Thursday, May 28, 2009

FLIRTING WITH ENEMIES OF THE STATE



Tell me it's just me. Tell me I am just paranoid. Tell me I am just imagining things.

But hey--did you guys catch that portion in the Speech of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at the Manila Hotel in today's official merger of LAKAS-KAMPI-CMD?

Of course the big story there is the official marriage of not two but three major political parties to ensure their victory in the 2010 elections. Yes, the other big story is that the president herself assures that elections will push through and that the No-Election scenarios are nothing but speculations. "Let this merger me a tangible proof of our readiness to help ensure that the elections will push through," this is what PGMA said.

You can also add that part that based on her assessment, siting performance and qualification, the next president of the Republic would definitely come from the newly merged political party of three. "Let us win not because we are powerful. Let us win because we are united," the president told her party-mates at the Manila Hotel who once again placed her on top of this political merger.

Allow me to direct your attention to something else the president said, in passing, a paragraph within her speech, her delivery of that portion was nothing extraordinary that it seemed as if it is just an ordinary thing to do.

The portion of PGMA's speech which I want to highlight, a story within a story I think, something I believe would be big and will cause real uproar in the coming days, is that portion where she is encouraging the alliance of local governments with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) then connecting the encouraged formation of alliance as a message against local government officials "flirting with enemies of the state" in the 2010 elections.

"Let us not allow it," the president stressed.

This portion of the president's speech gives credence to an information this journalist received that the AFP, the military will definitely flex their muscles and make their presence felt directly by local government units through various acts of "cooperation" which is synonymous to the "alliance" guidance mentioned by the president in her capacity as party-head and chairperson of the newly united three political parties of LAKAS-KAMPI-CMD.

When was the last time this kind of "alliance" and "cooperation" was experienced and felt in both urban and rural areas of this country? I believe this was observed during the time or during an era known in recent history as Martial Law.

I do not want to add fuel to grim scenarios of NO-EL but I would be remiss in my duty as a journalist if I will not share an information relayed to me by a very reliable source which may connect this seemingly innocent act of alliance between AFP and LGUs.

My source told me that come August of September, this personality heading one very important agency of government would be asked to retire early and ahead of the end of his term. That personality would be replaced by someone "closer", a real "ally" and someone who will "comply" and "implement" in the name of "victory in unity."

Someone went ahead of him. That person and this other one, I was told were both asked the same question by one very powerful person in government, not the president, but just the same, in a position of power and influence. And what was the question asked?

According to my source the question asked was: "Are you willing to implement Martial Law?"

It was easy to say "YES" to that question given the fact that they owe their position of power, their appointment to the administration. But my source told me, the two personalities responded with a resounding "NO."

Thus, the other personality is no longer in his former post, but rewarded an equally juicy post somewhere else, offshore.

The other one, while still in position, is ready to go, amenable to his fate, because he took a position and declared that the Filipino people will no longer allow any similar act of military rule.

This is one of the reasons, why many--especially us in media, are awaiting the political developments come August and September.

With this seemingly innocent statement of alliance between the AFP and LGUs, instead of feeling assured that the NO-EL scenario is nothing but a mere speculation, a grim and baseless scenario as what the president said, the opposite effect was achieved as far as I am concerned. As a journalist I am more inclined to be on that cautious position of vigilance.

There are signs.

Tracks are not fully covered and concealed.

All we have to do is keep our eyes open and do our respective parts guaranteed by the constitution in ensuring that our democracy remains protected---especially in the coming months. (end)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

APPARENTLY DR. VICKY WAS NOT SPARED...



To those of you who missed the episode of SNN (SHOWBIZ NEWS NGAYON) last night, the new lawyer of Dr. Vicky Belo, Atty. Adel Tamano confirmed the suspicion of many that yes--the controversial doctor to the stars and the rich and famous was also part of the now infamous Hayden Kho sex video diary.

The man she love and trusted, probably her greatest and most passionate love, has apparently not spared her from shame. Any woman would feel the emotional pain of Belo. How deep is the pain this controversy has caused her, we could only imagine.

However, there is a big difference in her case. A big "BUT!" so to speak.

While the other women were unsuspecting, totally unaware that everything intimate and personal that they did with Kho was recorded on a digital camera, in the case of the very famous doctor, there was consent. She knew!

Tamano said that his client knew that the her intimate encounter with Hayden was recorded. "Two consenting adults, with the agreement that it would be erased after the fact, a request from Hayden," according to Tamano, quoting his client, Dr. Belo.

SNN airs late in the evening and that direct confirmation from Belo's lawyer was the latest in this saga of love, lust and betrayal.

Earlier yesterday, I managed to get a similar confirmation from an independent source that in fact Belo's part of the Hayden sex-video file that included actress Katrina Halili and several others.

To date only Halili has come out in the open to file a formal complaint against Kho.

The truth is, if you also caught the daily segment of veteran showbiz reporter and talent manager Lolit Solis in Arnold Clavio and Lala Roque's radio program over DZBB also yesterday morning, you would have probably heard that the very feisty and straightforward Manay Lolit of Philippine Showbiz hinted that Belo was also part of the video file.

This is not actually a shocking confirmation considering that many suspected this all along.

Now---the other question here is, in fact, the very urgent question that needed real answer is the question on who leaked the video file and had it distributed igniting the hate and shame associated with that video-file, still the fastest selling DVD in Quiapo and other sidewalk vendors.

Who has the motive?

The truth is---even the rich and famous---those living in posh and exclusive subdivisions have already seen the video too. The controversy has fueled the interest of all sectors in society that in a way it has become a social equalizer. A very ugly statement of how society, this society in particular views and weighs the value of what is good and bad, of what is correct and what is wrong. --That is another point of course and a whole lot bigger issue that the macro-attention generated by this controversy.

Agencies in government like the Optical Media Board has flexed their muscles to really stop the proliferation of this Kho-sex video but can they really stop it? Can they really apprehend those responsible for this illegal act in the first place? Let us not forget that before Katrina et al, there were others who suffered the same fate, nameless, nobodies...but victims all just the same.

My source, that independent source I mentioned earlier, has in fact shared more information that could provide leads to how the video leaked and distributed in the first place. Like the rest of us---he is an outsider in the Belo-Kho affair--but whose name is mentioned in the controversy because of circumstantial ties with the other players in this very private turned very public saga of real human relationship involving real emotions of real people.

I am tempted to mention his name in this blog entry but that would be pre-empting the article on this one, probably, coming out tomorrow, not really up to me, but up to the editors. But with the Belo-Kho story still the hottest item in the news these days, chances are, it will see print considering the identity of that source who agreed to talk on this very controversial topic.

But let me give a clue, a hint.

That source was approached by Belo to convince the person suspected to possess a copy of the video, not to do upload or distribute it. The "plot" tickens...

As to the matter on whether the authorities can really prevent the spread of the scandalous Kho-sex diary file, that I strongly doubt.

Just about half an hour ago, I was on the phone with a government official. I was following up a separate story, almost at the tail-end of my phone interview with that public official, he said, "have you seen the tape with Vicky in it?" I said "No".

"Well, I have one," he said, "someone gave it to me". The insinuation of the other person on the line is that, the Belo-tape is separate and totally independent of the Kho-sex-diary.

Who gave it to him and who gave the copy to that person who gave it him, we need not anymore inquire. The point is clear---it's there. Out. Mass produced. How many copies? No one knew for sure. But it's there, passed from one person to another, regardless of social status in life.

Now, how can anyone say with certainty that the illegal distribution of this Kho-sex video would stop or would be dealt with accordingly, legally, and with swift disposition, when in reality, it's out there--long before the bruhaha over the video exploded in public.

The continued distribution via email or any other means of this Kho-sex diary is now a matter that is for the individual to decide, depending on a person's sense and sensibilities---values for that matter.

To be able to comment on the issue, one has to see the controversial tape. That is in fact, a sad reality attached to this job. Validation is a must. Proof is essential.

One need not stay glued on the scandalous material for a whole 40-minutes to see that someone played with the lives and reputation of many women who fell for him, love and trust, the whole package!

That's why when he came out in the media to say "SORRY" and insist there was "NO MALICE" in what he did, many reacted with deeper hate to the one person who thought he could get away with it.

A claim of no malice from the man who was seen on video arranging and zooming in the angle of the digital camera---just to make sure he captured everything the way he wanted to, the way he planned it.

How the authorities will put a conclusion on this controversy will be the one true determining factor as to whether acts of this kind would be stopped altogether.

That's why it's really very admirable for someone like Katrina Halili to own up and act with determination to pursue legal options to defend her right and honor, as a woman, as a person, as a human being.

We may judge her for other things, oh sure, we may, the field is open. But let it not be said, that she did not stand up for her right. (end)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

LABAN KATRINA, LABAN!



Hindi si Katrina Halili ang unang artista o celebrity na nadawit sa isang sex-video scandal. Marami ang nauna sa kanya. Kailan lang. Ilang taon na ang nakalipas. Dekada pa nga ang ilan. Hindi na ito bago. Huwag na nating pangalanan pang muli ang mga babaeng ito. Igalang na lamang natin ang punto na nalampasan nila ang unos na iyon sa kanilang buhay sa paraang kaya nilang harapin.

Sa karamihan sa kanila---ito ang pananahimik, ang ipagpatuloy ang buhay, at ibangon ang dignidad, unti-unti, dahan-dahan. Wala namang sugat na hindi naghihilom, hindi ba?

Pero may bago dito!

Ang desisyon ni Katrina Halili na tumayo para sa kanyang karapatan bilang babae, ang desisyon niya na hindi lang basta umiyak, magmukmok sa sulok, magtago sa mapanuring mata ng mundo, ang desisyon niyang harapin ang isyu, ang desisyon niyang lumaban. Yun, yun ang bago dito!

Sa aking libro, ang pagharap ni Katrina sa kanyang problema sa gitna ng tunay na gahiganteng kahihiyan ang siyang isa sa nagpapakinang ng usaping ito. Kung tutuusin, ang madla ay madaling humusga sa isang tulad ni Katrina ngunit hindi sa pagkakataong ito dahil malinaw ang pinagmumulan ng kanyang paninindigan.

Isang karapatan ang nalabag. Nabastos. Nabalahura. Nasalaula. Nayurakan. Nababoy!

Iba rin ito dahil sa tayo ay nasa gitna na ng mundo ng cyber-space.Ito ang kapalit ng pag-unlad ng teknolohiya.

Pero teka---wag nating ilihis ang isyu. Madaling lumusot na kasalanan ng teknolohiya yan, ang internet kasi, ang YOU TUBE kasi! Ang dali, hindi ba?

Ang isyu ay ang paglabag na ginawa ng isang indibidwal sa kanyang kapwa na nagtiwala sa kanya. Di lang basta nagtiwala, nagmahal. Yung unang YOU TUBE video, nung pinunasan ni Katrina ang noo ni Hadeen Kho---wag na nating ikabit ang titulong Doktor, kahit di pa ito pormal na inaalis sa kanya---sa ganang akin ay batid niyang wala na siyang mundo pang gagalawan sa propesyong Medikal pagkatapos ng iskandalong ito---ang puntong iyon sa video ay nagpapakita ng pagmamahal sa panig ni Katrina, ng tiwala.

Alam nating higit na nakapanlulumo ang mga naglabasang video di lamang pala sa panig ni Katrina Halili, kundi sa panig ng iba pa. Oo, marami sila. Mahaba ang listahan.
Hindi ba --yun pa lamang ay nakagagalit na? Anong akala ni Haydeen sa sarili niya?

Sabi ng isang psychiatrist na nakapanayam ni Mike Enriquez kaninang umaga sa kanyang programa, ang akto ng pagvi-video ng sekswal na gawain, pagniniig, ay maaaring manipestasyon ng isang medikal na kundisyon na tinatawag na "Paraphilia".

Sabi sa MedicineNET.com, ang mga taong may ganitong kundisyon, o yung tinatawag na Paraphilias ay yung mga indibidwal na may hindi makontrol na sexual behavior o fantasy o mundo ng ilusyon na hindi niya mapanghawakan o malagpasan.

Ayon pa sa naturang website, ito raw ay mas madalas na makikita sa hanay ng mga kalalakihan kaysa sa mga kababaihan. 20:1 male to female ratio, yun ang sabi sa website.

Wag na nating gawing kumplikado pa ang deskripsiyon. Sakit ito. Sakit sa utak. Period.

Hindi lamang kababaihan ang nagpupuyos ang damdamin sa isyung ito. Maging mga hanay ng kalalakihan. Ang totoo, nakadidismaya nga na isang lalakeng senador ang unang nanindigan para kay Katrina. Naunahan ang mga kababaihang senador o kababaihang mambabatas sa mababang kapulungan. Naka-iskor dito si Senador Bong Revilla, kahit pa nga may nagsasabing ..."look who's talking.."

Oo na, umaamin naman ang senador, pilyo rin siya, pero di naman yun ang isyu. Nagkataon lang.Ibang kembot lang, sabi nga.Pero nagbukas siya ng pinto, ng isang pagkakataon para magdesisyon si Katrina Halili na gawin ang desisyong sinimulan niya agad: ang lumaban.

Malinaw na may legal na opsiyon ang labang ito ni Katrina. Nagsampa na siya ng reklamo sa National Bureau of Investigation. Ang reklamo ay pinag-aaralan na at sa unang pagtaya sa detalye at sirkumstansiya ng reklamo ni Katrina, ang kaso ay pumapasok sa Republic Act 9262 o Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act of 2004.

Kapag napatunayang may kasalanan si Hayden Kho---6 hanggang 12 taong pagkakabilanggo ang puwedeng maging hatol.

Dito masusubukan ang batas na ito. Dito mapapatunayan ang saysay ng labang ito ni Katrina Halili.

Pero maliban sa legal na laban, may isang nandudumilat na katotohanan na nasa ating harapan ngayon.

Isang katotohanang dapat na tugunan ng mga karampatang institusyon. Ito ay ang pagpapahalaga sa katatagan ng pamilya na siyang magiging armas ng mga kabataan sa kanilang pagharap sa mundo na punong-puno ng pagsubok, tukso at iba't ibang uri ng kalituhan, kalaswaan.

Hindi ito sermon. Sino naman ako para ma-nermon?

Ang gusto ko lang sabihin. Malinaw na may mas malaking bagay sa lipunan na dapat tayong tugunan. Ang usapin ng moralidad. Ang pagpili at paglaban sa kung ano ang tama at ang pagiwas at paglayo sa kung ano ang mali.

Suportahan natin ang laban ni Katrina Halili. Ngunit huwag tayong huminto doon. Ipinakita lamang ng insidenteng ito ang mas malalang sakit sa lipunan.

Panahon na para balikan natin ang katatagan ng pamilya.

Sa laban ni Katrina Halili, isabay natin ang pakikipaglaban sa mga bagay na tunay na mahalaga sa ating pagka-bansa, sa ating pagka-Filipino...sa ating pagkatao. (wakas)

Monday, May 18, 2009

WHAT MEDIA IS DEFENDING ...






Representative Walden Bello sums up media's sentiment against the Right of Reply Bill pending in Congress. "This is a threat to the Freedom of the Press. It certainly has a chilling effect," Bello said, who is also a media practitioner himself as a writer/columnists for two on-line major news organizations.

Bello was among those who participated in a Round Table Discussion on the Right of Reply Bill initiated by the House Committee on Human Rights headed by Rep. Lorenzo R. Tañada.

The controversial bill is one of the priority measures of the House of Representatives, clearly suggesting that despite the strong opposition of various media organizations, the bill will ultimately be subject to a voting by the plenary and in the House of Congress, the bottom line in passing any piece of legislation, is not the essence, not even the principle and not even the justification, but always and always, the battle of the minority and the majority, a number's game. A matter of how many legislators say yes or no to a proposed piece of legislation.

I participated in the RTD held at the Ramon Mitra Building on the invitation of officers of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, to which I am a member and a one time, Committee Officer on Justice when the late Press Undersecretary Jose Capadocia consolidated the NUJP chapters nationwide and placed the organization in the forefront of defending press freedom in the country.

It's disturbing to even have to explain to lawmakers how and why media works and exists as it is. The role of media as the Fourth Estate need not be explained at all. How and why we select the stories and dispense with editorial and content prerogative every single day, is something that should not be defended at all.

Under a democratic country, this sacred right of media to freely exists is guaranteed by the Constitution. We have not changed the form of government, right? We are still in a Democracy, right? --- or are we just assuming we still are?

The long list of media killings and harassment points to the glaring truth that confronts us in our faces---that slowly, this sacred right, sacred duty as members of the Fourth Estate, is being taken away from us, that the time has come for media organizations in the Philippines to unite and fight for our common survival.

The sad reality is, the very institutions like the House of Congress, that should be with us in upholding our rights, are the very ones crippling and wanting so much to control it through proposed measures like the Right of Reply Bill citing a seemingly innocent reason and justification that the bill assures fair play and balance reportage.

Many of those in favor of the proposed bill were open in admitting that once in their careers as politicians, they were "victimized" by media by not airing their sides, attacking them, exposing them and not giving them "enough space" and "opportunity" to defend themselves.

Many cite "suffering" from what they refer to as baseless and unfair attack of local media, referring to reporters, announcers/commentators in the provinces. This could really be true, some local media in the provinces maybe taking advantage of his position to unfairly attack a public official without giving him the chance to answer. But if one will really investigate and unmask what goes on in the operation of some local media, those in the provinces, one would see the fact that the ones behind these so called "media-attack dogs" in the local media, are also created by POLITICIANS themselves!

Many local politicians, congressmen for that matter either own, operate or pay block-time slots to attack their political nemesis. Most of the "media" practitioners they are complaining are actually, those "created" "engaged" "commissioned" by the politicians themselves.

Let me stress the point from the example given by Representative Elpidio Bargaza of the 2nd District of Cavite, and who said during the RTD, that some of his barangay tanods/ kagawads suddenly showed up in his office, with a huge MEDIA/PRESS ID, from tanods to reporters, he stressed, insinuating that after the interview, something else follows. To those of us present in the RTD, this question he raised, "Do you not have a mechanism of disciplining your ranks?"

Oh we do! We have! And this works independently in every media organization. This yields results. Media is not perfect but we do watch our own backyard, for the bottom line will always be the very essence and purpose of our existence.

Bargaza claimed he too was "victimized", his side not taken even after one report of the PCIJ on him came out in NEWSBREAK some years back. He demanded a public apology and was told, that's not the policy of the media outfit.

He was advised by the editors to write his side of the story and he was assured, the letter will be printed in full. But did he take that option? No he did not.

Did he even write that letter to defend himself in what he claims to be a false story, a total lie, as he insisted? No he did not.

There was another point too. If he chose not to answer through the same media outfit, he could have called for a press conference. I am certain, he has, as member of his official staff, a Public Information Officer or a Public Relations Officer, who could arrange and initiate this, and in some cases, could in fact speak on his behalf.

Now, guess again, he nor his official staff did any of these options available at any given time, at their disposal even.

Now what right of reply, are they talking about?

The congressman from the 2nd district of Cavite explained that he "easily forgives" and in fact is supportive of media. But can he too forget, easily? Apparently not, for he is still more inclined to support the bill once it goes to Plenary for the Division of the House, the voting process, the bottom line of the fate of this proposed piece of legislation.

Tañada said he will definitely raise the point that no committee hearing took place before the drafting of the proposed bill. Except for that dialogue outside Congress, at Melos Restaurant in Quezon City, there was no formal committee hearing held that should have been the venue for interested and affected sectors to ventilate their points and issues before any legislation of this kind is drafted.

But Tañada stressed, it will always be decided through votes in the plenary session."Even if we want to refer it back to the committee level, baka matalo kami, mas marami sila" said Tañada.

Also, this point also deserves some space.

Weng, who was seated besides me told me that one congressman present in that dialogue said that the proposed Right of Reply Bill will determine the fate of another bill---decriminalizing Libel Cases in the Philippines. Weng quoted the congressman to have bluntly uttered this statement "Walang passage ng decriminalization ng libel kung walang right of reply bill" or simply said, no right of reply bill, no decriminalization of libel.

Ano yun---BARTER TRADE?

To date, NUJP's signature campaign has gathered 700 signatories. Related activities initiated by NUJP and other media organizations continue to sustain the campaign against the approval of the Right of Reply Bill into an actual piece of legislation.

By all means media wants to air all sides. The truth is, it's not even wanting to air all sides. It's SOP, a must!

However, in cases where stories lack the side or even sides of one party or other parties involved in an issue or a story, say, a controversial and really earthshaking story or expose, and the story gets printed or aired, standing on its own.

The question here is WHY?

Because the information gathered was factual and can be verified and and validated.

The most simple, bare yet most sacred definition of news is that it is synonymous to one word: TRUTH.

NEWS IS TRUTH.

That's why instead of the Right or Reply Bill, we insist that the Right to Information Bill, now pending in the senate for more than a year, be given priority.

Media in the Philippines is not perfect. Never was and probably never will.

But at the end of the day, we all strive and seek for that common goal: to report the TRUTH.

This is the very essence of our existence, guaranteed by the Constitution, our sacred duty to the Filipino people, protecting their right to be informed--especially when the information that should be available to them is shielded by people who should be accountable only and only to the people who elected them in public offices.

Take away accountability, you take away the Truth. (end)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

SWEET AND FABULOUS AT 60!




She too could have danced all night, but she chose not to.

She had all the reasons to have a grand birthday celebration with all the glitz and the glamor befitting a personality like her but she opted not to. Oh yes, she's a celebrity in her own right, very influential too and with proven track record of mobilizing thousands of people to join her for a cause or for simply, gathering together out of sheer admiration, loyalty and love.

But at 60 years old, this woman chose to celebrate this new chapter in her life with family members, her children on her side and most especially, all her grandchildren ---all 12 of them!

Some friends were there too, a handful.

Cherry Cobarrubias is no stranger to anything grand. She's also not a stranger to anything subtle and subdued. But now that she's officially on the bracket of a very strong and potent force in our society called Senior Citizen's she looked back at all the 60 years that passed with nothing but gratitude in her heart.

Her message to her family, children, grandchildren and friends gathered to share the moment with her was simple but very very meaningful, encapsulating what life's journey is about.

"Sa inyo mga anak ko, sa inyo mga apo ko, huwag na huwag ninyong kalilimutan na bumuo ng magagandang alaala. Ito ang magtatawid sa inyo sa inyong pagtanda. Kapag inabot ninyo ang idad ko, kapag binalikan ninyo ang nakaraan sa inyong buhay,masusumpungan ninyo ang kakaibang kalakasan sa paggunita sa lahat ng mga bagay na magaganda at masasaya kasama ang inyong mga mahal sa buhay. Magmahalan kayong magkakapatid hanggang sa inyong pagtanda, sa habang panahon ng inyong buhay," in Filipino this is what she said. ("To my children, my grandchildren, do not ever forget to build good memories. These memories will see you through when you grow old. If you reach my age, if you look back at the years that passed you by, you will find a different kind of strength in remembering everything that's beautiful and happy. Love one another until your reach old age, love one another, every day of your lives.")

I could list 60 reasons that make this woman's journey, remarkable and meaningful.

But I will state only one. Her unwavering faith in God's power over her life. "Magtiwala kayo sa Diyos ng walang pag-aalinlangan, ang buhay ninyo ay galing sa KANYA, bakit NIYA kayo pababayaan?" ("Trust in the Lord God with all your heart and with no doubt. Your life came from HIM, why will HE forsake you?"

Cherry Cobarrubia's story is one exceptional journey if only hers will be turned into a book for everyone to read, there's no doubt in my mind that she will inspire others to take life's journey the way she did.

One day, that book will come out.

That's my fervent wish as a friend and as her "inaanak" ("godchild") who is just one of the many lives she touched and inspired.(end)

Friday, May 15, 2009

SHOULD WE FULLY TRUST POLL AUTOMATION?



My answer to the question above is: I wanted to, fully, completely, no ifs and buts, hook line and sinker.

I am a believer. I am a dreamer. I see possibilities.

But maintaining that state of mind is one thing. The reality staring at me face to face makes me wary and scared of what lies ahead.

What's ahead is not just bumpy. It's frightening. We may be in for the greatest poll disaster in the history of this country that could eclipse even the previous two elections of 2007 and 2004. How scary could that be?

For sure we all wanted to experience a remarkable change in the conduct of our elections and the logical step is to certainly go the way from manual to automated. Automation is the only way to go. It's about time.

90% of the Filipino people wanted automation and the law mandates that the next election be fully automated. This is something that we should not only aim to do, but something we ought to do--the right way.

But with the shadow of doubt cast on the the road to automation beginning from the bidding process itself, projected as irregular and anomalous, how can we even trust automation, if and when it comes on election day?

The "Garcis" are out in the COMELEC, right? Why do we remain suspicious?

Maybe because even without the "Garcis" we see problems inside and outside of the poll body that may just tamper anew the very sacred political act of a supposedly democratic nation.

It doesn't help that COMELEC Chairman Jose Melo while begging everyone to trust the automation, "Magkaroon sila ng kumpiyansiya sa automation," that's what he said in one interview, also pictures a scenario of a no-election come 2010 pointing the possibility of a legal maneuver of critics of automation and from the ranks of the loosing bidders that could reach the highest court of the land.

This is how Melo puts the NO-EL scenario in plain and simple words:"We will not have time to go manual. Di gulo. Di rebolusyon," that's how Melo sees the possibilities ahead.

By Monday, the lowest bidder among the four recalled, will do an actual demonstration of their machine. Then if there's a technical problem, then the second lowest bidder will also be given the opportunity to demonstrate their machine, then the third and the fourth.

But as in any other bidding process in the country---there will always be those who will cry foul!

Actually, from the four recalled, INDRA SISTEMAS, Strategic Alliance Holdings Inc., Smartmatic International/Total Information Management Corporation, AMA Group Holdings Corporatuon Election Software and Intel. Inc. and Gilat Satellite Network Ltd./F.F. Cruz and Co., Inc/Filipinas Systems Incorporated, only three will continue on with the process of bidding, even on a Saturday, as per my sources in the COMELEC.

ES&S is out of the bidding race I was told. Of the remaining three, Smartmatic's system was already tried in the ARMM Elections. However, it's Gilat who is getting the headlines and the attention because of the YOU TUBE video that showed F.F. Cruz signing documents inside one of the comfort rooms in the COMELEC Building itself.

Could those be documents related to the bidding? Does the uploaded YOU TUBE video gives us all a clue as to what company will grab the contract to automate the country's 2010 elections that is worth P11.3 Billion Pesos?

The process is still in progress. Whether this YOU TUBE video has any bearing on the final decision of the Bids and Awards Committee of the COMELEC remains to be seen and determined with very convincing proofs.

But you know what, as a journalist who has covered elections, both local and national beginning from 1992, this much I know, for a determined cheater, it's not about the system, manual or automated, it's about the stakes being the same.

There will always be human intervention and there will always be people controlling the system, manual or automated, from all channels of the electoral process, there will always be that window of opportunity to influence, coerce, sway, and yes---corrupt people who are in control to change the results of the elections in favor of those who are the most desperate of all to hold power.

We all know how dirty elections are in the country under a manual system. Dirty is not even the right word to describe what we all experienced in previous elections. It's not even rotten. It's almost evil! But like everything else evil, it will have it's end. It's the natural course, the only ending in this cycle of life. That much I believe.

Henrietta De Villa of NAMFREL and PPCRV also gave her reaction to the NO-El scenario and very firmly and with conviction she said, "Di puwede ang NO-EL". We will never allow NO-EL, she said. And while she says that there's no perfect system and that cheating could still be done under an automated system, she appealed to everyone to "try automation" to "try another system" pointing out that election cheating in the past was "very terrible".

In Filipino she said, "Lumalalim ang pagkasira ng ating kultura habang nananatili ang pagbili ng boto at ang pagbebenta ng boto." Indeed vote buying and vote selling has become part of our culture that it seemed almost impossible and unimaginable to untangle many of our people from the chains of that corrupt practice.

There's always the opposite of the words impossible and unimaginable. And these words I believe: possible and imaginable.

While we remain pragmatic about the automation of the polls, we remain hopeful and we continue to think positive that political change in this country could happen.

We should start somewhere. Take the step now. All great changes in any country involve the highest amount of risks.

However, vigilance should never be thrown out of the window. It's our call---everyone's call to remain watchful of everything that's happening. For all we know, there could be something else more frightening than the NO-EL scenario alarm raised by Melo.

But least I sound like a broken record, let's take the road to change the country's electoral system. Go the way to automation but do our part in maintaining the highest form of citizen's vigilance.

With the number of young voters ruling the electorate, there's enough reason to hope that we can and we shall all experience a new dawn in the country's electoral history: peaceful, honest and credible.

I dream and I believe---that road is just awaiting for the Filipino people to take.(end)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

CAUGHT TAG-ULAN SA TAG-ARAW ON GPC




You're probably not expecting this entry on this blog.

But for those who truly knows me in person, I would not pass a chance to write a piece on Philippine Movies, especially, if it concerns one of my favorite actresses of all time--Vilma Santos, now governor of Batangas and if projections and insinuations are correct, she could provide the biggest competition for the vice presidential race come 2010.

But this is not about Vilma, the politician. This is about Vilma, the actress.

I was in the middle of completing a power point presentation for an upcoming lecture engagement when I suddenly felt this dizzy. It was almost 8 in the evening and I realized I have not eaten lunch. Yes lunch. Just cups of coffee, lots of them.

But I did not proceed to eat at once. That would usually make me sick. I will rest my back first and give some more time before I take something solid.

So what I did was to shut down my computer in my office at home, went to get a glass of water and drank it, a full glass just to keep my stomach filled with liquid. Then I proceeded down to our basement bedroom to lie down besides my husband who was already asleep when I took the space besides him. He's not feeling well. After the afternoon's church service, he felt nauseated and announced he would take a rest and sleep.

The TV was open, he was watching the newscast when he dozed off to sleep. I took the liberty of taking over the TV's remote control and began to channel surf.

My intention really was to go straight to HBO to catch the movie feature of the hour. But on the way to Channel 38 of Destiny Cable, I passed by Global Pinoy Channel, GPC, that cable channel that shows old Filipino movies, mostly in black and white. I saw that scene, Vilma Santos crying but still, I went straight to HBO. But in just seconds, I went two channels down, and gave in to the allure of that scene I saw, Vilma Santos crying.

Then the next scene was -- someone was trying to open the door, locked from the inside, it was Vilma's room and all the viewer could see was just half of the body of the one trying to open the door. Then suddenly, the man decided to abandon the door. Close up of Vilma's face, with bruises and scars, still crying.

Then she heard a noise coming from the window and she rushed to open the door towards the room's terrace and there she saw, Christopher de Leon climbing up and looking at her lovingly, a moment of unspoken words between them passed by, then Christopher climbed some more and the two embraced. It was only then that I learned about the names of Vilma and Christopher's character: Nanette and Rod.

The two are desperately in love, it was clear from that scene that I caught, not realizing, it was almost near the end of the film.

I caught this lines uttered by Nanette, Vilma's character: " Kuya Rod…ayokong magsisi ka…nasasaktan ako…basta’t mahal kita, mahal na mahal kita, basta’t mahal mo ako, hindi tayo dapat magsisi, hindi tayo dapat mahiya!”

So young, so in love, loves knows no age boundaries right, but in their case, it's not just about boundaries. It was about something that was taboo then and still is now in the Philippines and in most societies.
Nanette and Rod are first degree cousins!

Vilma's father in the film was Eddie Garcia and her mother, one of the great actresses we have, Lorli Villanueva. The role of Christopher's parents were essayed by the great Joonee Gamboa and Odette Khan. In the brief scenes that I saw them, they were remarkable.

The confrontation scene between brothers played by Eddie and Joonee is a must see.

Eddie said, "Ang ginawang kalapastanganan ng anak mo ay hindi katulad ng mainit na salabat na puwede mong ibuga kapag napasok ka."

Then Joonee said, "Kung nabubuhay ang ating mga magulang, hindi ganyan ang magiging desisyon nila. Tayo'y magkapatid."

Then Eddie countered, "Isinaalang-alang ba ng anak mo ang relasyon niya sa anak ko? Mula ngayon, kalilimutan kong tayo ay magkapatid."

Then came that long scene, where Christopher ran as fast as he could to get to Vilma and to save their baby she's carrying in her womb. Eddie, was determined to have the baby aborted to save his family from total shame, he said.

Vilma was crying, hysterically crying, tried so hard to free herself as she was dragged downstairs unto the waiting car. Then at their gate, there was Christopher's character Rod. "Kuya Rod, kuya Rod!!!" Vilma's character Nanette shouted.

And from there began the long chase and that unforgettable scene where you see Christopher's character with bandage on his head, desperately hanging at the back of the car with plate number GF-771, kissing the glass, touching it, with Vilma's character still shouting "Kuya Rod" and trying just as desperate to kiss and touch the same mirror.

Then finally, Eddie's driving maneuvers separated the ill-fated lovers as Christopher was thrown into the street and Vilma, still inside the car, drove towards that direction where it's almost certain, not only her heart but her spirits will be crashed as well. That scene was never shown. It was implied as the car moved ahead and faded in the scene.

While Christopher's character continued to run and run and run and run like a mad mad. Crying shamelessly, not giving up, a scene that implies, that probably, the lovers, doomed as they are, will soon find a way to be in each others' arms.

I could not wait to see the credits. I love the theme song! It was very Pinoy, the kind that touches your soul, the kind that moves, the kind that tells a story of true human emotions.

Then the credits roll---it was the movie Tag-Ulan sa Tag-Araw, one of Celso Ad Castillo's masterpieces, the first team-up of Vilma and Christopher, the year 1975, a year when I was just 5 years old. Back in those days, as a young kid, that age I believe or maybe even younger, I posted a picture of Ate Vi in my closet when she was still the image model and endorser of LUX. As I close my eyes, I can still vividly remember her long curly hair in and white gown in that print advertisement for the very famous beauty product then. I kiss that picture of Ate Vi everyday and tell her that I love her and that I am her biggest fan, the youngest and most ardent fan maybe at that time.

Guess what, in my nearly two decades as a reporter, news anchor and host of several radio and TV shows, having interviewed almost everyone who is in the news, even if Ate Vi has already made the successful transition to the world of politics, I still have yet to have a one-on-one interview with her.

I am a Vilma-Christopher fan and it was heartwarming to have finally caught the film that started their beautiful and magical on-screen chemistry.

Where is Director Castillo now, then called the KID if I'm not mistaken and at one point referred to as the Messiah of Philippine Cinema?

To think that it was 1975, under Martial Law, the mark of Bagong Lipunan, very visible in the last portion of the movie, through the LTO sticker "Isang bansa, Isang diwa" one of the slogans of the era of former President Ferdinand Marcos, a movie of this topic, sensitive and very controversial was made is something that is very admirable.

You see this kind of Pinoy classic films and you realize, Filipinos don't make films like they used to before.

The 50s to the 70's and yes---a large portion of the 80's still remain the glorious years of Philippine Cinema.

We have the greatest filmmakers in our midst and all we have to do is find our calling again and make movies that move, touch lives, inspire, influence not just lives but changes we so badly need as a nation.

That day will come again, again, believe, for it is our destiny. (end)

Monday, May 11, 2009

IN SEARCH OF A NEW LEADER








Five presidential aspirants faced the nation today via a live telecast of ABS-CBN's ANC Leadership Forum: Countdown to 2010. It's a very timely initiative even though the elections is still a year from now. The exercise provided a glimpse on the aspiring next occupant in that palace by the river.

To date, there are actually 16 presidential aspirants---that is if you count the new names in the list of presidential wannabes, two Manny, Pacquiao the boxer, and Pangilinan, the top business mogul.

One-by-one I will review their responses and at the end of this post, I will play judge and rank their performance based on content, straightforwardness, vision and yes---appeal to the audience. The last part plays a great factor in judging the how the aspirants came across in a live broadcast such as the one aired over ANC.

Oh yes---in a medium like television, it's all about performance and projection and how you connect to the audience or the viewers. It's not a talent show, it's a serious academic and political exercise of getting to know the aspirants for the presidency but then again, in the Philippines, a political exercise could also be one huge entertainment spectacle, ain't that so?

With a 20-year experience in the broadcast industry, having covered local and national elections from 1992, having interviewed and came face to face with all types of candidates, I believe I earn the right to say, when one comes off truthfully on cam, on live television and whether one comes across as a mere product of packaging and PR coaching.

Five came, senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero, senator Richard "Dick" Gordon, Pampanga governor Ed "Among" Panlilio, senator Manuel "Mar" Roxas and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro. For the first part, each was given a 10-minute airtime to answer questions from Tina Monson-Palma and Ricky Carandang.

The youngest of the aspirants, Escudero was grilled first by Tina, TMP to us who had the privilege of working under her as subordinates in the newsroom. TMP was the perfect choice to throw all those questions.

The youngest senator at 39 years old was his usual charming self. Speaking in Filipino, Escudero gave one-sentence, one thought answers that usually work in most of his interviews with media. Short, precise, what we refer to as soundbyte-perfect.

But Escudero's charm did not seemed to work wonders on TMP in a sense that she did not simply let him get away with his response to the question on what is his greatest weakness, vis-a-vis his greatest strength. His youth, according to Escudero is his greatest strength and also his greatest weakness as a possible candidate for president not according to him though, but according to his critics he stressed.

But TMP was persisted, "Leave what your critics say---what do you think is your greatest weakness?" In other words, what does Escudero think of Escudero?

It was easy to see, as television is a a very transparent medium especially if the broadcast is aired live, that Escudero did not expect that follow-up question. The "soundbyte-perfect" answers would have placed a period on that issue and TMP would have moved quickly to the next question, but TMP knew she needed to pursue the point and the answer Escudero gave was something that is unexpected, nice one really, but to me, not the right and truthful answer. I am not saying Escudero lied. What I am saying is that, I believe the suddenness of the follow-up question caught him off-guard and led him to answer the question this way, in Filipino he said, "Ang aking kahinaan ay hindi ako ipinanganak na mayaman." ("My weakness is that I was not born rich.")

This specific reason was the reason why I believe Escudero was a bit taken aback by that follow up question from TMP.

Maybe what Escudero wanted to say was that all his life, he lived a modest life, not wanting anything that is beyond the basic necessities and even the basics of human enjoyment and fulfillment. He could have lived extravagantly, but he chose not to. Maybe that's what he meant.

In saying that he's not born rich, Escudero maybe unwittingly channeling the message that he does not have a full appreciation of how poor really many Filipinos are.

Then it stuck me, maybe all he wanted to say was that, he was not born as rich and as affluent as the other presidential aspirants are. In Filipino he could have said, "Ang aking kahinaaan ay hindi ako ipinanganak na KASING-YAMAN ng ibang nais na maglingkod sa bansa bilang pangulo." ("My weakness is that I was not born as rich and as affluent as the other presidential aspirants.")

If he had said that, it would have put more weight on his argument that he doesn't need P2-3 Billion pesos to fund his campaign on 2010, if and when he pursues the take on the presidency. Citing what the law says, each candidate he explained is only allowed to spend P10-pesos per voter or roughly P400-million nationwide. The maximum election expenses, Escudero estimated should not exceed the amount of P600-million pesos.

In Filipino he said, "Ang sinumang nagsasabing kailangan nila ng P2-3 bilyung piso para tumakbong pangulo ay malinaw na may intensiyong lumabag sa batas." ("Anyone who says that he needs P2-3 billion pesos to run for the presidency clearly has all the intentions of violating the law.")

But while Escudero may have faltered a bit on this point, from my point of view, as it was channeled to my consciousness as a journalist he managed to redeem that minor lapse and proved the fact that youth is really his greatest strength when he answered, "Ang kabataan ngayon ay gusto nang angkinin ang pamahalaan", ("The youth of today wanted to seize government now.")--in reference to the many ills and corruption issues identified with the present administration.

The greatest display of his evident edge, his youth, among the four other aspirants present in the forum held in Ateneo de Manila was when his response to the question on what was the last movie he watched. His response:"Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo" of Juday and Ryan was the last movie he watched, in DVD, (not pirated he stressed for effect) in the comfort of his home.

That simple answer represented the generation representing the biggest number in the present electorate in the 2010 elections. Escudero has exposed himself as an ordinary movie fan just like anybody else, a movie fan who may just be the next president of the Republic. What could be more "masa" than that?

Escudero's most memorable quote during the forum: "Hiling ko ang mas malawak na partisipasyon ng kabataan. Sabihin natin na inaangkin na natin ang pamahalaan, inaangkin na natin ang halalang ito." ("I appeal for the youth sector to make their presence felt in the coming elections. Let us claim the government, let us claim this election.")

Now we review Gordon's performance in the Ateneo Forum.

Gordon was his usual self. Confident, vibrant, engaging, inspiring. His responses to the questions always lead to things that inspire, that encourage and invoke change, "not of men but in men".

For Gordon, "nothing is impossible". For Gordon, "Filipinos should find their future in the Philippines and not in foreign country".

For Gordon, this could be a nation of people who "Aim High", a race who believes "Bawal ang Tamad" and "Bawal ang Tanga".

For Gordon, solving the countries problems is all about "changing mindsets and changing values."

Big words. And the truth is, he lives by these words. You have to know the man personally to be able to say, he lived by everything that he said in the Leadership Forum. I can say that for I have known the man since I was 11 years old, back in 1981 when he first became mayor of Olongapo City where I grew up.

Oh yes, you can say that what I just said is a biased statement but actually I am just stating a fact. The man really walk the talk. He was a dreamer then and he remains a dreamer now and dreamers are passionate and are naturally driven to higher purpose in life.

But the way I see it, Gordon's big talk may also be his greatest Achilles.

The big talk needs another ingredient to get all his points across. The specifics, the hows, the actual to do list.

Generally, Filipinos nowadays are awed by anything that points to changing visions and changing mindsets. They wanted all these to happen, believe you me. Who doesn't want to be inspired and to be swayed by a leader to aspire the highest and to dream the greatest?

But the sad reality of life of millions of ordinary Filipinos is that they live in poverty...extreme poverty. Social injustice and lack of opportunities are all around them. Perhaps what they need to hear first is how an aspiring president like Gordon intends to help them by articulating concrete moves and specific targets if and when he gets elected as president.

To be inspired to change hearts and minds is one thing, but to be informed as to how to get there is another bigger step that needs to be expressed and articulated by Gordon next time he faces the public to speak about his plan of governance.

The most memorable point of Gordon's airtime on the ANC forum was when he said, his father, the late James Gordon, an American by birth but elected to be a Filipino, is his greatest hero. Gordon is always soft and sentimental when it comes to anything about his father who was assassinated while in position as mayor of Olongapo. With tears in his eyes, about to fall, Gordon said, "You have to live your heroism. I hold my father in the highest respect."

Panlilio's message was simple. He doesn't want to be president he said, but "if the people want me to run, they I will run."

The same thing happened to him in Pampanga he said. There was no plan to run for governor, then the clamor came, and so he did run and won.

There was one question though that I expected Panlilio to say "yes, I would". But instead of a yes or a no, he did give an ambivalent answer. The question was: "Will you pursue investigation of anomalies and corruption allegedly committed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the first Gentleman, Atty. Mike Arroyo and her cabinet, when you become her successor?

I was sure I would hear a resounding "Yes" from Panlilio but I was wrong. Panlilio had a very long response to that question, explaining that evidence is primordial in pursuing any case against the outgoing president and her cabinet. "We should be a country of law. We should prosecute based on evidence," Panlilio said. Nothing wrong with that response, except, I was expecting, he would be the first to respond he will pursue the investigation, for the sake of the truth and for the sake of justice.

I was wrong in expecting I would be right in expecting Panlilio would give a positive response.I forgot, he's a Cabalen. I forgot he's a priest, a priest and a politician at the same time, a union that in the first place should not have happened in the first place. But what can I say--he was elected.

There's also irony in the way he seized up Pacquiao's political ambition. "Gusto siya ng tao bilang boksingero, bilang pulitiko, ayaw sa kanya," ("The people wanted him as a boxer, but not as a politician"), he said in response to the question, "Will you form a coalition with Manny Pacquiao's political party?" A priest can be a politician and a boxer cannot?

If you ask me, while there seems to be an avalanche of opposition on Pacquiao's political ambitions, I say, let us not stop the man from fulfilling another personal goal. Pacquiao has proven his decisiveness and determination to attain excellence in his chosen craft. From the boxing ring to the political arena, why not for the Pacman? Well, this is not about Pacman, although it was clear that his inclusion in the questionnaire only proves that Pacman is not a potent force in Philippine politics.

Now, next, we examine Teodoro's answers during the ANC Leadership Forum.

Now Teodoro took a gamble when he practically defended the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He said, "History will be the final judge" as far as the Arroyo-Administration is concerned.

It was clear that Teodoro, in his presidential bid for 2010 is aspiring for the support and machinery of the present administration. A very risky answer considering the fact that the president, now just a year shy on the end of her term, remains very unpopular as shown by the results of various survey groups.

Teodoro made it clear he doesn't need the backing of Danding Cojuangco's NPC but clearly, he cannot say the same as far as the present administration is concerned. This could backfire, but then again, maybe not. The success of a presidential candidate is largely dependent on the resources and pool of machinery available and right now, Teodoro has that.

Let us not forget however, the fact that the resources and machinery we point here are actually out of the people's fund. One glaring example is the on-going, now showing Disaster Preparedness Advertisement Teodoro headlines, a production funded by government.

Now, will you really bite the hand of the person who allows you to enjoy this kind of advantage?

Teodoro gave a truthful answer when he said, "Hindi ko ikinahihiya ang bahay na sinisilungan ko. Naniniwala ako sa bahay na sinisilungan ko."

He was also truthful when he said he would pursue charter change via constitutional convention (CON-CON) and not through Consitituent Assembly (CON-ASS). "Ayaw yan ng taongbayan," he acknowledged.

If and when he becomes president, he offers a change in the system of government which he believes would be acceptable to the majority of the Filipino people: PRESIDENTIAL UNICAM.

"Ang Filipino, hindi talaga papayag na ang presidente, hindi nila halal," Teodoro said.

The other thing that I noticed about the Defense Secretary during the forum was his aura, a face that seems to smile all the time, a face that conveys positivity, answering the most difficult and intriguing questions with an almost permanent smile on his face.

I find it charming and at the same time disturbing. Charming the first few minutes, but disturbing and almost annoying in the next minutes that followed. It was like watching a poker face reversed. It's very clear that Teodoro is following an image-consultant or a PR consultant, since his projection on air as I saw it, comes off as something that was rehearsed and acquired.

Whoever is handling his public-image should learn from the very successful campaign of US president Barrack Obama who went through the campaign exposing very real human emotions, reacting differently to every situation, every question, smiling, frowning, angry sometimes, and sometimes, even made fun of himself, at his own expense just to prove and relay a message across.

The point is, Teodoro must understand that he cannot project charm in public all the time. But then again, I would not be surprised if someone points to me that, that Teodoro's natural aura, charming and full of positivity.

Now, what about Roxas?

I like the symbolism used by Roxas in describing the present leadership in the country, like a house built on sand and not on the rock. In Filipino Roxas said, "Ang plataporma ng pamahalaan ngayon ay nakatayo sa buhangin na dapat ay sa bato. Hindi matibay na bato ang moralidad at katarungan sa bansa" ("The government's platform sits on sand and not on solid rock. The morality and justice in the country is not founded on solid rock").

The senator hit it bulls eye when he said, many of the countries problems are internal and nature and that the off-shore economic and geo-political problems only magnify the ones we have from within, as one country, as one nation, as one people.

The question about his advertisement, the "PADYAK-LALABAN TAYO" campaign was a given considering that nowadays, you won't miss it, not a single day without it, not once, not twice, but many times. The money spent on ad placement for precious airtime spots gives us an idea that this man, just like the other presidential wanna be, the LUMUWA ang BUWA ad, is prepared to spend their millions just to remain in the public's consciousness and to maintain exposure, early and long enough until the very day of the 2010-presidential elections.

To be president really could cost one aspirants billions of pesos to dispose.

It's a good thing that the Filipino people are aware of the inherent status in society of the Roxas-Araneta clan.

From Mr. Palengke, Roxas took his image and political pitch to the streets, choosing the padyak boys, the trisikad drivers as representatives of the sector he wanted to help if and when he becomes president. Of course, that's not mentioned in the ad itself but we all know, it's all about the presidency. I am not comfortable though with the choice of padyak as representatives of the poorest of the poor and in reacting to the question about his advocacy ad, Roxas failed to expound on why he chose the padyak boys as his symbol for those in dire poverty. The choice of padyak boys to represent those in poverty could also be interpreted as a misguided take on how to help the poorest of the poor.

If you ask me---Korina Sanchez' TSINELAS CAMPAIGN in her program Rated K on ABS-CBN is more representative and more responsive in portraying how poor many Filipinos are in this day and age. I will never forget one episode when one girl uses a slipper that was already so old and over-used that it only covers half of her feet! She cried and gave real emotions of gratitude when she finally received that gift, a new set of ordinary slippers from Korina. There was magic in that episode, one for the ratings, but undeniably, one that truly touch the issue, solve the problem and through a simple act, provide hope.

Maybe in their private moments together, Mar should listen more to Ate Koring's ideas for they truly work magic on air and in the ratings game.

Now that Korina's name is mentioned, no doubt that it was the highlight and most memorable answer that came from Roxas. True he said, he will pursue investigations on PGMA, her husband and members of her cabinet, if and when he becomes the next occupant in Malacanang. True he said, he believes, the senate committee of the whole should pursue investigating fellow senator Manny Villar, also a clear aspirant to the presidency.

But the one answer that was retained in the public's mind and hearts was that answer he gave to the comment, "Ginagamit mo lang daw si Korina..." ("They say you;re just using Korina...")

To this he responded, "Laking tuwa ko na tinanggap ni Korina ang aking proposal na kami ay ikinasal. Mahal ko si Korina, 5 taon na kaming magkasama, may pangarap kami sa isa't isa. Sa mga nagsasabing ginagamit ko lang si Korina---INGGIT LANG SILA!" ("I was so happy when Korina accepted my proposal for her to marry me. I love Korina. We've been together for 5 years now, we have dreams for each other. To those who say, I am just using Korina, they are only envious!")

The "kilig" reaction from the audience elicited by that remark alone proved that it's a major issue about Mar that is part and parcel of how the public sees him.

A personal note on this one, you cannot fake a relationship with the Korina Sanchez, either you're an enemy or you're a friend. Either you're in or out. How much more when it comes to the affairs of her heart?

Now---my verdict based on the criteria I mentioned above, on that Leadership Forum alone and not necessarily my personal choice---let's make that clear here: ROXAS, GORDON, ESCUDERO, TEODORO AND PANLILIO---Roxas on top because of the audience impact of his response on his love life and soon to be marriage to one of the most popular broadcasters in the Philippines.

If only the support for their love story translates into actual votes by May of 2010---I say, Roxas, with Korina on his side is just a few steps shy of possibly winning the presidency. (end)

Bakit bayani natin si Pacman ngayon...



Isang simpleng kataga na lamang ba ngayon ang bayani? Ganun na lamang ba ito kadaling ikabit sa isang personalidad? Para ba sa lahat ito o para sa tunay na natatangi ang naging ambag sa mga pahina ng kasaysayan ng bansa?

Ang totoo, ang pagkabit ng bansag na bayani lalo na ngayon ay puwede namang ikabit kahit kanino.

Bayani ang isang taga-walis ng lansangan na nagtitiis sa init ng araw, pagod at usok ng mga sasakyan at iba pang uri ng polusyon, magampanan lamang ang kanyang tungkulin, makatiyak lamang ng kakarampot na sahod na pantawid na ng gutom ng mga mahal sa buhay na umaasa sa kanya.

Bayani ang mga gurong matapat na naglilinang ng karunungan sa kabila ng sariling pasanin ng pakikipaglaban sa pagtanggap ng dapat sana'y benepisyong nararapat lamang para sa kanila.

Bayani ang mga ama at ina ng tahanan na iniwan ang kani-kanilang pamilya, anak, magulang, kapatid, para magtrabaho sa ibang bansa, lahat ng hirap kayang tiisin, mabigyan lamang ng magandang kinabukasan ang kanilang pamilya.

Bayani rin ang mga anak na iniwan ng mga magulang na ito, lalo pa ang mga nagbibigay pahalaga sa edukasyon kanilang naaabot sa pamamagitan ng pagsisikhay ng kanilang mga magulang.

Bayani ang kawani ng pamahalaan na nananatiling tapat sa kanyang paglilingkod sa bayan.

Bayani ding maituturing sa isang banda ang ilan sa itinuturing na kaaway ng pamahalaan sa kanilang pagtatangkang magkaroon ng pagbabago at magkaroon ng pantay na karapatan at hustisya. Di ba nga't rebelde rin ang turing kina Rizal at Bonifacio bago sila itinanghal na bayani ng Unang Rebolusyon sa Pilipinas?

Ang punto dito ay---oo, kung hihimayin, ordinaryong salita na lamang ang bayani at sa kanya-kanyang pakikibaka sa buhay, kahit sino ay puwedeng maituring na bayani.

Subalit, iba ang pagiging bayani sa ating panahon ngayon ng isang tulad ni Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao.

Ang pagkabayani ni Pacquiao ay dumating sa panahong kailangang-kailangan ng sambayanang Filipino ng isang simbolo at kakatawan ng pag-asa at ng pangakong kaya nilang baguhin ang takbo ng kanilang buhay, mula sa kahirapan sa kaunlaran, mula sa kawalan tungo sa kayamanan, mula sa panlilibak papunta sa pagkilala---kung lubos siyang maniniwala sa kanyang kakayanan at maniniwala sa kapangyarihan ng paniwala sa Maykapal.

Sa isang bansa na malakas ang sampalataya sa magagawa ng Maykapal, kakaibang kababaan ng loob ang patuloy na nakikita kay Pacman na siyang dahilan kung bakit lalo siyang nagiging popular sa kanyang mga kababayan.

Nang tanungin nga siya mismo ng pangulo sa one-on-one nila sa Malakanyang, may pagbibirong sinabi ni Pacman na hindi kinaya ni Ricky Hatton ang kaliwa---ang kaliwa ng sambayanang Filipino. Na ang ibig ipahiwatig, ang kanyang bawat suntok sabay ng kanyang bawat tagumpay ay nananatiling alay at katumbas din ng tagumpay ng kanyang kapwa Filipino. Sabi pa niya, "nanatili akong gutom sa tagumpay dahil sa alam ko na milyun-milyon Filipino ang umaasa sa aking tagumpay."

Mga katagang walang dudang mula sa isang kampeyon. Pero higit sa isang kampeyon, mga pahayag ito ng isang Filipinong walang dudang kumatawan sa kabayanihang matagal nang nais na mamamalas ng mga Filipino.

Yung bayaning lumalaban. Yung bayaning handang lumusong sa panganib. Yung bayaning sa gitna ng tagumpay, marunong yumuko, magpasalamat at kilalaning ang lakas na taglay niya ay pisikal lamang, na ang tunay na lakas ay mula sa kapangyarihang pinagmulan ng lahat.

Oo---bayani natin ngayon si Pacman at sa mahaba pang panahon kahit pa hindi na siya kampeyon sapagkat naipakita niya sa kapwa niya Filipino ang mga posibilidad na puwedeng mangyari sa isang taong mula sa kanilang hanay.

Isang araw---titigil din ang tagumpay sa parisukat na lona para kay Pacman. Hindi habangbuhay ang tagumpay at mismong siya rin ang kumikilala nito sa kanyang mga nakaraang pahayag, pagpapatunay din na ang kampeyon at ang bayani natin ngayon ay may angking katalinuhan na kumikilala sa mga bagay na darating at darating. Na kung may tagumpay, may pagkabigo.

Pero dahil sa nanggaling siya sa kabiguan muna bago ang tagumpay, alam nating dumating man iyon sa kanyang buhay, babangon at babangon si Pacquiao--tulad ng isang bayani sa gitna ng labanan, masugatan man, lalaban at lalaban pa rin maipamalas lamang ang kagitingan ng lahing kanyang paulit-ulit na ibinabandila sa buong mundo.

Filipino, Filipino---yan ang lahi niya. Lahing kayumnanggi, lahing hindi mawawalan ng bayani sa mga bahagi ng kasaysayang kailangang-kailangan ng tulad nila. (wakas)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

We'll always fight for press freedom




The anti-wiretapping case against broadcaster Che-Che Lazaro is nothing but pure and outright harassment. A very blunt act of intimidation. It's not hard to figure out the underlying message in the filing of the libel case: Let this be an example. If we could do it to a Che-Che Lazaro, the Che-Che Lazaro, icon of Philippine media, then we could also do it to anyone of you.

Sad to say, this is really the state of media in the Philippines. While we continue and strive to remain free, invoking our constitutional right to freedom of the press, there is this constant and ever present danger post to anyone who dared question, to anyone who dared to inquire and to anyone who dared to expose.

One thing has to be made clear here. Media will always be adversarial. It's the core role of media. This is the essence of the job. While there are what maybe referred to as Developmental Media, there is and will always be the adversarial media, a sector that questions, investigates, exposes and to a larger extent, influence and inspire political and social changes.

To a certain degree, taking the case now confronted by Che-Che, facing not the usual libel case but a wiretapping case could be the safest form of intimidation. Of course all acts of intimidation are not OK, what I am trying to say is, at least if the judge is not influenced and coerced into deciding in conformity of the intimidation attached to the filing of the case itself, one can still be assured of a legal battle.

The other forms of intimidation we know in the Philippines, especially as far as media is concerned, are in fact more violent---say as violent as death itself.

In many cases, if you are not a big name or if you are not someone who is considered an icon in the industry, say, a reporter in a small provincial radio station or a community newspaper, the odds are, if you dared confront someone powerful and influential, you'll end up dead.

The Philippines remains one of the most dangerous countries for journalist to practice their profession.

The added danger lies in the reality that in a country like the Philippines with blatant corruption issues at all levels of government, media plays a role that is beyond the mere practice of their profession. Media has evolved as the link and the credible ally of the public in the delivery of basis services, an original function of government, and the execution of justice, which is again a function of government.

Public trust now rests in the media and not to those who were elected into public office.

The story in question was about a valid complaint of unpaid pension of public school teachers by the Government Service Insurance Service or GSIS. Instead of acting into the complaint of their very own members, the very people that allows those posted at GSIS to enjoy huge salaries and allowances, GSIS evaded the issue by not granting on-camera interview to the Probe Team, accusing it outright of being biased against them.

It is the duty of GSIS Vice President for Public Relations and Communications Ella Valencerina to answers the questions of anyone, Probe Productions and any journalist who inquired on the matter. This is what she is being paid for. Perhaps Ms. Valencerina needs to be reminded that public relations is not just about a good write up or a positive press release but also about the ills and malfunctions in the agency she represents. This is what public service should be. She cannot chose the types of stories and inquiries to answer. The truth is, she doesn't have a choice but to answer. But of course, she insisted she had a choice and interpreted everything as an assault to her right as a private individual. Duh!!

But you know what, other public relations officers in other agencies of government knew that part of their function is to address both the good and the bad news. Ms. Valencerina should perhaps listen to how Press Secretary Cerge Remonde handles bad news, answering it in a style uniquely his own, that at the end of the interview, while the issue is not really addressed, you still want to congratulate the man for having the will-power to confront the issue against the administration he serves.

Like a true and tested warrior and defender of truth, Che-Che Lazaro will weather this storm. Her colleagues are behind her not because we protect our own. We are behind Che-Che because we knew she did her job and responded to the highest call of public service and public trust.

Go on, intimidate media. But know this: Many will continue battling the media's right for freedom of the press. (end)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

PDEA's eye on Zambales





















Power and influence protects this drug trafficker. But fortunately, as should be, the long arm of the law caught up with him and that day came last Friday when agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) raided his house after a successful test-buy operation.

Perhaps this man thought he had it all under control because of the position he held in the community, the Muslim community that is, in the province of Zambales.

Arrested was Ali Omar also known by the alias “Philip”, 37 years old and a resident of # G-1053, Block 1, Lot 22 of St. Joseph Homesville in Sitio Balili, Barangay Palanginan in Iba, Zambales.

Omar is not just an ordinary resident of Iba, not an ordinary Maranao who resettled in the province of Zambales. He in fact represents thousands of Muslims spread in various towns in the entire province in his capacity as the president of the Muslim Federation of Zambales, a position he held in the last 9 years.

By his own admission in an interview with this reporter at the PDEA headquarters in Quezon City Saturday, Omar said he was instrumental in the victory of many local politicians in Zambales. “Kapag sinuportahan po namin, siguradong manalo man ang kandidato, “ Omar said.

On the day he was arrested though, not one politician intervened in his behalf.

This is not a surprising discovery after all. In most cases, especially in the Philippines, the illegal drug trade proliferates because of strong backing and protection by organized groups, more often that not, connected one way or the other to the government. In this case, an influential group of Muslim communities with an estimated population of 12,000 in this province, pinpointed by PDEA as one of the biggest consumers of shabu in the country.

Did he name politicians as his protectors? Nope he did not. But mentioned names of those he helped win in previous elections.

Recovered during the PDEA raid, witnessed by barangay officials, State prosecutor Olivia V. Non and one occupant of the house was one sealed big transparent plastic bag containing crystalline substance later tested to be shabu and weighing approximately one kilogram, (1) one sachet of brownish powdery substance, assorted drug paraphernalia, one ISUZU Sportivo with plate number ZTE-913, cash amounting to forty-three thousand and six hundred pesos (P 43, 600.00.00), (1) one caliber .22 rifle and assorted ammunition, five units of cellular phones, one Digital camera, one MP4, three pieces of wallets with pictures and identification cards.

Please note the conscious effort here of PDEA to include the state prosecutor in the inventory of all evidence gathered and all suspects arrested so as to avoid any clash again between PDEA operatives and prosecutors from the Department of Justice.

We all saw how ugly it was when they came face to face in a congressional inquiry on the very controversial case of the Alabang Boys.

Also recovered from Omar’s vehicle was one loaded caliber .45 Taurus semi-automatic pistol which Omar admitted to own, a necessity he said since he claimed to be an action agent of the military.

The president of the Muslim Federation of Zambales was arrested Friday for drug trafficking and maintenance of a shabu-drug den in the capital town of Iba, providing clear leads as to the extent of network of protection that illegal syndicates enjoy in the said province. The arrest of Omar also validates an intelligence information gathered by the agency that the province of Zambales now ranks among the top consumers of illegal drugs, specifically methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, this according to Major Ferdinand Marcelino, head of the PDEA Special Enforcement Service (SES) that lead the operation along with other agents from PDEA’s Complaint and Reaction Unit (CRU) headed by Major Valentino Lopez.

The raid on Omar’s house was done with a search warrant issued by Executive Judge Cielito N. Mindaro-Grulla of the National Capital Judicial Region, RTC Branch 29.

Omar is identified as the most notorious drug trafficker in the town of Iba but at the PDEA headquarters, Omar volunteered said, he is not the most notorious, just one of the manu he says and provided PDEA with more names of others engage in the illegal drugs trade. The information he provided PDEA revealed that his operation actually extended in many parts of Zambales, specifically the town of Subic.

Omar’s illegal drugs operation was discovered following the raids on three drug dens in Barangay Calapacuan in Subic, Zambales last March 13 where three local drug traffickers were arrested. “Omar’s name came up following up that Calapacuan raid and from thenon, we conducted surveillance operations on his illegal drug dealings,” Marcelino said.

During surveillance operation by PDEA agents, several men, coming in groups were seen coming in and out of Omar’s residence with high powered firearms. “We have strong evidence to support the information that he is also involved in gun running, ” said Marcelino adding that they were expecting resistance on the part of Omar’s group that’s why they came in full force, fully armed.

At the surveillance stage before the actual operation that lead to Omar’s arrest, agents of PDEA also found out that Omar used vehicles with non-existent records at the Land Transportation Office or LTO.

Marcelino explained that the agency is now focusing their attention on Zambales because they found a link between the drug trafficking syndicates there and the drug trafficking syndicates in Lanao provinces particularly Marawi City.

“The arrest of Omar is significant in a sense that this validates the informal operational and organizational link the agency has been following up since the discovery in May last year of more than 740 kilograms of shabu from mainland China,” said Marcelino.

The said shipment of shabu, the biggest so far in years was valued at Five Billion Five Hundred Forty Two Million Three Hundred Sixty Two Thousand, a shipment identified with the illegal drug syndicates that included Chinese Businessman Anton Ang, a former locator and investor at the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and a certain Robert Lee.

The name to watch here according to PDEA is Robert Lee whose name was also mentioned by their assets in Marawi as the source of the illegal drugs shipped from the Subic Freeport to the Central Mindanao provinces.Marcelino said PDEA assets revealed that Marawi and other Lanao provinces were among the recipients of the biggest shabu-bust in May of 2008.

Omar admitted to PDEA agents, specifically during an interrogation recorded on video, that he met his shabu supplier in Marawi City, whose name he provided to PDEA and identifies him as the link to the “real big guys”. The fellow Maranao he met in Marawi, his source in the shabu-trade also operates in Metro Manila and is based in Alabang.

I cannot help but point to the obvious detail here. The PDEA officer who was introduced to the public as the officer who dared touched one posh subdivision and put into jail the so called Alabang Boys, may find himself in familiar territory again---Alabang because of the revelations made by Omar and witnessed and heard by this reporter.

“This one is talking and we can confidently say that we are climbing up the ladder of this network. Those who are really higher and the highest in the ladder and we have reasons to believe that the syndicates in Zambales and those in Marawi are connected to the real deal, the financiers and operators of shipment of shabu connected to the group of Anton Ang,” Marcelino said.

Ang is the subject of manhunt, a priority order of the president, but has not been arrested. PDEA’s last information on Ang was he is now in mainland China. When will they get him?

In a previous interview with PDEA Director Dionisio Santiago he told me, “Soon, very soon, we will get Anton Ang”.(end)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

PACMAN insists, he's healthy, not suffering from any flu...


Who's afraid of the A-H1-N-1 influenza virus? Apparently a lot of people and for a valid reason but not the man who once again made all Filipinos stand tall and proud around the world.

As of this morning, the man who reigns king in the boxing ring confirmed to DZBB broadcaster Mike Enriquez in a phone interview from Los Angeles, California that his flight back to the country will push through. In fact as they spoke on the phone, Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao was doing some last minute packing for hand carried luggage. Pacquiao also said that there were reports that reached him that he is not welcome to come home at this point because of the alert on the A-H1-N1 influenza virus also referred to as the swine flu from Mexico.

"I was told I am not allowed to go home yet but I will go home. My team will go home. What I know is that only those whose health is not well, those suffering from flu or related symptoms that should be placed in quarantine, but if you are healthy and not suffering from any fever or flu, you're OK to go home, " Pacquiao said in Filipino. The interview was briefed as Pacquiao had to really rush to the airport, a signal that the world's champ and the Filipino's "Pambansang Kamao" is really determined to board that flight that will take him back to his country.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque advised Team Pacquiao to stay in Los Angeles and postpone his homecoming as part of the preventive measures against the swine flu in the United States and Mexico. The advise was in fact, just a suggestion from the health secretary because of 10 cases of individuals in the Philippines now under medical observation for the deadly A-H1-N1 influenza virus. Many of those placed under medical observations are foreigners and came from trips abroad specifically from the United States and Great Britain.

Duque's suggestion also implied that the Grand Welcome for the People's Champ set on Friday will not push through. Many reacted of course. Why subject the people's champ to that restriction when millions of adoring fans here in the Philippines are awaiting his homecoming after his very recent victory over British boxer Ricky Hatton?

"The motorcade will push through", insists Environment Secretary Lito Atienza, one of the organizers of Team Pacman's whole day motorcade in Metro Manila.

I will have to agree with Atienza this time. Millions are waiting and it will not look good in the eyes of the world that in his very own country, the Pacman and his team appeared to be not welcome because of fear of the swine flu epidemic. Right after his defeat, Hatton went home to Manchester in London and was not subjected to any medical restriction or quarantine because of a very clear understanding on how the dreaded virus spreads.

While DOH has clear good intentions, it also reflects the limited understanding and appreciation of the swine flu epidemic that has caused the death of more than a thousand people in a number of countries in just a short period of time. The virus mimics the symptoms of the ordinary flu according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the preventive measures advised by world health experts are also ordinary measures, known to many.

But Pacquiao is right, for one to be quarantined, the individual has to have the symptoms first.

He doesn't have any---why quarantine him and his team? A case of over-acting, sorry to say.

Millions are awaiting Pacman's return and his decision to go home as scheduled erases the disappointment felt many after DOH's suggestion was reported yesterday.

It's a sad commentary that the man who brought honors to the country will be coming home faced with a number of issues and not just a plain and fitting red carpet welcome and victory parade for the honor he once again accorded to the Filipino flag through the world of professional boxing.

Aside from the swine flu scare, the Pacman is also faced with criticisms on his move to organize and register to the Commission on Elections his own People's Champ Party, signaling his crystal clear intention of fielding himself as a candidate in the 2010 Local Elections in Saranggani province.

There are also criticisms about his presence in the world of entertainment as an actor and as a TV/host. And we also know the other criticism against him about that supposed "affair" with a very voluptuous actress, an affair that has been denied over and over again, but one that has remained in the public consciousness.

Please, let's give Pacquiao a break and give him a fitting welcome.

The hugs and kisses he gets from his fans may in fact give Manny the ordinary or even the dreaded swine flu. But is he afraid? No! Why should we if the man's knows he's in top shape, and as Atienza puts it, "Manny is very healthy, healthier that most of us and probably, the healthiest Filipino alive today."

Manny, just go home. Millions await you. Do not disappoint them. (end)

Monday, May 4, 2009

"Ang mamatay nang dahil sa iyo..."


First and foremost, let me make it clear. I am part of that generation of Martin Nievera fans. I am a huge fan and will always remain one of his biggest fans.

But I must say, while I am a huge fan, there was something about the way he sang the Philippine National Anthem during the Pacquiao-Hatton bout that did not sound right. More than not sounding right, it did not feel right.

Yes, there was something wanting in the rendition that has something to do with emotions and feelings. Martin sang it well. I was not pointing to that. A song is about interpretation and it was his interpretation and he did it well.

But it's not about singing it well or singing it bad, it's about something else. I wanted to know. And so, in the midst of the Pacman fever over his victory over Hatton, I posted a question in my Facebook Account, a simple question that elicited the most number of responses from my FB friends. The question: What can you say about Martin Nievera's rendition of the Philippine National Anthem in lieu of the Pacquiao-Hatton bout?

These are some of the responses of my FB friends:

Atty. Ted Te: "RA 8491, the 1998 Flag and Heraldic Code, sec. 37 provides that the national anthem shall be sung or played in accordance with the arrangement of Julian Felipe and that it's not to be sung for entertainment. I think it should be 2/4, so it's like a march or something. I think it was in poor taste to have Martin Nievera who can barely speak the language, sing the national anthem. But I guess they wanted a Vegas athmosphere to it so they got a showman to do it."

Grandier Bella: "I was more attracted to his clothes."

Judy Che Sabello: "As I said he is only good in Be My Lady song. Bayang and Kuh could sing that in our right versions not in a burgus way."

Shy Valdez: "In my opinion, Martin sang fairly well. Yun lang alam ko may igaganda pa sana. Also medyo na-off ako nung biglang tumaas. From mababa to biglang taas kasi. Wala yung pa build up."

Roger Pe: "Off-synch pa yata. I would prefer an unknown public grade school teacher from Gen. Santos or Saranggani to have sung it."

Daphne Osena-Paez: "Bad. he should have stuck to a traditional version and no instrumental accompaniment. And his facial expressions were distracting."

Jake Maderazo: "It was great."

Ares Penales-Gutierrez: "Yun ang ayaw ko sa tuwing may laban si Pacquiao.Di kinakanta nang maayos ang Pambansang Awit at akala ng mga singer, Cute sila."

Randy Velasco: " Sa susunod si Manny na lang ang kakanta. Special request. That would be cool."

Karen Santiago: "Dapat si Leah Salonga na lang ulit."

Benji Beljica: "Ha-ha! what a show."

Benjie Escocal: "Sana si Ara Mina na lang kumanta next time."

Norman Sison: "I appreciate how strong we feel about our national anthem. I trust that the feeling is also translated into everyday deeds such as doing the right thing not only when it is convenient."

There are more comments but I cannot put them all here.

But the point is, as my good friend Norman pointed out, the responses attached to that simple question manifest the strong feeling we have for our national anthem. Majority of the responses mentioned that the singing of the national anthem, especially in an international event such as the Pacquiao-Hatton bout in Las Vegas should follow the original, traditional and the common way of singing it. Atty. Te even specified the Republic Act that governs the guidelines on how to sing or play the Philippine National Anthem.

Not content with the responses I got from my FB friends, I called an expert in this field, a real musician, an internationally renowned musical conductor, Professor Ed Manguiat, Choir Director of the UP Singing Ambassadors.

Professor Manguiat said during the interview regarding this topic that the arrangement of the song, the way Martin was made to sing it did not "register his gift as a singer." The professor noted the artistic purpose from the side of Martin's musical arranger. But the one thing that's missing he said on the way it was arranged and performed was the fact that it did not convey "pride and honor" to the flag. In Filipino he said, "Walang giting at pagmamalaki na naipakita. Dapat ang ganda ng boses ng tao o ng umaawit, nagkataon lang. Nasa kanta mismo. Nasa titik. Nasa rendisyon." ("There's no pride and honor conveyed. The good singing voice of the person singing the song should only be incidental. It's the song itself that should register. The words. The rendition.")

After speaking with Manguiat, I finally realized what it was that I thought was missing in the way one of my favorite singers sang the Philippine National Anthem. Walang kilabot. Hindi nakapaninindig balahibo.There was no emotion. I did not feel a single strand of hair in my body reacting emotionally with pride and with honor to the way it was sung. You can see the facial expression of Martin and yet, there was something superficial about it. Perhaps, Ted Te's observation provides us the explanation as to why despite the emotions registered in the facial expression of Martin, there was no emotions of national pride and honor on his rendition.

Maybe--just maybe---he has not fully understood the meaning and more so the history of the song.

To the millions of others around the world who saw it, this did not mean a thing. But for Filipinos, and I trust, majority of the Filipinos share this point, singing the national anthem properly in front of an international audience meant something else that is bigger and far more ideal than hitting the high notes or wearing the right clothes while singing it, or whether a female or a male singer sings it, or whether a famous or a virtual unknown gets to sing it the next time.

The proper rendition rests on the understanding and the appreciation of the words of the song and the history of bravery of the race that fought for its independence.

Imagine Julian Felipe when he was composing this song as our national anthem back in 1898. Imagine the events before the mere act of composing this song for the Declaration of our Independence came.

O.A. na kung O.A. pero yun talaga ang kulang. Ang giting ng pagkakaawit. Wala sa ganda ng boses. Wala sa areglo. Nasa pagkakaunawa sa awitin ang ganda ng rendisyon.

Bayang magiliw, perlas ng silanganan.
Alab ng puso, sa dibdib mo'y buhay.
Lupang hinirang, duyan ka ng magiting
Sa manlulupig, di ka pasisiil.

Sa dagat at bundok, sa simoy at
sa langit mong bughaw,
may dilag ang tula at awit
sa paglayang minamahal.

Ang kislap ng watawat mo'y
tagumpay na nagniningning.
Ang bituin at araw niya
kailan pa may di magdidilim.

Lupa ng araw, ng lualhati't pagsinta,
buhay ay langit sa piling mo.
Aming ligaya na pag may mang-aapi,
ang mamatay ng dahil sa iyo.

In English, this is the tranlation by Camilio Osias and A.L. Lang

Land of the morning
Child of the sun returning
With fervor burning
Thee do our souls adore.

Land dear and holy,
Cradle of noble heroes,
Ne'er shall invaders
Trample thy sacred shores.

Ever within thy skies and through thy clouds
And o'er thy hills and seas;
Do we behold thy radiance, feel the throb
Of glorious liberty.

Thy banner dear to all hearts
Its sun and stars alight,
Oh, never shall its shining fields
Be dimmed by tyrant's might.

Beautiful land of love, O land of light,
In thine embrace 'tis rapture to lie;
But it is glory ever, when thou art wronged
For us, thy sons to suffer and die

Whoever gets to sing it next time Manny goes to battle again, let him or her appreciate the lyrics of the song first before he/she take that ring and sing our national anthem for all the world to see.(end)