September 2010

by Tony Meloto
Las Vegas, September 24

Two weeks ago I found joy in China.

I discovered that people I sadly and wrongly judged all these years were living happily with dignity, perhaps with less freedom but with less slums and beggars because they continue to learn how to care for their country and for one another. The Chinese showed me their immense capacity to be happy because of a collective perspective for family and the needy, not leaving any one behind. They are one, moving together in the same direction. This is the measure of success or progress that I must continue to learn.

In my long life, God has shown me enough proof that he blesses those who do not neglect or abandon the poor, regardless of ideology or religion. I saw this again in the United States where I am now in the way he blesses the rich who share their wealth.

This week I found not only joy but peace in America.

I am here in Las Vegas for three days to speak about building peaceful communities in the Philippines to a group of Filipino patriots, mostly doctors, who will not simply give up on us. In their company, I found peace.

I guess I needed space away. from the hostage crisis, the jueteng scandal and all that mess and some serenity in harmony after my dismay over the persecution of the poor in our villages from some leaders of the community that I love.

I found my balance on this trip in kindred spirits from the Filipino United Network (FUN) and PEACE who invited me, in their unflinching hope for our country, despite the constant negative publicity in the news, and their unwavering faith in the GK way to end poverty through justice and peace.

Both groups took the first step to peace by transcending differences and uniting for a more cohesive and effective approach to community building and good governance. Their firm resolve to rebuild the Philippines is quite impressive when one considers that they all have the option to simply live the rest of their life in comfort.

Again they are one Filipino in love and sacrifice for the sake of our country.

Dr Philip Chua, the founder of FUN, travels to Cebu every other month to conduct free clinics and pursue his advocacy for good governance, raising substantial funds when needed like Ondoy and the Noynoy campaign.

The same thing is true with my host and convention chairman Dr. Mike Micabalo, a hale 74 who is personally building his dream village in his hometown Oroquieta – against all odds, he claims – with unconditional support from his equally committed wife Luz who stays fashionable doing charity balls at the Strip or digging septic tanks in the barrio.

There is something about compassion with passion and all its positive energy that keeps the wrinkles away. They are never too busy, or too tired or too far to help or to give.

Dr Rina Galvez jetted in from Chicago to find support for the clinic she is building in the two lots she donated in Caloocan City where one GK village has already been built and another one with 40 homes being constructed with funds from popular TV personalities Julius and Tintin Babao.

These patriots are like pit-bulls that won’t let go once they bite on a cause that captures their heart.

They want to help us build more homes for the homeless when their own properties here have dropped significantly in value due to the sub-prime fiasco in America.

They want to build more water systems for the thirsty in our country( 500 wells by PEACE to-date, based on the latest report by foundation president Dr Dan Santos) when some of their own wells have gone dry with the fall in income and the long dry spell in the economy.

They want to do more medical missions in our remote towns and poorer provinces when the state of health care in America is uncertain, affecting those who still practice. This is really thinking beyond self-interest and doing authentic mission to do good rather than just find a noble excuse to play golf. In truth, many may have started out this way only to discover the greater joy in healing than teeing off, especially when there is no financial payback and the income is mostly psychic and a first class ticket to heaven.

They have discovered peace at a time of uncertainty by being certain about the things that really matter in this life.

They have simplified their once lavish lifestyle, something which was justifiably claimed as a prize before for all the hard work on their road to success. Now they have less extravagant balls and gowns in order for them to clothe the naked, and less wasteful consumption to feed the hungry. They are, happily for us and for them, on their path to greatness.

A moving force in PEACE and FUN, Dr Sarie Laserna, who does not take no for an answer when she invites which brought me this time to Las Vegas post haste, showed me her unadorned wrists as she proudly proclaimed “look Tony no blings for me and my friends so we can send more Kalinga scholars from public schools to college.” Together with determined cohorts from FUN, Fe Cacdac and Aly Ragasa, they hounded fellow doctors, family and friends to fund 76 homes and part of the 4 floor multipurpose building in Taguig. Hopefully, Tiffanys and Cartier will not hunt them down for being bad for their business.

Hope for the Philippines is high as passion for our country grows. The Philippine-building bug is spreading across America, across generations, changing mind-sets and lifestyles. Dreaming for our people is serving as a counter flow to currents of cynicism and a prop to sagging spirits as Fil-Ams wake up to the harsh realities of the American dream after 9/11, Iraq and the recession. Asians who came to America to find hope are now giving hope to America being the sector with the highest average household income -and Filipino doctors count among its top tax payers. Those who came from the east as job-seekers are now the job-givers of the west, like Boy Abay who founded the Kansas Spine Hospital in Wichita and Primo Andres who owns the heart Center in Terra Haute, indiana. I guess this is how the cookie crumbles or maybe just how the world turns. Some may call this social justice in the order of things where all God’s children are equal in worth and value and must be provided equal opportunity for a life of dignity anywhere in the planet.

This is the source of my peace.
I am certain that poverty in our beloved land will end when we stop fighting one another and start to care and share because the squatters in the slums of Manila are made of the same cultural DNA and designed by the same wonderful God as the most successful Filipinos abroad.

If Filipinos can turn around their fortune in America they can also turn around the lives of the less fortunate in the Philippines by helping us create and spread wealth out of a sense of fairness to benefit all.

Social justice is the missing platform for prosperity and lasting peace in our country.
This is what we are fighting for – an even playing field where the genius of the poor can be unlocked and their potential for excellence can be nurtured to prosper a nation.

This is our field of dreams, the 2000 GK villages that are rising and many more intentional communities that will stand because we care.

This is what attracts top corporations, foreign universities and Fil-Ams to Gawad Kalinga – our effort to create a massive nationwide network of empowered communities for productivity, wealth creation and good citizenship similar to the communes of China and the kibbutz of Israel – built on our values and aspirations as a nation.

This is how the game of nation-building has played out for us – just build with courage and integrity and they will come.

As I look from this hillside veranda of my host at the breathtaking view of the bright lights of the Las Vegas skyline under a full moon and the cool breeze of an Autumn night, I see clearly with my heart a vision of my country emerging from the darkness of poverty and corruption, of dredged rivers and re-forested mountains, of transformed slums and abundant fields. I see the best Filipinos caring for the least, the strong hand-holding the weak and the corrupt buried in the fields. The corrupt will die and corruption will end soon if we decide now not to breed new ones. All evil will pass if we decide to have less for ourselves and simply do more good to others.

I know our time to shine is now. I can feel the expectant mood even here in America.

My new President, elected in the most honest and peaceful election in memory, is in New York in his first appearance on the global stage as head of state. He carries with him an 88 percent trust rating from his people, which is his highest credential to attract visitors and investors to our shores.

For country and honor, Filipinos in America know that this is not a moment to be wasted and an opportunity to be squandered. They also want a President with a clean slate like PNoy. They know he is untried in the old dirty tricks of politics, raw to stale ideas that did not work for us, and inexperienced in cheating because he never had a wife.

America is fascinated and curious about PNoy because he just might be the game-changer that the Philippines needs.

Wherever I go they ask me what we can do to help him. Frankly I don’t know where to begin. I just keep reminding myself and my audience who care to listen that to have a great President we must all strive to be great citizens ourselves, that lasting and effective change must always begin with us first.

*Let’s keep him honest by being honest ourselves. Not bribing the MMDA, not smuggling at customs, paying the right taxes, using the right scales and not cheating the wife. For religious leaders, by being faithful to Christ and not depriving the poor with the tithes.

*Let’s help him succeed with action and inspiration, not with cynicism and incessant criticism. Monitor the behavior of our government officials, report DPWH projects that are overpriced, teach patriotic education in the classroom, preach the practice of social justice and good citizenship in the pulpit, constantly honor what is good in our country.

*Let’s boost the local economy by starting Filipino businesses and patronizing brands that help the poor and protect the environment.

*Let’s pray for the President’s protection and those who are honest around him because dismantling vested interests and institutionalized corrupt practices is a serious and dangerous game.

Tonight at the dinner of FUN, I was enthralled together with the crowd listening to the young Comelec Commissioner who fought for automation and made it work, giving our President an overwhelming mandate without doubt or question in the fastest and most credible election known to many of us. Atty Gregorio Larrazabal is in Vegas as a bike enthusiast, a friend who donated his prized bike for auction at the GK Hope Ball on October 8 at the Manila Pen. He is serving out the term of controversial former Commissioner Garcillano. From Garci to Larrzi – what a contrast. What is the point here? Miracles do happen, we can have honest election and an honest government – hope is definitely in the air. (Thanks Louie for looking after our new hero and for being a hero yourself for keeping the faith).

Tomorrow, I fly back to Manila as the President meets with West Coast eager supporters in San Jose, California. A thick crowd of new generation Filipino Americans organized by San Diego resident Marcel Ocampo and GK USA Chairman Tony Olaes will be there at the “we are one Filipino” rally to claim their heritage, reconnect with their roots and express solidarity with a new leader that will make being Filipino a brand of honor anywhere in the world.

The new generation are finally coming to terms with the amazing reality that being Filipino in America is beautiful.
And that they also have a beautiful home and career and investment opportunities in Asia.

This is also their moment to send a profound message of peace to the rest of America: filipinos will continue to create wealth and jobs and help ease recession in America.

Filipinos can be strong and happy in America if they are one.

They can help bring peace and prosperity to the Philippines if they are one.

With these thoughts, I went back to my room to sleep in peace, eager to fly home to be with my family that I miss in the country that I love.

GLIMPSES
by Jose Ma. Montelibano

President Noy spoke before the United Nations last week and gave the bold message to the community of nations – use global People Power to achieve equitable progress. P-Noy obviously referred to the energy that catapulted, not just him to the presidency, but his mother to dismantle a dictatorship.

Dialogue, solidarity and communal responsibility are an effective pathway which defines Private Public partnerships. After the Edsa I and Edsa Dos experience, people power revolutions did remove sitting presidents who became symbols of corruption and abuse. Yet, the administrations which people power ushered in did not harness the same energy to fuel societal change and progress.

Lessons learned and another bout of scandalous corruption caused people power, this time manifested in a volunteer-driven presidential campaign, to again bring a new administration to Malacanang. This time, the president it voted into office, Noynoy Aquino, wants early on to engage the spirit of volunteerism to guide, maybe even define, governance. It is a good moment for participative democracy to actually happen, and it is not only P-Noy who must take advantage of the moment but all Filipinos who can contribute to nation-building.

The Gawad Kalinga movement has used both the term and the process called People Power Over Poverty in its belief that a multi-sectoral approach is the only comprehensive and sustainable pathway for the poorest in the country to rise above their pitiful inheritance. I am referring to over 5 million families, landless, homeless and often hungry. There is no current intervention that will take them out of poverty, not from government, not from business. Only the radical community development program of Gawad Kalinga answers fundamental requirements – material and psychological.

It is not that government does not recognize its shortcoming; it does. What government does not recognize is its strength, its resources and influence, as catalyst and not only provider to a seemingly bottomless pit of needs. With 50 billion pesos a year, for ten years, 5 million families will have security of tenure, small but decent homes, and enough land to plant food for the table. I hope that government, meaning politicians, bureaucrats and economists can appreciate the impact of the weakest, poorest, most marginalized thirty percent of our people finding basis for hope and a new mindset largely rescued from fear.

Poverty is severe scarcity for the fundamental needs of man, starting with security of tenure for a home, a sturdy house which can protect its inhabitants, and plots of land where vegetables, fruits, poultry and livestock can be grown by a community. Poverty is also a harsh condition where the victim is treated as less than human, forced by his landlessness to have a migratory attitude rather than a rootedness for growth and development. If society can intervene with small pieces of land, build decent homes, and areas where food can be grown for the families, with government fully adopting the program as a flagship for justice and progress, it is possible that a miraculous transformation can occur in less than a decade.

For those who are overwhelmed by a community building budget of 50 billion pesos a year, that is just slightly over $1 billion which will benefit 500,000 families or about 6 million Filipinos. But the benefits here are permanent and sustainable, visible in land and homes in a village setting. This level of money has been spent, overspent and stolen many times over every year. With a determined anti-corruption program, 50 billion pesos can easily be raised.

The Gawad Kalinga formula was first expressed with land, homes and food because those are basic human needs. What was not so pronounced although it had been a key feature of the community building effort was the fact that the intervention was multi-sectoral. It is the multi-sectoral spirit and manner that pushes any effort to become very collective and rebuilds our bayanihan culture. Bayanihan dismantles the ugly pattern of divisiveness even as it naturally forms a sense of community on the way to a sense of nation.

For corruption to be weeded out as a frightening cancer eating our national soul, leaders must protect, not rob, its wards or the Filipino citizens. But the perspective of leaders protecting rather than exploiting is grounded on a more fundamental understanding of nation where families are not only those related by consanguinity but by race. If Filipinos can look at themselves as one family, as brothers and sisters, it becomes more possible that leaders protect instead of exploit.

Progress is not a new reality. An elite sector has been progressing for hundreds of years. Affluent families have enjoyed the abundance of the motherland but have never considered the poor as also family and equal members of the Filipino nation. The chasm separating the rich and the poor is not just a statistical or economic one, it also provides the environment for exploitation and subservience. A people with an awful gap between the haves and have-nots develop all sorts of other gaps.

I believe that P-Noy intuitively senses that the moment is ripe for a very divided people to find commonality in the desire for meaningful change and greater hope. The number of volunteers who campaigned and voted for him is a loud message that it is not he, but the people, who must pull themselves by their bootstraps. When he said “No Wang-Wang,” he was effectively taking away perks that divide the powerful from the ordinary.

Yes, lessons learned in the Philippines point to people power as a primary mechanism for progress. On P-Noy’s shoulders rest the mantle of leadership. He must make himself and government as catalyst for progress. On our shoulders rests our future.

“There is always a philosophy for lack of courage.” Albert Camus

ON DISTANT SHORE
by Val G. Abelgas

There is reason to believe that despite the two successive problems that confronted Philippine tourism in the last few months, the sector can become one of the biggest dollar earners for the country. For one, the new set of officials in the Department of Tourism (DOT) remains confident that the country will overcome the two major setbacks that have haunted the Philippine tourism sector since April.

The first setback came in April when the European Commission banned all Philippine carriers from flying to the 27-nation bloc due to concerns about local aviation safety standards, dealing a major blow to the tourism sector. Tour packages from Europe were cancelled even though no Philippine carrier has been flying to EU member-states since 1999.

The EU ban prompted European insurance companies to advise travel operators that packages to the Philippines — which included inter-island air travel — would not be covered by travel insurance.

The ban remains despite repeated pleas from both the Philippine Airlines and the Philippine government.

The second setback came last month when a dismissed police officer held hostage several Chinese tourists that resulted in the death of eight Hongkong tourists. Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim said the country lost some P40 million due to the August 23 incident based on the 3,360 cancellation of hotel bookings in Regions 1, 4, 6, and 7.

“But the damage was much less than we were expecting,” Lim said as he refuted reports that there were about 1,000 cancellations of bookings from European tourists.

Despite the two major setbacks, Lim remains confident the country will achieve the DOT’s target of 10-percent increase in tourist arrivals this year. Lim said that by the end of the year, he expects some 3.3 million visitors to have entered the country. For next year, the department targets 3.6 million tourists and 325,000 in jobs generated. By the end of the President’s term in 2016, Lim said the administration hopes to have drawn in six million tourists and generated some 665,000 new jobs.

It is reassuring to know that the DOT will allocate one-third of its 2011 budget, or around P476 million, in promoting Philippine tourism in targeted countries, such as the Asia Pacific, where it will spend P87 million; US and Canada, P86 million; Korea, P64 million; Japan, P43 million; Europe, P38 million; China, P23 million; Middle East, P15 million; India, P12 million, and other promotion, P8 million. It will also spend P100 million for promotions using new media.

But promotion wouldn’t be effective if no corresponding support projects are done, and Lim realizes this, that’s why the department also plans to undertake projects such as upgrading of airport facilities, development of infrastructure, access to communication, and liberalizing access to the country through the open skies policy.

If given the proper boosts, the Philippine tourism sector can be a major contributor to the Philippine economy. While the overseas Filipino sector remains one of the biggest contributors to the Philippine economy, the tourism sector, despite all the negative publicity about the country, is slowly but surely catching up. From 2004 to 2007, tourism’s share in the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rose to 6.2%, making it a key economic growth driver, especially in these times of global economic crisis.

Tourism raked in $4.88 billion in 2007, which is still a far cry from the OFW’s contribution of about $14 billion a year, but it is certainly headed in the right direction. In addition, domestic tourism expenditures grew 19.8%, which goes to show that even Filipinos in the homeland are beginning to realize and enjoy the beauty of their country.

Despite the financial crisis and negative news coming from Manila, a total of 3,139,442 tourists visited the Philippines in 2008, registering a 1.5% growth, which was phenomenal considering that most industry sectors showed a decline the past year because of the global economic recession.

The Philippines definitely has a very good potential to become a major tourist destination in Asia. The country is made up of more than 7,100 islands that offer some of the best beaches in the world, particularly the ones in Boracay and Palawan. The Philippines has some of the most amazing natural wonders of the world, including the Banaue Rice Terraces, the Palawan Undergound River and the Chocolate Hills of Bohol. It has some of the best hotels in Asia, the biggest malls, the best resorts, the best golf courses, and the most exotic festivals. And most importantly, the country has some of the friendliest, warmest and most hospitable people in the world.

Because of these factors, the Philippine tourism industry has the potential to become the major moneymaker for the cash-strapped Philippine economy. Look at the countries whose tourism industry is a major money-earner – the Bahamas, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, California, Florida, Spain, Mexico, Hong Kong, France, Greece, Singapore, Morocco, Costa Rica, and Italy, among others.

The Philippines has all the qualities to join this league. It just needs to pursue an honest-to-goodness tourism information and promotion campaign, which Lim vows to pursue starting next year. And with the help of his tourism personnel abroad, the national government, the airline industry, especially the Philippine Airlines being the national flag carrier, hotels and other tourist-related companies, there is no reason not to succeed

(valabelgas@aol.com)

The Tall Order
by Mon Datol
from The Philippine Courier
Toronto, Canada

It’s municipal elections na naman dito sa Canada set October 25 and only two among a handful of Filipinos seeking different local posts answered our call to be guests to our regular Sunday Radio show titled ‘SCOOP ng Bayan’ aired over 101.3 FM and being broadcast LIVE in the internet thru link: www.cmr.fm .

We used to have a dozen or more ‘bravehearts’ joining the fray in quest for local governmental functionaries several municipal polls back, but, the number dwindled so fast this time for reasons our pulitikong kababayan could only answer and clarify.

Crab mentality. Numero uno ‘yan why our Filipino politicians are shying away from running for elective posts, ke local, provincial or federal elections. Ayaw ng ilang kababayan natin dito sa Canada, particular na rito sa Toronto, na angatan sila ng ilang kababayan na qualified maging lider ng community, so much so na maging School Board Member, Councilor, Mayor, or MPP.

Basta elective posts, isusulong kang tumakbo. Sige, pareko, mananalo ka. Kami bahala. Kasama mo kami sa kampanya. Walang iwanan. Pero, matapos kang mag-file na ng candidacy, magbayad ng registration fee na $200 for a mayoral position and $100 for councilor post, eh, tatalikod na at iiwan ka sa ere ng mga ‘sulsulero’ kapag nag-umpisa na ng kampanya hanggang matapos na ang election. Bakit nga naman. Paano kung manalo ka, na suntok sa buwan, eh di iiwan mo na sila sa kanto. Walang aangat. Walang tataas. Walang iwanan.

Sama-sama tayo rito sa ibaba!

* * * *

After Dr. Rey D. Pagtakhan, (PC, born January 7, 1935 is a Canadian physician, professor and politician. He was a cabinet minister in the governments of Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin, and served as a member of parliament from 1988 until his defeat in the 2004 election), snatched an MP post in Ottawa two decades ago, the highest elective position a Canadian of Filipino blood reached in this country’s political arena, no Filipino-Canadian has ever achieved such distinction. Why? Paano, umiiral lagi na ang pagka-talangka ng marami-rami ring Pinoy. Hinahatak ng mga itopababa ang mga kababayang gustong maglingkod din sa second home natin. Wala na tayong magagawa, talagang naka-screw na sa ulo at naka-tatak na sa katauhan ng marami nating kababayan ang pagkakaruon ng …

Utak-talangka.

* * * *

Onion-skinned. Balat-sibuyas. Ahhh, marami sa ating mga Pinoy iyan. Matapos magpadala sa sulsol ng mga kaibigan-kuno na tumakbong Konsehal dahil ‘mananalo ka’ ,eh, aasa na nga ang Pinoy-Councilor-in-waiting na tutulungan siyang mangampanya at mag-fund-raising for the campaign fund ng mga ‘kaibigan-kuno’… Pero, instead of all-out support, kantiyaw pa ang maririnig ng ating Councilor-in-waiting mula sa mga ‘kaibigan-kuno’ at mga ‘sulsulerong’ nag-duldol sa kaniyang tumakbo. Eh, balat-sibuyas pala si Konsehal-in-waiting. Di sanay sa buhay-politika. Sisiklab ang galit at aawayin lahat ang mga kaibigan-kuno. Kakalat ang balita sa community. High-blood si councilor-in-waiting. Kaya’t hayun, sa election, pamilya na lang ang boboto sa kaniya. Naga-alangan pa siyang ihahal ng biyenan.

Ang mga inaway ni Konsehal-in-waiting na mga kaibigan-kuno, onion-skinned din. ‘Tangnang kandidatong iyan. Ala naman alam iyan. Ni hindi nga marunong uminglis at makipag-debate nga lang sa atin, eh, bulol pa, tapos gustong maging Konsehal? After the election, no-pansinan na sila-sila sa kantong pinagiinuman ng kapeng-barako, at lahat …

Amoy-sibuyas.

* * * *

Thick-faced. Kapal-mukha. Kapalmuks. Kung si Konsehal-in-waiting ay balat-sibuyas at madaling ma-high-blood sa kantiyaw, itong si Pareng Konsehal-3rd-termer-candidate ay sobrang tapang naman at never-surrender sa laban. Kesehodang 200 lang ang naging boto nuong 2004 local elections at 315 votes in the 2007 polls, eh, tumakbo ulit this October elections. Mayruong 6,500 Pinoy votes sa kaniyang Ward, at kahit umano 50% lang ang bumoto sa lkaniyang kababayan sa lugar niya ay malaki ang pag-asang manalo siya. Suntok din sa buwan iyon, pero, matapang nga ang aking kumpareng ito, eh.

Kung matapang at makapal na ang mukha ng kumpare kong ito dahil sa balewala na sa kaniya ang mga kantiyaw at panglalait ng ilang kababayan natin na utak-talangka, mas kapalmuks naman ang karamihang ‘campaign managers-kuno’ ng ating kandidato. Pare, pa-kape ka naman sa Tim Hortons ‘o pare, kain naman tayo sa Cucina Lounge ‘o, pare, inuman muna tayo sa Aristokrat, ‘o, Pare, maglibang muna tayo sa Prestige at Timezone disco. Hehehehehe …. Eh, paano yan, pare-parehas silang ma-kapal, hayun, hiwa-hiwalay na muna kapag gutom na ang bawa’t isa….

Away-away muna, hahahaha!

* * * *

I ran for mayor in Richmond Hill in the 2007 polls, not because I have an ambition. No. I joined the mayoral post for a simple reason of introducing the Filipino community in this town where no Asian citizen ever-challenged the predominantly white mayors that held the rein of this fast-blooming municipality. Oo, maraming iba’t-ibang immigrants ang tumatakbong konsehal, pero, sa pagka-alkalde, wala pang member ng diverse community ang nag-attemp. Ako pa lang.

Of course, suntok sa buwan iyon, ika nga ng ating kolumnistang si John Agustin, dahil hindi ka mananalong mayor dito sa Greater Toronto Area (GTA) kapag wala kang malaking political machinery at bagito ka sa larangang ito. Kaya nga ang mga Mayor at Konsehal dito ay hindi naaalis sa puwesto hangga’t gusto nila.

Robotic ang election attitude ng mga old-timers dito sa Canada. Kung sino lang ang naka-upong Alkalde at kilalang Konsehal, iyon lagi ang isinusulat sa balota. Kung novatos ka sa ginagawang election, forget it. You don’t have the slimmest chance to win. Malayo pa botohan, talo ka na.

Iyong mga immigrants ang nagbibigay pagbabago sa sistema. Kailangang ka-dugo ka nila, ‘o, rekomendado ka ng kababayan nila para makuha mo ang precious nods nila. Kaya nga sa local elections, ang daming Chinese, Iranians, Pakistanis, Indians, Russians, ang tumatakbo dahil baka maka-disgrasya na sila. Solid kasi kung minsan ang mga immigrants na ito, lalo na mga Chinese.

Pero tayong mga Pinoy? Kanya-kanya pa rin. Crab mentality. Onion-skinned- Kapal-muks. Saan ba natin namana ang mga ugaling ito? Kailan kaya tayo puwedeng mag-kaisa at maging voting power here in Canada? We’re nearing the one million mark in this nation. At di tulad ng maraming lahi at immigrants dito, marunong lahat uminglis ang mga Pinoy sa Canada! Marunong tayong maki-sama sa mga pulitiko, dahil, taal sa atin ang pagiging pulitiko. Marunong tayong maki-bagay sa lahat ng tao. Iyong nga lang, kabayan kung minsan ang una nating inaaway dito sa Canada, eh, kababayan pa. Kung bakit? Hayan na naman, papasok ulit ….

Ang utak-talangka ng mga Pinoy. Hay, buhayyyyy ….

* * * *

SHORT ORDER: My sincerest thanks and appreciation to everyone who came and joined me in the celebration of my bday gig held September 18 (though my actual birthdate is Sept. 13) @ the cozy Timezone Disco House. Co-owner/manager Marianne Japin, aside from giving me a very nice ‘Pagkain Pinoy’ buffet, asked her staff to make the affair a memorable one for me. Kaibagan daw kasi ako, eh.. Hahahaha .. Pareng Reyfort, di ka naman dumalo, ha? You owe me tonloads na. Babawian kita one time.. hehehehe … Dr. Kiko Portugal, Dr. Chito Collantes, Dr. Belle tumbojon, Ores Ting, Aristokrat Resto owner Rey Sunga, Daisy Gutierrez-Domingo, Rhoda Maturingan, colleagues Tenny Soriano, Miguel Caducio, Cecille Araneta and husband Edward Que, Elvis impersonators Zena Zagala, Manny Bade, Andy Valle, Toronto Diva Josie de Leon with fiancée Mark Crescini, and a host of kin, friends and colleagues werte all there and enjoyed the affair that started @ 2 p.m. until 10 p.m… Sa inyong lahat, maraming salamat po! Cheers and God Bless! – ( mondatol@rogers.com )

Dear Mr Perry Diaz,

My name is Marivie Dalman, I am a member of the CFC community. My husband is a member of the Elders Assembly of CFC and is presently the Provincial Head for Zamboanga City as well as a member of the STMA Board (a CFC ministry that handles evangelization of Government Offices in the Philippines).

I am sending you a copy of my letter in reaction to the article posted in GLOBAL BALITA. I tried to post this as a comment but failed. Below is my letter to my brethren in CFC as well my comments on the article of Dr Abay. I hope you will post this in your website in the interest of truth.
Thanks and God bless!
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I My dear brothers and sisters in CFC,

I write to you from California USA. Yesterday I got an email from a brother who asked if I read the article featured in GLOBAL BALITA with the following link.

http://globalbalita.com/2010/09/28/cfc-council-of-elders-or-pharisees/

What is GLOBAL BALITA? (as described in its website)

Perry Diaz started publishing Balita as a community newsletter in 1987. Over the years, his commentaries and viewpoints have become increasingly popular with Pinoys in the United States, Philippines and abroad. In 2003, Perry started publishing his opinion articles by the name of Perryscope. Today, Global Balita is a daily-published online culmination of Perryscopes, social commentaries, news and features from a variety of respected sources about Filipinos and all that affect them.

While I was composing my comment to the article, I received Tita Zeny Gimenez answer to Dr Abay and her challenge to us in CFC… “rise to the defense of this community that we love so much.” Today that is just what I did!

Below is my comment.

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TAKING ON THE CHALLENGE: Defending CFC
by Marivie Dalman

Being a member of the Couples For Christ for the past 20 years, I am deeply offended by the factual inaccuracies presented by Dr Abay in this article. Some research would have spared him from revealing his ignorance. Whoever told him the story showed him only part of the picture, whoever provided him with the facts did the good doctor a disservice.

By writing this article, he has put his name, his career and his profession as a respected medical surgeon on the line. With the stroke of his pen, he has managed to bring out in the open what we in the CFC community have been trying to keep as internal affairs. This article has now reached the 4 corners of the world and has opened the proverbial Pandora’s box. By taking up the cudgels for TM, by writing this article, he has inadvertantly put the work of Gawad Kalinga under scrutiny.

Yes, it is true. TM was delisted along with several others, announced in a memo signed by the 7 members of the International Council explaining in detail why they have come to this painful decision. It was not a spur of the moment thing, neither was it a knee jerk reaction. It is about the rudiments of being a member of an organization. To say that it is a result of pride and envy is like turning this into a telenovela of love and hate. “Yesterday IC loved GK, Today IC hates GK” There is more than meets the eye here. Read the memo here is the link, it is in the CFC website.

http://www.couplesforchristglobal.org/

To describe and compare, you use harsh words like- ‘inquisition, pharisee, Davidian, Jones of Ghana’… what did the IC or we the CFC community do to you, to merit all these?

There are stories and more importantly, FACTS, behind each issue, I do not have the time nor the space to spell out each one. If one was truly intent in seeking out the truth, there are documents, communiques, memos, and more available. I beseech you Dr Abay, seek the truth. It is right there before you if you are indeed interested in it. But as it is, you have chosen to be judge, jury, and executioner after hearing only one side of the case.

You mentioned ANCOP funds. Would you like the facts? Ask Ricky Cuenca. And while you are at it, don’t just ask about the funds, ask about the status of the GK sites, ask about the number of houses- those that are finished and unfinished, ask about the number of existing sites, ask about the abandoned sites, ask about the old sites and how they are today. Ask what happened to the GK 777 program. Ask, ask, ask… the truth will set you free.

CFC is not a cult that blindly follows its leaders. We have tradition and culture and a way of life and we have faith in our leaders. They are there by GOD’s design to lead us. We know that we are not a perfect community, our leaders are imperfect people just like us. We try to mentor our members in the best way we can, sometimes we fail, most of the time we succeed.

We obey our leaders but we are not blind followers. We know how to distinguish between good and bad and what is right and just because we are a praying community. Just like any organization, we have a rule book to follow. We have a set of statutes to guide us; these were approved by the Vatican. For good order in the community we have to adhere to our manuals and policies set by our leaders. Those who can not conform are free to leave, that is why there are those who chose to go.

We work hand in hand with the local parishes and help our clergy with evangelization, pastoral formation and family life. We have many programs and ministries here and abroad. All these- pro bono, done out of love. That is what Gawad Kalinga was born out of… our love for God… building God’s kingdom here on earth.

The members of the International Council represent our community. I stand to defend them because an attack on one is an attack on all. In June of next year CFC will be celebrating 30 years of doing God’s work here on earth. We have earned our keep! We are not a community of mindless people. In behalf of the one million faceless brothers and sisters all over the world, I demand no less than an apology from you, Dr Eustaquio Abay!

Marivie Dalman September 30, 2010

marivie dalman
“…oremus pro invicem.”

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SKETCHES
by Ana Marie Pamintuan
from The Philippine Star

Shortly before his departure for the United States, President Aquino had tried to patch up reported differences between two rival groups in his administration.

Now dubbed the “Balay” and “Samar” factions, conflict between the two groups can be blamed for much of the perception that the new administration has failed to hit the ground running.

The confusion over the President’s first executive orders, the slow government reorganization, and even the mishandling of the hostage crisis, have been traced, wholly or in part, to factional rivalry within the corridors of power.

It’s good to know that P-Noy is making an effort to patch things up, or at least to keep the rivalry from setting back his reform agenda or compromising governance.

The success of his effort could spell the difference between perpetual dysfunction and effective governance under his watch.

Present at the meeting were Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa of the Samar group and Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad of the Balay faction. In the presence of their boss, the two simply laughed off the reported rift.

As every Pinoy knows, laughing off a problem does not mean ending it. Rivals can be laughing and patting each other on the back as they feel for the best spot to stick in the knife.

The sigh from both camps is that it’s really P-Noy who’s making all the confusing decisions, from appointments to the handling of controversies. There are still some 2,000 positions to be filled, with fewer than 1,000 new appointees named. We’re told that P-Noy is headstrong and doesn’t like being nagged about anything, particularly appointments, or being contradicted unless he asks for it.

But the perception is that without factional rivalry, the President’s men and women could save him from coming off like an ineffective, indecisive leader.

* * *

“Balay,” as most of you already know, refers to the White House at Araneta Center, home to former senator and vice presidential bet Mar Roxas, president of P-Noy’s Liberal Party (LP).

The faction reportedly counts among its members the LP stalwarts, among them Abad (with his daughter Julia of the Presidential Management Staff) as well as Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, the former Hyatt 10 members such as Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman (Abad was also Hyatt 10), Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda and Secretary Ricky Carandang of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, and some partners in The Firm who worked with Roxas during the campaign.

“Samar” refers to the street in Quezon City where Ochoa, P-Noy’s law school classmate and legal adviser when he was a congressman in 1998, set up a base of operations last November to help in the Aquino campaign.

Secretary Herminio Coloma of the Presidential Communications Operations Office and other loyalists of P-Noy’s mom, Corazon Aquino, together with the President’s sisters and other key relatives are identified with this group. Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno has been lumped with the group, but he is more on a class of his own in terms of friendship with P-Noy.

Candidate Noynoy had actually asked Ochoa to help in the campaign in September, as soon as it became clear that Roxas was truly sliding down to the VP race. But Ochoa waited for his boss of nine years, Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte Jr., to bolt the Lakas-CMD-Kampi for the LP first before he could work for the Liberals’ standard bearer.

By that time, the Roxas camp had already taken charge of the campaign of the party’s new standard bearer, who was ill prepared for the sharp turn of events in his political career.

In December, the Samar camp commissioned a survey, which showed Noynoy Aquino’s lead over closest rival Manny Villar of the Nacionalista Party narrowing to only about four percent. Noynoy was also starting to complain about his heavy campaign schedule.

The camp then turned to others for help, starting with Sen. Francis Escudero, followed by Sen. Serge Osmeña. The rift with the Balay group deepened after Ochoa was placed in charge of campaign scheduling and Chiz Escudero started openly pushing for a Noy-Jejomar Binay tandem.

Around that time, I was hearing complaints from both camps against each other. The power struggle was in full swing.

* * *

Despite repeated denials, that struggle is still evident as Palace officials assess what has been achieved so far during P-Noy’s first 100 days.

On his 100th day, the President is expected to outline his plans for the rest of his term. People are waiting for vision, and critics are waiting to pounce, if they haven’t already. It’s a vicious society where one president is criticized for extravagance for dining at Le Cirque, and her replacement is belittled for eating hotdog on the Manhattan sidewalk. We are never satisfied.

A hundred days is too short for any major accomplishments. All that an administration can cite are efforts to lay the groundwork for change and progress.

The first 100 days will be remembered for the disappearance of the perks of power: wang-wang and blinkers; politicians’ names and faces on billboards for government projects. No more lawmakers on presidential trips overseas, and of course there’s that hotdog meal.

For the rest of the initiatives, the new administration hasn’t quite taken off. The validity of the Truth Commission, the recall of midnight appointments, and even the impeachment of the Ombudsman by presidential allies in the House of Representatives have all been challenged before the Supreme Court.

The controversy over Hacienda Luisita, also pending with the high tribunal, has long cast a cloud over the Aquino-Cojuangco clan.

Many of the President’s woes, however, can be traced to rivalry within his inner circle, including the incoherent response to the hostage crisis. In this administration, there often seems to be different heads saying different things on the same issue and pulling in opposite directions.

And the problem doesn’t look likely to go away soon. In the Palace snake pit, the buzz these days is that the Balay camp is grooming Roxas to replace Ochoa as Little President.

Filipinos are used to officials fighting over turf and power. As long as it doesn’t translate into dysfunctional governance, ordinary folk don’t really care who’s getting stabbed in the back. In this power play, the loser should not be Juan de la Cruz.

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http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=616254&publicationSubCategoryId=64

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
by Linggoy Alcuaz

P Noy’s Honeymoon was supposed to end this week. It ended more than a month earlier. Unfair! Well, that is the point we’ve been trying to make. Life is unfair to good boys entering politics. In fact, his honeymoon was perfect for only a day. “No Wang Wang! No Counter Flow!” That was just like carrying the Bride over the threshold without tripping. After that first correct step, came Memo Order # 1, the mistakes of the Communications Group and the confusion with the BIR and Customs sample charges.

Still, it held until the Opening of Congress and the SONA. Aside from propaganda gimmicks, the new administration moved ever so slowly into its second month. So afraid to commit mistakes, it looked forward to its six year term. Meanwhile, by failing to maintain the momentum of the past year, it was allowing its large reserve of popular support to get stagnant. Little did it know that a lone dismissed policeman was lurking around the corner.

By comparison, in their first one hundred days, P Noy’s predecessors fared much better. In 2001, GMA had to prepare for midterm elections and this helped her maintain the Anti ERAP momentum. The week after her first one hundred days, EDSA 2 shook her for six days and marched all the way to Malacanang. She survived it. Her first major scandal errupted in June or July. This was the Mega Franchise scandal that involved her First Gentleman, Mike Arroyo and her best friend, Bing Rodrigo on opposing sides.

In 1998, newly elected Erap went to three foreign conferences in his first six months and passed with flying colors. These were ASEAN, APEC and an Economic Conference in Singapore. In 1992, FVR, who won with just over 20 % of the vote, spent his first six months consolidating both Congress and popular support. He went on to make peace with military and Muslim rebels. At the same time he pursued peace talks with the Left and got them to try the parliamentary struggle through the Party List.

In 1986, P Noy’s mother Cory, proclaimed a Revolutionary Government, convened a Constitutional Commission, assumed Legislative Powers, replaced the National and Local Executive Officials as well as the Judiciary. Within her first five months, she faced both civilian and military challenges from Marcos Loyalists. She eventually survived eight coup attempts and at least one assassination attempt. By 1987 she had both a ratified Constitution and an elected Congress.

Now, as he faces his next 2,090 days, P Noy has to double time just to catch up with his predecessors. Hopefully, he had time to meditate during his long flights to and from the US. Hopefully, the experience forced him to expand his small world. Hopefully, his meetings with President Obama and other World Leaders gave him the confidence to get out from under the shadow of his parents’ legacies. Hopefully, he underwent a paradigm shift in terms of how to trust and whom not to trust.

Otherwise, we will just have more of the same for the next six years.

Dispatches from the Enchanted Kingdom
by Manuel Buencamino
from Business Mirror

Sometimes I will, then again I think I won’t. Sometimes I do, then again I think I don’t. — Chuck Berry

Overheard at the cantina…

“The President and Justice Secretary de Lima are on a collision course,” said Ben.

“Why?” Pepito asked.

“Because the President asked his executive secretary and his legal adviser to review the IIRC’s [Incident Investigation and Review Committee] findings and to make their own recommendations.”

“But he can do that, the IIRC’s findings are only recommendatory,” Pepito pointed out.

“Yes, and it will look like the President is protecting some people if the IIRC’s recommendations are not followed through.”

“What do you want him to do?”

“He can tell de Lima to act on the IIRC’s recommendations even if he does not totally agree with them. Tell her to prove her case in court, that way he won’t be suspected of protecting friends,” Ben replied.

“On the other hand, he can fire her if he does not like the report. All Cabinet members serve at the pleasure of the President,” said Pepito.

“Firing her will cause more problems.”

“Why?”

“Because the secretary of Justice is the only Cabinet member who is supposed to be above politics. Her job is to make sure everybody obeys the law, from the President all the way down to us. She’s not there to absolve the President’s friends or persecute his enemies,” Ben explained.

“But de Lima’s statements are bordering on insubordination,” Pepito argued.

“Yes, and if she’s fired, the public will ask: Did she fail to administer justice effectively, fairly and equitably, or did she just fail to do as the President wished? That’s going to be a public- relations nightmare.”

“Well, every other Justice secretary did as told,” insisted Pepito.

“And that’s why we have no respect for the law. It has always been enforced capriciously.”

“Maybe the President was not satisfied with the report,” Pepito shifted.

“I read the IIRC report, and its findings are straightforward and indisputable: There is a manual of operations for hostage situations and no one followed it. There is a code of ethics for news broadcasters and they did not follow it.”

“Going by the book does not always guarantee success.”

“True, but if everyone had followed the manual, then we would be talking about improving procedures and techniques instead of arguing over personalities to blame for the tragedy.”

“Mayor Lim got melodramatic over that,” Pepito said.

“Lim displayed his outdated mentality,” Ben replied, adding, “A blogger pointed out that ‘de Lima is becoming an archetype for the kind of law-enforcement official that adheres to procedure, a stickler for doing things by the book, in this case the manual for handling such crises. Mayor Lim, on the other hand, represents an opposing archetype that would rather dispense with the rulebook in bringing about justice. He represents the kind of justice you would expect from the Wild, Wild West. His archetype is the cowboy who makes his own rules as he goes along— a sort of nonchalant attitude that flaunts at procedure in order to get the job done.’”

“I think Lim is results-oriented,” Pepito countered.

“I don’t care how you see him, I don’t live in Manila. My concern is the President can he bring himself to doing what is right no matter who gets hurt in the process?”

“What led you to asking that question?”

“The President’s statement to the press, ‘One thing we have to watch out for is if these people who have been with us when we were still in the harassed opposition and who joined us in our struggles…if all these people who are close to us are removed and replaced by those who are not as close, the next group could already be our enemies.’”

“But the President has a legitimate concern,” said Pepito.

“Friends and enemies are not the issue here, we are not in Dodge City.”

“Well, what is the issue?”

“Accountability. And whether the President is serious about it.”

Buencamino is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms (www.aer.ph).

http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/home/opinion/1838-is-he-or-isnt-he

COMMONSENSE
by Marichu A. Villanueva
from The Philippine Star

President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III has every reason to grin from ear to ear when he flew back to Manila from the United States
early dawn yesterday. Fresh from his first official trip abroad, the President has arrived from his successful debut as a leader-speaker before the United Nations (UN) General Assembly last week which was held in New York.

As expected, one newspaper came out with a screaming headline that the President brought back $2.8 billion “bacon” from his just concluded US trip. But I thought he ate hotdog in New York? Levity aside, that much talked about P-Noy’s hotdog-eating while drinking his favorite can of regular Coke in New York’s 45th Street earned a lot of goodwill for the Philippines.

In fact, half of that amount or $1 billion will come from new investments from the Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. Coca-Cola Pacific Group president Glenn Jordan personally told about his company’s new investment plans in the Philippines when he met with P-Noy in New York. In an official statement, Coca-Cola announced its company’s additional investments that would come to the Philippines in the next five years.

According to Jordan, the Coca-Cola operations in the Philippines will further expand once the construction of a “mega” bottling facility in Misamis Oriental is completed next year. It will be one of the largest bottling plants of Coke in the region outside the US. The Philippine bottling operation is among the biggest 10 Coca-Cola bottlers globally, they claimed. Coca-Cola Philippines operates 23 plants and 42 sales offices all over the country, with over 7,800 direct employees. The soft drink giant has been locally produced in the Philippines since 1912.

It pays to have a Coke-drinking President like P-Noy who is a walking advertisement for Coke. He never leaves his house — and even now that he lives at the Bahay Pangarap in the Palace — without baon of cans of regular Coke. It’s the real thing for him.

Jiggy Cruz, a nephew of P-Noy once revealed in a TV talk show that if they want to make sipsip (suck up) to their Uncle Noy, the trick is to give him ice-cold can of Coke, especially if they want to ask him a favor.

The Coca-Cola expansion plan in the Philippines is the single biggest bulk of new investments that P-Noy brought back from his US trip. And yet he did not even make a visit to Coke’s headquarters in Atlanta. It was former President Fidel V. Ramos who was the first Philippine President to have done so. I covered that tour of the Coke headquarters in Atlanta as part of the itinerary of the first presidential state visit of Ramos in the US in 1993.

That Coca-Cola investment is being matched by another $1 billion worth of investment from an American power generation firm AES which is reportedly pouring this amount to expand the capacity of Masinloc power plant up to 660 megawatts. From an official announcement from the Palace, the AES project will generate 1,500 new jobs during the three to four-year construction period of this new base load power plant.

The rest of the new investments or $400 million come from other US companies and the rest is accounted for by the $434 million in grants from the US Millennium Challenge Corp. So it is not a surprise why the President appeared to be still in “Cloud 9” when he deplaned from a 13-hour direct flight with Philippine Airlines (PAL) from San Francisco, California.

It’s not clear yet how chain-smoking P-Noy survived the supposed “no smoking” flight. We could just imagine scenarios of the PAL pilots and attendants, who are still not in good terms with their management, making special accommodations for the Commander-in-Chief.

It was a stark contrast when the Chief Executive left Manila on Sept. 20 when he reportedly got irked as he saw his photo emblazoned on the arrival/departure card issued to passengers at the airport named after his slain father, the late Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.

Thus, before he left, the President barked orders to airport officials to make sure he would not see his face again on these arrival/departure cards when he gets back to Manila. And sure enough, the President came back happy to see his order carried out this time accordingly.

The Bureau of Immigration as the government agency that issues these arrival/departure cards, immediately complied with the presidential directive. They printed out, albeit, grudgingly, new arrival/departure cards that no longer carry the President’s face.

Actually, the BI is still asking the Palace to reconsider the decision to recall the arrival/departure cards and allow the bureau to use up the remaining cards with the Aquino photo on it. The BI reportedly had already printed about a year’s supply, or an estimated 18 to 20 million copies of the arrival/departure cards and distributed these to some 34 members of the Airline Operators Council (AOC).

Since January, the BI reportedly took control of the distribution of the arrival/departure cards to passengers at the airport terminals. BI allegedly signed a contract with X-tend, Inc., allegedly for 10 years, to print the cards at a cost of P5 per copy. Airline industry sources claim they were able to have the same cards printed for only P1.50.

But now they have this problem after the President found out that his photograph was printed on the front page of the cards without his permission. He would not have known about it had he not embarked on this trip to the US, his first travel outside the Philippines after assuming office.

The presidential reaction was predictable. Just I suspected when I first saw the P-Noy photo on arrival/departure cards when I left for Shanghai last month. The President was just being consistent with his policy against the use of presidential photos on government projects plastered on billboards or signage.

The arrival/departure cards used to bear the photo of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. But after the end of her term on June 30, all these arrival/departure cards bearing her photo were revoked and replaced, of course, with the smiling P-Noy on the cover.

But when the real P-Noy stepped in the airport and saw them, all of these cards flew out. It’s the real thing now.

http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=616256&publicationSubCategoryId=64

President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III’s speech at the “We Are One Filipino” rally in San Jose, California on September 26, 2010.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW VIDEO >> P-Noy speech at the “We Are One Filipino” rally