The Philippines: promise on the brink

Philippine President Benigno Aquino delivers a speech in front of the caskets of the slain members of the Special Action Force (SAF) who were killed in Sunday's clash with Muslim rebels, during a service inside a police headquarters in Taguig cityHistory is scattered with incidents that explode to change the world. An assassination here, a boat sunk there, a sneak attack in the brilliant Hawaiian sun.

The incidents themselves are not always huge. People die all the time. Boats sink all the time. It is what they inspire that changes the world, the rising up of a people. The Philippines knows these moments. The day an American soldier shot a Filipino citizen in 1898. The day a dictator ordered the execution of a political rival at the airport. And quite possibly the day that man’s son failed to attend to 44 dead heroes.

People die all the time in the Philippines. Journalists are executed, buses with bad brakes roll down the mountainside, ferries go bottom-side up in a storm, poor people living on dangerous river banks get washed by the thousands out to sea. Clan and election rivals murder each other. People without money go to hospitals without expertise, making it the morgue of choice.

The Philippines knows dying.

The Philippines also knows dying in domestic conflicts with gangs of malcontents who may claim a political ideology or a religious belief, but in truth are nothing more than thieves, murderers and extortionist racketeers. It’s a business for them, a livelihood.

The 44 heroes died during an operation aimed at killing or capturing two international terrorists who make bombs. Who have killed before, who would kill again. Who were behind an assassination plot on Pope Francis in the crowded streets of Manila. Hundreds could have died if security – the work of those now under attack – were not well done.

The 44 succeeded, but at huge cost. They got one of the bomb makers.

The 44 were not the first to die, of course. Every few weeks we read of ambushes, of soldiers killed and rebels killed. It is relentless. One can only handle so much of this. We read the headline, skip the story, and finish our donut and coffee.

One of the worst modern terrorist-inspired death tolls was 116 civilians in the bombing of a Superferry in 2004. A total of 220 were killed during the 2013 siege of Zamboanga led by Vice President Binay’s classmate, Nur Misuari, but 183 were Muslim rebels, so what do we in Manila care? We don’t have to greet those coffins. The armed forces and police lost 25 and 12 civilians died over the course of several very tense days. President Aquino was on scene. He claimed accountability that day. He would not deal for hostages and the siege cracked.

And, of course the 44 were not all who died in the cornfields on the day of the hunt for the two terrorist bombers. Also dead were 18 MILF or BIFF fighters, including bomb boy Marwan, and four civilians. There were no ceremonies for them, at least not reported in banner headlines on the front page of Manila’s notorious tabloids.

The President made a big mistake by not attending the arrival of the caskets. But he didn’t know that at the time. He thought he was doing good by the Philippines to inspire the Japanese to build plants here and provide a lot of new jobs for Filipinos. But, in the comfort of hindsight, we can see he had no foresight.

He could not see the emotion attached to those 44 soldiers. Then he compounded the problem by appearing rigid, unapologetic and unsympathetic.


That is likely to be his legacy now.

That well-known stoic posture, the candid speech, the calm and steady tearless eyes . . . they didn’t work for him. Oh, they are what got him and the Philippines through several other crisis situations, Hong Kong’s three-year rage at a botched bus massacre, a Sultan’s invasion of Sabah, the siege of Zamboanga, and the Taiwanese president’s outsized tantrum over the murder of a Taiwanese fisherman by a Filipino coast guard crew. The president was a rock of calm presence.

Filipinos do not forgive, but they seem to forget. They seem to forget that this calm, tearless stoicism, a weakness at funerals, is also their President’s strength.

Filipinos also seem to lose all perspective. This is a president with a bullet in his body and a dead father on the tarmac of the Manila airport and Filipinos want him to cry for them.

Well, it seems to me that this unrestrained emotionalism is a bed of fertilizer for dissent and disruption driven by crooks, political opponents, leftists and malcontents. There is no barrier stopping them now because the good people are shouting their grief and anger, and inviting disaster to step right in.

Lost to the emotional is the vision of a Philippines on the rise in Asia and the world, of strong economic fundamentals and the kind of growth that could assure better care for the poor IF IT WERE MAINTAINED. Of a peaceful, law-based approach to conflict that seeks to avoid the tears of war. ITLOS, a courageous act, for peace. BBL, an inspired thrust for peace. All led by this same hard-hearted, honest president with his calm, determined eye on a better way to do things.

But you will not read of that in the tabloids. The tabloids will not point out that this man wants peace and stability and better care and fewer dead. No, in the tabloids, the crooks, political opponents, leftists and malcontents are actually JOINED by the emotional to raise the pitch of discontent to a fevered wail.

And in the noise of that wail, all the good things don’t matter. The President’s honesty does not matter. His desire and work for peace and a better life for the living don’t matter. Keeping the economy running smoothly does not matter.

What matters is this guttural cry of a wounded nation seeking to put their entire burden on one man.

Frankly, I am at the edge of losing hope because, to me, this is a nation that seems to seek some kind of thoughtless vengeance. That is irrational. It is a nation that tosses babies out with the bathwater and peace and well-being out with the President.

It is a nation on the brink of promise and can’t figure out which way to step.

This is a nation that is so emotionally needy that it is determined to break the President. And thereby break the nation.


Because people can’t deal with their emotions privately, and carry those painful personal burdens alone, like President Aquino must.

  • “Grief is natural. Anger is natural. Making decisions when you’re angry is probably natural too, but it’s not smart.” [Society contributor Steve]

The Philippines is standing at the brink of losing its promise.

It is at the brink of not being smart.


204 Responses to “The Philippines: promise on the brink”
  1. Christine says:

    Dedicated to: a country that’s so determined to pull itself down. And to the most unfair, most destructive, most unpatriotic media in the whole world. Good luck to us all.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, a truly destructive media, and a people who buy what they are peddling. Conflict and tearing down.

      • ella says:

        A media that kills the minds of Filipinos and strengthens their negative emotions. A media that kills the Filipinos minds of learning lessons from the country`s history but dilluting it with sensationalized and negative emotion filled information.

        • Joe America says:

          An individual is emotionally healthier if he or she can separate his own acts from those of others, and only take emotional responsibility for his own acts and results. The media here, buy forcing conflict, force people to engage, one side or another, and share the emotions of the fight. You are right. It makes for a lot of emotion and a lot of negativity.

    • cetootski says:

      philippine society is filled with hate, hate waiting for the right catalyst for it’s combustible mix. hate borne of ignorance that the cause is hate itself. why? because love is expensive, love requires sacrifice and love requires facing reality. those who profit from hate will continue to cover our eyes from seeing the truth.

      • Joe America says:

        “Love requires sacrifice” I wrestle and wrestle with what I observe is a very weak sense of sacrifice within the Philippines. It’s very difficult to express. The need to be always right, to justify oneself. President Aquino won the election with 42% of the vote. It seems like the other 58% has spent five years trying to justify how this voters’ decision was wrong. They cannot even be good losers. That requires sacrifice.

    • trueandrealsuccess says:

      I don’t know if it matters to you or not but I have a different view on why I despise the current government now after the Mamasapano Operation. You see, they were trying to negotiate with “rebels” and weaving an agreement, the BBL which as it fits would bring peace to both the MNLF and the Philippine Gov’t. but obviously it was neither here nor there. These so called “rebels” harbors these international terrorist and have been conducting trainings for years in their camps. I don’t understand why we have to sacrifice 44 SAF Members for such operation when if we think about it if the MNLF where really sincere and truthful to this so called “peace” they would not have harbored these terrorists making them “terrorists” themselves. Would have it been better for the government to call out the MNLF and demand that they release them out of the Philippine area or better yet turn them over? You may think that the BIFF harbors them but common for crying out loud they are just the same group with different names. It is like they can come up with the most idiotic excuse by creating another faction so as to detach themselves from the ongoing “peace talks”. I feel that there will be no peace since they are, in a way Muslim extremist with no regard for the lives of Non-muslims or worst anyone.

      • First of all, before you give a comment on something, make sure you know the FACTS. It wasn’t the MNLF, it’s the MILF. That oversight ALONE makes me think that you don’t know anything about what you are saying.

        • Joe America says:

          Very good, twelve. Pick a nit, any nit, work it to support the pre-determined conclusion. I’d suggest you read the current featured blog on the BBL. Then return and tell me I don’t work earnestly to discover the way things work here.

  2. yesnoy46 says:

    After the period of continuing violent struggle for a separate nation up to the 1990s, the Bangsamoro has chosen the path of peace. That peaceful pursuit is now continuing in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). The BBL is now in jeopardy. It is an explosive situation. If the national leaders do not handle it carefully, war can erupt anytime now.

    What bothers me very much is the media coverage giving too much exposure to the outpouring of grief of the victims. Is it necessary to show on TV extended footages of the victims’ grief or air on radio the sound bites of weeping and wailing? Have the victims not suffered enough already?

    • Joe America says:

      It is that relentless sensationalism, the excessive hype on emotion that warps people’s perspective. I must say it was refreshing to find a story in this morning’s Inquirer that gave a little balance to the picture. The father of one of the dead SAF troopers said he held no ill will toward President Aquino, and most felt as he did. Unfortunately, it is a weak statement against the unending flood of graphic weeping that you mention.

      • Ulysses Valera says:

        I can’t agree more with your arguments. As a matter of fact, I pray that Pres. Aquino maintains his resolve despite all the unfair and emotionally baseless criticisms and insults hurled against him. He may have erred by not showing up in such a well publicized event to honor those heroic SAF troopers who made the ultimate sacrifice, but this omission shouldn’t eclipse all the good things he’s done to the country. As a matter of fact, there are even some members of the Catholic clergy who even wants him ousted even before all facts are laid out regarding the tragic events that happened in Mamasapano. Go figure. Certainly, the unscrupulous media does not help but fuel the fire of misguided sentiments. “Promise on the brink” is a most appropriate title of your article because if Filipinos don’t temper their emotions with rational thoughts and actions, all the gains the Philippines has attained the last few years may likely disappear and will be followed with gnashing of teeth, and deep regrets for what might have been. I hope that this does not happen, and whoever takes over the presidency after Aquino serves out his term, maintains and keep Aquino’s legacy and continue to move the country in the positive direction of peace, progress as well as socio-economic equity. Kudos to your insightful and thought provoking writings, Joe. I love reading your articles.

        • Joe America says:

          Yep, Ulysses, you nailed each of the key points. The Philippines is developing well, Mr. Aquino deserves credit, and this notion of finding fault on one incident and using that to characterize his whole presidency is nonsense.

  3. Marilet Meris says:

    Agree with JoeAm, Christine, and yesnoy46. The real problem is a destructive media who just wants to exact revenge on Pnoy because he is not one to bend to their whims. Whatever comes of our country is really our undoing.

    • Joe America says:

      Exactly. The problem is that the troublemakers are organized and people of perspective and good will are not. The media follow the troublemakers around in search of fresh meat to splatter across the headlines. They are like buzzards, now that I think about it. Leftists have zero impact on the nation because their ideas are irrational. Yet they are the first to get their complaint into the news, as if they really did represent “the people”.

  4. John Dyte says:

    Almost but not quite. The Philippines is not a united people and will not be until it goes through all the trials that all other unified nations have gone through. This particular event will pass and the media is just exercising because the sun is out and there is a new unfolding story of intrigue. I see this event as a time for the military to understand what they are lacking and improve it. Also, during the time of Marcos/Cory, most of the changes where driven by Manila. That was 30 years ago. Davao and other cities have wealth now and will not necessarily follow what Manila says. The same disunity that prevented a war during Marcos time will also prevent a lemmings run now. Skip the doom and gloom, its a learning period and the Philippines will grow and be better.

    • Joe America says:

      I greatly appreciate your voice of optimism, John. I wish there were more of it in the papers and on television. I’d love to see a united people, and a more disciplined military. I tore up a blog about military discipline yesterday because it seemed too preachy, coming from an American. But I don’t see much when leaders are airing their dirty laundry in the press and undermining morale.

  5. andrewlim8 says:


    I would recommend to our DFA, through their Indonesian counterparts to get in touch with the survivors of the Bali bombing to meet with our SAF troopers who survived. And cover that well.

    That will speak volumes on the value of this mission and counter all the toxicity of the hysterical and the opportunists.



    • Joe America says:

      “the toxicity of the hysterical and the opportunists.” It is toxic, and I’d bet there are good lessons in Bali. I also hope the hunt for Usman is on, and MILF is engaged in helping. Their credibility depends on deeds at this point, I think.

    • Karl garcia says:

      Andrew yours and Maxie’s comment reminds us of how critical the mission was it was a member of the JI even reported as one of the Bali bombers they got there. The survivors of the Bali bombing and others including marriot bombings,etc will be surely thankful for the saf44 costly mission.

    • 19von89 says:

      Excellent idea Andrew. I hope the DFA hears this out.

    • Bert says:

      Agree, Andrew. Better yet, contact the Indonesian president, he’s arriving today and will be in Malacanang tomorrow for the State Dinner with our president.

  6. edgar lores says:


    1. I have been trying to understand the conundrum of the gulf between the almost universal love and compassion exhibited during the papal visit and the partisan hate and anger exhibited in the aftermath of the Mamasapano incident.

    2. I think the underlying concepts of the conundrum have to do with two elements: identity and empathy.

    3. We take it for granted that what we feel and what we think always point to true north. And this should be the case, because if we don’t… how are we to live with ourselves?

    3.1. At the same time, we suspect that our compasses do not always point to true north, that our feelings and thoughts are askew. Obviously, from the outpourings in social media, not all of us have this suspicion. Indeed, far from it.

    3.2. Equally obvious, from the viewpoint of an observer, the suspicion must be true because, while we may be able to live with ourselves, we are not able to live with others.

    4. Let me posit an insight: Our reactions of empathy arise from the idea of who we are, and the idea of who we are arise from (a) our main culture and (b) the associations we have been exposed to.

    5. From the reactions to Mamasapano, we can broadly categorise the following identities:

    5.1. Filipinos who almost solely identify with the non-Muslim nation. These Filipinos have faulted the President for not being at Villamor Airbase and have vehemently criticized him for not conforming to “Filipino” culture. This category has been the most vocal.

    5.2. Filipinos who identify with the entire nation, both Muslim and non-Muslim. These Filipinos have recognized that there were fatalities on both sides of the mis-encounter, and acknowledge that there were missteps on both sides. This category has been striving to be heard.

    5.3. Filipinos who almost solely identify with the Muslim nation. These Filipinos have not been heard from.

    6. This brings us to the concept of empathy. Psychologists have differentiated between two, three and even four categories of empathy. I will take the three-category classification and list them as:

    6.1. Affective empathy
    6.2. Cognitive empathy
    6.3. Compassionate empathy.

    7. Affective empathy is our ability to feel other people’s emotions. It is known as emotional empathy.
    7.1. Whatever category we belong to, we cannot deny that each of us had a feeling of affective empathy. And the category we fall into is a function of whether our primary sympathies were with the SAF fallen, the President, the Vice-President or the Muslim fallen.

    8. Cognitive empathy is our ability to understand people’s emotions. It is known as “perspective-taking”.

    8.1. People in the first and third categories of identity do not possess much of cognitive empathy. They are so immersed in affective empathy that they do not even attempt to understand others. They can stand in the shoes of the other(s) with whom they identify, and they just want to express what and how they feel, and never mind the feelings of others. As a matter of fact, woe to the feeling of others!

    8.2. Conversely, people in the second category possess cognitive empathy. They have the ability to stand not only in the shoes of one kind of other but of many kinds of others.

    9. Compassionate empathy is not only the ability to feel and understand people’s emotions but also the capacity to be moved to help other people.

    9.1. Whatever category we belong to, we experience this kind of empathy if we are motivated not only to stand in the shoes of others but also to extend our arms in support of others. This requires some acrobatic ability as well!

    10. It will be noted that compassionate empathy is the compassion claimed by religions. But compassionate empathy can also be of either the affective or cognitive kind.

    10.1. It is affective-compassionate empathy when the object is one kind. An example of this is Catholic compassion which is mainly directed at the poor in possessions.

    10.2. It is cognitive-compassionate empathy when the object is many kinds or all kinds. An example of this is Buddhist compassion which is directed to all sentient beings.

    10.3. This would explain why compassion evaporated between the time the pope left on the 19th of January and the time of the Mamasapano incident which happened one week later on the 26th. Catholic compassion, alas, is not catholic; it is not all-encompassing.

    11. If we try to understand our feelings – and not just feel them – we can arrive at a certain peace. It is reported that President Aquino had achieved a sense of equanimity and tranquility despite the storm of criticism. If that sense of equanimity is not false and arises from cognitive empathy and identification with the entire nation, and if we can do this too… then we can stand and firmly step away from the brink.

    • karl garcia says:

      Edgar I like how you outline everything in a very organized manner. Very easy to digest.(is digest the word… must be very hungry)

    • Joe America says:

      Thanks, Edgar. I think the affective empathy that is rampant here is peculiar and Filipinos are “trained up” on it through the sensationalist press and the emotions that fill the television series. Reactive, and re-reactive. Like so many things, it is attached to the tree that has fallen and fails to find balance by looking at the forest. On this incident, I hope the broader population starts to find an equanimity, and also a much louder voice.

    • sonny says:

      My natural act of reconciling disparate matters is to look to the laws of Nature that I know and the Supernatural Economics that I believe can transcend vicious circles that weigh us down and break them into helical modes that can move us forward and upward. These are part of my personal conditioning of training and environment. Yet there is one more paradigm that I feel we can draw on for the purpose of reconciling. This is the one that the science of Accounting uses: debits and credits and the art of reconciling entries, and that simply powerful creative tool of T-accounts. With these accounting paradigms we do not forget. We lay our spreadsheets and keep examining our trial balances until we have that one true Balance Sheet to base decisions on. Everything must be listed and reconciled! We can be creative or philosophical or biased, but only after the Accounting is done!

  7. karl garcia says:

    The thing that bothered me were the statements of FVR, During his time I remember that here were Marines who died in Basilan in a violent massacre, I remember that well because I know one of the officers slain. What I dont remember is FVR welcoming them in Villamor(maybe I’m wrong).The point is FVR knows that you can’t always be there to welcome the fallen.Maybe he knows but what was relayed to us that according to a former president / AFP/ PC chief it is unnacceptable.

    Media will be here for a very long time, it is really refreshing to read articles here that remind us to moderate our emotions.

    • Joe America says:

      That is a superb point. I’ve come to not respect FVR so much for his moralizing. He, of all people, should understand the job is not that easy.

      You are also right, the media are not going away. They make too much money on blood, grief and conflict. And so we must wage our counter influences, aiming mainly at an audience of opinion makers who can drive for a healthier, deeper and better balanced interpretation of events.

      • BFD says:

        Henry90, a commenter on the Tordesillas’ blog said this about the Marines massacre in Basilan in 1992. He commented on October 23, 2011:

        “Those who have never been assigned to Mindanao will never realize this. We can never end this rebellion unless the government is willing to commit genocide or the wholesale slaughter of men, women and children. Why? Because that is the nature of this beast. If the kibitzers think that our soldiers are only up against the able bodied men of the MILF, they have another think coming. When I was assigned in Basilan in 1992, 22 Marines were massacred, officers were decapitated. FVR was so furious he relieved on the spot the Battalion Commander of 1st MBLT and likewise sacked the Brigade Commander, Brig Gen Antonio Villamor. I will never forget what happened next. Boy, did the Marines exact their vengeance! There was no cellphone then, no FB or Twitter or media to cover the ‘pursuit operations’ that ensued. Marines turned the area into a howling wilderness. Radio chatter had it that the Marines burned everything to the ground. Everyone that posed a threat to the troops, women and children included, were ‘suicided’. This has always been the history of war in Mindanao. No wonder the atrocity committed by both sides on each other is only topped by the next encounter. Ask Magno and Ed Faji in this forum. – ” Unquote

        In short, peace is the way to go, not all-out war. Because otherwise, you have to level Mindanao and kill every man, woman, child, and that is not good for the national conscience as well as any individual conscience for that matter.

    • sonny says:

      We have to choose, no matter what station of life we operate from. Be a sage or be a fool!! To be in between is to be irrelevant. I tell me that always, if I can.

  8. Bing Garcia says:

    I fucking agree.

  9. edgar lores says:


    1. The comments of Mary Anne Alarcon Olan in the post “Way Too Many Filipinos are Looking for Culprits; Grief is Personal” of this blog are illustrative of the concepts and process of identity and empathy outlined in Part 1.

    2. She begins with, “I, too, am a mourner of this tragedy… I literally cried when I learned about the Fallen 44.”

    2.1. Here Mary is displaying affective empathy. She is all heart.

    3. She continues, “Then came Jan. 30, 2015, the National Day of Mourning. I watched the event from the internet. For some reason, I did not feel so much affected by the President’s absence.”

    3.1. Here the affective empathy has burned out. Emotions, like thoughts, are temporal and transient. They are seeds that can die… or grow and live for some period of time. Love and vengeance have long shelf lives.

    4. She questions, “Was it maybe because I am not related to any of the Fallen 44? Was it because I understood enough that the President, or anyone, cannot be at two places at the same time? Or was it because at the back of my head something is making me realize that life has to go on and that is what the President was doing by attending the inauguration in Mitsubishi? Or was it because… maybe the sympathy I felt was not genuine?”

    4.1. Here we have the beginnings of cognitive empathy. Emotion has taken a back seat and reason has come to the fore.

    5. She concludes, “This is actually my first time to post a comment/reply to a blog. I do not usually do this. Like what I’ve said, I have become more of a by-stander. But now I am breaking that habit. Now, I wish to say to all of us, Filipinos, that we cannot go on like this forever. We cannot always be overly absorbed by our misfortunes and griefs… But please, my fellowmen, enough with the senseless bashing, spreading of hate, finger-pointing, and below-the-belt criticisms. During this time of pain and sorrow, we should gather all our strength and faith, and really try to stand as one nation, instead of rip each other apart.”

    5.1. Here Mary has moved to compassionate empathy. She is taking a stand and letting everybody know that we can help ourselves… if, like her, we can break from the chains of culture and “stand as one nation, instead of ripping each other apart.”

    6. Very powerful.

    • Joe America says:

      And a very powerful synthesis of Mary Anne’s heartfelt expression.

    • Ligaya says:

      What we do need is emotional intelligence.

      • Joe America says:

        In two words, you really say a lot, Ligaya. You are absolutely right, emotions are a strength if applied right. Passion, dedication, courage. Emotional strength. Angry accusations based on zero information or perspective is not intelligent.

        • Attila says:

          “Angry accusations based on zero information or perspective is not intelligent.” But that is deep in the culture Joe. This is part of the Filipino way of thinking. This is organic.
          My wife just told me again that many Filipinos believe that the USA has the gold of the Philippines that was stolen from them. Many Filipino also believe that gold could be used to help the Filipinos to get out of poverty. I would really like to know about this stolen gold. Could you research this? I see it as a fuel for accusations. Is this based on zero information? What is going on here?

          • John Dyte says:

            Attila, it depends on your point of view of stolen. During the American occupation between 1900-1941, there was so much gold mined from the Phillippines that a New York Times Article quoted Philippine gold in 1932(I think) was second only to Alaska. The oldest and still operating mining company Benguet Corporation was a most traded stock in the NYSE in 1968. But this is gold mined by hiring locals as miners and later as they were educated, also as mining engineers. The city of Baguio was built by this gold. I guess one could conclude that because we were an occupied people, any mineral resource taken is considered stolen. But if people are educated, cities built, people employed and a political infrastructure built in return, it would be more like a trade. Especially since Benguet Corp is a publicly traded company. Filipinos could own part it. It might be a biased trade but I am not sure about stolen. (the NY Times articles are available if you subscribe to their paper and receive access to their archive.)

            • Attila says:

              Thanks John I will research it now. Is this the only reference for the “stolen gold” or there are others?

              • Joe America says:

                Hi, Attila. I was going to get back to you the other day, but it slipped my mind. I had the same curiosity as you have and got to the following write-up, which I found to be most interesting:


                Now whether or not it is all true, I have no idea. All I know is that the gold is not in my back yard, because I’ve been digging there for three years now.

              • Attila says:

                Thanks Joe! wow this is a ton of information. Would it be possible for you to write and essay on the “stolen gold” of the Philippines? How collage educated and Filipinos of all level of society have this idea about the USA storing the gold of the Philippines. Also the idea of how it would be the solution for Filipinos to get out of their poverty. I think you could gather all the historical “evidence” that feeds this belief. Could you write an elegant, nice and neat study of it. That would really help Americans diffuse some of the anger against them and me particular.

              • Joe America says:

                I’ll have to see if I can get inspired about that, Attila. Let me put on on the “topics” bulletin board. I rather think it would provide ample ground for literary license, and could be fun. Maybe even informative.

              • John Dyte says:

                Joe, There is that mythical story of gold accumulated by the Japanese during WWII and supposedly brought to the Philippines. True or not, it has played into the Filipino psyche attributing any and all excavation work without any seeming reason as some attempt to find that elusive gold. On the question of whether finding it will alleviate Philippine circumstance is moot methinks. Lots of money in terms of loans and foreign investment have been put into the Philippines and still here we are. The math is simple, if you doubled the amount of money every Filipino had, it would simply mean, everyone who has 1 car will have 2 cars. One house to two houses. One sari-store then two sari-sari stores. If all you had was the shirt on your back, then you would have 2 shirts.

              • Joe America says:

                Excellent instructional point, John. Moot it is.

      • edgar lores says:


        1. Absolutely.

        2. Emotional intelligence is heart and mind combined. As illustrated:

        o Heart alone can lead us wrong.
        o Mind alone can lead us wrong.
        o But the two together, in harmony with each other, can lead us true.

        3. I would go further though.

        3.1. Compassionate empathy, which is heart and mind and action, can be limited if it is of the affective kind. (Refer to item 10.1 of Part 1.)

        4. I think a third element is necessary… and that is wisdom.

        4.1. Wisdom is discernment, clarity of perception.

        4.2. This reminds me of the Serenity Prayer.

  10. Enrico Audencial says:

    Excellent piece Joe!

  11. “Sadnes is natural. Disappointment is natural. Writing when you’re disappointed is probably natural too, but it’s not smart”(Stolen from the web).

    Cheer up Joe! You should increase the intake again and take a break on the beach.

    For me Pnoy is one of the best presidents of the Philippines after ww2, even better than Ramos, but the man has some serious flaws on social intelligently. As a father of the nation ( his own words) it is sometimes needed to say wise words to your children. But a times you just need to put yours arms around them, hug and comfort them. That is true for every father, so much more for a Filipino father. More than 40 years of marriage with a Filipina and more than 45 years among Filipinos taught me that emotions run a lot higher than we are used in the western countries. Don’t cry with them but understand why they cry.

    You seem to have the same loyalty ethics as Pnoy but who can better criticize than a friend.
    If (Pnoy) wants to follow the straight path people will observe and judge faster if he astray from the path himselves.

    I am reading 5 nationals and 2 local newspapers, read blogs, listen to radio, watch television yet I am still ignorant. Which stories are true, which are not. Was he in Zamboanga to personally direct the mission, did he himself make the decisions not to send supportive troops. I don’t know (yet).

    He is the president, he can shut up the AFP and PNP. He should come out and give the honest story to this nation. Let him take the straight path.

    • sonny says:

      I don’t know Pnoy personally. I recall the rap he got from the media because he underwent therapy, he was single, he liked guns & cars, he was under his father’s thumb … etc etc. Yet he emerged to be enigmatic against his father’s transparency. I know some people who work for him and have mostly positive things to say about him. So now I go where perceptions of people I respect are going.

    • Joe America says:

      You speaketh in great truths and wisdom, PPP. I find those who confess to being ignorant are usually smarter than the rest because their minds are not shut down. The President is speaking later today. I think people will be tuned in.

      My only additional thought is that the President’s flaws in social intelligence also give him a strength of bearing in tense situations, and he is locked in on what is he believes is RIGHT, not what others say is right. He is not a puppet of anyone. He is calm under fire.

  12. t says:

    The President used that Filipino sentimentality to win. The sympathy for his dead parents gifted him the Presidency to say the such emotion should be tempered is hypocritical. PNoy knows what is expected of him because he preyed on those same emotions.

    • Joe America says:

      I agree he rode in on emotions, but he hardly preyed on them. He was minding his own business, Mom died, and the people demanded PNoy. I don’t mind emotions that are constructive for the Philippines (and based o the people’s accurate perception of good character). But I feel a certain obligation to point out when they risk undoing all that has been done in the past five years because their emotion is being fired by, and is firing, destructive elements, and is based on a wrong assessment of the entire contribution of Mr. Aquino. I mean, how can they discount the rise of the Philippines because of a battle gone wrong?

      • Joe America says:

        You aren’t proud of the Philippine’s rise to respect and leadership in Asia?

      • t says:

        Yes I am proud of the Philippines rise. However this was not thru PNoys own resolve but a great combination of the promise of Daang Matuwid, sound fiscal policies (unfortunately? By GMA), and the $$ of the BPO sector (unbelievable growth by unfortunate circumstances in India) and our ever reliable OFWs. PNoy did not prey on Filipino emotions? Maybe not personally, but his platform was based on fulfilling the dream of EDSA and his dead parents. People wanted that, were the wrong to dream that the scion of heroes would deliver that? History will decide. Not one true political analyst that say PNoy would have won if his mother was alive during election time.

        • Bert says:

          Ah, t, your slip is showing. Gloria pa rin. Figures.

        • Bert says:

          t, imagine, nine years of GMA’s “sound fiscal policies” that brought the Philippines to such high estimation by the world financial institutions during her reign and now she’s reaping its reward for a job well done in a hospital room. Surely I can understand your jubilation for such worthy accomplishments.

          • BFD says:

            t, you make me laugh….

            Why? FVR has a sound economic policy when he turned in the reigns to Erap, and where did it go? It went down, hard.

            Now, you say GMA had sound fiscal policy, that Noynoy is only reaping its reward, man, you’ve got to be kidding me. How can a vibrant economy survive in such a scenario. It took a Noynoy to bring the corrupts out of the picture, and now we have a vibrant economy. This is why they want him out, because they don’t want our country to be a strong and vibrant country.

            Now, you pick who those influencers are who want the country mired in its debt, not able to protect its coastlines. With this BBL, you can now pursue other economic endeavors that will propel the country into stability.

          • Joe America says:

            @Bert, Sweet! You are getting the hang of it now! ahahaha

          • Steve says:

            I agree that GMA initiated sound fiscal policies. Unfortunately their impact was blunted during her administration, especially in investment suitability, by the extreme toxicity of her politics. She is not in jail as a reward for fiscal policy, she’s in jail for electoral fraud, corruption, etc. Sound fiscal policy does not and should not get you a free pass on that stuff.

            There is no reason why credit for economic progress should go exclusively to either GMA or Aquino. GMA laid a foundation, Aquino built on it, and the perception that Aquino was serious about suppressing corruption and favoritism unlocked a lot of the potential in GMAs moves.

            In a country where leaders often dismantle every trace of a rival’s policies, good or bad, Aquino should also be commended for retaining policies that were sensible. It’s never about just one President.

            • Bert says:

              They say the proof of the pudding is in the eating. What/where is/was the proof of that sound fiscal policies of GMA being crowed about here? Her 9-year stay in office as president was a witness to the continuous spiraling down of the Philippine economy. Testimonials coming from her lapdog economists during that time could hardly be counted as proof of the soundness of her fiscal policies. Credit ratings from Moody’s, Standard & Poors, and Fitch I think are more credible indicators of the economy, and they have been downgrading the Philippines all throughout her reign as president. I Googled it.

              Sorry if I’m not making any sense with my statement. I’m not sure myself, :(..

              • Joe America says:

                President Obama and President Aquino both did something marvelous when they came into office, just on the strength of the aura attached to them. They brought with them hope. It is not ephemeral, it is real. People pick up the phone and tell their stock broker “buy”.

              • The fiscal policies if analyzed on what the DBM and DOF have been doing can really be traced to the last 3 years of GMA stay. The policies are a drive towards taxation the EVAT that helped stabilize the revenues of the government and a retirement of debt with high interest in exchange for ones with lower interest. These can all be seen in the records. I hated how GMA manipulated and weakened all of our institutions to stay in power but I am also not blind to what I can observe.

              • Bert says:

                As I understand it, the EVAT law was a creation of Congress, grudgingly signed by President Gloria. But that is not the point. The point is some people are giving GMA too much credit for her purported sound fiscal policies that she herself cannot made to work. It’s like giving a farmer a tractor to plow his field but cannot run the tractor thus cannot plow the field. When another farmer was given the field with the tractor, the resulting harvest was credited to the first farmer. That, guys, is the more logical thing to observe, if observing is the more prudent thing to do.

            • Bert says:

              She was there more than nine years, nine years. I guess, if I have to believe you guys, nine years is too short for a sound fiscal policy to work. Is it too short?

        • karl garcia says:

          You mention daang matuwid and platform of edsa and dream of parents in one paragraph but not in one sentence .To me daang matuwid is part of the platform so its not all about emotions @t.

    • karl garcia says:

      He was elected, maybe he rode on but was he predatory?
      I know why you say prey on emotions because he keeps on saying he knows how they feel because he too lost loved ones. Maybe its a fatigue on hearing the same things, but how else can he show empathy is it by changing topics?

      • t says:

        I’m talking about preying on emotions during elections, then now not acknowledging those same emotions or claiming those are “batikos”.

        • karl garcia says:

          ok t

          • karl garcia says:

            you paint emotions in one color we both know that can’t be. but i submit we are an emotional lot, but i dont get why you are against tempered emotions, what is wrong with that? it means calm or composure you call it hypocritical?

      • sonny says:

        @ karl
        election vs post-election: just a reflection. PNoy’s election battle as all elections are, was a pitch battle where he had to face all opposition from all sides. It was a test of his preparations for the fight/struggle, then like the paradigm of employment: how to get in, how to stay in, how to get ahead. For PNoy this is all to be accomplished for a tenure of 6 years. He got elected; I would concede 6-12 months honeymoon; yrs 2 thru 5 water under the bridge; yr 6- how should we mark it? will he ride to a golden sunset of a statesman? or another failed leadership? somewhere in between? My baseline: if the answer is the last two, then we the people lost again. Your thoughts? thanks.

        • karl garcia says:

          @Sonny despite calls for resignation, I still don’t see a failed leadership He did hat has to be done. Now as to to be a sage or a fool statement. Better be a fool now than be a “statesman” who would bend backwards just to appease.that is my take.
          For me his speech satisfied me ,except the flasback about Purisima and I am a little had enough of his story out his parents but as I said that is his way to show them that he knows exactly how they are feeling.
          Feeling lost is a feeling we must overcome because if you believe you are a loser then you will become one.
          I mean it when I say Joe’s posts gives us something to think about, do some accounting and the whole shebang.
          Before becoming nonesensical I’ll end my comment.Thanks.

          • BFD says:

            @karl garcia

            I think it’s a message to whoever that, “Hey, I’ve got a friend who will stand by me no matter what and I acknowledge that,” so better watch out. In fact, I have men and women who are my friends who will also stand by me when the time comes, so watch out, you bad you, whoever you are.”

            I think it’s a direct message that is directed to the destabilizers couched in the speech for the general public.

            • karl garcia says:


              thanks again bfd, we have initial reactions and confused feelings that can be made clearer by opinions of others like yours.I appreciate it.

              • BFD says:

                I also like your take on the inner workings that you’re surrounded with.

                What I like was your comment not too long ago, “would I endure the hard hand press of B…” or something like that.

        • sonny says:

          @ karl
          Totally appreciate the reply/comment. Am suffering from long-distance civics. Friends living in Manila have strong sentiments against PNoy. But some people I also respect working in the government have a strong confidence in PNoy. Thus I also need to plumb the analyses of friends in the Society. I also put a certain weight on the experience of growing up in strong personalities and circumstances in the political family, viz PNoy, tragedy, and conscription of Cory. My net takeaway points to the prevailing character strength of PNoy. I hope this will serve him well for weathering this storm and navigating and steering the ship of state. I just got done reading Buddy Gomez’s blog on the fate of the BBL as constitutional amendment. There is so much at stake for the future of the Philippines. I do pray for Divine Providence to prevail and inform the good sense of both sides inspite of the current tragedy. Thanks again for the enlightenment.

          • sonny says:

            PS. After the PH nixed the renewal of the Bases Agreement under Cory, I thought her statement then of shouldering the outstanding $56 billion debt of PH w/o some reasonable plan for payback was a tad foolhardy. I wished then for a President as strong as Marcos (without the mailed fist), who could utilize the external trajectories dealt to country. I now settle for PNoy as the first of more who can do the same and better.

            • BFD says:


              I think Cory weighed in the long term and short term consequences of her decision in regards to the $56 billion debt.

              It’s so easy to tell the international banking community, “Hey, we won’t pay up.” But the long-term backlash would be severe for the Philippines in terms of economic recovery as we will be a pariah in the international scene.

              Whereas if you say, “Hey, we will pay, but give us concessions that will make us pay, like easy loan term payments.” then it will make the Philippines a good borrower in its eyes, thus fueling a stable cash flow from the international community.

            • sonny says:

              @ BFD If Cory did in fact have solid programs to restructure the country’s debts, then there was a PR failure to publicize such programs or not enough good advice of how to leverage the international goodwill that the Yellow peaceful movement generated. The continuation of Marcos’s infrastructure vision was part of the baby thrown out with the bath water. Of course this is not to forget the Pinatubo disaster. And no, I don’t think the country could welch on those debts either for the reasons you mention. But what could have been is now moot, of course. And I could be wrong.

              • karl garcia says:

                whether it is 56 26 or 28 billion ; we cannot afford to not pay our loans,It bacame a battle of neda vs cabinet and the business community. I don’t want to be the chief NEDA during that time .now I see the PR failure you are talking about. technocrat vs politician vs hybrid technopolitician if ever there was one.
                I know Argentina is another animal altogether, you tell me if it worked for them?
                Do you think a moratorium or not honoring loans because the loans were used for other purposes is the fault of world bank and imf and the rest of the creditors?

              • karl garcia says:

                I just double checked on who the NEDA chief was, and it was Professor Winnie Monsod who had to contend with the rest of the cabinet and business community on deciding against a moratorium.
                ps even if we defaulted we will still have to pay one way or the other.(could we have asked for a discount as in 99% debt forgiveness? nah i don’t think so)

                Ok, end of our could have been should have been.

              • sonny says:

                @ Karl From a past piece by R. Tiglao, the most important condition the IMF requested was a change of players/economists, e.g. Sicat & Virata, because they were complicit or implicated due to association with the failed dictator’s manipulation of the loans to the country. I am inferring in my simplistic retroview that the IMF and creditors were willing to restructure the loans. As to who & how to rework the restructure, I’m trying to get some handle on those questions still.

                My pollyanna lenses want to believe that the practical thing to do would have been for the Cory administration to right the loan syndications by retaining the technicians and better economists to continue servicing our debts. And then of course, our politico-economic machinery was not up to the task, a technical vacuum ensued. Messrs Tiglao, Virata, Sicat can sort the pathology. Ms Solita Monsod can probably throw additional light too.

              • Joe America says:

                “I am referring in my simplistic retroview . . .” I love that statement. It defines the advantages and limitations of looking back in one sweet phrase.

              • sonny says:

                PS. I agree. Those were then. Now is now.

              • BFD says:

                Cory’s adversaries were many at that time, but because of the December 1989 coup, the economy never recovered as written by Ms. Raissa Robles in 2014.


                However, going historically, we can assume that because of this decision, we established better economic concessions from Europe and other countries that funded our sustained economic growth that FVR used to establish normalcy again.

              • karl garcia says:

                yes maybe they said something before, they are all active columnists(except for Virata), let’s cross our fingers they will say some more. but for now we have to dig up the archives for the explanation. you are right that a total revamp of the economic head was ill adviced.and it did create a vaccuum. Before I forget, Polyanna lenses are good for the eyes.

              • karl garcia says:

                Again a nice exchange Sonny.I hope I was able to satisfy your queries. Thanks for your time during our history lessons a few blogs back.Call me a copy cat but If Joe liked the phrase” simplistic retroview “, I liked the phrase too. I also agree with BFD, that things got better afterwards (he/she also used him/her Pollyana lenses).

              • sonny says:

                Likewise, Karl. I got answers aplenty. Thanks. I call these sweet intersections. As to history, even my taste in pop music was left behind in the oldies but goodies. 🙂 Just like the ad campaign of Joseph a few comments past, I will spread the word to those old fogies “playing Chinese checkers by the trees” at MacArthur Park and come instead to Joe’s.

              • sonny says:

                PS. A tip of the hat too, to BFD & Joe, for obliging. 🙂

  13. Jojo G says:

    excellent sober analysis. refreshing read amidst all the bloodlust these days!

  14. Maxie says:

    It is my humble hypothesis that there is much more to the Mamasapano massacre than meets the eye. We have ventured into the bigger playing field of no-nonsense guys like Jimah Islamiya, Al Qaeda, and maybe even Isis.

    While we are busy squabbling amongst ourselves, those guys are scurrying to recoup and reorganize because a major player in their team had been taken down. Perhaps their organization had been dealt with a devastating blow.

    Maybe – and I say this with a big “maybe” because I have no basis save my gut feel – maybe the entire world is indebted to the Fallen 44 for their supreme sacrifice to save the lives of millions worldwide.

    It is my dream to see nations honor the SAF44 who gave their lives so that we may all live as free men and women.

    “I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. . .I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it.” — Col. Jessep, A Few Good Men

    • Joe America says:

      I think the US and many other nations are working 24/7 to keep the big boy terrorists contained or dead, and the Philippine leadership agrees, we don’t want them in the Philippines. So the leadership welcomes whatever information the US can provide. The hunt is mostly hidden, but the drones are up over Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and probably the Philippines and some other places. It is a huge effort. NSA information activities are a part of it, and are targeting the hunt. Almost half of ISIS leadership has been eliminated. That is the big military picture into which the fallen 44 fit, and it is indeed life and death.

      Thanks for crystallizing that very important framing of what the 44 were a part of.

  15. Patricia says:

    A calm president to the world’s most emotional country. Let’s see how this ends…

  16. RRLV says:

    thank you for this. good read.

  17. tristanism says:

    The over-sentimentalization of events is just sickening, This is a culture that is unfair to itself. If it’s bad news: we want it, we wallow in it, we blow it out of proportion. The drama is all that we want, nothing more. And if it’s drama you want, the Philippine media will gladly provide that in heaps: misleading headlines, loaded words, opinion-riddled news items. Kairita.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, like the Inquirer that insists in using within news article the opinion term “botched” to describe the raid that got Marwan, thus demeaning the lives of the 44 who gave all to nail a nasty bastard complicit in the killing of 200 people in a bombing in Bali, a guy who was said to be involved in planning an assassination attempt against Pope Francis, a guy who would happily blow up hundreds of innocent Filipinos. The raid was costly, no doubt, and bad decisions may have been made – lessons learned – but to term it “botched” absolutely slanders what the 44 gave and achieved.

      Sorry for getting worked up. I just got done reading that bit in the Inquirer and I’m steamed.

      • Neil G. says:

        Uh, why doesn’t this qualify as a botched operation? Stop burying your head in the sand and call a spade a spade. It is neither “slanderous” nor “demeaning” to use the term “botched” to describe the apparent mismanagement of the operation that led to a sub-optimal outcome. Unless you consider all the lives lost in this operation (due to the apparent lack of familiarity by the operatives with the terrain and lack of coordination with other concerned agencies/state actors) as the most optimal outcome.

        Glossing over bad decisions (that led to all these deaths) via semantic hairsplitting is a hell of a lot more demeaning to the memory of all those who died. Downplaying operational missteps is more likely to lead to more suboptimal outcomes like this in the future, unless and until we acknowledge the fact that botched is botched.

        I think your problem with calling the operation “botched” is your perception that the term somehow imputes some sort of wrongdoing/fault on the part of the SAF operatives. While that exists as a possibility (the mere fact that they’re dead does not imply that they are faultless), I think the Inquirer’s intent of using said term is meant to highlight/frame the bad decisions made by the SAF operatives’ superiors.

        • Joe America says:

          There are two perspectives. One from the military and one from the civilians. Military people generally consider the goal achieved and the mission a success. The civilians consider it botched. I’m guessing you were not in the military.

          • Neil G. says:

            [Military people generally consider the goal achieved and the mission a success. The civilians consider it botched. I’m guessing you were not in the military.]

            Are you implying this was a military operation and that the SAF was a military force? Are you implying that (based on the scant details made available to the public) the conception and implementation of the operation plan for this particular “military” operation was flawless/faultless and thus characterizing it as “botched” would be unfair? Are you further admitting that all the lives lost in this “successful” (definitely not “botched”) operation was apparently the most optimal/desirable outcome?

            Your uncritical view of this “successful” (definitely not “botched”) “military” operation is even more dangerous and irresponsible, since by emphasizing only the achievement of a specific end-state objective you ignore all the other relevant facets of the “military” operation i.e.:

            1. Was there sufficient coordination between the relevant stakeholders? Were key decisionmakers/stakeholders involved in the planning and execution of said plan?

            2. Was there an optimal deployment of forces to achieve the stated objectives?

            3. Was there an optimal exit strategy and/or contingency plan in place to mitigate the risks involved, in case the execution of the operational plan produced an undesirable situation?

            4. When the situation deteriorated into something that can justifiably be encompassed by a military operation, where was the military? Was there an established line of communication with the military that would allow for the efficient coordination of their forces with the SAF? Was there an operational plan in place to coordinate their deployment in support of the SAF operatives?

            Heck, you should consider asking yourself: what was the original objective of this “military” operation? Was it achieved? Was the liquidation of Marwan the actual/original objective?

            Seriously. You have previously admitted that the outcome of this operation was disastrous, so I am puzzled as to why you are so unwilling to admit that this operation was “botched”. I am further disappointed by your uncritical view of the nuances involved in this operation given that my first encounter with your blog was that excellent and nuanced overview on the historical context of the conflict in Mindanao (then again, it was from a guest contributor).

            While I also find the emotional fingerpointing and kneejerk reactions equally irrational, this kind of uncritical shilling to cover for the arses of key decision makers in this clusterfuck (and the resultant mishandling of the operation) is equally irrational and even more dangerous for future “military” operations than your so-called “unrestrained emotionalism”. The uncritical silence and passive assent of the citizenry is a greater threat to democracy when compared to their chaotic and boisterous dissent.


            • Joe America says:

              Thanks for giving time to your rebuttal, Neil. Let me respond to some of the points:

              SAF is a civilian arm of the civilian PNP that conducted a military raid with military components totaling almost 400 men dedicated to assault team, protective forces and blocking forces. If it was a policing action, it was way out of the ordinary. It was military in form.

              Absolutely, the mission did not go to plan. The enemy force was larger than planned and more militarily adept, sealing off the protective forces so they could not reach their staging area. And merciless after it was clear the SAF troops were defeated. Marwan, a killer of innocents in the hundreds in Bali and wanted around the world was killed. That was the goal. To argue over words like botched or failed or success is to quibble. To call it “botched” or “failed” makes the SAF troops failures, rather than the heroes. I won’t go there, but you can if you wish.

              Of course I am not suggesting the outcome was optimal. What a wild deduction from what I wrote. Gen. Napenas wanted to put a smart bomb through the roof of Marwan’s hut, but was denied that resource. That would have been optimal.

              1. There was not sufficient coordination or joint planning. There was huge mutual distrust between SAF and AFP.

              2. No.

              3. No.

              4. See question 1.

              The hunt for Marwan has been going on for 10 years, and he is General Napenas’ obsession. Capture or killing of Marwan and Usman was the goal. It was partially achieved.

              Wiki “terrorist Marwan”, who actually goes by a different name. Understand what a nasty fellow he was. Is it worth the possible death of hundreds of civilians to let him escape? Tough call.

              That you are disappointed is clear. I have given you space to express that view. It is clearly shared by many. I agree Steve wrote a superb blog, but he generally allows me to say what’s on my mind to promote the discussion that makes this blog work. I think you misunderstand the purpose of the blog. I write, people talk, we learn. If the discussion is vibrant and healthy, we grow. If we descend into these snarling personal assaults, we don’t. Often I change my mind or agree to points made during discussions. I have no command of all knowledge. I am grossly ignorant. I don’t need to have people point that out because chances are, you are grossly ignorant, too.

              For example, you did not know the goal and ways of this blog. I am not here to sell a political view or argue a case. I am here to postulate a view and let the discussion roll.

  18. Amelita Guevara says:

    fantastic commentary. i do hope we Filipinos do not lose our cool and just go on and build oir nation to greatwr heights
    you are right. Many more will die before we have true peace but forward we have to go

  19. Gee Ibanez says:

    Excellent read. I love your dissecting brain Joe. Keep it coming… Can’t wait for the next. Wish there would be more full moons & sleepless nights. 🙂

  20. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    44 dead brave SAF soldiers. 20 guides, interpreters, regular police and not worth mentioning also dead, never mentioned not worth the flag to drape on their coffin and given to their families. They were forgotten. They were not heroes. They were not worth it. The government only gives flag to certified well-trained 44 dead Special Armed Force.

    These 20 not-brave dead were not mentioned by U.P. journalists. They were not brave because they were never branded brave. I do not know the reason why they are forgotten immediately. Instantaneously. Never knew their names. No pictures of them. We never saw their families, relatives, wives and children mourned over them. No U.P. journalists hounded them. No stories about their lives.

    I can only imagine. That morning, the children of The Forgotten-20 playing marbles, hide and seek. Laughter permeates their neighborhood. Mothers preparing breakfast while listening to morning radio. FLASH REPORT: “64 Dead to Get Marwan”. It is just another day in Maguindanao. Unbeknownst to them 20 of them were their husbands and fathers.

    At the end of the Day BLFF MILF delivered their bloddied carcass. Children stopped playing. Cries of pain pierced the evening.

    They buried their dead without gun salute. No U.P. journalists. No Generals. No uniformed soldiers. No Taps. Nothing.

    The Forgotten-20 are not dead. ONLY 44 SAF DEAD. They will never be forgotten.

    Many thank yous to self-proclaimed professional English-snob Philippine Journalists.

    • macspeed says:

      What? 64 dead? Well, not a good one, but very nice depictions, you are a real writer…

      • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

        Yes, Mac, there were 64 dead. 44 brave SAF dead. And 20 not worthy to be draped with flag-Dead. Two of the 44 were buried right away according to Muslim tradition because they were Muslims. 42 were exhibited. The Forgotten-20 never got 15-minute fame. DONCHA LOVE PHILIPPINE PRESS?

    • BFD says:

      @Mariano RP, where did you get this story?

      • Joe America says:

        He makes them up, a legitimate literary talent, to make us stop and think. He often gets to the truth better than those who deal with dry facts. Sometimes it actually hurts to read his stuff. Other times, a laugher.

      • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

        The day after the misencounter, there were sixty four. (check inquirer). Never mind, here it is, I did not know it was that easy to Google.

        “A report by MILF investigators, which was submitted to the MILF Central Committee, said the 64 bodies belonged to the US-trained police commandos who entered this town early on Sunday to serve warrants of arrest on Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) commander Basit Usman and Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” a bomb expert linked to the Indonesia-based terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah.”

        Either MILF do not know how to count or Inquirer did not vet the information to count the bodies themselves. Officially there are 44 dead. Unofficially there are 64. UNOFFICIAL STATISTICS ALWAYS RELIABLE.

        Bloggers do not go to NCSO for statistics. They go to CIA website. Because Unofficial is always accurate. Official numbers are glossed over.

        • BFD says:


          SAF 44’s pictures were printed all over the media. Let’s assume that Inquirer’s report was accurate, don’t you think they would be the first to raise a holler over this? That’s one.

          Number two is the family of the dead SAFs themselves who were left out. Don’t you think that they would raise a cry against the government because they did not include their dead loved ones and recognized them. I think 20 or so families that will be left out of the recognition will be hard to conceal given our news-hungry press…

          Just giving my thoughts on this….

        • Pallacertus says:


          On what grounds? I’d just like to know, then proceed from there.

    • Joe America says:

      Hitting hard today Mariano. Yes, grief hits all families, which is a main reason the Muslim community on Mindanao is for the peace agreement. I think it is hard for one side to feel the pain of the other because, even if all are Filipinos, they hold the other side responsible. The tabloid press sell to their side.

  21. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    44 Brave SAF Soldiers and the non-existent 20-forgotten.

    President Obama went public within the day after:
    1. Sydney siege
    2. Japanese journalist beheaded
    3. Caged Jordanian doused with gasoline and lit on fire
    4. Mid-level Al Qaeda operative droned out in Yemen
    5. 5 Al Qaeda wiped out in Somalia
    6. and others

    President Obama was silent when Marwan “was taken down”. Not within the day, not a day after. It’s been a week. No Obama. After FBI confirmed the finger it was Marwan’s still no Obama. Here are whys:
    1. All heroes are talking to the U.P. journalists at the same time
    2. All their stories to different journalists do not jive
    3. Once all their stories put together, it did not make sense
    4. Then came the readers puncturing all their heroic incredible stories
    6. No picture of the battlefield
    7. No picture of terrain
    8. No minute-by-minute timeline
    9. One day after, the military brass started pointing fingers at each other over the fiasco
    10.One day after, they military brass claimed they got DNA of Marwan matched WHICH IS VERY INCREDIBLE !!! UNFATHOMABLE!!! AND IMPOSSIBLE!!!
    11. Just yesterday, After all the yapping, the finger was confirmed it belonged to Marwan based on DNA profile
    12. The military brass told the people what happened but never told the people that they sent the finger to Los Angeles to be profiled.
    13. After FBI confirmed it belonged to Marwan, INQUIRER SCREAMED “MARWAN IS DEAD”. In the Philippines if one lose a finger they are DEAD !!! FBI did not say Marwan is dead. It only confirmed the figner belonged to Marwan.

    After the finger was confirmed it belonged to Marwan, ABCNews, CBSNews and Obama are still silent.


    NO CENTRAL CLEARING HOUSE TO AGGREGATE THEIR LIES INTO ONE COHERENT WHOLE. In Bin Laden take down, there was only one person that spoke. It made White House lies more credible.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      Just like any other fiasco, they are setting up a commission 8 so far. One of them is TRUTH COMMISSION. It means Nobody will ever heard the truth. They will only say something that makes the truth more incredulously incredible.

      They do not need TRUTH COMMISSION. What they need is ONE SPOKESPERSON to tell the Filipinos of the news.

      A SPOKESPERSON IS WHAT THE PHILIPPINES IS NEEDING. This way, they can make their incredible stories more credible.

      KIM JUNG ON has a spokesperson. Nobody talks out of line and out of turn in North Korea. Only one person speaks. North Korea is more credible. They do not even have ivy-schools like Philippines.

      Something is wrong. And it needs to be fixed. And the solution is very simple. HIRE ONE SPOKESPERSON. Philippines already have one. She is ABIGAIL VALTE.

      Actually, I never get bored watching her 24/7

      • macspeed says:

        ha ha ha ha I like that, maybe she charmed you…

        a lot will disagree of having one spoke person, every one of them wanted to be on top<<>the reason why…

        • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

          THE REASON WHY?

          1. They want to have that 15-minute fame
          2. Filipinos believe that the first to come out is the first to be exonerated

          Abigail Valte should run for Miss Universe.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      I thank Benigno Aquino for not jumping into the fray. Although Marwan’s finger point to his direction, He stopped yakking. Thank goodness.

    • macspeed says:


      he he he The Philippine Media sucks, I agree with you!!! Majority of them wanted only to increase SALES and INCOME.

      You know very well, there is too much money in MEDIA because of these advertisement and PAID NEWS (even not proven?), The CROOKS page how much is required just to publish to destroy someone or to elevate another, why the hell is that? The answer >>MONEY<<<

      Filipinos cannot live without gossips, somehow, if there is no newspaper, one will find a way to know the news then later, he will join with his friends loaded with these latest news such as I heard that…blah blah…facts or not, these happened always…most of the time, end up fighting each other, whew….

      That is why, NEWS in Philippine is very much alive, just like what were doing here, except that this is FREE and very TRUE in current media.

      Here, we assumed one is FAT and wearing eyeglass, or one is naked while giving comments or one maybe a gay finding her (his) world here he he he…then later sleep which is everyone requirements…you see, if one don't sleep, his tomorrow is dull and weak. Time limit for this current big trouble for PNOY is less than 2 months, just watch. A more current wave will arise he he he anyways<>…

    • Joe America says:

      I agree with the “too many voices” criticism. It adds to the confusion, it doesn’t clarify. The tabloid press love it. As for President Aquino, there are some things we should not know. Like if there are working arrangements with the US that would reveal how information is obtained. At some point, we have to trust or else we will go nuts wanting what we can’t have. Like a kid denied candy.

  22. letlet says:

    The 44 fallen soldiers have served our country with great courage and determination. They were courageous because they accomplished their duty of defending our rights and freedom.

    For Pnoy, the best place to start is by honouring our 44 fallen soldiers.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, I agree. I thought his speech was excellent, but I thought he should have withheld criticism of the raid commander. He should offer praise in public for the sacrifices that all military people make, and keep the discipline within the ranks. The tabloids can go rot, who cares.

      • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

        We should instill in the minds of the Filipinos that the newspapers they are reading is not a newspaper but a TABLOID.

        That what they are reading is not the truth but nothing closer to the truth.

        • Joe America says:

          I’ve started using “tabloid” in all my references to Philippine media. I know of none which does not go overboard on sensationalism, none which provides rich details and analysis (real journalism), none which insists on verified and assured sources, and none which would sacrifice sales in the interest of public or national well-being. For sure the Inquirer is a tabloid.

          • BFD says:

            Why not also tabloid TV news reporting?

            • Joe America says:

              Yes, they are also at fault. There are some straightforward news reports off the two popular channels, but I suspect viewership is weak. CNN was reported to have picked up Channel 9 and I would hope that would bring a new style of reporting to the Philippines. Focused on more than blood and people.

              • BFD says:

                I doubt that would be, Joe. As long as their mindset is glued on the sensationalism and the people buying what they peddle, it’s going to be a hard sell….

              • Joe America says:

                Right, but if it is destructive to the development of the Philippines, there ought to be regulations imposing a different legal or ethical mandate. That blog will be out on, ummmm, maybe Tuesday.

  23. macspeed says:

    @Joe AM

    I am saddened and hopeless for what the Leftist, the corrupts, malcontents…as describe below…

    “…Well, it seems to me that this unrestrained emotionalism is a bed of fertilizer for dissent and disruption driven by crooks, political opponents, leftists and malcontents. There is no barrier stopping them now because the good people are shouting their grief and anger, and inviting disaster to step right in…”

    My answer is “Insha Allah”, “in Gods Willing”, the Presidents Load is overloading his very character, however due to the pain of losing a father in the tarmac, made him stronger…I believe in Gods willing Plan, one cannot die without Gods Divine Plan. What happened in the 44 fallen will change the Philippine in Full flight to PEACE and FREEDOM.

    The NOISE will not last till ISHA Prayer (1 1/2 hours after sunset) daily, God sets the time, any bad plan done after ISHA will not succeed. People felt sleepy after a long day work 8am-5pm. They will never join any de-stabilization. The unemployed will be employed by the people you have mentioned, but in the night, they have to sleep. They will have they salaries or say lump sum pay to these crooks, however, they will never participate in killing unless they are criminals. As you can see, the organizational chart of these bad people is not organized like the government. They may have some syndicate but any illegal standing will not survive for long. My assessment is maximum two (2) months, the NOISE will settle down. Insha Allah…amen.

  24. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    Elections Chair Sixto Brillante sum up the Filipino culture and that goes to Binay, too, and all the crooks.

    “Despite all of the attacks, I still signed the deal with Smartmatic. I did not have to sign it but I signed it… They kept on attacking us, so I signed it.” – INQUIRER EDITORIAL

    Brillantes wanted to spite his detractors. Benigno Aquino should not resign. He should stay and dig in. HE IS THE LAST REMAINING PRESIDENT WE EVER HAD.

    As Neal Cruz said in his OP-ED, “Who will replace P-Noy as President? ” Neal Cruz is implying no one can beat Benigno Aquino’s performance ever not even in the next election.

  25. i7sharp says:

    The Philippines is standing at the brink of losing its promise.
    It is at the brink of not being smart.


    PNoy can do something … smart.
    Please see, below, what I hope Senator Rene Saguisag will share with the president.

    For context, please see:

    Needless to say, I could be wrong in each of the 7 things I have in mind
    – the first of which is this:

    The President of the Philippines should as soon as possible,
    earnestly try to determine
    fully convince himself of where the scriptures are.

    I submit that what he reads in the King James Version are the scriptures.
    (Again, needless to say, I could be wrong.)

    I hope that people such as Sen. Rene (and/or other people or some persons the senator knows)
    will help PNoy in this, if necessary.

    Isn’t it high time we dealt with the matter once and for all?
    Isn’t it time we edified one another and the whole country – for the glory of God?

    The research I have done maybe – just maybe – of help:


    • Joe America says:

      @i7sharp, it seems to me the President is a spiritual man, but more in private than for public show. He also is very well read, and I’d venture he knows the bible better than most. Indeed, there is great wisdom and calm to be found there.

      • i7sharp says:


        I hope you are right about PNoy on this – and that I am wrong to think he does not really know or love the word of God – or that he might even be angry with God.

        In his 02/06/2015 address related to the massacre of the 44 SAF he made no mention of God
        (or Christ or Bible or Jesus or Holy Spirit or the Church or …)
        or even ended his address with the perfunctory “God bless you” or the like,

        btw, Joe, can you please try this link?:
        I would like to request you to read the first and only (thus far) posting in the site.
        You need not comment on it for now.



  26. The writings on the wall seem to suggest that we had never matured as a nation. Proactive measures were lectured but never practiced and when disaster strikes, the first we see are fingers pointed to those wrong people for convenience.

    • Joe America says:

      That is a good point, pete, The disconnect between “what I say” and “what I do” is huge. And escaping accountability is a fine art. The thing that bugs me is when people see a crook right in front of them. Proven, in the Subcommittee hearing, and they greet him warmly.

  27. Jose Guevarra says:

    The single thing that is stopping me from asking for PNoy’s resignation right now (rightly or wrongly) is the fact that Binay gets to ascend to the Presidency (which means MUCH DARKER times for the Philippines, no pun intended).

  28. Binoywtf says:

    Hi Joe. Excellent piece. Might want to correct the line about “bus massacre under Arroyo”…or did I miss some wry humor there? 😜

    • Joe America says:

      Solita Collas-Monsod is great. Her opening line says it all: “To those who are calling for P-Noy’s resignation: Are you out of your minds?”

      • karl garcia says:

        what then binay would take over? zoinks

      • Steve says:

        Then you look at who’s calling for resignation… screaming leftists, whining bishops, an assortment of Binay boosters and Marcos, Erap, and GMA retreads… if you can know a man by his enemies, that might actually be a compliment to Aquino. Anyone getting hate from that lot must be doing something right.

        • Joe America says:

          That is an interesting point. I was just warming up the typewriter to comment on the screaming leftists. It seems that they can’t actually get anything done themselves, but can sure sharpshoot those who put in the effort, and take the tough decisions, to actually move the nation.

    • Steve says:

      I would add a few points to her list of positives: initiated serious AFP Modernization (something all the war freaks seem to forget these days), stood up to the Catholic hierarchy, initiated prosecutions of genuine big fish in the PDAF case, refused to kowtow to dynasties like the Ecleos and the Garcias..

      One thing Aquino seems genuinely bad at is posturing. That is both positive and negative. Many politicians here love posturing and see it as their primary function, often to the exclusion of all else. Aquino doesn’t. That is often good. Sometimes, though, the nation demands posturing, wants a leader to stand up during hard times and say comforting things that will not make any difference at all on the ground, but which make people feel better. Aquino seems unable to do that effectively, and it is a real failing. I don’t think it is necessarily a terminal failing, but it is real.

  29. Iryn says:

    An excellent read. And very insightful comments/discussion.

  30. Tagamindanao says:

    Very good read sir, you nailed it!

  31. batangenyo says:

    Cheers! I haven’t read a good commentary like this for a while. I agree with Joe; sh*ts happen all the time. It’s just too sad we lost some good soldiers. Let’s keep the ball rolling because it’s not the end of the world. Next…

  32. Zat Cruz says:

    Overall, I agree with the observation about the media tending to become destructive. What I don’t agree with though is the way media is now branded as destructive in the context of it more vocal in criticizing PNoy. It seems to me that it wasn’t being considered that way at the height of all mudslinging that the Liberal Party, PNoy, his supporters were doing since the 2010 presidential elections. To me who has been closely following the affairs of this country and taking effort in making myself informed, I saw a great decadence instigated by the ‘yellow’ media (for lack of better term for the subset that promotes PNoy being the best this country has seen and can give) in how they embellish/enshrine an even less than ordinary person by throwing as much dirt as they can on his rivals. That has been the lowest I’ve seen and it continues to worsen with the bunch of people in power.

    Suddenly here comes JoeAm diminishing even sensible feedback/criticism in his other article (Why I respect President Aquino) as coming from people who are so negative and not giving the president some slack (ever heard of Noynoying that most had to swallow until it was brought to critical light?) and then continuing to discredit this bunch because they call those who blindly support PNoy as “apologists”.

    • Joe America says:

      My job, as a writer is to encourage people to think. I’m glad you have done so. Thanks for the observations. I guess I should be encouraged that you don’t see the Philippines as negative and complaining. I wish I could believe that to be true. I wish I could believe the citizens of the Philippines have pride in their nation and its recent rise in stability, economic growth, and international prestige. If they do, I’m not seeing it.

  33. imousle5 says:

    No…the point is that 44 people got killed because of a bad, not well-thought of plan by our commander-in-chief…the incident can be avoided if there is good leadership…as you can all see, the president “thought” that the plan will be flawless that he is not thinking of attending the fallen44’s burials…he was so optimistic that everything will go right…but that didnt happen…the president got shot and yes he survived…the fallen 44 didnt…ironic that his father got assassinated, again, reality is that the filipino people know what was going in our country that time and yet they never have a “plan” to protect his father…Pnoy should know everything and all the outcomes that might happen while executing the operation…he should know the “what ifs” of the operation like how great leaders are…

    • Joe America says:

      I think you have not read the accounts of the incident. The president authorized the mission (get Marwan) but not the operation. This is a nasty guy, willing to bomb innocents, who would have bombed the Pope if he could have gotten into Manila. I think you see that the enemy is Mr. Aquino. Maybe it would be wise to double-check your target.

      Here’s Marwan’s wiki profile. Read it and then tell me he was not worth a dangerous mission . . .

    • Bert says:

      imousle5, if Pnoy knows everything and all the outcome that might happen…he could have known the correct chemicals that could prevent his hair from falling off his top.

    • karl garcia says:

      whoever said that great leaders do not micromanage forgot to tell imousle5.

  34. Dusty Santos says:

    I am a newbie at this but I thoroughly enjoyed your article. Good thing I got to read it and the 158 comments (so far) before bedtime or else I will reading it and join in through the wee hours. Fascinating discourse but I had to smirk on some commenters. I may also have a biased point of view, as I voted the guy, but I genuinely believe (also, ahem, in my “simplistic retroview” and ignorance of all the other angles and spin) PNoy saw a chance for change and can legitimately claim that he tried to live up to the promise of EDSA.

    Alas, however, we also have a history of shooting ourselves in the foot the minute we get our foot in the door! Roughly every six years (if I may figuratively count it) we blow our chance to be great and, I fear, the frequency of broken promises has turned hope into cynicism. Partisan politics, great sums of money and tabloid media, a proven potent mix.

    But then again cynicism by instinct is good for survival. Thus I thank you for your article and most commenters and pray to God that a critical mass will fuse to realize that we are again at the brink and already seeing the void! 2 centavos from a hopeful pragmatist, hopes springs eternal…

    • Joe America says:

      Welcome to the blog, Dusty. Smirking is good exercise for the facial muscles. 🙂 I think greatness is hard to achieve in short order, and the steps forward under Mr. Aquino have been substantial. That’s why I’m surprised more Filipinos don’t feel much uplift. Cynicism is also indeed healthy. Thanks for the point of view. Pay a visit anytime. But beware, it can become habit forming . . .

  35. David says:

    what balderdash. do we close our eyes or forgive the mega corruption during Aquino’s rule? forgive the wholesale greed of politicians allied to him? our economy will reach it’s heights inspite of this president; that is not an accomplisment of his and will never be. quit your yellowist bull – we Filipinos can see through all that crap.

    • Joe America says:

      Glad to know I’ve found the correct representative of all Filipinos. If you will just drop us your e-mail, I can route my readers to you for authoritative guidance.

    • karl garcia says:

      Not true David. Joe says it like it is we had talk about blank secretary like this and that and he gave honest opinions, but we are already filled with intoxicating downers. i am not saying that we should use uppers just the non narcotic equivalent of it which is good articles from Joe. if you color it yellow then that is how you see it, nothing we can do about that.

  36. kilawinguwak says:

    I was a supporter of the president. And i believe that he should finish his term. Anything else would be far too expensive.

    But I don’t trust him anymore. In my humble opinion, for every step forward he takes, he takes two steps back. I’ve come to the conclusion that he can’t make a good decision on the spot.

    And i don’t cheer his wins because he’s the president. It is what is expected of him. I criticize his shortcomings because it is not what is expected of him.

    • Joe America says:

      If you are happy, go with that. If you not happy, find a way to build rather than tear down. Then the PROCESS will make you happy, even if the END does not . . . right now. I see three steps forward and one back, but that’s just me. The Philippines is still moving forward, so I don’t see how your math accounts for that.

  37. leon suarez says:

    hmm… could be a good excuse, may sound valid and true, except for the use of the word, “honesty.” can we still really expect for an honest leader of our nation?

  38. Jon says:


    When I was a kid, I remember the the time when the GRP and the MNLF finally signed a peace agreement. It was mentioned in one of your articles, regarding the Mindanao peace deal. The MILF decided to keep on fighting. It’s strange that yesterday’s “pro war” party is today’s “pro peace” party.

    I haven’t seen that level of acknowledgement from the MILF, so I guess that is why I think this promise is not going to work even if it moves away from the brink.

    Kind regards,


    • Joe America says:

      Good of you to bring that reflection back, Jon. I’ve been wrong many times, and had my views “evolve” many times. After almost 800 blogs, I’ve totally lost track of what I’ve said before, and keep making up new stuff. 🙂 Cheers!

      • Good day,

        I’m just a bit concerned because I noticed something really odd. It’s like people can do violent things, and then they get a slap on the wrist, and then they get into positions of power.

        There’s Gringo Honasan and the RAM incident. He became a senator.
        Antonio Trillanes did the same thing and he became a senator too.
        Even with all the injustice that happened to the Moro people, there must be a non war way for both the MNLF and the MILF to address the needs of their people.

        I’m just afraid that some people will get the idea that causing a ruckus works. I realize there will always be people doing violent things, and there are internal politics at work. Maybe that will be an interesting topic for a future post.

        Kind regards,


  39. Dindo says:

    You speak as if PNoy is very deliberate on his actions. That it is in keeping up with his being presidential. You are trying to rationalize the actions of an insensitive and stubborn individual who does not even know or experienced building a family. The reasons for his being a bachelor still ,Whether this is his choice or due to flaws in his character we may never know. What we do know is that this impedes his effectiveness as a president. I voted for this man, and it is one thing that I now regret. Heck, I don’t even believe that the good Economy is his achievement. This is more the achievement of our OFW and the good overall global economy. I think we may even be better now if destiny had not chosen him to lead us.

    • Joe America says:

      Who do you think you should have voted for in 2010, and who would you like in 2016? We see Mr. Aquino differently, but I’m not going to try to “sell” him to you.

  40. Neil G. says:

    A tone argument? Seriously?

    You know what’s ironic? You decry “unrestrained emotionalism” and yet this was practically the only reason that the King in Yellow (and arguably, his mother too) won his position. You know what’s doubly ironic? Deriding people who criticize the King in Yellow’s lack of empathy as if that was somehow equivalent to “[breaking] the President. And thereby break[ing] the nation”. A needlessly dramatic polemic that somehow handwaves away all criticism because of their emotional undertones (because somehow, even the smallest hint of emotion automatically drains said criticism of substance).

    Apparently, someone voicing their dissatisfaction with the way that the King in Yellow handled the aftermath of this crisis would only be acting as a useful idiot for all the “crooks, political opponents, leftists and malcontents”. Thus, somehow, voicing dissent and discontent is detrimental to society and the nation as a whole. Whenever I read that kind of illiberal, pseudo-McCarthyist sophistry, I make sure to throw back the words of Wendell Phillips as an antidote to such:

    [Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty — power is ever stealing from the many to the few. […] The
    hand entrusted with power becomes, either from human depravity or esprit du corps, the necessary enemy of the people. Only by continual oversight can the democrat in office be prevented from hardening into a despot : only by unintermitted Agitation can a people be kept sufficiently awake to principle not to let liberty be smothered in material prosperity.]

    Vigilance. Oversight. Agitation.

    • Reggie says:

      I agree, that’s how P-Noy won the Presidential elections. I agree, his previous performance as a government official seemed lackluster. & I agree, it didn’t seem like he would be able to “control” the major trapos. But his subsequent performance as President, though far from perfect, has been really relatively stellar, given the bereft nation he inherited, & compared to previous presidents & any future ones in the horizon. & he may not have been able to control all the major trapos personally, but he was certainly able to control much more major trapos than any other previous president through his institutional reforms, which is again far from perfect, but yet again much better than any previous.

  41. Reggie says:

    Hi Joe, I’m not a marketing guy but I was going to suggest that you might get even much more mileage from this blog if you gave it a catchier title, like: Emotionally needy Philippines? promise on the brink. & then I wondered if there still is a silent majority, & what would they be thinking.

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  1. […] via The Philippines: promise on the brink | The Society of Honor by Joe America. […]

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