Archive for the Politics Category

Cloak Of Shame

Posted in Current Affairs, Politics, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2010 by hangingbridge

Even Ms.Universe Fourth Runner-Up Venus Raj’s triumph or Charice Pempengco’s role in Glee or Pacquiao’s world title will not be able to redeem the country’s honor from what former police officer Rolando Mendoza has done to tourists visiting our country and from what our incompetent government officials has failed to do on that ill-fated 23rd day of August, 2010.

The dust of the hostage aftermath has not yet completely settled down but the bits and pieces of facts are beginning to paint a clearer picture of what transpired that day. It was all premeditated by Mendoza.

The now infamous Mendoza travelled early morning that day from Tanauan, Batangas to Manila which was around 3 hours ride. Carrying with him were weapons, blank placards and pen. The drama started 9 ‘o’ clock in the morning when the hostage-taker boarded his pre-selected ride to Libingan ng mga Bayani (but opted to hold his mission in Quirino Grandstand). He chose a tourist bus to take him where he intended to go. And as the world now knows, the tragedy ended nine lives, including that of Mendoza’s and probably also ended Filipinos’ relations with Hong Kong nationals.

The underdog has no good excuse for what he has done especially now that everyone knows it was all in his plan. Mendoza has been alluded to be someone who was honourable to his work and has been a victim of injustice in our social system when he was mistakenly charged for something that he claims he has nothing to do with. As Filipinos try to analyze what has led this upstanding citizen to commit drastic measures to gain back his lost compensation, I am still not convinced that he was that good of a citizen, much more a former man of law.

Some of those directly involved in the hostage-taking states that Mendoza was asking around a million Pesos to finally compensate his lost pension. Was it all about money? Was it his aspiration all along? I’m quite certain it wasn’t to clear up his name because to take a number of lives hostage wouldn’t do him any good on that aspect.

How many times have people, not only Filipinos, taken lives in their own hands just for money? Countless of times. In this country alone, crime rates are mostly because of financial reasons to be able to provide the needs that most of our fellowmen lacks – even the basic ones. My problem with Mendoza was that he had caused all this tragedy because of pride and probably, money. It was not because he was already dying of hunger.

If he wanted to get a message across, he could have surrendered and not taken any life at all. After surrendering, media will do its job to peel everything on its way to get to the core of things – a review of his misjudged case. I think he already sensed it when he saw the crowd and media coverage he was getting. He already knew he got our full attention. He was being interviewed until almost at the end of his shift as a hostage-taker.

Why did he chosoe a group of tourist to vent out his anger over the government? The tourists can do nothing about his problems. They probably didn’t understand even when he explained himself to them. The twenty-five passengers of that bus was looking forward to a relaxing day travelling all over Manila. It was very unfortunate for them that they were chosen to sacrifice their lives for something they don’t understand. It has been an unspoken rule throughout the world that tourists are not to be harmed in the country they are visiting. In return, they are not supposed cause mischief in the country they are visiting.

When real tourists take interest to visit the Philippines, it is a big deal. For the past decades, “tourists” are mostly military men, men who condone prostitution in the country, foreigners who have business interest in the country, international social workers and so on. It is only recently when people come here to enjoy themselves with what the country has to offer without the need to damage our self-respect.

I am personally fond of visiting Hong Kong and has been there thrice or four times now. I have enjoyed all of those trips even if the bus tours they offer go to almost the same places each time. Even if Filipinos work there as housemaids or equally undignified (for some), it is rare that citizens of Hong Kong will treat tourists badly.

After the tragedy in the Hong Thai Travel bus transpired, I’m in no disposition to travel anywhere in Asia. There is both shame and fear that once they knew I was Filipino, they would probably give me a hard time. How can a Filipino go around Hong Kong or China when we have clearly done harm in a number of their citizens? We can all sense their loathing over Filipinos after what happened. Hopefully, they would come to know that we, ourselves, are embarrassed by what happened. And even if the people directly involved in the hostage-taking last August 23, 2010 are trying not to own up to their mistakes, the nation feels truly sorry for what has happened.

Tag Along

Posted in During The Day, Politics with tags , , , on August 22, 2009 by hangingbridge

I got out of the house bringing with me all the stuff that I think I need to help me survive the day.  It was Ninoy’s 26th Death Anniversary yesterday but we have to come to work.  Well, I thought I had everything with me but I was rattled when I found out, I forgot my phone.

I don’t have that many correspondence when it comes to text messaging  but still, when I go out there, it’s better to have my phone along with my wallet at hand.

I was somehow calmed with the idea that I brought with me my work pc and the wireless internet connection gadget (I’m not sure what it’s called).  I was expecting heavy traffic because the coding was lifted.

(Note: Government has implemented some 5 years or so ago the “Coding” rule wherein cars with specific ending plate numbers are banned from the main road on specific days.  This led to people buying more cars instead, hoping to get plate numbers that will allow them to go on the road on all days.  Hence, it did not solve traffic congestion altogether.)

So, while on the road, I was still online.  I was thankful that my mother’s driver, Kuya Sergio, was the one driving and allowing us to relax in the backseat.

I just couldn't let go of Facebook

I just couldn't let go of Facebook

**********

Since it was Ninoy Day yesterday, I anticipated that I was going to see a lot of gatherings along EDSA since Filipinos are going to relive the People Power, the ultimate consequence of his murder.  My camera is with me these past few weeks.  Since I was on the road, my pictures were far from acceptable but I will still post them here.

People are starting to gather in EDSA at around 8 in the morning

People are starting to gather in EDSA at around 8 in the morning

If only I could get out of the car and take a better picture ;(

If only I could get out of the car and take a better picture ;(

I was four years old when he died and I have no idea what transpired that day and the reasons behind all of it.  I was seven when People Power happened and still, I didn’t know anything about it.  I’m probably somehow “autistic” since I was so oblivious of what was going around.  All I remembered was I was rooting for Marcos during that time.

At seven, I didn’t see anything wrong with how Marcos was running the country.  I was always feeling safe and free.  My human rights was not invaded by anything at all.  I could play in the streets without anything or anyone troubling me at all.  But that was my world and didn’t know anything better.

Before yesterday, there were trailers of documentaries to be shown on Ninoy Day.  Also, our ride was tuned in to a local AM station to hear what was going on around country, particularly Metro Manila.  There were excerpts of Ninoy’s speech while he was exiled to the U.S. regarding his coming back to his country where his fellow Filipinos who were suffering and who were not enjoying the same freedom he has in the States.

Martial Law.  There were so many things that were not allowed.  People felt that their rights became something that you have to pay for – particularly with your life, according to the documentary.  From what I gather, the right that was mostly trampled upon was freedom of speech.  Radio and television stations were banned from airing except those that are censored by the government themselves.  There were no honest elections according to them.  Martial Law gave Filipinos a life that is restrained.

I honestly think that Marcos was a good leader until he decided that he needed more power over his people.  He was playing God.  Even if he probably meant well in putting up the Martial Law on a country were there were chaos, he should have known that Filipinos don’t want their eyes blindfolded, mouth gagged, or hands tied on their back.

I am sure that I would not fully understand what Ninoy was fighting for until I actually live in a time when Martial Law is implemented – God-forbid this happens.

*****

And now, it’s Noynoy’s turn.  His running for the presidency, according to him, was dependent on a family decision, particularly that of his sisters.  He is one of the politicians who have a clean slate and is probably near perfect to running for the highest seat in the country.  But then, I think he is a reluctant leader of this country.  I don’t want to vote for someone who is not ready and who is having second thoughts about leading this country to freedom of all kinds – oppression and poverty, most of all.  If it is halfheartedly done  then it’s not done at all.

His sister Balsy (check spelling please) was telling in the interview that maybe if everything died down (excuse the pun), when the “excitement” of the present events have taken it’s plateau and people still think that another Aquino could take a stand in the government, that is when their brother, Noynoy should run for the presidency.  She did not want her brother to run just because their parents’ popularity even after death has increased.  She didn’t want the trust of the Filipinos in her brother to be tagged along her parents’ marks in the Philippine history.  She wanted her brother to lead under his own name and capability.

A Poor Country’s Leader’s Dinner

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , on August 13, 2009 by hangingbridge

One issue that has been discussed over and over again is the dinner that took place in New York.  It has involved a 3rd world country leader and her entourage which included congressmen.  Thanks to a local paper abroad, it has come to the country’s attention.

I’ve always wondered how much does a regular street child or beggar makes in a day or if they are able to spend it on food or medicine or other basic necessity.  I’ve always wondered if they make enough on the streets to actually have a decent meal.

I always liked to think I’m a budget queen.  And everything I spend, I write it down – including the alms that I give out.  I am no saint since alms are only given when I have saved some for myself first.  The extras of the extra goes to the street people.  Even in my own selfish ways, I do think about other people especially those who are so impoverished.

And then I hear in the news about the leader of our country (in which there is more than 80% of the population that is living below acceptable means) had dinner during her official trip abroad in a very expensive restaurant.  I don’t mind her eating, I just mind the way she spends.  It’s not my money to care this much, or is it?  Everyone should care on the lifestyle of our leaders.  It is our business especially when they cannot do their job.

It is a slap in the face for each Filipino that the leader who promised from the start that the well-being of each of her people will be her priority, who has bragged every year in her SONA (state of the nation address) and implied that she has done so much for her people, has spent almost a million pesos for a single meal.

If that is how our leaders allocate the country’s money, it’s no wonder that the number of the poor has not changed significantly, that they are still having the same problems now that her term is almost over.

This is how they budget OUR money.

Of course, she denies that the money she and the rest of her entourage (some of our national leaders) used were from the country’s budget.  One official who was defending this lavish dinner of the leaders of the country said that they couldn’t let the president eat at a hotdog stand in NYC.  Well, why not???  It could show a little empathy to the people she left behind during her trip for international relations.

Why is she making so many trips lately?  She’s too concerned with international relations when the people she’s supposed to serve has not been given the attention she needs.  And she rubbed it in when she ate and spent without conscientious the money of her people.

Oh yes, she and her entourage can deny to death.  No one will be able to believe that they spent it out of their own pockets.

I would understand if that (almost a) Million Peso Dinner was spent for more than hundred or so of our country’s leaders.  It would still be an acceptable expense.  But for a few of them, it is outrageous.

One official (I think a congressman) who was one of those who joined the million-peso dinner said that they ordered a regular meal that composed of an appetizer, a main dish and dessert and some drinks.

The news revealed otherwise in which staff of the said restaurant were interviewed and revealed that the President and her entourage ordered a number of delectable dishes like lobsters and filet mignon.  It did not matter whether they ordered the simplest dish or not.  But one thing that caught my attention and confirmed that my leaders live a luxurious life far different from the people who yearns for their help was the bottles of expensive wines they ordered (according to the interview).  It’s probably the aged wines that cranked up the bill.

The aftermath of it all are endless discussions of the people and numerous denials of our leaders.  Lest we forget, our president denied that she asked the commissioner on elections before to help her out during the elections.  After time, she admitted that she actually did.  And I’m wondering why do we allow her to be in this place again – deny a wrong doing.  In the first place, why did we allow her to be our President after she blatantly admitted to cheating on the last election.  After this, our leaders will be at it again.

Corazon Aquino: She Could Have Said “No”

Posted in Politics with tags , , on August 2, 2009 by hangingbridge

After the death of a former Philippine president, I have been reminded of what happened many years ago that I haven’t fully understand yet and that until now, I may not be able to grasp the full story behind this woman who has been adored by so many even after death.

This woman could have walked away from the responsibility.

This woman could have cared less.

This woman could have fought only for herself.

This woman could have lived only for herself and her family.

This woman could have said “No”.

But instead, she said “Yes” to those who asked for her help in time when she could have been placed in danger against a powerful dictator.  She said “Yes” to people who are complete strangers to her – strangers who have put their trust on her.  She said “Yes” to the burden of leading the Filipino people to Democracy and Freedom once again.

She was the only president that I know who was in that position for a very different reason.  She was not after the power.  She was after freedom.

She did not give the Filipino people freedom, mind you.  Instead, she gave the Filipino the strength to fight for what they deserve.  When she stood there in the middle of the crowd (as I have seen only on television), wearing the bright yellow suit, she is like telling all of us “I’m here, I’m with you and I’m not afraid.”

It may be sacrilegious to say that I compared her with Mother Mary.  I could not help it.  Both of these women could have said “No” and could have gone with their lives without the complications.  But they both said “Yes” no matter how uncertain life would be for them.

And now that she is gone, I may not be able to know the details of what happened years ago.  I may not be able to understand the politics, if there’s any that transpired during her time.  There is one thing that I learned from her.  I could not have known until now that by saying “Yes”, you could be the most selfless person in the world.

Reckless Driving at 10Kph

Posted in Politics, Travel with tags , on July 28, 2009 by hangingbridge

We were driving along Libis hours ago to go to ISCAHM (Culinary school) in Katipunan Ave.  We had to make a U-turn.  Upon seeing the heavy traffic on the other side of the street, we changed our minds and decided to go straight and take another route.

Then one MMDA (traffic officers here in Manila) gestured us to stop.  And so, we did.  We parked our car beside them and rolled down the window.  We asked what was wrong and he told us that we were driving recklessly.

I was the passenger that time but I was the one talking to the traffic officer because I can’t stop myself.  Reckless driving?!   Bf was driving really slow at that time at less than 10Kph.  And we didn’t even change lanes or anything.  We didn’t even cut anyone off in the street.  And so, it puzzled me why we were being charged of reckless driving?

I asked the officer that we were supposed to make a U-turn when we noticed the heavy traffic on the other side.  I asked sarcastically if we didn’t have the RIGHT to change our minds when we are on the road at a time and place when we are not being an inconvenience to other vehicles.

I saw the MMDA that he was holding around 5 or more driver’s license at hand.  And he was telling us that there was a sign that it was a U-Turn lane.  But there was no barricade or sign anywhere to disallow any vehicle to go straight instead of making a turn.  What my bf and I did was turn around in our seats to look for the sign he was talking about.  And it took us around half a minute before we realize there was really no sign at all.

As he realized that I’m constantly challenging his charges on the driver, he said that he would let us go as not to inconvenience us anymore.  I said thank you.  My bf was still going on and on about the inappropriate charges (rolling my eyes then).  I told him let’s go (before the MMDA changes his mind).

Of all the road violations you could do under 10Kph, we were charged reckless driving.

Listening to The President’s SONA

Posted in Politics with tags , on July 27, 2009 by hangingbridge

Trying to catch the points in PGM-Arroyo’s SONA:

1. I didn’t become a president to be popular”

Let’s face it, politics is one big popularity contest.  Just like in high school, but more sinister and has, if not global, national effects and grave consequences.  Popularity gets you to that throne.  It’s not what you go after when you take your seat – unless, you want to stay longer.

2. “Better health care, more roads, education system”

Better health care system for whom?  For those with money who could pay off any medical expense?  Even those with insurance aren’t certain of their coverage.  I should know because I am paying for a health insurance who just told me awhile ago that if I get “positive” results in a certain test then I won’t be covered after that.  What the heck!  Then why did I bother getting an insurance when I won’t be covered for illness?

I saw this kid on the side of the road who was crying in pain because of severe toothache.  What health system is she talking about?  Her SONA stated something too general.  I want her to be specific to see if she really knows what is happening to the people she is supposed to serve.

What health insurance?  I have attended to a lady in the emergency room and found out that she walked all the way there because she can’t afford to hire a jeepney or a tricycle.  When I prescribed her the cheapest, but appropriate, medication I could think of, she asked if I had some free samples of the meds because she only had five pesos or $0.20 with her.  She don’t think it could buy her anything else.

More roads leading to where?  I think they have designated too much for roads and highways.  From what I heard, a certain flyover cost almost a billion pesos.  How corrupt can you get?  And how stupid can we be?

How did the education system changed besides the increased in tuition fees, lack of classrooms and teachers, uncompensated teachers, unavailability of pencils and papers?  Isn’t she watching any news lately?  Or was she playing blind and deaf monkey (apparently, not mute) all these years?  Has she seen children in school these days when at least 2 of them share one seat and one small table?  When I saw this on television, I can only ask myself, “How could they possibly learn in that situation?”  I do hope that parents give them reinforcements at home because they aren’t going to learn that much in school.

Has she seen teachers cry in class because of frustration about theirs and their students’ situation?  Madam president, weren’t you aware of all these?

3. “Kilalanin ang mga magsasaka bilang backbone ng bansa”

I do hope that we find a leader who see through this.  Our farmers are our ultimate workforce.  If we could all make use of our land, there would be so much produce.  We wouldn’t need any importation of agricultural products because first and foremost, we are an agricultural country.  Even in dire weather conditions, Filipinos are supposed to know how to deal with it since we all came from a family of farmers (Well, I suppose some came from somewhere else).

Why are the farmers still parading in the streets about land reform?  What has been done?  Again, the SONA failed to give any details hence, as a listener, I am doubtful of this “accomplishment” being boasted all throughout the country.

4. “Paid the political price to do the right thing”

Well, I do understand her place right now.  She is being “oppressed” by so many critics.  She now knows how people felt about her and her leadership.  Her popularity has suffered tremendously and I’m still surprised that 15% of the Filipinos trust her.

I truly hope that she is doing what is right and beneficial to the majority of the Filipinos.  I do hope that what she had stated in her SONA were all true and that we are all wrong with our accusations.  I would welcome any mistake pointed out to me regarding my president because I’m still hoping that she really did her job.  Never mind popularity.

5. “For standing up with me to do the right thing, thank you Congress”

Aha! That’s what we thought so too.

6. “We have built more and better infrastructure”

Again, the billion-peso contracts for infrastructure is a slap to the face of those who can’t even afford one decent meal in a day.  What does a slab of cement do to help this country?  Probably, it does help somehow, but then can our president focus on a more projects that are best suited to our needs?  The SONA failed to state in detail what these infrastructures were and why were they made better still, when the livelihood of people could just take about less than a billion peso.

7.  “Subic Tarlac expressway is an example of building better roads”

Have you noticed that it took a lot longer using this road and that it didn’t ease the traffic whatsoever in Concepcion?

8.  “We have built airports of international standards”

…Which was opened so many years after it was built.  The controversy surrounding the airport of international standards makes you wonder why is it complicated with so many scandals.

9.  “We are developing wealth through PPO and tourism”

I want to ask what PPO means 😀  Forgive my ignorance.  I cannot discuss what I don’t understand.

Oh I heard wrong.  She stated BPO, not PPO 🙂  Well, yeah.  College students are taking different courses to land in one and the same job – call center agents.

Tourism!  Yes, it is time that the world see how beautiful our country is.  But the world will also see how poorly we take care of our own treasures.  Tsk!  If Filipinos can squeeze out a lot of finances from a certain land, they wouldn’t stop until it has been destroyed.  I do hope that we could learn how to take care of our country’s treasures, not for the sake of tourism but for our own well-being.

10.  “Tourism doubled. It is now a 2B dollar industry”

Crossing my fingers that we do not equate prostitution with tourism.

11.  “Cash handouts produced the most effective immediate relief”

Was this the P500 bills given to every Filipino family?  Well, yes.  It could improve the economy since these families are now able to spend.  But for how long?  I’m sure we could stretch that P500 bill (or about $10) for a week for a family of 5 or 6 children.  This is not only immediate relief but also a very temporary one.  Does the government plan to hand out P500 weekly for hundreds of families?  Well, if our government could, then they should.  But more importantly, they need livelihood programs that could sustain them for a longer period of time.

12.  “Sa pamamahagi ng milyon milyong hectariyang lupa”

I don’t know how true this statement is.  Where did they get the millions of hectares of lands?  Were they able to pay off the Cojuancos or the Ayalas maybe.  Or maybe not.

I’ve seen so many empty lands all over luzon and they are privately owned by government officials themselves.  One is Villar. The Aranetas own a vast piece of land.  And it still remain theirs.  Really wondering where the hectares of land the president has given away? (Under the sea?)  To whom did she give them too?  Was it again for private ownership of monopolizing moguls?

13.  “Hinihiling ko sa congreso ang pagpapalawi ng CARP”

And may your wish come true, Madam President.

14. “165 Million Pesos for MicroFinance Loans”

A lot of people are not a fan of loans.  But if you are a good businessman, loans could help you out as a springboard for your own business.  I think this was a good move of the PGMA’s Administration.  They finally helped finance the striving entrepreneurs.  Hopefully, there is a fair interest.  And hopefully, those who acquired the loans were able to work around their loans.

15. “Nakinabang ang isang milyong pamilya sa pabahay”

Thank you madam president.  A roof over our heads is a great relief for anyone.  Hopefully, you could also provide for the 79 million others.  I know this is asking too much for a president with a short (even longer) term of 6 years.  Only a million people were provided for 6 years.  So it will take 474 years to provide for the rest of us.  All of us are dead by that time.  And our great, great grandchildren will probably take advantage of that roof.

O great leaders of this country, act fast!

16.  “Our highest rate of inflation is the lowest since 1966”

Well done, madam President.

17.  “We increased indigenous electricity”

Well, it has been my dream ever since I learned about solar energy, that we could put that solar equipment in our roof to gather solar energy for our home and boycott Meralco altogether.  Does anyone know how much it cost (including installation)?

18.  “There is decreased use of fossil fuels”

During a visit in Pangasinan, I had the chance to go from one part of the island to another part.  And I came across a barge of coal.  It was huge.  It was almost the size of Bldg B of Megamall or the size of a quarter of Mall of Asia (google it if you’re not familiar with these).  It was transporting coal dug up from the earth to the nearest electric-generating company (that I could see from where my boat was).  To think that we are consuming all of that coal on a daily basis is in itself alarming.  We are both destroying the air we breath and the land we are standing on.  How can man be so destructive?  So puny but so destructive.

So madam president, if you could instill this project to the next leader of this country, please do so.

19.  “Taxes should come from tobacco and alcohol, and not from books”

Is this really happening?  Well, then good for us bookish people and bad for those who are addicted to smoke and those who are drowning their lives with liver-failing, sleep-depriving, lipid-increasing, aging-accelerating alcohol drinks.

20. “We have provided 8M jobs”

And where are these jobs located madam president?  How safe and secure are these jobs?  How sufficient are the salaries these jobs have offered those who got them?  I’m not complaining.  Just asking.

21. “We have decreased the number of poor by 2M people”

And there are still 78 Million people who remain to be poor.  We can do so little at a time.  But hey, 2 million is a lot.

I may have gotten the statement wrong.  It says that they have decreased the number of poor by 2M, so let’s say there are 70million poor people initially, then there are only 68 Million others left.  So since I don’t have the real figures (and so does she), this statement still has no bearing on how the country is doing.

22.  “My term does not end until next year”

Good news for those who are trying to get your seat madam president.  At least now, you made it clear.  Although, I heard Altiveros of ANC awhile ago that the statement is still vague for him.

23.  “I will fight for the ordinary Filipino”

How far would you go Madam?  Is the First Gentleman considered THE ordinary Filipino?

24.  “We cannot be complacent”

We should not, I agree.  But you’re administration has been.

25.  “Thank God, we did not let our critics stop us”

Of course, madam.  Your administration has been self-absorb to notice.

Critics are not the destructive force in a well-planned projects.  They provide help when improvement is needed. To play deaf to the cries of your critics, mainly the Filipino people, is nothing but accomplishing things that serve your own interest and not theirs.

26.  “To the candidates for the next election, build a nation rather than tear down their opponents”

Oh, this is a good one.  There are on-going arguments left and right.  Arguments that are a waste of air-time.  Instead of focusing on the problems that is more relevant, they are focusing on their own vanity and pride.

27. “My critics called it dictatorship.  I call it determination”

Oh she almost won me over with this statement.

28.  “Mabuhay ang Pilipinas”

Amen to that!