The Philippines: a nation of rebels or a nation of drama fans?

senate committees

Senate committee chairpersons. Or lack thereof . . .

We are seeing two bizarre elections this year, one in the US and one in the Philippines. I say bizarre because the candidates are saying outrageous things and promising unrealistic promises, each as if he or she were a little dictator rather than a president elected into a system of checks and balances aimed at preventing extreme behavior.

In the Philippines, one of the checks is a little more extreme than in the US. It is called a coup. Even as recently as last year, old army officers were putting their heads together after Mamasapano to see if they could get enough military mass together to throw out a president who refused to resign. They couldn’t. But the fact that old soldiers, rather than dying, were intent upon tossing out a duly elected president illustrates that the Philippines is at least one degree more . . . um, reactionary . . . than the United States.

Drama queens, these old coup artists.

We also see protesters to the left and further to the left who are always stomping about in royal indignation that any duly elected government would do things differently than they would do them. They would consider a coup, too, but no military man worth his salt would ever be caught speaking with them. So they are consigned to making the front pages of the sensationalist rags that squeeze the photos down to make 100 protesters look like the storming of the Bastille or Intramuros or whatever leftists here storm these days. Edsa, I guess. Or Roxas Boulevard.

They storm streets.

Leftists are rebels without a clue. Or solution. They are slapstick artists, rather like the three stooges.

Unfortunately, they help investors see the Philippines as an unstable nation and so the investors take their money to Viet Nam or Burma or any other place where things look a little more upbeat.

Then, of course, the leftists rant and blow up electricity towers because the government isn’t taking care of the poor. Well, the nation doesn’t have enough money to take care of the poor because leftists have sent the money to Viet Nam and what’s left has to be spent rebuilding the electricity towers and hiring police to guard them.

Go figure.

There is no accountability from stage left. Or reason.

Then we have a set of presidential candidates in the Philippines who bring the concept dictator to the national stage, all in the name of change or discipline. Never mind that they would have to become criminals to execute on the wild-eyed promises they put forth. I could say they are lying through their teeth, but perhaps it’s just spinach. Hard to tell from the back row.

We know they will not do what they promise, because they cannot do what they promised. They are putting on a show for the voters, that’s all. They are accountability deficient as well. We can be assured of watching lots of future presidents pointing at others to justify their inability to put their acts where their campaigning mouths were.

Finally, we look at the Philippine voters’ track record and we see that the main quality that voters look for in a presidential candidate is shine. Or sizzle. Or championship belts. Two of the last three duly elected presidents were actors: Estrada and Poe.

Poe didn’t make it to office because a cheat gamed the election. I think that qualifies as acting, too. Arroyo acted honest until the Garci tape dropped the curtain on her credibility.

Actually, when you think about it, cheating is an acceptable quality hereabouts. The ever-flamboyant Philppines likes bad guys in office to fill out the drama script properly like any good television show. We know that because there are so many elected crooks about: vice presidents, mayors, senators . . .  The legal mechanisms here are so bizarre and protective of the entitled that a senator accused of plunder can get out of jail on bail, then go down to the Senate to try to destroy the duly elected President. And the plunderer’s colleagues, who don’t have the courage to put together an Ethics Committee, join the crook in hosting a kangaroo court with the President in the gunsight but absolutely no ammunition in the senatorial investigative clip.

Senator Poe, the compliant soul who did the bailee’s bidding, walked away from that session assertively wiping the egg from her face.

Bad guys and worse guys. Actors to the left and comedians to the right. I mean, a senator trailing behind a dirt-mouthed candidate cleaning up his verbal droppings for sure can’t be taken seriously. Nor can a righteous senator who gathers a former dictator’s son in her arms and gives him credibility. Who wrote that loony script?

This is a teleserye democracy, isn’t it?

Earnest people are the losers, I think. People who want things like stability and security and productivity are the losers.

Who was the last good guy president, do you figure? Well, Marcos was not. Ramos was a coup artist himself, a military general who served Marcos for a long time before he finally crossed the street with Enrile. Both had recently been demoted and had “get even” written all over their faces. You thought they crossed the street for national interest?

Acting jobs.

Ramos also is the guy who doesn’t mind undermining the OFFICE of the President by criticizing the sitting president as if HE, RAMOS, were still in office and knew better how to run things. Why, rather than authorize that screwed-up SAF operation, he’d probably have gone down to Mamasapano himself, cigar draped from his lips, beret tipped cockily to the right, to personally shoot Marwan.

  • Marcos
  • Aquino
  • Ramos
  • Estrada
  • Arroyo
  • Aquino

I’m not sure, but it seems to me that President Marcos ripped the brains and good will out of the nation and people lost touch with reality. It’s become a zombie electorate. Voters elected the Aquinos in a flash of mushy, emotive love. It was a romance story both times. The electorate has no idea what honesty or integrity or good deeds actually LOOK like.

They can’t even see how far their nation has come in six years. They think nothing has changed and what we really need is CHANGE.


Every time the Administration tries to point out the facts and explain its achievements, the people don’t buy it. “Bragging!” they exclaim.

Because the people have come to EXPECT actors and drama queens.

They can’t handle the TRUTH. That the Philippines has gained respect around the world for her achievements these past six years.

The voters imagine themselves as heroes, too. We all do that. Batman. Rambo. Jose Rizal. They like to think they are rebels, strong minded and strong armed, putting into office a tough man or gallant lady. They imagine a president on a big white horse galloping to the front waving a sword and screaming at the enemy. “Change! Discipline! Feed the poor for free and cut taxes for everybody!”

But the voters are not heroes, really. They are not even rebels. And they for sure are not citizens of a functioning, educated, engaged democracy. They are just in the audience. Sitting there with a bucket of popcorn and pricey Coke watching a pretend television drama.

And they are cheering for . . . they are voting for . . . the best actor!


The Philippines doesn’t need an Oscar Awards show.

We’ve got the national election.


197 Responses to “The Philippines: a nation of rebels or a nation of drama fans?”
  1. searing but generally true. I weep for my nation.

    • A few political actors shaming its country in the worlds perception. Sometimes I do not answer when asked ” where are you from ? ” I am very ashamed.

      • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

        It is unfortunate and embarassing circumstance being a Filipino, truly !!! If you are tisoy like me you are fine … but if you look like a Filipino, OMG ! Tough luck !

  2. Gemino H. Abad says:

    Scathing, Joe, but true!!
    I can only hope the “presidential/vice presidential” debates go some way to help voters judge wisely about the candidates. And do what we can to demolish candidates’ lies and empty promises and malicious gossip.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, that’s true, although I must note with some wry amusement that the first debate was run a bit like an over-commercialized game show. I hope the “journalists” clean up their act for the next two, plus the VP debate. I agree, the debates represent a way the candidates can talk a truth past the filter of sensationalist media.

    • I think the debate will only favour the candidate that will talk rubbish,like someone saying “I will clean the criminality for 3-6 months” the no-brainier electorate like that, but they don’t like someone that will present facts & talk about their platforms in a more realistics.
      Duterte gain a lot of support from the last debate, debate will only works for a smarter electorates perhaps in the first world countries.

  3. Jonathan says:

    It’s basically a traumatized republic. I said something similar in another post, but it also applies here: the Philippine voter is in a state of PTSD. We had a bad-case post-Marcos, but instead of being granted a chance to recover we’ve sustained even more trauma.

    • Joe America says:

      That is an interesting concept, Jonathan. I tend to shy away from being too harsh (this blog an exception), but I’m wondering if that idea can be put into a framing that is like medicine, a diagnosis that points to a cure. Have you ever considered writing a guest blog?

      • Jonathan says:

        I haven’t, and I thank you for even considering it. But I’m not so sure it would be a good idea, for two reasons:

        – I haven’t fully “fleshed out” the idea, as it stands. I’m sure a savvy analyst could go all the way back to post-WW2 to analyze the PTSD case of the country, but in any case it’s not to the depth that I could do a guest blog on it, and

        – I have no idea what the solution is. If you have a PTSD victim, the treatment is… at least known. There’s no magic pill, but at least you know where to stat.

        For a traumatized country, though… where do you begin? You need at least a decade of calm (both within and without). Given the current international climate… good luck. It’s such a staggeringly difficult problem, and I have no idea how to fix it. The scale of the problem itself gives me pause.

        • Start with the people… those that have seen places that are orderly and calm, where things are FOR REAL like I have… it takes time to readjust one’s reality, when one knows that police don’t hit you or put bullets in your bags, when one can go to a government office and get treated in a CIVIL manner (meaning polite, not civil war), when one can actually file a case in court if necessary as a normal non-connected person and find the protection of the law, where one can discuss without fear of reprisals or threats, where one can earn a decent living without special connections just good work and reliability, without having to be subservient and without having to bully anyone… just plain DECENT. The more that spreads in the Philippines, the more people see the more they will believe.

          These are REALITIES I have experienced… yet most Filipinos will I guess believe them as little as the Venetians believed Marco Polo when he came back. Because in centuries it rarely was real for them… maybe for a short while 1920-1942… not before and not after.

          • Jonathan says:

            My real worry is: what happens if we’re re-traumatized? I can easily see another financial crisis like 2008 in the mix. I can see nativist/protectionist politicians in the US and Europe making outsourcing less lucrative.

            In short, progress is being made in the Philippines – but it feels enormously fragile. That’s not even without mentioning the internal threats like Binay. Another major crisis… I could see the country reverting to effective single-party, authoritarian rule.

        • Joe America says:

          Well, I for sure hear you. My only idea is to keep pushing the rock.

          • sonny says:

            I’m thinking of the agony of Hamlet too, Joe.

            “To be, or not to be–that is the question:
            Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
            The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
            Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
            And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep–
            No more–and by a sleep to say we end
            The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
            That flesh is heir to. ‘Tis a consummation
            Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep–
            To sleep–perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub,
            For in that sleep of death what dreams may come … “

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Hmm. A rape victim, our country. How to make her believe in love again? I have to bring up a phenomenon — AlDub — which captures in sound bytes the message of loving again, going back to pre-rape days, the basics. As an aside, I don’t see many white-haired Filipinos, looking beyond aesthetics, gray does connote the wisdom of the ages. Wisdom vs. Instant Gratification. Wisdom vs. Impetuousness. Wisdom vs. Pro-Marcos Youth. There’s a campaign line somewhere there. To love again, the beloved country, to love again. Thanks, Jonathan, for bringing up Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, although rape is nearer Filipino consciousness and empathy.

  4. Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

    Bravo, Joe! For you, Joe, and all other men and women who will fight to the last person:

    From “New Moon”
    (Sigmund Romberg / Frank Mandel /
    Laurence Schwab / Oscar Hammerstein II)

    Nelson Eddy

    Also recorded by:
    American Patrol; Percy Faith; Gay Mens Chorus of Los Angeles;
    Allan Jones; Dorothy Kirsten; Jeanette MacDonald;
    San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus; Shooby Taylor.

    You who have dreams, if you act they will come true.
    To turn your dreams to a fact, it’s up to you.
    If you have the soul and the spirit,
    Never fear it, you’ll see it thru,
    Hearts can inspire, other hearts with their fire,
    For the strong obey when a strong man shows them the way.

    Give me some men who are stout-hearted men,
    Who will fight, for the right they adore,
    Start me with ten who are stout-hearted men,
    And I’ll soon give you ten thousand more.
    Shoulder to shoulder and bolder and bolder,
    They grow as they go to the fore.
    Then there’s nothing in the world can halt or mar a plan,
    When stout-hearted men can stick together man to man.

    Give me some men who are stout-hearted men,
    Who will fight, for the right they adore,
    Start me with ten who are stout-hearted men,
    And I’ll soon give you ten thousand more.
    Shoulder to shoulder and bolder and bolder,
    They grow as they go to the fore.
    Then there’s nothing in the world can halt or mar a plan,
    When stout-hearted men can stick together man to man.

  5. Very hot headed people too for no reason, they will shoot each other for a simple road rage or simply kill someone try to resist a hold- up etc.etc., BUT they will tolerate a politician that are plundering the nation for so long, rubbing their bright future. People are the biggest ingredients of making this Monsters.
    Filipinos were very late to wake up before Marcos have done a very big damage to the country, 20 years was a very long sleep & now they are back.

  6. Ha! I like it over here… Bavarian people are often rude, but for real. The neighboring Austrians are another case, actors par excellence, especially in Vienna the charm or Schmäh as it is called is often called typical Viennese hypocrisy. An Austrian living in Germany once told me that acting is a legacy of the Habsburgs – the oldest political dynasty in Europe that also produced Felipe II, the prototype for Darth Vader via Schiller’s Don Carlos play – a chillingly evil man in reality. Another Austrian who came to the city I live in took Germany in with his charm – Adolf Hitler, somebody who knew when to charm especially matrons. Somewhat like this the ambigously bisexual American actor who charmed Imelda, and was invited to the Filmfest for which Imelda had cement poured on living and dead workers just to have the (later haunted?) Film Center finished…

    Quezon was a man of integrity – yet MLQ3 and others clearly show how he acted when needed. Whether it was to deflect the Ricartistas who were popular among the “barkadahan” street gangs – in the early 20th century, or to overtake the true founder of the Nacionalista Party – Osmena. Magsaysay was a consummate dancer both in reality and in politics, yes even my father and Xiao Chua see him as a true “Pinunong Bayan” in that he gave people “ginhawa” (good vibes), but he at least knew what to do to get things done properly with real results. Died in a plane crash. Another man who knew how to get things done, Robredo, also died. Part of the Filipino drama?

    Cory Aquino State Visit in Germany, 1989. The driver and me were asked by a staff member where he could buy stuff nearby Schloß Gymnich, then the guest house of the Federal Republic.
    He was VERY surprised when the streets outside the official route were truly CLEAN, meaning that Germany did not play the usual game of Potemkin villages. Potemkin was a Russian general who put up fake houses, I think it was for the visiting Czar. So it ain’t “only in the Philippines”…

    Now I look at candid photos of traffic issues and errant drivers on Top Gear Philippines – and see roads that are REALLY cleaner than Marcos-era roads were outside propaganda pictures… There is no reason for Top Gear to go photoshopping stuff. I see roads build according to a modern standard. I still have to suspend my own disbelief. I see reports from German tour operators. I believe them more than Filipinos. I know why. They show a popular, nice country.

    Spanish era courts gave the testimony of a native only half as much value as that of a Spaniard. Does the entire country want to remain with that kind of reputation, or keep moving up like now? Or is it disgusted with itself as Rizal himself wrote a century ago? People ain’t fools. My brother was sad but also laughed at the bullshit during the Erap impeachment trial – Miriam Santiago pointing her finger at someone in the audience for staring at her, a lady dancing because of a decision not to open an envelope… before teleseryes, the Filipinos loved zarzuelas, before that in villages there were comedias. Similar to the Greeks who also live mainly in an archipelago, Filipinos are masters of both tragedy and comedy. The Senate is often as mad as Greek Gods. Neil Postman might say the Filipinos are amusing themselves to death. One could die laughing. 😦

  7. karlgarcia says:

    Bill in Oz was asking why we did not have a truth and reconciliation commission after Marcos.
    Why ? The 1987 Coup was an alliance of the loyalists and the Ramboys,splinter groups factionalsm,more coups.
    Civil-Military relations Philippine version is how the military us the protector of the constitution and the people,and as far as the civilian is concerned it should have control over the military.
    where is the civil part there?
    So it resulted more than ten attempted coups.
    No truth and reconcilation happened.

    What we have now is the so called land lord budiness dominated congress,but how can the marginalize complain? The congress is full of partylists.all sectors are well represented,so who is marginalized?

    The rich pay revolutionary tax to the communists,where do the money go? Not the marginalized for sure.
    They say war must be manufactured,so the military industrial complex will continue to run?
    Blessed are the peacemakers then?

  8. Harry Tan says:

    >>For the record, I think your answer that question Joe, is a loud BOTH!

    “They can’t even see how far their nation has come in six years. They think nothing has changed and what we really need is CHANGE. –Ahahahaha!”
    >>Joining you here in your hearty laugh. Hehe.

    Where do you get your keen insight, Joe? You’re right on the head with this one. Plus, you give this audience a very sumptous reading — honest and incisive one. For a long while, I’ve been on the lookout for a no-nonsense writer with the caliber of Max Soliven, Teddy Benigno who are so incisive, honest, pro-Filipino and non-boring. Until a chance upon your blog!

    Thank you, Joe. Easy on the tuba and coke, though!

    • Joe America says:

      Hi, Harry. I’m glad you enjoyed that line. It was my favorite in the article, actually . . . well, next to the last line, which is not so very nice, I suppose, but I enjoyed writing it.

      I haven’t really had tuba and coke since we moved from my father-in-law’s place, where he wholesales the stuff and pulled off some jugs from the barrels, quite regularly. I’m not sure he makes that much money at it. He and his friends seem to drink the profits. Yes . . . under the mango tree. hehe

      Some days the words just line up right. Can’t really explain it. (Some days they don’t, so kindly excuse the snoozers.)

    • stpaul says:

      Spot on Mr. Harry, Sir Joe do write like Sir Teddy and Sir Max (missed them so). Congrats Sir Joe for another masterpiece. Keep pushing and we’re behind you all the way. Thank you.

    • josephivo says:

      During improvement workshops I always insisted to make “before pictures”. This came from frustration haw fast people forget once lean and clean are the new norm. May be a hint for the next president.

      Just look at SLEX. Today with a first world level surface, signage, barrier quality, 4/5 lanes and with a reasonable disciplined traffic flow. Compare this with 6 years ago, 2/3 lanes with a dilapidated surface and an unbelievable traffic code. The people with a new driver license or with unreliable cars driving slowly in the left lane to avoid people overtaking from both sides, most heavy trucks driving slowly on the right lane as it should, jeepneys, racing buses and other dare devils driving on the emergency lane but jeepneys also suddenly braking on this emergency lane to stop at holes in the fence to let people switch to jeepneys on the local roads. Compare the traffic weaving then with the situation today, different worlds. .

      • josephivo says:

        And even worse, the better it gets the easier it is to see what has to improve. Perfect as a moving target, One doe not only need before and after pictures but also a long term graph that will indicate that your yesterday’s “perfect” is today’s problem.

  9. David Murphy says:

    Joe, you called it when you said that the elections in the US and in the Philippines are distressingly similar. In the US the Republican front-runner is a racist, elitist billionaire with no real concern for the poor and middle class of America, where the top 1% hold more wealth than the bottom 60%. The Democratic front-runner has demonstrated her incompetence by refusing requested security forces for the US Embassy in Libya, leading directly to the death of senior embassy personnel and who has a record of questionable financial dealings going back decades, when her husband was a state governor. The only sensible choice, speaking out against the abduction of the democratic process by large corporations and mega-rich individuals and emphasizing the same principles that he has espoused for decades, lacks support from the underclasses who would most benefit from his election.
    In the Philippines, the front runner is a credibly accused long-time embezzler of public funds who even, reaching new levels of degradation, used his position of trust to steal from the Boy Scouts and who has used the proceeds of his thefts to buy a vast support network of smaller scale thieves like himself. Other popular candidates include a man who denies that any blame should be directed at his father, a dictator who used tactics that could have been lifted straight from Stalin, a city mayor whose major claimed accomplishment has been the extralegal murders of petty criminals, a neophyte politician who may not even be legally eligible to run for President, a long-term politician of questionable mental stability who has serious medical problems, and — who am I missing? — a host of other miscreants whose negative characteristics seem relatively minor when compared to the front runners. Oh yes, there’s a man who has demonstrated his competence and worthiness to serve as President of the Philippines by having spent a significant portion of his adult life in responsible positions, working to improve the governance of the Philippines, but who somehow seems to lack the charisma and showmanship to win the approval of the voters.
    Sometimes it’s hard to be optimistic about the future in either country.

    • Joe America says:

      I don’t look at Hillary Clinton as a mastermind of tragedy in Libya, but as someone who inherited a tragic set of circumstances which she obviously could not control. I see her greater faults as an overbearing sense of entitlement (the e-mails and attitude), but I think she can be a strong leader. An iron lady. She is a smart, smart woman. I think Sanders would have a hard time getting his agenda passed, as it is so radical, and he does not have the critical mass within the congress to bully past anyone. I’ve stopped commenting on the Philippine campaign, but I do think the process is presenting the electorate with a way forward, toward prosperity, if they are wise enough to see that.

  10. “Traumatised People” – yes we are, but if we look at those nation that are in the same situation like us they already recovered.
    Ireland for example colonised by the Brits for 700 years, 700 long years, that is twice long as 3 occupiers in the Philippines combined. The slum in Dublin are the worst in Europe, the good land in the country are taken away from them. They only start to breakaway in 1916 but the trouble in the North with IRA slow down the process.
    Do Irish people lost their sense of National identity, their sense of pride of being Irish with their music, poetry, sports, traditions, etc., NO…
    With only a little over 4 million people their musicians, poets, writers are well known in the world, Irish immigrants did very well in America – JFK is a son of Irish immigrants.
    They are also very conservative country 30 years ago as contraceptives were not allowed publicly. But now recently they change their constitution by allowing same sex marriage. Economy is getting better.
    So really the answer in the Philippines why we are not moving forward is because we are a disturbed- colonial minded people, but why we are not recovering from this???? Or maybe our coloniser is our own people? Our leaders.
    Thanks Joe, great article as always, appreciate for being part of it.


      If you had the luck of the Irish
      You’d be sorry and wish you were dead
      You should have the luck of the Irish
      And you’d wish you was English instead!

      A thousand years of torture and hunger
      Drove the people away from their land
      A land full of beauty and wonder
      Was raped by the British brigands! Goddamn! Goddamn!

      If you could keep voices like flowers
      There’d be shamrock all over the world
      If you could drink dreams like Irish streams
      Then the world would be high as the mountain of morn

      In the ‘Pool they told us the story
      How the English divided the land
      Of the pain, the death and the glory
      And the poets of auld Eireland

      If we could make chains with the morning dew
      The world would be like Galway Bay
      Let’s walk over rainbows like leprechauns
      The world would be one big Blarney stone

      Why the hell are the English there anyway?
      As they kill with God on their side
      Blame it all on the kids the IRA
      As the bastards commit genocide! Aye! Aye! Genocide!

      If you had the luck of the Irish
      You’d be sorry and wish you was dead
      You should have the luck of the Irish
      And you’d wish you was English instead!
      Yes you’d wish you was English instead!

      Or maybe our coloniser is our own people? Our leaders. Rizal wrote: what if the slaves of today become the tyrants of tomorrow. MRP writes about how the dark-skinned are still subtly discriminated, but a dark-skinned politician may yet become the worst tyrant the Philippines ever had. Russians had a revolution, but they repeated the patterns of the Tsars with new people, the Tsars having repeated the pattern of tyranny the Mongols started. Russian officers to this day have their non-commisioned officers drive for them, clean their vacation houses… similar patterns to the Philippines.. the Russian oligarchy is as bad as the Tsars and the Boyars, people got used to POWER being the main currency there… Jessica Zafra is reminded of Filipinos by Russian novels.

    • Joe America says:

      Excellent point, James. The Philippines is one of the newest democracies on the planet, with a very diverse population, and her formative years were highly traumatic. We ought not expect a walk in the park. Definitely, the nation is on the move, of late in absolutely the right direction, and I hope that continues.

      Glad you enjoyed the read.

      • Newest democracy on the planet??? 1944 Philippine independence.
        1953 – The South Korea Republic was born after break-away from the communist North.
        they are suffering from famine.
        Japan after the WWII was battered, completely destroyed, no government after the imperial Japan failed.
        1965 – Singapore gained complete independence as the Republic of Singapore.
        Where is Philippines in the 50’s & 60’s?? We are the richest in Asia, our economic acceleration stop and then we went backward.

        • Joe America says:

          Literary exaggeration. It used to be that America, founded in 1776, was considered young. The US is into its radical teen years, the Philippines is still youthful. It got a bit of a setback under Marcos. Years forced into labor on the plantation for the benefit of the Big Landowner, rather than schooling, kind of. So we’re back in school now. No shame in that.

    • Bill in Oz says:

      James Ireland was ‘nursed’ for 30 odd years with European Community money and investment..Thus a new generation of middle class Irish was created..with new attitudes to all things..
      From reading Irineo’s comments about Rumania and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, a similar process is happening there also ..

      But to whom can the Philippines turn to help it move forward in the same way by being a PTSD society ?

      • Filipinos who have been abroad may play a role (like it did in Romania) because one can lose the victim mentality when one notices that one CAN do something by oneself, and the increasing trade relations within the Asean Economic Community since 2015.
        I have mentioned Romeo Encarnacion (phileconomy blog) and various virtual bayanihan sites including one by a former OFW, Efren Nolasco. Empowerment ends dependency and star-struck idolatry.

        • Bill in Oz says:

          Yes Irineo..I think you are right..Filipinos who have lived abroad for a while may be how the Philippines can evolve and become more balanced and prosperous, more independent and self assertive in the world

  11. Notes from the Editor: Who is the “Walter Cronkite” of Philippine journalism? Who is the daring war correspondent in the field, or the objective writer who does not need titillation to sell his product because it is informed, and informative.

    Someone like Larry King would be enough. Sure he knew how to sell his show, but it always was smart, informative and highly incisive. Especially the interviews that he held.

    • Joe America says:

      Larry King was always respected by the people he interviewed, and not because he asked them easy questions. He asked hard questions, but he was always compassionate. He listened. He understood. Excellent example of the kind of journalism the Philippines misses. Even the TV news is a game show. I hate it when they do “news” reports about actors who star in their network shows. That and the preening talking heads. I can’t think of a print journalist who has a reputation for good work, but that could be because I am not reading often enough. The opinion columnists often do good work. Raissa Robles, I think, is journalistically capable, but does not really do domestic work here.

      • Philippines Free Press used to be THE weekly.. interrupted by Martial Law and somehow not as good anymore afterwards… it is really old got started in 1907. – this blog has reprints of old articles, and I was surprised that there WAS divorce in the Philippines in Quezon’s majestic days – but LP and NP together abolished it in 1949. 😦

        • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

          There was VERITAS post-Marcos. VERITAS was more of literary contest only UP and Harvard graduates can understand because Filipinos propensity of deep words and quoting dead poets and authors as measure of intellect. I can only thank VERITAS is gone. They could have been of use if only they write concise articles that can be understood by my fish vendors.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      There was bigboy CNN personality in the name of Anderson Cooper. Eventually there was a cat fight. Anderson won. I do not think he will ever be coming back to Philippines unless CNN tells him to cover the Election which I doubt he will. If ever he will he will not go to Malacanang to be present in the inauguration, else, there will be another cat fight.

      It was like Anthony Bourdain the first time he came to the Philippines! Anthony was not covering the food. He was more complaining half-of-the-time that he was duped into coming to the Philippines.

      Fortunately for him there was this chap from Ministry of Tourism to assuage his disappointment.

  12. The cry of Pugadlawin was about Filipinos tearing up their cedulas as a symbol of subjugation.

    The cedula still exists, it is now called Community tax certificate… instead of having a proper national ID that is the main form referred to in afffidavits etc. – and subjugation is still there.

    Filipinos have moved from Pugadlawin to Pugad Baboy (the Rappler comic) but somehow real change never happens… in fact a real divorce law existed but was taken back in 1949.. seems that people don’t want real change, they want zarzuelas and teleseryes, then back to old ways.

    • – this article from a Filipino-American paper shows that apparently there is a way to do things via direct democracy in the Philippines, but I guess US Filipinos are more empowered:

      Fortunately, the people can directly exercise legislative powers as provided under Sections 1 and 32, Article VI of the Philippine Constitution. With 10 percent of the registered voters nationally (5.2M est.) including at least 3 percent (4,500 est.) per congressional district signing a petition, the enabling law could be passed.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Then a direct democracy movement must happen.There were signature campaigns,but it was chacha related.We must try it for legislation like anrti-dynasty,nalua,foi,etc.

        • Cha-cha is something for a later stage I think – try to do what is possible with the present Constitution because all this cha-cha stuff will just derail things at the moment I think. The 1987 Constitution is much better than many think – I also underestimated it’s possibilities.

          There are some interesting anti-dynasty proposals in the article above which could be built upon. Of course the discussion will be difficult because most people are hard-headed and want to be “dictators”, will not budge one inch or build suggestions constructively. But such discussions could be a start – if the lawmakers and incapable of being constructive, then the people might overtake them. Just like blogs are overtaking the “journalists”… 🙂

          • karlgarcia says:

            A review of the signature petions as of late.

            Climate change and balikbayan boxes.

            I don’t know if the signatures are enough to change the climate,but it was enough not to have the balikbayan boxes to be opened.

            So it can be done,all it needs is a little push.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      Yes! Cedula! It is a form of identification and residency in the Philippines instead of national ID system. The brilliant intelligent lawmaking senators didn’t want it because of … ta … da …. PRIVACY ISSUES !!!!

      When they come to my country, USA, they are so eager to get Idaho State ID so they can show back in the Philippines they have gone abroad in the USA. See, travels to USA is a show that they have made it. They have arrived. They are affluent. They can travel.

      They did not want to show they went to Middle-EAst or Europe, else, they are mistaken as housemaid. Nor Africa! I love Europe and Africa than the USA. These two continent is where progress, science began and Europe is still in a time capsule people should see what we were before we saw Europe. America should be visited last.

      Tear that Cedula! Replace that with National ID system. They said voter’s card also is a vlaid identification but Filipinos do not keep those voter’s card. I STILL HAVE MY NAMFREL CARD WITH ME. When I flash it to some front desk in hotels in Manila they scratch their head what NAMFREL is.

      • “They did not want to show they went to Middle-EAst or Europe, else, they are mistaken as housemaid.” times are changing. More are going for qualified jobs or study in Europe.

        Europe looks old because people like to have history around them, but many mistake that for time capsule – in reality things are very modern here. People get their salaries via bank transfer here almost always in the USA many people still get checks and have to queue to cash them in on Fridays or end of the month for example. In Africa BTW they are very advanced when it comes to paying via mobile phone – maybe because people don’t want to carry very much cash? Middle East more Filipino engineers now not “only” workers…

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      Ireneo, you must have remembered during the heydays of Marcos we cannot travel unless we have voted. My parents have to go to COMELEC to get clearance my parents voted before they get their passport.

      This should be implemented again. #votes_count. All OFWs should be automatically registered as voters before traded in POEA trading floors for export. In the U.S. voter registration is optional, yet, when we renew our driver’s license we are asked if we are to register to vote. Neat!

      Everybody has to register. It is the time when politicians give away money, to buy or sway the voters, which is actually stolen people’s money.

  13. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    PHILIPPINES NEED BIG BOYS MEDIA TO MAKE FILIPINOS INTELLIGENT. But there is a law against foreigners owning Philippine Media. Because PHilippine Media wanted Philippines to be ignorant so they can control their minds who to vote !!!

    The Philippine Media wanted us to vote for Grace Poe, Duterte and Binay !!!

    • Madlanglupa says:

      Given that the only source of information are the television, radio and of course, the Internet… mostly unfiltered agitprop revisionist apologist garbage coming from Facebook.

      > there is a law against foreigners owning Philippine Media

      There is now CNN Philippines which presides over what used to be RPN9.

  14. Buddy Gomez says:

    Spot on. Undeniably excellent! This and the last two. Are you ever after my heart, Joe !!! Alas, were these thoughts received as gospel! It does bode Sisyphean. A recurring s.n.a.f.u. But we must slog on. Thank you, Joe.

    • sonny says:

      Buddy, I can see it in my mind. You, the cheerleader (reminiscent of “Stand on the grandstand”) down on the basketball court leading a yell for team Pilipinas and Joe the player-coach on the court strategizing for a win and the Society all behind you! 🙂 (pardon the memory, just an extract from the old NCAA days; when Tomas Gomez III was indeed a cheerleader)

    • Joe America says:

      Ah, it always pleases me immensely to know that you are following along and appreciate the endeavors, Sir Buddy. Thanks for the encouragement.

  15. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    U.P.-Graduate Run Rappler versus Far-Eastern-graduate run COMELEC Andre Bautista. Let us see who wins. Rappler is full of arrogance. They entered into contract and now they are suing. Who do they think they are? U.P. graduates is prvileged?
    Where do they think they are? Philippines? Where people go into contract and once signed they sue?

    Alan should pop dramamin an anti-drama medication. They are full of themselves. They wanted to be Huffingtonpost of the Philippines but failed and failed miserably.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      According to Rappler “They were duped into signing into agreement”. Aha! ha! ha! ha! Prove that Rappler! Prove it. Of course with witness accounts, blah, blah blah and affidavits.

    • Joe America says:

      I don’t know why Rappler signed the agreement, but I do agree with their position. Their position is that, by preserving airing rights for a limited set of broadcast outlets, the major media outlets are favoring commercial interests over public need. Given that the debates had 48 minutes of advertising in a two hour program, we can see the greed behind the reason for limiting the showing. Had it been widely open, as a public service, the controlling media would have made less money.

    • butod says:

      MRP, do your homework before running off again on your UP rant. Rappler founder and executive editor Maria Ressa was born and bred in your adoptive country, graduating from Princeton, not UP. Not that her academic background even matters in Rappler’s full-access advocacy here. It’s her who speaks for Rappler, not her UP associates.

      And Andres Bautista didn’t finish from FEU either, although he was Law Dean there. He’s from Ateneo, undergrad and law, and finished his masters in Harvard. Again, not that his school origins ever mattered when dispensing his Comelec duties. But if one were to stretch your speciously argued theory at all, it’s the war of the vines that’s at play here.

      Unsa gyud kaha ang hinungdan sa imong kasakit sa UP ‘no…? Sulayi ra gud balik ang UPCAT. Basi diay sa second take…

  16. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    NOTES FROM THE EDITOR: “Would someone kindly inform me of the name of a real journalist in the Philippines? One who understands his job is the who, what, when, where and why of unbiased investigation and reporting.”

    Yes, there are. Cebu Daily News in the south report news as if they were in the 1stWorld. Yes, Joe, there is hope and the beacon of hope glimmers from the South in Cebu. I hear they are not graduates from U.P. but from old school Saint Theresas College.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      What is scary is UP Diliman is seting up UP Global that works like Ivy-school that offers extension classes in the U.S.

  17. edgar lores says:

    1. This post is the opposite of the last. While the last was optimistic, this is censorious.

    2. I find this post more realistic.

    3. I injected a negative note in the last post. To balance things out, I should inject a positive note in this one.

    4. Let me try to find one in the vision thing of the last presidential debate.

    4.1. In their closing statements:

    o Binay spoke of poverty and offered the solution of no under-spending.

    o Poe spoke of Mindanao and offered the solution of allocating 30% of the national budget to the region.

    o Santiago spoke about the problem of leadership and the need for academic, professional, and moral excellence.

    o Duterte spoke about peace and order and repeated his promise to stop crime and corruption in 3 to 6 months.

    o Roxas spoke of freedom from hunger, fear, and the freedom to dream, and wanted for everyone to have the same.

    5. All the candidates, except Mar, offered specific solution(s) to specific problem(s). Mar offered a wish.

    5.1. All the candidates, except Mar, spoke from the head. Mar spoke from the heart.

    5.2. A PDI columnist criticized Mar’s statement condescending, a reminder of the distance between his pedigreed wealth and that of the poor.

    6. There is meditation for tranquility (samatha) and meditation for insight (vipassana). In the latter, a common practice is to arouse and develop feelings of loving-kindness (metta). One technique of the practice is to visualize the happiness of others.

    6.1. In visualizing his worry-free existence, his blessings, to be shared with and conferred upon others, Mar was practicing loving-kindness.

    6.2. This practice is powerful. Vision, what we imagine, and Desire, what we want, are the seeds for creating the reality that we wish for.

    7. Rebels? Drama fans? Sadly, I rather think we are a nation of cynics. Our poverty is not of the material kind but of the mental kind. If we but look, there is greatness.

    • Joe America says:

      It ain’t a rose garden, but there ARE roses.

      • Joe America says:

        It is worthwhile noting that relentlessly thinking negative thoughts rewires the brain to relentlessly think negative thoughts. You thought benigno and Ilda were always shrews? No, no. But now they are hard wired to be really negative kinds of people.


        This is one of the first lessons neuroscience students learn, according to Parton. “Throughout your brain there is a collection of synapses separated by empty space called the synaptic cleft. Whenever you have a thought, one synapse shoots a chemical across the cleft to another synapse, thus building a bridge over which an electric signal can cross, carrying along its charge the relevant information you’re thinking about,” Parton explains.

        “Here’s the kicker,” he continues. “Every time this electrical charge is triggered, the synapses grow closer together in order to decrease the distance the electrical charge has to cross…. The brain is rewiring its own circuitry, physically changing itself, to make it easier and more likely that the proper synapses will share the chemical link and thus spark together–in essence, making it easier for the thought to trigger.”

        • Madlanglupa says:

          Perhaps this is why some of us have been wired up for negativity for too long; impatient, demanding, complaining, expecting too much on the table… Ingredients for pessimism, fear, uncertainty, doubt.

          • Joe America says:

            I battle daily to keep my negative synapses from getting closer together, and the positive from forgetting about one another. It is a discipline, really. Important, I think, if the desired direction is up.

            • Bill in Oz says:

              Meditation helps Joe..It matters not what kind..

              • Joe America says:

                Thanks for reminding me to ask the wife to pick up some beer.

              • Bill in Oz says:

                Beer does not do it for me Joe..An occasional glass of wine is good 🙂 But chemically alcohol is a depressant and enhances the negativity….

              • Madlanglupa says:

                In my experience, I prefer placing alcohol in my gut rather than to mess up my head. In drinking sessions, I insist on being positive, so subjects that are hot button potentials for unwanted arguments are chucked away (i.e. religion, politics, the rights of the unborn, etc.).

    • NHerrera says:

      6.2. This practice is powerful. Vision, what we imagine, and Desire, what we want, are the seeds for creating the reality that we wish for.

      Your Item 6.2: there is a parallelism in the practice of scientists and mathematicians in developing their theories. Sometimes, their accumulated data, analyses — swirling in their minds — give them a spark, a gem of a theory or vision; that becomes a focus or obsession; and slowly, initially by heuristics and so on, they are able to develop and prove their theory formally. It does not always work, but it is a powerful tool when it does.

  18. cha says:

    It ain’t over until the fat lady sings.

    We’ve found ourselves in such dismal and seemingly hopeless situations before. Our people’s spirits have been broken again and again. From one form of oppressor to another. Spain, Japan, and Amerca. Marcos and Arroyo. We’ve been lost before, but in the end we’ve always found our way to our better selves. In all of our struggles as a people, there have always been those from our own ranks who have sought to tear us apart, there have always been those who put their own interests above the rest of us, and there have always been those who are clueless and useless. But each time those who strive for the common good prevailed.

    Admittedly, the process of getting there can be frustrating, depressing, fraught with drama and the exasperating inanities of a great many but if we stand still long enough we soon hear it, the voices of reason and righteousness slowly rising above the cacophony of noise. I’ve been hearing that for a while now. And maybe there’s a rousing crescendo coming from the chorus further down the track.

    And then of course, there’s still always the fat lady. I think I’d stick around for her, if you guys don’t mind. I’m bringing out the lambanog, it’s going to be a long night.

    • NHerrera says:

      Let me have some of the lambanog. The initial light of dawn — when the fat lady sings — becomes that much desirable because of the long dark night.

    • edgar lores says:

      I noticed there’s a pattern in the sequence of the surnames of presidents. If we change Arroyo to Macapagal, the sequence would be…

      M – arcos
      A – quino
      R – amos
      E – strada
      M – acapagal
      A – quino

      Naturally, the next letter should be R – oxas!

      So far, only the following eight initial letters have been used by the 15 presidents of the nation — A, E, G, L, M, O, Q, R.

      M has the highest frequency at 4, followed by A with 3, Q and R with 2 each, and the rest just occurring once.

      No B, D, P or S. However, Grace is both a P and an L — Llamanzares. The first and only L was Laurel.

      I believe that lambanog has gone to my head — using letters as numerology.

      • MAREMAR – Mexican tele nobela. Used to be popular in the Philippines.

      • NHerrera says:

        Go easy on the lambanog. I am not an imbiber but it may be more potent than vodka — meaning it tends to make one use letters in numerology. Nevertheless, I like your numerology extrapolation.

        • edgar lores says:

          Ahaha! Thanks for the caution.

        • sonny says:

          Yes, lambanog is more potent than vodka. Pure 100% ethanol (absolute alcohol) cannot be accomplished under ordinary distillation. The maximum is 95%, 5% water. Lambanog is closest to this. Of course one has to take account of congeners, the trace substances that differ from one fermentation process to another. Congeners are the cause of hangovers. cheers!

      • Bill in Oz says:

        Like reading the tea leaves Edgar..Best to rest, perchance to dream of R

  19. Joe,

    I’ve always wondered why the SEA-US cable isn’t a much bigger news over there,

    Isn’t the SEA-US a big variable in these guys’ points? Go West, young man, should be Go South, over there, Joe…

    o Binay spoke of poverty and offered the solution of no under-spending.

    o Poe spoke of Mindanao and offered the solution of allocating 30% of the national budget to the region.

    o Santiago spoke about the problem of leadership and the need for academic, professional, and moral excellence.

    o Duterte spoke about peace and order and repeated his promise to stop crime and corruption in 3 to 6 months.

    o Roxas spoke of freedom from hunger, fear, and the freedom to dream, and wanted for everyone to have the same.

    • Joe America says:

      That is indeed a most interesting point. I think it is actually and factually “go north (Japan) and south (ASEAN, Australia), and East (US)” and defend from the West. “Go west” could be in there, but China does not welcome that. The West is for China. One of President Aquino’s unsung masterpieces is his foreign policy work.

      • Palawan should be protected. Learn from Niagara Falls (over-commercialization), and follow the Yosemite example (protection, but it was fought for, Muir, Teddy Roosevelt and others).

        With the coming American troops, I hope the Philippines prioritizes protection of Palawan.

        Protect the West from China, but also protect it from the Philippines. Isn’t the Palawan governor suppose to be some sleazy guy from Mindanao?

        • Palawan governor Alvarez is from CDO, he is a logger tycoon, made a hell a lot of money from cutting commercial trees in Palawan. His family really control Palawan in politics, owned a lot of land in the province & there are so many issues force land acquisition.
          There are so many Environmental laws that have been passed to protect Palawan but powerful people in the Philippines always get away with anything.
          It’s only the nature last frontier in the Philippines but it’s protection is not secure, El Nido one of the touristy town have no planning permission, no proper sewage system. There are still a lot of mining going on, 2 big mining companies still there.

        • karlgarcia says:

          The Yosemite example

    • Madlanglupa says:

      I find this map rather interesting in that it’s a coincidence. Like Davao City standing to gain more than Imperial Manila when it comes to increased Internet access quality (although Globe isn’t exactly known for quality DSL years ago).

  20. I will always stand on my view about the importance of culture, sense of national identity, our arts, literature as equally important as everything else in nation building. In irony only Marcos put an effort to revive the importance of arts & culture in nation building.
    Why are those things are important in nation building, they don’t teach how to fix machinery, manage a company or being a good accountant.
    But all of those things teach us ethics, enable us to know our strengths & weaknesses. Self-knowledge is one the most important knowledge of all, it deepen your views about life.
    Your strength about your national identity enable you to be comfortable in your own skin without trying to be somebody else.
    Maybe all of this are the answer why we have a broken culture, we ignore the importance ethical moorings, our sense of history, cultural identity etc.,
    Filipinos are very talented people but they are not smart how they live their life, maybe that the answer to broken culture of ” ubos-ubos biyaya pag wala nakatunganga”
    Pasikat/Hambog/Mayabang – maybe that’s the reason why we have a corrupt society, when people are living beyond their means the only way to sustain it is to steal.
    We can’t keep building infrastructure if we don’t fix ourselves otherwise the progress will be pretentious, shallow, weak.

    • Joe America says:

      Superb point. Ethical infrastructure. Might find its way into a blog, unless you decide to write it for us.

    • karlgarcia says:

      That is one plus of Imelda,if you have it flaunt it.Speaking of National identity,her favorite singer during the early 80s was Kuh Ledesma.
      Ako ay Pilipino,taas noo kahit kanino.

      Ako ay Pilipino
      Ang dugo’y maharlika
      Likas sa aking puso
      Adhikaing kay ganda
      Sa Pilipinas na aking bayan
      Lantay na Perlas ng Silanganan
      Wari’y natipon ang kayamanan ng Maykapal

      Bigay sa ‘king talino
      Sa mabuti lang laan
      Sa aki’y katutubo
      Ang maging mapagmahal

      Ako ay Pilipino,
      Ako ay Pilipino
      Isang bansa isang diwa
      Ang minimithi ko
      Sa Bayan ko’t Bandila
      Laan Buhay ko’t Diwa
      Ako ay Pilipino,
      Pilipinong totoo
      Ako ay Pilipino,
      Ako ay Pilipino
      Taas noo kahit kanino
      Ang Pilipino ay ako!

    • “We can’t keep building infrastructure if we don’t fix ourselves otherwise the progress will be pretentious, shallow, weak.” Like in Dubai, built on sand and oil revenue?

      In the Philippine case OFW and BPO revenue, a little bit of industry coming in now.

      “Pasikat/Hambog/Mayabang – maybe that’s the reason why we have a corrupt society, when people are living beyond their means the only way to sustain it is to steal.” There have been economic booms several times before and non of them was sustained. The early 19th century, the late 19th century, the 1960s… it always was just superficial modernity with the latest stuff and a few profiting from it, but no real lasting foundation…

  21. OT: This is hilarious.

    • Donald Trump’s grandfather, opened up whorehouses in Washington and up to Canada, serving the Klondike Gold Rush— same Gold Rush Jack London was part of.

      Trump won Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee and Virginia.
      Cruz won Texas and Oklahoma
      Rubio got Minnesota

      • And Trump just won Vermont.

      • chempo says:

        Good luck to USA
        I have been following the election and in all 50 hours or so watching the debates, interviews on tv I have yet to hear Trump articulate anything worthy of candidates.

        • Joe America says:

          Actually, both he and Sanders are making gains because they talk DIRECTLY to what people see as the main problem in America, a dysfunctional political system that is doing stupid things and playing political games, under the influence. Under the influence of money from the fat cats like the Koch brothers. Americans are as fed up with the political system as Manila commuters are with traffic. They are going Pinatubo, and find some relief in a candidate who calls it as hard as they feel.

        • chemp,

          I’d be happy with Sanders, Trump and Clinton (in that order).

          Sanders makes the most sense, but he sounds too much a middle aged hippie (which he is) — I can’t see him doing much as Pres.

          Trump makes the least sense, but he’s a social liberal (New York values), though fiscal conservative isn’t quite how I’d describe him, he’s a “me, me, me” guy– which is great for making deals, political or otherwise.

          Clinton, makes sense and has the power to affect policy— but what happened in Benghazi and the Clinton/Samantha Power response to the Arab Spring, makes me very dubious of her… Arab Spring I’m less critical about, but her decisions during Benghazi, then her failure to explain herself appropriately, tells me her cost/benefit process is skewed too far.

          Sanders and Trump could’ve faltered like in Benghazi, but with Clinton her character has already been exposed.

          If Trump retains Christie as his chief of staff, even better. But as it stands, post-Super Tuesday, between Trump and Hillary, I’ll go with Trump.

          The guy to fear has always been Cruz (not Trump). I’m saddened Republicans failed to support Sen. Rubio yesterday, I hope he stays in until summer to counter Cruz (instead of Trump).

          • Joe America says:

            Clinton spent hours with the Senate committee on Benghazi. The problem is, no one ACCEPTS her explanation because it does not acknowledge any kind of certifiable mistake, the kind Republicans could use to block her candidacy. That issue is just a hot button, like Mamasapano is for Aquino, that opponents use to extract political gain. The truth is, Clinton did her best, non-political people realize that, and so she is running and winning and on a direct path to the presidency. I love Sander’s idealism and principles, but I don’t see him getting anything done toward the ideals he expresses because he, too, in his way, is a divider and not a unifier. Clinton is more the unifier. Trump is a big blowhard who is not very smart (KKK comments) about a lot of things. His would be a pulpit presidency and, who knows, it could work. I do think he would be a more serious and respectable guy as president and a lot of his mouth is needed to get audience. He’d probably hire qualified people under him. I don’t know about Sanders. What would his cabinet look like? Could he get a Supreme Court nominee past the senate? Clinton’s staff would be solid, her choices well thought out.

            • Joe,

              Because the Benghazi hearings were so politicized, ie. the reps and Senators were focusing on the wrong things. They failed to look further into the CIF and FAST troops, which were 3 hours away, after getting the activation @11pm.

              50 Green Berets/CIF in Croatia, were Commander’s in-Extremis Force (Benghazi was their whole reason for existence) and they didn’t make their way to Benghazi? The first troops to arrive were the 50 (there abouts) Marines from FAST, but they arrived a day later in Tripoli.

              Something’s amiss.

              By 11pm Benghazi time, the surveillance drone re-purposed from Derna was already showing live feed to Tripoli and Washington DC. The same time FAST and CIF were tasked, but they never made it even close to Benghazi, either on Malta or Crete.


              That is the issue, why no movement of troops after 11pm. Clinton on these hearings never explained it. She and Panetta have said that it was over before they could’ve done anything, yet 11pm to 6am is a big chunk of time (so they knew what was going to happen 6 hours after 11pm? Hmmmmmmmmmmmm…), zero movement of rescue troops happened.

              So when Hillary and Trump debate, I’m sure these things will surface, and focus will be on the allocation of military resources for an incident that was viewed live in DC.

              Whereas most of Trumps screw-ups are in business, where people are more forgiving.

              I agree w/ you on Trump, he’ll grow a lot better into office (than say Cruz, who’s the worst kind of ideologue). The name of the game now is stop Cruz.

              • Joe America says:

                You clearly know more about what went on than I do. Yes, Clinton was responsible, and Obama above her, in the same way that Aquino was responsible for Mamasapano. But the people with feet on the ground in Libya were the people making the decisions. The Sec of State does not move the troops, as far as I know. If she did not explain it, the Kangaroo Court did not ask the right questions, it seems to me. They had her for hours, mostly while they were doing their posturing and arguing and the Secretary was looking on in wry amusement.

              • Targeting Hillary for no other reason than politics is wrong, and the GOP’s investigator thought the same, for being forced to focus on Hillary.

                But someone (Panetta, or Hillary or Obama himself) made a call not to do anything between 11pm and 6am (the Delta Force and GRS contingent that came from Tripoli wasn’t tasked by DoD, they again like the GRS in Benghazi, acted on their own accord, so we’re not counting them as official rescue response— locally, FAST, CIF and Aviano, Italy fighters were the closest ones).

                The best way to ascertain the source of this decision (not to do anything) is to talk to the FAST & CIF (Lts. and Captains, and SNCOs), why they didn’t move anywhere and why it took ’em so long to position themselves, stage themselves, where they could’ve responded.

                Then from those FAST/CIF troops interviews, move up the chain. Keep asking. But from the publicized findings both House and Senate, nothing like that happened.

                The fighters in Aviano Italy were not combat ready— and they just flew sorties upon sorties, bombing Libya in support of the rebels, months before Benghazi (which is weird, that they’d have no combat readied fighters).

                OK, let’s take their word for it and accept that they had no readied fighters (it is the f’ckin’ Air Force after all), again Why weren’t fighters at least, at least, readied after 11pm, just in case the attacks got worst (which it did, but it could’ve been worst, deeming necessary danger close-type air support).

                There were no fighters readied after 11pm.

                Which is really weird because the military is all about staging, getting ready, sure everyone knows that the mission can be cancelled or drawn down anytime, but the act of getting staged and ready in case that call comes is standard procedure—-

                and none of that happened that night.

                So either everyone became retarded that night, or there was a conscious decision from higher ups not to do anything. Panetta looks to have taken the fall for this, but the US military just does NOT operate with the assumption that nothing worst will happen, hence do nothing.

              • Joe America says:

                Well, I’ve been calling Clinton the “Iron Lady”. Maybe I’ll have to modify that to the “Teflon Iron Lady”. Today’s CNN discussion centered on Trump vs Clinton, and how Clinton might respond to Trump’s caustic labeling, given that both Bill and Hillary have some pretty huge historical issues. Not that Trump does not, but he has his own brand of Teflon.

              • “You clearly know more about what went on than I do. “

                I have no privvied information, Joe, I’ve just read all the findings on pdfs available online, that and some knowledge of how the military operates abroad. That’s why this is so offensive, because the military doesn’t go around leaving people behind, our two State Departments may do so, but not the military.

              • Joe America says:

                If it is offensive, I would say hanging that offense on the wrong person for an agenda is also offensive. That seemed to be what the Republican dominated Senate Committee was trying to do and it largely demolished the idea that committees are supposed to be non-partisan fact-finding panels and it turned off a lot of Americans.

                Two offenses don’t make a virgin. Something like that. Where is Sancho Panza when I need him? Or Yogi. Or Karl.

              • “in the same way that Aquino was responsible for Mamasapano. But the people with feet on the ground in Libya were the people making the decisions.”

                Mamasapano would’ve been more akin to the Osama bin Laden raid inside Pakistan, the higher ups OK it, but it’s the boots on the ground that have to die or bask in glory. Once an operation starts, higher ups don’t get a say.

                Benghazi was the opposite. FAST, CIF, fighters from Aviano were suppose to push closer to Benghazi in preparation to assist, but there was no movement.

                Boots on the ground, when it comes to force protection or QRF-type missions, don’t just stop and do nothing— they have to stage (which they never did).

                By the time the last dawn attack happened in Benghazi, FAST/CIF should’ve gone in (hell, they should’ve been there way before). But they were nowhere near Benghazi.

                So it’s the opposite of Mamasapano (the higher ups don’t get any say when the operation begins).

                In Benghazi, the likelihood of higher ups screwing up with the military response is more apparent— because the only other explanation is that the US military screwed up, and from the findings, we know FAST and CIF were presented as rescue, only nothing happened.

                Not the same as Mamasapano or the Osama bin Laden raid, Joe.

              • “Today’s CNN discussion centered on Trump vs Clinton, and how Clinton might respond to Trump’s caustic labeling, given that both Bill and Hillary have some pretty huge historical issues.”

                I’m hoping Trump gets it right, when he attacks her on Benghazi— I hope he stirs clear of the emails, that’s how the GOP screwed on the Benghazi hearings. I’m sure he’ll have the right people for Benghazi, just keep hammering away on honesty, that should be his Clinton strategy.

    • karlgarcia says:



    • Harry Tan says:

      Hahahaha. So hilarous, indeed. Thanks for sharing, GianCarlo. Got many laughs! 😀

  22. Jonathan says:

    O/T. About today’s editor’s note.

    Joe, here’s the thing. This is the topic I most disagree with you with. The anger of the Metro Manila middle class – of which I am a member of – is completely legitimate. I think you ignore and minimize that mistakenly.

    Now, I know people here will reply: there are projects being done, there were legal impediments… Let’s postulate that as all true. To the suffering motorist and commuter… that doesn’t matter. What matters it… the administration has failed in traffic management. That’s beyond dispute. The appalling state of transport in Metro Manila is a stunning indictment of how badly the DOTC has failed.

    What the public wants is accountability. What the public wants is knowledge that someone cares. What have we gotten from this administration? Too often, we get utterly tone-deaf statements that, while factually true, are dumb and completely tone-deaf. The infamous “not fatal” line belongs here, but it’s far from the only one.

    So if the administration isn’t holding anyone accountable for this failure, I can’t blame voters if they’re exercising the only way they have to hold someone accountable. If that involves someone that would normally be as unsavory as Duterte… that just indicates how angry people how infrastructure has been handled.

    You’re making a mistake by treating the voter anger in Metro Manila this way, Joe. I think you’re very mistaken on this.

    • Many people lose 4-5 hours of time meaning part of their lives in traffic that IS terrible.

      Not even counting those who suffer from chronic sleep deprivation because they live far.

      • Jonathan says:

        Exactly. And the voters want to hold someone accountable for that failure. If they feel their ONLY option for that is to vote Duterte, well… one can look at the surveys to see how well that’s resonating.

        • I’d like to start another discussion.

          With the benefit of hindsight what could have been done instead given the same set of circumstances so that traffic is not hell.

          On a personal note 3 months ago I use to commute daily from the DBM office to makati and vice versa. The traffic along these routes were upped by all the road improvements and the infrastructure being build such as the SLEX NLEX Connector roads etc, and the rehabilitation of the Ayala Bridge.

          10 months ago I was commuting daily BIR office to makati edsa was hell. All the hellish traffic in during those times I experienced personally.

          I may not be as smart as most people here so Josephivo? Edgar? Irineo? Karl? Lance? Sonny? NHerrera? MRP? Jonathan? Joe?

          What could have been done?

          I’ll set the environment.

          2012-2013 The administration was actively saying that 2014-2019 would be traffic apocalypse.
          (SIDE NOTE One of the reasons I moved to Makati from QC)

          This was because 17 major rehabilitation and new infrastructure projects are in the pipeline.

          The slowness of getting all the i’s dotted and all the t’s crossed actually made the traffic situation less worse because probably a third of the scheduled traffic causing infrastructure such as the Buendia-Paseo Underpass is only just now starting probably 3-6 months late, The LRT1 extension which is again 3 years late, The LRT 2 extension which is again 3-9 months late. (If the figures are not exact I apologize, doing this from memory)

          Imagine if all of these happened when they were scheduled to happen.

          Is it even in the realm of possibility that car sales be banned?
          Is it even in the realm of possibility that traffic centers such as malls be stopped ?

          I am of the opinion that The country is in some ways a victim of it’s own success. We can blame the present admin for not doing enough but there is a reason that provinces in this administration felt the most benefits, compared to Greater Metro Manila. The concentration of vested interest and other power players impeded change.

          Is it within the cards that PNoy just ignore the judiciary and its TROs?

          There is gradual change that if nurtured can become revolutionary change, while there is the other revolutionary change that either peters out or succeeds or becomes uncontrollable change.

          I would like a gradual change.

          There is a reason why lots of projects are going online now. One of the reasons for this is if you slowly improve the process everything improves and the next time will no longer be as slow.

          I don’t want to go back to square one.

          Would love to hear from the Society.

          • Jonathan says:

            There hasn’t been enough attention paid to trying to reduce overall transportation demand within Metro Manila. Building infrastructure takes time and money – and fundamentally, it’s a late 20th century solution in some ways. We are in the 21st century – let’s use the tools available.

            I would do all that I could to promote remote work and online shopping. So here’s part of my solution:

            Government: all government agencies and local governments MUST study if it is feasible to provide their services without requiring personal appearances. The NSO has been a leader in this field so far – other agencies should follow suit.

            Also, get the NTC to get off its behind and actually prod them to get our ISPs to get us out of the cellar as far as Internet speeds and reliability are concerned. The shape of the Internet in this country is disgraceful.

            Businesses and employers: tax breaks for companies who get a meaningful percentage of their total man-hours (at least 10%) on remote work. Perhaps a reduced income tax rate or VAT exemption would be in order.

            Do the same for online shopping. Tax goods shipped to the buyer at a lesser tax rate – say make it half-rate for the VAT.

            Employees: make working from home a lucrative opportunity as well. Raise the tax exemptions for workers that work from home – you can start at 25% of the weekly man hours, with increasing breaks until it’s all work from home.

            Why we persist in thinking of transport in very archaic terms of moving lots of warm bodies at peak hours is beyond me. The Internet represents an amazing tool that can decentralize working. Use it, promote it.

            • Joe America says:

              Ahahaha, I have to laugh, really. Those are the kinds of ideas we hear from Roxas but not Duterte. Drives me nuts, actually.

            • karlgarcia says:

              Gian works for an IT firm,some IT companies have work at home options.SMEs may be far from this setup yet,only the big ones can manage to even have this as an option.Once The internet infrastructure is improved,maybe that is our future.
              On line shopping once in a while is fine,but when you go to the malls you pay for the experience and the relaxation.Just don’t do it everyday.
              We still have room for alot of infrastructure.
              I remember my stupid comment to the Engineering dean of Dlsu back when he was recruiting graduating high school students,I remarked that there is no more room for buildings and bridges.That was back in 1987,I laugh at my self when I remember that.

              • EXACTLY, karl!!!

                If Joe can change the Philippines from Biliran, with shoddy internet connection and black-outs to boot, can you imagine if internet connection was ramped up?

                “Gian works for an IT firm,some IT companies have work at home options.”

                Work at home, then eventually gian will figure out that he can offer his services direct to his country, ASEAN, then to the world, w/out the IT firm.

                All roads lead to that SEA-US cable in Davao.

            • Thank you for your suggestions. Some minor notes:

              NSO, DFA HDMF, GSIS, SSS, LTO can all be found in government service centers in SM or Robinsons Malls.

              QC Land Tax office is opened 7 days a week for a month during deadline of annual payments.

              But I ramble. The larger point is of magnitude. 70,000 to 300,000 car sales in 5 years is a monster figure. It goes directly towards the aspirational goals of New MIDDLE CLASS FILIPINOS.

              This was even the answer of Mar Roxas. Do we not let these people buy cars?

              If it was me I’d say yes. High price for cars, high price for licenses to drive, limited number of years for cars, but that is the frustrated urban planner writing.

              A friend has been thinking of buying his family’s first car and I had to be a non asshole to not puncture his aspirations. Why because it is a thing.

              • The buzz word here now is walkability and less & less yuppies are buying cars, also they are choosing to work where they live,

                The car industry will put out ads upon ads to convince Filipinos cars are cool, like cigarettes, so maybe get the gov’t to follow an American millennial trend, promote American millennial values of not owning cars, walking more, working where you live, doing Yoga, eating healthy, etc. etc.

              • Joe America says:

                My wife and I are looking at a condo in Cebu to improve the education choices for our son. We have decided that we will not have a car there. We are not yuppies. heh heh

              • Joe America says:

                My wife and I are looking at a condo in Cebu to improve the education choices for our son. We have decided that we will not have a car there. We are not yuppies. heh heh

              • Joe, in Catalina Island over here they have nothing but golf-carts for cars.

                “My wife and I are looking at a condo in Cebu to improve the education choices for our son.”

                How about Davao, Joe?

                SEA-US cable should make your internet connection regular.

              • I actually tried searching for jobs in the CDO area about 8-9 years ago. The time I backpacked the non scary places of Mindanao then. May have to reconsider this again.

              • Joe America says:

                No, thanks. I love the Visayas.

              • Jonathan says:

                Limiting car purchases in any way is only feasible IF you are able to offer other alternatives that are affordable, comfortable, and operate regularly.

                Limit car purchases in the absence of that and you’re basically forcing people to go to our public transport system… which I would describe as “cruel and unusual”.

              • You have basically said why ANYONE who would have won and created a not so dead economy is between a rock and a hard place.

                1. Infrastructure projects takes too long and exacerbates the problem
                2. All of the other suggestions are 1 magnitude short of being a viable solution.
                3. Car purchases limiting is just non feasible and in your words cruel.

              • Joe America says:

                That’s why we need Duterte. He’ll fix it in six months. Cars for everybody, commutes under 15 minutes from anywhere in metro. Guy’s amazing. Poe can probably do it even faster. 12 minutes, I’m guessing.

              • Joe America says:

                I’ll have to do a piece to prove to Edgar that Duterte is better than Binay.

              • Joe America says:

                Plus he, Binay, Poe and Marcos can solve the China problem easy. Just negotiate with them. Tell them what we want. Stupid Aquino administration never thought of that.

              • You keep forgetting Binay. He’ll also get another country to pay for it. Like China.

              • karlgarcia says:

                alternatives such as e jeep,etryke,train length buses ,double deckers are poo pooed by the status is like we want change as long as it does not affect me.
                no phase out will ever be supported.ever!

              • Yes. This is I believe learned most recently by Senator Ralph Recto. Ralph Recto is the author of E-VAT Law. Saved our country from a fiscal crisis and one of the reasons why we have a good credit rating. He lost the elections following his NEDA stint. Ever the craft politician he has become the champion of the masses. Reason why the NBI and Police clearance requirement for professional driver’s license renewal.

                Actively blocking anti poor bills.

                Sure win.

                Side note I actually like people who learn from their “mistakes”

              • gian,

                “RAM Telecom International, Inc. (RTI) and the University of Hawaiʻi System has signed a multi-year, multimillion dollar IRU agreement to supply transpacific fiber system capacity to the university.

                RTI will provide the capacity on the Southeast Asia-United States cable system (SEA-US). Upon its completion targeted for end of 2016, SEA-US will link five areas and territories including Oʻahu (Hawaiʻi), downtown Los Angeles (California), Piti (Guam), Manado (Indonesia) and Davao (Philippines). SEA-US is among the first transoceanic cables deploying 100 gigabits per second state-of-the-art ultra long haul optical fiber transmission technology.”

                “May have to reconsider this again.”

                I’d say, yeah, definitely check-out what this new SEA-US cable has to offer, before setting sail for foreign lands.

                This town in particular, has “giancarloangulo” all over it 😉 Go South, young man!

              • “No, thanks. I love the Visayas.”

                Aren’t folks living around Davao Gulf, all Visayans?

              • Joe America says:

                Northern Mindanao is Visayan in tongue and affinity, but not south Mindanao, I’m pretty sure.

              • Joe America says:

                Interestingly enough, I’m wrong. If we go by region or geography, Davao is not a part of the two Visayan regions. But in terms of language, it appears Cebuano is spoken along Eastern Mindanao. Bisaya is spoken in north and north-western Mindanao. Waray Waray is spoken in Samar, Leyte and Biliran. In truth, locals schmooze from one to the other without thinking. Toss in a little Tagalog and English, and you’ve got what my wife speaks.

              • Visayan languages form a “dialect continuum” (linguistic term) all the way to Tausug.

                An example of a dialect continuum in Europe would be the dialects in the German/Dutch/Belgian border area – Flemish and Dutch in the West and Rhine valley dialect in the East.

                Sorsogon Bikol is said to be like Waray, then you have all the variants of Bikol including Bikol Central whose reach Bert described very well (Naga and in Albay the entire belt from Tiwi to Legazpi), the strange dialect of Buhi, and Camarines Norte closer to Tagalog…

                In fact take Tagalog, Bikol and the Visayan languages together and you have Central Philippine languages – anyone can most probably learn one knowing the other, like if you speak two Slavic languages (say Polish and Czech) you understand nearly all of them.

                The Northern Philippine languages like Kapampangan and Ilokano are very different. Maranao and Maguindanao are also very different. The AlDub millenial mix of today is what would be called “the common tongue”, to use the terminology of “Game of Thrones”.

              • “it is like we want change as long as it does not affect me.” That is human I guess. That is why political will is needed to effect change.

                The name for it in Germany (I am sure josephivo might know it there might be a similar thing in Belgium) is the St. Florian principle.

                St. Florian (patron saint of fire) please burn the neighbors houses down to the ground, save mine from fire.

              • Now I have something to say whenever Filipinos claim this as uniquely our own. “Don’t be provincial read up on St Florian principle.” is what I’ll say

              • “Interestingly enough, I’m wrong.”


                Then it’s decided, after checking out the schools in Cebu, go to Davao and weigh the potential of this SEA-US cable project vis-a-vis opportunities for your son in not only education but opportunities.

                I can totally see you and gian hanging out in Mati, creating the next Philippine paradise, with fast internet connection, no traffic, where people work at home. You guys will be the anti-BPO answer.

                I found this map, that better covers the continuum Ireneo’s talking about,

              • I strangely remember that joe used to live in the south/mindanao/davao but moved after being “visited” by NPA.

              • Joe America says:

                Northern Mindanao. Yes, the NPA visited my home when I was in the US. Foreign neighbors had also been harassed and left. The NPA took a lot of jobs out of that area. I had employed 4 when I was there.

              • *education and profession

              • karlgarcia says:

                Gian, because your comment was under mine,it looked like the e-jeep,e-trike were poo pooed along with the e-vat. 😄

              • giancarloangulo:
                I strangely remember that joe used to live in the south/mindanao/davao but moved after being “visited” by NPA.

                Joe America:
                Northern Mindanao. Yes, the NPA visited my home when I was in the US. Foreign neighbors had also been harassed and left. The NPA took a lot of jobs out of that area. I had employed 4 when I was there.

                I thought that incident took place in Leyte. As I understand it, the Bohol, Leyte, Samar NPA factions are a lot more reasonable than those in Mindanao.

                In Mindanao, you have two types of NPA groups, those dabbling in criminal enterprise and those who still truly believe— basically the fine difference between extortion and taxation.

                Those NPA dabbling in criminal affairs are basically the same as gov’t officials, police/military, mining/logging, local cult folks doing the same, just in different guises. A shake down is a shake down, no matter the ideals being espoused.

                The laws of the jungle applies, much like Manila traffic (or Philippines in general).

                Where over here, the pedestrian has right of way (the individual is afforded due respect), in the Philippines the biggest conveyance rules (and if that company or owner runs over and kills a pedestrian, a measly amount is given to the family as blood money, very Islamic I might add).

                gian, as a regular guy, you’ll not come across the NPA– unless you move out to the boonies. Maybe a road block or two, where you’ll have to pay a tax, many times a receipt is given. But if you stick to the main thoroughfares and like in cities (like Davao & Mati), I doubt you’ll ever meet NPA-types in combat garb.

                As member of one of the powerful organizations in the Philippines (INC), you’ll not only have added protection (something Joe never had), but you’ll be privy to local information, ie. stir clear away from this place, at such and such time. Use that.

                The NPA is the least of your worries in Mindanao— though being caught at the wrong place, wrong time is a possibility, but that’s the same probability as living in Manila, gian— hell anywhere in the Philippines for that matter.

                The least you can do is to go for a visit and see for yourself.

              • Joe America says:

                Very accurate assessment, from what I know. The locals where I lived knew what the NPA was doing because their sons were friends with them. About six months before the incident of which I spoke, I was advised to go out of town for a couple of days. It was the accumulation of events, including neighbors leaving, that took its toll. It may be the way of things for locals . . . no worries . . . but it is an uncomfortable lifestyle to live for someone who has a different distinction between right and wrong. For a foreigner who is comparatively rich, it is impossible. You feel like the hunted.

              • Joe,

                A lot of it is getting respectable locals to vouch for you— because at the end of the day, these guys actually grew-up together, some went the guerilla route, others the 9 to 5 route. Their enemies are the agents of national gov’t (criminal in their eyes) and foreign companies , ie. logging/mining, etc.

                I agree with you in that we Americans don’t play this game anymore (we’re less familiar with the rules, so we rely on money and technology), but I assure you 100 plus years ago, especially in the wild West, we put in time knowing the indians, bad-guys, friends, allies.

                It’s the same game played the world over… Mindanao, Pakistan, Syria, Compton, North Oakland, South Chicago, etc.

                It’s basically ‘Three Cups of Tea’ time. I wonder what would have happened had you decided to stay and made friends with NPA leadership (who’d probably been only 5 yrs your junior, allowing for some common ground).

                I gotta feeling after knowing you, they’d have decided you were more friend than foe, and left you alone… falling under their auspices.

              • Joe America says:

                That was true for the time I was there. I funded the sports teams and did other things locally, and was well accepted. But I got the impression that the NPA thing had grown beyond their influence, that outsiders had come in.

              • The map below, from the Annual Report of War Department for 1900, is one of the earliest maps of Mindanao drawn by the Americans.

                The Visayans seem to have been transplanted into Davao in the 1848, by the Spanish when an expedition of 70 men and women led by José Cruz de Oyanguren of Vergara, Spain, established a Christian settlement in an area of mangrove swamps. Then in 1894, the Jesuits and Spanish army opened a mission in the Baganga-Cateel area, again bringing over Visayans.

                In 1899, the Spanish withdrew, and left Davao to their Visayan settlers, then on Dec 20, 1899 Americans landed. Turns out Davao is an American creation (from 1848-1899 the Spanish never really expanded Davao or outlying communities in Baganga-Cateel area where the Jesuits set up mission).

                And then Japanese refugees from the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95), augmented American settlers to work in American hemp plantations. So Davao, for all intents and purposes, is an American city, Joe— more reason to check it out 😉 .

              • Joe America says:

                Are you on commission, or what?

              • LOL! But seriously, this Davao SEA-US cable, when viewed thru American history in Davao, is pretty interesting. I’m familiar with Zamboanga and that side of Mindanao, Joe— but Davao side is as interesting, read more here (hoping you and gian will catch the Davao-bug, a very interesting place indeed), (Google books, had to shorten the url )

              • LCPL_X, I am in the middle of reading “The History of Abaca” which is erroneously referred to as “Manila hemp” – it just so happens that all fibers that were used for marine rope were referred to as hemp. Abaca is something Americans (Salem) got interested in starting around 1820 because it does not have to be tarred like Russian hemp (cannabis) and later it became more interesting because the Crimean war made the latter scarce.

                It is quite interesting that American ships moved in very quickly to secure the “hemp port” of Legazpi City in Albay during the Philippine-American war, and that an American firm set up its own factory in Manila. And then the Davao plantations to secure massive supply.

                The trouble with the hillside small to medium sized “plantations” in Bikol was that they did not have the economies of scale that the modern plantations in Davao had. To secure supply one American even took plants to Costa Rica, where abaca also grows today.

                Of course Mindanao was a place where American agribusiness highly developed.

                Dole bananas, Del Monte pineapples are (or were) grown on Mindanao plantations. But it is also true that the Spanish only seriously started moving into Mindanao outside of Zamboanga (the fort) in the mid-19th century… one hardly sees any evidence before that.

              • @ Ireneo,

                Yeah, man, abaca was a big deal until 1930s when nylon supplanted its use for marine cordage. But by that time, it was the Japanese in Davao who were churning out abaca, not just for marine cordage, but I guess it made for nice clothes in Japan as well (basically what the Spanish documented indigenous Filipinos wearing in the 1500s, and 1600s in the Northern Coast of Mindanao, abaca as clothes).

                The American settlers abandoned Davao starting around 1910, selling their plantations to their Japanese workers who’d keep the abaca boom going (for the Japanese market) til WWII.

                I guess, as far as the American abaca market was concerned your Bikol area was a lot more cost-effective than Davao, the abaca boom in Bikol would peak in 1915 (just 5 more years after Davao’s was abandoned). so I’ve always wondered between 1920-1930s, before nylon, why abaca went down in the Philippines— did Americans just simply transplant abaca in South America?

                But what’s interesting also, is how American settlers (who pretty much made Davao) decided to just up and leave.

                1). They just couldn’t compete with your Bikol area, Davao was just too far to make a profit, not to mention…

                2). Blight, pestilence, but more importantly the difficulty to get consistent labor— I guess indigneous Filipinos were prone to just up and leave and go into the forest (hence, the need for Japanese labor early on).

                3). The difference why the Japanese stayed and the leaving of American settlers is the most interesting, IMHO,

                by 1910, the Moro Province under the Americans were split up— Cotabato side, run in Zamboanga, was administered by Maguindanao datus (placed by Americans); Davao side, ran in Davao, by American settlers (around 5,000+),

                while focus by the American gov’t was in Zamboanga, Davao had free reign.

                So when the decision from Washington DC was for “Filipinization”, wherein Davao would now have to answer to Manila, the American settlers in Davao ended up just cutting their losses and returned home.

                The Muslim Filipinos, simply shifted their loyalties from US to Manila (then the fun began, when Marcos came up).

                The Americans in Davao were effectively abandoned by DC, where the Japanese settlers would later enjoy full support of the Japanese gov’t til after WWII.

                As far as colonies go, the only really true colony set-up by the US was in Davao.

                The Dole and Del Monte plantations in Northern Mindanao (Del Monte plantation prominently featured in James Bamford’s ) were corporations,

                the difference in Davao, was that Davao was run by Americans (of the same type that “tamed” the Wild West). I would’ve loved to have learned about this in high school history.

              • All this stuff about American settlers and Wild West is making the old Marlboro commercials from the 1970s replay in my head including the music. Need a smoke.

                I still have to finish reading the book on abaca which is one of the most comprehensive pieces of research on the topic. Definitely 1920 was a bit of a year of change in the Philippines – Moro province turned over to the Interior Department of the Philippines. Could be that modernization simply made many people do what the Badjao and others all want – go straight for the modern way of life as quickly as possible and forget the old ways.

              • Hey, Ireneo, going back to this SEA-US cable, what are the chances that these floating data centers will follow suit? I can totally see Davao gulf packed with these (where before it was abaca they were producing, now Davao will be producing the Cloud, or adding to it),

              • NHerrera says:

                @LCpl_X, @Joe:

                Useful reference maps. Thanks.

          • This is the first time I hear that the reason for many delays was TROs…

            And a short summary of the projects that are finally being started with delay.

            The impression most probably nurtured by the press was that of lame excuses.

            Which could mean that the present administration is stepping on very many toes.

            But how do you tell the truth to people who have shut down and will no longer listen?

            • The computerization of the Customs systems are bogged down in court. The famous license plates everyone is complaining about is stopped by reason of Disallowance by the COA (which I believe was really necessary, I’d loved a lawyers view of legalities of the procurement entered into by the DOTC).

              Basically if you are powerful enough and you believe that a project will be yours in another administration you TRO and sue the shit out if it til you have the President of your choice.

          • Joe America says:

            I think Jonathan fairly represents a huge section of Manila and they are not in reasoning mode. They are striking out. I saw on Twitter that the median age of the Philippines is 22. There are a whole lot of people who have absolutely no idea about Marcos, can’t “see” Duterte as an affront to human decency, and exhibit the confidence of the dumb. Save your breath, I think. Save your money, too.

      • sonny says:

        To whoever can and in however manner can intervene: to pay attention to the immutable law of Physics, “no two bodies can occupy the same space, at the same time” Whatever the design, this law must be obeyed.

    • Joe America says:

      Fair enough, as long as the BPO employees recognize that it was Roxas who worked diligently to get a BPO industry here in the first place. If I am to assign accountability where it belongs, traffic management, then complainers should make sure they are recognizing the people who were instrumental in giving them jobs. They should also understand that “Manila” is not one city, but many, and there are many culprits for the traffic problems.

      • – I think the chronic sleep deprivation of many Manila residents might play a major role…

        2. Sleep Loss Dumbs You Down and 10. Sleep Loss Impairs Judgment may be significant.

        • – add this and you have an explanation for a lot of craziness (stones against windshields) and crime:

          The urban animal: population density and social pathology in rodents and humans

          In a 1962 edition of Scientific American, the ecologist John B Calhoun presented the results of a macabre series of experiments conducted at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).1 He had placed several rats in a laboratory in a converted barn where – protected from disease and predation and supplied with food, water and bedding – they bred rapidly. The one thing they were lacking was space, a fact that became increasingly problematic as what he liked to describe as his “rat city” and “rodent utopia” teemed with animals. Unwanted social contact occurred with increasing frequency, leading to increased stress and aggression. Following the work of the physiologist, Hans Selye, it seemed that the adrenal system offered the standard binary solution: fight or flight.2 But in the sealed enclosure, flight was impossible. Violence quickly spiralled out of control. Cannibalism and infanticide followed. Males became hypersexual, pansexual and, an increasing proportion, homosexual. Calhoun called this vortex “a behavioural sink”. Their numbers fell into terminal decline and the population tailed off to extinction. At the experiments’ end, the only animals still alive had survived at an immense psychological cost: asexual and utterly withdrawn, they clustered in a vacant huddled mass. Even when reintroduced to normal rodent communities, these “socially autistic” animals remained isolated until death. In the words of one of Calhoun’s collaborators, rodent “utopia” had descended into “hell”.

      • Joe America says:

        I would add that I don’t particularly care for Duterte’s platform (negotiating with China, promising what I think is impossible on crime, bringing extremist leftists into the cabinet) and I don’t like his presentment to the global community, which I think calls for first world diplomatic class. Finally, I see the common failing here of taking a specific incident and taking it as the general character of an individual and reacting emotionally, as chempo says, rather than with reason; and the young seem to have no idea of Aquino’s accomplishments, or the history of Marcos’ authoritarian style. Still, I concede that it is not my job to elect people here, or even engage in the political debate, but if the subject comes up, I’m willing to share where I’m coming from.

      • Jonathan says:

        Joe, that’s a Faustian choice at best. So you would give people the choice of being poor but able to get to work, or wealthy but stuck in traffic? Come on. You’re smart enough to know that sounds like a Marie Antoinette response. You sound like we people should be grateful we are not poor peasants. I know that’s not what you mean, but that’s what it sounds like.

        • Joe America says:

          I think people who have jobs should be thankful they have them, and give credit where due. Not just complain. They should understand that a lot of the congestion is construction, that new train cars are arriving, that new point to point bus lines are operating. They should understand that a lot of cities wrestle with congestion. They should understand that the Philippines is poor, with many demands for money, and it is an autocrat who made the nation poor.

        • karlgarcia says:

          Fustian Choice.

    • chempo says:

      When people are angry, emotions get in the way. And that translates to scary voting preferences, of people making up their minds based on what, whacking scapegoats, There is a parallel of voting patterns underway in the US to what the poll results are showing up in Philippines.

      Who are the middle class? There are many many ways of classifying this and most base it on socio economic groupings. I read somewhere a unique suggestion that middle class are those group of people who recognises all the positiveness in the countries, all the various opportunities or openings and they choose to act on it to improve their lives. They are aware of short comings in their environment which is never perfect, they choose instead to take advantage of all the positiveness thats out there. Perhaps this is the right way to classify middle class for is it not widely accepted that it is the middle class that propels a country forward, How could they do it if they are negative people in the first place,

      • I have seen on Top Gear Philippines a posting showing an SUV of a Duterte supporter, with the text “such devotion”… DU30, the iron first and Duterte in black on different parts of the vehicle. The SUV is truly expensive so that person is NOT poor by any measure.

        • One should remember that the Philippines in the late 19th century when the Revolution started was NOT poor at all… it was in a major economic boom… Bonifacio had a job at a German company I think as a warehouse manager he was only poor compared to the ilustrado class that went to Ateneo… but could it be that Filipinos want MORE the moment they have something? Rizal warned against premature independence but was not heard.

          I also have seen similar phenomena among Filipino migrants – the moment the first cars were bought, the first videorecorders, was the moment people started to complain more. Before that things were without complaint, no time to even find fault, too busy working.

          • Jonathan says:

            Perhaps it’s something like this. When your head is down against the ground, you’re grateful just to be alive. So not much in the way of complaining.

            But when you’re able to lift yourself up – even just a little bit – you realize how screwed things up are. How many things that you may have accepted as “the way things are” turn out to be ridiculous, insane, corrupt, etcetera. You become aware that things could be so much better… if it weren’t for (insert subject of “complaint”.)

            So… I don’t view what you’re seeing as something “bad”. It’s the inevitable result of increasing awareness about how the world is.

        • Madlanglupa says:

          The kind of people who would send TGP pictures of their car-sticker support towards that Strongman, are the same people who are more likely packing iron, live in fortresses that are their houses/estates, and want to make sure that their money is safe under his regime.

          Personally I find it even scary that some intelligent people are willing to risk voting for this man. Bahala na kay Batman, they say now.

    • Bill in Oz says:

      Jonathon, I am not a Filipino..I am an outsider..But I am curious why the metro Manila middle class does not feel the same way about the city administration..Here roads are local not natioanl.And I wonder why not there also..

      • Jonathan says:

        Most major thoroughfares in Metro Manila are designated as “national” roads – funding for maintenance and construction are the responsibility of the national government and not local governments. Only the side streets fall under the responsibility of local governments. Generally criticism of local governments when it comes to traffic is more limited to:

        – Tolerance of road obstructions (street markets, basketball courts, etc.) on side streets that can be used as alternate routes
        – Hiring traffic aides who are either a) poorly trained and make a bad situation worse, or b) more interested in extortion rather than any actual traffic policing.

    • “I may not be as smart as most people here so Josephivo? Edgar? Irineo? Karl? Lance? Sonny? NHerrera? MRP? Jonathan? Joe?”


      Keep in mind, I’m no professional nor academic, I’m merely a guy siphoning as much as I can from Google, etc.

      “What could have been done?”

      I have no idea, what could have been done, gian.

      But what can be done now, is what I’m more interested in. (had you not included me on that list, I’d not have cared much about Manila traffic, so I had to think a bit about it). Here goes…

      If these “Manila middle class” are truly middle class, as well as the new BPO middle class, then they’d exercise their God-given to be mobile. Over here, Yuppies do it all the time, things are better in Austin (move to Austin), better in Seattle (move to Seattle), etc. etc.

      The old middle class is less mobile (middle age w/ family), the new ones though (BPO-based) is.

      The BPO industry convinced your best and brightest (the most English savvy, college grads) and told them to stay in the Philippines instead of going to Singapore, or the Gulf emirates. Great stop/gap measure to stop the brain drain– but still a brain drain.

      So the next iteration of BPO will be to by-pass the middle-man, no one should be satisfied with being a telemarketer or customer service. Eventually the jig will be up, that you can provide all these goods and services online, by yourself (or a small Filipino collective, separate from multi-nationals).

      By-pass the middle man.

      So like the Klondike Gold Rush, which Trump’s grand-father made his fortune from, BPO has opened a generation of Filipinos to cyberspace— where the current global Gold Rush is happening.

      But like the Manila traffic, not so broadband is hindering from participating in this Gold Rush.

      Hence, these angry Manila middle class, both new and old rich, should seriously consider this new SEA-US cable hubbed in Davao, and move out.

      Then these Manila middle class can offer their input on future expansion (vis-a-vis traffic, governance, etc.) of Davao, General Santos, Zamboanga, Cagayan de Oro, and other potential boom towns in Mindanao.

      Energies bitching on actual traffic, IMHO is better served pushing for better and improved connection to cyberspace. By moving out of Manila, you’ll be killing two birds with one stone.


      Go South, young man. — would be my advise to you. You said you’ve always planned to take the Pan-Philippine highway, live your protest. Then you can be the Society’s guy in Davao, giving us the play-by-play over there. 😉,_young_man

  23. The article is oozing with sarcasm borne of frustration. It’s like openly sharing your sense of belonging to a group immersed in a toxic milieu. I might be mistaken but the writer is slowly being sucked into the muck of Philippine zero sum politics, no armistice, white flags or prisoners taken. In the process gradually losing that sharpness as a participant observer. Having resided in the country for quite sometime with a wife who is a Filipino(?) the writer is becoming absorbed in the role of a guy trying to fit into the shoes of others and getting further involved in the weird dance of the crazies. But i do appreciate the concern and the empathy of a guy whose love for his adopted country can be seen and felt like a heart stitched in front of his shirt.

    • Joe America says:

      You can talk directly to me, felix. That’s all accurate. Fitting into the shoes of others means trying to figure out how things work and, through ideas and discussion, try to identify some constructive things to do. Writing is fun. Learning is enriching.

  24. karlgarcia says:

    St.Florian ,patron St. of Fire.

    I know of St. Emo’s Fire.

  25. The February Revolution sometimes appeared to me like a Passion play… and I remember how the residents of Balara sang the Pasyon for nights on end… it was always a bit like that:

  26. HighFive says:

    I think the lack of coverage of the mainstream media of the achievements of President Aquino is one big reason why some critics have succeeded in convincing a lot of people that the administration achieved little or nothing. It seems to me that the media has more appetite in highlighting the surveys/opinion polls in the headlines than bringing a good news to the people. And with the reported millions of dollars that were stolen from the gov funds, those who pocketed it could easily procure thousands of cellphones and computers for the trolls to sway public opinion.
    The President and his Daang Matuwid team should seriously do something to counter those who undervalue the things it has done critical to the improvement of the lives of the Filipinos. The Daang Matuwid team should print copies of its achievements that it published in the Official Gazette and send the printed copies through the mails to every Filipinos to directly inform them of what PNoy has truly done to the country.

  27. Marg Choco says:

    Rebels? Drama fanatics? Not quite.

    … more like also a nation of lemmings that feels pride for accomplishments that were made by someone else and has an unhealthy and idiotic reverence for the Philippine flag.

    But I guess that’s a another matter altogether.

    (Off-topic, INTJ female here and I really like this blog. Very interesting.)

    • Joe America says:

      Hi, Marg. INTJs are among my favorite people. 🙂 They are not bothersome, read things well, make sense, and are decisive. I’m glad you find that the blog is interesting. I’m rather fond of it myself. INFJ

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