“Importanteng Maisama sa Conversation”—Erin Tañada

Senatorial Candidate Erin Tañada

(First of two parts)

by Wilfredo G. Villanueva

An activist who talks like he’s in the halls of academe. An oppositionist who still calls President Duterte “pangulo” without a hint of disdain or sarcasm. Took the bar exams doggedly three times to pass, simply because he wants to be a lawyer. He. Wants. To. Be. A. Lawyer. Belonging to the upper crust of society, but who left his heart in Gumaca, Quezon with mga magsasaka sa niyugan.

That’s Lorenzo Reyes Tañada III, plainly Erin, named after his grandfather, revered nationalist Lorenzo Martinez Tañada, Sr., the longest serving senator of the republic—for a good 24 years.

You’ve never seen an idealist until you’ve seen Erin. He’s unstoppable in his dream of a better Philippines. Unstoppable to the point of being childlike. Almost as if he’s in a theme park, enjoying every thrilling ride, getting the most out of every possible motion under the sun that defies gravity. Enjoying himself immensely with eyes drawn to a slit, smiling boyishly, impishly even.

“Marami nang napapagod,” he said, “but we can ask those who are tired of resisting to support those who haven’t given up.”

Mark Anthony Malcampo: If elected, what will be the first bill that you will file?

The first bill that I would file would concern wages. We have to determine whether having the regional wage boards are still relevant. Several regions have minimum wages that are really low. It may not be just, because price increases in oil and rice affect the entire country, urban and rural. Electricity is sometimes more expensive in the provinces. We have to start the conversation on this issue because we can’t allow less than P300 per day anymore. Is the mechanism in setting the minimum wage still relevant? Is it fair and just? We have to adjust. Kailangan i-review. Sa ibang bansa, ang mga trabahong carpenter, welder, plumber, matataas ang sweldo. Dito sa bansa natin, mababa ang sweldo nila. Is it better to set minimum wages per industry?

Will: So it’s no longer cheap to live in the provinces?

Erin: Not anymore. Pareho lang sa Manila at probinsiya ang mga price increases.

Mark: If elected, which committee would you prefer to chair?

Erin: If the minority becomes the majority, we can choose committees. So it’ll be either labor, agriculture or justice.

Will: Ilan ba ang pwede?

Erin: One major, two minors.

Will: Environment?

Erin: Pwede din ako sa environment. Gusto ko ‘yun, may advocacy ako dun.

Ike Calicdan: What particular legislation do you think you have to prioritize to stop the bleeding and bring us back to the road to economic recovery?

Erin: Proper implementation of programs, we can raise it in the senate, but it’s up to the executive to build confidence. It’s a matter of good governance; kailangan seryoso tayo to address these issues of good governance. But the president isn’t interested. Even if they passed the ease of doing business bill…

Another way to stop the bleeding is to stop the excise tax. What do we need Build, Build, Build for if it’s by way of loans? We need not tax people. Yung NLEX and SLEX connector skyway (North and South Luzon Expressways), those are PPP (Public-Private Partnership) projects.

Ito yung model na pinalitan ng kasalukuyang gobyerno. Napunta sa loans.

Will: Na hanggang ngayon wala pa.

Erin: I hope they proceed with the subway, Japan funded.

With coalition partners and supporters.

Andres Vargas: I’ve asked the marginalized why they’re okay with PRRD (President Duterte) admin. Most say that only this admin has cleared the street corners of thugs and addicts and they feel safe going home after work. There are patrol cars and foot patrols of PNP (Philippine National Police) roaming around. Even with a high GDP (Gross Domestic Product), at any time, the trickle down benefits didn’t reach most of the poor. Today there are more hungry Pinoys. Twelve million families have self-declared themselves poor and 8.5 million as food poor.

Erin: May problema talaga ang law enforcement, buong sistema ang may problema. This is where the criminal justice system failed us, mabagal ang proseso, nakikita na ang strong-arm tactics answers a gap…

Will: So, patayin na lang?

Erin: Sa kanayunan, yung mga NPA, ‘di ba? Pero hindi tama.

Will: Paano maibabalik ang dangal sa senado?

Erin: Elect qualified and deserving candidates. Parang: Haven’t we learned our lesson yet? It’ll be difficult… Sa kampanya, lamang sila Mar Roxas, Bam Aquino…kaming anim naman hindi mataas ang awareness, pero kung titingnan ang karanasan namin, pwede kaming magkipag-debate.

Will: How can the opposition pull us back from the present situation?

Erin: There’s the threat of ChaCha (Charter Change)…

Will: Federalism?

Erin: Kasama yan sa ChaCha. Importante na manalo ang oposisyon sa darating na halalan para hindi automatic ang pagpalit ng saligang batas. The administration needs their candidates to win in order to meet the ¾ requirement without difficulty. All it needs to pass the constitutional amendments is ¾ of senate vote. Kung makuha nila ang ¾ sa senate, madaling palitan ang saligang batas.

Will: Ano ulit ang numbers?

Erin: Kung manalo yung eight, plus three inside, so three plus eight—11 on our side. The other side will have 13; it needs 18 to make a ¾ vote. So ChaCha is stopped, but only if all eight make it.

Kung four lang sa atin ang manalo, pasok pa rin; 17 pa rin and number ng kabila, hindi makukuha ang ¾ vote.

Will: So, you did your math…

Erin: Yes. Historically, in all midterm elections, walang 12-0 either way. Pero palaging nananalo ang admin except in the 1971 and 2007 mid-term elections.

Based on surveys, when people vote they don’t vote straight. So, better if we just push for eight. We have more chances to win.

Will: Ba’t sabi ni Sarah Duterte, vote all 14 of them sa Hugpong. So, spoiled ballot?

Erin: Hindi bibilangin ang boto.

Will: Ba’t niya sinabi yun?

Erin: Pasalamat nga kami. Kung gusto ni Sarah, vote 14, we’re not complaining. Hahaha!

Will: Talagang kalaban natin ang ChaCha na ‘yan.

Erin: If all eight do not win, three cannot stem the tide. ChaCha will proceed.

Will: Is this like a political Armageddon, a battle of good versus evil?

With supporters.

Erin: Hindi ko alam, hindi ko alam kung merong design si pangulo na maging president for-life, dahil alam niya ang nangyari kay Marcos. He really believes, to develop the countrysides better, go federal. But there are existing laws that can attain his objective.

For example, we can amend the Local Government Code. The split of taxes right now is 60% national government, 40% local. So, baligtarin. Gawing 60% local, 40% national.

Isang dahilan kung bakit tumatalon ng bakod ang karamihang ng mga local chief executives, because they are afraid that their IRA (Internal Revenue Allotment) will not be released on time. The president can ask, anong kulay nun? One way to solve that, yung pondo na kailangan matanggap, hindi na kailangang ibato sa taas.

Will: Kaya naman pala lipatan ng lipatan…

Erin: The president has the budget, he’s the one who creates the budget! He can fix it so provinces get more than Metro Manila.

They’re saying it takes a while for projects to be approved, eh di that‘s the function of the executive, pwede nga by Executive Order para i-define ang roles ng executive departments. Hindi naman kailangan ng batas. Bago tayo magkaroon ng malaking problema, pag-isipang maigi ang federalism.

Federalism by itself isn’t bad, but you will add another layer of bureaucracy above the provinces, yun ang problema.

Edgar Lores: Piano o violin concerto?

Erin: Huh?

Will: Must be some kind of psychological test.

Erin: Violin.

Cha Coronel Datu: If I were a simple housewife, how would you explain to me what a senator’s job is?

Erin: A senator’s first job is to make laws. The next job is to do oversight, to find out if the laws legislated are effective, that’s the oversight function. We always say not all laws are permanent.

The next job is to make sure that laws are properly implemented. The senator does amendatory work if not.

Will: So, kung bagong detergent, pagkatapos isampay at matuyo ang bagong laba, titingnan kung maputi nga ang damit.

Erin: Oo. Kung mas maputi ang nilaban, okay. Kung hindi, papalitan ang sabon.

Will: Bakit puro hearing, wala naman nahuhuli?

Erin: Hindi naman function ng senate ang manghuli. Hearings are used to find out weaknesses in the law, baka kailangan palitan ang batas, bakit nakalusot kahit may batas na, may loophole ba ito? Dapat ang executive branch, DOJ (Department of Justice) or Ombudsman, sila ang mag-file ng kaso…

Will: Ano pa ang ibang trabaho ng mga senador? Aside from grooming themselves for the presidency?

Erin: Hehehe. Outside of legislation, steer the policies of national government. Platform ang senate to start the conversation, privilege speeches, for example: ano ang kulang sa batas laban sa corruption? FOI (Freedom of Information) importante ‘yan.

Inflation, jobs, wages: ‘yan ang mga problema ng bansa. Palagi silang nasa top three. Yung regional wage board, kailangan pa ba ‘yan? Kailangan bang makahanap ng ibang instrumento, ano ang basehan para itakda ang minimum wage?

Will: Mas madali o mas mura ba manirahan sa probinsiya?

Erin: Pareho lang; rice, electricity, fuel, pareho-pareho ang presyo. Other essential needs halos pareho rin ang presyo, kaya may false notion na mas mataas dapat ang minimum wage sa Manila. Ano ba talaga ang best way? Baka renta sa bahay o lupa ay mura sa probinsya kaysa Metro Manila.

Will: So, how do you convince the housewife to vote for you?

Erin: Based on my lolo’s track record, kailangan ipaalam ito. Kung meron silang lolo o tatay tanungin, ano ang papel ng lolo ko sa kasaysayan ng bansa? Pwedeng itanong, may kilala ba kayong Tañada? Hindi binitawan ng lolo ko ang mahahalagang usapin. Example: labanan ang kahirapan, ibalik ang demokrasya.

Importanteng tanungin, ‘asan ang kahirapan? Kailangan nating tingnan. Para sa mga magsasaka, this has been a continuing concern.

Ang economic managers at agricultural managers natin, rice production ang tinitingnan. But they don’t follow up with the question: Nanalo ba tayo sa war against poverty? Nag-iba ba ang buhay ng magsasaka? Even if we hit the numbers sa rice production, pwedeng baon naman ang magsasaka sa utang o break-even lang, wala rin. Paano natin papaunlarin ang buhay ng magsasaka?

Anong sector ang nakalubog sa kahirapan?

This is a continuing problem after EDSA. Majority of farmers’ children don’t like to be farmers. Problema ‘to kasi average age of our farmers is 60-62 y.o. Bakit ayaw nila: 1- mahirap ang trabaho, 2- walang future, walang growth. Samakatuwid, ang pagiging magsasaka ay isang mababang uri ng trabaho.

(To be continued)

(Link to Part 2)

110 Responses to ““Importanteng Maisama sa Conversation”—Erin Tañada”
  1. Will, thanks. Erin Tanada strikes me as a task-oriented realist.

    More of that sober mindset, less of the drama mindset will do the Philippines good – real good.

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      You’re welcome, Irineo. Talking to the boy in Erin Tañada made me feel and think that: 1- Our problems are solvable (exactly like Dean Chel Diokno’s prognosis na “hindi cancer, malala, pero pwedeng gamutin”); 2- We needn’t wear long faces; that we should be light-hearted–David’s chutzpah vis a vis Goliath; 3- rich doesn’t mean spoiled; no sir; 4- most probably it’s in the genes (Marcos, so there); 5- perseverance is key: flunked bar exams twice, so what, I’ll take it again, no prob (what a refreshing approach to life in general). More insights in Part 2. Thanks again.

      • Point 1 and Chel Diokno – exactly. I feared that too many Filipinos were caught up in the frustration that daily life must be over there to even think clearly about solutions. Now the challenge is getting the “ayoko na! ayoko na!” crowd to listen to the likes of Erin and Chel.

  2. karlgarcia says:

    Thanks again for this.
    I thought he would never answer Edgar’s question.
    Fighting Chacha is the main concern then next would be their advocacies, I like that.
    He said the surveys show that the six of them need more awareness, the Villanueva interviews will be a big help for sure.

  3. Francis says:

    sorry if unrelated and OT but this seems far too relevant to PH situation to ignore sharing:


    The article is worth reading in full—but some interesting quotes. Emphasis (bold text) mine.

    Many Blikkiesdorp residents said they initially supported the vigilantes. Their first targets were all leading figures in a ruthless local gang called the Young Gifted Bastards (YGB). The gang had terrorized the community with impunity for years, carrying out daily and sometimes deadly muggings, burglaries, and drug deals—predominantly just to fund their own drug habits. Thanks to the vigilantes, many of the YGB’s leaders were either killed, hospitalized, or went into hiding.”

    But several residents now claim that the same dearth of police resources that so often serves as the catalyst for vigilantism had allowed the vigilante group to supplant the YGB and begin conducting its own reign of terror, allegedly extorting, robbing, and threatening residents, burning down shacks of gang members’ families, and violently enforcing a 7 p.m. curfew.”

    “When they got rid of the gangsters that was a good thing,” said Russell Donavan, who works as a security guard outside a local evangelical church in Blikkiesdorp. “But then things got out of hand. It’s indiscriminate now. We’d rather have the gangsters back.”

    “According to Mary Nel, a Stellenbosch University Faculty of Law lecturer who wrote her thesis on South African vigilantism: “’Vigilante groups by their very nature are sort of in that gray area between the law and crime and so it’s very easy to overstep that mark. These groups often start with good intentions, then they get a bit of power and that power corrupts or is co-opted.’”

    “Ultimately, they can become full-blown criminal enterprises. Such was the case with People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (PAGAD), a Muslim vigilante organization that rose to prominence in the Cape Flats in 1996 after killing an infamous local gang boss named Rashaad Staggie. By the early 2000s, more than 40 PAGAD members had been charged with crimes including murder, terrorism, extortion, robbery, and illegal possession of firearms.”

    “In 2001, Mapogo A Mathamaga [a famous vigilante group -note] instead made an unlikely move into the private sector, becoming a registered private security company with branches across South Africa operating as independent franchises but all profiting from the fear factor associated with the brand name. Fueled by the extent of violent crime and the lack of faith in police, South Africa’s private security industry is today worth more than $3.5 billion, but is largely the preserve of wealthy and predominantly white sections of society. Mapogo A Mathamaga gradually migrated in the same direction, leaving behind the poor black communities it had initially claimed to serve.

    “…in the Cape Town township of Nyanga, which has the undesirable title of South Africa’s murder capital and where a single police station services as many as 200,000 residents, more than 50 percent of recorded murders are connected to vigilante groups. Like the Cape Flats, Nyanga, formerly a black labor camp, is the product of South Africa’s history of racial segregation and a clear illustration of how the country has failed many poor black citizens in the post-apartheid era. While Nyanga has approximately 161 police officers per 100,000 residents, less than a 20-minute drive away, the predominantly white suburb of Rondebosch has 556, despite not registering a single murder in the 12-month period covered by the latest crime statistics.

    If going all-out vigilante doesn’t seem work, what will? “Crime Fighting” as the main/sole driving force behind “saving the nation” is simply not enough.

    To rid a nation of crime—one must attack crime at its roots: good jobs, a both enriching and practical education system, warm social safety nets and humane housing to restore human dignity, a healthcare system that cares for every patient poor and rich.

    Obviously, you can’t short-cut crime by ignoring inequality, a weak state, weak institutions…and just jumping straight to the Rambo part.

    In the end, the only guys that win are—the elites, who can afford “private” security.

    • It is a typical Filipino reflex to say “that is not applicable, our situation is different”. Or even chaunivistically say “hindi naman tayo mga itim”. But parallels abound when looking at situations of extreme inequality like Manila, Rio de Janeiro and Johannesburg.

      If one studies human power and human violence over the centuries – adding modern knowledge about hormonal / biochemical /neurological effects of giving violent power to people, the lessons should be clear that limiting power for those who wield it makes sense.

      Of course Filipinos seem to love learning lessons the hard way, ignoring other’s experiences. Mocha would just say “bobo sila!”. But how long will it take, how many Kians and other dead will be needed to learn what centuries have taught others and how many decades lost?

      • If you follow the history of South Africa, it’s similar to the Americas and Australia, but without the Europeans dominating the native population en toto; so in a way it’s like India and Britain of the mid-1800s, only let’s say Britain stayed instead of leaving,

        and that’s pretty much South Africa. What they did in the 1900s, they should’ve done in the 1800s. Now you have this huge imbalance, with a bunch of Israelis and Koreans to boot, along with Indian bureaucrats set their by the British, alongside Whites.

        Eventually, they’ll have to be open to a two-state solution, they are pretty much already geographically divided as it is,

        • popoy says:

          similar EH? do the Americas and Australia (North and South, Canada and Mexico) had apartheid?

          • The Deep South had segregation. Spanish America had the raza system.

            Indio y negra, nace lobo; Indio y mestiza, nace coyote..

          • The slave trade and native genocide were worst than apartheid in the Americas, popoy, no slave trade in Australia but genocide of native population was there as well.

            South Africa because the Europeans were busy fighting each other never really turned their sights on the native population, hence the best they could do was Apartheid copying the American South (USA) policies.

            Hence 20% non- Blacks in South Africa. But my point they already are geographically separate, so why not just cut it up already, instead of waiting for another let’s kick out the 20% non-Blacks situation.

  4. edgar lores says:

    1. At least four to win to stem the tide. Looks probable. I won’t say highly probable, just probable.

    1.1. Two are at least shoo-ins — Mar Roxas and Bam Aquino
    1.2. Three are rising stars — Gary Alejano, Samira Gutoc Tomawis, and Florin Hilbay
    1.3. Two are political legatees — Chel Diokno and Erin Tañada

    2. Violin? Violin! I like that you recorded the “Huh?” Recall Chel’s reaction to my question.

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      So what does violin mean? C’mon. Been waiting.

      • edgar lores says:

        Ahaha! There are no right or wrong answers.

        I believe that, in the popular mind, the violin is considered to be a more romantic instrument than the piano.

        You know the gesture of stringing a bow across an imaginary violin when you are in the company of friends and there is sweet talk (or googly eyes) going on between a couple? Or when a couple is dining at an upscale restaurant and there are roving musicians and champagne?

        One never pounds on imaginary piano keys.

        Conclusion: Erin is a romantic.

  5. Gemino H. Abad says:

    Terrific, Will! Erin so clear-thinking! I look forward to the continuation!! I pass this on to my family and friends. The coming election is the acid test re maturity of our electorate now!

  6. Francis says:

    It is more than a bit frustrating that clearly articulate and qualified candidates on the opposition have far less awareness and popularity (hopefully just for now) compared to the band of old-fashioned trapos and rising opportunists which sum up the (if it exists, at all) administration slate.

    I think that it is true that our minimum wage is finding it hard to keep up with inflation. The idea of regional wages (and whether they should even exist) is also something to think about.

    I am no expert, but my clumsy layman interpretation of things is that regional wages just help fuel the mad dash of just about everyone towards Metro Manila; it may be likely that Metro Manila is crowded, partially due to the fact that our minimum wages are the highest.

    And there is an increase in bureaucracy (and red tape) with more bodies (multiple regional boards v. one theoretical lone national body) to deal with.

    Our decentralized set-up COULD work if our labor sector was adequately organized throughout every province in the country. Unfortunately—our unions are downright anemic. If one does continue this line of thought: may it probably be pointless to have our already-weak unions have to fight for representation on so many boards, when they could just fight for one?

    I am just a layman and just thinking aloud. Please take above with a grain of salt.

    Many already say that our wages are relatively high compared to the region. But our people are suffering under low wages—and their material conditions cannot simply be “waved away” as the costs of economic growth.

    But again, our wages are relatively high?

    But the costs to a corporation are not just labor. Infrastructure (i.e. electricity) is also there. So are taxes and subsidies.

    I find the idea of government directly intervening on behalf of workers necessary—but something that shouldn’t be seen as the sole tool in the toolbox. The government can always be bought by vested interests later on; the workers must have their own leverage, strength of their own. Thus: it is important to also build a sense of empowerment among workers. How can one improve labor representation, i.e. improve the situation of unions?

    Some thinking aloud:

    Not an expert, but maybe to secure good jobs:

    -Improve labor conditions not only by streamlining minimum wage, but also by improving means for labor to represent itself (unions).

    -Retain confidence of business by making it clear that while Gov’t will not budge on easing labor conditions—Gov’t will work hard to reduce all other costs of business (improve infrastructure i.e. bring down our horrendously high electricrity costs, good governance, lower some taxes/institute some subsidies, etc.)

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Francis, Erin will be reading your sublime thoughts on the topic at hand. Thanks for the light.

    • Francis, I am wondering about the matter of wages.

      Higher wages often correspond to a higher cost of living.

      Is it worth moving to Manila from say, Batangas due to the higher wages in Manila, or is the gain in wages eaten up by the higher cost of living there, or the cost of commuting there?

      Because I know Filipinos over here who think they have made a good deal by driving to the Netherlands from the Rhineland, 300 km, because they get the fish cheaper there – not computing what they pay for gasoline and the theoretical value of their time per hour.

      In Germany there are enough people who go for staying in the countryside, especially their own areas, IF the wages allow them a similar standard of living, considering that rent may be only half of what it is in the big cities, or they may have their own house already – as long as the big cities are accessible when necessarily, or they can be at customer sites quickly. Possibly the regional issues in the Philippines might be more about transport to the big cities and about local impunity which makes life unattractive in the provinces. Just speculating..

      • karlgarcia says:

        Going to Baguio for cheap vegetables is not the primary reason for going there, but a more realistic one is going to Divisoria for cheap stuff when you live 30 to 40 km away.(traffic)
        That gas station selling cheaper fuel in Bulacan was reportedly swarmed by people from far away.

        I get your other point. Due to supply chain and logistics plus other factors make cost of living in the provinces costly.

        We already discussed that no one wants to be farmer even before, I recall you even narrated that subdivisions mushroomed to escape land reform.
        Land reform is now used as a threat. Boracay and Negros Island was threatened to be land reformed for various reasons.

        • That space gets used up is even a topic in Bavaria, which still has a lot of forests, fields..

          The popular initiative by the Green Party over here to stop overusing available space did not become a referendum because it was not specific enough, but was correct in principle..

          An example of how space gets used up over the years, even if there is proper zoning. Technopark 1 (to the right of Bahnhofstr.) in Grassbrunn-Neukeferloh was created (and trees were cut) based on the promise that the rest of the forest to the left of the Bahnhofstr. would stay. Some decades later, that was forgotten and Technopark 2 was created, cutting down trees again. There is similar creep in other areas around here as well.


          • Zorneding, Blumenstraße above (for new residents) and below (cheaper building land for locals, defined as everyone living in the village for at least 10 years) was built sometime before the year 2000, There was also a bit of creeping enlargement of the residential area and fields disappearing, but it seems they had the sense to put a stop with the park and the lake that you see at the left. BTW this is how I was taught geography/Soc Sci in Grade 12.

            Put together all those practical examples and you have I don’t know how many square km of farmlands and forests disappearing, fresh air supply for the big cities decreasing and more. Wonder what the Greens will now make of their win in the last Bavarian state elections.


        • “Due to supply chain and logistics plus other factors make cost of living in the provinces costly.” This is not much of a problem in Continental Europe.

          Islands in the Mediterreanean, even worse the Canary Islands, Azores and Madeira have the issue as well because eveything has to come in by boat. The Philippines has its being an archipelagic country, its fragmented topography, roads well OK, no freight trains, very little freight ports or RO/RO for trucks I assume – will have similar expenses. I wonder about water where the limit is, how did Boracay get enough water for all the tourists? Majorca built a desalination plant on time. Turkish Cyprus even got fresh water from Turkey for a while.

          Electric grid costs we discussed in the previous thread. In Germany a major factor keeping people from staying in some rural areas is that not all have broadband internet, which is important if you want to do partial telecommuting like some “back to the village” folks do.

  7. karlgarcia says:

    On labor and wages I agree on most points, but things must be done for the business sector to remain viable.

    If most close shop because they can not afford to give wage and non-wage benefits then that would be another big head ache.

    We started discussing the high electricity prices the low income per capita makes it a double whammy.

    One thing I learned about the passing of the businessman in Subic was that he made ambulances, trucks,etc affordable to the joy of the local governments, and other businesses but to the ire of local manufacturers. Another dilemma?

    If the cost of doing business remains costly both financial and ( blood,sweat and tears), I think that must be solved simultaneously with the wage issues.

    Having said that, I agree to the abolition of regional wage board.

    We must also be aware of that there are a lot of those who gave up their full time jobsto try their luck with the gig economy.
    The gig economy from TNVS to Airbnb is not doing good that may mean many property foreclosures.

    The gig economy also exacerbated the prevalence of contractuals and contractors.
    I think the latter gets paid more but both have no benefits unless they contribute to social security regularly which is hard.

  8. karlgarcia says:

    I would like to hear his plans on agriculture. I am sure it would be better than Imee Marcos’ unoriginal so-called solutions that would be next right?

    Having irrigation, mechanized farming, etc would be nothing if no one wants to be farmers.

    • Farming is heavily subsidized already in Germany but there is the same issue of young people not wanting to farm – and young women not wanting farmers as husbands. There is a somewhat funny TV show called “Bauer sucht Frau” over here, “farmer looking for a wife”. Not the kind of stuff I watch as it is similar to Wowowee in terms of making people look ridiculous, I also wonder how much of that is fake, but the issues are similar in many places.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Re: Bauer Sucht Frau.
        It is a reality show, so it must be real. 😉

        • popoy says:

          Karl (German for Carlos) and IBRS, medio yabang na naman ito: Karl Boehm of Hans Seidel Foundation was chief honcho of SEARCA (Advance Research in Agric in UP LB) when I coordinated a regional (SouthEast Asia) project on training methodologies. Handsome Herr Boehm told me Max Weber is really pronounced Max Beiber.

          Recalling when UN ASG Paeng Salas was Rice Czar of RCPP the country had attained rice self sufficiency in the country for may be three seasons and I was soils man for a few Rice Action Teams in Romblon and in Rizal Province.
          Agriculture without research is primitive agriculture.

          • karlgarcia says:

            So Justin Beiber is related to Max Weber.

            • popoy says:

              Very likely Karl if Justin’s ancestors came from Germany. They make money now tracing one’s lineage and ancestry across history; postulating blacks came from white families and vice versa. Justin and Max being both white may have blood- related black ancestors. So sorry JoeAm, just answering trying to answer Karl’s retort to make him smile.

              IS THIS far fetch thinking or logic?:
              LOVE IS BLIND
              GOD IS LOVE
              GOD IS BLIND.

              Sorry again JoeAm.

          • Hanns-Seidel Foundation is Munich-based. Well, Bavaria has been an agricultural country for around 1.5 millennia, when Duke Theodo brought in monastic orders to modernize agriculture. The first post-Roman settlements were just slash-and-burn agriculture.

            Although even the rulers themselves were primitives then, Lantpert, Theodo’s eldest dismembered French bishop Emmeram because he thought he had made his sister Uta pregnant. St. Emmeram is still worshipped. Lantpert was later exiled to the pagan Avars.

            • They say that after Emmeram, the tribal laws were amended to make the penalty for killing a Bishop even higher than for a ruler.

              The fine for killing a ruler was I think 4 times what is cost if you killed a free man, killing a chieftain twice what it cost if you killed a free man.

              If you didn’t pay, you could get into a feud which could last for generations of vengeance – surprisingly that was forbidden only around 1450..

            • popoy says:

              Thanks for the info IBRS. My comments here would have been richer about Germany. I was nominated for a PG Course on Operations Research in the University of Freiburgh willing to spend 6 months to study the German language but was rejected for being overqualified. I thought then from the map, I could easily cross to Holland for more education. I protested but NEDA showed me the letter of the University. Had I been given a test, I would have been rejected too for insufficient proficiency. Such is life in search of proper education of a mentor.

    • karl,

      I would also ask if anyone’s focused on rubber tree plantations, I know a bunch of people there got pinch with palm oil, but rubber tree, the airline industry as well as construction industry have not yet found a better synthetic equivalent to natural rubber.

      Philippines can corner the market.

      Also unlike palm oil which doesn’t really have other uses, trees are trees, good for oxygen and lumber, also you can plant fruit trees in between, soiling surrounding trees still very useful.

      (inter-cropped w/ coffee here)

  9. “During the Martial Law years, Tañada was a college student at Ateneo de Manila University. This is where he met Risa Hontiveros as his first girlfriend, while actively updating his fellow students at political developments, joining the university’s Task Force Ninoy, a group supporting the advocacy of Ninoy Aquino. He later passed the Philippine Bar Examination on his third try. He would later practice law at the Tañada, Vivo and Tan law office.

    Tañada is separated from his wife since 2010 and has custody of their children.”

    I still don’t quite understand why Filipinos fetishize the BAR exam. Over here no one really cares if you passed in your first or third or fifth try. Honestly, I think most folks here after law school pass whatever state BAR exam then just practice law, I hear more about LSAT scores than BAR exams.

    But that’s beside the point, I just Googled his guy and his Wiki unlike VP Robredo’s is pretty slim.

    I’d personally like to know what types of cases and his clients he personally counseled when he worked for his family’s law firm. It doesn’t say how long he practiced law also, so here’s my estimate…

    Born August 16, 1963

    +20 years (toddler years then schooling)

    +5 years (give or take) I don’t know how often you can take the BAR exam, isn’t it also just once a year?

    So let’s say he practiced law from 1988 to 2003 (anything significant happen here? , i mean if you failed the BAR 3 times, you better fluff up your lawyerly experience to even things out, no?), then…

    June 30, 2004 – June 30, 2013 — Member of the Philippine House of Representatives from Quezon’s 4th District

    July 26, 2010 – June 30, 2013 — Deputy Speaker of the Philippine House of Representatives for Luzon

    (did he start something like Negosyo Centers or promoted eSports, something you can pin your name on, not just going to summits and bills, something tangible, what have we here?)

    then 2013 to 2018 , what did he do?
    ( he leaves politics for 5 years, then pops back out again? what significant things did he do while he was out? ).

    Sorry, I know parts of this article I ‘m not privy to, Wil but what I got from all this is that this dude’s an idealist and that he has perseverance because he took the BAR exam 3 times.


    In the same vein as edgar’s, I don’t care if he listens to rap or punk really, but I’d like to know

    who are his mentors personally, and/or heroes, people he aspires to, for example does he study Steve Jobs, or Tim Cook, or is he a fan of other managers, their bios or how to books, which ones.

    What did he learn from his gramps and his dad? When you’re gramps or dad are giants, its kinda difficult to get out of their shadows, but you off-set this by expanding on your mentors/heroes you follow while adding to your own results/experiences,

    for example in the Marines, I can guarantee that if you’re in SOCOM or senior enlisted in combat arms or Colonel and higher, you’d have studied Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, Machiavelli, a bunch of samurai books, know the Peloponnesian war inside & out , Demosthenes, then a bunch of other more current managerial and historical type books.

    To re-cap,

    15 years? of practicing law, what happened?

    10 years+ of legislating, what specific tangible results?

    5 years- of what?

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Hi Lance! Part 2 coming out Monday Dec. 3. But did you say “only an idealist” or words to that effect? Let me react in the context of USMC. Semper fidelis means always faithful. That’s an ideal, right? Everything must stem from idealism, otherwise, let’s just pack up and head for the mountains.

      • Hey, Wil. No problems with idealism, just want the pragmatism and results aspect of this guy, is all. Will wait for Part 2 then.

      • edgar lores says:

        This google entry will cover Erin’s years as a rep.

        tanada site:www.congress.gov.ph

        • edgar lores says:

          And I found this link in Erin’s Wikipedia article to be revealing of character.


          “Human rights lawyer Theodore Te wrote on his Facebook page: ‘Because Erin will not speak, those of us who feel that we deserve much, much better than the Jamby-come-latelys and the Flip-flopping Chiz and all the other members of the administration Senate ticket must. I have not hidden my disappointment at the way that pragmatism and compromise have prevailed over principles and public interest in the way the administration has chosen the members of its ticket.’ “

          • NHerrera says:

            Regarding that Rappler article: the idealist Tanada and the pragmatic PNoy — a period snapshot. Thanks, I missed that.

            • karlgarcia says:

              There were a lot of issues raised in that article, hopefully they are water under the bridge.

              • NHerrera says:


              • karlgarcia says:

                I have copy pasted this from the Rappler article because winnability and FOI are still outstanding issues.

                The winnability hurdle is partially resolved because those in the slate still have a steep mountain to climb,the election results will ultimately resolve that.

                But FOI like the Land use bill has been a decade old legislation where support is only at the beginning.
                It is either by lack of support from the top or the legislators flip flopped away their principles for false pragmatism.

                The other issues, well they are still issues, under the bridge or over it.

                “Winnability, FOI?

                Why wouldn’t LP give a slot to an original party member who represents what the party advertises itself to be: honest and incorruptible?

                Tañada has been with the party since 1993. He remained a driving force of the party when its membership in the House of Representatives dwindled to less than 20 after a bitter split during the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

                The simple, acceptable, but incomplete answer is “winnability.” The administration has been vocal about its goal to pack Congress with its allies so it could push for its needed legislation.

                Not counting the names of those who eventually decided not to run, all 12 in the administration ticket are within the Top 20 in the September Pulse Asia survey. Tañada’s survey ratings are dismal, however, ranking 26-35. It’s a long shot to the Magic 12.

                But can’t LP make a concession to a party member? Rappler interviewed sources who know both Aquino and Tañada to understand the dynamics between the two.

                FOI and PNoy’s favorites

                Tañada has alienated the President, they said, because of his campaign for the Freedom of Information bill (FOI). It’s not about the bill itself, Rappler sources explained, but how Tañada has “put the President on the spot” by his statements attacking Malacañang for not supporting the bill.

                Tañada was beginning to appear as someone who could not be depended on to support Aquino or LP all the way.

                Rappler sources also confirmed speculations about a strongly-worded SMS message that Tañada sent Aquino to express his unrelenting stand to push for FOI despite the administration’s double-talk on the measure.

                There have been a lot of talk about what happened in the 2010 elections, too. Tañada did not support the reelection bid of LP’s Quezon gubernatorial candidate, the late Rafael Nantes. He was the LP’s national treasurer when he was killed in a plane crash shortly after he lost the elections.

                Aquino’s lack of support for Tañada’s senatorial ambition has been obvious.

                The President has been name-dropping possible senatorial candidates as early as the first quarter of 2012. He brought around the country Hontiveros, Angara, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority director-general Joel Villanueva, and Customs chief Rozzano “Ruffy” Biazon — harping on how they could help him push for his reform agenda.

                In political parlance, Aquino was giving them his “blessings.”

                In contrast, Aquino never publicly mentioned Tañada as among the possible administration candidates nor did he bring him around.

                Winnability could not have been an issue then because Tañada was rating higher than Villanueva at that point. In short, Aquino did not even make the effort to help Tañada.”

              • Thank you for this real-world picture of how politics works. Tribal even within the ‘yellows’.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Welcome. It is only recent that I find it automatic to associate tribalism with Filipinos.

              • NHerrera says:

                TSH, a tribe?

                Merriam-Webster on the definition of “tribe:”

                Definition 2 —

                a group of persons having a common character, occupation, or interest.

                I must concede that TSH members fit this definition of tribe only to a level of 50, not quite the near 100 percent that our representatives in the House fit the definition.

              • Ye, I think we are a tribe but members also belong to other tribes.

              • edgar lores says:

                We are a — moral tribe.

              • NHerrera says:

                I am glad to have the notion of “tribe” refined especially in the TSH and PH contexts. Thanks karl, JoeAm, edgar.

    • karlgarcia says:

      These are his advocacies, his main advocacy which is FOI.
      The non passage of the bill is beyond his control.


    • popoy says:

      Do they repeat the questions of previous bar exams? If they update the questions every annual exam, to have reviewed THREE TIMES for three different sets of bar questions and having passed the third, Erin would have known more about Philippine laws in theory than those first time or second time passers. Mastery is never attained the first time but repetition and experience do. Allowing three time flunkers to take the exam signify something terribly wrong in the profession.

  10. popoy says:

    O O T 0NCE THERE WAS a country of great caring, of great music of artist who unites and sings for the deserving. Would artists of the world sing for the Philippines?

    The most pleasurable for the ear and for the eyes.

  11. popoy says:

    The above link thugs at my heart in timeless ways
    They make My heart beats
    in euphoria to celebrate
    the ideology of my soul.

    In my days of yore
    I saw and was less caring the
    Dumagat kids of Rizal’s Sierra Madre

    the Aettas and Negrito youths. The Igorot
    Dancing girls and boys of Seirra Provincia
    this morning on TV, I saw innocence and hope
    among the faces of Lumad’s children
    the real and true promise of Mindanao

    children of all races not knowing
    they are God’s Children
    the seeds in constant struggle
    to remake the flaws of mankind.

  12. popoy says:

    Among all the kinds of candidates who really have noticed the children as the seniors are noticed and short changed? who cares for the katutubo who really are the owners of the land, rivers, hills and mountains?

    USA gave theirs reservations and casinos; Canada may have followed suit for the First Nations who claims to own 98 per cent of the country. What have the Filipino politicians done for the country’s teeming cultural minorities? What kind of ideology will the children and the katutubo need to improve their lives.

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Hi cuz! He’s connecting with mga magsasaka sa niyugan, if that’s your point. Read his message to people in Gumaca, Quezon in Part 2.

      • popoy says:

        Primo Willy, my point is that we should have more in law and institutions for our children be they rich or poor and most of all the children of our Katutubo brothers. Farming is a forgotten source of thievery after the pork barrel plunders dominated and went viral in lawmaking. Skyrocketing price of rice is the cheese of new aggie rats.

        • popoy says:

          And when plunderers took over the reigns of governance
          Our Katutubo began the slide to their age of being
          an endangered specie; the time has now sped up
          their journey to their final extinction.

          • popoy says:

            I admire and thank you mi Primo.
            You are good and wise
            and chooses best to separate
            the grain from the chaff,
            to thresh and winnow
            the healthy grain
            from the empty shells
            of the sick panicles of
            the country’s politics.

            • popoy says:

              Sinulat ko sa wikang banyaga
              sa marami ay mahirap maintindihan
              mga kaeskuela ko marahil
              puede pa kung sila’y tumulong
              sa mga magsasaka at
              sa tubigan ay lumusong
              dumakot ng putik para patibayin
              sa pumayat na pilapil at
              tuwing anihan na
              tumulong din maggiik at magtahip
              ng inaning palay.
              Ating mga kandidato parang palay
              Karamihan ay ipa lang
              Purwisyo pa sa bayan
              Walang saysay.

  13. NHerrera says:

    Thanks, Will for doing Erin Tanada the nice and needed work na maisama siya sa conversation. It will be greatly ironic if Bato gets elected and Tanada does not.

  14. NHerrera says:

    George H. W. Bush dead at 94.

    He and his story

    Born into privilege and a tradition of service, Bush was a son of a senator, celebrated World War II combat pilot, student athlete, Texas oilman, Republican congressman, national party chairman, pioneering diplomat and spy chief. After his own 1980 presidential campaign came up short, he served two terms as Ronald Reagan’s vice president before reaching the pinnacle of political power by winning the 1988 presidential election …

    After losing the White House in 1992, Bush became a widely admired political elder who leapt out of airplanes to mark birthday milestones. Emphasizing the generosity of his soul, he forged a close — and unlikely — friendship with Democrat Bill Clinton, the man who ended his presidency …

    will be rightly remembered and lauded in the days to come for his legacy to the US and the world.

    This event once more recalls the great values that, through Bush’s life, make America great. I cannot help but write that those values have been tarnished by the current US President.

    • NHerrera says:

      Politics does not have to be mean and ugly — George H. W. Bush.

    • edgar lores says:

      Barbara died in April earlier this year.

      He survived her by a little over 7 months.

      • NHerrera says:

        Yes. I just saw a cartoon on CNN where Barbara, Robin (their daughter who died of leukemia at 3 ) in a cloud, saying to pilot George H. W. Bush arriving in the cloud in an airplane, “we waited for you.”

      • popoy says:

        “We love your adherence to democratic principles
        and to the democratic process.”
        Said POTUS George Herbert Walker Bush.

        What he said of other leaders (Marcos) is
        Of zero significance to what he did
        For his country.

        What he did for or against
        Other countries (Iraq)
        should be measured
        By the ultimate effects
        to his country. -popoy 011218


        • NHerrera says:

          Popoy, when I wrote my note above, I remembered that item “We love your adherence to democratic principles and to the democratic process” in giving a public statement with Marcos by his side. But waited for someone in TSH to recall that. I was waiting if it will be you or Irineo.

          • popoy says:

            In the ultimate analysis it is not what a national leader DID FOR his country and people BUT what the national leader DID TO HIS COUNTRY AND PEOPLE WHICH CONSTITUTE TREASON.

            • karlgarcia says:

              please bear with me on this.

              Sabagay, you will never(or seldom) ask,”What did you do?” Or “what have you done?” If there is no damage.

              Is JFK’s ask not speech the reason why public servants are served by the public?
              Nope, impunity has been there ever since.

              • popoy says:

                If it is EUREKA thingy you will be asked: HOW DID YOU DO IT man? High five man!
                but if it is sly and victorious: What did you do? Let’s touch closed fist man!

    • chemrock says:

      JFK is waiting for him on the other side.

  15. NHerrera says:


    Trafficking and kidnapping charges were leveled by PNP against Satur Ocampo and France Castro [ACT Teachers party-list Representative] and 17 others. Here is what Teddy Locsin Jr., featured in TSH’s recent blog, said:

    kidnapping and human trafficking charges against Ocampo “idiotic.”

    I must say that Locsin, a lawyer, with command of the language, especially now from his perch as the DFA Secretary, speaks with a gravitas that a Senator such as Poe — and certainly Sotto — can only dream of matching.

  16. NHerrera says:



    That is the remarkable and show-stealing “high-five” picture between Putin and Saudi’s Crown Prince MBS [back to camera in Saudi garb] with none too happy Trump in the background — who surely must have seen the happy greeting between the two. This happened during the Argentina Summit of G20 Leaders. Immediately after that greeting, Putin and MBS, like two young kids mischievously smiling with each other, were caught by the camera as they happily sat next to each other. [Earlier Trump cancelled a scheduled one-on-one with both Putin and MBS.] I believe that picture will be remembered as a poster picture for the Argentina 2018 G20 summit.

    In the local parlance, Trump appeared in that picture as if he was just a saling pusa in the Summit. A sad state of affairs for The President of the Most Powerful Country.

    But perhaps Trump made up for that in the temporary truce with Xi on “trade war” between the US and China. CNN reports:

    After the two-and-a-half hour discussion, Trump agreed to maintain the 10% tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, and not raise them to 25% “at this time” ahead of a January 1 deadline, according to a White House statement from press secretary Sarah Sanders.

    In exchange, China agreed it was willing to purchase a “very substantial” amount of agriculture, energy and other goods from the United States to help reduce the trade imbalance.

  17. caliphman says:

    Out of topic but another shoe signalling the death of Philippine democracy is about to drop. Rappler and Ressa’s voice is about to be muffled if not stilled. And if it is, can a similar fate awaiting TSH and other sources of unfettered news and opinions be far behind? It’s good to hear that sparks of hope flicker in the likes of Erin and a few others who aspire to work within what remains of the democratic system if and when elected. But when the very system itself is turned on it’s head to legally oppress and suppress those who still stand in the way of a corrupt cabal of leaders intending to seize permanent if not absolute power, it’s hard not to recall the Titanic where the band played on while the ship slipped silently beneath the seas.

    • At the barangay level over there, when one group wins they always add salt to the defeat of the other groups, winner talk crap about the losers. So what’s the diff?

      Democracy was always an illusion. Even here, though we had more traditions to keep the illusion consistent.

      My point is, democracy is only as real so long as dissenting opinions are protected. Both sides are already pretty comfortable with censorship. So I blame censorship period.

      If Socrates talked crap about Athenian big wigs, guess who talked crap about Socrates?

      That’s why the Philippines needs more satirists , not gay cross dressing or slap stick types comedy, but comedy that cuts into established mores, and makes you think.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Twain_Prize_for_American_Humor Maybe the Philippines can push its comedians to a higher plane.

      • Two excellent points, that democracy requires protection of dissenting opinions, and need for socio-political commentary in the Philippines. On dissenting opinions, social media has been deployed to insult, lie about, or otherwise suppress opposing voices. Respect for the process or value of debate is lost in the emotionalism. And SNL would have plenty of material . . . Duterte would be hilariously portrayed, as his eccentricities are very visual. Of course, the actor would be jailed for terrorism or destabilization or taxes.

    • Already most of the unfettered news takes place out of the Philippines and gets distributed via social media. I think it is more likely that individuals will be prosecuted, like Maria Ressa, which places people in the Philippines at risk. Miguel Syjuco is an example. He writes in the NY Times and elsewhere but is often in the Philippines. It is rather the ‘Acosta treatment’ where punishment against an individual is designed to make others compliant. Then the next step would be laws and restraints on what can be allowed on the internet, ala China. The model is clear. Either defend democracy or welcome 1984.

  18. karlgarcia says:


    The author did a critique of your interview, it had the unfair accusation of being a clickbait because of her interviewst in agriculture.


    • Thanks, Karl. These are his concluding remarks:

      In relation to digital rhetoric, I think Villanueva was not able to maximize the potential reach of the article. It was not his fault, nor the fault of The Society of Honor: the Philippines. To be fair, the blogging site have a relatively high number of readers and is considered famous. It is just that the use of WordPress was not really ideal for establishing credibility. With the means available, anyone can create a WordPress account. For someone who is very particular in the credibility of the site being visited, they would probably prefer other blogging sites like journalist Raissa Robles’ (https://www.raissarobles.com). WordPress articles, regardless of accessibility, were also rarely shared in social media. In addition to that, many contributors of The Society of Honor: the Philippines were not using their real names and cannot be traced if they were really credible.

      All in all, I think the rhetorical situation established during Villanueva’s interview with Tañada was relatively promising. Tañada’s persuasive strategies were quite effective and his words were appealing as well. However, the reach of the written article was not maximized and reduced the potential rhetorical audience it Tañada could have.

      I don’t have a quibble with what he says, other than he seems to think that any rhetorical writing must have an advocacy or is gaming to have one. Which is not the goal of this blog, which is why I don’t market the articles, don’t run ads, don’t follow a set advocacy. The writings live and die on the merits of the articles as seen by readers or interested parties, and if they are off reading entertainment magazines or porn, or have given up on reading or the Philippines, that’s on them, not me or other contributors here.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] Villanueva, W.G. (2018, November). “Importanteng maisama sa conversation” – Erin Tañada. The Society of Honor: the Philippines. Retrieved February 27, 2019 from https://joeam.com/2018/11/30/importanteng-maisama-sa-conversation-erin-tanada/. […]

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