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On running for senator

How does one win in a senatorial election where 63 candidates are fighting over 12 seats? The advertising geniuses at the watering holes in Makati insist that name recognition is vital. But the harsh reality may be that money, which is also known as “the root of all evil,” is the foundation of Philippine elections. No money. No votes.

Gang rape

Senate President Tito Sotto deserves the Best Actor Award for his melodramatic declaration that he was for “withdrawing” the Senate version of the 2019 national budget and for using the 2018 reenacted budget because he was “sick and tired” of allegations of massive pork barrel insertions made by members of Congress.

‘Election na naman’

The hot topic at my favorite watering hole in Daly City is the 2019 midterm election in the Philippines, scheduled on May 13. That date is an unlucky one for the superstitious and will certainly be unlucky for most candidates, but lucky for some.

Trying to understand Trump and Duterte loyalists

I came upon an interesting article entitled, “A Complete Psychological Analysis of Trump’ Support,” which attempts to explain the reportedly near-fanatical loyalty to President Donald Trump of his Republican voter base.

America’s Wailing Wall

In Washington DC and wherever in the US federal employees proliferate, there is a lot of weeping and wailing over a wall.

Citizen Mike de Leon

Mike de Leon is a multi-awarded cinematographer, screenplay writer and director in Philippine cinema. Among his first works as a cinematographer was Maynila, Sa Kuko ng Liwanag, directed by Lino Brocka. It was a harsh portrayal of life in the metropolis and the struggle for survival by its masses. Mike’s latest film, as director, was Citizen Jake, an indictment of Philippine politics and the octopus-like tentacles that have strangled the country and the citizenry.

The joys of Christmas and New Year in the Philippines

If you are thinking of retirement and are wondering where to spend the remaining years of your life, try spending Christmas and New Year in the Philippines. That should help you make up your mind.

Chinese Expansionism

Norberto Gonzales, national security adviser during the incumbency of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, has rung alarm bells about a possible attack on the Philippines by China. This was his reaction to the co-exploration agreement signed by President Rodrigo Duterte and President Xi Jinping. Gonzales warned that the agreement is just another step in China’s covetous designs on the Philippines, characterized by its virtual occupation of Philippine territory in the South China Sea.


It seems that only President Donald Trump has a clear-cut -- or, at least, unfuzzy -- attitude towards the slaughter and reported dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist of Washington Post,allegedly on orders of Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. Kashoggi was last seen alive entering the Saudi embassy in Istanbul and, according to the CIA, was killed, cut up and disposed of on orders, or at least, with the full knowledge, of the crown prince.

Giving up on the impossible dream

“In union there is strength” has become such a cliche that even otherwise sensible people tend to forget its inherent wisdom.

The press — enemy of the people or of politicians?

The spectacle of President Donald Trump berating and insulting members of media at a press conference he held after the US mid-term elections was so reminiscent of a similar emasculation of a journalist by President Rodrigo Duterte several months ago.

Santo Rodrigo or Santo Muerte?

Which should we prefer: a blustering, vulgar President Rodrigo Duterte or a sleazy, barefaced liar like President Donald Trump? The ideal answer is: Neither. But if we have to make a choice, it would be Duterte. As his spokesman, Salvador Panelo, rationalizes, whenever Duterte puts his foot in his mouth, he should not be taken seriously because he’s just joking. Trump, on the other hand, is a vicious demagogue who purposely lies to confuse, mislead and delude the American public, especially his voter base.

If Pinoys could walk on water

There is a caravan of an estimated 4,000 men, women and children from Central America hiking hundreds of miles from their home countries to Mexico and from there to the United States. The “invasion” is one of the main themes of the alarmist rhetoric of President Donald Trump in his desperate effort to drive his voter base to the polls to save the Republican party from decimation in the November 6 mid-term elections.

The Battle of Manila, more accurately told

As a former screenwriter in Philippine cinema from the late Fifties to the early Eighties, the one film I wish I could have written is The Battle of Manila, presented a-la Rashomon, that classic Japanese motion picture about a killing, recounted from different perspectives.

A challenge and an opportunity for political empowerment

Ditas De Los Santos-Yamane is a Filipino-American who is running for mayor of National City in San Diego County. Yamane, who is a licensed real estate broker, is a tireless community worker. Every festival or fair of the Fil-Am community and every civic initiative that the city mounts will likely have her among the workhorses. She has also served as president of the local chamber of commerce and is chair of the city’s planning commission and committee on government affairs of the Pacific Southwest Association of Realtors.

Mindanao could learn from Israel

A trip to the Holy Land had always been a key item in my bucket list (the things I need to see or do before I leave this world). But my wife had serious reservations, perceiving Israel as a country constantly in a state of war and threatened by terrorists.

Political Railroading

We’ve seen how politicians in power get the things they want and to hell with the law or due process. The arrest of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV is what is called in Tagalog, santong paspasan or barasuhan. It’s also called railroading.

On tinkering with the anthem and the flag

Senate President Tito Sotto (he of Eat Bulaga fame) has proposed revising the final lines of the Philippine national anthem. He thinks the original lyrics, written in 1898 by Julian Felipe (“Aming ligaya na pag may mangaapi, ang mamatay nang dahil sa iyo”) is defeatist. Instead he has proposed the lines, “...ang ipaglaban ang kalayaan mo.”

Happiness is a Filipino

With all of the bad news coming out of Manila, like typhoons, runaway inflation and Duterte lawyer Salvador Panelo, I felt a need to inject some happy thoughts into the prevailing atmosphere. So I went through my Happiness File (I have all kinds of files) and found the following gem: Happiness is a Filipino.

Go home and plant kamote

IN grade school in Tacloban, Leyte, what we pupils dreaded most was to be told by the teachers, “Bobo…better go home and plant kamote!

His loyalty to party ended where loyalty to country began

IN DEATH Sen. John McCain was honored by colleagues whom he disagreed with, even fought with and who considered him a disloyal maverick during his long tenure as a politician.

You seldom suffer alone

IF anyone were to tell a foreigner that the Philippines is a poor country and Filipinos can hardly afford three meals a day, he’d never believe it if he were to see the eating and drinking places in Manila. They are all full.

Filipinos on cruise ships

On a visit to Baguio a few months ago, the hotel we stayed had several young people working at the front desk, in the restaurant, and as bell hops. What struck me was the fact that they were all working for free.

The problem with federalism — It’s the politicians, stupid!

IF the structure of the Philippine government is supposed to have been patterned after that of the United States, why wasn’t the federal system of America also applied to the Philippines?

How two presidents handle accusations

Presidents Donald Trump and Rodrigo Duterte have both been accused of criminal behavior, the former for allegedly obstructing justice and colluding with a foreign arch enemy, and the latter for allegedly enriching himself in office. But how each one has handled the accusations provides insights into the way justice is dispensed in the United States and in the Philippines.

Where does loyalty to country begin?

One of President Manuel L. Quezon’s immortal quotables was, “My loyalty to my party ends where my loyalty to my country begins.” Sadly, both in the Philippines and in the United States, these are “famous lost words” — lost in the struggle for political survival.

Are the Philippines and the US DUI?

DUI is a dreaded term among vehicle drivers in the US. It means Driving Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs.

Revisiting Baguio City

Baguio City is one of the genuine tourism treasures of the Philippines. But for those of us who haven’t been to the City of Pines for years (especially those living overseas), the horror stories told about Baguio are enough to discourage any plans to make a trip.

Iglesia ni Duterte

It should now be clear to those who have to deal with him that President Rodrigo Duterte is not inclined to listen to anybody but himself. Even his own daughter, Mayor Sara Duterte of Davao City has advised people not to pay too much attention to what her father says about religion and God.

Would Duterte dare to insult Islam?

President Rodrigo Duterte’s rantings against the Catholic Church and against God Himself, calling the Lord “stupid” for creating imperfect creatures in Adam and Eve and the snake (and, by extension, all mankind) may be forgivable if one considers his own tacit admission that he himself is imperfect, thus his kanto boy logic.

Trump declares war on allies, befriends foes

President Donald Trump has been all praise for North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and has yet to say anything negative about Russia’s Vladimir Putin. On the other hand, Trump was the classic contrarian in the recently concluded G7 Summit in Canada and he has engaged in a war of words with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Trump and Nixon: A case of déjà vu?

On Feb. 21, 1972, President Richard Nixon made a historic trip to China, thus reestablishing ties with the Communist regime -- ties that had been broken since Mao Tse-tung and his forces took over the Chinese mainland in 1949.

Passport racket at the DFA

Remember the classic retort of a mid-level government appointee of then newly installed President Joseph “Erap” Estrada when asked why he was engaging in graft so early in the administration’s tenure?

The Art of the Lie

On CNN, the other day, one of the hosts suggested that a good sequel for President Donald Trump’s book, The Art of the Deal, should be entitled, The Art of the Lie.

Global browning

The wedding of Prince Harry and bi-racial TV star, Meghan Markle, is a milestone in race relations as significant as the assumption of the...

It’s more funds in the Philippines

The Tourism Secretary is gone. Long live the new Tourism Secretary. She is Bernadette Romulo-Puyat. Puyat is as qualified as any that the Philippine...

All Kuwait on the Middle Eastern Front

No, this is not a new movie version of Erich Maria Remarque’s classic, All Quiet on the Western Front. It is an unsolicited suggestion...

Manila’s billboard jungle

My friend Greg Garcia, who is a bona fide advertising guru, has a piece of advice for the ad agencies and advertisers responsible for...

Lighting a candle in Duterte’s darkness

Several years ago, then-Speaker Jose de Venecia spoke before the Filipino community at the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco. Expectedly, he gave a glowing...

How Duterte compares with Trump on dictatorial tendencies

I came upon a very interesting article in Foreign Policy Magazine written by Stephen M. Walt, a professor of international relations at Harvard University,...

On serving and dying for one’s country

Last Saturday, April 7, over two dozen surviving Filipino World War II veterans and the next of kin of those who had passed away...

Eddie Garcia should be a National Artist for Film

To be inducted into the Order of the National Artists of the Philippines (Pambansang Alagad ng Sining ng Pilipinas) is, doubtless, the apex of...

Unwitting Zuckers of Zuckerberg’s Facebook

George Orwell’s omnipresent Big Brother, which he predicted in his book, Nineteen Eighty-Four, written in 1949, may have already become a reality. And we...

Boracay is just the tip of the garbage dump

I’m one of the few who have never been to Boracay, so I won’t know what I will be missing if President Rodrigo R....

If Trump were President of the Philippines

At my favorite watering hole in Daly City, the guys are discussing the travails of President Donald Trump, some with sympathy, most with derision....