Monthly Archives: August 2009

Senator Ferdinand Marcos II?

It’s been exactly fifty years (half a century!) since a Ferdinand Marcos was elected to the Philippine Senate and, now, the son, Ferdinand II, is embarking to be the next. Bong-Bong Marcos, presently a Congressman from the 2nd district of Ilocos Norte, feels he is ready to move on to the Upper House of Congress. He brings with him a background of a total of twelve years as Governor of his province, Ilocos Norte, and by election time next year, would have served his second term as Congressman and House Deputy Minority Leader. Even those opposed to him cannot deny that he has been an exemplary Governor of his province as can be seen in the advancement of Ilocos Norte in the fields of agriculture, tourism, infrastructure, energy and the environment (the first wind-farm in Southeast Asia supplying half the energy needs of Ilocos Norte) and education.

To begin with, he transformed a third-class province into a first-class one (based on income) within his first term. With some 70% of Ilocanos dependent on agriculture (as in many other provinces), he raised agricultural productivity by focusing on rice production and cash crops and investing in hybrid seedlings production thereby succeeding in making his province self sufficient in rice instead of “importing” from other provinces. He set up one of the most if not the most successful program for “cooperatives” development in the entire country. He turned his province into a model for public health care by providing 100% of his province mates with health insurance. He “brought” Ilocos Norte to China by participating in International Tourism Conventions in Shanghai even when the Philippines as a country failed to participate in them. He lobbied the Chinese government to open a Consulate in Laoag City (the consulate opened two years ago) to make travel from China to Ilocos Norte easier and more convenient, capitalizing on Laoag City’s proximity to China and it’s being the northern international gateway into the country.  In education,  students from high schools of his province have become consistent “1st placers” in national student competitions in math and science. And in energy, he oversaw the creation of the first wind farm in Southeast Asia providing his province with half of its energy needs. The biggest proof of his sterling performance as governor is the fact that, in his last bid for Governor in 2004, he ran unopposed, and again, unopposed for Congressman in 2007.

His educational background? Enough to be hired for a top position in any multi-national company anywhere in the world. He has earned degrees from: Worth School (High School), England; Political Science/Economics, Oxford University, England; and MBA, University of Pennsylvania, USA. And then, there’s that other aspect to his “education” that does not award any diploma: the experience of having lived abroad during these many years of schooling (plus his years spent in exile with his family). These are invaluable years of “education” not awarded any certificate but, nevertheless, significant and important as it indicates possession of a broad-minded perspective lacking in not a few of our present parochial and narrow minded Senators and Congressmen.

Just as important as his educational attainment and his performance in governance is this: that while in office and to his eternal credit, not once has he been involved in any corruption anomaly or political scandal whatsoever. This past decade has seen a President (President Estrada) ousted from office (albeit, illegally) due to charges of corruption, betrayal of public trust, and plunder; followed by impeachment charges against his successor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, likewise for graft and corruption involving her husband as well as allegations of cheating in the 1994 Presidential elections, and a host of other scandals that has outraged a good number of Filipinos — Fertilizer Fund scam, China Broadband deal, Jose Pidal account, ‘Hello Garci’ tapes, profligate spending,  etc.

The mood today is one of distrust of politicians and government officials and the outpouring of affection seen at the wake and funeral of the late President Cory Aquino was exactly that: a longing for non-corrupt and honest leadership after a decade of never ending government anomalies, corruption scandals and eroded credibility of politicians in general. So, Bongbong’s performance as public servant, his educational background, his vast experience, his name recall, and his record of clean and honest governance should make him a shoo-in for Senator. But with him or more accurately, with his name, there could be more to it than those we’ve just mentioned. Fairly or unfairly, there will be those that will continue to judge him not for what he’s done but for what his father has done and that can work both ways, for or against him, depending on the “sentiment of the moment” come election time. What he should hope for and strive to communicate to the voters to ensure his election is for them to vote or not vote for him based purely on his competence, capability and  his track record the last 18 years spent in public service. If he is judged on those criteria, then we will surely see another Ferdinand Marcos (II) elected to the Senate next year as we first did fifty years ago.



Filed under Philippine Politics

A letter to Filipinos

Here is a good article sent by Dr. Arsenio Martin of Fort Arthur , Texas …
Enjoy reading.

The difference between the poor countries and the rich ones is not the age of the country:

This can be shown by countries like India & Egypt , that are more than 2000 years old, but are poor.

On the other hand, Canada , Australia & New Zealand , that 150 years ago were inexpressive, today are developed countries, and are rich.

The difference between poor & rich countries does not reside in the available natural resources.

Japan has a limited territory, 80% mountainous, inadequate for agriculture & cattle raising, but it is the second world economy. The country is like an immense floating factory, importing raw materials from the whole world and exporting manufactured products.

Another example is Switzerland , which does not plant cocoa but has the best chocolate in the world. In its little territory they raise animals and plant the soil during 4 months per year. Not enough, they produce dairy products of the best quality! It is a small country that transmits an image of security, order & labor, which made it the world’s strongest, safest place. Or Finland a small country with small population who is known the world over as the maker of the cellphone brand NOKIA
Executives from rich countries who communicate with their counterparts in poor countries show that there is no significant intellectual difference.
Race or skin color are also not important: immigrants labeled lazy in their countries of origin are the productive power in rich European countries.
What is the difference then? The difference is the attitude of the people, framed along the years by the education & the culture & flawed tradition.

On analyzing the behavior of the people in rich & developed countries, we find that the great majority follow the following principles in their lives:
1. Honesty, as a basic principle.
2. Integrity.
3. Responsibility.
4. Respect to the laws & rules.
5. Respect for the rights of others
6. Creativity & Work ethics.
7. Strive for savings & investment.
8. Will of super action.
9. Punctuality.
10. and of course…Discipline

In poor countries, only a minority follow these basic principles in their daily life.

The Philippines is not poor because we lack natural resources or because nature was cruel to us. In fact, we are supposedly rich in natural resources.

We are poor because we lack the correct attitude. We lack the will to comply with and teach these functional principles of rich & developed societies.

If you do not forward this message nothing will happen to you. Your pet will not die, you will not be fired, you will not have bad luck for seven years, and also, you will not get sick or go hungry.
But those may happen because of your lack of discipline & lazinessm,
your love for intrigue and politics, your indifference to saving for the future, your stubborn attitude.
If you love your country, let this message circulate so that many Filipinos could reflect about this, & CHANGE, ACT!

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Marcos-Aquino Reconciliation

The death of President Corazon C. Aquino has once again revived suggestions of reconciliation between political families, most notably, the Marcoses and the Aquino’s. The animosity, quarrel, acrimony, loathing even, between these two families began as early as the late sixties during the second term of President Marcos and the election of Ninoy Aquino in 1971as the youngest senator of the Philippines. Marcos was to finish his second and last term as President in 1973 while Ninoy was, for all intents and purposes, preparing to be his successor. The late sixties leading up to 1972 were tumultuous years in as far as political street activism was concerned. This was true not only in the Philippines but in most other countries, the United States in particular due to the growing anti-Vietnam war sentiment among the youth as well as assassinations, in quick succession, of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. Violent street demonstrations had become frequent in the capitals of the world from Paris to Tokyo to Manila, New York, London, etc. In the Philippines, grenades were lobbed at the stage of the final political rally of the Liberal party at Plaza Miranda (1971 mid term senatorial and local elections) ensuring the victory of all but two in the Liberal party senatorial slate. Ninoy Aquino topped that race but curiously, was not present when the grenades exploded. He had sent word at the last minute that he would be arriving late so was saved from the harm of the explosion. Many others were hurt, some seriously. Blame was placed on Marcos by his opponents which he vehemently denied suggesting it was the work of the communists. The following year, amidst more street demonstrations, sporadic bombings, and more vilification of the Marcos administration by the local media, the “lame duck” Marcos declared Martial Law and jailed some of his opponents including Ninoy Aquino. The rest, as they say, is history.

Fast forward to the wake of Mrs. Aquino: after some indirect communication between the Aquino and Marcos “children,” finally, Bong-Bong and Imee are in the church face to face with the eldest of the Aquino daughters, Balsy, and a couple of the grandsons. Both “sides” behave graciously and appropriately.

Now, everyone has an opinion on the manner in which a reconciliation of both families should proceed, if at all. There are some that remember the words of Mrs. Aquino: “there can be no reconciliation without justice.” Well, as far as we know, besides the soldiers that accompanied Senator Aquino down the tarmac and who have served time in jail for over twenty years, there has been no court that has found anyone else guilty. In other words, the “who masterminded it” remains unresolved. To assume the Marcos children know who masterminded it is being naive. If  (and this is a big IF because in fact, Marcos was heavily medicated and at his death throes around the time of  Ninoy’s flight back to Manila) the assassination of Ninoy was indeed hatched in the palace, we doubt if this was a subject discussed with the children over family dinner. In the same manner that the decision to disallow Marcos and his family to return to Manila (every Filipino’s right) was not an Aquino family decision made during Sunday lunch but a decision of her advisers and herself with the full cooperation of the Americans.  All other aspects of the “feud” (media thrives on feuds) between these two families have really nothing to do with the children on either side. Nobody will sue Chelsea Clinton in the future for her father’s sexual indiscretions of the past and nobody will go after the Bush twins, after their father has gone, for having invaded Iraq,

Again, it was not Bong-Bong or his sisters that declared Martial Law. It was their dad with the help of Senator Enrile, President Ramos, Cory’s cousin Danding Cojuanco, etc. and the Filipino’s allowed it. Subsequently, with Cory at the helm, democracy was restored. Observe that those of us that put democracy “above all” are the same ones that marvel with envy at the economic growth of non-democratic Singapore, China, Malaysia and even Vietnam. The principals involved in the Aquino-Marcos political battle are now gone. Having said that, our question is: what changes can we expect from a reconciliation between the remaining members of both families in as far as reconciling the fact that a handful of families control the wealth of this country while half the population starve? What changes in our corrupt culture will be effected if Bong-Bong and Noynoy decide to shake hands and go out for  a beer? If Imee and Balsy were to decide to put the past behind and celebrate that with an outdoor barbecue, will that end the existence of political dynasties and patronage politics? Perhaps we are again putting too much importance on something that will have very little effect in solving the deeper problems of our nation. Next….


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