A Pinoy Expatriate’s Insane Musings

Archive for the ‘Rave’ Category


Posted by Marvin on October 1, 2007

Art, a friend and colleague, sent me this supplemental info on unsolicited bids for government contracts. If you can recall, I asked a rhetorical question regarding AHI’s unsolicited bid? Take it away Art…

“…Under Sec. 5 of R.A. 7718, “Unsolicited proposals for projects may be accepted by any government agency or local government unit on a negotiated basis: Provided, That, all the following conditions are met: (1) such projects involve a new concept or technology and/or are not part of the list of priority projects, (2) no direct government guarantee, subsidy or equity is required, and (3) the government agency or local government unit has invited by publication, for three (3) consecutive weeks, in a newspaper of general circulation, comparative or competitive proposals and no other proposal is received for a period of sixty (60) working days: Provided, further, That in the event another proponent submits a lower price proposal, the original proponent shall have the right to match that price within thirty (30) working days.”...”

If you want to read Republic Act 7718 or the “Act Amending Certain Sections of Republic Act No. 6957, Entitled “An Act Authorizing The Financing, Construction, Operation and Maintenance of Infrastructure Projects By The Private Sector, And For Other Purposes” (What a mouthful! Some people call this the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law for conciseness…), go to this link.


Funny how things tend to unravel whenever the Senate holds one of their “investigations in aid of legislation” or as I see it – the Senate’s “license to kill” or “payback time” for the senators. The recent NBN scandal is a classic example.

It started off as a “I-lost-therefore-I-was-cheated” complaint initiated by De Venecia’s son but soon deteriorated into a veritable free-for-all pitting various groups of self-righteous demagogues.

“…A demagogue is one who will preach doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots…” – H.L. Mencken

It is like a veritable “sinner casting the first stone” scenario. For example:

  • Jose de Venecia III: The boy who cried “Wolf!” Whilst spilling the beans on the scandal, he also exposed his culpability and utter lack of delicadeza. Iho, tatay mo ang Speaker of the House…Sana man lamang e iniwasan mong sumali sa mga government contracts lalo na kung medyo dubious ang credentials ng kumpanya mo…How can you now refute charges that you are using your father’s position to influence the outcome of the tender? You should have inhibited yourself and just let AHI’s officers file the complaint…That would have given you the moral high ground.
  • Benjamin Abalos: Tsk..Tsk..From one scandal to another…Now that you have resigned your position, maybe you should take the straight and narrow path. Your record at the COMELEC basically ruined you in the court of public opinion. Nag-init pa ang ulo mo sa sessions…You look too defensive…Kahit pa sabihin na nating wala ka talagang kasalanan (however unlikely)
  • Romulo Neri: Nobody likes a fence-sitter…It’s either you have guts or not. You admitted that Abalos tried to bribe you…Why go to the President? Para kang hindi naisali sa laro at nagsusumbong sa teacher. Why did you not report it to the Ombudsman or to some other authority? By not doing anything, you are tolerating the deed. And now you want to seek the high ground? Tsk…Tsk…You had your chance brother but you blew it…
  • Aquilino Pimentel: Matanda ka na pero tuso pa rin…You can sense it in the sessions, this guy really has an ax to grind with the COMELEC. He probably is still smarting from that “dagdag-bawas” experience when he lost to Enrile. Tsk…Tsk…Whatever brownie points you earned by explaining your vote for opening the second enveloped has since evaporated…Your moral compass is truly broken…
  • Miriam Defensor-Santiago: You are a genius…Smart and articulate in your own mangled version of Ilonggo English…However, you’ve fallen into the trap which is the curse of people with high intelligence quotients – the more intelligent you are, the more snobbish and bigoted you become…Imagine a senator saying that the Chinese invented corruption! Major diplomatic faux pas! Assuming this is true (just for the sake of argument), we are still to blame. The Chinese may have invented corruption Senator Santiago – but we Filipinos perfected it into an artform.

So what is the moral of this NBN story? Simple…There are no clean combatants in a mud wrestling contest.


In a few days, the Philippines will be one nation again…all because of a hurricane of a boxer named Pacquiao. As always, politicians will call a truce and even Rogelio Rosal of Ka Roger fame will tune in. For a couple of hours, the nation will be one.

I used to like it every time Pacquiao has a fight…The moment the bell sounds to indicate the end of the fight  – Pacquiao’s battle is over…A new battle starts though… After the brief moment of unity, the country will go back to its old ways and start bashing the head of the next guy just to be ahead of him in the game of life…

Kung puwede nga lang sanang upakan ni Pacquiao ang mga pasaway nating kababayan…


Posted in Links, Peeve, Rave | 4 Comments »

Helpful Website For Expatriates:

Posted by Marvin on September 18, 2007

One of the few perks of being an expatriate is the opportunity to travel. In my case, this is actually anti-climactic…

Prior to being an expatriate here in the U.S., I’ve been living via a suitcase and sleeping in business class lounges all over the world already. Case in point: I accumulated 400,000 frequent flyer miles prior to moving to California. The routine is typical airport-hotel-office-hotel-office-airport…In other words, no time to enjoy the place I’m visiting.

But now, travel is not as hectic and furious as before. I now have time to enjoy a city’s sights. And this is what aims to to: assist travelers in enjoying a particular place.


Most of the world’s key cities are represented and profiled into various 10 best lists…hence the name of the site: Such a no-brainer…

They have six (6) major headings: Events, Hotels & Lodgings, Nightlife, Restaurants, Shopping and Sights & Activities. Other cities have additional headings like A Day In The City, Local Transportation and the section Voted Best of the City – where readers vote their best selections. Basically everything that a traveler (whether on business or pleasure) would be interested in when visiting a foreign land. Each of these headings are further subdivided into more detailed 10 best lists like Asian food under Restaurants…

As much information is provided for each listing – price, operating hours, address/location, website, description and recommendations, user ratings and reviews. This site is a busy travelers wet dream…No more time spent on researching a place, no more questions to the hotel concierge (whose recommendations are basically biased and tainted) and no more bugging your hosts – you can basically enjoy the city by yourself.

Definitely for the busy traveler…

Posted in Rave | 1 Comment »

Philippine Propaganda 101: Masters of Distortion

Posted by Marvin on September 17, 2007


Such a big, high-brow word but one to which we are exposed to everyday via the relentless, omnipresent media. Ideally, the media should be able to distinguish the various forms of propaganda and shield the gullible masses from half-truths and lies from personalities. Unfortunately, “sound bites” sell newspapers…and so things fall through the cracks so to speak…

What is propaganda anyway?

Propaganda is the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist.”– Garth S. Jowett and Victoria O’Donnell, Propaganda And Persuasion

This definition is still too complicated for me…Let’s try some recent examples:

“…MANILA, Philippines — Freed communist leader Jose Maria Sison hurled invectives at Malacañang, calling President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo a “demon infant” who “fooled” the Dutch government into believing he was a murderer.In a phone interview, the 68-year-old Sison said his release confirmed that Manila simply filed trumped-up charges against him.“My release only proves that the Dutch government was fooled by National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales and the demon infant Arroyo,” he said…”
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

What does this example say to the readers? Joma is innocent. However, it you dive deep enough and actually look at the actual decision (very few readers have actually seen this) by the Dutch court, it will be evident that:

  • The Court rejects the demand of the Public Prosecutor and recommends termination of the accused’s remand in custody. The Court basically set the accused free but did NOT make any binding ruling on the charges themselves. It just says that based on the preliminary evidence, Sison should not be remanded to the custody of the government. Is Joma correct in saying that the court exonerated him? Not in a long shot…but his statements extoll this perception as fact. Half-truths…Hmmm…Classic example of propaganda…
  • The Court further states that “…There are also indications that the accused is still playing a leading role in the (underground) activities of the CC, the CPP and the NPA….” Joma keeps on denying that he is the one leading the rebels – always insisting that he is just a “consultant”. Wow! He must be the most powerful consultant I’ve ever known. Imagine folks in the hills follow his pronoucements even if he is cavorting free and eating three square meals a day in the relative safety of Utrecht. The Court looked at the preliminary evidence and deemed that this is NOT the case. Hmmm…Again, classic propaganda tactic by Joma…

The bottom line is this: The case against Joma is still alive. The only difference is that he will not be in custody from now until the trial starts. Joma should give the Dutch authorities more credit. They are not that gullible enough to be “fooled” by Malacanang…

Let’s try another example:

“…Sison described his 17-day stay at a prison center in The Hague as “torturous” and reminded him of his days in jail during the martial rule of former president Ferdinand Marcos. “I remember the time I spent in solitary confinement during the time of the late dictator President Ferdinand Marcos. They interrogated me every day and there was an overheated electric bulb overhead,” he said…”
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

Joma is really laying it on thick on this one. He is basically comparing the Dutch government with Marcos’. The reality is that the Dutch government is one of the most progressive governments in the European Union and is averse to any maltreatment of prisoners. Pinapalabas ni Joma na sobra siyang nahirapan with flowery figures of speech like the “overheated electric bulb” comparison. Grow up! If the Dutch government is anything like the Marcos regime, you bet your Ho Chi Minh smile that you will not even notice the light bulb as you will be having an intense and “electric conversation” with Sgt. Jun “Jumper” Corriente about your bulbs. OA masyado itong si Joma! Shaping perceptions by false comparisons…Hmmm…Classic propaganda tactic…

From one fool to another fool:

“…MANILA, Philippines — Senator Ana Consuelo “Jamby” Madrigal on Friday urged Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Ma. Sison to file a case against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales for “malicious prosecution”…”
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

Misguided…That’s one polite word to describe Madrigal. Media-hungry and “kulang sa pansin” are other apt decriptions but I won’t go into that. She is asking Joma to sue GMA and Gonzalez for “malicious prosecution”. The truth is that the Dutch case was prompted by the filing of murder charges in the Netherlands by the widows of Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara. These poor widows are the plaintiffs while the prosecutors are the Public Prosecution Service of the Dutch government. The Philippine government provided information but the final decision on prosecuting Sison rests with the Dutch authorities. Talk about barking at the wrong tree.

At the end of the day, Joma’s case is about the senseless killing of two men dialectically opposite him in beliefs who have been freed from captivity and are looking at a different way of pursuing their dreams and aspirations.

This woman tends to overestimate the clout of the Philippine government. Kung Singapore nga na kapitbahay natin – hindi natin nakumbinsi na palayain si Flor Contemplacion, isang bansa pa kaya sa Europa? Misdirection or redirecting blame to others to further one’s plans and ambitions…Hmmm…Ito ang classic propaganda

Here’s another sore loser example…As they say, nobody ever really loses in the Philippines. Laging dinaya‘Ika nga

“…The NBN deal has been in the news over the past two weeks because of allegations of bribery and overpricing. Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Carlos Padilla accused Commission on Elections Chair Benjamin Abalos Sr. of brokering the deal and of receiving sexual favors from ZTE.AHI cofounder Jose “Joey” de Venecia III also said Abalos offered him $10 million in exchange for backing off from the deal…”
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

The “Liar, liar…Pants on fire!” routine is quite popular in the Philippines. One of the propaganda pitfalls is the fact that people tend to believe the whistle blower especially in cases of major scandals. In the case of the NBN deal, Joey de Venecia III has put on the mantle of Sir Galahad against the corrupt infidels. But before we extol him and his cause, let’s look at his case first. He is the son of Jose de Venecia, Speaker of the House of Representatives and is the co-founder and major stakeholder of Amsterdam Holding Inc. or AHI. AHI lost the NBN deal to a Chinese company. Questions:

  • Why did AHI submit an unsolicited bid? Why gate crash a party so to speak? Aren’t they part of the government list of qualified suppliers? If they are not in the list, why? Can they even undertake the project of this scale?
  • How did they find out about the NBN bid? If you are not invited, who do you know that will help you with inside info?
  • Section 5 of the Anti-Graft and Corruption Practices Act indicates that “…it shall be unlawful for the spouse or for any relative by consanguinity or affinity, within the third civil degree of the President of the Philippines, Vice-President of the Philippines, Philippine Senate President, Speaker of the House, to intervene directly or indirectly, in any business, transaction, contract, or application with the government…”. Does Joey de Venecia know this? An unsolicitied bid constitutes intervention in my book. Granted that this is an honest bid, de Venecia should have inhibited himself out of delicadeza

Folks who would like to stay clean should be careful about engaigng in a mud-throwing contest while in a muddy field…There is a good chance that you’ll have mud in your face even before you even throw the first shot…Sabi nga ni Joey de Leon: “Explain before you complain!” Hmmm…Propaganda again…

Be discerning…Don’t swallow everything – hook, line and sinker…Things are not as simple as it seems…

Posted in Links, Peeve, Rave | 2 Comments »

Your Taxes At Work: Philippine Senators’ Legislative Performance (Or Non-Performance)

Posted by Marvin on September 14, 2007

After the 2007 senatorial elections, I woke up to the sad fact that we as a people are nitwits when it comes to selecting leaders specific to our republican form of government. Filipinos still fail to grasp the basic fact that the Senate is a national legislative body – it is NOT a body for people who excel in executive action, it is NOT a body for popular personalities, it is NOT a body of people who shout loudly at the top of their lungs in order to get attention. The Senate is the upper chamber of Congress whose main function is to craft laws. Being composed of people with no direct constituents, the expectation is that the Philippine Senate will tackle bills/laws of national scope and importance. This is not the venue for parochial, inter-barangay or ordinance-like bills – leave that to the House of Representatives and to the thousands of municipal councils out there. In other words, you need to be properly equipped to be in the Senate.

The 14th Congress of the Republic of the Philippines opened last June. It’s been about 2 months since then…Ano na ba ang ginagawa ng mga senador ngayon? People mainly see all of their useless investigations (in aid of legislation kuno…more in aid of their popularity). But looking at their core competency (crafting laws), how are they performing?

Remember: Your taxes are paying for the Senate. Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago  mentioned in a radio interview that senators normally get P43,000 per month as their base salary. In addition, they get around P1.3 Million per month for their staff. Yes folks…senators are not solomonic in their wisdom – they need a staff of people to coach them on what to say and when to say it, research bills for them and basically be at their beck and call. Add to this, travel allowances for “official” trips within the country and abroad. And before I forget, senators are also given individual pork barrel funds. I am not privy to the number but let’s just say it’s P200 Million each annually for simplicity’s sake (the actual number might be higher than this). All in all, each senator gets an annual salary of P516,000 PLUS an annual staff allowance of  P15,600,000 PLUS their pork barrel of P200,000,000 PLUS travel and other allowances which I can’t estimate at this point. Bottom-line: P216.116 Million per senator per year or P18.00 Million per senator per month. That’s a lot of money not to mention taxpayer’s blood, toil, tears and sweat!

How then do our esteemed senators use this money for the betterment of the Filipino nation? Tough question? Surprisingly, the answer is available to the public via the website of the Philippine Senate . Let us take a look at their performance (June-July 2007):

SENATOR: Angara, Edgardo
Renewable Energy Reserves Act of 2007 (filed June 30)
Children’s Health Insurance Program (filed June 30)
Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers (filed June 30)
Compressed Workweek/Flextime Arrangement (filed July 3)
[PinoyXPat: Angara’s experience in legislation is clearly evident here. Most of his bills are national in scope and addresses key areas where legislation is either lacking or inadequate.]

SENATOR: Aquino III, Benigno
Workers’ Productivity Incentives Act of 2007 (filed July 26)
[PinoyXPat: He’s probably in the throes of the neophyte jinx. Or maybe he’s emulating his father, the late Sen. Benigno Aquino, Jr. – who is not known for being prodigous when it comes to legislation. My advice: Don’t even try emulating your father’s senatorial performance. You lack several key things of which he has tons of: wit, charisma and a brilliant mind for starters…]

SENATOR: Arroyo, Joker
[PinoyXPat: Say it ain’t so Jo(ker)…One of my favorite legislators because of his brilliant mind and the power of his arguments. Tumatanda na yata si Joker…I’d hate to give you the “Kalabasa Award” given your brilliant stint as congressman and senator…]

SENATOR: Biazon, Rodolfo
Public School Teachers Tax Incentive Act (filed July 3)
Anti-Torture Act (filed June 30)
AFP Chief of Staff (Fixed Term) (filed June 30)
[PinoyXPat: I must say, Biazon has developed from a bumbling neophyte senator to someone whom I would call “average/above average”….The former goat of the Philippine Military Academy must be saying to himself: “Gedemit kadit! Who’s the goat now?”]

SENATOR: Cayetano, Pia
Mt. Balatukan Range Natural Park Act of 2007 (filed July 4)
Granting The Governor The Power To Solemnize Marriages (filed July 4)
Anti-Drunk Driving Act of 2007 (filed July 3)
[PinoyXPat: Iha…Second-term mo na sa Senado…You should start shaping up! Most of the bills she filed are for the creation of obscure national parks. Remember that the environment is only one of the many focus areas of a senator. What the #$%^? Is giving governors the power to marry people a critical need of the country?]

SENATOR: Cayetano, Alan
[PinoyXPat: Zero…Itlog…Kalabasa…Cayetano is being true to himself and being consistent. He was a do-nothing congressman…He is a do-nothing senator now…Hoy Tisoy! Tigil-tigilan mo ang pagpapogi sa camera at sa pagsali-sali sa mga kung anu-anong imbestigasyon na wala namang katuturan! Sayang ang buwis ng taong-bayan sa yo!]

SENATOR: Defensor-Santiago, Miriam
Battered Women’s Testimony Act of 2007 (filed July 24)
Anti-Discrimination Act (filed July 24)
Government Recycling Act of 2007 (filed July 18)
National Drug & Crime Emergency Act (filed July 5)
Government Data Privacy Protection Act of 2007 (filed July 4)
Anti-Hazing Law (filed July 4)
[PinoyXPat: Quite prolific…Seasoned legislator…]

SENATOR: Estrada, Jinggoy
Breast Care Centers (filed July 3)
Prostate Cancer Public Awareness Act (filed July 3)
Ambulant Vendors Protection Act (filed July 3)
Aviation Noise Limit Act (filed July 3)
Mother’s Day Act (filed July 3)
Electoral Fraud (filed July 2)
[PinoyXpat: Aba…Mukhang nabasa ng isa sa mga staff niya ang blog entry ko tungkol kay Erap/Mini-Me…[link here]…Champion pag dating sa paramihan…But looking at the quality of the bills – very parochial…Pang-munisipyo ika nga…Protecting ambulant vendors – I just hope this is not similar to that STUPID Lina Law protecting squatters! Aviation noise and Mother’s Day – kritikal ba ito sa bansa? Folks, don’t be fooled by the numbers – I looked at his other bills and I think he is listed as co-authors of other bills filed by other senators…Not all his bills are originally his…“It’s not the numbers mate…It’s the content and substance…”]

SENATOR: Enrile, Juan Ponce
Value-Added Tax Exemption on Sale of Services (filed July 25)
Philippine Anti-Trust Act (filed June 30)
[PinoyXPat: The quintessential political gadfly…I may spit on his principles (or lack thereof) but his performance in the senate is quite exemplary…He filed only a few bills but these are quite noteworthy in its scope and impact…] 

SENATOR: Escudero, Francis
Anti-Influence Peddling Act of 2007 (filed July 17)
[PinoyXPat: Neophyte beady-eyed senator…Got his baptism of fire when he was verbally “bitch-slapped” by Miriam during interpellations…Marami pang bigas na kakainin…

SENATOR: Gordon, Richard
Used Motor Vehicles Regulations Act of 2007 (filed July 16)
Volunteer Act of 2007 (filed June 30)
Disaster Preparedness & Mitigation Act of 2007 (filed June 30)
[PinoyXPat: I think some of his bills merit discussion within the Senate. His bill on disaster preparedness is something which should be considered as the Philippines has been declared as the “most disaster-prone country in the world” e.g. volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, typhoons etc. Had the Indian Ocean tsunami hit the Philippines, we might have been blown back to the Stone Age given our level of preparedness…]

SENATOR: Honasan, Gregorio
National Security Act of 2007 (filed June 30)
[PinoyXPat: It is surprising that Honasan would file a bill on national security…The better to undermine the republic should he pull another coup attempt again? Imagine this, a disgraced soldier who led coup attempts to destroy the democratic pillars of the country – now crafting laws for the very republic he once tried to destroy? What can I say? We are nitwits when it comes to selecting leaders.]

SENATOR: Lacson, Panfilo
Philippine Air Force Academy (filed June 30)
National Reference Card System Act of 2007 (filed June 30)
Wiretapping (filed June 30)
[PinoyXPat: May na-file din naman palang bill itong isang ito…Akala ko walang inatupag ito kung hindi mag-imbestiga ng kung anu-anong bagay…He reminds me of the velociraptors in “Jurassic Park”, they keep on attacking the electrified fence but never the same place twice – methodically looking for the weak spots of the government…And to what end and for whose benefit?  This guy scares the hell out of me…]

SENATOR: Lapid, Lito
Caregiver Act of 2007 (filed July 3)
Senior Citizen’s Discount on Petroleum Products (filed July 3)
Medical Tourism Act (filed June 30)
Road Safety for Children’s Act (filed June 30)
[PinoyXPat: He surprised me…I wasn’t expecting much but he actually filed 44 bills…Wow! And some of them are not that bad (for his caliber that is)…]

SENATOR: Legarda, Loren
Journalist Welfare & Reputation Act of 2007 (filed July 26)
Productivity Incentives Act of 2007 (filed July 4)
Botica sa Barangay Act (filed June 30)
Islamic Calendar (filed June 30)
[PinoyXPat: The political butterfly (or was it prostitute as Col. Victor Corpuz once so eloquently retorted)…What’s this about the Islamic Calendar bill? Is she courting the Muslim, pro-FPJ votes?]

SENATOR: Madrigal, Jamby
Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park (filed June 30)
Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation (Repealing) (filed June 30)
[PinoyXPat: I must say it…This woman was only elected to the Senate because the gullible masses liked Judy Ann Santos – not because Madrigal deserved to be elected…Kaya hindi ko talaga mapapatawad itong si Juday eh…Hindi niya alam kung ano ang resulta ng endorsement niya…Just look at what she’s doing in the Senate. Bills about national parks? Aren’t there more important things? Repealing the Oil Deregulation Law? She probably thinks this will reduce the price of petroleum…Somebody should teach this woman that petroleum is expensive EVERYWHERE…Here in California, people are grumbling about gas…If the most powerful nation on earth couldn’t bring down the price of gas, does she think the Philippine Senate can? A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing…especially if you’re in the Senate…]

SENATOR: Pangilinan, Francis
Overseas Filipinos Investment Act (filed July 18)
University of the Philippines Charter of 2007 (filed June 30)
Alien Social Integration Act of 2007 (filed June 30)
[PinoyXPat: This senator makes sense…His bills are a reflection of this fact…]

SENATOR: Pimentel, Aquilino
Foreign Consultants Identity Disclosure (filed July 4)
Private Hospital Assistance Act of 2007 (filed July 4)
Total Log Ban (filed June 30)
[PinoyXPat: It’s hard for me to make a rational assessment…My respect for this man turned to revulsion the moment that he joined forces with Erap – the very man he tried to impeach…Politics really do make strange bedfellows…]

SENATOR: Revilla Jr., Ramon
Tanodbata Act (filed July 3)
Seniors Safety Act of 2007 (filed July 3)
Anti-Drag Racing Act (filed June 30)
National Film Archive (filed June 30)
[PinoyXPat: Another suprising performance…He has now exceeded his father’s performance in the Senate i.e. Revilla Sr. was the  ertswhile chairman of the  Committee on Silence…]

SENATOR: Roxas, Mar
LPG Industry Act of 2007 (filed July 5)
Lemon Law Act of 2007 (filed June 30)
[PinoyXPat: A lot of consumer-related bills along the lines of his “Mr. Palengke” persona…Preparation for the presidency?]

SENATOR: Trillanes IV, Antonio
P125 Daily Across The Board Wage Increase (filed July 3)
[PinoyXPat: This is insane…First, we elected a coup plotter with a Messiah complex to the Senate. Then he files a bill basically dictating the wage of workers. The Senate is not the body to dictate the wage of workers – it should be left to what the market can bear. Also, prescriptive legislation and market forces don’t mix…He might as well file a bill repealing the Law of Supply & Demand…Will somebody please teach this boy the basics….please…or better yet wake him up from his megalomania…]

SENATOR: Villar, Manuel
Credit Card Fraud Act (filed July 4)
Reduction of Metals In Packaging Act (filed July 4)
Prison Reform (filed June 30)
Books for the Barrios Act (filed June 30)
[PinoyXPat: Another seasoned senator…Or magaling lang ang legislative staff niya?

SENATOR: Zubiri, Juan Miguel
Renewable Energy Act of 2007 (filed June 30)
[PinoyXPat: Since he was the last senator to be declared winner, he probably didn’t have enough time to prepare much…Hanggang ngayon kasi naghahabol pa itong anak ni Pimentel eh…]

There you have it folks…It is essentially a mixed bag. From a purely legislative point of view, some senators did well while others are mediocre with the mental performance of sea slugs (with apologies to the sea slugs). The much-coveted “Kalabasa Award” goes to Alan Peter Cayetano for essentially doing nothing while Antonio Trillanes gets the “Repeal the Law of Supply & Demand Award” for his utter lack of understanding of macroeconomic principles…Jinggoy gets the “Trying-Hard-To-Be-Senator Medal”

Posted in Introspection, Peeve, Rave | 22 Comments »

National Milestone: Convicting A President

Posted by Marvin on September 12, 2007

After a loooooong hiatus due to my disillusionment and disenchantment with the results of the senatorial elections, the ascerbic East Bay Pinoy expatriate is back online! Hold the applause and insults please.

The Philippines found itself back in the international limelight yesterday by doing something that no other government in recent memory has done: convicting a former president for the crime of plunder…again another unique crime under the Philippine criminal and justice system.

This is a breath of fresh air…This is what I would call a “national milestone” for the country. Sad to say, the Philippines have never been known for digging its heels and sticking to its principles. We have countless examples of rescinded business deals and awards, legislation repealed, convictions overturned, proclamations deemed unconstitutional…Let’s face it, we lack political will.

Not anymore…We have convicted Joseph Ejercito, a former President of the Republic, for the crime of plunder and sentenced him to reclusion perpetua.

We have finally learned the lessons of history (we let Marcos, Imelda and their mobster family get away with murder as well as our millions), conquered our bleeding heart culture (“Let’s pardon him…He has suffered enough…Kawawa naman siya…Malabo na ang mata at may problema pa sa tuhod…”), controlled our security paranoia (“Siguradong mag-aalsa ang mga kampon ni Erap kagaya nina Binay, Lacson, Rez Cortez etc. para ibagsak ang gobyerno…”) and basically said that NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW

“Fiat justitia ruat caelum…(Let justice be done though the heavens fall…)”


Consistent with the typical Filipino trait of blaming everyone but himself…Erap blamed everyone except himself for his dilemna. Vitriol spewed forth from his mouth against Malacanang, Luis “Chavit” Singson and the elite/educated class.

He is now saying that he gambled on getting justice from the Sandiganbayan as he will never get justice from the impeachment trial. A gamble which he lost. These statements don’t make sense. Consider the following:

  • Erap was NEVER impeached by the Senate. Recycle your neurons now…The trial was progressing with the Senate as the impeachment tribunal. However, Erap’s minions used their numbers in ensuring that the second envelope’s contents will never be known. FLASHBACK: Oreta doing the tribal “Dance of Joy”…Osmena smiling like the cat that ate the pink canary…Legarda crying like a banshee then but supporting Erap like a heart-lung machine now…Pimentel choking up and explaining his vote for opening the envelope then but leading the “Restore the Erap Monarchy Movement” now…So the statement that he will never get justice from the impeachment trial is baloney! He rigged the trial so that he will not be convicted.
  • Erap’s legal team blew it. They were pandering to the media and to the bleeding heart populace when the real battle is inside the court room. The old fogeys think that the media will judge their client…BIG MISTAKE. Flaminiano and Saguisag blew it big time. Singson said it so eloquently: “…They should look at their own lawyers, especially Rene Saguisag. He is just bad luck, he has never won a major case in his life. Our prosecutors did their homework while they resorted to publicity stunts. Saguisag argued his case in media rather than in court, so why should they wonder if the justices voted unanimously?…” Chavit can really say the darnest things and still make perfect sense…
  • Erap was not able to destroy the credibility of the key witnesses. Clarissa Ocampo basically said that Erap was Jose Velarde and Saguisag and his minions could not destroy or shake her testimony. Other witnesses were also pretty solid in their testimonies. Instead of refuting the statements or presenting evidence to the contrary, Erap’s lawayers used the “our-client-is-the-victim-of-a-conspiracy” card time and time again…
  • Erap didn’t quit while he was ahead…Instead of fleeing the coop, he was left holding the bag of rotten eggs. Where are his minions now? Charlie “Atong” Ang fled to the U.S., was captured and turned state’s witness against him. Lucio Co has vanished into thin air. Same goes for Dante Tan (of BW fame) and Jaime Dichaves. Mark “The Business Genius” Jimenez is doing some weird stuff right now and has become quite creepy after his U.S. incarceration.
  • Erap is the prosecution’s best witness….He basically buried himself…He admitted he was Jose Velarde. He said that he was using that name to help a friend (which in itself is a potential crime). He said that some of the money came from jueteng. The litany goes on and on…Talk about shooting yourself in the foot using your mouth! Or maybe he thinks that the Sandiganbayan is a movie set where he could use his screen persona “Diegong Daga” to weasel his way out of a conviction?


As this is a high-profile case, the focus of attention is centered around the disgraced former President. Unbeknownst to most of us, the trial wouldn’t have reached this stage without the dedication and hard work of the prosecution team led by Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio. The team is composed of Deputy Special Prosecutors Robert Kallos, John Torralba, Raymond Julio Olaguer and Humphrey Monteroso. This also includes former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo who started the whole thing off driving the case against Estrada. These guys have slaved for years preparing and presenting the case while dodging immense political pressures (and getting paid the paltry government rate at that). Some of them even threatened to resign out of principle if the court will succumb to Estrada’s whims.

Gentlemen: The Filipino people owe you a debt of gratitude which could never be repaid. Maraming salamat at mabuhay kayong lahat…

Posted in Introspection, Peeve, Rave | 3 Comments »

Winners-Losers…Whoever Wrote This Should Be Glorified…

Posted by Marvin on June 18, 2007

The Philippine elections have been over and done with for over a month but I have yet to force myself to write a post-mortem. Like an autopsy, my stomach is in a maelstrom everytime I force myself to think about that comical political exercise.  The only good thing is that we have other characters out there who can instantly transform my vomiting and nausea attacks into loose bowel movements (the ubiquitous LBM): Philippine showbiz personalities.

I’ve switched from surfing to surfing the Philippine Entertainment Portal….Not because I like the reports but because the posts and comments there are as funny and demented as my own rantings. Kris, Ruffa, Ylmaz…These are my new favorite whipping boys!  WAPAKKKK!!!!!

Fortunately for me, somebody else felt the exact same way and formalized it in an e-mail which has been floating around the Net recently. I got this from a friend of mine but there is no indication as to who wrote it. If anyone out there knows the person’s name or contact details – please let me know. I need to thank and glorify him for a magnificent piece.

Here is the note (with my comments):

Winners Losers : From Kris to Ruffa to Gretchen (Desperate Housewives Philippine Edition)
Or are we reaping some sort of a negative karma to deserve them?
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ _


The month of June is a good time to review what transpired for the first six months of 2007. For this edition, Conventional Wisdom is focusing on showbiz-related matters instead of the usual politics (which in a way is also show-biz but for ugly people). Read on.

KRIS AQUINO. Loser. While she is the innocent one in the whole James-Hope brouhaha, Conventional Wisdom thinks that she could have handled the incident with more dignity and privacy. One wonders why this drama queen wants to inflict her day-to-day saga with the whole planet. From exaggerating her “life-threatening” pregnancy, to lambasting her husband in public (“O magsalita ka? Totoo naming pina-palayas na kita sa bahay a?”), to actually using Ninoy to promote a cake in her latest commercial. Kris’ next endorsement should neither be beer nor pastries but laundry detergent for her unquenchable desire to always wash her very dirty underwear in public.

MY COMMENTS: Conventional Wisdom hit the nail right on the head. I personally believe that Kristeta has “attention-deficit disorder” – a severe mental disorder more popularly known as “KSP” (Kulang Sa Palo). For an actress who knows how to put on a face or deliver a line, she made such a fuss with that snub on James during her birthday. Gusto talagang magpapansin sa buong Pilipinas…Saying in body language this line: “Hey, look at me I’m snubbing my husband – there must be something wrong with our marriage. Please write about us in the papers…” I’ve got a message for you sister: “Nobody gives a rat’s ass! We don’t care what happens to you, your pugilist-faced husband (parang laging nababalian ng ilong)  and your pointless marriage…So shut up!!!!”

JAMES YAP. Loser. One word : cad. As one writer succinctly said : “What do you expect from a provincial boy who suddenly became famous and wealthy?” The last time we witnessed a showbiz cad was during Gabby Concepcion’s time. James is now second in our list. Conventional Wisdom is giving them maximum of 3 years as a couple. Kris is starting to look more and more mature and matronic. James is still young. Give James sometime, and after Hope – – Faith and Charity will spring forth.

MY COMMENTS: To quote Jules Winfield: “…Correcto mundo…” Frankly, I would have described him using other synonymous words…Like…lout or bastard, boor, creep, heel, knave, louse, rascal, rat, rogue, scoundrel, sleazeball, slimebucket, worm….And my own personal favorite: maggot.

Moral of the story. Smoking is bad for marriage: Kris had Philip, James had Hope. Conventional Wisdom can’t take any more of this!!!

RUFFA GUTIERREZ/ANNABELLE RAMA: The mother and daughter (MAD) team strikes again. From a filmfest scam that made it to CNN, to Brunie-yuki scandal that merited a senate hearing, and now, the falling out with Ylmaz – – which is desperately being peddled out as Philippines vs. Turkey. Oppressor vs. Victim.

RUFFA GUTIERREZ. Loser. A desperate act from a has-been, middle-aged B-actress who is trying to make a come-back by capitalizing on whatever publicity that can be squeezed out from this split. From caterwauling one minute “Hindi ko na kaya Kuya Boy!”, to coyly saying the following week “Ligawan nya (Ylmaz) ulit ako” to having her born-again baptism rites captured on cam and then heading off to Las Vegas the following week to relax and do damage control (about his marriage five years ago in Las Vegas). Ruffa, you’re act is getting stale. You have become so predictable and boring.

MY COMMENTS: Conventional Wisdom is being too kind. I can still remember this so-called actress’ role in the Filmfest Scam…with her brother and Miss Mauritius Viveca Babajee shouting those classic lines: “Ruffa Gutierrez…Take it…Take it…” She should have been indicted and crucified for that scheme. Imagine being so desperate as to steal an award. I still feel that Lolit Solis was the fall guy and that Ruffa should have been put in the slammer. Pasalamat na lang siya dahil mas mukhang preso si Lolit. And now with this latest brouhaha…She is pandering to the (ignorant) masses by saying: “Ako po ang paniwalaan niyo…Ako po ang Pilipino…” Leche! I don’t give a damn even if you are the descendant of Lapu-lapu. I will not defend you just because you are Filipino with only your worthless word as evidence – like what the anti-establishment Gabriela did. In fact, don’t even mention that…Nakakahiya…Just read the posts at the Philippine Entertainment Portal, mas natutuwa pa ang mga tao na gulpihin ka…You’re damaged goods lady! Talk about karma…

ANNABELLE RAMA. Winner. For always a character that she is. For being consistent in her act and for being our constant source of amusement. Conventional Wisdom almost fell off its chair when this motor-mouth fish-wife asked Dolly Ann to return the cosmetics she gave her and then, proceeded on by actually naming two unknown women on national television to pay their debts to her since she now has to take care of Ruffa and her grandchildren: “Hoy, so and so magbayad na kayo ng utang nyo sa akin dahil marami na akong papalamunin ngayon” or something to that effect.

Panalo talaga si Bisaya. I strongly suggest to PGMA that we give this woman a postion in the government preferably as Head of our National Defense. ASAP.

MY COMMENTS: What do you expect from a palengkera, mahadera, or mata-pobre? How would try to reason with someone who admitted on public TV that her sole purpose in life is “maanakan ni Eduardo”? Who acts like a “floor manager” rather than a “talent manager” to her kids?

DOLLY ANN CARVAJAL. Winner and Loser. A lot of people don’t like this woman. For one, she is not pleasing to the eye. Her gay son looks a lot better than she. And admit it or not, she became a writer thru her connections – mom and aunt. But being objective about the whole thing, Conventional Wisdom thinks that Dolly Ann is on the right this time. Why can’t the mother and daughter (MAD) tandem just answer the questions posed by Dolly Ann? Why can’t Annabelle stick to the issues instead of pointing out something we already know: how ugly Dolly Ann is.

What makes Dolly Ann a loser is her constant use of her departed mom’s legacy and memory whenever someone would diss her out. Honey, stop hiding under the skirt of your mom. You are not a sacred cow.

MY COMMENTS: I agree. Enough said.

PIA GUANIO. Loser. What a lousy lousy interviewer. The depth of her talent as a host is as long as her irritating mini skirts. Do us a favor Pia, ask Bossing to marry you already and then fade into oblivion.

MY COMMENTS: Ibalik niyo na lang yang babaeng yan sa dati niyang role: “Traffic Angel Pia”!!!

GRETCHEN BARETTO. Loser. One word : Wow. The affectations of La Greta can only be matched by her delusions of grandeur. From the looks of it, she is experiencing the early on-set of a mid-life crisis. She has been picking fights left and right with Lani Mercado, and then with Dawn Zulueta. From her classic statement about the looks of her own daughter: “Naaawa nga ako dahil karamihan ng tao ang sabi kay Dominique, kamukha sya ng tatay nya?” And now the “friendly beso-beso” lip-lock with John Estrada. Please explain to Conventional Wisdom – – “How can this be a friendly kiss when you and John looked so orgasmic in that shot?”

Gretchen is a classic example of “langaw na nakatungtong sa kalabaw, pero feeling mataas pa sa kalabaw.” Someone should already tell this woman to seek professional help. Sober up and clean your act sister. You are no Paris Hilton. More like Plaster of Paris Hilton.

MY COMMENTS: Sana hambalusin si Gretchen ng tatlong PLDT directory ni Tony Boy para hindi humaba ang nguso…

CESAR MONTANO, RICHARD GOMEZ, MANNY PACQUIAO etc.  Losers. No further explanations needed.

BORGY MANOTOC. Loser. Please. Please. From one scandal to the next. From one basag-ulo to the next. We have enough of you and your sap-sap mouth face. Will someone already put this psycho behind bars?

MY COMMENTS: Sarap sapakin talaga ng mayabang na ito…

BUTCH FRANCISCO & DOLLY ANN AS WRITERS. Losers. Please don’t waste precious newspaper space writing about personal stories that nobody (repeat, nobody!) finds interesting at all. From your maid’s antics to your experience as a judge of Slimmers World Mr. and Ms. Ek-ek, to a current love who inspires you. Please! A tree gave up its life to have these newspaper printed. Have I mentioned that nobody is interested?

BELO’S BILLBOARDS. Loser. Hideous. Plain hideous. Whoever is advising Vicky (I can’t call her Doctora Vicky because as Osang said, she was a mere aerobics instructor before) to put out all those monstrosities should be charged with Human Rights violations. From the disturbing Chrismas billboard last December, to Richard Gomez’s billboard pre-campaign period, to Ai-ai’s scary shot. Conventional Wisdom would rather stare at the billboards of Ellen’s Beauty Salon (with Ellen as the model herself) than see these Belo ads.

NORA AUNOR. Loser. To be a has-been superstar drug dependent in your fifties is bad enough. To be caught doing drugs in another country is worse. To be found-out to have married another woman many years ago for a US green-card is worst. Ate Guy is a classic example of a person blessed with so much talent and opportunity gone to waste.

REGINE VELASQUEZ & OGIE ALCASID. Losers. Regine is what….nearing 40? As someone said “from her demeanor to her utterance, Regine is trying very, very, very hard to hold on to youth.” And if I may add, failing miserably. This home-wrecker who speaks with an American sleng-sleng should act her age. Seeing her kilig-reaction about the admission of Ogie made me lose my appetite for dinner. Conventional Wisdom is really worried that anytime soon, Regine’s face and body will collapse. From her hair extension, her fake long eyelashes, her fake nose, her man-made eye slits, her tooth-caps with gums, and her Gluthathioned skin, her fake boobs. Last we heard, her movie with Piolo flopped big time. Nobody wants to see a May/December love story anymore. Or more correctly, a May 1960/ December 2007 love affair story anymore.

These are the people that are giving Conventional Wisdom constant migraine the past months. If this trend continues until December, aneurysm can’t be far behind.

Pass this on until it reaches the following: Ylmaz Bektas, Mother-in-law of Gretchen, Hope, Vic Sotto, PGMA, Michelle Van Something, Letty Magsanoc, and Gov. Vi.

Posted in Peeve, Rave | 5 Comments »

A Quixotic Quest…

Posted by Marvin on April 5, 2007

Quixotic – [kwik-sot-ik] adj. (1) resembling or befitting Don Quixote, (2) extravagantly chivalrous or romantic; visionary, impractical, or impracticable.

Miguel de Cervantes wrote his novel “The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha” in 1605 but his main protagonist has been reincarnated and embodied through the centuries by men of good will who took the high road, the road less travelled and the straight and narrow path. Their names have changed through the centuries…William Wilberforce, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Benigno Aquino, Jr.…They have been labeled as ivory tower idealists, out of touch with reality and dreamers (in the derogatory sense). All because of one particular trait: They dared to take a contrarian approach – pushing against wind mills and fighting a fight which has been lost even before they started.

In today’s world, quixotic men are met with derision and skepticism. And yet they still persist. One such man is Dr. Martin Bautista. A gastroenterologist by profession, he moved to the United States right after graduating from the University of the Philippines. He could have stayed in Guymon, Oklahoma till he retired but he chose to come back and battle giants and wind mills by running for the Senate. (Did I say Senate? In that case, he came back to battle the trolls and ogres disguised as candidates…)

Everyone says he is a good and well-meaning man. Everyone also says that he has a snowflake’s chance in hell when it comes to winning in the senatorial elections.

And yet…He persists…

There is nothing I admire more than a man who still strives knowing that he will lose. The sane thing to do is to quit and forget about the quest – but is that the noble thing to do? Wouldn’t it be more noble to continue inspite of the certainty of losing? Isn’t it the race rather than the finish line which matters? To aspire for the impossible?

This reminds me of one of the most inspirational moments in the history of the Olympic Games. The year: 1968. The place: Mexico City. It was an unusually hot day and the high elevation of Mexico City made the marathon race an exercise in self-punishment. The greatest Olympic marathon champion Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia had to quit the race due to an injury. He had previously won the marathon race in the previous two Olympics and is gunning for his 3rd consecutive gold medal. Alas, fate was not on his side that day.

His fellow Ethiopian Mamo Wolde took up the slack and won the gold.

After him, a procession of runners crossed the finish line. A total of 73 individuals. Each one on the verge of collapse due to exhaustion. As the last event of the Olympics, the marathon was meant to be the penultimate event. After the awarding of the medals, people left the Ciudad Universitania Stadium and only a handful of spectators remained (probably trying to avoid the mad rush of people going home outside). It was over.

But NOT for one man.

img212011631.jpgOne man is still running. Over an hour after Mamo Wolde crossed the line, a small, wiry man limped slowly into the stadium. He stopped every couple or so steps because of the pain in his right leg. A hastily prepared bandage covered his right knee. His name? John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania.

He fell during the race, cutting his knee and dislocating the joint. He was bleeding and every step sent a wave of pain throughout his exhausted body. He tried to run but the pain was too great. He resorted to a a slow walk interspaced with short, painful attempts at running.

The crowd was moved by the courage of the 74th competitor. Their silence was broken by heartfelt clapping, egging Akhwari on to finish the race.

With every step, the cheering grew louder…Louder and louder until the stadium is roaring with admiration for this man who wouldn’t quit.

As his tired body crossed the finish line, the multitudes erupted and cheered as if he had won the gold medal.

Reporters asked him why he opted to endure the excruciating pain and why he did not retire since there was no chance of him winning – much less finishing the race. He was surprised by the question, pondered for a moment and said: “I don’t think you understand. My country did not send me to Mexico City to start the race. They sent me to finish the race.”

Bautista is this coming election’s Akhwari. He is running not because he wants to win but because he wants to help the country. He is running because in his mind it is the right thing to do.

That is why I will vote for him. I will use my sole instrument for political change in order to vote for a man who has no chance of winning – for I truly believe that a man can aspire to dream even if it will never come to fruition and be the better for it.

On with the quest…

Posted in Introspection, Links, Rave | 2 Comments »

All Is Not Lost…

Posted by Marvin on March 15, 2007

I got a posted comment from Felize Mendoza,a sophomore student at the Philippine Science High School (my alma mater) requesting that I post their video on this site. They have a project called “Pisay Meets World” which essentially is a high schooler’s attempt at answering the question: “What can the world expect from the Pisay scholar in the future?”

Tough question…Hard to answer. I only hope that the current Pisay batches will provide a far better answer than the previous ones. A lot of us alumni has basically gone back on our promise/commitment to pursue a science/technology-related course in college. We signed an agreement which basically stipulates that we will reimburse all of the expenses shouldered by every honest, tax-paying Filipino on our behalf. I for one stuck to that promise…I had other plans for college. My mother wanted me to be a lawyer. Aside from violating the agreement, I also do not have the stomach to be a lawyer…I would allow my client to fry in the electric chair if I knew he is guilty of a crime – not exactly the type of lawyer you would want on your side. I also considered taking up Late 19th Century French Poetry but it wasn’t meant to be…

And so, I went into engineering. At that time, the PSHS Director told us that the school does not encourage a career in medicine. I agree with this concept. For me, medicine is partly science and partly art i.e. you rely on previous medical dogma conceptualized way before your time and you need to practice with cadavers to be a good surgeon – hence the art and skill comment. Unless you are at the cutting-edge of medical research like using monoclonal antibodies for pinpoint/targeted therapeutic treatments and human trials of a potential AIDS vaccine – it’s hard to say that medicine is a science-related career.

Sad to say, a lot of Pisay graduates took the prestigeous (and lucrative) road to a medical profession and some even left the Philippines entirely as finance managers, engineers…. Hold on now…Before somebody inundates me with ascerbic invectives…YES, I am here in the United States. YES I am working here. NO, I am not a citizen…NO, I don’t have plans of living here (I think my wife will argue differently)…And YES, I plan to go back to the Philippines (I’d probably reconsider this if those stupid candidates win the senatorial race – I might as well resign my citizenship). The only reason I am here is for a special assignment. Other Pisay alumni have probably settled here for good…I have no idea. The PSHS Administration tried to put up a tracking system to monitor alumni whereabouts but I’m not sure where that initiative is right now…

I’m not here to preach…Only a hypocrite will tread down that path and I am as guilty as the next guy. My hope is that the current crop of Pisay students will learn from our experience and mistakes.

Hope springs eternal…With kids like these, all is not lost…

Here is their video:

Posted in Introspection, Rave | 6 Comments »

Pres A Vi Restaurant (Presidio, San Francisco)

Posted by Marvin on February 22, 2007

A colleague came over here to California a couple of weeks ago to attend a meeting at our corporate headquarters. It’s a good opportunity for me and my wife to speak Tagalog again as well as make “lakwatsa” to San Francisco. Our friend wanted to go to Alcatraz Island (of “The Rock” fame) and this gave us a chance to eat at the Presidio – this is a national park within the city and quite near the Golden Gate Bridge. It is one of a series of historically fortified sites used by American, Spanish and Mexican forces in and around the Bay Area. The Presido-National Park Service and The Presidio Trust websites are excellent sources of information for wanna-be visitors.


We chose the Pres a Vi Restaurant among the several potential dining places in the area because of two overriding reasons: (1) we haven’t been there before, and (2) my wife wanted to eat there (which in my mind is the tipping point for the decision).

  • MENU: The menu is an eclectic collection of fusion foods with Asian, American & continental influences. The menu has items which will sound familiar to Asians in general and Pinoys in particular. Examples: Grilled Prawn Satay, Duck Confit Lumpia and the quintessential Filipino dish Pork Adobo. Yes, Filipino food is alive and well in America! There is a lot of variety and an individual could have his run of the choices.
  • AMBIENCE: I must admit that the place has a simple but classy feel to it. And the views are quite good. You could look out across the Presidio and view the Exploratorium and Palace of Fine Arts (with its distinctive “Pantheonic” dome) at the distance.
  • FOOD: The food is actually quite good. We arrived after lunch so we were not able to partake of the normal lunch menu. My wife tried the Duck Confit Lumpia and she found it sumptuous (if not a bit too greasy because of the duck). I ordered the Kobe Beef Cheese Burger…to put it simply and in not-so-eloquent language: “Goodah….” As good as any burger in any formal restaurant around the city. These were all part of their “Bar Bites” Menu which are slightly smaller servings for snacks or brunch.
  • PRICE: I think I paid around $40 for the whole thing with drinks. Bearing in mind that it was basically brunch for three (3) people, the place is relatively cheap for a formal restaurant in a good part of town. Here’s some perspective for you: I normally pay $8-$9 during lunch at our company canteen and that’s for a cup of chili, a diet coke and a do-it-yourself salad. So you will have to forgive me for being thankful for the cheap but nice brunch we had. It is cheap by San Francisco standards but expensive if you compare it with the “lugawan, gotohan or fishballan” carts in and around U.P.’s Sunken Garden. God…I miss those college days…

If you have a chance to be around that part of San Francisco, you may want to try out the restaurants inside the Presidio. The fact that it is a national park makes it less crowded and less tacky than any of the other restaurants in the area. And the answer is a big fat “NO”…The owners of Pres a Vi did not pay me to write this…they don’t even know I exist…and I would like to keep it that way…

NOTE: Avoid the restaurants around Pier 39 like the plague. These are tacky, tourist traps and the only reason to eat there is if your blood sugar has reached hypoglycemic alarm levels.

Posted in Cuisine, Links, Rave | Leave a Comment »

My Christmas Wish List

Posted by Marvin on December 26, 2006

I originally intended this blog to be a repository of my reviews of great places to visit here in California. This has since metamorphosed into a way for me to vent my frustration and utter disgust on how things are shaping up back home. Being away from the Philippines probably afforded me with a slightly different point of view. Arguably, it may be easy for me to just bitch and grouse since I am not mired in the same situation. Being away though has some advantages – the blinders are not there and the gloves are off (so to speak).

In the spirit of the season, I’ve drafted my own Christmas wish list for my homeland. There is less than a snowball’s chance in hell of these things coming into fruition but the mere fact that I was able to put this down is victory enough.

WISH: All the best and more power for 2007 to MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando… And may the political careers of the Metro  Manila mayors who perennally oppose his policies collapse like the billboards along EDSA when Typhoon Milenyo came knocking.
I have continually supported Chairman Fernando’s policies for one very simple reason: “It makes a lot of sense.” Only morons like some Metro Manila mayors (Read: Binay, Atienza find them objectionable. Who in his right mind would oppose the plan to clear sidewalks of vendors so that pedestrians could use them? The moronic mayors… Who in his right mind would oppose trimming trees so that they will not pose hazards for motorists? The moronic mayors and their misguided tree-hugger environmentalist friends… Who in his right mind would oppose the tearing down of unsafe structures like billboards along Manila’s major thoroughfares? The moronic mayors and the billboard owners who pay taxes and fees to the above mentioned morons…They even sued Chairman Fernando for trying to curb these billboards. Typhoon Milenyo taught us a very bitter lesson – the hard way – and proved that Chairman Fernando was right all along! Nasaan na ngayon ang mga lintik na kontra-bulateng mayor at environmentalists na yan? Their silence is deafening. Mabuhay ka Chairman Fernando!

WISH: May the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and specifically the politicians who also call themselves “bishops” (Read: Tobias, Bacani organize and promote more prayer rallies in 2007 – BUT FOCUSING ON HELPING CALAMITY VICTIMS AND PROVIDING ASSISTANCE TO THE POOR LIKE THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO INSTEAD OF OPPOSING CHARTER CHANGE AND CRAFTING WAYS TO OVERTHROW THE GOVERNMENT.I was raised as a Catholic and I still believe that the primary purpose of the Church is to cater to the spiritual needs of its flock and, if needed, sacrifice everything for the welfare of the poor. A couple of years back (when cable TV was still in its infancy), the commercial TV networks in Manila would often screen the film “The Shoes Of The Fisherman” during Holy Week. The film is about Kiril Lakota, a Russian archbishop who unwittingly becomes the Vicar of Christ in a Cold War scenario. In order to prevent war and possibly Armageddon, Pope Kiril 1 decided to use all of the wealth and riches of the Roman Catholic Church in order to provide food for the starving people of China – thereby averting war and bringing the Church back to the core essence of its mission: “To serve the poor.” Apparently, the Philippine Catholic Church feels that meddling in politics is its core mission and being the nemesis of the government is its strategic role. Poor St. Peter must be turning in his Vatican grave! The actions of the Church in the Philippines (please note that I am pissed off by the Philippine Catholic Church alone and not the Catholic Church as a whole) make me sick. Tobias, Cruz, Bacani and their ilk should look at themselves in the mirror and ask if what they are doing is the will of Heaven. The Philippine Catholic Church blames the government for everything and blames the government for not doing enough. I have one non-biblical revelation for these theology school graduates: “No government could do everything.” It is easy to criticize but I guess the question which I toss back to the bishops: “What are YOU men of the cloth doing to alleviate the situation?” Here are some facts which Catholics in the Philippines probably are not aware of:

  • As a spirtual organization and an established religion, the Philippine Catholic Church is EXEMPT from taxes. What do they do with all their money?
  • The Church receives vast sums of money in the form of “donations”. These range from the couple of pesos a typical churchgoer gives on any given Sunday to the millions “donated” by politicians, warlords, jueteng lords (seems like the only one who doesn’t give donations are the Sith Lords). And the Church rule on donations? Accept the money (no matter where it came from) but use it for good. What good? I know… I know… You might think I’m an anti-Catholic bastard (I’m not!). There are some good organizations run by the Church which help people like Caritas Manila etc. But the Philippines is 85% Catholic and the Church is everywhere. Where are all the rest of the Church’s good works?

I am really pissed. Instead of mobilizing and helping the victims of Typhoon Reming, the Church opted to organize an anti-government prayer rally. A pathetic sight with just a paltry number of participants, I am so glad that Filipinos stayed home and ignored these sanctimonious, self-righteous pricks. Bishop Tobias even had the gall to air an appeal to the military to join them. Gen. Hermogenes Esperon (a fellow PSHS alumni) gave the famous retort: “Please do not drag our soldiers and the AFP as whole into this matter.” AFP Spokeman Lieutenant Colonel Bartoleme Bacarro said: “Their focus is in doing their jobs (relief operations). They will not be lured into joining or participating in any partisan political exercise.” Beehhh! Buti nga! Nakakahiya ka! Obispo ka pa naman… Bago mo linisin ang dungis ng iyong kapwa, hugasan mo muna ang putik sa iyong mukha. 

WISH: May the Philippine Left (Read: the groups of Casino, Masa, Beltran, Ocampo and the rest of the Leftists who sought to undermine the government by getting elected as “party-list” representatives) use the pork barrel funds from Congress to finance projects for the people rather than using those funds for leftist activities like rallies, mobilizations, immersion meetings and, heaven forbid, supporting Jose Ma. Sison and the failed communist movement in its bid to topple the government.
We Filipinos have a penchant for destroying or bastardizing a good thing. This is the case with the “party-list” system which was meant as way to represent historically marginalized sectors of society in the legislative process. It was never meant to allow Leftists/Communists in infiltrating the halls of Congress and using the very institutions of our democratic system in undermining the government. I can still recall the good old days when I joined MOBs (or MOBilizations) in U.P. Diliman – we were perennially cash-strapped and we had to be ingenious in preparing our placards, effigies and streamers.  Yes… I used to join rallies and mingled with “tibaks” but I joined protest actions to demonstrate my principles and NOT to destroy the capitalist system or the “ruling class” and all that Marxist crap. So in a way, I know enough to discern that today’s demonstrations are well-funded. Just look at the effigies they use, the streamers they display and the sheer logistics of their actions. Somebody is funding these groups. The answer? Their colleagues in Congress that’s where. Every congressman has its own set of constituents (grouped into provincial districts) to which he/she is accountable to. “Party-list” congressmen, on the other hand, are beholden to a “sector” which is hard to define or even identify. So where do all of their pork barrel funds end up? Just look at the Leftist rallies. I would like to see a proper accounting/audit of each of these Leftist congressmen so that the Filipino taxpayer will see how these DPAs (“deep penetration agents”) work. You might argue: “Hey, aren’t you a bit paranoid?” Well, maybe. But I have never heard any of these Leftist congressmen swear that he/she will uphold the Government of the Republic of the Philippines. Mike Defensor even challenged some of them to swear in public/writing that they will not overthrow the government. As far as I know, none of them has ever taken up the offer. Iginigisa tayo sa sarili nating mantika ng mga hinayupak na ito! At ang lakas pa ng loob na sumigaw ng police brutality kapag nahuli sa mga rally na walang permit! Kung puwede lang po…Huwag na nating ibalik sa Kongreso ang mga traidor na ito!

WISH: May Cory Aquino retire finally from politics so as not to tarnish her legacy any further. As Secretary Raul Gonzalez once quipped: “Si Kris na lang ang ayusin niya.”In a sense Cory Aquino is “damaged goods” as her involvement in the protest actions against the government (on whatever issue mind you) are mainly self-serving and destroys whatever “Diwa ng EDSA” legacy she has left. Consider the following:

  • CHARTER CHANGE: Aquino’s fight against charter change is self-serving. Why? The current 1987 Constitution was crafted under her term by people she “appointed” and reeks of her naive views of the world. At least the recent attempts at charter change are driven by a people’s initiative (ostensibly driven by the people themselves as claimed by the Administration) and a constituent assembly (composed of duly elected legislators). In her case, she just appointed people to do the job. The 1987 Constitution is pretty weak when it comes to political dynasties, is too prescriptive on economic policies which hinders us in a globalized economy, fosters a multi-party system as opposed to a two-party system and basically penalizes a good president by limiting him/her to a single term. If you were in her shoes, would you support any change to a Constitution which is intimately linked with your administration?
  • LEGITIMACY OF THE ARROYO PRESIDENCY: Aquino never openly supported the President in the last elections. There are various ways of viewing this. Why? Haven’t you noticed that the power of Aquino’s “Kamag-anak Inc.” faction has waned significantly since the deregulation policies of the Ramos Administration? These guys basically faded from the limelight e.g. the Cojuangcos’ power was significantly reduced especially now that PLDT is no longer the monopoly that it used to be. Peping Conjuangco faded into the shadows only to surface when he was accused of plotting to overthrow the government. But the main reason behind the falling out of Aquino and the President rests on the future of Hacienda Luisita. Remember Luisita? Aquino’s flagship program was CARP or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program but the word “comprehensive” depends on who is running the show. During Aquino’s time, “comprehensive” means that Luisita will NOT be partitioned but be managed by a corporation with farmers as stockholders. We all know that it is a “moro-moro” setup. The Cojuangcos’ power base is still land and they could not afford to lose Luisita. The President and her Cabinet has other plans and the recommended course of action is to partition Luisita. If you were Cory, wouldn’t you rise up and ask for the President’s resignation as well?
  • SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY: Marcos was a monster, Erap is a mess but as Aquino would have us believe, GMA is even worse. Now for most people, that doesn’t really resonate as much. First of all, we are not in a state of martial law. Secondly, there is no massive corruption scandal. There is the “Hello Garci” fiasco but is that commensurate with the hate and vitriol being hurled at Malacanang? And worst of all, Cory Santa Santita is cavorting with the enemies! Just look at the rogues’ gallery: Ping Lacson (human rights violator and hidden wealth in the U.S.), Erap Estrada (corrupt porcine ex-President), Imee Marcos (chin reduction surgery survivor and daughter of the Great Dictator), Crispin Beltran/Satur Ocampo (Communist infiltrators and espousing the government’s – any government’s – downfall), Bishops (sanctimonious, self-righteous pricks). Strange bedfellows indeed!

WISH: May Jejomar “Rambotito” Binay finally be defeated, no…trounced, licked and scratched may be more appropriate terms, at the polls by whoever his opponent is and may his reign as Makati’s “resident warlord” finally be over. Up to how long will we allow the Binay dynasty to continue? A lot of things has been said as to the “good” things he has done for Makati. Well…Let me debunk some of those “good” things. First, only the poor and the squatters of Makati adore Binay to the core. The reason is simple: Binay addresses their basic physiological need (as defined by Maslow). These people need to eat, they need a roof over their heads, they need medical care etc. Binay provides them with these on the condition that they vote for him. In a sense, Binay promotes a culture of mendicancy and dependency on the poor people of Makati under the guise of “public service”. Secondly, Binay has bastardized the Constitution’s prohibition on political dynasties by letting his wife (and in the future – his son) to run for mayor when he is no longer legally allowed to do so. After a term, he runs again to perpetuate the evil cycle all over again. And he would like to have believe that he is a staunch defender of the Constitution – when he in fact benefits from it. No wonder he opposes charter change! Thirdly, he has received more by virtue of his position than he has given back to the people. Flashback to 1986…Who was Binay back then? Rambotito was still a struggling human rights lawyer together with Rene Saguisag (another lost cause and sell out artist) and Augusto “Bobbit” Sanchez. They opposed Marcos and the corruption of Martial Law and were appointed by Tita Cory to key government positions. Binay was appointed as the Officer-In-Charge of Makati. He ran for mayor and won…And that’s when his conversion to the Dark Side started. Suffice to say that the Binay of today is light-years away from the Binay of 1986. The main difference? Binay now has millions of pesos (some say P 60 Million others say higher), has a ranch in Batangas, houses and other properties and is one of the kingmakers of the Opposition. Where did he get all that money? The answer is what conventional wisdom will tell you but can’t prove conclusively in a court of law. For more information on how a poor lawyer became the warlord of Makati, check out the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) website. One of their journalists prepared an in-depth report and it was even published in Newsbreak magazine. Why this corrupt politician is still not being indicted and jailed is beyond me…

WISH: May crimes be treated for what they are: crimes. And may KSP (Kulang Sa Pansin) militant groups like Gabriela refrain from putting political color on every rape case and “packaging” it as a Philippines against the world battle which must be won at every cost. C’mon.You know what I’m talking about. Heard about that pathetic rape case involving U.S. Corporal Daniel Smith and that Filipina party animal with the pseudonym (or should I say nom de guerre – para kasing nakikipag-giyera sa Amerika eh…) “Nicole”? I don’t want to dwell on the legalities of this case, who is at fault, the merits and demerits of each side’s arguments. That is for a court of law to decide on. What really pisses me off and what makes me want to launch an ICBM at Gabriela’s door is the way that they took hold of this issue, expanded it and packaged it to further their Leftist political movement in the guise of protecting the rights of Filipinas. Alam naman natin na parang female chapter ng Bayan ang Gabriela di ba? Let me ask a very fundamental question: IF THIS RAPE CASE DID NOT INVOLVE AN AMERICAN SOLDIER AND A FILIPINA, WOULD GABRIELA OR THE PHILIPPINE LEFT EVEN HAVE RAISED A FINGER TO FUND A PROPAGANDA CAMPAIGN OSTENSIBLY TO SUPPORT THE DIGNITY OF WOMEN? If this was a case of some other woman, would this even be in the media? Bakit ang kaso ni Maria Theresa Carlson kung saan na-link si Farinas di pinakailaman ng Gabriela? Nasaan sila noong binubugbog si Plinky Recto ng kalaguyo niya? And where is Gabriela for all of the Filipinas being raped by heathen men every day. If they are really against rape, they should note that rape cases are mainly perpetrated by people who are known to the victims. SO IF THEY ARE AGAINST RAPISTS, TAKE A LOOK AROUND – THE MOST PREVALENT RAPISTS ARE OUR FELLOW FILIPINOS (NOT AMERICANS OR FOREIGNERS).  And what’s even worse is that the main complainant, “Nicole”, is not the most credible and might even be considered “damaged goods.” It is heartening that a lot of Filipina women have taken a contrarian point of view (and not blindly supported the adage “My sister right or wrong…”). She might have said “No!” to the Americans but she failed the more important act of good judgement. She did not say “No!” to being in a situation where she could be raped. Parang AIDS yan eh…The best cure is abstinence or prevention. Getting stoned drunk and cavorting and dancing with people you don’t even know but who are visibly horny toads (all sailors/soldiers should be treated as horny knowing that they haven’t seen a woman in months) is VERY POOR JUDGEMENT. Tapos feeling api pa na parang may conspiracy against her…GIRL, GET HELP – FAST!

I am pretty sure that none of my wishes will come true.  But…There is no harm in dreaming and believing. The Philippines, in my mind, has been a very good boy this year and if Santa can hear me (if there is a Santa) – I hope he will provide the country with a nice gift i.e. one of my wishes coming true.

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