Canceled names exceed new voters by 3.4 M

BY SOPHIA DEDACE, GMANews.TV
09/25/2009 | 01:17 PM

| | More With only a month to go before the registration period for the 2010 elections ends, the number of names purged from the voters’ list is more than twice the number of new voters that have signed up so far, according to records obtained from the Commission on Elections (COMELEC).

As of July 2009, a total of 2.7 million new voters have signed up since the registration period started in December 2008, figures culled from Comelec records by GMA News Research show.

During the same period, however, the number of names that have been purged from the list of registered voters has reached 6.1 million. Most of them, or about 5.6 million, are Filipinos who did not vote in the last two elections.

James Jimenez, head of the poll body’s Education and Information Department, said the figures should not give the impression that there is a low turnout of new registrants because more voters have been stricken off the voters’ list.

“There is a misconception that there is a target that we’re trying to reach in terms of the number of new registrants. There is not,” Jimenez told GMANews.TV.

He said hundreds of new registrants have been trooping to Comelec offices in recent weeks to beat the October 31 deadline. For the 2010 elections, “We are looking at 46 to 47 million voters,” he said.

As of July 20, 2009, Comelec records showed that there are 45,487,634 registered voters in the country. Deactivated and canceled voters are not included in the list.

According to the Commission on Population, there were 88.57 million Filipinos as of August 1, 2007.

For the 2007 polls, records show that 6.4 million potential voters did not register at all. Of this number, 832,000 came from the youth sector and 624,000 did not know that they had to register before voting.

Cleansing of voters’ list

Jimenez said the cleansing of the voters’ list is a continuing project of the Comelec to ensure that “suspicious” names and those ineligible to vote cannot participate in the electoral process.

Source: Comelec

The Comelec lists the following factors as causes for removal from the voters’ list:

Sentence by final judgment to imprisonment of not less than a year

Sentence by final judgment of crimes involving disloyalty to the duly constituted government or any crime against national security

Declared by competent authority to be insane or incompetent

Failure to vote in two successive preceding regular elections

Loss of Filipino citizenship

Excluded per court order

Death

Transfer to another municipality

Double registration

Double entry

Voters who failed to vote in the past two elections are only deactivated and can register again.

Asked whether the public should be alarmed with the large number of voters whose names have been removed from the list, Jimenez said that it is not a “cause for worry.”

He said the mass cleansing of the voters’ list is a necessary step in ensuring clean and honest elections, and should not be linked to the number of new registrants.

“Voter cleansing and voter registration are two different matters. The right to register to vote is a choice, but cleaning the voters’ list is a must,” Jimenez said. – with GMA NEWS RESEARCH, GMANews.TV

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Yes, the Miss Universe

By Danton Remoto
REMOTE CONTROL
Views and analysis
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com
1st of September 2009

(Excerpt from Wings of Desire, a novel)

The Bank for International Reconstruction and Development (BIRD) based in Washington, D.C., held their XXth Annual Meeting in Manila.

“This historical event,” crowed the President that night on all the TV stations (which again zapped Wonder Woman off the screen, she who pilots an invisible plane) “proves that the bankers of the world agree that we have indeed marshaled our resources very well and turned our history of defeat into a future of hope.”

From that point, a flurry of questions had to be answered. How to house the world’s bankers in the luxury they had been accustomed to? Faster than Harry Houdini, the money from the Development and Aid Package of BIRD was diverted to the construction of seven new five-star hotels.

And so the commuters and office workers from Manila to Makati had to suffer monstrous traffic jams as one hotel rose after another by the bayside. One wag compounded the nightmare by suggesting that brick walls be erected between the city and the bay. The people protested it would deprive them of a view of Manila’s magnificent sunset. Others grumbled the government only wanted to hide the squatters, who had begun to build their shanties of tin roof and cardboard, by the seawall. The truly wicked said no, the government only wanted to raise more revenue by charging P50 for anybody who wanted to see the sunset flaming barbarously beyond the wall.

Both hotels and fences were finished, along with a sprawling international convention center that could rival anything found in Japan. What about the bankers’ cars? Seven hundred late-model Benzes were imported, and the citizens of Manila were treated to the sight of Benzes gliding by, absorbing the shocks from the potholes and the uneven paving of the roads, their windows tinted against the harsh tropical sun.

After the bankers, the beauty contest.

Margarita Mon Amor was chosen Miss Philippines the previous year. Many people thought the judges should have chosen somebody fairer, with a more aquiline nose, to represent the country in the Miss Universe contest held in Athens. They said Margarita won only because she graduated summa cum laude from an exclusive girls’ school and had a grandfather who was a Justice in the Supreme Court.

But Margarita – with her wide forehead, her big and intelligent eyes, her full, sensuous lips – won in Athens. Even before the coronation night, the Greek press was already gushing about the “dusky beauty from the Philippines who walked regally like a queen.” “Like Helen,” another paper gushed, “who could launch a thousand wars, er, ships.” And so on coronation night itself, Margarita Mon Amor went to the Parthenon in a simple silk gown the color of mother-of-pearl shell, her blue-black hair in a bun. She played a haunting kundiman on the bamboo nose flute before the stunned audience, and went through the rigmarole of the Q & A.

Bob Barker: “Miss Philippines, what is the square root of 11,250 divided by 40 then multiplied by 99?

Margarita Mon Amor: “How much time do I have?”

And now she was here, walking on the stage of the Folk Arts Theater, while the wind from the sea fanned the audience crowded in the First Lady’s latest project. Manila being Manila – this mad, maternal city of our myths and memories – everybody was jumping at the prospect of the city hosting Miss Universe that year. The machos were especially ecstatic, as day by day the tabloids splashed photos of their favorite candidates in their skimpiest bathing suits, getting their lovely tan from the Philippine sun.
So on this night of nights, the candidates flounced onstage, speaking in various tongues, a babel of greetings that were beamed worldwide. Miss Brazil came in a dress whose colors could make the parakeets in her country blush. Miss United States of America came from Texas and wore the tightest cowgirl jeans Manila had ever seen. Miss Philippines was Guadalajara de Abanico, a mestiza who had the habit of turning her finely-chiseled nose up at every social function and who, Manila’s reporters’ complained, always arrived late. “I’m sure there’s a friar somewhere in the family line,” snapped Istariray X., mother hen of Manila’s society columnists, in her bitchy column called W.O.W. (“Woman of the World”).

The favorites of the Manila press included Miss Wales, Helen Morgan, because she had pendulous breasts; Miss Spain, Amparo Muñoz, the 20-year-old señorita from Barcelona who looked like the Blessed Virgin Mary; and Miss Finland, Johanna Raunio, because she looked like the girl in the Bear Brand milk commercial. The country exploded with joy when the three were called as finalists, along with Miss Aruba, Maureen Ava Viera, whom the Manila press called “Black Beauty” even if she were brown, and the señorita from Colombia, Ella Cecilia Escandon, who had the face of an angel.

The judges, please:

1) Gloria Diaz who won the Miss Universe in 1969, just when the Americans were landing on the moon. Like Margarita Mon Amor, she was not your typical Filipina beauty queen, for she was short, brown, sassy, and smart. After she won, she was asked if she had a message for the three American astronauts. She said: “The United States has conquered the moon, but the Philippines has conquered the universe.”

2) Zenaida Carajo, also called Baby, who smiled through her tenth face-lifting and had difficulty walking, because on her neck, arms and fingers glittered the country’s second-heaviest diamonds (after the First Lady’s). She also wore makeup so thick that people called her Kabuki Lady behind her back. Or even espasol, the dessert from the south smothered in layers of flour.

3) Joseph Carajo, Baby’s cousin, who taxed the country’s seven million farmers with a levy ostensibly to fund the planting of mahogany trees to produce “modern antique furniture,” but the funds have allegedly been siphoned off to places as far as the Netherlands Antilles.

4) Richard Head, the American Ambassador, called Dick Head by two camps: the grim-and-determined Marxists and the applicants denied visas by His Honor’s consuls.

5) Bernardo Tulingan, who called himself the country’s finest painter, with his grotesqueries hanging like chopping boards in Manila’s seafood restaurants.

6) Zosimo Zaymo, a successful talent manager famous for pimping his female models in Brunei and fondling the male ones before hidden cameras.

7) The young Emmanuel, bright and beady-eyed, opinion columnist par excellence, thinking how soon he could bed as many contestants as possible.

9) Mother China, the country’s number one movie producer, who loved to have zombies in her movies.

10) And of course, the First Lady herself, the Chair of the Board of Judges, Her Majesty Infinitely Brighter than the Blaze of Ten Thousand Suns.

One by one the winners were called, to thunderous applause: Miss Aruba, third runner-up; Miss Colombia, second runner-up; and Miss Finland, first runner-up. And then, only Miss Wales and Spain were left. Both held hands and braced themselves for the announcement, their eyes closed, chins quivering.

Between Big Boobs and the Blessed Virgin Mary, of course the latter would win in this country. After she was called as the newest Miss Universe, Amparo Muñoz gave the crowd a beatific smile, tears running down her face, ruining her makeup. But never mind, for here was Margarita Mon Amor, gliding on the stage, relinquishing cape, crown and scepter, and then the señorita walked around the stage, the flashbulbs popping forever.

Miss Universe would constantly visit Manila as part of the First Lady’s entourage of royalty and celebs, who would be flown to the city to inaugurate a massive new building (part of what critics called the First Lady’s edifice complex), or just have a party aboard the presidential yacht RPS Ang Pangulo on Manila Bay. Later, Amparo Muñoz would star in porno movies in her country, precious copies of which were smuggled into Manila and shown at the parties of the rich and the brain-dead, for they married within the family to keep their fabulous, feudal wealth intact.

Helen Morgan would bare her humongous breasts in a Filipino movie called Nagalit ang Umaga Dahil sa Sobrang Haba ng Gabi (The Morning Got Mad Because the Night was Too Long), then returned to her cold, gray island after the movie flopped.

Johanna Raunio joined the Miss International contest in Tokyo and won. Ella Cecilia Escandon became a writer of Latin American telenovelas, the most popular of which –Mari Mar, Ay! – was shown in an obscure Philippine station, promptly became number one, and wiped the smug grins off the faces of the smart suits running the number-one network. And Maureen Ava Viera married a wealthy Filipino, divorced him, then returned to the Caribbean, to run as governor of Aruba.

* * *

News Item: A Surprise for Miss Nicaragua

During the Parade of Beauties of the Miss Universe contestants on Roxas Boulevard, one man jumped aboard the float of Miss Nicaragua, Mildred de Ortega, and hugged her. Filipino security agents, quick as ever, were already dragging the man away “for routine investigation,” when the Miss Universe contestant, who was then already in tears, said, “No, no, please, por favor.”

It turned out the man, who was a mestizo, was the brother of Miss Nicaragua. Danilo de Ortega had been in exile for five years. “I was glad to know that my sister had been chosen Miss Nicaragua. I flew from L.A. just to see her. I miss her and my family.”

Why did Danilo flee his country?

Perhaps it must have been the series of terrible earthquakes, forcing Danilo to emigrate from his beautiful and peaceful country, opined the columnist Juan Tabaco, a highly-paid columnist and a friend of the President. In a party, said the clandestine Opposition press, a member of the Opposition – with much help from Johnny Walker Black – stood before Señor Tabaco and began to sing, “How Much is that Puppy in the Window, arf arf.” And the eyes of Señor Tabaco – who used to write novels before the dictatorship co-opted him – began to fill with bitter tears.

But when he was interviewed, Danilo Ortega simply said, “I cannot stand the military dictatorship in my country.”

His statement was dutifully reported by Philippine media whose prime passion and major mania was the government-dictated policy of “developmental journalism.”

* * *

This, of course, is a fictional rewriting of the 1974 Miss Universe in Manila under the Marcos regime. Comments can be sent to http://www.dantonremoto2010.blogspot.com

Book sector not spared by downturn

By Jessica Annde D. Hermosa, BusinessWorld | 09/01/2009 12:20 AM

MANILA – The global economic downturn has not spared the domestic book industry, hitting sales and investment plans and limiting the production of new titles, industry officials said.

Limits posed by the local market are also to blame for the industry’s laggard performance, they added.

But a plan to award grants to authors and recommendations to focus on foreign markets and improve the education system could pull the sector out of its rut, National Book Development Board officials said.

“This year, there are almost no expansions except for a few stores in the new malls. Companies are focusing on training and retooling to prepare for the recovery,” Jose Paolo M. Sibal, Philippine Book Sellers Association president, said in a telephone interview on Friday.

Publishers, likewise, have hesitated from growing their businesses with only one firm availing of incentives to import more printing equipment this year, National Book Development Board Executive Director Andrea Pasion-Flores said in another interview.

“And as to sales, some of the publishers claim there has been a dip. Sales have been slightly affected,” the board’s chairman, Dennis T. Gonzales, said.

Mr. Sibal confirmed this, saying that demand, particularly for “pocket books,” has decreased.

The production of new titles, meanwhile, has proven a bit hardier.

“On average, there is a 5% growth every year in terms of new titles. It seems like the crisis has not affected this much. People are still producing which is a sign that there is still a market for new books,” Mr. Gonzales said.

The resilience however is only observed because “we didn’t boom, so we really won’t bust,” Ms. Pasion-Flores said.

To address this, the board is banking on a P150-million authorship trust fund that will be ready for disbursal, ideally, by 2011.

Implementing rules for the fund, created by Republic Act 9521 or the National Book Development Trust Fund Act, are “being finalized,” Mr. Gonzales said.

Interest from the fund will be awarded as grants to qualified authors, particularly those who pledge to produce new titles for science and technology, he said.

The fund will also go to cultural book projects which may not be commercially viable such as compilations of folklore or translations of important works into regional dialects.

Book sales, meanwhile, can be boosted by developing the local market and also marketing to buyers abroad, Mr. Gonzales said.

“In our case it’s really because of poverty and the quality of education. These affect book readership. It will take some time to radically increase local readership,” he said.

In the meantime, publishers would do well to target foreign markets, particularly for books that teach the English language.

“Many of our publishers are quite conservative in going to the international market… But there is a very big international market,” Mr. Gonzales said.

Ninoy, Cory, Evelio

By Ellen Tordesillas
Ang Pahayagang Malaya

WHEN I passed by the Evelio Javier monument in front of the provincial capitol in San Jose, Antique last Monday, I noticed he was holding a yellow ribbon.

Antique Governor Sally Perez said the yellow ribbon on Evelio’s statue was part of their tribute to former President Aquino. Rightly so because the heroic lives of Evelio and that of Sen. Benigno Aquino, Jr. and President Cory Aquino are inextricably twined.

Although I was born and grew up in Antique, I personally met Evelio Javier when I was covering the Cory Aquino for President Movement in 1985. He and Sally, on loan to CAPM from the University of the Philippines where she was in the staff of UP President Edgardo Angara, were active in soliciting one million signatures prodding Cory to run for president in the 1986 presidential snap election.

At that time, Evelio, former governor of Antique, had a pending protest against the election of Arturo Pacificador as member of the Batasan Pambansa in the May 1984 polls.

The 1984 election was bloody in Antique. On the eve of election, the leaders of Javier and Enrique Zaldivar, the opposition candidate for governor who won, were ambushed at the foot of Pampang bridge in the town of Sibalom by men suspected to be aligned with Pacificador. The tragedy became known as the “Pampang Massacre.”

Evelio, like Ninoy Aquino, represented enlightened politics at the time when everything in the country revolved around the Marcos dictatorship. Against guns, goons and gold, Evelio, had an army of young campaign volunteers. He would take the banca in visiting the province’s coastal towns. He was a Jesus-like figure as he waded to the shore to his adoring supporters.

***

As governor, he made Antiquenos, many of whom had developed an inferiority complex because of the province’s reputation as land of the sacadas, rediscover their proud heritage by initiating the “Binirayan” festival.

Evelio eventually won his election protest after the 1986 People Power revolution. But it was too late. On Feb. 11, 1986, Evelio was gunned down in front of the provincial capitol while he was overseeing the canvassing of votes in the snap polls between Cory Aquino and Marcos. Again, Pacificador, a Marcos loyalist, was accused, but he was later acquitted.

The assassination of Evelio, done in broad daylight, gangland style, helped spark the outrage that led to first Edsa Revolution.

Sally and I were talking about the many similarities of Ninoy, Evelio and Cory’s funeral, like the coffin being carried in a flatbed truck and the outpouring of grief by the people.

From Antique, Evelio’s remains were brought to Manila. At the Baclaran church, it was the first time foreign diplomats addressed Cory, who led the mourners, “Mrs. President.”

I remember foreign embassies calling up Malaya, which was then providing the alternative to the Marcos-controlled establishment newspapers, patiently spelling out the ambassadors’ name in their condolences to Evelio. They wanted to put on record their governments’ outrage over the killing of Evelio.

At the funeral march of Cory two weeks ago, people along Sucat road were holding lighted candles. I was reminded of the funeral march of Evelio from Caticlan in Aklan to San Jose. I don’t remember anymore if it was a 15- hour procession. What I remember was people lining the streets in the evening with lighted candles. It was awesome.

Evelio was buried Feb. 20 amidst calls of Cory for civil disobedience in protest of massive election fraud. We all rushed back to Manila. Feb. 22, then Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile and Gen. Fidel Ramos, chief of the Philippine Constabulary, declared their withdrawal of support from Marcos.

The rest is history.

Today, we remember the martyrdom of Ninoy Aquino. On Aug. 30, we pay tribute to our heroes, who dedicated their lives to the cause of peace and freedom for Filipinos.

Half a lifetime ago

Remote control | Danton Remoto | 08/04/2009 12:05 AM
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com
Views and analysis section

Half a lifetime ago, I was working as an Editor in the Secretariat of the Batasang Pambansa. I edited the plenary sessions, correcting the unforgettable grammar and idioms of assemblymen. One of them rose one day and said, “Mr. Speaker, I want to declare ______ Air Lines a persona non grata, because their planes always collapse.”

A day later I went to him, with transcripts in hand, and told him that an airplane cannot be declared a PNG and that planes crash, but never collapse. Mr . Assemblyman rose to his full height of five feet, looked up at me (I am 5’ 11”) and barked: “And which school did you come from? The nerves to correct my English.”

When I told him where I studied, he smiled, showing teeth stained with nicotine, then mumbled that next time, I could just correct his startling ways with the English language, since I already have his “approbation” to do so.

I was slaving there when President Marcos declared in the Ted Koppel show that he would call for a snap election. The fragmented Opposition (they are always fragmented, then and now) cobbled together a presidential team. The green of Doy Laurel gave way to the yellow of Cory Aquino, whose words then and more so, now, still ring in my ears.

“Courage,” she said, before blessing the body of her dead husband in the casket, clad in widow’s weeds, the day of her arrival from Boston, “courage is as contagious as cowardice.”

Short and sharp those words, like bullets exploding in the air. And now, the woman was running for President. Speaker of the Batasan Nicanor Yniguez was a gentleman of the old school. He gave us our 13th month pay that December of 1985. Then he followed that up with a 14th month, and why, even a 15th month pay. He did not say he was giving us that largesse to vote for Marcos. He said the Batasan had some savings (it did) and these savings could be better used if given away to the employees.

And so my 13th-month pay went to a new set of contact lenses, which in those days cost an arm and a leg. My 14th-month pay went to my mother. And my 15th-month pay I brought to the Cory Aquino for President Headquarters in front of Santo Domingo Church on Quezon Avenue, and gave it to them as a donation.

The Batasan then was a cool place to be. Stickers of Cory and Doy would mushroom in the bathrooms, to be scraped away the next day. And then they would be there again. The young employees were openly campaigning for Cory and Doy. I attended all the rallies, giving away campaign leaflets to jeepney drivers and sidewalk vendors. Their stickers I pasted in our gate in our house in Antipolo; their banners I hung in the branches of the star-apple trees in front of our house, incurring the ire of my father – the military officer – who was a red, white, and blue fan of Marcos, the hero of the Second World War and a bright lawyer.

We campaigned, we voted, we guarded the vote. However, the Batasan where I worked proclaimed Marcos, to our great and utter embarrassment, such that I applied for work in the so-called mosquito press then (Malaya, Inquirer), only to be told there were no openings. We continued attending the massive rallies of Cory Aquino, where you counted people not in the hundreds of thousands, but in the millions. Cory then, alive, and Cory now, dead, always crunched numbers.

And then February 23 happened. I had just watched a movie in Remar Theater in Cubao and was eating donuts in the basement when I heard in the transistor radio the voices of Enrile and Ramos, crackling in the dry air, saying they had just withdrawn their support from the Dark One. The Coke nearly spilled out of my nose. I rushed home, only to find my father already watching TV and telling us never, never to go out. “There might be trouble,” he said, “you will be safer at home.”

Of course we did not. My two sisters and I went to EDSA, on the pretext of buying books at National Book Store in Cubao. We saw an old woman waving a big Philippine flag in the corner of P. Tuazon and 20th Avenue in Cubao. People cheered and sang and danced on the whole length of EDSA. Cars were barricaded in front of what is now the POEA. A mass was going on, while vendors plied their trade. It was like a fiesta. When we went home, my father remarked tartly how hot it must be in the bookstore, since our skin turned brown from buying books in the bookstore. We just kept silent.

When Marcos was speaking on TV and he was cut off in mid-sentence, I knew his end had come. The baritone voice that echoed, and sometimes still echo in my ears, was gone. A few days later, he flew away, with his family and their loot, in the dead of night.

And Cory became president in February of 1986. A month later, I had two letters in my hand, telling me I had been accepted into two M.A. programs of Creative Writing in American universities, on scholarships. It was an easy decision to make. I stayed in the Philippines, took my graduate studies in Literature at the Ateneo, and taught.

Three years later I was taking my second Master’s, this time in Publishing Studies at the University of Stirling on a British Council grant. I took Publishing Studies because Marcos had destroyed the country’s publishing industry, and I wanted to help the Ateneo’s then-fledgling Office of Research and Publication produce textbooks and literary titles for the next generation of readers. In December of 1989, I was about to go to sleep when Ricardo, my Brazilian flat mate, knocked on my window. I opened it, and the cold wintry air stole into my room. “There is a war,” he said in his Portuguese-accented English, “there is a war going on in your country.”

“Shut up, Ricardo,” I said, “the last coup d’etat was in 1987.”

But he said there was a new one. So I turned on my Walkman radio, and there it was, in the clipped, terse English of the BBC journalist in Manila, reporting on the latest coup d’etat led by Colonel Gringo Honasan. A day later, I was on the train bound for London. I was going to the U.S. embassy in Grosvenor Square, to get a visa for my holiday visit to my sister in the U.S.

Outside the train, winter had turned the landscape into the color of bone. I listened again to the BBC, where the same journalist reported that he was somewhere in the Atrium in Makati, and gunfire was exploding all around him. I could hear the machine guns, and saw the rectangle of Atrium rise in my mind, and for the first time thought of the possibility of living in exile. But the rebels lost after the American jet fighters flew over them, spraying a ricochet of bullets as warning shots.

Three months later, in February of 1990, I had two letters in my hand, telling me that I had been accepted into two Ph.D. programs in Creative Writing in American universities, on scholarships. I agonized for days on what to do. My sister living in New Jersey was telling me to accept the offer. She was so lonely there and wanted me to join her, and added I could write more books if I stay in the USA. I had just been to the USA for the Christmas holidays and surely, she added, you must have enjoyed your stay here.

But do I really want to be a writer in exile? That romantic notion of making it in the publishing houses of New York, reviewed by the New York Times, and read by Americans? Or do I want to return to take care of my two parents going into their sixties, pick up a promising career in writing in the Philippines, and publish books that would be sold at the local bookstores?

I did return, taught for 22 years at the Ateneo, and published eight books of poetry and prose. And last Saturday, when Cory Aquino died and she was shown on TV in an earlier interview saying, “I am honored to be a Filipino, to be like all of you,” I finally knew that I made the right decision to come home, half a lifetime ago.

Obama’s message to GMA

Obama’s message to GMA
http://www.newsbreak.com.ph
Monday, 27 July 2009

If President Arroyo has read Barack Obama’s books and if she has been following his speeches, she’ll know what to expect during their meeting in Washington D.C. this week. And she may find discomfort in Obama’s rhetoric and ideas.

It’s because GMA’s visit to the US comes at a time of public doubt about her true plans past her term in 2010. Dangling in the air are two options, both aimed at extending her stay in office: amending the Constitution through a constituent assembly, and setting up a “transition council” which she will lead and which will preside over the changing of the Constitution.

Clearly, in these two scenarios being peddled by her allies, she’s bypassing institutions and violating the Constitution.

Obama, who taught Constitutional law for 10 years, is a believer in institutions. He sees the building of institutions as the key to success of any country.

What Obama told Africa, in his speech in Ghana early July, may as well be his message for the rest of the developing world. Democracy, he said, is “more than just about holding elections. It’s also about what happens between elections.”

Listen to this: “No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves or if police can be bought off by drug traffickers. No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims off 20 percent off the top or the head of the Port Authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of…bribery.”

Obamas focus is on four critical areas: support for strong and sustainable democratic governments; support for development that provides opportunities for more people; strengthening of public health; and peaceful resolution of conflict.

Obama said that the US government will increase assistance to responsible institutions that promote good governance (parliaments that check abuse of power); rule of law (equal administration of justice); civic participation; and concrete solutions to corruption (automating services, protecting whistleblowers to advance transparency and accountability).

Thus, the issues of rebellion and terrorism in Mindanao, US aid to reform the military and strengthen anti-corruption programs, US investments in the Philippines are specifics that are best addressed, in Obama’s view, by democracies with “capable, reliable, and transparent institutions: strong parliaments, honest police forces, independent judges, an independent press, a vibrant private sector, a civil society.”

Can GMA make the case for strong institutions in the Philippines? That will be tough.

‘Obama’s new media tack can work in RP’

by Maria Althea Teves, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak | 07/25/2009 3:46 AM

MANILA – It is no secret that US President Barack Obama won partly for using new media in his 2008 campaign.

New media is defined by Obama New Media Operations Manager Mary Joyce as a media message created, produced and read by the people. This means media found on the internet, and text messages via mobile phones.

Social networking sites have linked internet users to Obama’s webpage in order to know his policies and actively participate in discussions. But there is one key aspect the Obama campaign team is most proud of: getting online donations for the campaign that amounted to $500 million.

So what if they paid a dollar to the Obama campaign?

Joyce told abs-cbnnews.com/Newsbreak that the psyche behind donating money is that they feel they belong to the campaign. Joyce is also co-founder of digiactive.org, a volunteer organization helping activists around the world to use Internet and mobile phones to increase the impact of their message.
“Our marketing mantra was ‘own a piece of this campaign,’” she said. In turn, Obama supporters felt they had a say and the power to promote their candidate, and they felt more entitled to voice out what they feel and need.

Recognizing the importance of people’s donations, Obama even mentioned in his November 7, 2008 speech that his victory was built by working men and women who donated small amounts–from $5-$20–to the cause.

Joyce said that Obama did not have access to funds from the traditional elite of America so, “we had no choice but to campaign online, asking for donations from Middle America.”

Obama supporters, Joyce said, felt that Obama was accountable for what he promised because their money was used for their campaign. This way, they felt empowered and wanted him to win.

Donating Online to Organizing Offline

Obama’s campaign also encouraged his supporters to put up their own events at home, or wherever convenient, and invite their friends or family, whatever their political background.

Supporters could ask help from the Obama team in organizing their political-awareness event by filling up a form in their website, and the team would announce the event through the website.

“The objective of this was to get more Obama supporters,” Joyce said.

Organizing online with supporters to create their own event was a cost-efficient way of getting new supporters.

New Media and Old Media

Because of the innovations done to the Obama campaign, they were constantly being followed by the press, said Joyce.

She added that whatever achievement or new idea they introduced, they would send it to publications and make news out of their innovation.

“Without intending to, the Obama campaign was in tune with the concept of hope for change. We gave something new,” she said.

Since not everyone is familiar with online, it is also good to publicize these in newspapers, broadcast centers and radios.

Possible in the Philippines?

“Yes! It can happen,” Joyce said, imitating Obama’s tone when he says his popular ‘yes, we can’ slogan.

Contrary to popular belief that internet penetration is very low in the country, Internet World Stats, as of March 31, 2009 there were 20.65 million internet users in the country. This was 21.5% of the Philippines’ population. The country was 7th in top internet user countries in Asia. China was the highest.

Promoting causes

Promoting causes and actively campaigning for elections through new media can now be an influential tool, said blogger, journalist and activist Tonyo Cruz. Cruz spoke at the “New Media: A Powerful Tool for the 2010 Elections” forum organized by Computer Professionals’ Union (CP-union) at the Sofitel Hotel Friday.

Citing Nielsen and Yahoo’s internet penetration survey done in 2008, Cruz said that even those in social class C2 (63%) and DE (21%) have internet access.

“Most of them are 15-19 years old, they are first time voters, as well as housewives and the employed,” Cruz said.

In the same survey, it said that internet content has more influence in terms of inculcating values than television, print and radio. It also showed that internet penetration is highest in urban areas, and in vote-rich areas like Pangasinan.

New Media Challenge in RP

But unlike Obama’s campaign, Rick Bahague of CP-union said that it might be hard to ask for donations in the Philippines from the middle class and lower class.

“Large political parties are dependent on the Philippines’ traditional rich donors,” Bahague said.

On top of this, Cruz said political parties don’t need the people’s money because they think they’re not accountable to them. And with their resources, they could already manufacture votes that they need to win.

Party-list groups to benefit from new media

Since party-list groups cater to a specific, marginalized target group, new media is a good avenue to promote their cause and make people feel like a part of their team, said Joyce.

Because they are accountable to the groups who support them, party-list groups, especially those which do not have machinery for campaigns, ask for donations, just like what Obama did.

Filipinos have a hard time trusting monetary transfers via internet. Thus, Bahague suggested that mobile companies could monetize small-value prepaid cards for subscribers to donate, which party-list groups can then monetize.

In the US, Joyce said that company Act Blue was responsible for monetizing political donations of Obama, as well as other democratic candidates.

“Donating could be a symbol of commitment (from the supporters and the accountability of the party-list group),” said Bahague.

It is possible, he said, for the marginalized to feel as empowered as Obama’s supporters in the 2008 US presidential elections.

as of 07/26/2009 11:44 AM

How to do well in school?

REMOTE CONTROL | DANTON REMOTO | 07/21/2009 3:20 AM
Views and analysis
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com

1. Listen to the teacher. When the teacher repeats a point two times, red flag it and take notes. That means what she is saying is super important, that is why it is repeated twice, not that she already has Alzheimer’s (she will, 20 years down the road, after teaching young people like you).

2. Read everything thrice. The first is to scan the text, like an eagle surveying the field, before it swoops down for the kill. The second is to read slowly, marking important points on the margins, or underlining key words in the text. The third is to summarize the points in your head, in your notebook, or on the last page of the text. I tell my students: unless you have summarized the text in three sentences, in your own words, then you haven’t gotten it right.

3. Master the four skills. Being a teacher of the old school, I tell my students the four skills of language learning are still important. The four skills are not surfing the net, texting, watching MTV or reading classsics.com. The four skills are still reading, writing, listening and speaking. But because of the four so-called skills I enumerated earlier, some students no longer want to read. “Eh why pa did you go to school if you don’t want to read?” I ask my students in mock horror. Writing well, of course, means reading and rereading The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White. Listening, with the headphones of your iPod off, works best. And speaking, of course. When one day, I asked a student for his insights into Guy de Maupassant’s The Jewels, he answered, “Wala lang!” I said, “That is good. Therefore, your oral recitation grade is also wala lang!” Then he immediately cobbled together an answer that somewhat mollified his English teacher.

4. Budget your time. You are a student, right? Therefore, your job is to study. When I was taking graduate school in the US and we were reading 600 pages of text every week, I asked my classmates, “How do we survive this?” “Read the darned pages,” Boho from Harlem said, “then go to the gym three times a week — and dance in the clubs on Saturday nights!” And so we did. We read tomes on Islamic Mystical Literature, the Nineteenth-Century Novel, and Literary Criticism, then did the treadmill and danced at Splash in New York every Saturday night. In short, you study hard — and then you play just as hard.

5. Consult with the teacher. Your teacher has placed her e-mail address and consultation hours in the syllabus. Go and make use of these. If you get low marks in Composition class, or just cannot get why the old man Iona Potapov, who has just lost his son, begins talking to his horse at the end of Chekhov’s story, then talk to the teacher. With the patience of Job, I am sure he or she will explain why that sentence is a fragment, and you do not mix your tenses, and “occasion” is not spelled with two c’s, two s’s, and two n’s, that is why you got an F. And I am quite sure that your teacher will also enlighten you on the way Chekhov writes fiction as revelation, where the unsaid words and the absent gestures are as important — if not more important — than what is said and shown.

6. Use the library. I taught for 22 years at the Ateneo, which happens to have an excellent multimedia library. During the first weeks of class, I require my students to attend library orientation, so they will know how to dig in that fabulous archive of knowledge. I also tell them that the library subscribes to Time, Newsweek, The Economist, The Financial Times and the International Herald Tribune — the last two papers because I badgered the library to do so, 20 years ago. In short, the most incisive analysis and the crispest writing in accessible formats can be had, right there at their fingertips, via hard copies of the world’s finest periodicals.

7. Use your imagination. When studying literature, let your minds fly! Ravyi Sunico, my teacher in Philosophy, once said in class that the imagination has no boundaries. Therefore, let the wings of your mind and heart touch the sky when you read. When the French master wrote, “Monsieur Lantin was caught in the web of love,” do not tell the teacher that this means life is complicated. Hell-er! First, you answer that “web of love” is a metaphor that means falling in love is like being caught in a spider web. It reminds you of that time when that “fat dimpled spider” (in Walt Whitman’s wicked poem) comes charging along to eat the unwitting fly. In short, I add, my lips curving in a wicked smile, it is called falling in love because “at first, you are in love, and then you fall.”

8. Open your minds. You go to school to obtain a liberal education, especially in the Humanities. In the Jesuit Fr. Roque Ferriol’s book, that means “magpakatao” — being taught to be fully human. That means never being afraid of ideas. Freshmen jump out of their skin when they hear the word “communism” or the name “Sigmund Freud” discussed in their Literature classes. Eh kumusta naman? You tell me we will discuss Ninotchka Rosca’s novel, State of War, without talking about the class contradictions in society? Or talk about Little Red Riding Hood seducing the Big Bad Wolf in Angela Carter’s “The Company of Wolves,” without discussing that dear, dirty old man Sigmund Freud? Time now to forget your high-school class in Literature, where Sister Marionnete always pinned a moral lesson to every poem, play, story and essays taught in class, reducing the beauty of words to the silence of the lambs.

In short, enjoy your English classes. Have fun in the world of words. Read everything as if it is a love letter, which means reading between the lines. Or better yet, as my unforgettable teacher of the Modern Novel, Dr. Edna Zapanta Manlapaz, put it, read not only with your eyes and with your heart, but best of all, read with your genitals!

Which means reading everything at the gut level, at the level of the groin, where the vital seeds of life begin.

Ramos takes swipe at Arroyo

Ex-president: ‘You can’t stay at the top forever’

By Fe Zamora, Michael Lim Ubac
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:01:00 07/17/2009

Former president Fidel V. Ramos Thursday told six aspirants to the presidency that being in power was not a permanent state.

“Going up to the summit is optional, but coming down is mandatory,” Ramos said, quoting the first Filipino mountain climbers to scale Mount Everest. “You cannot stay at the top forever.”

Ramos’ remarks were applauded by the six aspirants and their audience, to whom they presented their planned six-year socioeconomic programs. The venue was the 10th Ramos Peace and Development Foundation public lecture series held at RCBC Plaza’s Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium in Makati City.

“Bato-bato sa langit, ang tamaan huwag magalit,” a laughing Ramos also said, mouthing the old Filipino adage about being a sport in the face of criticism.

It was an apparent swipe at President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whose term ends in 2010 and, according to persistent reports, is preparing to seek a congressional seat representing a district in her native Pampanga province.

The six aspirants present were Senators Francis Escudero, Richard Gordon, Loren Legarda and Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chair Bayani Fernando.

Why Erap wasn’t there

Ramos said Vice President Noli de Castro, and Senators Manny Villar and Panfilo Lacson had also been invited. De Castro and Villar declined; Lacson has announced that he would not be in the running in 2010.

Ousted President Joseph Estrada was not invited because he was not yet considered a contender when the invitations were sent out in March, Ramos also said.

The forum was attended by businessmen and executives of multinational companies and international organizations.

Among the government officials in attendance were Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and Ms Arroyo’s adviser on political affairs Gabriel Claudio, who were once “Ramos boys.”

Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes also dropped in.

Young but mature

Ramos praised the six aspirants for the “clarity, intellect and substance of their presentation.”

He said that compared to himself when he ran in 1992, “they are still very young [but] mature enough to assume the office of the presidency.”

The six aspirants presented their platforms of government in response to two questions:

How do you plan to maintain economic stability and stimulate economic growth in the Philippines?

How do you plan to deal with the peace and order situation in Mindanao?

Each was allowed 15 minutes to make a presentation. They later fielded questions in an open forum.

Platform of government

All agreed that focusing government resources on modernizing agriculture and improving productivity was key to sustainable growth, with Legarda championing the protection of the environment and rural folk as part of long-term solutions.

Fernando proposed a stronger state through the faithful implementation of laws. Gordon urged the nation to revisit its history, learn from the past and start “caring” for the people.

Escudero laid down a six-point priority program to address poverty.

Roxas talked about an “activist government.” Teodoro suggested that the government’s economic infrastructure, health and education programs, as well as public investment in peace and security, be continued.

All six aspirants said they believed that “good governance” was at the center of economic and peace efforts.

President as juggler

Roxas treated the forum as a “job interview.”

“To whom will I entrust the country?” he said, and used the global economic recession and domestic problems to paint the current picture of the economy.

He said serving as president was like “keeping the big picture in sight, juggling so many different things atop a high wire, while keeping [one’s] bearings, principles and vision intact.”

Roxas said “the binding constraint to our development path as a nation … has been poor institutions, the weakest institutions that stop our development.”

He called for an “activist government” that would be “nimble, quick to respond and professional,” and “built on the foundation of accountability, transparency, independence of enforcement agencies, meritocracy and professionalism.

Legarda pushed her proposed agenda on “rethinking development.”

“For far too long, our policies and strategies have only marginally altered the socioeconomic status of our people. The absence of an integrated, unified, and coherent road map is the culprit for the snail-paced Philippine economic and security development,” she said.

She called for a coordinated and integrated plan that would spur efforts toward a developed Philippine state.

“We need to fuse national economic growth with national security in the development of an integrated plan,” Legarda said.

Workplace economics

Fernando, a professional mechanical engineer, proposed his “workplace economics” as the Philippine socioeconomic development framework.

He said he would implement this “if I am elected president, which I am sure will happen,” eliciting chuckles from the audience.

Fernando said the challenges were low respect for labor, unemployment and failure to enforce laws.

“It is inherent upon all of us to implement and obey the laws of the land,” he said.

He also said peace was a prerequisite of development, and that political will was essential to solving the ills of society.

Formula for peace and order

Teodoro said the country suffered from a “structurally flawed political system.”

He ticked off his policy agenda for economic stability and growth: good government, continuation of economic infrastructure programs, better education, health and overall quality of life, and order in civil society through public investment in peace and security.

Teodoro said the three “current threats” in Mindanao were lawless Moro groups, the Abu Sayyaf, and the communist insurgents.

He said the formula for peace and order in Mindanao was development, capacity building and DDR (disarmament, demobilization and reintegration).

“Peace is contextual and must have an enforcement mechanism,” Teodoro said.

Unbroken country

Gordon delivered an extemporaneous speech that was the most applauded.

“I don’t believe we are broken. We may have lost our confidence, but we are not a broken country,” he said, saying the country’s leaders should uplift the dignity of Filipinos.

Gordon said his vision for a new Philippines was an “enabled, ennobled and free” nation through stability, unity and transformation.

“I’d like you to believe that we can effect change in our country” through “transformational leadership,” and not “transactional leadership,” he said.

Gordon cited instances why many Filipinos were poor, uneducated and had violent tendencies.

“We don’t care enough,” he said, adding that Moro separatists and Abu Sayyaf bandits “came out because they are in pain.”

6-point policy

Escudero said good governance, strengthened finances, investment in youth and the country’s future, environmental stewardship, infrastructure development, and making local products globally competitive were the key elements of his six-point policy to address “decades of missed opportunities.”

“Primarily, we seek to eliminate poverty and improve the quality of life of every Filipino. This means striving for higher family income, a highly educated and trainable workforce, better health care, affordable food and housing and peaceful communities,” Escudero said.

Two women: Gloria

Tuesday, July 14, 2009
By Antonio C. Abaya
Manila Standard Today

It was only last July 3 that US Ambassador Kristie Kenney was quoted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer as assuring President Arroyo that her much sought-after meeting with US President Barack Obama will happen “before the end of the year” on the grounds that a new US President always meets with the Philippine President during the US President’s first year in office. (See my article of July 6 titled Puno’s “Devious Plan?”)

Now all of a sudden, barely 10 days after Ambassador Kenney’s lollipop, Malacañang announces that this epochal meeting will take place, not before the end of the year, but on July 30, right after President Arroyo’s “last” State-of-the-Nation Address before a joint session of Congress on July 28.

And to add mystery to the puzzlement, the newly appointed head of the Central Intelligence Agency, Leon Panetta, drops by for a 12-hour visit in Manila to meet with President Arroyo and other top Philippine officials.

What in the world is going on?

My reading is that the Americans smell a dead rat, in all likelihood planted by Ronaldo Puno, who, while attending his daughter’s wedding in San Francisco on July 4, is being eased out of the Cabinet (Interior and Local Government). Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita called Puno’s leave “open-ended”… ‘‘for weeks” …. and appointed an officer-in-charge in Puno’s place. The parting seems to be bitter and final.

Puno’s offense? He has a “devious plan” for becoming president, as one reader e-mailed to me on June 18 after talking to some of Puno’s relatives, which I published as a reaction letter to this column.

A second reader e-mailed me after the May 27 announcement of Puno’s seeking the vice-presidency, that he would not be surprised if Puno, whom he has known personally for years—who helped make Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Arroyo president in 1992, 1998 and 2004 respectively—will now concentrate on making himself, Ronaldo Puno, president.

Even, wrote this second reader, if it means betraying Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Puno intends to become the “best president the Philippines has ever had or will ever have,” he wrote.

A third reader has now e-mailed me the anecdotal tidbit that when Puno, then 19, married his 18-year-old Maryknoller bride, he promised to make her First Lady one day. Has that day finally arrived?

What this anecdotal tidbit tells us is that Puno has had an overarching ambition to become president since he was in his late teens. Nothing wrong with that. I would not be surprised if other ambitious presidential wannabes made similar promises to their brides; Ninoy Aquino, Jose de Venecia, Manuel Quezon, Manuel Roxas, etc.

But what happens when this teenager reaches presidential age and finds that his ambition is blocked by his own boss who is scheming to stay in power beyond the limits of her non-extendable presidential term? Gunfight at the OK Corral, or its political equivalent in the Philippines?

At this the September of her years, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should concentrate on leaving as benign a legacy as is possible, under the circumstances that she and her husband have created for themselves, of their own free will.

Forget about running for congresswoman for her electoral district in Pampanga, which she has visited 16 times, and counting, since last February.

Forget about amending the Constitution to shift to parliamentary, now or in June 2010, by the dubious method of a constituent assembly, so that she can remain in power as Prime Minster for Life.

Forget about turning the Philippines into a First World country by the year 2020, under her tutelage, of course. It is physically impossible, even if her alma mater, the Balic Balic School of Economics, assures her in her fantasies that it is possible.

Forget about declaring emergency rule or martial law, now or in 2010, so that she can cancel or postpone the May 2010 elections, and thereby remain in power as a ”transition president.”.

A declaration of emergency rule or martial law will be counter-productive. It will make this country a pariah state. Whatever meager foreign direct investments are still trickling in will dry up completely. So will most or all of official development aid. Many countries will withdraw their ambassadors. The exodus of this country’s best and brightest people will accelerate. No one will be left here except the crooks, the cheats and the criminals, and those who do not have the means to get out.

My family and I supported Gloria Arroyo in what we have since realized was the stage-managed People Power agitation against Joseph Estrada in January 2001. In the 2004 elections, I was one of the few columnists who wrote that she was the actual winner over the deaf-mute FPJ, though by a thin majority, based on pre-election surveys, exit polls on election day itself, and an analysis of the data from the independent Namfrel. (GMA by a Hair, May 13, 2004; Who Won? May 19, 2004)

I supported Ms. Arroyo when in January 2003 she called for “a revolution in the way we think and the way we do politics and economics.” But there was no revolution in anything except in the way she blabbered words without meaning them. (GMA Revolution Stalling, Feb. 9, 2003).

As a former supporter, I suggest that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her family magically vanish from the country hours or days before her term ends on June 30, 2010. Move to Portugal or Dubai, and count your “blessings” there. Forget the rumored losses in Lehman Brothers or AIG or the Dubai property market. Do not try to recoup those losses by staying here one minute longer beyond June 30, 2010. Do not force us to make public what we know about you and your husband..

I hope this will be what President Obama will tell President Arroyo on July 30. Anything less than that would be an unforgivable diminution of the Obama Magic.

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