws in this country. But the truth is there are tens of thousand of law in the country’s statute books. Many of them are in fact good laws which have long been forgotten or rarely being implemented.

Keen political observers in fact would often say that this country does not need more laws. What it needs is the difficult task of better and more effective means of demanding obedience to existing laws.

Perhaps, one of the important­ things that this present Congress should also do is to take an inventory of all the laws of the Republic and start proceeding with the tedious task of codifying them for better implementation.

What Greek philosopher Arcesilaus observed as early as before the birth of Christ, when he said: “Where you find the laws most numerous, there you will find also the greatest injustice” should also provoke the thoughts of Filipino solons.

It is hoped that the people of this beautiful country still finds sense in the existence of Congress.

No Problem! July 3, 2007

Posted by Janjan in Armchair Politics, Legally Opinionated and Jurisprudent.
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I would like to copy and paste a heads up from Manuel L. Quezon III, addressed to all Cebuanos. The full text can be read in his column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

And I quote:

Last May, the people of Cebu rejected the division of their province, knowing the proposal to chop their province up was merely for the convenience of the political leaders proposing it; by so doing, to my mind they’ve pointed out that consolidation, and not atomization, can be a means for building a positive future not only for the province, but the country. In 1952 we had 52 provinces; today, we have 81: our neighbors haven’t dissipated their energies on carving up their territory the way we have. The result? More officials; more offices; more paperwork. And for what? Multiplying officials doesn’t result in better officials.

What’s crucial here is that gerrymandering Cebu became an election issue. While we all might wish to be more united and disagree with each other less, we also have to recognize that there are certain things not only worth fighting for, but also worth fighting over. The issue has been settled: that is the advantage democracy confers.

And there’s one other thing about the Cebuanos that I find inspiring, and it seems to stem from the entrepreneurial spirit that has always been a local point of pride: their ability to identify problems, and work out solutions without resorting to extravagant experiments.

When I inquired about opinions concerning Federalism, one person gently told me the province has accomplished a lot in convincing neighboring provinces to join in on a regional tourism development plan; that efforts to control their air traffic and even shipping management were ongoing: and that if these initiatives work out well, then they will serve as a model for other regions, and it’s all being done within existing laws, the framework here and now. “No problem!”

I happen to think that one of our largest problems is that we’ve forgotten the value of debate, the problem-solving nature of disagreements; we have lost the common vocabulary that makes consensus possible after the heated and passionate words have been exchanged. But whenever I visit places in Cebu, it also reminds me that what we will never lose is the capacity to do more, with less.

Chiz Escudero: the Man Who Would Be King July 1, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, Armchair Politics, I, Lawyer, Idiocy.

I cringe as I write this article, knowing that I will be open to attack from rabid Chiz Escudero fans nationwide (of which, there are legion), including my very own bizpren Raymond, who knows Senator Chiz personally. Please do not throw rotten tomatoes, eggs and Pichay fans when you see me. In defense of myself, I invoke the fundamental human right to have one’s own opinion. Or, again, to quote Maritess, famed domestic helper of the Superfriends, “Suri Aquaman! Suuurrriii! I was jaz cooking feesh!”


As much as I don’t like it, it’s inevitable. Chiz Escudero was validly elected by our people to become Senator of the Republic of the Philippines. Even my sublime Magnificence recognizes his inevitable Honorableness, acknowledging that Mr. Escudero’s path to Presidency is paved with starstruck screaming fans and easily impressionable minds. Just as I am the rock star of the legal universe, Chiz is fated to be the Elvis Presley of the political arena. As much as I loathe to share the spotlight, even John Lennon must recognize that in America, Elvis Presley is the King.

I can already foresee the steps leading to his enthronement. A conveniently placed impeachment will be launched either on the third quarter of this year or the fourth quarter of the next, and of course, Chiz and the Young Turks will be performing center-stage, with Tony “the Rebel” Trillanes on drums, Ping “Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Pogi” Lacson on bass, Frank “I’m Too Sexy for My Shirt” Drilon on lead guitar, and of course, Chiz “Sinong Tatay Mo?” Escudero on vocals.

Then on 2009, things might abate, depending on the outcome of the impeachment. If the complaint gets shot on sight by the Lower House, led by a yet unnamed Speaker of the House (which depends on who is the more Honorable among Pablo “Master Yoda” Garcia, or Jose “Look, I am your Father!” de Venecia), then the Turks would have to drum up excitement by holding numerous rock concerts/protest rallies all along Mendiola and Makati. Or another coup attempt, perhaps? (Of course, they will say “Hindi nga ito coup attempt, protest against the corruption in the government lang.” To which, I shall reply: “Homaygas! I can’t bilib it! Ham nga!“)

Or miracles of miracles, maybe they WILL be able to impeach Queen Macapagal-Amidala, despite the brave and valiant efforts of her Juday Knight, Anakin Ermita. Now we will see a showdown between the forces of Senator/Emperor Palpakin (you know… the one who’s manipulating all this behind the scenes?), the Sith warriors and their androids, versus the might of the dwindling and divided Juday Knights and their clone soldiers.

*cue Darth Vader entrance theme song: PAM pam-papam-pam pa-pam-pam pa PAM!*

Conveniently place an attack on a nearby government installation, which we shall call the Death Star, by rogue X-Wing pilots, the Millenium Falcon, a flea-bitten Wookie, and an incoherent Gungan who failed his bid to become the next cute George Lucas mascot, and we have a dramatic, economically-unstable and massive loss of investor-confidence bonanza! Except where in Hollywood, blockbusters make a lot of money, in the wet and wonderful world of Philippines, blockbusters spell disaster for the country. But who cares? The masses are entertained! Huzzah for everyone!

But in these dark times, who will be our savior? Who will be young, idealistic and pogi enough to stand up to the call and be the nation’s hero in our hour of greatest need?

*Cue Ely Buendia and Bamboo on stage, humming acapella “Di na ko papayag, na mawala ka muli… Di na ko papayag na muling mabawi…”*

Enter a solemn procession led by Chiz Skywalker flocked by a throng of furry and oh so cute Ewoks, waving lightsabers and sampaguita garlands, moving towards EDSA and chirping “For we are the children of yesterday’s dream…”

(Please please PLEASE Lord, let them get Sarah Geronimo to sing for that rally. Also Lord, make her hair look like two large Cinnabon rolls around her head, dress her up in a two-piece copper bikini, tie a collar around her neck and connect her to Jabba the Hutt. In lieu of Jabba, You can connect it to Dennis Padilla)

Demmit, I hate being upstaged. I’m the rock star of the legal system, Chiz Escudero, not you! I hate you Chiz Escudero! I hate you hate you hate you!

*Pant, pant, wheeze. Drinks kiwi-flavored C2*

Must. Suppress. Overriding need. To. Embarrass Myself.


Okay, now that I have sufficiently entertained my readers, it’s time to switch to something more serious. This is my open letter to my compañero and fellow Filipino, the Honorable Francis “Chiz” Escudero:

Dear Atty. Escudero,

Two weeks ago you appeared before the combined populace of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, for both the Cebu City and Cebu Province chapters. You were our keynote speaker, for a dinner where we inducted both our newly-elected IBP officers, and the new lawyers of the year 2007.

I have to hand it to you, Atty. Escudero, you’re one hell of a damn good speaker. You held the whole audience in sway and captivated them with your aura of nobility. You moved us with a plea to stand up against all wrongs, to not be complacent in the light of injustice, corruption and oppression. I have to hand it to you, Mr. Speaker, you are damn good. You made me want to stand up and incite my fellow lawyers to stand up and sing the National Anthem. I was inspired to go out and fight crime, to expose the wrongs of our public officials, and to take the stand and rally before Fuente Osmeña against the wrongs of society.

But more than this, Atty. Escudero, more than anything, you made me want to believe in you.

And there’s where our problem lies.

As my friend Raymond may have told you Atty. Escudero, I didn’t vote for you in our last elections. In fact, I’d have to say that I don’t even like you. So far, you’ve proven to be nothing but all grandstanding and talk. I’ve checked your records and to the best of my knowledge, you have not authored a single bill, nor have you enacted a single law. All I’ve seen you do is make a raucous before session hall. That, Atty. Escudero, makes you great as a self-appointed devil’s advocate and “people’s watchdog”. But as a lawmaker elected into the House of Represenatives by the popular mandate of the people of your district, you are an utter and dismal failure. I’ve even heard rumors that during the time when a super-typhoon hit your province, you were not even around to help out.

Which is why, now that you are a Senator, I’m worried about you.

We cannot deny the fact that you are on your way to the top. In fact, I would not be surprised to see your name as a Vice-presidential candidate in 2010, or possibly even for President, if you prove yourself to be popular.

How can anyone NOT support you? You are young, passionate and idealistic. You were educated with a Masters Degree in a prestigious Ivy League law school. You have a way with words that hypnotizes the mind, as you paint a pretty picture of evil administrations and white knights come down to topple them. You are the man who would be King, compañero. Nobody can stop that, you are an unbeatable force.

And that worries me.

You see compañero, not all of us are satisfied with mere promises of redemption. Some of us try to look at the bigger picture. Some of us look at track records and previous performance. And in that area, Atty. Escudero, some of us find you very much lacking.

We know that you are against the Arroyo administration, compañero, and for that we laud you, because it’s people like you who keep the President from abusing her power and stepping out of line. But when the powers that be are toppled, and those that stood up against the Man become the new kings, where will that leave you, Atty. Escudero? When there are no more windmills to crusade against, would Don Quixote still be a brave dragon-slaying knight?

The point I’m trying to make Atty. Escudero is that without your crusade against GMA, you are nothing but an empty tin can, the kind that makes a lot of noise. Without her glare to set contrast against, you do not actually carry your own light. You are a mere moon that reflects a much harsher sun. Without that sun, you are nothing but the Earth’s satellite, an empty peace of rock devoid of atmosphere — a sterile smote of dust that cannot even support a form of life at the micro-bacterial level.

It’s undeniable that you will someday be President, compañero and when that happens, I’m worried because you haven’t done anything to show that you would make a good leader. What economic policies do you advocate? Have you fought through blood, sweat and tears to protect human rights? Have you planted a tree in the name of ecology? Have you sent a child through public school, bought books for her library or erected classrooms for her to study in? Have you spoke out against the evils and excesses of people other than GMA and her cronies? Have you not looked within your own party and blanched at the corruption and potential for greater abuse of power festering within the ranks of the “Genuine” Opposition?

Tell me compañero, have you read the book “Animal Farm” by George Orwell? It’s a book written against the rise of communism, but nevertheless it has a universal morale that applies to those who would topple the powers that are in order to become the powers that be. The morale is that sometimes, to our horror, we discover that we overthrew bad leaders only to replace them with worse.

Are you going to be one such leader of tomorrow Atty. Escudero? Perhaps one day, we will discover that there is not much difference between you and the people you protest against, because right now, there is no indication at all… no track record or previous stand you’ve made that would assure us that you will be otherwise.

Perhaps, compañero, you will discover to your chagrin that you have become the windmill and that someday, there will be other white knights who will set their charge to overthrow you.

Yes Atty. Escudero. You ARE young, passionate and idealistic. You do paint a quite fetching picture as a leader of tomorrow. In fact, you remind me so much of a U.S. President, Warren Harding, a man who rose to prominence in the 1920’s. A man who looked so Presidentiable that it was inevitable that he would become the next Chief Executive, which he did. But that was it, compañero, that was Harding’s only claim to presidency, the fact that he looked and sounded like he SHOULD be a President. But as a leader and role model, Harding was a failure. He was better known for playing poker and golf, and for his sexual appetites, but NOT for his track record as U.S. President or as a statesman.

Are you another Warren Harding, Atty. Escudero?

Yes, compañero, I do remember that night you gave us your keynote speech. I applauded right after it, and I applauded with genuine feeling. You made me want to believe in you. Your words were sincere, heartfelt and emphatic. You made me want to trust you when you implored, “I have been duly elected by popular vote of the people and regardless of whether or not you like me, I am here nonetheless. Please give me a chance.”

I want to give you a chance Atty., because I know that your way to the top has been written in the stars. You WILL be King.

And heaven help you and the Philippines if you don’t live up to the heavy burden that’s waiting for you there. That same burden that you would wrest away from the windmills implanted against impeachment.

Please do prove true to the people’s mandate compañero. Do not be just talk and hot air, do not just grandstand or make a scene. DO SOMETHING. Show us where you stand in economic policy and political reform. Do not define yourself by the size of the dragons you slay. Show us what your real worth is other than a rabble rouser and the boy who cries wolf. Show us that indeed, you are a man worthy of becoming king.

And it is with that, Atty. Escudero, that I foist my hope and good intentions on you, along with the dreams and faith of the people who voted you to become a Senator of the Republic of the Philippines. Do us well and make us proud.

Mabuhay ka Senator Escudero, at sana po, ipagpakita mo na tunay kang may lamang loob, na kayo po’y di lamang hanggang salita at na may tunay kang pagmamahal at pagtangkilik sa inang bayang Pilipinas.

Congratulations compañero and God bless. We will all be watching and praying.


The Magnificent Atty. Perez

A State Within a State June 17, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, Armchair Politics.

There’s a blog somewhere here in the Internet that reacted quite curiously to my entry, “The Necessary Evil.” It’s a blog maintained by a Manileño armchair political analyst, with a cut-and-paste commentary on my explanations as to why Cebuanos tend to be pro-administration.

What I found curious was that, despite my explanation, some people just don’t get the point. That blog and its own set of readers attacked my opinion, and Cebuano voters in general. It’s as if it’s a sin to be pro-administration. It’s as if it’s a crime to be different from Manila. I wasn’t even trying to say that my opinion is right. I was just trying to explain why most Cebuanos are pro-administration.

Now I don’t mind people having an opposing viewpoint from mine, just as long as they respect my viewpoint and don’t try to assert the old “You’re wrong because I’m right” line of reasoning. I’m one of those who believe that I have my own opinion and you have yours, so let’s keep it that way. I will listen what you have to say, and I appreciate it if you would listen to mine. If someone does prove to me that I’m wrong, I’m usually quick to concede, “Yeah, you do have a point.” But please, if you have a point to make, say it nicely. A boorish line of argument does not impress anyone. The last time I checked, ad hominem attacks are only fair in debates held at children’s playgrounds and at fish markets. Ironically, these particular readers are reacting the same way that they’re accusing GMA of reacting to her criticisms. With a belligerent and condescending attitude.

What I also don’t appreciate is that the blog is insinuating that Cebuanos are pro-administration for the sake of being contrary to “Imperial Manila”. What I disliked the most was that one of the blogs readers even went so far as questioning the Cebuano voting populace’s intelligence because we support a mayor with a boorish attitude.

If anything, this kind of argument only serves to strengthen the bias we Cebuanos have against people from Manila who think their opinions are the only ones that matter, the same kind of people who think that the sun and moon sets only on the National Capital Region. I agree, this Cebuano stereotyping of Manileños is unfair, because not everyone in the NCR is that myopic. But every now and then, someone comes up to reinforce the stereotype.

What I hate the most is that some people even insist that there’s some sort of rivalry going on between Manila and Cebu. We’re compared to being the blue and red states, akin to the North and South of the United States.

Speaking as a Cebuano who has lived in Manila and who repeatedly travels to Manila, I speak against such rivalry. Please. We will NEVER be able to compete with the NCR in terms of political power, as well as, economic and financial activity. The rate of power plays and the fluidity of money in Manila is staggering. Cebu will never hope to even be within the level of activity that Manila enters into day by day.

And you know what? Thank God we never will! The way I see it, it’s this quick change of power and money which causes the heightened sense of paranoia and helplessness among Manileños, the feeling that they don’t have any control over the situation. You won’t find that here in Cebu, where the pace of life and business is quite slow, sedate, but sure. We like the way things are in our city and province. We like the fact that we are probinsyanos… a big city that will always be a small town. We will never be as rich nor as powerful as Manila and we’re okay with that.

If there’s one statement in that particular blog that I subscribe and agree to, it’s the fact that Manila sees Cebu as a State within a State. Frankly speaking, we wish we could be that ourselves, kind of like the way Hong Kong is to China. That’s why Cebuano politicians often lobby for a federal government or for more empowerment to non-NCR regions. Why? Because Cebu is self-sustaining. To a certain extent, we are insulated from whatever happens in Manila because we are not dependent on the national government for support. In fact, the rough estimate is that for every peso that the Cebu government remits to Manila, only 10 centavos go back to us as our share in the national budget. Rally all you want in Mendiola, or get scared about uprisings and coups. In Cebu, life goes on.

In fact, this is why most Cebuanos are tolerant of the President, notwithstanding all that’s been said and done about her. She’s been good to Cebu, and if you’ve seen how good our economy has become, you’d be supportive of her too. She’s the first President after a long time that has recognized that Cebu and Manila are partners in our country’s development. She supports a devolution of administrative and political powers in favor of the outlying provinces. She built a Malacañang in the South in our very own shores. She can speak our language fluently. Would you blame us then for being supportive of her? GMA is addressing the Cebuano’s need to be recognized and accepted as an independent economic power of the Philippines, and she identifies herself as a probinsyano just like us. She speaks Tagalog funny, just like us. She is throwing projects and development our way, and in a way that allows us to support our brothers and sisters in the Visayas. Bohol, Leyte, and the nearby provinces of Western Visayas are benefiting from the boom in Cebu, since we are eager to link up and share our tourists and resources with them.

We are well aware of all the protests and charges against her, and yes, we acknowledge that there are very valid and legal grounds for such protests. But you have to understand that in the Cebuano culture, we don’t like to rock the boat unless we must. We are a very community-oriented region and people who speak out and dissent are treated with skepticism and wariness. That’s just who we are, and that kind of group oriented mentality works for us. So please, respect the Cebuano opinion for what it is. We just do not see things the way you Manileños do.

(Caveat… not all Cebuanos feel the same way that I do, although it’s pretty fair to say that most Cebuanos subscribe to my viewpoint, as proven by the recent results in the Senatorial votes. There are, in fact, a lot of pro-opposition sentiments among people my age, but as compared to Manila, these pro-opposition protesters are not as many.)

So, allow me to be so presumptuous as to speak in behalf of all Cebuanos everywhere. What do we really want from Manila? Respect us for who we are. We are different from you, and we like it that way. We don’t want to compete with you and we are not trying to be contrary to anything you hold, for the sake of being contrary. Cebu marches to its own drummer, and we won’t let Manila dictate our cadence for us. Sometimes, we agree on similar points, and sometimes we don’t. But nevertheless respect our point of view. Isn’t it a fact that variety is the spice of life?

In closing, I would like to stress that Cebuanos and Manileños are cut from very different fabrics, but not necessarily in a way that negates one from the other. I would like to cite the fact that having lived in Manila (with a close circle of all-Manileño friends) and as someone who frequently travels in and out of the NCR, I’ve observed very interesting cultural differences between Cebuanos and Manileños:

1) Cebuanos are laid-back while Manileños are always in a hurry. In Manila, money and power is quick to change hands. You can also notice this in most Manila malls. Most people are carrying shopping bags. They’re in a hurry to go from one place to another. In Cebu, people take their own sweet time in doing things. Well, that’s both a good and bad thing. Manileños often complain that Cebuanos are unprofessional because it takes us a long time to finish or decide on anything. But on the flip side of that, Cebuanos don’t like to be rushed in making decisions because we like to think things out before making a commitment. Haste makes waste, as the adage goes.

2) Cebuanos and Manileños have a very different sense of humor. Forgive me for saying so, but I find the average Manileño joke very bland. When hanging out with friends from Manila, I’m often surprised why they suddenly burst out laughing. Oftentimes, I just don’t get what the joke was. As pointed out by a Manileño friend, kaming mga Cebuano ay mahilig mang-asar. Our sense of humor has a touch of crassness and pang-masa appeal to it. If you watched the old Bubble Gang series, that sense of humor comes closest to Cebuano jokes.

3) Cebuanos have a more bohemian sense of fashion while Manileños are very sharp dressers. For the average Cebuano male, anything that requires wearing a collar is already formal attire. Long sleeved shirts are for people who really are serious about dressing up. You can wear t-shirts, jeans and rubber shoes to almost any Cebuano establishment and you’d fit right in with the crowd. We don’t like to dress up. Now compare that with the Makati/Ortigas crowd, where women who are just hanging out having a beer will come dressed to the nines, accompanied by metrosexual men with highlights on their hair, and the latest fashionable pair of jeans. A typical Cebuano would balk at wearing expensive Havaianas while in Manila people go in droves to buy designer tsinelas.

4) Cebuanos are spendthrifts while Manileños are very driven consumers. It’s a little known marketing fact that Cebu is the test ground for most new products and brands on the market. If it will sell in Cebu, it’s sure to be a hit anywhere else. Cebuanos must have value for their money. They do not like to spend money on something that’s not worth buying. But I’ve noticed that in Manila, you can set up just about any kind of food stall and any kind of specialty store and chances are it will sell like hotcakes. It’s hard to push products in Cebu. We are loathe to part with our hard earned money.

5) On average, Cebuano taxi drivers are more honest and respectful. Plus, they don’t ask for tips. If they have the money, they will give you exact change.

6) Manileños are better partygoers than Cebuanos. We don’t have anything that comes close to Embassy. We have some bars and clubs here and there, but we’ll never be able to compete with the Manila night life. Again, our nightlife is more laidback and sedate. We prefer to just drink beer, talk and listen to live music. Most of our bars don’t charge an entrance fee and our beer is cheaper. The Manila party scene is a lot more interesting and their partygoers there a lot more hardcore.

7) Our food and cost of living is cheaper. But our average salary rate is also lower. I would be making a lot more money as a lawyer if I were living in Manila.

8) The proportion of women smokers from non-smokers is much, much bigger in Manila than in Cebu. In Manila, it’s commonplace to find droves of women having a cigarette break both in work and in school. In Cebu, although women smokers are not rare, still, they are pretty uncommon.

9) Cebuanos find it easier to speak English than Tagalog. And at the risk of drawing ire from Manileño readers, I’d have to say that the average Cebuano speaks English better than the average Manileño. The Visayan language is guttural and hard, while the Tagalog language is softer and more nasal. We Cebuanos resent the fact that we are forced to learn “Filipino,” and I speak as someone who had dismal grades in Araling Panlipunan during my elementary years and yet for some reason, Social Studies in high school was one of my best subjects. Despite the fact that “Filipino” is slowly adding other regional words to its grammar, nothing will ever change the fact that its intonation and base language will always be Tagalog, which we Visayans find infernally hard to pronounce and understand. (Present company excluded… I am a fluent Tagalog speaker, after having lived in the US. But in my childhood, I cannot speak the damn language straight and had dismal grades in Filipino and Araling Panlipunan… just like all my other classmates.) That is why we Cebuanos are staunch advocates of a straight English curriculum… because the English language is easy for us to pronounce, for some linguistic reason.

10) I love the cultural and cuisine diversity in Manila… it’s hard to find the different flavors and textures here in Cebu. It’s only recently that Cebu has had an explosion of different kinds of cuisine. For the longest time, we’ve only had barbecue stations, Ding Qua Qua dimsum, and Sunburst Fried Chicken. But then again, where in Manila can you find dimsum steam rice, puso, ngohiong and Cebuano lechon?

The Law of the Playground June 11, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, Armchair Politics.
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I think the Philippines and its leaders would be better off if we all just remembered one unalterable rule from kindergarten:  Play nice, dear.

  In particular, I am referring to the latest fiasco involving Mayor Tomas Osmeña, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia and Lahug Barangay Captain Mary Ann de los Santos.  When I look at those three squabbling I see three little children fighting over an ice cream cone, arguing that one child took a bigger lick than what was fair and agreed upon, while the other would say, “Nuh-uh!  YOU took a bigger lick, not me!”  And so on and so forth, until the three start pelting stones at themselves, not noticing that the ice cream cone is melting and not a single one of them got to fully enjoy the frozen treat.

 Basically,  the latest cause of misery is the Barangay Lahug Elementary School.  The story is this:

 Mary Ann  de los Santos is the barangay captain of Lahug, and was a staunch supporter of former mayor Alvin Garcia, who is the incumbent mayor Tomas Osmeña’s bitter rival.  Thus, during the term of Osmeña, de los Santos whined that she never got any project because of the incumbent mayor’s petty vendetta against anybody who dares oppose him.  So, during the last elections, rather than let Osmeña run unopposed, de los Santos decided, together with Garcia’s son Raymond, to run for office as Mayor, with Raymond Garcia as her Vice-mayor.

De los Santos was doomed to fail, of course.  Osmeña is just too crafty and too popular to be beaten at the polls.  So, de los Santos lost fair and square and went back to her barangay to lick her wounds.  Unfortunately, like a bitter woman scorned and rebuffed, de los Santos had to pass around a letter that both thanked the constituents of Lahug for their staunch devotion and support during the last 2007 elections, and complain that Tomas Osmeña never gave any projects in favor of Barangay Lahug.

This last statement particularly irked our onion-skinned Mayor because it wasn’t true.  He did have funds allocated for Barangay Lahug, but the thing was that he did not have these funds pass through the scrutiny and control of de los Santos and her baranggay council, such was his vendetta against any Garcia supporter.  In particular, Osmeña, through the City Council, was bankrolling the construction of a new building in Barangay Lahug Elementary School.  However, because of Mary Anne’s latest statement, Osmeña decided to have the construction halted and refused to disburse a single centavo on the project until Mary Ann de los Santos retracted her statement and apologized to the Mayor, which is, of course, a woman with de los Santos’ pride would never do.  She would rather start a “Piso para sa Barangay Lahug Elementary School” fund drive rather than bow before the mayor, and start one she did.

In comes Gov. Gwendolyn  Garcia prancing like a white knight on a big white horse (almost like a White Castle Whiskey advertisement, except that the governor is wearing a suit of armor, not a skimpy red bikini), holding a Five Million Peso piece of salvation in her beatific arms, making a bold statement against the Mayor’s arrogance and power-gaming moves and having her wonderful hurrah for saving a poor wounded Cebu City barangay from the clutches of the evil mayor.

 Take note that I  emboldened the words “Cebu City barangay”, which is to say that it is NOT a part of Cebu Province, for the fact that Cebu City is a highly urbanized and independent city which, by law, does not have any claim to the budgetary allocation of Cebu Province.  In other words, Gov. Garcia arbitrarily chose to take funds from the Province’s treasury chest and poured it on a barangay which was NOT under her jurisdictional responsibility, to the prejudice of other poorer constituents of Cebu Province who are starving for the funding of equally important and deserving projects in their municipalities.  Funding, which, Gov. Garcia instead spent without a forethought to spite her nemesis, Mayor Tomas Osmeña, and paint a pretty picture of herself as a conquering hero, and the latter as a boorish bully.

So can you see the absurdity of it all?  Can you see how these three little children squabbling over their poor wounded egos are determining the course of public funds and government property for the use of a power-game against each other?  Who stands to lose from their pettiness?  It’s not them, it’s you and me, the constituents of both Cebu City and Cebu Province.

When Mayor Osmeña decided NOT to release the funds of Barangay Lahug Elementary School, who was the real victim?  It wasn’t Mary Ann de los Santos and her damn pride, it was the school children of Barangay Lahug and their poor and improverished parents, who became the victims of yet another Osmeña vendetta against any voices of dissent who dare challenge his authority as mayor.

When Governor Garcia chose to divert provincial funds into city property, who stood to lose from the move?  Mayor Osmeña can, sooner or later, get over any affronts to his ego, but should it be at the cost of spending money on a city that has more than enough funds to take care of itself over a lot more other constituent cities and municipalities of Cebu Province with barely a dime to spend on improving their roads or educating their children?

When Brgy. Capt. de los Santos sent that inflammatory letter and when she refuses to lower her pride and admit that she was wrong, did she even stop to think about the consequences of her needless uprising against Tomas?  Knowing that the Mayor was onion-skinned and vindictive, does she have to keep rubbing her rebellion and  her “look at me, I’m the underdog” attitude before the media?  Would it take so much just to say “I’m sorry, can we start all over and try to fix this situation?” When the constituents of Brgy. Lahug are suffering in this mess, she has an equal blame on the fiasco as with the Mayor.

Playground rules, ladies and gentlemen, that’s all it takes to solve this mess.  Play nice.  You’ll get your turn on the swings.  Don’t go too fast on the see-saw, you might hurt the child on the other end.  Don’t steal your classmate’s sandwich.  I know you’re right, but can you say “I’m sorry” anyway?

These are very basic and very simple laws of engagement.  If they can work for little children, I’m sure they’d be equally effective on government officials who act like little children.

But where’s my kindergarten teacher, Ms. Winnie Gante, and her big wooden ruler when  you really need her?