Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pinatubo Eruption Images to be unveiled by Philippine Photojournalists arriving in the U.S.

(Photo by Nicholas Vargas)

Press Release:

A group of Filipino photojournalists who were there to capture the eruption of the century—that of Mt. Pinatubo—is flying to the United States for a coast-to-coast tour of a photo exhibit dubbed “20 Years After the Eruption.”

Arriving from the Philippines are the following veteran photojournalists:Meet veteran photojournalists arriving from the Philippines who covered the Pinatubo eruption in 1991:

1. Alberto Garcia, Manila Bulletin Photo Editor
2. Jose Ventoza Galvez, Jr., PPP current President, GMA-7 Online Photo Editor
3. Heraldo Garcia Cabrido, Photography Consultant, Philippine Daily Inquirer
4. Jose Enrique Santos Soriano, Freelance Photojournalist
5. Valeriano Handumon, Photojournalist, European Photo Agency Manila
6. Teodoro C, Aljibe, Chief Photographer, Agence France Presse MANILA (AFP)
7. Angelo Andres Martin De Silva, Freelance Photojournalist
8. Rosario Sofia Santos Villa, ABS-CBN
9. Arlyn dela Cruz Collantes, NET 25
10.Leopoldo Flores Pusing, Journalist, Coordinator Mt. Pinatubo Media Survivor
11. Ernie Sarmiento, chief photographer, Phil. Daily Inquirer.

Organized by Sining Kambayoka, the Filipino American Press Club and the city of Carson, the exhibit will be staged during Filipino Heritage Month at Southbay Pavilion Shopping Center in Carson City, California on Oct. 1-31.

The exhibit features more than 50 photographs shot during and after the eruption, including Albert Garcia’s iconic photo that won first prize in the Nature Category in the World Press Photographers contest.

Photo of a massive dark cloud about to engulf a fleeing vehicle is also one of the “Great Images of the 20th Century” as chosen by Time and one of the “100 Best Pictures of the 20th Century” of National Geographic.

To get a better idea of how spectacular Alberto Garcia’s photo is, the 20th century encompasses two World Wars, the rise and fall of several great nations, new discoveries, inventions and scientific explorations.

Aside from Garcia, now photo editor at Manila Bulletin, coming to the US are former Inquirer photography consultant Heraldo “Boy” Cabrido, the man behind the exhibit; Charie Villa of ABS-CBN, GMA-7’s online photo editor Joe Galvez, Arlyn dela Cruz of Net25 and chief photographers of other newspapers and news bureaus based in the Philippines, 11 in all.

Currently, the exhibit is on a nationwide tour of the Philippines. In the US, the exhibit will also go to San Francisco, Las Vegas, Chicago and New York.

Sponsors are the Department of Tourism, Philippine Airlines, Pagcor, TIEZA, Smart Communications, YKL and SM Malls with media partners ABS-CBN, GMA-7, The Filipino Channel, Net25, Philippine Daily Inquirer and Business Mirror.

( Above is a photo of the media planning meeting held at Carson Ca. on Sept 24, 2011 in preparation for the Oct 1 Exhibit. US-based journalists (from left, standing) are Jay Fermin, Nick Sagmit, Jun (Dong) Camacho, Albert Vargas, Rhony Laigo, Nimfa Rueda, Joe Cobilla, Ed Galvez, Nick Arriola, Jess Fonseca, Romeo Balboa. Seated are Vics Magsaysay, Robert Gamo and Art dela Rosa. Not in photo is Benny Uy, who had to leave early for an assignment and Ver Penaranda. The Tambayayong (Bayanihan) Festival will be held at the Southbay Pavilion (Carson Mall) Oct. 1-31. )

Pinatubo Eruption photo by Alberto Garcia / Corbis

Sunday, September 4, 2011



(LOS ANGELES) – The region’s biggest Filipino party and most fun-filled, annual tradition, the Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture (FPAC), celebrates its 20th Anniversary with its grandest event yet, September 10-11, 2011 at beautiful seaside Point Fermin Park in San Pedro.

Iconic singer and stage actress Lea Salonga, who first gained artistic and international acclaim for her historic Tony Award-winning role in Miss Saigon and first-ever Filipino winner of a Tony Award, will be awarded one of two special FPAC20 Awards for Artistic Excellence during the weekend.

Also to be honored with the special FPAC20 Award of Artistic Excellence, The multi-faceted Faustino Caigoy, a painter, noted illustrator of children’s books, author of his own collection of poetry, and teacher in traditional Filipino arts of baybayin and martial arts Kali, Eskrima and Arnis. Additionally, DJ E-Man, of top rated Los Angeles radio station Power 106 will receive the 2011 FPAC Media Artist Award.

FPAC20 will also see encore performances by two of its most-requested artists to ever grace FPAC stages in Latin Soul Legend, Joe Bataan, direct from Harlem, New York and premiere Filipino American Comedian, Rex Navarrete who returns stateside after a successful mini tour of Singapore and The Philippines.

The Filipino American Symphony Orchestra (FASO), a successful venture into staging world class Pinoy classical musicianship, will make its festival debut.

“I feel like it’s a part of my home,” said Joe Bataan about the Festival where he last performed in 2008. “It’s always gratifying to go back there because it’s an opportunity for an artist like myself to meet my own people.”

The festival takes place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10 and Sunday, Sept. 11. Admission is $7 pre-sale or $9 at the door. Children 5 and under are free.

Now celebrating two decades of tradition, FPAC annually features a variety of pavilions and stages for Filipino artists to showcase their work. Two stages present traditional to contemporary artistry in music, dance, spoken word, and comedy. The Pilipino Artists Network (PAN) Pavilion highlights visual artistry and craftsmanship in live painting, book readings, Baybayin (Filipino script) workshops, and artwork for sale. At the Seniors’ Village, one enjoys Harana (serenading) and story-telling. The Youth Pavilion engages youth in kite-making, dance workshops, and Pustura (Dress-up in traditional Filipino costumes), and arts and crafts. FPAC is truly a family event with something for every age to enjoy.

In a nod toward Southern California foodie culture, FPAC will again feature the highly popular Filipino food trucks as part of its culinary stage/food booth area where delicious and authentic Filipino cuisine can be sampled.

New to the festival, and testament to the rise of Filipino Americans on the culinary landscape, a stage within a stage called “Sweet Naman” will feature popular, high-end artisanal desserts from Delicieuse (gourmet ice cream), Tasty Clouds (gourmet cotton candy) and CrèmeCaramel (leche flan and bread pudding).

All three are Filipino-owned businesses and all will be making their respective Filipino community debuts – another FPAC hallmark through the years.

The festival continues to celebrate with festival-goers’ favorites such as the youth Ati-Atihan parade, the Annual Vegetable Growing Competition, the Balut-Eating Contest, the Hip Hop Dance Showcase, and the Annual Tinikling Battle.

The City of Los Angeles first initiated FPAC in 1992. After seven years, its stewardship
transferred to a non-profit organization now known as FilAm ARTS – the Association for the Advancement of Filipino American Arts & Culture.

"(The festival) still remains true to its original intent since its inception: It was designed to be a common
ground.The aim of FPAC is to be as inclusive in every which way possible," explains Executive Director Jilly Canizares. "This is seen in the conscious programming to include the rich diversity of Philippine artistic expressions – from old to new, traditional to contemporary, visual arts to performing. Coming to the Festival gives a true slice of the Filipino American community."

FPAC receives government support through the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, the City of LA Department of Cultural Affairs, the LA Department of Recreation and Parks. It is also funded in part by the California Community Foundation, the James Irvine Foundation, the Alliance for California Traditional Arts, the Getty Foundation, and individual donors. This year’s media sponsors include LA 18 KSCI-TV, Asian Journal Publications,, Oishi Media, as well community sponsor the Southern California Pilipino American Student Alliance.

Free parking with complimentary shuttle service to Pt. Fermin Park is available at the spacious parking lot on 22nd street and Sampson Way.

For more information on ticket sales, parking information, sponsorship opportunities, exhibitor booth and table, and volunteer opportunities, log onto, or call (213) 380- FPAC.

Artist Lynda A. N. Reyes at the Brand 40 Exhibit

A most recent watercolor painting by Lynda A. N. Reyes titled “Exit Way” will be featured in the Brand 40 Annual National Juried Exhibition of Works on Paper from September 17 – October 28, 2011 at the Brand Library Art Galleries in Glendale, California. The artists' reception and awards ceremony will take place on September 17, 2011 from 6-9 pm.

Reyes' watercolor entry was selected from over 600 entries submitted by 253 artists from all over the United States. Themed “Entrances and Exits”, the exhibition features 93 works on paper in a variety of media, including photography, drawings, watercolors, mixed media works, etchings, linocuts, lithographs and monotypes, etc. Peter Frank, art critic for the Huffington Post and Adjunct Senior Curator at the Riverside Art Museum is the juror for the Brand 40. He was art critic for Angeleno magazine and the L. A. Weekly and was Editor for THEmagazine Los Angeles and Visions Art Quarterly. While in New York, Frank served as art critic for The Village Voice and The SoHo Weekly News. He has organized numerous themed and survey shows, most notably the1981 Exxon National Exhibition titled "19 Artists – Emergent Americans" at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. He has written and published books such as New, Used & Improved, an overview of the New York art scene with co-author Michael McKenzie.

This is Lynda's second participation in the “Works on Paper” national exhibit. In 2009, her watercolor painting titled “Structure Rising” was featured in the Brand 38. She has also participated in other juried exhibits such as the 2010 Annual National Watercolor Society All Member Show, the Pasadena Society of Artists shows at the VIVA Gallery, ASC in Pasadena and in several other group exhibits at the Eagle Rock Center for the Arts, the Arts and Books Gallery in LA, the Glendale College Art Gallery, the Brand Gallery and the Pete and Susan Barrett Gallery in Santa Monica. In 2010, her landscape in oil titled “Dusk at Port Hueneme” was chosen as finalist in the 27th Annual Art Competition of the Artist's Magazine.

The public will again witness Lynda's mastery of watercolor when she joins women artists in a juried exhibit at the SOMArts Gallery in San Francisco under the auspices of the Women's Caucus for Art titled “Reversing the Gaze”. Two of her watercolor paintings will be part of the show that runs from November 4th to the 30th, 2011. Lynda is a full-time professional artist and accepts portrait commissions in oil and watercolor. She is a member of the National Watercolor Society

Lynda is also an art historian and an author. She is best known in the international academia for her pioneering book entitled "The Textiles of Southern Philippines” and her published studies in Philippine ethnic art. Her book is currently in the collection of 141 libraries of major universities and museums all over the world. She was one of 48 recipients worldwide of an International Fellowship Award from the American Association of University Women. She completed her Masters in Art history with a graduate fellowship grant at Northern Illinois University. Lynda has taught at the University of the Philippines Manila, Glendale College and at several community colleges in LA area, including Santa Monica College and Pasadena City College.

The Brand Library Art Galleries, the art and music division of the Glendale Public Library, showcase works by established and emerging artists from all over the US. The Art Galleries and Art Center have huge and stunning exhibition spaces set in a magnificent park-like environment. “Works on Paper” exhibits started over ten years ago and the presence of jurors became a key component of each show. Most jurors are well-known artists, such as Gerald Brommer, Martin Mondrus, Jim Morphesis, Lita Albuquerque, Kim Abeles and Ruth Weisberg. Curator Gloria Williams Sander of the Norton Simon Museum of Art was juror for Brand 39 and for the current Brand 40, the juror is a noted art critic, writer and editor Peter Frank.

Admission to the galleries is free and open to the public. The gallery is located at 1601 West Mountain Street in Glendale, California 91201-1200. The hours of operation are Tuesday and Thursday from 12 to 8 pm, Wednesday from 12 to 6 pm and Friday and Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm. For more information, please call 818-548-2051 or visit Visit for more information about Lynda A. N. Reyes.

Media Contact:

Albert Natian
(818) 548-2687

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Free Bread to Help in these Economic Times

On any given Saturday, the 46-year-old Joseph ‘Jimmy’ Lewis picks up bread and other donated items from a local Vons early in the morning and fills the cabin of his white Denali and takes it to the streets. He starts his ‘bread run’ throughout Altadena, Pasadena, and Los Angeles.

When his grandfather Isaac Walker took it upon himself to feed the local homeless 13 years ago he didn’t anticipate that his grandson, a known gangbanger, would one day succeed him.

But in 2008, that once-troubled grandson, Joseph ‘Jimmy’ Lewis, discovered that taking the baton from his aging grandfather and helping the needy has become not just a passion but a way to help out in this hard economic times.

From the local Vons, he drives to local churches, community centers, gas stations, and to the McDonald’s parking lot at Historic Filipino Town, where he distributes the items to anyone who asks.

On this particular Saturday, a group of Filipino-American World War II veterans and their family members converge at the back cabin of his white Denali to get free bread, cookies, and a cake.

Lewis says it is his way of being part of the solution to the pressing economy. Jimmy has now stepped up and relieve his grandfather in distributing the food, the latter who is now in his 90’s.

Jimmy has a special feeling for the Filipino-American World War II veterans. His grandfather Isaac, served with the Tuskegee Airmen 332nd Air Wing, and was stationed in the Philippine Islands during the war. He met his wife Pilar, Jimmy’s grandmother, in the Philippines. Grandma Pilar comes from the big city of Iloilo in Western Visayas.

On this particular Saturday, he urges the gathering crowd at the parking lot of the McDonald’s on the corner of Temple and Alvarado Streets to ‘take as much as you need’.

A lady joins the crowd as Jimmy hands her a full loaf of bread. She asks if the bread is really free. As it turned out, the lady is new to Los Angeles, moving in from Florida. She cannot believe it at first. It was a good welcome for her to ‘the city of Angels.’

Friday, July 15, 2011

PAE Live! Presents “generatioNext!”




(Los Angeles, CA.) The dynamic worlds of hip hop dance and contemporary urban music come together at the historic Ford Amphitheatre on Sunday, August 7 as PAE Live! presents “generatioNext!”, a concert featuring the next wave of sensational YouTube musicians, singers, comedians and dancers together for the first time. A portion of the net proceeds will benefit ongoing Japan rebuilding efforts. “generatioNext!” will be hosted by America’s Best Dance Crew Season 3 champions “Quest Crew”. Accomplished dancers, each with their own specialty and style, Quest Crew brings to the stage a great mix of humor, musicality, eye-popping tricks and innovative choreography.

Leading the music charge are two very distinct performers, although the roots of their influences lie in soul and R&B. Dawen, a sing-songwriter based in Los Angeles with a lyrical style, a smooth baritone voice and a sensual falsetto (a la Maxwell), has what MTV Iggy called “an eclectically soulful style reminiscent of artists as quirky as Nellie McKay and as sensual as Seal”. His exploration of the American life through song fuses soul and R&B with funk and jazz.

San Diego based singer/songwriter/performer J-Ricz brings a new wave of vision and creativity to the R&B/Pop genre. The ex-Next Phaze member who is making a name for himself not only in the U.S. but in Japan as well says, “It’s the passion for music and the drive to inspire others that really matters in the end.” J-Ricz’s performance will be a tribute to “old school” R&B including a song influenced by the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

American Idol Finalist Andrew Garcia will make a special appearance. The singer from Moreno Valley placed ninth in the Fox reality competition series on Season 9 but is noted for his unique take on Paula Abdul’s number 1 smash, “Straight Up. Official sponsor Akufuncture brings its family of artists to “generatioNext!”. Established in 2009, Akufuncture continues to pioneer Chinese inspired fashion, riding the fine dichotomy of high fashion and street-wear and fueling the inspiration in global fashion for generations. In addition to Dawen, Akufuncture is sponsoring several up-and-coming talents, including afterschoolspecial, the San Diego-based band who describe themselves as “a musical hurricane on a collision course with awesome”. Since their conception in 2007, what started out as performances in local bars has grown to playing alongside national acts and touring nationwide. Influenced by artists like Linkin Park, Atmosphere and the Beastie Boys, afterschoolspecial has created a unique blend of rock, rap, folk and soul that continues to break down musical barriers. Akufuncture will also present The Fung Brothers, David and Andrew, who infuse hip hop music with their unique brand of comedy and singer/songwriter and YouTube hit Kevin Lien.

Two other performing artists round out the evening’s lineup. San Francisco bay native trio Innerlude – James, Eric and Cyrus – will serve up a toxic blend of R&B/Pop tunes that showcase remarkable vocal prowess and Mahi Crabbe, a Polynesian singer/songwriter based in Las Vegas, will take the stage with his brand of acoustic guitar pop music. Mahi is a finalist is the first ever Pacific Island Talent Contest. His music is a fusion of island rhythms, reggae and Polynesian pop. Additional artists will be confirmed in the coming weeks. Artist lineup is subject to change.

With “generatioNext!”, PAE Live! will be donating a portion of the net proceeds directly to the Japan Red Cross in support of the continuing rebuilding efforts the country has been doing since the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March. “generatioNext!” is sponsored by Akufuncture,, KPFK 90.7 and KSCI Channel 18.

“generatioNext!” takes place at the Ford Amphitheatre, located at 2580 Cahuenga Boulevard East, Hollywood, CA. 90068, just off the 101 Hollywood Freeway across from the Hollywood Bowl and south of Universal Studios. The grounds open two hours before show time for picnicking. The Ford offers a number of dining options: a variety of food and beverages is available on site and box dinners for evening events may be ordered in advance. Patrons are welcome to bring their own food and drink.

The Ford is disabled accessible. Portable wireless listening devices are available upon request. On-site, stacked parking costs $5 per vehicle for evening shows and $1 per vehicle for morning family shows. For evening shows only, FREE non-stacked parking serviced by a FREE shuttle to the Ford, for evening amphitheatre performances only, is available at the Universal City Metro Station lot at Lankershim Blvd. and Campo de Cahuenga. The shuttle, which cycles every 15 – 20 minutes, stops in the “kiss and ride” area.

Tickets, priced at $45 and $30 and are available at or at 323-461-3673 (for non-visual media 323 GO 1-FORD). Through the Ford’s early buyer incentive, patrons who buy tickets on or before July 31 pay only $40 and $25. Special $75 VIP tickets allow for premium seating, a souvenir, specially designed T-shirt and a private meet and greet with the artists prior to showtime. This event is part of the Ford Amphitheatre 2011 Season, a multi-disciplinary arts series produced by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission in cooperation with Los Angeles County-based arts organizations. For a complete season schedule, directions to the theater and parking information, please visit

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bantay Bata 163 meets with Fil-Ams at PhilConGen L.A.

Photo shows Tina Monzon-Palma explain the mission of Bantay Bata 163 (photo by PCGLA)

Los Angeles, 3 May 2011 – Ms. Tina Monzon-Palma of Bantay Bata 163 (BB163) explains the mission of BB163 to members of the Filipino-American community who attended the presentation on BB163 which was held on 2 May 2011 at the Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles.

BB163 is a child welfare program of ABS-CBN Foundation that not only rescues and rehabilitates sick and abused children, but also provides shelter, therapy and quality home care for rescued children until they can be reunited with their families or referred to proper child-caring agencies.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

I LOVE YOU To Premiere At Newport Beach Film Festival

I LOVE YOU To Premiere At Newport Beach Film Festival April 30
All Star Cast Includes Briana Evigan And Jericho Rosales In First Mainstream Role

(Newport Beach, CA) SUBJECT: I LOVE YOU, the much anticipated romantic thriller feature set at the turn of the millennium, will make its World Premiere at the Newport Beach Film Festival, 5:30 p.m., Saturday, April 30 at the historic Lido Theatre in Newport Beach.

Filmed entirely in The Philippines, the film features a stellar, multinational cast directed by Manila-born director, Francis dela Torre.

A joint venture between upstart Manila-based production company Tectonic Films and Radiant Studios, the ambitious independent project features a stellar, multinational cast and stars Briana Evigan (STEP UP 2 THE STREETS, SORORITY SISTERS), Dante Basco (TAKE THE LEAD, HOOK), Kristin Bauer (TRUE BLOOD), Dean Cain (LOIS AND CLARK) Apl de Ap (Black Eye Peas) and Filipino Superstars, Gary Valenciano and Jericho Rosales.

Based on events which lead to the creation and global spread of the infamous "I love you" computer virus which infected millions of computers including the systems of The Pentagon, Parliament and the CIA, the film centers on Victor (Jericho Rosales), a working class student in Manila who meets and falls instantly for a popular touring DJ named Butterfly (Briana Evigan). He is the stable, localized yin to her unfixed, cosmopolitan yang and in classic love story fashion, the opposites attract.

Utilizing exotic and picturesque locales, the film follows the two on their developing romance. But that is just the preamble to a thriller involving international intrigue on which Victor and Butterfly find themselves caught up and eventually, separated and desperately struggling to reconnect.

"I'm a believer -- (the production) are believers -- in The Philippines and we specifically sought to make the film back home," said writer/director dela Torre. "The setting may be localized but, there is no mistaking that the story and the film is universal in scope. We are excited at the results and very much anticipate screening it before a public audience for the first time at the Premiere."

Fans of Jericho Rosales will undoubtedly be anticipating the film as well as it represents the Filipino star's mainstream motion picture debut.

"It was a great experience to work with 'Echo (Rosales), he's a great actor'" added dela Torre, an alumnus of the USC School of Cinematic Arts. "I was humbled with having to work with such an amazingly talented cast. I think audiences will be very pleased with what they see. They are in for a ride."

The cast are expected to attend the premiere with festivities beginning at 4:30 with red carpet arrivals.

The World Premiere of SUBJECT: I LOVE YOU is open to the public. Tickets are just $12 and are now on sale through the film festival website box office at Newport Film Festival or at the Lido Theatre
box office located at 3459 Via Lido (@ Newport Blvd.) in Newport Beach, 92663.

For the film's official trailer,

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Quo Vadis, P-Noy?

PerryScope: by Perry Diaz

Ten months into his presidency, President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III seems like he’s lost in the jungle of Pinoy politics where the dynamics are constantly changing. As an avid shooting enthusiast, he knows that it’s difficult to lock the crosshairs on a distant and moving target. So, he’s left with one option: take the offensive and attack in close combat. And attack he did.

Word war

First, he declared war against Ombudsman Merceditas “Merci” Gutierrez. No sooner had it reached the broadsheets, the opposition counter attacked, saying, “Noy wants war, war he’ll get!” And this is where the word war had taken a sharp turn drawing into the fray no less than ex-president and now congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo herself who claimed that the country has now a “vacuum of leadership” under P-Noy. Gloria also accused P-Noy’s administration of being obsessed in “demonizing” her. But deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte was quick to belie Gloria’s claim, saying, “We just cannot avoid addressing the problems we inherited from her when President Benigno Aquino III assumed office last June 30.” Touché!

With Gloria deeply embroiled in a word war with P-Noy, the battleground is set for the grand battles ahead, beginning with the Senate trial on the impeachment of Merci, which is scheduled to start on May 9, 2011.

P-Noy’s political future might hinge on Merci’s impeachment trial. If Merci were impeached, then P-Noy would be ready to take the final offensive against Gloria; otherwise, his anti-corruption campaign might take a severe setback. Indeed, it could be so severe that it could bring his anti-corruption crusade to shambles and usher in the return of the corrupt dynasties for a clean sweep of the elections in 2016.

SWS surveys

With P-Noy’s recent Social Weather Station (SWS) “favorable” rating down by five percent (from 74% to 69%) and his “unfavorable” rating doubling (from 9% to 18%) with a net rating of 51%, he has to change his strategy if he wants to achieve the Pagbabago (change) that he promised during the campaign last year.

Although he made an impressive progress in revving up the economy – the GDP per capita has doubled in the past 10 years to $2,000! -- he has yet to address the plight of the poor. Hunger continues to be the biggest obstacle in the fight against poverty. Under his watch, 20.5%( up from 15.9%) of respondents experienced hunger in the past three months while 51% (up from 48%) considered themselves to be poor. However, hunger and poverty have been prevalent for at least the past decade.

The danger that P-Noy faces is if he can’t find a way to alleviate the suffering of the poor, then the poor could turn – in desperation -- to a false “messiah” in the 2016 election, who would hammer in the argument that the 1986 EDSA people power revolution failed and that the people were better off before the “Yellow Army” took over the land. It’s an effective populist demagoguery -- give hope to the hopeless -- that panders to the emotions of the powerless poor.

Indeed, when people find themselves aimlessly wandering in the wilderness of hopelessness, they’re prone to fall prey to charlatans peddling snake oil to cure the social ills of the country. And, yes, they’re already out there. Some have already gone to the extent of repackaging and waxing over the “failures” of the past into bright “promises” of the future. And if you were poor and hungry, wouldn’t you take it?


P-Noy needs to remember that he was overwhelmingly elected on his campaign promise, “Walang corrupt, walang mahirap” (No corruption, no poverty). Although he kept on telling the people that he’s going after corrupt officials in his government as well as those in the previous administration, not much has been done, which make people wonder if he is really serious about fighting corruption. His cry of “Heads will roll!” is beginning to sound like a broken record. Indeed, heads have yet to roll.

P-Noy had a chance to prove that he was serious about fighting corruption when his “shooting buddy,” Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Rico E. Puno, was accused of receiving payola from jueteng lords. Many believe that Puno was corrupt to the bone. When Puno publicly offered to resign from his position, P-Noy should have accepted it without batting an eye. Instead, he reaffirmed his unqualified confidence and told him to stay. Since then Puno has stealthily performed in his job, quietly laying low out of the range of the media’s radar. However, his “phantom” existence in a sensitive government post makes people wonder why P-Noy would still keep him like an albatross around his neck.

Recently, the Department of Justice (DOJ) recommended that Land Transportation Office (LTO) Chief Virginia Torres be suspended for the failed takeover of Stradcom, the sole information technology service provider of LTO. In addition, DOJ also recommended that administrative charges be filed against her. Some people also suggested that she takes a leave of absence. Instead, P-Noy told Torres – she is also one of P-Noy’s “shooting buddies” -- to stay on. A few days ago, however, he finally told her to take a two-month leave of absence. But why only two months? Is it because Torres is a member of the politically powerful Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC), which threw its support behind P-Noy’s presidential bid last year?


In my article, “Rx for Poverty and Corruption” (Global Balita, December 9, 2005), I wrote: “A study made by Management Systems International in Washington, DC, in 2003, has concluded: ‘Corruption has direct consequences on economic and government factors, intermediaries that in turn produce poverty.’ The study produced two models. On the one hand, the ‘economic model’ postulates that corruption affects poverty by first impacting economic growth factors, which, in turn, impact poverty levels. In other words, ‘Increased corruption reduces economic growth which would increase poverty.’ On the other hand, the ‘government model’ asserts that corruption affects poverty by first influencing governance factors, which, in turn, impact poverty levels. In other words, ‘Increased corruption reduces governance capacity which would increase poverty.’ ”


If P-Noy really wants to eradicate corruption and poverty, then he should – nay, must – impose harsh discipline at all levels of the government. Indeed, it can be said: “If poverty is the fever and corruption is the disease; then, the prescription is discipline.”

If P-Noy has to clean up his house of corruption, he should start with the “housekeepers,” some of who are his personal friends, before he could truly sanitize the entire house of the “disease.”

At the end of the day, P-Noy holds the key to achieving the ideals of EDSA 1. While it’s sad that real progress and change were stalled when the sham EDSA 2 catapulted Gloria to power in 2001, the prospect for change and real reforms has never been brighter than in P-Noy’s presidency.

If he wants to be an effective and respected leader, he must follow the dictum: “Loved by his friends, feared by his enemies.” Indeed, his friends will always respect him; but to his enemies, their respect will only come with fear.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Martin Nievera: The Knockout Concert

A Las Vegas concert to benefit ABS CBN Foundation International’s “Sagip Kapamilya sa Japan”

Redwood City, Calif. (April 15, 2011) - ABS CBN Foundation International will host a one night performance by Martin Nievera, acclaimed balladeer and Concert King of the Philippines. “Martin Nievera: The Knockout Concert” will take place on Friday, May 6, 2011 at 7PM at the Hollywood Theatre at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Presented in partnership with Codinera-Chua Productions and PAE Live!, the fund raiser show is part of a weekend of Filipino-related events which includes the shows of Filipino-American comedian, Jo Koy, and the much anticipated Manny Pacquiao/Sugar Shane Mosley fight on May 7.

“Martin Nievera: The Knockout Concert” will benefit Sagip Kapamilya sa Japan (Saving Family Members in Japan), a relief and assistance program directed to Filipinos who were affected by the recent tsunami and earthquake disasters in Japan.

“I heard from my kapamilya how the Filipinos who have made Japan their second home were affected and I wanted to help,” shared Martin Nievera. “Thank God Sagip Kapamilya and my producers had the same idea and moved quickly to make a difference.” The homecoming performance for Martin Nievera at the MGM promises great music and special guest performers.

On March 11, a magnitude 8.9 quake unleashed a 23-foot tsunami and was followed by more than 50 aftershocks. A few hours later, the Pacific Rim was blanketed with tsunami warnings. The Japanese government alerted residents near a nuclear power plant in Onahama City to evacuate, for fear of a radiation leak. On April 7, a 7.4 magnitude tremor hit once more.

The Philippine embassy in Japan reports that there are 305,972 Filipinos living in Japan, many of whom were affected by the devastation.

“Many Filipinos in Japan lived within and around the Fukushima area and were affected by the recent disasters,” says J. Robbie Fabian, President of ABS CBN Foundation International. “We created a special hotline for them to call. There are requests for food, bottled water, medicines, temporary housing, and even assistance to relocate back to the Philippines.”

Tickets to the event are $100 and $75 and are available at any MGM Grand ticketing outlet. To charge by phone, call (800) 929-1111 or (702) 891-7777. Tickets are available for purchase online at, or Direct donations to Sagip Kapamilya sa Japan can also be made through the same foundation website or sent to ABS CBN Foundation International at 150 Shoreline Drive, Redwood City, CA 94065.

ABS CBN Foundation International is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of disadvantaged Filipino children and their families in the Philippines and around the world. Its flagship program, Bantay Bata (Child Watch), is a child abuse rescue operation that responds to an average of 15,300 calls for assistance a year. The program assists more than 21,000 children and families in relocation communities and feeds at least 4,400 severely malnourished children a year. Its education program serves 4.2 million elementary school children and their teachers.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Philippine Consulate General LA conducts Emergency Preparedness meeting

Los Angeles, 4 April 2011 – The Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles held an Emergency Preparedness Meeting on 1 April 2011 at the Consulate General with Mr. James G. Featherstone, General Manager, Emergency Management Department, City of Los Angeles, as Resource Person.

Mr. Featherstone emphasized how important it is for each individual to be prepared to take care of themselves and their loved ones after a disaster.

The meeting aims to create awareness on how to cope with emergency situations while at home, in transit or at the office and to develop a mechanism of effective coordination, through Area Coordinators, in times of emergencies.

The Consulate, during times of emergencies, will become the central coordinating office for the Filipino community. The Philippine Disaster Relief Organization (PeDRO) accepted the challenge of organizing leaders and volunteers from the Filipino-American community to effectively respond to emergencies in their areas.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Ready to Shake

By Jay Fermin

Every year, millions of volunteers participate in Southern California ‘Great ShakeOut’ drill. From schools, to civic and church organization, to neighborhood groups; they have one goal: to ‘Drop, Cover, and Hold On’ during a strong earthquake.

After all, California is not a stranger to earthquakes. We have felt the strength of the 1994 Northridge Quake. We get rattled by a few smaller ones every now and then. Flashback images come to mind of the 1906 San Francisco 7.8 tremblor that caused a massive fire because the underground water main pipes were disconnected and there was no water pressure from the fire hydrants.

We cannot predict the next event, however we can prepare if we understand and educate ourselves with what we might expect to happen. The only way to do this is to tell a story of a ‘sample scenario’ of what we call ‘The Big One.’ And remember, this is only a drill:

Thursday 9:00 a.m.

200,000 commuters have made their way from neighbouring Kern, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties to work in the Los Angeles Area. Everybody is excited for the approaching weekend. They have joined almost 7 million other southern Californians in the workplace from nearby suburbs.

Trucks and trains are on the move, being the pipeline of commerce and industry for Los Angeles. Underground cables connect the already busy day thru phone and internet, connecting banks, large corporations, suppliers, buyers and sellers, as well as friends and families.

It is a well known fact that the San Andreas Fault slices thru California and marks the boundary between the Pacific and the North American tectonic plates. They are locked into each other, trying to slide past each other for the past 150 years. This huge faultline has a history of rupture every 150 years. However, the last time was more than 300 years ago.

Thursday 10:10 a.m.

At Bombay Beach, northeast of the Salton Sea where the San Andreas faultline ends (extending thru-out California northward for 800 miles and exits the land area at Daly City near San Francisco), the faultline begins to awaken. The rupture travels northward up towards the Coachella Valley into Cajon Pass.

Although the people in Los Angeles has not felt it yet, the first waves cuts off the Interstate 15 freeway, bending railroad lines, and derailing trains. Roads are severed by crevices, and the other side lifts 15 feet up. Pipeline snap and electrical lines fail.

Strong shaking intensifies in the sediment filled basin of the Inland Empire. Buildings are damaged as the force of quake rumbles northward, spreading wider as a ripple on water. The waves are long and some structures cannot withstand, especially the ones made of brick and concrete. However, other buildings ride the massive waves, like boats on the ocean.

Thursday 10:11:30 a.m.

As the Coachella Valley still shakes, the seismic waves advance rapidly towards Los Angeles and surroundng areas. The shaking is felt stonger on the flat soft valleys and causes a blackout. The building damage causes tens of thousands of injuries and hundreds of fatalities, and many more thousands are stranded where they are because the freeway and the roadways are impassable.

Some are trapped on elevators, kitchen floors at people’s homes are littered with broken glass and heaps of cooking oil, syrup, flour, smashed dishes, and the hundreds of miles of water pipes are mostly disconnected, cutting off the water supply.

The freeways are a massive parking lot and people go out of their cars and start walking. Electric trains and bus transport are paralyzed too. Some of the people are waiting in the dark, waiting to be rescued.

Thursday 10:12 a.m. (2 minutes after the quake began)

Finally, the fault has stopped rupturing, but seismic waves continue to advance into Bakersfield and Santa Barbara counties in the north. Here, the shaking is just beginning.

Thursday 10:15 a.m.

Government agencies finally posts preliminary assessment of the earthquake. It is a 7.8 on the richter scale. Some of the TV and radio stations are still out but some are slowly starting to broadcast. Fire Trucks are moving slowly among the debris but they are not stopping. Their standard operating procedure is to survey their area of responsibility and look for the hardest hit area before they can respond. Across Southern California, cell phones, internet, and landline become unusable, overwhelmed by the vast number of attempted calls.

Thursday 10:45 a.m.

The emergency operations centers are activated, and police, fire, and medical personnel including CERT Community Emergency Response Teams are deployed slowly, focusing on the localized areas that are hard hit.

While the quake still travels northbound far from the epicenter, people are able to help others who are trapped or wounded in the damaged structures. Lacking gloves and proper protective equipment, a few more hundred civilians are wounded by broken glass, sharp objects, and the smaller aftershocks which are now occuring. They claw thru the debris with their bare hands.

Hundreds of airliners from around the world are now being diverted away from Southern California, creating an air traffic controller nightmare. As millions soon discover, they are cut off from their family members, with no way to contact them.

Fires and plumes of smoke rises from around the metropolis. This is coming from ruptured underground gas lines and other chemical depots. There is just not enough emergency personnel to help and immediately respond.

The solution:

The best time to prepare for an earthquake is before it happens.

Be educated on what to expect and how to ‘drop, cover, and hold on’ under the table or desk during the shaking. Remember, as long as nothing hits your head, you will be okay. Practice this with the members of your family or your co-workers. Do not run outside the building as falling objects may hit you. After the shaking has stopped, survey your surroundings and plan a safe escape route.

It is good to bolt on heavy objects at your house like TV and Water Heaters. Place heavy things like books on shelves nearer to the floor. Stock up on water of 1 gallon per person per day for 3 days. Also have non-perishable food like canned goods, or food bars that does not require cooking. As a rule of thumb, you should have 8000 calorie food bars for each person for the duration of the 72 hours after the earthquake when emergency resources are stretched out, and the atm might not be working, and if it does, the grocery stores will be running out of food items.

Keep extra medication if you need them in your car, work. and home. Have a pair of rubber shoes also at these three locations, as it will be very hard to walk on your high heels amid the debris. Have a helmet and goggles handy, and rubber boots and a pair of rubber gloves if possible just in case you need to clear out fallen objects or need to extract yourself from a structure.

Stock up a bag full of extra clothes in your office and the car just in case you won’t be able to get home in these 3 days following the disaster. Designate a family or friend from out of state that will be your main contact person. You might not be able to call within the state, but there will be a good chance that you can make phone calls outside of the state.

If you have pets, make sure they have a supply of food and water and count them in when you do your emergency preparedness pack. Have pneumatic flashlights and AM radio ready, the ones that do not need batteries. An emergency blanket can also be handy especially if the temperature dips during the night and there is no electricity.

Plan on having first aid kits even in the car or office. These may include bandages, antibiotic creams, scissors, latex glove and antiseptic wipes. Include pain relievers in your pack. If you know how to use them, or if you are a licensed operator, you can purchase two-way radio for communication. Check with your local authorities for licensing and frequency allocations.

Include hand tools that you feel you might need to move heavy objects out of your way. Also have an amount of money ready, as the banks and atm will be non operational. Have a copy of all your important records like birth certificates and other legal documents in a water-proof plastic container to enable you to establish identity when needed.

The best way to plan your preparation is to get information from the American Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency(FEMA) and customized these lists to suit your needs. You can also join the local CERT Community Emergency Response Team at your community. CERT is admistered by the Los Angeles Fire Department and / or the Sheriffs Department and administered by Homeland Security. You can visit their website at

Do not become a liability. Now is the time to prepare to Shake.

Monday, March 7, 2011

People Power: Looking back through the Years

by Jay Fermin

The Philippine Revolution known as the ‘EDSA Revolution’ and also the ‘People Power’ Revolution happend 25 years ago. Almost 2 million Filipino civilians, as well as several political, military and religious leaders joined the series of street protests from February 22-25, 1986. The majority of the demonstrations took place along Epifano de los Santos Avenue, commonly known as EDSA, in Quezon City.

Almost 40 percent, an estimated 39 million of today’s populace of 98 million in the Philippines were not yet born when the People Power Revolt occurred which led to the dismantling of President Ferdinand Marcos’ 20 year rule.

The years leading to 1986 were the most turbulent times. The New People’s Army (NPA) were active in most of the 71 provinces of the archipelago. They were about ready to launch a tactical offensive, having a peak of 25,000 fighters supported by a huge mass base at the countryside.

What stopped them on their tracks was the assasination of opposition leader Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino, which swung the pendulum of the peoples’ support to the political opposition of Ninoy’s widow, Corazon Aquino, who ran with vice-president Doy Laurel under the United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO), the party that toppled the Marcos dictatorship and restored democracy during the People Power Revolution of 1986.

Today, when most of the 7,526 victims of the Marcos regime are finally getting their compensation from human rights abuses in the initial payment of $ 1,000 from the approved distribution of $7.5 million to the members of the class action lawsuit, the Philippines is reeling in corruption within the military and the government.

Looking back on this historic event almost a quarter of a century ago, can we say that the landscape of Filipino politics have indeed changed? Are we better off today than when we were in 1986? Only time will tell.

Whistleblowers Anonymous

Balitang Kutsero: By Perry Diaz

Three men and two women recently joined the Whistleblowers Anonymous. The moderator asked them to be seated with the other members in a circle and then he explained the rules to the new members.

Moderator: Welcome to Whistleblowers Anonymous. We only have two rules. Rule No. 1 is “Use an alias, not your real name.” Rule No. 2 is “Do not lie.” Understand?

All: Yes!

Moderator: Very good. Okay, let’s hear from our new members. Please tell us why you’re here and share with us your experience as a whistleblower. Who wants to be first?

J-Loz: Me! Just call me J-Loz. I’m here because I blew the whistle on Gloria, Mike, Benjie, and Romy. They were involved in a bribery scandal and overpricing a contract with a contractor from China. To make my story short, Benjie and Romy are now facing trial in court. But Gloria and Mike are untouchable because that crazy Ombudsman was protecting them. Now, I’m in big trouble because the Ombudsman is giving me hell! She filed all kinds of fabricated charges against me. But the good news is the House of Representatives is now in the process of impeaching the Ombudsman. I plan to testify against the Ombudsman. Lintik lang ang walang ganti!

Moderator: Excellent. You’re doing the right thing, J-Loz. Who’s next?

Georgie Boy: Call me Georgie Boy. I decided to join this group because I need your advice.

Moderator: That’s what we’re here for, Georgie Boy. Go ahead and tell us your story.

Georgie Boy: Well, I’m a retired Lt. Col. with the Army. I was the budget officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. I worked under the Comptroller who worked for the Chief of Staff. I took care of the “books” for the multi-billion “slush funds” which the Chief of Staff and the Comptroller controlled. To make my story short, I blew the whistle on three former Chiefs of Staff and two former Comptrollers for the massive corruption that was going on in the use of the “slush funds.” We’re looking at P179 billion unaccounted money that went in and out of the “slush funds.”

Moderator: That’s a lot of moolah! How can we help you, Georgie Boy?

Georgie Boy: I’m scared. As you probably heard, my former Chief of Staff whom I implicated in the corruption involving the “slush funds” died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. I feel guilty for what happened to him. I want to kill myself too!

Moderator: Don’t do that, Georgie Boy! We need you to send them to jail.

J-Loz: Yes, be strong, Georgie Boy. We’re all here for you.

Hydra: Yes, Georgie Boy, we’re with you. I almost did the same thing but I have a mission to accomplish to punish these corrupt generals.

Moderator: Excuse me, but could you please tell us who you are?

Hydra: Oh, I’m sorry. Just call me Hydra. I was an auditor with the Commission on Audit. I’m familiar with Georgie Boy’s problem cuz I was the one who audited the “slush funds.” I was pressured to “fix” the audit to cover the anomalies but I refused. After receiving threats to my life, I decided to quit. But like you, Georgie Boy, I blew the whistle on them. I’ll expose all their shenanigans especially that arrogant Ombudsman! Hala bira!

Georgie Boy: Yeah! Let’s kick the Ombudsman out! One for all, all for one!

J-Loz: Impeach! Impeach! Impeach!

Moderator: Okay, okay, that’s enough, guys. Now, let’s hear from this gentleman here.

Supremo: Call me Supremo cuz I’m supreme. Hehehe… Well, it’s hard to remain anonymous because if I told you my story, you’d know who I am.

J-Loz: Hey, I know you! You’re one of Gloria’s midnight appointees! You’re the Midnight Chief Jus… Omigosh!

Supremo: Okay, okay, it’s me.

Hydra: Hoy, what brought you here -- to spy on us? Shame on you!

Supremo: No! No no no! I’m here because I’ve been accused of being a whistleblower. I don’t know what to tell you. I’m depressed. I want to cry! Wah wah…

Moderator: Okay, Supremo, why don’t we skip your story for now and let’s have the last person here tell us her story. Ma’am?

Gutsy: Call me Gutsy because that’s what I really am – gutsy and ballsy, too!

J-Loz: Gutsy na, ballsy pa! Do you have cojones? Hehehe…

Gutsy: Hoy, I know who you are! I have more cojones than you!

Moderator: Stop it! Excuse me but we have a policy in this group – you can’t cover your face. So could you please remove your oversized dark glasses, Gutsy?

J-Loz: Hey, guys! It’s the Ombudsman! Hear that? The Ombudsman!

Georgie Boy: What the heck are you doing here? You’re not a whistleblower! Actually we’re going to blow the whistle on you for protecting Gloria and Mike!

Hydra: Yep! And you have the guts to come here? You’re spying on us! You should be impeached! Alis dyan!

J-Loz: How dare you file fake charges against me! Yes, you should be impeached! And you, Supremo, you’d better not protect her or we’ll have you impeached, too!

Supremo: You’re on your own now, Gutsy. I can’t protect you anymore. Wah wah…

Gutsy: You can’t impeach me! I still have Gloria and Mike to protect me from all of you! You can’t touch me! I’m untouchable! Mga walang hiya! Hahaha…

Georgie Boy: I don’t know about that, Gutsy. But it looks like the House of Representatives has more than enough votes to impeach you and the Senate seems to be in favor of removing you from office once you’re impeached by the House. You’re toast! You’re history! Hehehe…

Hydra: And here’s another good news! A congressman is filing an impeachment petition to impeach eight justices for betrayal of public trust… including you, Supremo!

Supremo: Wah wah…

Moderator: Stop crying, Supremo!

# # #

Disclaimer: This is a fictional story and all characters are also fictional.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Dreaming of Oscar and other Stories

by Jay Fermin

On my last visit to the Philippines, we were in a room at L’Fisher Hotel celebrating. The Governor of Negros Occidental, Gov. Alfredo Maranon just announced an initial funding of a film about ‘Cinco de Noviembre’, (The 5th of November), a story of an event that happend 112 years ago on November 5, 1898 when the Katipuneros led by General Aniceto Lacson of Silay and General Juan Araneta of Bago successfully bluffed the Spanish forces.

The story revolves around two generals who converged from both north and south of Bacolod and led an offensive march to the residence of Spanish Governor Isidro de Castro. The Spanish reinforcements have not yet arrived from the nearby island of Panay. The Spanish Governor, thinking that they were outnumbered by the Katipuneros, finally signed the surrender at 5 p.m. of November 5, 1898.

What the Spanish Colonist didn’t know, the two forces that maneuvered to ‘attack’ were armed with ‘paltik’ firearms made with Nipa stalks with attached shiny knives. The numerous horse-towed cannons were actually rolled ‘sawali mats’ rolled into barrel shape and painted gloss black! It was all like Hollywood props.

Indeed a good story to tell on the wide screen. Governor Maranon provided an initial funding to start the film. Actor Joel Torre (his movies include Jose Rizal, Anak, and the famed Oro Plata Mata) happily expressed that the film project is good ‘because we have a good story’. The only contraint would be the budget. Ronnie Lazaro, a multi-talented professional actor and director( won Best Production Design: Manila by Night: City after Dark; 1981) who was also in the room, was just as excited. After all, independent film requires talent, a good story, and most importantly, funding.

This week, the media were invited to view a private screening of ‘The God of Love’, the short film by Luke Matheny, which is nominated for the 2011 Academay Award for Best Live-Action Short. It is a comedic short film directed by Luke and produced by Fil-Ams Gigi Dement, Stephen Dypianco, and Stefanie Walmsley, whom we talked to after the screening.

The story follows the quest for love of a lounge-singing darts champion Raymond Goodfellow, whose prayers are answered when he receives a package of passion-inducing darts. The film climaxes when he was left with his last dart of love. However the open ending continues with the black and white fadeaway scene of Raymond riding a motorbike slinging a pouch of even larger passion inducing arrows to spread the love that always escape from all of us. While I was watching the film, I understood deeply why cupid carries an arrow.

Indeed a strong contender for the Oscar Awards that is airing on Sunday, February 27, 2011 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. It is also exciting because three of the producers are Filipino-Americans namely New York based Gigi Dement (who is originally from Baguio) and Stephen Dypiangco (filmaker and Producer of Marketing and Distribution PMD) who grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles. He earned his BS in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and his MFA in Film Production from NYU. The other producer also based in New York is Stefanie Walmsley, who stated that being nominated by the Academy of Motion Pictures is like a ‘Cinderella’ story for her. She used to host the Philippines’ top rated variety show ‘Eat Bulaga’ and has appeared in theatre, TV shows, and numerous commercials. She is working as production coordinator for HBO but she talks about going back to the Philippines ‘ to chase the ultimate dream of mine’ which is to assist in getting independent films funded and produced in the Philippines.

This is a historic moment when there are growing number of Fil-Am nominees voted to the Oscar awards by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

Good luck to the Filipino Oscar Nominee/Contender Class of 2011:
Hailee Steinfeld, Best Actress, TRUE GRIT
Matthew Libatique, Cinematography, BLACK SWAN
Gigi Dement, producer, Best Live Action Short, GOD OF LOVE
Stephen Dypiangco, producer, Best Live Action Short, GOD OF LOVE
Stefanie Walmsley, producer, Best Live Action Short, GOD OF LOVE

The Red Carpet is being rolled out. The Gold Drape is furnished. The stage is set. Let us support the Fil-Am nominees at the 83rd Academy Awards. And after the glitz and glamour and parties, let us continue our support as they and countless others in cinema and theatre endeavour to tell the ‘story’ which we all can connect to.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pacquiao Meets Obama

Balitang Kutsero: By Perry Diaz

World boxing champion and congressman Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao met U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House on February 15, 2011. The following is the transcript of their tête-à-tête:

Pacquiao: Good morning… I mean, good afternoon, Mr. President.

Obama: Actually it’s still morning here… so, good morning to you, Dr. Pacquiao.

Pacquiao: Sorry, but I’m still on jet set. He he he…

Obama: Jet set? Hmm… Do you mean, jet lag?

Pacquiao: Same thing. You see, it’s now afternoon, “PI” time.

Obama: “PI” time? What’s that?

Pacquiao: Oh, ahh… “PI” is shortcut for Philippine Islands.

Obama: Gee, I haven’t heard of “Philippine Islands” since I was in Indonesia as a young boy. You are now known as the “Republic of the Philippines,” amigo.

Pacquiao: But the last time I checked, there were still 7,100 islands in the Philippines, so “Philippine Islands” is correct. Right, Mr. President?

Obama: Ahh… Well, yes, you’re correct… “PI” it is then. Hey, since your visit is not official, just call me Barack, okay?

Pacquiao: Okay, Barack. Actually, my visit is just a curiosity call.

Obama: Curiosity call? Or do you mean, courtesy call?

Pacquiao: Same thing, same thing. Hey, your name reminds of Kapeng Barako.

Obama: Kapeng Barako? What is that?

Pacquiao: Kapeng Barako is a popular coffee brand favored by macho men…

Obama: Like you! You’re a macho man, right? Gee, with seven titles…

Pacquiao: Correction! It’s eight titles in eight weight divisions.

Obama: Wow! Ex… cuuuuze me! I’m impressed!

Pacquiao: You’re excused, Barack. Everybody makes mistakes. Even P-Noy makes a lot of mistakes. He he he...

Obama: So I heard. Hey, you must have mojo, Manny!

Pacquiao: Mojo? What is that?

Obama: Well, “mojo” is a magic charm that some macho men have… like you!

Pacquiao: Magic charm? Hmm… You think I’m charming, Barack?

Obama: Oh, no! No no no! It’s not what you think, my friend. What I mean is that you have a charm that attracts… ahh… women. Do you catch my drift?

Pacquiao: Catch? Where’s the ball? Try me cuz I’m a very good catcher.

Obama: I know you are. But what I mean is that did you understand what I was saying?

Pacquiao: Ahh… I think I know what you’re saying. Yes, I know how to catch chicks. That’s why they call me “chickboy.” He he he…

Obama: You’re funny, Manny. You’re my kind of guy… mojo macho man!

Pacquiao: You’re my kind of guy too… mucho barako! He he he…

Obama: Okay, okay. Ha ha ha… Stop it! My stomach hurts… ha ha ha… Okay, seriously… Manny, I’d like to ask you a big favor.

Pacquiao: Anything, Barack. Just ask. Your wish is my command.

Obama: Well, I know Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada won the election. It was because of you. You showed up on stage with him a few days before the election, you smiled and waved your hands without saying a thing. It was fantastic! It was all over the news on TV. And Reid won the election because of your endorsement! Can you do the same thing for me in my re-election campaign in 2012, my friend?

Pacquiao: It would be an honor to be on stage with you, Mr. President. Do you want me to deliver a temporary speech?

Obama: Temporary speech? Uhh… What’s that?

Pacquiao: It’s a speech without notes. Straight from the brain, you know.

Obama: Oh, you mean extemporaneous speech? And you also mean “straight from the heart,” right?

Pacquiao: Same thing, same thing.

Obama: Well, to tell you the truth, since it is going to be televised, some Americans might not be able to understand what you’re saying… because of your… uhh… I mean… ahh… just the way you say things. However, if you just smile and wave your hands, it might… uhh… amuse them and they would vote for me. You know what I mean, amigo?

Pacquiao: Mr. President, you insulted me! I will not campaign for you! I’ll campaign for Sarah Palin cuz she said she loves my accent. She said it’s cute.

Obama: Well, if that is the case, I’ll cancel our photo session. There will also be no official press release of our meeting.

Pacquiao: But Barack, I came all the way from the Philippines just for a photo opportunity with you.

Obama: Sorry, amigo, I suggest that you go to Alaska and ask Sarah for a photo op with her.

Pacquiao: Ay naku, naloko na!

Obama: I beg your pardon?

Pacquiao: Never mind, I’m getting out of here! Good-bye, barako!

Obama: Bye bye. Please say “Hi” to Sarah for me. Ha ha ha…

# # #

Disclaimer: This “transcript” is fictional and does not represent actual events. However, Pacquiao and Obama actually met but the White House didn’t allow Pacquiao to have a photo opportunity with Obama.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Hoodlums in uniform

PerryScope: By Perry Diaz

Once the pride of the nation for their heroic defense of freedom and the Motherland, a small band of military officers -- sworn to protect the people and the State – are now in the midst of a firestorm that could irreparably damage the image of the armed forces’ general staff. Indeed, it might even cause the eventual demise of the six-decade old Philippine Military Academy (PMA) – which was patterned after the West Point military academy of the United States -- where all officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) completed their formal training. And it’s all because of the greed and corruption that have spawned into a monstrosity during the last decade. As a result of all the corruption cases involving PMAers, there are now talks of tapping ROTC cadets for commissioning to the officers’ corps of the AFP.

And if one brave retired soldier – Col. George Rabusa -- did not come out to expose the shenanigans perpetrated by AFP’s high command, corruption in the military would remain unabated and unrestrained. But thanks to Rabusa, all of that might just come to an end soon and bring the hoodlums in uniform to justice.

Rabusa’s bombshell

It all began when the Senate formed an investigation panel to look into the controversial plea bargaining agreement that former AFP Comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia – Rabusa’s former boss -- negotiated with the Office of the Ombudsman, which dropped the charges of plunder and substituted a guilty plea to lesser offenses of bribery and money laundering, with a promise to surrender P135 million out of the P303 million he illegally amassed.

During the Senate investigation, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada surprised everybody when he brought in Rabusa to testify. Rabusa accused Gen. Angelo Reyes of receiving P150 million including a P50-million “pabaon” (send-off money) when he retired as AFP Chief of Staff in 2001. He said that he and his boss, then AFP Comptroller Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot (Garcia’s predecessor), personally delivered the money to Reyes at his staff quarters, known as the “White House.”

Rabusa, who was the budget officer at that time, worked directly under Ligot and Garcia, who were then called the “Comptroller Mafia.” He was their “bagman.” He also implicated the Chiefs of Staff who succeeded Reyes, Generals Diomedio Villanueva and Roy Cimatu, saying that they illicitly received around P10 million monthly while in service and pocketed half of it. He indicated that he would execute an affidavit detailing the corruption under Reyes, Villanueva, and Cimatu, and the “rotten system” in the AFP during the period from 2000 to 2002. He said that Garcia and he “converted” – or laundered – almost P1 billion between 2000 and 2001.

“Dead man walking”

Reactions from the senators were spontaneous, some of whom said that Rabusa’s testimony was credible and that the government should file charges against Reyes based on his exposé. If charges were to be filed against Reyes and the others, Rabusa would most likely become a state witness, a specter that could bring a conviction of plunder against the accused. In fact, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago was so optimistic of conviction that she said over the radio that Reyes was a “dead man walking.”

But it’s not going to be easy to convict Reyes. He has strong ties to former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, which means that he might also be protected by Gloria’s allies in the Judiciary including the Office of the Ombudsman, which is still headed by Merceditas Gutierrez, a close friend of former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo. Indeed, it could be an uphill battle for the government who may be able to secure a conviction from the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan – assuming that the Ombudsman would put real effort to prosecute Reyes – but would be stymied in the Supreme Court where Reyes – with Gloria’s aid -- could muster enough support from the justices to overturn his conviction.

It is interesting to note that Reyes’ link to Gloria was tempered during the ouster of Joseph “Erap” Estrada from the presidency in January 2001. Reyes, who was Estrada’s AFP Chief of Staff, withdrew his support of Estrada and threw it, together with his top commanders, behind Gloria at the crucial time. With the AFP high command abandoning Estrada, then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Hilario Davide Jr. quickly sworn in Gloria as “President” instead of “Acting President” as he reportedly had agreed to -- while Estrada was still President! -- Gloria’s ascendancy was a fait accompli.

It is no wonder then that when Reyes reached mandatory retirement age, Gloria appointed him two days after he retired to a succession of plum positions: National Defense Secretary, Anti-Kidnapping Czar, Anti-Smuggling Czar, Environment Secretary, and Energy Secretary. Indeed, Reyes has served Gloria well throughout her presidency.

It did not come then as a surprise when Rabusa implicated Gloria in a fraudulent military transaction, which he said cost the government $2 million. At that time, Reyes was the Defense Secretary, Villanueva was the AFP Chief of Staff, Cimatu was the Vice Chief of Staff, and Garcia was the Comptroller. If Rabusa could provide a strong testimony, the government might be able to take all five of them down in one clean swoop. That would indeed be a major, major victory for President Aquino in his fight against corruption, bagging no less than the “Big Kahuna” herself.

Prosecute corruption

It is for this reason that Aquino should put all the power of his presidency behind the prosecution of corruption in the military. If corruption were successfully prosecuted, it could be the tipping point in ridding the military establishment of hoodlums in uniform.

And just like the Phoenix that rose from the ashes, the Philippine Military Academy could once again shine as a noble institution that produces disciplined and dedicated officers, worthy of the respect by the people they are sworn to protect.

As Edmund Burke once said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing,” the time has come for Filipinos to rise to put an end to the scourge that has wrought havoc for so long.

At the end of the day, all it took was one brave soldier who stepped up to the plate to right a wrong.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Finally, a glimmer of hope

PerryScope: By Perry Diaz

Finally, after a roller-coasting decade of uncertainty, instability, and volatility, there is a glimmer of hope that 2011 would usher in an era of certainty, stability, and vibrancy. President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III said during the Rizal Day ceremony, “We’re not just seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. In certain sectors, we can already feel the light, the warmth of the new beginning.”

Indeed, his exuberance and optimism are buoyed by the high “trust” ratings the people have given him in spite of several embarrassing incidents and diplomatic faux pas that his fledgling administration experienced during his first six months in office. He seems to have a Teflon skin that deflects the criticisms – and mud -- thrown at him.

Barring anomalies of corruption and questionable transactions involving his appointees or himself, P-Noy should be able weather most, if not all, of “storms” that would come his way. Perceived as honest and incorruptible, it would really take a major, major scandal to break down his “invincibility,” which is buttressed by the legacy left by his parents – Ninoy and Cory Aquino. For as long as P-Noy’s “trust” ratings would remain high, a performance below par wouldn’t necessarily diminish the people’s affection for him.

However, the office of the President comes with vulnerabilities that could bring the occupant down if he or she failed to contain corruption and deliver the people from the bondage of poverty. The late dictator Ferdinand Marcos found out – albeit too late – that the use of brute force was not enough to keep him in power. In contrast, the late President Ramon Magsaysay proved that friendly – and sincere -- persuasion could disarm the enemy.

“Gordian Knot”

The question is: Would P-Noy settle for a place in history that would border on mediocrity or would he strive to be an “Alexander” and untie the Philippines’ complicated “Gordian Knot” that has kept the country in a state of economic disarray and moral decadence? But unlike Alexander who sliced the knot in half with a stroke of his sword -- known as the “Alexandrian solution” – and conquered the known world in the fourth century BC, P-Noy could untie his country’s “Gordian Knot” by the power of persuasion. So far, he has yet to succeed.

There were some incidents during his first six months that P-Noy might have wished he’d have handled differently. He’d probably wished that he did a few “easy” things during the August 23 hostage-taking crisis to project him as a “hands-on” take-charge leader that Filipinos love to idolize.

He’d probably wished that he listened to those who advised him to let go of DILG Undersecretary Rico E. Puno whom he protected amidst allegations that he was receiving jueteng payola. Had he removed Puno, it would have sent an electrifying signal to all his appointees that they are expected to be above board and beyond suspicion. Puno’s refusal to name the jueteng lords’ “feelers” who approached him on the jueteng lords’ behalf raised “red flags” about his involvement with them.

He’d probably wished that he did not boycott the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony for Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo for his “for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” He reasoned that he wanted to spare the lives of five Filipinos in death row in China. However, he didn’t say that those five condemned Filipinos were sentenced to death for “drug trafficking,” an illicit activity that has reached epidemic proportions in the Philippines. Criticized by human rights’ groups, P-Noy said, “It's not their call to make the decision. It's my call.” Now, that’s arrogance! While it was indeed his call to make, did he have to rub it in? Makes one wonder if a feeling of invincibility had gotten to his head?

Economic renaissance?

P-Noy had every reason to exude optimism and confidence. The GDP grew at 7.9% in the first half of the year during Arroyo’s last six months in office; and it grew at 6.5% in the third quarter during P-Noy’s “first 100 days.” Economists have projected the growth for 2010 to be at least 7%.

P-Noy said during the Rizal Day commemoration that his government had registered a budget surplus of P500 million last November when a deficit of P6 billion was projected at that time. “And we didn’t achieve that by tightening our belts and those that needed funds were no longer funded so we can window dress. All [items] that needed funding were funded but still we had a surplus,” he said. Bravo!

The question is: Can the Aquino administration sustain a 7% growth in seven years?

“747” economic program

In October 2003, I went to Manila with a group of Fil-Ams to attend a State Dinner for President George Bush hosted by then-president Arroyo in Malacanang. Our group paid a courtesy call to the then-Speaker of the House of Representatives, Jose De Venecia. De Venecia gave us a 27-page book titled: “747: A Program for Economic Takeoff Toward Sustained Growth.” It was the result of a study commissioned by De Venecia in 2002. The “747” program was designed to generate seven percent growth for seven years in order to achieve a “Philippines without absolute poverty.”

The book identified seven strategic programs as key to its success, to wit: 1) Rural modernization; 2) Creating a world-class service sector; 3) Promoting domestic competition; 4) Magnets for foreign investment and development aid; 5) Enhancing the assets of the poor, 6) Resource Mobilization; and 7) Political and administrative modernization.

Had then-president Arroyo adopted the “747” program in 2003, she would have ridden the country of “absolute poverty” by the time she stepped down in 2010.

With P-Noy off to a good start in 2010, he could achieve what Arroyo failed to achieve if he could sustain a 7% growth through the end of his presidency in 2016. However, it is easier said than done. Like Alexander of Macedonia, P-Noy has to untie the Philippines’ “Gordian Knot” to bring in an era of peace and prosperity.

Balancing act

Recently, P-Noy received an unsolicited advice from Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, the former president of the influential Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). Lagdameo said that P-Noy “needed to be discerning when it came to the pieces of advice he was getting from the people around him.” He suggested that P-Noy replace some of his “weak” Cabinet members and that he should do a “balancing act” -- that is, “Listen to what everybody has to say and pick up the best elements for the good of the country.”

During his inaugural address, P-Noy acknowledged that the people were his “bosses.” It behooves him then to listen to them… to hear what’s in their minds. And after he listens to his “bosses,” he could then make his call. That’s the right thing to do. That’s wisdom.

P-Noy knows that a vast majority of Filipinos have high hopes for his success. Ultimately, his success would be every Filipino’s success; however, his failure would be the nation’s failure.

Finally, after a decade of turmoil, there is a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel.