A little change of plans

yolanda relief goodsYou know, I probably write smack better than most in the Philippines.

“Smack: a disrespectful comment made to or about someone.” (One of 42 definitions cited in the Urban Dictionary. Don’t check out the others unless you have great tolerance for American street language.)

But I have become increasingly uncomfortable doing smack. I’ve reached the saturation point, or, more likely, a turning point.

So I’ve cancelled two blogs.

What, really, is the value in pointing out what everyone knows? You know Binay is a liar, thief, and cheat, right? Subcommittee testimony makes that clear. Yet he is coddled by the influential – the silent senators, the Aquino family and the oligarchs, a press that prints his lies as worthy facts, the mayors of sister cities who want to hitch a ride on the gravy train and even COMELEC commissioners who do nothing as he campaigns on taxpayer money for five years before it is officially allowed. This is all so dysfunctional and crooked in its own right that the poor recognize there is no hope that their vote can change anything at all.

The system is so devoid of ethical courage as to be laughable, yet it persists, because influential people take care of themselves.

Let’s cut to the chase. Here are excerpts of my best smack from the first cancelled article:

About the Aquino family and other influential people who let it happen:

We are all interested in our own personal well-being above all other values. But I’d argue there is something horridly dysfunctional about a situation where the vast majority of influential people have the following ordering of priorities:

(1) Allegiance to family, friends and benefactors

(2) Allegiance to God, or to moral integrity

(3) Allegiance to nationhood and what we stand for as a people

Pinoy pride is a grand hypocrisy when aligned that way. So is faith. And honor.

Then I elaborated a bit:

The number of influential people working hard to eliminate corruption in the Philippines is less than a dozen. Hundreds – oligarchs to legislators – offer no tangible help whatsoever and spend their days with their heads down, staring at their shoes.

About the press:

They (the corrupt) are all P.T. Barnums with a megaphone, and the megaphone is a tabloid press that has all the intellectual discernment of a drunk lying face down in the gutter.

Like I said, I can write smack. And:

Binay didn’t even make the Inquirer’s top seven rage-makers for 2014. But Purisima was there, for borrowing a car. This is the culture of impunity in its finer shadings, protecting the powerful. Coddling the intimidators. Bowing before them. Some journalistic courage, eh?

And of course I pilloried Mr. Binay himself, but I don’t need to put those quotes here. You know what I would say.

I then talked about how the poor believe all politicians are corrupt. They do, and it is true if you consider the lack of ethical fiber to be corruption, too. It would not be true if there could be a break-out of national conscience among the influential.

I recommended that the President embark on a cultural rehabilitation program to correct the two main deficiencies to a healthy, vibrant Philippines: the impunity people of influence grant their mates, and the notion that the Philippines is, even today, a wholly corrupt place.

The closing lines centered on the idea that Binay could get elected for the simple reason that poor people believe ALL politicians are corrupt:

Hope and opportunity are found by backing the honest, not denying them.

And it would help immensely if the honest, influential people would stand up now and then to speak passionately for the well-being of their nation. To put the Philippines right there next to God in terms of their devotion.

It would be an amazing step, an uplifting step, for this downtrodden nation, so used to being abused by the privileged.

It would take just a few people of courage and compassion . . . and clout . . . to turn the tide. A band of rebels, I suppose. Of heroic dimension.

But, really, what is the use of writing that? Senators Cayetano and Trillanes are doing their best to be heroes. The rest of the senate shrugs, the Binays attack them for playing politics, the people don’t watch the hearings and the influential just turn away.

My second cancelled blog talked about how negative the Philippines persists in being because its people gripe unless everything is done EXACTLY as they want it done. This is amplified by a media that CREATES conflict by using tabloid reporting methods that play off of anything negative. All the good things being done in the Philippines get squashed under the weight of the crab talk that dominates discussion.

The real picture:

The Philippines has emerged as a rising star in Asia. A leader. Striking the Bangsamoro Agreement for peace when most other nations are bogged down in strife with their Muslim communities, filing the ITLOS case when others lack the courage to do so, working earnestly to get rid of corruption . . . without revolution . . . showcasing a vibrant healthy democracy, expanding infrastructure left untended by corrupt prior administrations, building economic prowess: call centers, agribusiness, manufacturing, real estate, casinos, tourism. A robust middle class is emerging, forming a national conscience of stability, honesty, rationality and good moral bearing. It is all good. It is truly uplifting. It is a vastly more progressive Philippines than we had five years ago.

We “the outsiders” see the progress, but the insiders find that it is not good enough. People take a specific complaint and project it to be the whole of the place . . . well,  enough of that and it is hard to find the uplift.

We fail to see that many of the complaints actually derive from something positive called “progress”. And we seem to expect one President to correct years of neglect in one term. To rebuild Tacloban in a year. To give speeches that WE want to hear. To attend only those events that WE sanction as okay. To make decisions that WE agree with.

Rationality, compassion and forgiveness get lost for all the complaining.

Here’s the bottom line on this deal:

Positive is an energy. It feeds on itself. It builds confidence and does away with insecurity and envy. It is the foundation of real hope.

I see the Philippines as a glass that is 80% full, not 50% . . . or 20%. I look at the Philippines as having a rational, intelligent, good president that many nations lack. I see a democracy that is dynamic and working to stay centered on the well-being of the nation. It is slow, it is ragged, but it is good.

I look at the promise just starting to build, and I see no upward limit to the potential for this over-abused, under-inspired nation.

So gripe away if that is your style.

It’s not going to be mine.

And so I cancelled my smack, the relentless ragging about the way things are. Now I’ve got to figure out how to be useful, and find fulfillment, by being positive. I’ve got to figure out how to talk to an audience that itself often seems more interested in dirt than uplift.

If I can stay positive, and if I think writing will make even a wee little difference, I’ll write some more blogs.

If I can’t, I won’t.


63 Responses to “A little change of plans”
  1. parengtony says:

    I do agree with almost 100% of the Philippine society ailments you’ve pointed out. However, your radical change of plans I do agree with 110%.

    I am confident you will write some more blogs as I am confident that our society will present abundant opportunities for you to stay positive. As Ninoy stated: The Filipino is worth dying for.

  2. Bing Garcia says:

    Please continue writing Joe. You are needed here.

  3. Bert says:

    Keep on writing, Joe. It’s too early to judge what the “poor” might think or do of/to Binay, it might surprise you yet. Your blog will make the difference I’m sure of it.

    • Joe America says:

      I keep thinking the broad population will suddenly get it, that they are being “played”, and will take offense. I think campaign attack ads are not common here, but if I were a candidate, I would do one that that reveals the game-playing going on. Hahahaha, so my positive recommendation would be to go negative with one ad, really hard.

      I very much appreciate your optimism.

  4. andrewlim8 says:

    Just like diesels, or sports teams, we need warm-ups before we can hum. The topics will present themselves as the year rolls along; in the meantime we can discuss “soft” topics like music, food, drink, movies, etc.

    Once Binay opens his mouth, or a viable candidate comes up, we will be scrambling all over it. I am composing one to be timed with the Pope’s visit.

  5. manuel buencamino says:

    Yup. It can get tiring. That’s why I stopped writing op-eds.

    But blogs and social media are different. There is a give and take that is edifying for everybody involved unless one uses his blog only to pontificate like GRP.

    Yes, there is no value in pointing out what everybody knows. However, every one reacts differently to what is obvious and that is where the value of commentary comes in i.e. how does one frame what one sees, what are the parameters or values that frame one’s reaction etc., and, if one has the confidence and knowledge, what are the possible solutions to or possible outcomes if certain conditions are left unchecked. In short, we all see the same thing but we see it from different angles. Some angles might not be visible to all and that’s where a commentator comes in: he shows the hidden angles and hopefully that added dimension will lead to a fuller appreciation of what everyone thought obvious.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, that is the ideal, to cut at issues from angles that reveal meaningful new ideas. And generally pointing toward organizing the incomprehensible, developing principles, and doing problem solving or creative thinking. Yes, yes. That is exactly what I have in mind, with a LOT of help from good thinkers such as yourself.

  6. Bert says:

    “The system is so devoid of ethical courage as to be laughable, yet it persists, because influential people take care of themselves.”—Joe

    Yes, true. But this time around it will be different. Those ‘influential people’ are not stupid, not even as ‘thick’ as we thought them to be. They will run to the nearest shower just as soon as they feel the heat. The Aquino family is so vulnerable. They could not afford to be swimming against the tide, and the tide is going where Pres. Noynoy wants it to go. The family have a choice to make, or perish into political oblivion. Goodbye Bam. But they are not stupid. I don’t worry.

    • Joe America says:

      I agree the Aquino sisters and uncles have walked themselves out to the end of a plank and will become a national embarrassment if they continue to support Binay. I think Bam Aquino is building a strong future by doing good deeds in the Senate. So he stands alone on merit. He will eventually speak his mind, and I think he will display maturity and common sense when he does so.

      • BFD says:

        First, let me thank you for being honest and revelatory about the crossroad you are facing and the decision to continue on. Yes, it can be tiring sometimes, but it’s what makes us stronger and more passionate in the outcome that we want.

        We strive for a better Philippines, warts and all, but different viewpoints from everyone is needed to really shape into what it is to become. Your views and opinion is highly appreciated.

        Keep on blogging, Joe…

  7. josephivo says:

    Do I smell a mixture of mid-life crisis and new-year’s resolve?

    1. Where you preaching to the believers and no new converts? Do we all start to repeat ourselves? Did we only produce affidavits and no forensic evidence? Impressive English catching the eye more than important new ideas?

    2. But you made us all thinking. You made many implicit feeling and beliefs explicit, you gave it words so it could be discussed. And sometimes it needs to be discussed again and again. You gave many new people new voices, you could keep the old ones engaged. Presenting yourself as an American while you are an exceptional American exposed for many (=for me) stereotype thinking.

    3. More of the same will produce more of the same: growth of your blog, civilized discussions, contributions from very different viewpoints, reasons to research Wikipedia and books we read long time ago…

    4. Doing better than before? Not easy. Address larger audiences – how, I don’t even have a Facebook account… ? Summarize the most relevant contributions before “closing” a topic? Encourage or force action oriented contributions? Advising how to improving a rough-cut diamond is easy. But yours sparkles already! Is a better setting possible? Better lighting?

    A late happy New Year.

    • Joe America says:

      I mainly got tired of repeating some themes, generally critical ones. You do raise a good point, though. We do have a lot of new readers who find the ideas fresh, and I find some encouragement in that. The themes I am tired of repeating are: (1) the ethical vacuuity about Binay from influential people, giving him a free ride, (2) always listing President Aquino’s accomplishments (because all the criticism makes it seem like there are none, and Filipinos don’t “get it” that he is an excellent president and has done a lot of good things), (3) the relentless criticism and crab-talking done hereabouts, and (4) media tabloid contribution to the negativity, generating a marked lack of uplift and REAL pride in the Philippines. I didn’t want to listen to myself anymore. 🙂

      So I will strive for some new topics and points of view. Hopefully more wholesome.

      Then it will be an excellent New Year, eh? Happy New Year to you, too, Joseph. I appreciate all your contributions here, articles and comments and rich perspectives.

      • juandc says:

        Hi Joe. Remember me? It’s JuanDC. You once scribbled up a post based on a graphic comment I made before on exploding frogs Id trapped inside tin cans… Anyways, just wanted you to know I have really enjoyed reading your articles. And that they’ve also helped me a lot in establishing/discrediting arguments during competitive classroom discussions in public administration. You know, I also had a blog (a tumblelog, if that would count as one) and at some point I gave it up because I wasn’t able to see the value in it any longer, and that practical matters needed more attention. Point is, whatever you do, we can respect that. But whatever you, don’t quit; don’t quit on the gullibility of pinoys, on the monotony of sharing your principles, and deny us the wit and humor of your unique literary genius.

        • Joe America says:

          Well, Juan, that is a very touching tribute for a guy who explodes frogs, 🙂 and I appreciate it a lot. I’m writing today, in fact, on a piece entitled “FOI, Right of Reply, Impunity and Discretion”. It will be out in a day or two. I’m trying to illustrate the ways the powerful protect themselves and how we can start to focus on who some of the main culprits are. I’m glad to know you are reading.

  8. macspeed says:

    @Joe Am

    Composing a song with blockbuster in say a month in a year is something very difficult for any singer song writer…but some just did it…

    For every song, there is always the message that the composer or singer wanted to convey.

    Well Joe, you are one of a kind, however, there will always be critics and they are losers he he he

    Keep it up Joe, Happy new Year still, 3 kings has yet to come….and advance happy new year for Chinese traditions….

    • Joe America says:

      Ah, mac, you are very kind, and in good humor. Both fine conditions. I’m going to tape that line that starts “Well, Joe . . .” to the top of my computer so I can be reminded every day to keep things in perspective. Thanks. Happy Chinese New Year to you, too, and may you always be so wise, like Confucius . . .

  9. Steve says:

    I hope you don’t stop, though that may be just a bit hypocritical of me. I stopped writing on Philippine affairs a decade ago: it wasn’t making a difference, I wasn’t getting paid for it, at least not enough to justify the effort, and overall I concluded the time would be better spent riding a bike, paddling a boat, or hanging with the kids. If you reach the same conclusion I’d hardly be in a position to blame you.

    I still hope you don’t, hypocritical though that hope may be.

    I am perhaps less optimistic than you are over the state of the Philippines. I am not one of those who hate Aquino: I think he’s done as well as could be realistically hoped and better than I expected, though I think he’s done so more by evading the obstacles to progress than by confronting and overcoming them.

    I see a whole lot of capable, imaginative, and productive people in this country, succeeding by hook and by crook and all too often by leaving. They are making progress, but they are making progress in spite of the government, not because of it. They are crawling uphill with a putrid albatross around their necks and a whacking great anchor wired to their collective ass. The albatross is the government and the anchor is the parasitic elite class, and they are pretty much the same thing. In the long run the key to unleashing the potential of the Philippines is not finding better ways to haul the anchor and the albatross up the hill, the key is to cut them loose, to either force them to contribute or to leave them behind. All too often that need is overlooked in a quest for immediate, short term devices aimed at achieving success in spite of the obstacles.

    I recall a time, not so long ago, when people used to debate the possibility of the Philippines becoming a failed state. My position then was that the Philippines was a functioning state with a failed government. I think that’s still largely the case, despite the efforts of the current administration: government remains more liability than asset. Whether or not that changes depends, I believe, on the will to go beyond “gawa paraan” and start addressing the core obstacles that are holding the country back.

    Thus concludes my rant for the day 🙂

    • Joe America says:

      That’s not a rant. It is called assertive analysis. I think there is a difference between this administration and prior administrations in that this one is looking for better approaches, and implementing them. In that regard, this blog has benefit because it is an open and honest debate, and from that people who follow can extract constructive ideas. The Administration follows the blog, senators and reps have picked up a few. A decade ago, you may not have had such a receptive audience. I think when one is used to swimming in water, it is hard to walk on land. When one has grown up and been mentored in a culture of impunity, it is hard to understand what a culture of accountability is like. So that is the direction we can take in our writings, to provide alternatives that simply work better. More productively. Without prejudice to the swimmers who are dong what comes naturally, but with prejudice toward the crooks.

      • Steve says:

        One advantage of a blog over traditional articles and journals is that it allows some interaction with readers: writing in traditional academic journals, there’s little evidence to suggest that anyone even noticed, beyond the occasional citation or inclusion in a course syllabus. Whether or not that translates to influence is another question, but at least it’s not a vacuum!

  10. Phil ESguerra says:

    Please don’t stop…. Because you only mentioned corruption as if it was existing in a vacuum.
    Corruption by Philippine officials can not exist nor perpetuate on its own without the help of the Philippine government. While the honest people have both their hands tied behind their backs while fighting corruption, the corrupt and the powerful are hiding behind laws enacted for the protection of the corrupt.

    and RA 6426 (AN ACT INSTITUTING A FOREIGN CURRENCY DEPOSIT SYSTEM IN THE PHILIPPINES, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES) are removed, any discussion about fighting corruption in the Philippines is just that – a talk ending in nothing. Until Pres. Aquino makes it his priority to remove those laws before his term ends, his “Daang Matuwid is just that – a slogan that means nothing.

    If enough well-meaning senators and congressmen, or even President Aquino, are REALLY SERIOUS about eradicating corruption, they should remove both those Marcos-era laws.

    For obvious reasons, it is easy to understand why Gloria Arroyo and Joseph Estrada did not make it their priority to remove those laws during their respective administrations.

    But one cannot wrap one’s mind at the idea that the son of the martyr Benigno Aquino will let those Marcos laws stand.

    The left side of my brain wants to believe that Pres. Aquino is a remarkably honest human being, like his father. But the right side nags me with these questions, “What and who is he trying to protect by not making the removal of those laws his priority? What is he trying to hide, if anything? Do the poor Filipinos, whom he says are his bosses, benefit from both those laws, or just the corrupt and the powerful?”

    Joe, what does that part of your brain ask you?

    • Joe America says:

      My brain thinks that President Aquino is a product of a culture that is protective of the privileged, and he is of the privileged. He is wary of abrupt decisions that would create more turmoil than solution and moves steadily and thoughtfully in the right direction. I do appreciate the references to those two acts, as I am currently writing an article about laws that protect the privileged, and those two can go right on top of the list.

    • Bert says:

      Excuse me but I am ignorant about Philippine laws and these banking laws mentioned here as RA1405 and RA 6426 more so. I wonder what is the connection of bank secrecy laws to a culture of corruption here in the Philippines? I’ve heard Switzerland and some other countries have more stricter bank secrecy laws and and they’re no more as corrupt as those countries without it. Just asking.

    • parengtony says:

      Nobody asked me but my simple answer to the complex question is that PNoy is an honest man passionately committed to the legacy of his parents and an extremely loyal friend particularly as it relates to the Cojuangco family’s strong adherence to the traditional Filipino practice called “utang na loob”.

      • Joe America says:

        The problem I see is that “utan na loob” is given higher place on the value ranking than allegiance to God or to nation. A more productive way is to separate work from personal lives. Work is cut and dried and ethical. Personal lives have loyalty and favors done and received. Work is output bound, friendships are love and loyalty bound. The Philippines has no ethical dividing line, but instead showers the Binay family with personal favoritism even though . . . on the job . . . they are crooks.

        Thank you for helping me to see that dividing line as very very important to finding a way to accommodate both. I feel another blog coming on . . .

  11. pussyfooter says:

    Good on you, and maybe good for you, to come to these decisions. The blogging (and blog-following?) community and possibly the society as a whole will be the poorer for it should you eventually decide to stop blogging altogether, but no one can blame you should it come to that.

    Perhaps I’m just another eternally dissatisfied Pinoy, but myself I’ve realized that the hope in this country, if it must be found (haha), lies in the still-hardworking, still-imaginative, and still-decent minority scattered across the private and public sectors, necessarily in those between their late 20s and mid-30s perhaps. Whether they are nevertheless doomed by the tatays and nanays clinging to their traditionally corrupt ways (and no, I am NOT one of those who illogically, implicitly believe that corruption–that is, of the soul–is somehow magically limited to government) and by the rest of the heaving, iPhone-stealing, gibberish-spewing majority tragically remains to be seen.

    • Joe America says:

      Interestingly, I am inspired by much of what is going on in the Philippines, and frustrated that more don’t see it. And frustrated that the protected class refuses to step up for the Philippines to accelerate the transformation.

      • Steve says:

        I don’t expect the protected class to step up and accelerate a transformation in any consistent or coherent way. A few members of the class might, though even they will be unwilling to confront the core obstacles to transformation… because the protected class is the core obstacle to transformation.

  12. edgar lores says:

    1. Hmm. New Year, time to take stock, time to assess and reassess.

    2. When at a crossroad, when I do not know which way to turn, I turn to stories. Stories are narratives of meaning, wherein the messages run like underwater currents in flowing water. A narrative starts with a little placid creek that flows into the roiling waters of a big or even mighty river, a river that meanders this way and that way, a river that finally debouches into the great expanse of the sea. The transparency of the underwater currents differs at different times. It may be clear, translucent or opaque (depending on the skill of the writer and/or the comprehension of the reader). At the end, the character of the sea – its beauty, the color of the water and the surrounding sky — hinges on whether the story has a sad ending or a happy ending.

    3. Here, from Wikipedia, is a brief edited summary of the Anglo-Saxon epic poem “Beowulf”:

    “The main protagonist, Beowulf, a hero of the Geats, comes to the aid of Hrothgar, the king of the Danes, whose great hall, Heorot, is plagued by the monster Grendel. Beowulf kills Grendel with his bare hands and Grendel’s mother with a sword of a giant that he found in her lair.

    “Later in his life, Beowulf is himself king of the Geats, and finds his realm terrorized by a dragon whose treasure had been stolen from his hoard in a burial mound. He attacks the dragon with the help of his servants, but they do not succeed. Beowulf decides to follow the dragon into its lair, but only his young Swedish relative Wiglaf, whose name means “remnant of valor”, dares join him. Beowulf finally slays the dragon, but is mortally wounded. He is buried in a tumulus or burial mound, by the sea.”

    4. Note the following:

    4.1. Beowulf comes from a different land.
    4.2. He kills Grendel with his bare hands.
    4.3. He kills Grendel’s mother with a weapon in her lair.
    4.4. Grendel and his mother are human monsters but the third monster is a dragon.
    4.5. Beowulf succeeds but is mortally wounded.

    5. If I may draw an allegory:

    5.1. The people, each of us and JoeAm are Beowulf.
    5.2. The people slew the first monster, Grendel in his guise as Marcos. The people at EDSA had no weapons except their bare hands.
    5.3. The people, each of us and JoeAm will slay his kin, Grendel’s siblings and his mother, in their guises as GMA and Binay. The weapon that we use will be our intelligence.
    5.4. The dragon is corruption.
    5.5. We will succeed but at some cost.

    6. What the epic poem does not reveal is that we are part Beowulf… and part Grendel.

    7. May our epic struggle have a happy ending.

    • Joe America says:

      Nice twist there in 6. I agree that we all have tendencies toward self indulgence, and it is a bit of a Grendel. We who want positive are also often negative about things.

      The river here is flowing slowly, perhaps like the Pasig, bogged down in detritus. I’d like to see a bit of white water. Like, from the influential who seem to have no ethical courage whatsoever. I also have the nagging feeling that as soon as we make it to the sea, we will get teleported to another parallel universe to start again up the creek.

      • sonny says:

        Joe, I did not know what east or west of the Mississippi meant until I lived here in America. I found a meaning of the expression because I happened to live close to Itasca, Minnesota for a while, where the Mississippi starts as a little brook one could jump over. And then I settled in Chicago (close to a middle tributary of the same great Miss.) and from this vantage, I got the sense of the Miss. delta region. A couple of visits to New Orleans and watching the great ships passing through, drove it home to me. Like you this is the image I carry when I think of the why’s of life, big and small. More so now that I engage at JoeAm’s watering hole…

      • sonny says:

        … You have created an oasis, Joe. Every time I visit, I leave more than a little bit more refreshed, more nourished even. The raising of awareness and the whetting of sensitivity to many things and other POVs still have unrealized benes. To ride this virtual Mississippi affords also portaging points and campfire stops. (Maybe some solitary fishing holes 🙂 ) No matter what you decide, I hope we pick up your trail, kemo sabe. Or is it Tuan Joe?

        • Joe America says:

          You draw pictures. But I don’t know whether to name rename the site “The Trough of Honor” or “Joe’s Nutritional Oasis”. When faced with such momentous decisions, I guess I’ll just have to think a little more about it. And write some stuff in the meantime. The most rewarding aspect of the blog is the thoughtful commentary and the humanity people bring to the discussion.

      • manuel buencamino says:

        Not shit creek again, I pray,

      • Steve says:

        Don’t get me started on white water; it is my natural habitat… and with 30 or so paddles in the house I’m not likely to be stuck without one! The Chico river is not the Pasig, and to get to where water flows fast and clean you usually have to go far from the ocean.

        The influential seem to me to have no courage of any sort. With another set of attitudes they could lead a transformation and still come out on top, likely with more than what they have now… but I think they doubt themselves, and for good reason. The robber barons of the early industrial age were corrupt and dishonest, but at least their wealth was built on productive industry for the most part. Here the political robber barons know no business but politics, and know they could not survive, let alone prosper, with a level playing field

        • Joe America says:

          Yes, I agree, there is a hesitancy to stand up for “right” over wrong that is disturbing and frankly quite confusing in light of the pride in Pinoy pride. Maybe the people broadly have that “national feeling” that impels sacrifice and courage, but the influential seem to bury it under the warmth and fuzzies of being pals with other influentials. I have to temper my language and attitude when addressing it.

          My one and only white water rafting trip was a 10 day excursion on the Tatshenshini River, which fed into the monstrous Alsek River (monstrous in August). The start was in Canada, the end at Dry Bay on the coast of Alaska.The rough white water was only in day 1, and the rest was cruising through the most dramatic, unspoiled scenery on earth, being wary of bears and wolves and moose. Oh, and dodging small icebergs on the Alsek. Camping in front of glaciers listening to the “booms”, and once in a valley surrounded by 24 glaciers. Five days of sun, five of rain. Marvelous. We had 4 cargo rafts and one paddler that seated 8. I paddled. We dumped people in the river twice and rescued one solo kayaker who tipped in the rough water. He was blue and shivering after about a minute in and under the water.

          The rivers here on Biliran are too vertical to raft except for short stretches. I eyed the Cagayan de Oro River once where they do commercial tours, but never got there. Are you doing kayak or raft? What is the longest stretch in your area?

          Sorry. It’s started.

          • Steve says:

            We have no multi-day trips here; the land masses and watersheds just aren’t big enough. Warmer water, though. We run both rafts and kayaks on the Mt Province section of the Chico; another group runs the Kalinga section… friends, but tribal boundaries must be respected. The stuff we do is at the top of the watershed and pretty lively, rapids are rocky and very close together. Most commercial trips are on the water about 2 hrs,which given the intensity of it is as much as most can handle. There’s some video of our sections of the Chico here:

            The river in CDO is a bit mellowed but scenic and very accessible. They make the trips really cheap (at least partly by severely underpaying guides) and they do a lot of business. I’m better at doing it than selling it, I admit, but we get a fair bit of water time between paid trips and just playing.

            This time of year the water is down, so we’re running a new project, canyoning. Lots of waterfalls and ropes…

            • Joe America says:

              You are right, two hours of intense water would be exhausting. Definitely warranting a beer based celebration at surviving. It is amusing, the territoriality of the commercial rafting companies. That exists in the US, as well.

              I’d be receptive to a blog about Mountain Province, you know. About the activities, any cultural nuances, the availability of places to stay. It would be a refreshing change of pace from politics.

              My internet connection is bad today, so I’ll catch the video later. Thanks for the link.

              • Steve says:

                Here it really is a tribal thing,.. they aren’t taking each others heads any more (not lately anyway) but they avoid working on each others turf. Might write something one of these days, though life is immersed in chaos (wife just gave birth) and I’ll have to break off a workable facet. I’m (obviously) inclined to get verbose if I don’t focus!

              • edgar lores says:

                Congratulations are in order… so that chaos doesn’t reign.

              • Joe America says:

                Well, congratulations on the addition to your family, Steve, although I somehow think your wife did most of the work. I hope you write best when groggy from lack of sleep. 🙂

              • Steve says:

                I wouldn’t claim to have done even a fraction of the work, but there’s still a fair bit of work to catch up on!

              • Bert says:

                Congratulations Steve.

    • Steve says:

      I’m not sure Marcos, Binay, and GMA are the monsters. More like the offspring of the monster, the monster being the impunity of the governing elite. While the monster lives, the offspring will keep right on coming.

  13. letlet says:

    No matter how much we give of ourselves to be a part in creating the path of righteousness for the dispirited / downtrodden people, no matter how much we try to jolt their slumbering mind into the impact of corruption into their lives, no matter and no matter how much we goad them to be partners in instilling patriotic feelings, we are indeed in the land of futile aspirations.

    Keep on going, Joe, as Mother Teresa said ” It is not how much we do, it is how much love we put into that action. Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with love. If can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one”.

  14. Letlet says:

    Link: Mornings@ANC , November 18, 2014

    VP Binay went to Bulacan on Monday to personally talked with Bulakenos to explain why he is avoiding the Senate probe.

    Some residents interviewed by ABS CBN said there is a need for VP Binay to answer allegations of hidden wealth.
    We are indeed gaining some strides in jolting the slumbering minds of the general public on the impact of corruption into their lives.

  15. Karl Garcia says:

    It’s been more than a week since posting this article , so I guess I can say : It is a relief to know that you decided to keep on writing.

  16. Karl Garcia says:

    I guess it spins counter clockwise. Joke only( i Know you meant either way as anyway) .
    I will now say please keep on writing or please don’t quit…..yet

  17. paterno labasano says:

    I agree with your observation Joe. Yes, Filipinos need to be intelligent to see what is happening in their midst.. how these government officials are doing their work to serve the Filipino people. Hopefully, Filipinos will be able to scrutinize each of these men and women running for government office based on their track record if they had been a public servant before or are incumbent public servants. Likewise, to check on the lifestyle and record of service to those are planning to run public office for the first time. There is still so much to change and rectify and this MUST start from each one of us. COURAGE IS WHAT IS BEING ASK OF EVERY FILIPINO. COURAGE TO STAND FOR WHAT IS RIGHT, GOOD, JUST AND TRUTH.I pray God will bless us. I pray
    God will bless all the public servants to form good conscience. I pray God will bless the Filipino people.

    • Joe America says:

      Thank you for visiting the blog, paterno. I think there will be a steady progression toward transparency and candor and honest problem-solving, as the growing middle class demands it. Still, I feel obligated to push and shove in that direction now and then. 🙂

      It indeed starts within.

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