Monday, December 1, 2008

Obama's Pragmatic Centrism

PerryScope by Perry Diaz

Branded by the Republicans during the campaign as the most liberal presidential candidate in US history, President-elect Barack Obama is just about to prove that he would be the most pragmatic President since Ronald Reagan. While Reagan was the conservatives' conservative and Obama is the liberals' liberal, they seem to share a common philosophy that pragmatic centrism is the only way to govern all Americans, conservatives and liberals alike.

In the first 30 days since his stunning victory, Obama has demonstrated -- to the chagrin of liberals and to the relief of conservatives -- that he is charting his presidency right in the middle, hardly veering to the left or right. His selection of his cabinet members and inner circle of advisers has dispelled the notion that he is going to change America into a socialistic society… of "spreading the wealth around." Change he will, but in his own terms and right along his vision of what America should be in the 21st century. And that vision is beginning to crystallize itself in recent days.

And in recent days as well, critics -- particularly the Republican National Committee --have come out of the woodwork pronouncing to the whole world that the Obama phenomenon is not going to change the world but will keep the status quo. They're saying that Obama is going to be an extension -- or a remake -- of the Clinton presidency. On the surface, the nay-sayers may be right but if you look at it closely, it's not going to be anything like a Clinton, Bush or Reagan presidency; it's going to be a change-driven Obama presidency. Interestingly, reactions from Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been anywhere from a lukewarm wait-and-see to a warm reception, a positive sign that Congress might give him a easy pass on his legislative agenda.

What Obama is obviously doing is putting together a team of intelligent people with extensive experience and proven track records of getting the job done. There is no substitute to experience, particularly the "right experience." And all of those whom he had chosen so far have the "right experience" which he needed to pursue the change he envisioned for America.

Obama is like a great composer -- a maestro -- who has assembled the best and the brightest musicians of his time to play a musical score arranged to create the symphonic movements that he desire. Indeed, what Maestro Obama has been doing in the selection of his team members is to fulfill the change that he promised the American people. And right now, the American people have high hopes -- and unswerving confidence -- that Obama would make things happen to benefit all Americans.

Indeed, less than a month since his election, Obama has already laid the groundwork for his administration. He has put into motion the development of a stimulus package -- to the tune of $500 billion a year -- to jumpstart the economy and get America moving again. It is expected that this stimulus package -- which would put 2.5 million Americans to work -- would pass Congress and be ready for his signature after taking his oath of office on January 20, 2009; thus, fulfilling his goal to "hit the ground running" on "Day One" of his presidency.

In addition to his cabinet appointments, the most important that Obama has put together so far is his Economic Advisory Board which consists of some of the best minds in the country. In a press conference the day before Thanksgiving, he explained that his choice of experienced, centrist men and women for his inner circle would help him implement the change he promised the American people. He defended his choices by saying that it "would send the wrong message to the nation if he stocked his cabinet with newcomers, especially given the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the deepening economic crisis."

As a wartime president, Obama is going to inherit two wars, one of which he never supported and which he promised to end in 16 months. But faced with the dilemma of winding down the unpopular war in Iraq and pursuing a must-win war in Afghanistan, Obama has adroitly opted to retain Bush's Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates. The worse thing that he could do is to change horses in midstream or worse… upstream.

In a press conference last December 1, 2008, Obama announced the appointment of five high-caliber persons to his national security team. They are Sen. Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, Eric Holder as Attorney General, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano as Secretary of Homeland Security, Robert M. Gates as Secretary of Defense, retired Gen. James L. Jones as National Security Adviser. Clinton is considered centrist while Gates and Jones are apolitical but centrists as well. Jones was a decorated Vietnam veteran and former commander of all NATO forces which included deployment of NATO forces in Afghanistan. Obama said, "The time has come for a new beginning, a new dawn of American leadership to overcome the challenges of the 21st century. We will strengthen our capacity to defeat our enemies and support our friends. We will renew old alliances and forge new and enduring partnerships." If that is the gist of his foreign policy, he couldn't have picked better people for his national security team.

Faced with daunting challenges in the final months of the lame duck presidency of George W. Bush, Obama couldn't afford to just wait in the wings until January 20, 2009. With the apparent leadership "vacuum" in the White House, Obama has to take the bull by the horn and start the process of rebuilding the economy himself. Indeed, his "take charge" initiative while Bush is cocooned somewhere would help decelerate the fast-plunging economy at this crucial time of transition of power.

Indeed, there is a new ballgame in Washington, DC. The head coach is Barack Obama -- an avid basketball player-- and the only play he knows to execute is "offense." It is said in the world of sports that "the best defense is a good offense." The same mantra may be applied to world politics, especially in this time and age.

It's time for someone to change the rules of the game of world politics and Obama has the right vision -- and determination -- to do it. And as he takes center stage in a world fraught with violence and dwindling resources, it behooves the American people to give him their unyielding support. After all, it is the people who would benefit most if Obama succeeds in his mission to bring change to America.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Gloria's 'Undivided' Government

PerryScope by Perry Diaz

Once again, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is in the hot seat. No president in Philippine history -- or perhaps the world -- has experienced the ignominy of impeachment four times. But to Gloria, that is just another occupational hazard. Otherwise, it's business as usual.

As in the first three impeachment petitions, she is expected to survive this fourth and, perhaps, last attempt to remove her before her term ends in 2010. With only six -- including former Speaker Jose de Venecia -- of the 29 opposition congressmen endorsing the impeachment petition filed by De Venecia's son, Jose "Joey" de Venecia III, there is not an iota of chance -- or luck -- that the House of Representatives would impeach Gloria. With her deep pockets and political patronage, there is just no way Congress would impeach her. That is like killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

So, what the hell is Congress trying to do? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what's going to happen next, which is: vindication of Gloria. And once vindicated, she could then boldly make her next move which is to stay in power beyond 2010. And if you look at what's going on right now, the parameters to prolong her kleptocratic reign are pretty much in place. Her political machine is ready to go rolling… and roll over anyone who stands in her way.

The only thing that would stop Gloria is world public opinion which could cause the international financial cartel to react convulsively and tighten -- or stop -- credit to Gloria's government. And without international credit, Gloria's "Enchanted Kingdom" would crumble like a sand castle.

One of the Philippines' biggest creditors is Japan. With Japan officially in recession last week, it will predictably tighten the flow of money to a drip. With China going through financial crisis of its own and the United States already in deep shit, the Philippines' economic outlook is dim. And with the peso plummeting against the US dollar, Gloria's ambitious economic programs -- which is predicated on the continuous flow of OFW remittances -- are in big trouble.

In July 2008, the unemployment rate was 7.4% and underemployment rate was 21%. With the global economy melting down, the increasing number of unemployed OFWs are going home.

What is strange is that a lot of Philippine economic "experts" were saying that the Philippines will not go into recession despite the global economic meltdown. These experts should remember that what fueled the "economic boom" in the past few years were three factors: 1) Increased OFW remittances; 2) Weakened US dollar; and 3) Increased Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs). Now, let's look at each of these factors today. With OFW losing their jobs and going home, remittances will decrease. The US dollar vis-à-vis the Philippine peso is no longer weakening; it's the peso that is now weakening. At the beginning of the year, the peso was very robust at P41 to US$1. Today, it is P51 to US$1... and continues to weaken. In regard to FDIs, during the first five months of 2008, FDIs totaled a net inflow of US$725 million. A year ago, the net inflow was US$2.3 billion -- a 25% drop in FDIs. That's triple whammy!

Last November 17, 2008, in a blitzkrieg-like assault in the Upper Chamber, Senate President Manuel Villar was ousted and Senator Juan Ponce Enrile -- a close ally of Gloria -- was swiftly installed. But what is odd is that the coup was supported by several opposition senators including Panfilo Lacson, Jamby Madrigal, Mar Roxas, Loren Legarda, Jinggoy Estrada, and Francis Escudero. What made them do it? Well, they can all say, "The Devil made me do it." Interestingly, Lacson, Roxas, and Legarda are presidential wannabes. And with Villar, who is the front-runner in the presidential derby, their move appears to be motivated by their personal ambition. And by removing Villar as the Senate head honcho, it would enhance their chances in the presidential race. That's wishful thinking. What they didn't realize is that the ouster of Villar will only consolidate the powers of Gloria in the three branches of government. For the first time the country has now an undivided government. Next year, Gloria's grip on the Supreme Court will further tighten when nine justices will retire and, of course, Gloria will replace them with her loyalists.

Gloria had been trying very hard to impress the international community with untruthful and hyperbolic pronouncements. She tried very hard -- and failed -- to connect with US President-elect Barack Obama before and after his election. The word "snubbed" has been used in the media to describe her failed attempt to contact Obama right after the election. She then went to Chicago on her way to the United Nations in New York to meet with the local Fil-Ams. The Fil-Am community, however, was abuzz with words that Gloria's real purpose in going to Chicago was to seek a meeting with Obama. But it seemed that Obama's cordon sanitaire was impenetrable and Gloria high-tailed it to New York without seeing him. However, on November 17, Obama returned Gloria's November 4th call and two others. A generic statement from Obama's office said that he "expressed his appreciation for their congratulations on his election."

While Gloria tried very hard to gain international recognition with her globetrotting junkets, her satisfactory rating back home is 6.6% and her unsatisfactory rating is 82.2%. Her net satisfaction rating is -75.6, the lowest since 2004. Unfazed by these negative polls, Gloria is taking off again for Peru to attend the APEC meeting. It was reported that 42 congressmen will be joining her. The last time Congress tried to impeach her, she took off on a European junket with more than 70 congressmen and their spouses in her entourage. When they returned, Congress rejected the impeachment petition.

Amidst the economic turmoil that is besieging the country, the Filipino people continue to suffer in hunger and unemployment. But to those in power, it's business as usual -- to hell with public opinion!


Thursday, November 6, 2008



LOS ANGELES, CA, November 4, 2008– The Filipino-American Service Group, Inc. (FASGI) through its nonpartisan voter engagement project, FILVOTE, conducted a phone banking drive to encourage Filipino-Americans to go out and vote on Election Day. This drive was started a week before Election day and peaked during the day itself. FASGI volunteers and staff spearheaded the drive and called everyone on its registered voter list. Most of these people were assisted by FILVOTE to register or reregister to vote.

Majority of the volunteers at FASGI noted that at 1030a.m. most of the Fil-Ams they called already voted and the small percentage that didn’t vote yet said that they are on their way to their designated precincts. Mr.. Peping Baclig, a Filipino-American Veteran, called mostly the Filipino Veteran American seniors, he said that almost all of them already voted through the vote by mail or permanent absentee vote. They collectively observed that there was an unprecedented enthusiasm and excitement among the Filipino-Americans to participate on this election.

There were a lot of first time voters. Those that just felt that they have a need to participate on this historic election. According to one first time voter, Maria Corazon Paus, who was recently naturalized as an American Citizen on October 9, 2008, “I am elated to participate and feel the benefits of being an American, to have a voice in the process of selecting a new leader to guide the course of this Country I now call mine.” She said her wait to vote was not that long, about 15mins at the Knights of Columbus precinct at Temple Street in Los Angeles. She was there in line at 9 a.m. Although she voted Republican she says she is happy that Barack Obama won because “he has given a lot of Americans hope for a better future” she goes further “I am very happy that I cast my vote, even if my candidate lost, I feel that I still won, we all won.”

It is evident from this election that a huge turnout of Filipino Americans came out and voted. This is a departure from the perception that Fil-Ams are apathetic to the American Democratic process.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Dawn of a New Era

PerryScope by Perry Diaz

At 11:00 PM Eastern Time on November 4, 2008, Barack Obama made history when he was elected President of the United States, a feat that no African-American has achieved before. After enduring a negative campaign by his opponent, Obama convinced the American people that he is the man whom they can trust in changing the way the government works. With a vision of hope, Obama's victory ushers in a new era.

Obama's election amidst some of the sleaziest campaign tactics against him proved once again that the American people will not fall prey to negativism. But it was Obama's positive outlook and determination to stay on course that finally convinced the electorate that he could bring real change to America.

In his victory speech in Chicago attended by 125,000 enthusiastic supporters, Obama gave a stirring call to all Americans to come together and help him bring change to the nation. He set the tone of his administration when he prefaced his speech by saying, "The greatest of a lifetime -- two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century."

He told them, "This is our moment, this is our time" and declared: "Change has come to America." But he reminded the people that he alone cannot make that change. "So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder," he said. The response was spontaneous and brought many to tears of joy. In the crowd was the fiery Rev. Jesse Jackson -- who once ran for President -- with tears falling from his eyes.

The diversity of the crowd was a testament to the wide support for Obama's message, "Yes, we can," which the crowd chanted as Obama outlined the tasks that lie ahead: ending the Iraq War, fix the economy, health care, education…

It is not going to be easy. It would take a man of great courage to achieve the change he wanted. But he is not a man lacking in courage. His courage to seek the presidency without a precedence was like charting the unknown seas. He didn't have the stars to go by, only the instinct and determination of a person whose only fear is fear itself.

Looking back at the 21 months of his steep climb to the pinnacle of political power in America, Obama's success may have been attributed to "Mandela Effect," to wit: "When you can create enduring success not because you are perfect or lucky but because you have the courage to do what matters to you." Indeed, he proclaimed oftentimes during his campaign that he was not perfect. And lucky? Well, as someone once said, "The harder you work, the luckier you get." And worked harder he did to achieve what he courageously sought: the presidency of the United States of America.

Obama had broken the racial barrier to the presidency. The trail that he blazed to the White House will be studied and charted by political scientists for others to use. Henceforth, it would be easier for people of color to pursue the highest position in the land. And no longer do they have to fear the "Bradley Effect." In 1982, Tom Bradley, an African-American, lost the California gubernatorial contest although he was ahead in the polls prior to the election. The theory suggests that white voters would tell pollsters that they are undecided or would vote for a black candidate; however, on election day they would vote for the white candidate.

Because of the "Bradley Effect," political pollsters and pundits would not dare predict the victory of Obama prior to the November 4 elections. It has never happened in a presidential election before; thus, making "Bradley Effect" a huge variable in the polls. Some say that for Obama to win, he had to have at least a 10-percent lead over McCain in the polls. In most polls, Obama led by 5 to 6 percent -- not enough to offset the "Bradley Effect." The initial results of the popular vote were 52% for Obama to 47% for McCain with 84% of all precincts reported. Most of the polls were pretty close to these figures. In other words, "Bradley Effect" did not materialize in the 2008 elections.

The first task of Obama is to start the unification of the American people who were polarized by the negative campaign tactics. McCain, in his concession speech in Phoenix, Arizona, congratulated and complimented Obama. He urged his followers to "come together and bridge the separations and put aside differences." And he promised that he "will get behind his president, President Obama."

Thus started the healing process. If the two erstwhile rivals could work together -- McCain is still a senator -- it would certainly bode well for the Obama administration. And as Obama promised, he will reach across the aisle in the spirit of bipartisanship.

As the Bush presidency comes to an end, let's give President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joseph Biden best wishes as they usher in a new era of peace and prosperity. God bless both of them. God bless America.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

October Surprise

PerryScope: by Perry Diaz

Rumors were abounding in the media about an "October Surprise" by John McCain that would shatter the presidential aspiration of Barack Obama. But as it turned out, the "October Surprise" was on McCain -- Obama pulled ahead of McCain in the battleground states.

On October 4, 2008, it was reported on the news that "Sen. John McCain and his Republican allies are readying a newly aggressive assault on Sen. Barack Obama's character, believing that to win in November they must shift the conversation back to questions about the Democrat's judgment, honesty and personal associations." By attacking Obama's character, McCain hoped that it would put Obama on the defensive; thus, distracting him from discussing the economic crisis and outlining his economic recovery plan.

As soon as the decision to assault Obama's character was made, McCain unleashed his running mate Gov. Sarah Palin to attack Obama. That day, she told three separate rallies that Obama is "not a man who sees America like you and I see America," and accused him of "palling around" with William Ayers -- co-founder of the radical Weather Underground in the 1960's -- whom she called a "domestic terrorist." She told the agitated crowds that Obama is "not one of us." On that same day, McCain who was addressing a crowd in New Mexico called Obama a "mystery, a liar, complicit in the economic crisis and an unaccomplished naif, at all the same time."

For two weeks, McCain and Palin were doing their demolition job on Obama. But Obama was indestructible only because he chose not to respond to the "low blows" of McCain and Palin. McCain finally realized that these "low blows" were hurting him more than it hurt Obama. The polls were showing Obama's rating going over 51% while McCain's was hovering at around 42%. With less than two weeks left in the campaign, McCain changed his strategy back to selling his economic plan. But to his dismay, a lot of Americans had already bought Obama's economic plan and many have already cast their votes in states that allowed early voting.

If that was the "October Surprise" that McCain had bandied about, it turned out to be nothing more than a distraction. However, a series of surprises occurred that helped Obama's campaign. The "Big Surprise" came on October 19 when retired Gen. Colin Powell announced on NBC's Meet the Press that he will vote for Obama . He said, "I come to the conclusion that because of his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities -- and you have to take that into account -- as well as his substance -- he has both style and substance. He has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president."

Powell was critical of McCain's campaign tactics including the controversial "rob calls" that tried to link Obama to Ayers. He was also critical of McCain's judgment in selecting Sarah Palin as his running mate. Powell said, "Now that we have had a chance to watch her for some seven weeks, I don't believe she is ready to be president of the United States, which is the job of the vice president."

Powell also criticized some Republicans for insinuating that Obama is a Muslim. He said, "Well, the correct answer is: he is not a Muslim, he is a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is: what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is no; that is not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, 'He is a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists.' This is not the way we should be doing it in America."

Many believe that Powell's endorsement of Obama and blistering critique of McCain's campaign tactics could have a devastating blow to McCain's candidacy and which could sway the undecided voters to Obama, particularly in the battleground states.

Four days later, there were a cluster of surprises. Scott McClellan, President Bush's former Press Secretary announced on the "D.L. Hughley Breaks the News" that he is going to vote for Obama. McClellan said, "From the very beginning I've said I am going to support the candidate who has the best chance of changing the way Washington works and getting things done. I will be voting for Barack Obama."

On the same day, Alison Goldwater, granddaughter of former Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, voted early for Barack Obama. She said of McCain, "I don't have respect for him." It's interesting to note that McCain has oftentimes claimed to be a "Barry Goldwater" Republican. Apparently, Alison didn't think so.

Also on the same day, Arne Carlson, former Republican Governor of Minnesota, endorsed Obama for president. She said, "He has laid out for this nation a vision for a national purpose."

And in a desperate act, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the fund-raising arm of Republican senatorial candidates across the country, is now running ads that "presume" that McCain will lose.

Yesterday, I was surprised when I was reading an email from a friend who was a supporter of McCain. She said that she checked her IRA account in preparation for her retirement and was shocked to find out that she lost $36,000! She was devastated because she may not be able to retire next year. She promised that she will vote for Obama.

My friend's story is not uncommon. In early October, about 100 million Americans received a letter that shattered their dreams. Everyone received the same message. The letter told them that their savings -- IRAs, 401Ks, mutual funds, etc. -- were 30% down this year.

The pain, loss, and stress suffered by these 100 million Americans is a testament to the failed economic policies of President Bush. Are they going to vote for McCain or Obama? More than likely they -- like my friend who lost $36,000 -- would vote for Obama. This election is not about politics, it's all about the economy. That… is the "October Surprise."


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Politics of Fear

PerryScope: by Perry Diaz

Never in the history of the United States was "politics of fear" used to bring out the worse in people and sow fear in them. And by doing so, John McCain has created a "lynch mob" mentality among white voters.

McCain unleashed his running mate, Sarah Palin, to attack Barack Obama with lies and innuendoes. At a Florida rally, the event turned so ugly that it prompted the Secret Service to investigate an alleged death threat when someone shouted "Kill him! Kill him!" Others shouted "terrorist" in reaction to Palin's inflammatory rhetoric that Obama was palling around with Bill Ayers -- co-founder of the radical Weather Underground in the 1960's -- whom she called a "domestic terrorist" As Dana Milbank, a Washington Post columnist, says in his column, "Unleashed, Palin makes a pit bull look tame." Yes, indeed. Palin's vitriolic attacks against Obama have earned her the moniker "Attack Dog."

It is interesting to note that Obama was only eight years old when Ayers was involved in the student unrest in the 1960's. Today, Ayers has reformed and is now a respectable professor in the College of Education at the University of Illinois and holds the title of "Distinguished Professor."

In an attempt to tone down Palin's hate-mongering tirades, McCain told a Minnesota rally, "We want to fight, and I will fight, but we will be respectful. I admire Senator Obama and his accomplishments and I will respect him." McCain said further, "I want to be president ... but I have to tell you that he is a decent person and a person you don't have to be scared of as president of the United States." But the crowd booed him -- Sarah had already turned his supporters into a lynch mob.

Obama, who never digressed from his focus on the country's worst economic crisis since the Great Depression 80 years ago, rebuked McCain for preaching "anger and division." At an Ohio rally, Obama said, "In the last couple of days we have seen a barrage of nasty insinuations and attacks and I am sure we will see much more over the next 25 days." Indeed, the intensity of personal attacks against Obama has increased dramatically. At another Palin rally, a supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African-American camera man and told him, "Sit down, boy!" -- an apparent warning that tells African-Americans to stay away from McCain rallies.

In his column titled "McCain and Palin's lynch-mob tactics," Tod Robberson said, "It's increasingly worrying that John McCain and Sarah Palin are embracing the acceptability of campaign tactics that play to the most racist and intolerant tendencies among their supporters. John McCain knows that Barack Obama has no links whatsoever to terrorism, and yet he's doing everything he can to create that linkage. And he's unleashing Sarah Palin to do his dirty work while McCain claims to be above this condemnable form of negative campaigning. This is unconscionable, and it shows how desperate John McCain has become. He promised repeatedly that he wouldn't campaign this way. And he said that when politicians campaign that way, it shows how little vision they have of the future. But most dangerous in this form of campaigning is that he and Sarah Palin are standing by, with smiles on their faces, while their supporters yell things like, 'Kill him!' in reference to Obama. They have done nothing to calm down this lynch-mob mentality. Instead, they are doing everything they can to promote it. John McCain must make a full-court, public push to stop this 'kill him' mentality now."

These hate-mongering attacks by the McCain campaign started in earnest after the Vice Presidential Debate two weeks ago; however, I have been receiving hundreds of hate Obama emails since the primary season from -- of all people! -- Filipino-Americans. I received an email from Ed F. titled "More Family Pictures of the new First Family??" which contains photos of Obama's "African heritage." I received another email from Elena A. titled "Is America FOR SALE to the Arabs?" which seems to suggest that Obama is an "Arab" and therefore a Muslim.

I received an email from Thelma E. criticizing support of Obama. She said that she is not voting for Obama because he is a Muslim. She said that Obama used the Koran when he took his oath of office as Senator. I replied saying that there is a picture in the Internet which shows that he used the Bible, not the Koran.

The other day, I got a call from Celly C. She told me that Obama grew up in Indonesia and since Indonesia is a Muslim country, therefore Obama is Muslim. She also said that Obama is linked to terrorists including Libya's President Kaddafi. I told her that these statements aren't true.

I received another email from Jess H.R. which says: "Hi you all!!! Hope you don't mind me sharing this open letter with you all which is written by someone I don't even know but I truly agree with his opinions about Barack Obana as a future president of this country. In all my life time here in the United States, I never thought that there would be a time when I would really fear for the security of this country. The opinions expressed in this letter are so much like mine, and also really like my opinions as well. It is only that the author expressed them better than I can ever do. My mind is so worried , and my physical being so scared and being so I don't think I would be able to delineate those same opinions better myself. Urging you all therefore to read and give this letter some thought, and decide whether which of the two candidates have the best interest and serve this country better." The open letter that Jess attached to his email was another hate Obama letter. It has nothing to do with real issues such as the economic crisis and financial meltdown.

What I found distressing from all the emails I received is that the senders didn't seem to care about the real issues. They indulge in "politics of fear." As one of my readers said, "I think they're trying very hard to out-white the whites, out-conservative the conservatives, and out-Republican the Republicans." If that is the case, I feel sorry for them. This election will be won by the candidate who can convince the voters that he is the one who can handle the economic problems of the country. And recent polls showed that a majority of American believed that Obama is the man who can do the job.

As Bill Clinton said in 1992 when he ran against then President George HW Bush, "It's the economy, stupid," Obama can say the same thing. But this time around, the economy is worse than it was in 1992.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Who Won the Palin-Biden Debate?

PerryScope: by Perry Diaz

The much-ballyhooed vice presidential debate turned out to be a "presidential" debate by surrogates of John McCain and Barack Obama. Both surrogates -- Sarah Palin and Joseph Biden -- attacked and defended the presidential candidates and hardly questioned each other's qualifications.

However, odd as it may seem, it was the right thing to do for both surrogates. After all, the office they're seeking is a "do nothing" job until a situation arises where the presidency is vacated at which time the vice president would ascend to the top job of the land. And that's one reason why the Palin-Biden debate had attracted a lot of attention and anticipation. The American people -- due to McCain's age -- wanted to know if Sarah Palin is qualified and ready to assume the presidency should it become vacant.

As a debater, Palin excelled in form and style. She was able to think on her feet and has the uncanny ability to digress from the issue and talk about something else, usually about "energy" which she claimed to be an expert on. Or she would blurt out something about "change" or "reform" and promise to stop the "greed and corruption in Wall Street" -- a line that she repeated numerous times. With a smiling face and an occasional flirtatious wink at the audience and television viewers, Palin charmed her way out of situations where she didn't have any idea what the issues were all about.

There was a moment during the debate when the moderator asked her: "As Vice President, there's nothing you've promised as a candidate that you would take off the table because of this financial issue?" Palin's response was: "There is not, and how long have I been at this? Like five weeks?" Whoa! Five weeks of exposure in national and world affairs? This only reinforced what people have been saying all along: Palin does not have the qualifications to hold the office of Vice President or -- God forbid! -- President of the United States.

So, who won the debate? All things considered, Palin won on "form and style" which were not quantifiable and Biden won on "substance" which was what really counts. Simply put, Biden's 35 years of experience in the U.S. Senate was just too much for Palin to match. Indeed, Palin's refusal to answer some of the questions manifested her abject ignorance of the issues confronting the nation and the American people.

All the polls conducted after the debate gave thumbs up to Biden. A CBS News/Knowledge Networks surveyed 500 uncommitted voters of which 46% thought that Biden won and 21% thought that Palin was the winner. On important issues, 98% found Biden to be more knowledgeable compared to Palin's 65%.

Another survey conducted by CNN/Opinion Research Corp. showed Biden did better with 51% to Palin's 36%. The survey also showed that 87% believed that Biden was qualified to be president while only 42% favored Palin.

It is interesting to note that 84% of the those polled said that Palin exceeded their expectations compared to Biden's 64%. Does this means then that Palin did a better job than Biden? I don't think so. All it proved was that the viewers' perception of Palin prior the debate was below par. Her performance may be categorized as "most improved." And the "improvement" comes from the fact that she did not repeat the blunders she made during her interview with Charles Gibson and Katie Couric. It's like improving her grade of F to a C. Had it been another F, Palin would have flunked the finals and she would have dragged McCain down the drain as well.

The debate came to and end with no knock-out punches. Obviously, Biden restrained himself from "slugging" Palin. He did the right thing. And Palin didn't even attempt to throw a real punch at Biden. In essence, the two protagonists were just sparring -- or, more aptly, shadow boxing -- for 90 minutes.

The Palin-Biden debate may go down in history as the "Debate to Nowhere." It was a draw in the sense that it wouldn't have any considerable impact on the McCain-Obama presidential contest. McCain and Obama have two more debates to come. Obama scored high on their first debate and he is enjoying a slim but stable lead of about 5% over McCain in surveys.

McCain finally realized that the economy and the Iraq war are two issues he cannot win but could not afford to lose. As a consequence, McCain made a decision to resort to attacking Obama's character and integrity. Right after the Palin-Biden debate, McCain unleashed Palin -- the "pit bull with a lipstick" -- to immediately attack Obama and attack she did. The campaign has gotten really nasty.

Indeed, the 2008 presidential campaign season could become the dirtiest in the history of the United States. With McCain unabashedly and purposely using "character assassination" tactics to capture the presidency, it could cause a backlash against him and his attack dog Palin.

In my opinion, with the financial meltdown and the spectre of an economic collapse, the American people will be looking for a leader who can deal with these problems. Thus far, the polls showed that Obama is perceived to be the one who can do it.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Filipino Animator Wins First Emmy Award

Jess Espanola (right) with Emmy Award

By David Casuco

Los Angeles: Multi-awarded animator Jess Espanola put the Philippines in view during the 60th annual Creative Arts Emmy Awards last week, bagging one Emmy trophy for his work as Assistant Director for the The Simpsons' "Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind," which was named "Outstanding Animated Program (for programming less than one hour)."

Also given recognitions, along with Jess, are the top executives of Fox Gracie Films and Starz Film Roman, namely: James L. Brooks, Matt Groening (the creator of "The Simpsons"), Al Jean, Ian Maxton-Graham, Matt Selman, and Tim Long, executive producers; John Frink, Kevin Curran, Michael Price, Bill Odenkirk, Marc Wilmore, Joel H. Cohen, Ron Hauge, and Rob Lazebnik, co-executive producers; Lurie Biermacki, and Rick Polizzi, animation producers; J. Steward Burns, writer; Chuck Sheetz, director; Mark Kirkland, supervising director; Patricia Shinagawa, animation timer.

"The Simpsons" (FOX, Gracie Films in association with 20th Century Fox), bested four top nominees, namely: Creature Comforts America "Don’t Choke To Death, Please" CBS, Aardman Animations production in association with The Gotham Group; King Of The Hill "Death Picks Cotton" FOX, 20th Century Fox Television in association with 3 Arts Entertainment, Deedle-Dee Productions & Judgemental Films; Robot Chicken "Robot Chicken: Star Wars" Cartoon Network, ShadowMachine Films, and SpongeBob SquarePants "Inmates of Summer / Two Faces of Squidward" Nickelodeon, Nickelodeon with United Plankton Pictures, Inc.

Jess, who graduated with a fine arts degree from the University of the Philippines, is the first ever Filipino to receive an Emmy award. Although some long-time Filipino residents in Los Angeles are ambivalent on the distinction heaped on him, saying someone else — a Filipino-American engineer — set the milestone in the early 80s, a claim that remains unsubstantiated as of this writing.

Meanwhile, Jess is riding on a crest of mainstream accolade, a feat that validates the common knowledge that Filipino animators are among the best in Hollywood.

"That's correct, a lot of Filipino artists are in the cutting edge of the animation industry. I guess I am lucky that I worked with "The Simpsons," said Jess.

Actually, this is the second time that Jess got involved in an animation project that won an Emmy. He was also an assistant director for "Futurama," an animated show that won the Emmy in 2002. Unfortunately, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences did not include the assistant director in the nomination process then.

How does he feel rubbing elbows with the prime movers of the American entertainment industry?

"It was cool. All of us nominees had a party on August 26 at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences where everybody was given the certificate of honor, but the announcement of winners were set a couple of weeks later on Sept. 13 at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles where the formal announcement was done. During that day, all of us from the studio anxiously waited. And when the final reckoning came, the master of ceremonies called out, 'and the Emmy goes to... The Simpsons!' I thought I punched the air and hollered yeah! It was a surreal experience for me. The excitement was just so overwhelming at that moment," Jess told this writer in an exclusive interview.

Jess, who was given permanent U.S. residency status as a "person with exceptional ability," has an equally compelling life story. Raised by a single mother in a depressed area in Central Luzon, Jess used his artistic talent to survive when he came face to face with hunger.

"I experienced real hunger while I was a boy. There was no food on the table most of the time. Sometimes I just imagine I already ate. It was a hard life," said Jess.

Amazingly, despite the great odds, Jess still remained on top of his class, and people started helping him out when they noticed that he was an exceptionally talented kid. He was among the high achieving students in high school that gained scholarships at the University of the Philippines.

When Hanna Barbera put up Fil-Cartoon Inc., a subsidiary outfit in Pasig, Metro Manila, Jess was hired as a team supervisor and lead animator. Jess's works were, and still are, considered standards of excellence in Philippine animation.

Jess and his family moved to Los Angeles in 1994.


Raquela Rios (Center) and friends (from L to R) Via (Olivia Gaudio) and Aubrey (Brax Villa) pose above Cebu City in a scene from the 2008 Berlin Film Festival Teddy Award Winner, THE AMAZING TRUTH ABOUT QUEEN RAQUELA, the entertaining and empowering semi-autobiographical story of Raquela Rios, a ladyboy and internet star from Cebu, which opens in US theaters this weekend. The multi-award-winning independent film, which centers on Raquela's dreams to see the world and travel to Paris in search of love, is directed by Olaf de Fleurs and is believed to be the first Philippine-Icelandic co-production in cinema history. Distributed by Regent Releaseing/here! Films, THE AMAZING TRUTH ABOUT QUEEN RAQUELA opens Sept. 22 for week-long runs in NY (Quad Cinemas), LA (Regent Showcase La Brea), Columbus, Ohio (Drexel East) and Palm Springs (Cinemas Palme d'Or). For more information,

photo credit: Regent Releasing/here! Films

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Telltale Signs/ THE PALIN EFFECT ON S.1315

Rodel Rodis, September 15, 2008

Before Congress adjourned for its August recess, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi assured supporters of the Filipino Veterans Equity Bill that she would put S.1315, the Veterans Benefits Enhancement bill, to a vote when Congress resumed its regular session in September. It has been two weeks since then - with less than two weeks left to go before Congress adjourns - and there is still no word as to when, or if, the House will vote on S. 1315. What has happened since?

According to AsianWeek columnist Emil “Amok”Guillermo, what happened was the selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah “the Bridge to Nowhere” Palin.

“The Palin effect is so great that not only has it changed both the gender and the change issues in the race, but it has also impacted the Filipino vets issue,” Guillermo wrote. “With such a tight presidential race, the politics of protecting congressional seats is now a priority. What was a slam-dunk feel good vote in the Senate has now become a hot potato for House members up for re-election.”

Because S.1315 is about 40 votes short of the 218 needed to secure its passage in the House, there is widespread speculation that Speaker Pelosi is reluctant to bring the issue to a vote for fear that Democrats in close races would lose their seats if they voted for the bill and their Republican rivals point to this vote as an example of how the Democrats cared more about “foreign” veterans than “our own” American vets.

Instead of voting on the issue of whether Filipino veterans deserve to be properly compensated for their military service to the US during WW II, House Republican opponents of S. 1315, led by Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Indiana), have redefined the issue to now be whether the House should overturn the Hartness decision.

Hartness refers to a 2006 United States Court of Appeals veterans claims decision that overturned the Department of Veterans Affairs decision that denied an 86-year-old legally blind World War II veteran, Robert A. Hartness, a VA benefit called a special monthly pension. The court reversed the VA’s denial of benefits to Mr. Hartness, and required the VA to begin making those payments. During a floor debate on the veterans bill last July 31, 2008, Buyer declared that “we are not going to repeal Hartness.”

Because the “Pay-Go” policy of the House requires Congress to determine where the money would come from for any bill requiring appropriations, Congressional supporters of S.1315 used the savings that would come from reversing the Hartness decision to finance the Filvets bill.

As Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) explained in his Senate speech on June 2, 2008, “Despite the fact that the purpose of the provision in S. 1315 which reverses the Hartness decision is to do nothing more than restore the clear intent of Congress, it has been mischaracterized by some as an attempt to withdraw benefits from deserving veterans in order to fund benefits to Filipino veterans. That is simply not the case. Such accusations fail to appreciate the facts of the matter that led the Senate to take corrective action.”

Despite Sen. Akaka’s clarification, there is still the fear that Republicans will run ads in the congressional races of vulnerable Democratic supporters of S.1315 accusing the Democrats of eliminating the veterans’ benefits of blind 86-year old American veterans like Robert Hartness just to pay 13,000 “foreign” Philippine-based veterans.

Perhaps the most outspoken veterans’ organization opposing S.1315 is the American Legion. While attending the Democratic National Convention in Denver, the “Amok” columnist had the opportunity to discuss the Filvets issue with Steve Robertson, director of the American Legion's National Legislative Commission.

Robertson, Guillermo learned, is not opposed to S.1315 and in fact suggested “two sure-fire ways to bypass the fears of some congressmen all in a tizzy”.

Robertson’s suggestions: “First, Congress could simply waive the budget rules, which is done all the time. Second, it could attach S.1315 to an emergency supplemental bill or a continuing resolution, which do not fall under the provisions of the Balanced Budget Amendment.”

Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA), the chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, is prepared to introduce a bill this week that would give Filipino WW II veterans a lump sum amount, similar to what Japanese Americans received for their WW II internment. Filner’s bill would provide $15,000 for US-based veterans and $9,000 for vets in the Philippines. When Filner proposed this same amendment last July 31, it
prompted Speaker Pelosi to come down to the floor and assure Filner and other Filvets supporters that S.1315 will be brought to a vote. Based on that assurance, Filner withdrew his amendment.

But since S.1315 has not been brought to a vote, Filner is prepared to use the same lump sum proposal to draw the Speaker to address the issue of S.1315 again.

Whatever it takes. Just get it passed. The clock is ticking. We’re running out of time. Please email Speaker Nancy Pelosi at and ask her to bring S.1315 to a floor vote now.

(Please send comments to or write to the Law Offices of Rodel Rodis, 2429 Ocean Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94127 o call (415) 334-7800. For past issues, log on to

'Legalizing' Jueteng

PerryScope: Perry Diaz

Like the popular "transformer" toys, the illegal numbers game -- jueteng -- has transformed by way of bureaucratic legerdemain into a legalized game called "small town lotto" or STL. But the game hasn't changed a bit, it is still jueteng. The only difference is that the jueteng lords are raking in more money.

STL is a government-sponsored numbers game administered by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). Launched in 1987 during the time of then President Cory Aquino, STL failed for a variety of reasons. It was shelved in 1990. In 2005, in the aftermath of the jueteng scandal which implicated some members of the First Family --one of whom was referred to as the "Lion King" by whistleblower Sandra Cam -- President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo appointed Edward Hagedorn, the Mayor of Puerto Princesa, as National Anti-Jueteng Task Force czar. Hagedorn advocated for the revival of STL. He was convinced that STL was the right tool to stamp out jueteng. With optimism and great expectation Hagedorn set a deadline -- September 15, 2006 -- to totally stop jueteng in the country.

In reaction to the STL revival, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz, the chairman of the "Krusadang Bayan Laban sa Jueteng," said that STL was meant as a "shameful substitute for jueteng." He said: "just the same it is also a corrupt and corrupting numbers game as jueteng. It was already tried before and proved to be a big failure."

Recently, jueteng made the front pages again when Auxiliary Bishop Lucilo Quiambao of the Diocese of Legazpi City in Albay alleged that PCSO employees were also working as jueteng collectors for the local gambling lords. He suggested that the government should investigate the PCSO employees if the government was indeed serious in stamping out jueteng. But how can the government -- or to be more precise, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo -- stop jueteng when her "kumpadre," town mate, and political benefactor is reputedly the biggest jueteng operator in the country. To my knowledge, jueteng in Pampanga and the rest of the country has never been better during Gloria's presidency. Ironically, it was the jueteng scandal during Joseph Estrada's presidency that catapulted Gloria to power in 2001. Indeed, corruption begets corruption.

In Albay, the only STL operation in the entire province -- and all of Bicolandia -- was franchised to the Pilipinas Pacific Rim Corp. (PPRC) on November 29, 2006. Within a year, allegations of fraud were made that the STL operation was just a cover up for jueteng. It is interesting to note that PCSO granted the STL franchise to PPRC on the latter's representation that it will use STL to combat the jueteng operation in the province. Nothing was farther from the truth. Once STL became operational, the number of jueteng "comadors" -- or bet collectors -- increased substantially, a clear indication that jueteng thrived under STL.

STL is supposed to generate revenue for the government. There are three draws everyday at 11:30 AM, 4:30 PM and 9:15 PM. The STL franchisee is supposed to remit the proceeds as follows: 5% to the provincial government, 10% to the local governments, 4.5% to the local PNP (police), 0.5% to the national police, 2.5% to the three congressional districts, and 7.5% to PCSO. PPRC keeps the lion's share -- 70%. But here is the stinger: it was reported in the news last year alleging that PPRC was "raking big money from the Albayanons while only a pittance is being remitted to the provincial government" by manipulating the remittance reports. The STL operation in Albay rakes in about P500,000 daily. That's a whopping P182.5 million a year!

The plot thickens when Sandra Cam accused PPRC of not properly declaring its income from STL. Cam claimed that falsified bet collection reports were widespread in more than 15 provinces in Luzon, particularly in Albay. She criticized Gov. Joey Salceda for failing to act on the "doctored" collection reports. She also alleged that Salceda and three other Bicol governors -- Sally Lee of Sorsogon, Jesus Typoco Jr of Camarines Norte, and Luis Raymund Villafuerte of Camarines Sur -- were responsible for the jueteng revival in their respective province. In a surprise move, Salceda reacted and issued a directive to stop STL in Albay. He instructed the provincial police director to relay his directive to PCSO to stop all STL operations in his province. But PCSO defied Salceda's order. Meanwhile, Malacanang has been quiet about the whole scandal.

Three years after Czar Hagedorn declared war on jueteng, jueteng is still alive and kicking with vigor. The people continue to bet on jueteng or STL… or both. It wouldn't matter whether they're betting on jueteng or STL -- what difference would it make other than gambling away their hard-earned money. And it wouldn't matter whether it's legal or illegal. It's a social disease and there is no known prescription to cure it. None yet.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

'The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela' film opens in NY and LA

New York and Los Angeles – September 26


Raquela is a transsexual - or “ladyboy” - from the Philippines who dreams of escaping the streets of Cebu City for a fairy tale life in Paris. In order to make her dreams come true, she turns from prostitution toward the more lucrative business of Internet porn. Her success as a porn star brings new friends, including Valerie, a ladyboy in Iceland, and Michael, the owner of the website Raquela works for. Valerie helps Raquela get as far as Iceland. From there, Michael offers her a rendezvous in Paris. Will Paris be everything she dreamed of? And will Michael turn out to be her Prince Charming?

Director’s Note
In my first visit to Cebu City in the Philippines, I happened to be walking in one of the poor neighborhoods when I saw three girls who were at odds with the location. They were dressed more like famous movie stars than someone on an every-day stroll amongst the locals in Cebu City.

This caught my attention, as anything with such contrasts often bears the light of a possible film. The girls turned out to be Transgendered men, who said they had the "soul of a woman," as they explained it to me, in layman’s terms.

I went on the Internet to find interesting subjects, as I often do when I begin research for a film. I spoke with about 30 Tgirls (trans-woman) in the Philippines. One in particular caught my attention for how smart, charming and creative she was: Raquela Rios, whose birth name is Earvin. I fell in love with Raquela and the story she represented. Coming into the world with so many odds against her encouraged me to do the best film possible as one human to another.

Very quickly, I established a film crew in Cebu City near where she lived and started filming her life. As a filmmaker I had finished four feature docs in three years, and initially assumed I was moving towards the fifth with "Raquela." I soon realized that I was not in the least bit interested in copying so many others who create sob stories about how hard life is for Tgirls. Slightly stranded but undeterred, I knew I did not want to make a documentary but I didn't have the kind of funding it takes to create a standard narrative feature. I would allow myself to do anything I wanted to do, in order to tell a story as vividly as possible.

Raquela would act partly as herself, adding narrative elements as her dream began to take shape under our influence. I brought in actors, (some were amateurs), and added dramatic content as the story began to take on a life of its own. I was acquainted with an Austrian hotel owner in Cebu who always had a life-long dream of acting, and cast him as Johnny K., the porn photographer. My own grandmother was also suitably cast as an extra. I decided not to follow the rules about aesthetics or methods I had learned. The main thing was to trust my "gut" feelings and just breathe with the story.

Director’s Bio
Olaf de Fleur was born 1975 in a small village in Iceland called Budardalur. He studied physics in Reykjavik, graduating in 1995. Since then he has participated in numerous film projects, including both feature and documentary films. After deciding to pursue filmmaking, instead of going to film school, he founded an independent production company, Poppoli Pictures. Headed by de Fleur as director and producer, the team created Blindsker, which won the Best Documentary in the Icelandic Film Awards 2004 and Africa United, which won the same prize in 2005. Olaf de Fleur was nominated as the best Icelandic Filmmaker in 2005 and 2006 at cultural DV (newspaper) Awards and Best Director in 2005 at the Icelandic Film Awards. He was selected for the Berlinale Talent Campus in 2002 and 2003. He won the Berlin Film Festival Best Queer Film Award, the “Teddy,” for The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela.

“Queen Raquela is not about sex-change operations or identity quests, but the touching, dreamlike, quasi-autobiographical tale of Raquela Rios, a transsexual Cebu City prostitute who longs to leave the Philippines, meet a nice straight man and visit Paris.”
- Premiere Magazine

“Raquela’s story lives with us and not for us. A remarkable achievement.”
- Pop Matters

Friday, September 12, 2008


24” by 36” oil painting entitled “Dusk at Port Huemene” by Lynda Reyes

GLENDALE, CA (September 2008) – Once again on Sunday, September 14th, from 12 pm to 6 pm Glendale artists and art organizations will open up their studios and art venues to the public. This free, self-guided tour is a rare opportunity to peek into the creative spaces and minds of many talented and award winning artists who live and work in City of Glendale. Visitors will be able to meet, interact with, and see the work being produced by Glendale’s widely diverse artists and arts organizations at their own pace. Artworks will be available for purchase.

Over 110 artists will have displays set up in 45 homes, galleries, studios, cafés and businesses exhibiting painting, sculpture, collage, photography, digital artwork and ceramics throughout the greater Glendale area. Artists from Burbank, Los Angeles, Pasadena and other cities in the region will also exhibit their art alongside Glendalians and become part of this valuable tradition in the City of Glendale.

Since its incorporation in 1906, Glendale has been home to notable creative types, ranging from painters and sculptors to musicians, actors and writers. Entertainment industry giants like Dreamworks and Disney also have their headquarters in Glendale. The multi-venue event is geared to expose that rich community to local residents and the region as a whole.

The 2008 Open Studio Tour is proud to showcase Filipino American artists and photographers which include Salvador Arellano, Ana Cruz, Carlo Cruz, Ronald Cruz, Irwin Jazmines, Don Magno, Vics Magsaysay, Hubert ‘Bong’ Malabanan, Larry Pelayo, Ver Penaranda, Lynda Reyes, Rodolfo Samonte and Rene Villaroman. The exhibit will be held at Patrick’s Café, 6720 San Fernando Road in Glendale from noon to 6pm on Sunday, September 14th.

Patrick’s Café owner Rogel C. Aragon, a Filam and avid arts supporter, has hosted the annual exhibit for the last four years. “My intention is to give Filipino artists a venue and the utmost representation on a professional level and introduce them to the mainstream,” says Aragon. In this regard, his brain child, the Aragon Entertainment Productions, was created to cater to the Filipino community.

All participating artists will have the opportunity to showcase one piece of art at the Brand Library Art Galleries from September 9 through September 19. The public is also invited to an Opening Reception for the artists and tour kick-off at the Brand gallery on Saturday, September 13 from 3 – 5pm. Brand Library Art Galleries are located at 1601 W. Mountain. Gallery hours are Tuesday and Thursday from 12 – 8pm; Wednesday from 12 – 6pm; and Friday and Saturday from 10am – 5pm.

Featuring Filipino American Artists & Photographers:


The Tour and the Reception are free to the public. Everyone is welcome. Maps for the self-guided tours will be available at the Brand Library Art Galleries and designated areas. A free Beeline bus will shuttle visitors to the different venues.

The Glendale Open Studio Tour is sponsored by the City of Glendale Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department, Arts and Culture Commission, Brand Library, a division of the Glendale Public Library, and the Associates of Brand Library and Art Center.

For additional information, please call (818) 548-2780 or check our website at

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

What Price Peace

PerryScope by Perry Diaz

In her fervent desire to have peace in Mindanao, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo went to the extent of secretly forging an agreement that would virtually cede a huge portion of Philippine territory to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The treaty would have expanded the present Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) into a virtual state within a state replete with all the functions and authority of a sovereign and independent state.

But, in a twist of fate, the day before the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) last August 5, 2008 in Malaysia, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order in response to several petitions claiming that the treaty was unconstitutional. What followed next was a tragedy of error that cost lives and property in Mindanao.

In the aftermath of the public uproar over the attempt to partition the country, Gloria decided to scrap the controversial MOA-AD. She also dissolved the government's peace panel negotiating with the MILF. Basically, it's back to square one for the peace process. And, worst, Mindanao is now in a virtual state of war or, to be more precise, a civil war between Muslim Filipinos and Christian Filipinos. In reaction, Mohaqher Iqbal, the MILF's chief peace negotiator declared, "The peace process is now in purgatory."

One might wonder if Gloria could have done better to achieve a lasting peace in Mindanao. In my opinion, yes! she could have done better to achieve peace without dividing the country and pitting the Muslims and Christians against each other, particularly in the ARMM region.

ARMM was established in 1989 through Republic Act 6734 pursuant to the 1987 constitution which mandated its creation. It consisted of the predominantly Muslim provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi. ARMM is headed by an elected Regional Governor and has a unicameral Regional Legislative Assembly headed by a Speaker.

Although ARMM is not a perfectly "autonomous" body, there is much to be desired to truly fulfill the mandate of the law that created it. Like the government that begot it, ARMM is, to say the least, congenitally corrupt. The recent ARMM elections, while generally peaceful, was marred by anomalies and irregularities. The Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) Foundation, which was accredited by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), reported vote-buying and what it called "a culture of corruption."

What MOA-AD would have accomplished was anything but peace. As a matter of fact, it already has started the opposite -- war! For the first time in the past 30 years, the spectre of "jihad" -- holy war -- looms in the horizon. The snafu created by the Arroyo government has angered leaders from both sides of the conflict: the MILF militants were incensed because they considered the MOA-AD a "done deal" while Gloria and her henchmen were frustrated because they were stopped by the Supreme Court a day away from signing the agreement.

With 500,000 people already displaced by the war and increasing daily, peace has once again eluded us. All the work built up in the past three decades by government peace negotiators were blown to smithereens -- a setback that would take time and effort to rebuild.

Now, that the "peace process" is back to square one, it's time for the government to take a hard look at what it would really take to achieve peace. In my opinion, any peace formula that doesn't address poverty is doomed to fail. Religious differences are not the issue. They can be bridged. But as long as the people are mired in poverty, there will be no peace in Mindanao.

Mindanao, with its rich natural resources is being exploited by profiteers. The local population -- particularly the Muslims -- have been relegated to second-class citizenship. The Arroyo government is lacking in programs that would alleviate the plight of the Muslim poor. Giving the Muslims an "ancestral domain" is meaningless unless there is a sincere attempt -- not the usual lip service -- to develop the economy in Mindanao.

In its June 2008 survey, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed that self-rated poverty in Mindanao rose by nine points, from 59% to 68%. In comparison, Metro Manila rose from 44% to 51% and Balance Luzon from 48% to 53%. The hardest hit was the Visayas from 47% to 66%. However, poverty in the ARMM region was the highest in Mindanao.

The polls would tend to support Gloria's critics who have been saying all along that she neglected the Visayas and Mindanao, favoring the ruling elite based in Metro Manila. Indeed, the strongest supporters of federalism -- or partitioning -- come from the Visayas and Mindanao. Their complaints have been ignored by Gloria whose dole-out programs have caused more resentment among Visayans and Mindanaons.

Indeed, the price of peace in Mindanao is more than just giving the Muslim Filipinos their "ancestral domain." As long as the Muslim Filipinos are treated as second-class citizens and kept in perpetual bondage, peace will never blossom in Mindanao. The seeds of discontent have been sowed and have taken roots in Mindanao. The bottom line is: peace can only be achieved in Mindanao if the people saw real economic progress in the ARMM region. And if real progress was made, autonomy or statehood becomes moot. The Muslims would opt to remain in the Philippine republic


Monday, September 8, 2008


Rodel E. Rodis, September 8, 2008

While there was considerable discussion in cyberspace about the issue of a name change for the Philippines, it was generally limited only to the Filipino chattering class, those folks who regularly express their opinions in various blogs and e-list groups. Most Filipinos are generally apathetic to this issue partly because it would be at or near the bottom of their list of priorities and partly because of lack of information.

Do most Filipinos care that millions of their Moro brothers and sisters in Mindanao and Sulu have never considered themselves “Filipinos” because they successfully resisted Spanish colonial efforts to make them “Filipinos” (subjects of King Felipe)? Would not a new name that included and encompassed all the inhabitants of the 7,180 “Philippine” islands bring together those who were colonized by Spain and those who resisted colonial rule?

With indifference, we may never know. But could there be another reason for this seeming apathy? Do we possess some sense of “useful nationalism” that would make us concerned about the national interests?

An American writer for the Atlantic Monthly, James Fallows, visited the Philippines for six weeks in 1987 and wrote an article, A Damaged Culture, which remains one of the most painfully incisive articles about Filipino culture.

Do Filipinos have any loyalty to the nation and to the Filipino people? No,according to Fallows.“Filipinos pride themselves on their lifelong loyalty to family, schoolmates, compadres, members of the same tribe, residents of the same barangay... When observing Filipino friendships I thought often of the Mafia families portrayed in The Godfather: total devotion to those within the circle, total war on those outside. Because the boundaries of decent treatment are limited to the family or tribe, they exclude at least 90 percent of the people in the country. And because of this fragmentation--this lack of nationalism--people treat each other worse in the Philippines than in any other Asian country I have seen.”

After Fallows’ article appeared, Filipinos were quick to refute his sweeping allegations by citing as a prime example the People Power revolution that overthrew the Marcos Dictatorship in 1986.

Fallows anticipated this argument: “The EDSA revolution seems emotionally so important in the Philippines not only because it got rid of Marcos but also because it demonstrated a brave, national-minded spirit. I would like to agree with the Filipinos that those four days revealed the country's spiritual essence. To me, though, the episode seems an exception, even an aberration.”

In reviewing Philippine history, Fallows found that “the Spanish hammered home the idea of Filipino racial inferiority, discouraging the native indios from learning the Spanish language and refusing to consecrate them as priests. (The Spanish are also said to have forbidden the natives to wear tucked-in shirts, which is why the national shirt, the barong tagalog, is now worn untucked, in a rare flash of national pride.) As in Latin America, the Spanish friars taught that religion was a matter of submission to doctrine and authority, rather than of independent thought or gentleness to strangers in daily life.”

After 330 years of Spanish rule, the Filipinos waged a revolutionary war for independence from Spain which succeeded but was thwarted by the American occupation of the Philippines in 1899. “The United States quickly earned or bought the loyalty of the ilustrados, the educated upper class, making them into what we would call collaborationists if the Germans or Japanese had received their favors,” Fallows wrote.

Once in control of the country, the United States “rammed through a number of laws insisting on free "competition' between American and Philippine industries, at a time when Philippine industries were in no position to compete with anyone. The countries that have most successfully rebuilt their economies, including Japan and Korea, went through extremely protectionist infant-industry phases, with America's
blessing; the United States never permitted the Philippines such a period. The Japanese and Koreans now believe they can take on anybody; the confidence of Filipino industrialists seems to have been permanently destroyed,” observed Fallows.

“In deeper and more pernicious ways Filipinos seem to have absorbed the idea that America is the center and they are the periphery,” wrote Fallows. “Much local advertising plays to the idea that if it's American, it's better. "It's got that stateside taste!' one grinning blonde model says in a whiskey ad. An ad for Ban deodorant warns, "Hold It! Is your deodorant making your skin dark?' The most glamorous figures on TV shows are generally light-skinned and sound as if they grew up in Los Angeles…This is a country where the national ambition is to change your nationality.”

Was Fallows attacking the character and integrity of Filipinos?

Fallows pointed out early on in his essay that the problems he observed were not caused by “any inherent defect in the people: outside this culture they thrive. Filipino immigrants to the United States are more successful than immigrants from many other countries.”

Fallows believes that the problem of the Philippines is cultural and “it should be thought of as a failure of nationalism.”

“Nationalism can of course be divisive, when it sets people of one country against another. But its absence can be even worse, if that leaves people in the grip of loyalties that are even narrower and more fragmented. When a country with extreme geographic, tribal, and social-class differences, like the Philippines, has only a weak offsetting sense of national unity, its public life does become the war of every man against every man.”

Don't shoot the messenger.

(Please send your comments to or write to the Law Offices of Rodel Rodis at 2429 Ocean Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94127 or call (415) 334-7800. For past articles, log on to )

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Telltale Signs/ MAHARLIKA

Rodel E. Rodis, September 1, 2008

Reader response to my column about a name change for the Philippines was phenomenal. From Mindanao, Kauban M. wrote that Moros prefer Maharlika as “it is the name suited to our culture and character”. A local reader, Joseph Vizcarra, also liked Maharlika “because it pays honor to the advanced indigenous civilization we had before the coming of the Spaniards. It also betrays our Hindu roots as well as blood
links with the rest of the Austronesian family. On top of this we would all be called Maharlikans!”

Many readers pointed out that our Moro brothers and sisters in Mindanao and Sulu despise the names “Philippines” and “Filipinos” because of their colonial stigma. Alunan C. Glang asserted that only those who were subjugated by Spain and who bowed to the authority of King Felipe II should be called “Filipinos”. Since the Moros were never Spanish subjects, they were never “Filipinos”. In fact, for 350 years,
generations of Moros had spilled blood precisely to avoid becoming “Filipinos”. Those unable to resist becoming Filipinos were regularly subjected to "Moro Moro" plays with the Spaniards depicted as the heroes and the Moros as the dastardly villains.

While the Spaniards named their farthest-flung colony “Filipinas”, they did not call its inhabitants “Filipinos0, they were “indios” as all natives of Spanish colonies were called. In Las Islas Filipinas, those who were pure full-blooded Spaniards from Spain were called “peninsulares”. Those with even a 1% drop of native or non-Spanish
blood were contemptuously referred to as “insulares” or “Filipinos”. “Filipino” was a pejoratrive then and even now, a “Filipina” in England and other countries is a “domestic helper”.

By the 18th century, a new Ilustrado class emerged, an aggrupation of upper class indios and lower class insulares, propelled by indio intermarriage with the Chinese(The Spaniards decreed that no Chinese man could leave Parian, the Chinese community just outside Intramuros, unless he was married to an indio woman). The first documented use of the term Filipino to refer to indio was in a poem written by an 18-year old boy named Jose Rizal. In his 1879 poem, “A la Juventud Filipina” (To the Filipino Youth), Rizal challenged the Filipino indio youth to
be the hope of the motherland. Even though they were not “insulares”, Rizal and his classmates at the Ateneo still considered themselves “Filipinos”, what historian Ambeth Ocampo referred to as "little brown Spaniards".

When Rizal went to Spain to study in 1881, he exhorted his fellow ilustrados to take pride in being an “indio”. In fact, he called his group “Indios Bravos". Eventually, the Ilustrados in Spain would agree that “Filipino” should mean all people born in the islands, not just the insulares.

This position was not universally accepted. Andres Bonifacio, the founder of the Katipunan, called the people "tagalog" and referred to the country as “Katagalugan”. The Katipunan’s Cartilla, written and published in 1896, expressly stated: “The word tagalog means all those born in this archipelago; therefore, though visayan, ilocano, pampango, etc., they are all tagalogs.”

As Dr. Nathan Quimpo points out, “the Philippine Revolution of 1896 was a misnomer” as it really was the Katagalugan Revolution. “It became the Philippine Revolution only in 1897 when Emilio Aguinaldo, the former gobernadorcillo (mayor) of Kawit, ousted Bonifacio from the helm of the revolutionary movement and had him executed. Aguinaldo, who had continued all along to use Filipinas, dropped Katagalugan.”

At the Malolos Congress in October of 1898, Aguinaldo sought to establish a federation with the Moro sultanates of Mindanao and Sulu, an explicit recognition that they were not part of the nation that was being forged in Malolos.

After the US "annexed" the Philippines and captured Aguinaldo, members of the Katipunan loyal to Bonifacio established the Tagalog Republic in 1902 with Macario Sakay as president. This republic would last until 1906 when Sakay was captured by US troops and hanged as a bandit.

While in exile in Japan in 1913, Katipunan General Artemio Ricarte proposed that the Philippines be renamed “Rizaline Islands” and Filipinos, “Rizalines”. Ricarte called for the overthrow of the "foreign ghovernment" and drafted a constitution for the “revolutionary government of the Rizaline Republic”. Ricarte returned to the
Philippines with the Japanese Imperial Army in 1942 but he could not change the name of the puppet republic.

There would be no serious effort to change the name of the country untl a new constitution was drafted and ratified in 1971. Article XVI, Section 2 of the new constitution states that "The Congress, may by law, adopt a new name for the country…which shall be truly reflective and symbolic of the ideals, history, and traditions of the people.”

After Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972, he convened an Interim Batasang Pambansa to replace the Congress that he had abolished by presidential decree. One of the representatives appointed by Marcos was Eddie (“Kuya Eddie”) Ilarde, a popular TV-radio personality from the 60s and 70s, who sponsored a parliamentary bill on August 14, 1978 seeking to change the name of the Philippines to Maharlika.

Unfortunately for Ilarde, Maharlika was inexorably linked to Marcos who claimed that it was the name of the guerilla unit he formed and led in WW II. It turned out to be a hoax along with his claim that he was the
most decorated soldier of WW II.

[Before his claim was exposed, Marcos' cronies had produced a Hollywood movie entitled “Maharlika” about his alleged war exploits. A Hollywood starlet named Dovie Beams played an American nurse who became the love interest of the fictional guerilla Marcos. What was supposed to only be in reel became real when “Lovey Dovie” became Marcos' mistress.]

The term “Filipino nationalism” is a contradiction in terms. To be a nationalist is to be anti-colonial as “nationalism,” declared Sen. Claro M. Recto, “is the natural antagonist of colonialism.” To be a Filipino is to be a subject of King Felipe II. To be a nationalist is to refuse to be a colonial subject. So how can one be a "Filipino nationalist"?

Whether it is Maharlika, Katagalugan or Bayanihan, the time has come to
discard the name Philippines or Filipinas.

(Send comments to or log on to or write to Law Offices of Rodel Rodis at 2429 Ocean Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94127, or call (415) 334-7800.)

Going to the Dogs

PerryScope: Perry Diaz

With all the scandals and anomalies which have erupted during Gloria Arroyo's tumultuous reign, it seems that the Philippines is going to the dogs or could it have gone already to the dogs. With a highly politicized military and an abjectly dysfunctional Congress, the Supreme Court appears to be the only branch of government that has not yet deteriorated. However, some members of the Judiciary have used their position to achieve ends other than protecting the law and safeguarding the constitution of the land.

In my article, "Reign of the Kleptocrats (January 19, 2007)," I said of former Justice Secretary Hernando "Nani" Perez: "The Perez corruption case is one of the most despicable corruption cases because, as the chief guardian of the law, he brazenly broke the law that he swore to protect. He was responsible for the prosecution of law-breakers and now he is prosecuted for breaking the law."

Gloria appointed Perez, an intimate friend, as the Top Lawman of the land after she assumed the presidency on January 20, 2001 when Joseph Estrada was ousted President during the "People Power" EDSA II revolution. Four days later, Perez approved the controversial IMPSA deal in which he allegedly received a $2-million bribe for his ruling favorable to the Argentine-based company. It was also alleged that this amount was part of a $14-million bribe given to Arroyo administration officials. The First Gentleman, Mike Arroyo, was also implicated in the scandal.

Recently, a "bombshell" was dropped involving the two Sabio brothers in the GSIS-Meralco feud. It all started when Associate Justice Jose Sabio Jr. of the Court of Appeals complained that a certain Francis de Borja who, on behalf of Meralco, offered him a P10-million bribe to inhibit himself from the case filed against Meralco, presumably a move that would benefit Meralco. As soon as Justice Sabio disclosed the offer of bribery, de Borja countered and alleged that Justice Sabio wanted P50 million instead. According to de Borja, Sabio told him that Malacanang had offered him a large amount plus a promotion to the Supreme Court. Apparently, Sabio would have preferred P50 million to a promotion to the High Court. Needless to say, Sabio denied de Borja's allegation.

As all of these events were going on, Jesus Santos, a lawyer of First Gentleman Mike Arroyo and a member of the GSIS Board of Trustees, called Camilo Sabio -- older brother of Justice Sabio and Chairman of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) -- to ask for "help" on behalf of GSIS General Manager Winston Garcia. Santos later admitted that he indeed called Chairman Sabio on May 30, 2008. In an interview with dzBB radio station, Santos said: "We are not trying to influence the courts. We were just asking for help for GSIS president and general manager Winston Garcia, for his campaign to give justice to consumers and fellow Filipinos abused by Meralco's policies." Would anybody believe that?

The scandal prompted Senator Ping Lacson to call for the disbarment of Santos and PCGG Chairman Camilo Sabio. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court also formed a panel to investigate the role of the PCGG Chairman in the bribery scandal. But like what had happened in several scandals involving government officials, Malacanang hastily sent Sabio on an "official" trip to Brazil, Austria, and the United Kingdom from August 14 to 30. When his brother Justice Sabio was summoned to testify before the Supreme Court investigation panel, he admitted that his brother Camilo called him twice to influence him to decide in favor of GSIS. With his testimony, the link from Winston Garcia to Justice Sabio was established with Justice Sabio's brother Camilo as the conduit.

On June 12, 2008, several senators called for Camilo Sabio's resignation or removal from office. It is interesting to note that Camilo Sabio was arrested in September 2006 by the Senate for ignoring a Senate subpoena to answer accusations that he and other PCGG commissioners dissipated funds from sequestered Marcos properties. What I found abominable is that Sabio is supposed to be the anti-corruption crusader and advocate for "good government" but as it has turned out, he may have betrayed his duty to the people he swore to protect. What a shame.

Last September 1, 2008, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) published a paid statement seeking the resignation of Court of Appeals justices involved in the bribery scandal and influence peddling in the GSIS-Meralco case. The statement said that "resignation would salvage what is left of the integrity of the Court and is a necessary sacrifice that needs to be made by those whose names have been dragged into the scandal." Now is the opportune time for the Judiciary to clean up house and restore high ethical standards among its members from the Supreme Court down to the Municipal Courts.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Let’s Celebrate Music - Because Life without Music is (nothing)

So say these multi-talented Toronto-based Filipino-Canadian musicians and performers.

Toronto, Canada: It is not difficult to bring together musicians and performers as celebrated and as accomplished as these seven musicians. While each one of them tread their individual musical paths and have built a name for themselves, they all welcomed the idea of performing together in one show—Celebrate Music with Josie.

“Life without music is like having your lover but without love in the relationship,” Karen Tan, one of Josie’s co-celebrators, speaks from a woman’s soul. “Music soothes the life inside each of us and expresses our feelings everyday. My life is a continuous melody of love songs that I share with all of God’s creatures.

Jules Tinsay maintains that “life without music is simply living without any story to tell. With the busy life that he has, Jules says “music is soul food to go! Music brings solace to one’s soul.”

Giving credit to his Dad for his musical gift, Marvin de Guzman says, “I grew up with music around me. My dad was a musician and I suppose I inherited his musical genes. Music has always been my passion and I just can't imagine life without it.”

“I would celebrate music because it’s really a large part of being human, of humanity. We people celebrate occasions like birth, marriage, national days of independence, holy days and even sexual orientation. I celebrate music everyday in my profession,” adds Mikey Bustos.

Leander Mendoza on the other hand, confesses “My life without music would be meaningless. Music is what defines me as a person because I relate to people and life experiences through music. I communicate through music-- sometimes better than I do through speech. My life with no music means not living at all. My spirit thrives in music therefore I cannot live without it. Music is a gift from God. It is my great desire to bring back the glory to Him as I sing and make music because He is the Artist of my soul.

Musical director for Celebrate Music with Josie Mon Torralba, amidst his various engagements, is anticipating working on Josie’s music line up which Torralba is expected to ingeniously elevate to a level that the musicians themselves will perform from their heart and soul and that the crowd will enjoy and remember.

For her part, Josie de Leon enthuses “I am thrilled, anxious, privileged, humbled to be working with greats like Karen, Jules, Mikey, Leander, Marvin and of course, to have Mon Torralba for my musical director. I have done shows separately with these guys but this is the first time they are collaborating with me in my own show. And I can only promise, that with talents as immense and as celebrated as them, autumn will be a most welcome season when we Celebrate Music together.”

Celebrate Music with Josie takes overall direction from Jing de Leon. “This show,” de Leon says, “is to celebrate the gift of music. We are not celebrating WITH music but we are actually celebrating music for what it is.”

Celebrate Music with Josie is produced by Studio Six and will be seen on stage October 10, 2008 at the PC Ho Theatre at the Chinese Cultural Centre in Scarborough. For tickets, information please visit or call 905-785-7538.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The War Gloria Has Been Waiting For

PerryScope: by Perry Diaz

The ugly turn of events in Mindanao in the past several weeks makes me wonder if what happened was accidental or deliberate. It may seem accidental, but in politics events are sometimes programmed to make them look accidental but in reality were deliberately planned.

After drafting a Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) that seemed to be in violation of the constitution, Gloria -- to avoid embarrassment by a Supreme Court reversal -- canceled the MOA-AD. But any intelligent person -- and Gloria is a very intelligent woman -- would know that the MOA-AD violated the constitution. So, why did she push hard for the signing of the controversial treaty when she knew that it wouldn't pass the scrutiny of the Supreme Court and Congress. What did she really have in mind?

What I find intriguing was that Gloria preempted the Supreme Court by canceling the MOA-AD before the High Court could decide on whether the agreement was in order or not. Had she allowed the High Court to reject the MOA-AD, she could have washed her hands and blame the High Court for denying the Muslim Filipinos' right to a homeland or ancestral domain. She could then renegotiate the MOA-AD and make it more compliant with the constitution. That would have been a win-win situation. And she would have redeemed herself and at the same time demonstrate her statesmanship. And, the Muslims will have their Bangsamoro homeland and perhaps peace will finally reign in Mindanao. Who knows, Gloria might even be able to tweak the constitution and achieve her dream of an "Enchanted Kingdom" as the nation's Prime Minister for the next 20 years. That would have been the high road for her to take. But she chose to waddle in murky waters.

Gloria played a queen's gambit by sacrificing the MOA-AD to gain a strategic offensive position against the MILF. The MILF fell for it and declared that they will not renegotiate the MOA-AD claiming that the treaty is a "done deal." Immediately, elements of the MILF went on the offensive and struck at government forces as well as civilians. Civilian casualties were heavy and more than 200,000 were displaced.

On August 18, 2008, Gloria addressed the nation and said: "We will not tolerate and will crush any attempt to disrupt peace and development in Mindanao. I'm also calling for an emergency meeting of the National Security Council this afternoon. I'm with you in peace. We're all in this together." She then convened the NSC Cabinet cluster -- not the entire council which includes the past presidents and congressional leaders. Gloria then instructed the members -- many of whom are retired generals serving in her administration -- to come up with recommendations on how to deal with the Mindanao imbroglio. I wouldn't be surprised if the generals would recommend an "all-out war" against the MILF.

Of course we all know that an "all-out war" is not going to vanquish the MILF or, on broader scale, the Muslims of Mindanao. The Muslims in Mindanao have never been totally subjugated in the last 500 years. War between the government and the Muslims would only end in stalemate.

The Arroyo government has made its position: It will not sign the MOA-AD in its present form. The government also demanded that the MILF turn in the three "rogue" commanders who initiated the attacks in Mindanao. In addition, the government said it will only renegotiate with the MILF only if they surrendered their weapons. The MILF's position is: It is willing to go back to the negotiation table; however, it considered the MOA-AD a "done deal" and will never renegotiate it. In regard to surrendering the "rogue" commanders, MILF said, "No way." Unless the parties change their positions, the peace process is in the deep freeze. And for now, it's war

I often wonder what Gloria had in mind when she appointed her retired Chief of Staff, Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, as Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process in Mindanao. It was like putting a wolf in sheep's skin. And true enough, the moment Esperon took charge of the "peace process," the whole thing went haywire. His predecessor, Jess Dureza, said that the draft of the MOA-AD had been changed drastically where he left off.

I am beginning to suspect that the real objective of Gloria was to create a "war," not the peace that she had been parroting for the past weeks. It's beginning to sound like a broken record. Indeed, this could be the war that Gloria has been waiting for to put in place a scenario that would ultimately end in a martial law. Indeed, all the signs are there for Gloria to replicate what Ferdinand Marcos did in 1972 and Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan in 1999. They were both supported by the U.S. Marcos stayed in power for 14 years before Uncle Sam booted him out of the country and dumped him in Hawaii. Musharraf was in power for nine years until Uncle Sam forced him to resign last week. Can Gloria do 10?


Thursday, August 21, 2008

FHM sexiest Katrina Halili in 'Fantasies' Concert series

Los Angeles: Katrina Halili, Jonalyn Viray, and Marco Sison met with LA media at Max's Glendale before their show on Friday, August 22 at the Pala Casino in San Diego Saturday's show at Celebrity Center in Hollywood.

Katrina Halili is an alumna of the StarStruck talent search and twice voted as FHM Philippines sexiest woman for the year in 2006 and 2007. She is the only Filipina celebrity to have won the title twice in a row. She played Angelika in Marimar and currently plays Christine in Magdusa Ka opposites Dennis Trillo. She will remake the Vilma Santos’ movie, Miss X and will star in Octo Arts’ One Night Only. Also, she plays opposite Robin Padilla in Sundo and will be the leading lady of Dennis Trillo in Gagambino. Currently, she is the maiden feature actress in OBRA.

Jonalyn Viray was the first ever Pinoy Pop Superstar Grand Champion. She is known as the Soul Princess of the Philippines and the voice behind the Darna theme song “Di Na Mag-iisa”. In 2007, Jonalyn competed at Hollywood’s World Championships of Performing Arts (WCOPA) and was awarded the Industry Award Female Vocal Solo for winning five gold medals.

KATRINA HALILI in "FANTASIES" at PALA CASINO, SAN DIEGO, CA FRIDAY, AUG. 22, 2008, 7:00 PM Featuring JONALYN VIRAY and (Pala Casino show only) MARCO SISON with Special Guest Comedians POCA & REY KILAY. Celebrity Center Hollywood on AUG. 23, 2008.

KATRINA HALILI Live in STOCKTON, CA FRIDAY, AUG. 29, 2008 Featuring JONALYN VIRAY and Ichiban Resident Comedians, POCA (2008 Miss Gay California) and REY KILAY at Empire Theatre, 1825 Pacific Ave., Stockton, CA 95204 • KATRINA HALILI in "FANTASIES" Live in SAN FRANCISCO, CA SATURDAY, AUG. 30, 2008, 6:00PM Featuring JONALYN VIRAY, KRIS LAWRENCE, POCA and REY KILAY at South San Fancisco High School Auditorium, 400 B Street, South San Francisco, CA 94080