A voyage tale Makes sense to know. To know our past, A noble act.
In ancient times Sung’s men sail south. A scorching sun Of wondrous shine.
A starry night Leans crescent moon. A seamen’s song Lifts up the soul.
A fisher’s wish, School of fish. To aim no matter what, A spot away homeland.
One darkest night, October moon in hide. Sung’s fishermen Delighted by lamplight.
Crystal-like waves Flashing their face Fancy, irredescent, Navigable calm sea.
Sung’s fishermen resume their work. Lures, nets and lines deep down ’til dawn.
School of fish abound. Sung’s seamen wide awake. A morning breeze, Can’t stop their spree.
Sleek, crafty brig Now full of catch. At last Sung’s seamen’s Time to take a nap.
Then sudden gusty winds Jolted big Sampan’s hull. Sung’s seamen’s sleep, Unbearable haste.
A Captain’s shout Sail further south! As westwind swept Sailboat went wild.
A storm threat, A voyage curse. As thunder roars, A darkened northern sky.
Lightning scared Sung’s men at sea. As more rains fall Stronger winds unfurl.
Sung’s Captain shouts Sail further south! A seaman’s cry Here comes the storm’s eye!
Sung’s captain shouts Sail further south! After noon rains Gain more strength.
Sung’s captain shouts Sail further south! Now all seamen In unison cry.
“We can’t escape That storm’s eye! This boat’s heavy and slow Unsure how far can go.”
A Captain’s shout Unload some catch! As bigger waves A frightened crew.
A captain’s roar Unload some more. Another shout Sail further south!
As evening falls A sudden blow. A Captain’s cry Unload all catch!
A panicked crew Sung’s captain too. Another wave Another blow.
From north to east Stronger winds. Sung’s captain moans Lower the mast!
Of bigger waves, stronger winds. A wasted crew Drifted to land.
Despite a grimmy night A morning jovial mood. Sung’s fifteen crew Are in good hands.
A rocky hill Sung’s captain stood. A battered brig Lay west of beach.
On native huts Ship’s crew asleep. Brown-skinned hosts Amazed by visitors.
A breakfast treat Chopstick no need. A bowl of turtle soup Banana and papaya fruits.
A friendship forged Of hosts and visitors. Sung’s captain gifts Silk clothes and silver wares.
Sung’s sampan crew Savor a newfound home. A splendored land Of beauteous souls.
Sung’s captain dares Time to explore This island’s heart Full of desire.
Eighteen days long On island of Luzon. Sung’s fishermen Ready for home.
At last a clear sky Horizon’s greet divine A brimming restored ship Settles back to life.
From beach of sandy white Throng of Maharlikans Deafening roars, And waving hands.
Joy filled and native gifts Sung’s brig surges away A captain’s shout Now sail up north!
— — Junrod Naz, October 21, 2021
Above is a fictional narrative of how Chinese fishermen might have accidentally discovered the richness of the Philippine archipelago.’
Contact with Chinese traders was recorded in 982. But how?
Thus I would assume that Chinese fishermen reached land, probably an island off Luzon after they encountered a storm in the open seas and eventually rescued by island natives who showered them with foods as new friendship was forged between two peoples.
The Chinese promised to come back after discovering that they can exploit such richness to their advantage.
Back in China, probably, Hong Kong or Taiwan or Peking, the news of a fishing boat crew that went missing for weeks or maybe months became a big concern even by the ruling monarch.
By this time, the Sung Dynasty was in power.
When finally the missing seamen returned home, they became instant town heroes as they narrated their experiences during their journey at sea and the ill-fated sailboat as well as the beauty and richness and the hospitality of the natives.
These news might have reached the monarchy and was eager to investigate more about the incident.
Elated by the good news, an expedition might have been commissioned. Years later, trading of goods between the two peoples became regular as the Chinese explored other islands until they reached Manila and other Visayan lands.
That is why history books pointed out that Chinese shipping trade already flourished before the European explorers came in March 1521.
Encyclopedia Britannica notes that during the Manila-Acapulco (galeon trade) “The exchange of Chinese silks for Mexican silver not only kept in Manila those Spanish who were seeking quick profit, but it also attracted a large Chinese community. The Chinese, despite being the victims of periodic massacres at the hands of suspicious Spanish, persisted and soon established a dominance of commerce that survived through the centuries.”
THE great plebeian Dr. Jose Rizal said ” the youth is the hope of the motherland.”
But I think, nowadays, we can change ótemporarily that ‘battlecry’ because the hope of many Pinoy fans for a better life are the movie actors and actresses, professional athletes and television anchors.
Through the years and here and there or everywhere in the cities and provinces, celebrities fill-up important positions from the barangay to municipal level to provincial, district, Congress and national after easily making success in the polls.
They are now at it again and they are multiplying in numbers.
Look who’s padding the lead in pre-election surveys in the senatorial race. It doesn’t matter who’s behind this survey but it always spice up the political landscape.
TV5’s feisty show host Raffy Tulfo surged ahead leaving seasoned lawmakers behind which forced me to offer a wide wild smile to my monitor as I read the news reports. (It is also a moment to remember his brother Erwin, a classmate back in college who always tuck a copy of the Manila Bulletin under his armpit. Aside from solving the crossword puzzle it proved to me that he idolized his own elder brother Mon who was then a columnist there. But that’s another story).
Tulfo doesn’t even have an experience in public office except that he has millions of subscribers of his YouTube channel which he likes to brag.
Whether you agree or not, Manny Pacquiao became a Senator because of his being a legendary boxing world champion but not because of a proven track record in policy making and deliberating. Now he is pursuing his ambition to become the top man of the land.
He’s now going around towns and cities to look for the poorest of the poor and tell them his ambitious goal to end graft and corruption.
Pacquiao says there will be no “squatters” (slum dwellers) anymore in this country because he said his administration will take care of that. If he wins.
In the city of San Juan in the heart of Metro Manila, the mayor was a pro basketball player. This coming elections Local Chief Executive Francis Zamora includes four other pro basketball players in his line up for the city council including James Yap.
Philippine elections remain a popularity contest. Top celebrities are aware that being a household name can give them easy victory in a circus-like atmosphere that is already rigged with vote buying as well as name dopping and demagoguery everytime.
Their fans are continuously giving thumps up to their idols without much knowing or reviewing on the candidate’s track record or background.
Movie stars, boxing champions, professional basketball players and TV and television hosts and newscasters must observe some decency in our government.
The boxing ring, basketball court, shooting location or tv show or radio station should not be a training ground on the way to becoming government official.
Candidates for top government posts must come from highly trained government employees, political experts, scientists, lawyers, economists and the like.
Celebrities take advantage of their stature in society and it is so sad that even if they know that they are not trained for the position, they don’t have the temerity to ask themselves if they are making the right decision.
But in fairness to a few of them who have proven themselves in public service like aspiring Senator former Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, a political science graduate who did not dare to leave his college education while continuing his successful showbiz career before finally settling down to concentrate public service. He rose from being a youth leader, city councilor to Mayor and now he is seeking a seat in the Senate.
As public administrator he set his own standard and should be emulated by his peers in an industry full of intrigues, gossip and fallibility.
I am not even endorsing Herbert. We have our own voting preferences. I vote for ideological reasons.
I mentioned his case here just to stress a point. If we list down all of them here it would be a kilometer long (competent or incompetent) and you lose interest in reading their names.
The sorry state of our political system and the electoral process is compounded by this popularity contest issue.
It is indeed one of the major flaws of our democratic process because we need to elect highly competent people to lead us to a better tomorrow. I believe there is a need to overhaul our electoral process, another issue that needs a compehensive study and deserve much space here in a matter of days.
Whether we like it or not, celebrities have all the freedom to exercise and assert their civil and political rights that is guaranteed by by the Constition to all qualified citizens. They are protected by law like any other candidate and no one can stop anyone to exercise your right to join the election regardless of color, race or religion. Anyone can join regardless of sector you represent, or kind of work you have or of your traditions and beliefs.
The constitution, the local government code and other similar statutes do not say you cannot file and run because you don’t know how to execute laws or you are incompetent to deliberate critical legislative measures.
This is the real thing. The real issue which every candidate must think not only once or twice but maybe a hundred times before making a decision.
Am I really fit to that position? Am I trained for this?
Most likely, a government position becomes a training ground for politicians in the guise of public service.
Over the years, showbiz personalities and celebrated athletes join the election campaigns, some win and others lose.
They join for different reasons, perhaps to extend their clout or just pure public service. The latter being a worthy cause and I would like to believe that such good intention is everyone’s path in this upcoming political exercise.
However, there are a handful of candidates who are most qualified but not necessarily as popular to the people like former Bayan Muna Party List Representative Atty. Neri Colmenares and labor leader Elmer Labog who have been in the forefront against the excesses of the government and fighting for just causes for the benefit of the sector they represent and the nation as a whole.
The actual general Election day is a little over six months away although campaigning has already been on the go.
Hundreds maybe even a thousand of celebrities have filed their certificates of candidacy for various positions.
These include national in the case of president, vice president and senators; district level for the House of Representatives; provincial for governor, vice governor and board members; municipal for mayor, vice mayor and Sangguniang Bayan members.
Going back to our senses, THE YOUTH, of course, remain the hopes of the Filipino nation in its profound sense or what Dr. Jose Rizal said his hope for his “motherland.”
Is this still hold true? Well it should. We need a highly educated, highly competent, highly confident, full of activism, conscienticised youth to lead our nation in the near future.
Our country needs these qualities in our young people to prepare them for a better and more secured future.
Energetic cannot even be enough as a qualification because anyone can be energetic but at the same time one is incompetent and abusive as public official.
We must train them to become partners in nation building and leaders of development.
This is the only way this divided nation can be great again.
This is why we need to invest a lot of time and effort and even huge funding for education. We need to enhance the curriculum for public administration courses, political science and the other related social sciences and law degree.
We have to encourage the youth to engage in these disciplines. We have to establish more institutions that specialize in these field of sciences or arts.
We have to prepare them to be competent leaders and to become law abiding citizens.
It is a broad and critical aspect that affects our life as human beings in relation to other people, to government, to society and to other nations and all the things around us.
But it is not really hard to understand why showbiz icon Sharon Cuneta regards Politics as a Game.
Before we tell the reason why, let us quote part of Sharon’s statement last Tuesday that she posted on her Facebook Page.
The “megastar’ wrote that she is praying that, “after this game called politics is over, that wounds are healed, loved ones do not doubt your love for them………”
This may not be a big deal for the thousands of her bashers as well as supporters alike who understandably focused their attention on the difficult situation she is in at the moment.
But such regard of politics as a game should not be taken for granted — from my vantage point. It entails bad as well as good connotations.
One might say we’re taking this out of context but it is not because for a student of Politics, this is a big issue for debate and discussion in the classroom.
However, we must respect Sharon’s view. He may not even realized that when she was writing it.
She has a reason to feel that way because she has spent almost all her life with politicians — prominent public officials. So she knows what politics is all about.
Her father served as Mayor for many years in Pasay City and married to Senator Francis Pangilinan and Senate President Vicente Sotto III is an uncle by affinity.
Both Pangilinan and Sotto are candidates for vice president in the 2022 Elections.
This is the critical situation that Sharon is facing right now that is why she turned to her FB page to explain it and became viral. (You can see the complete text of her statement at her FB page).
At some point in time I also believe that politics is a game for many, a sad reality not just here in our country but somewhere else around the world even in the ancient times.
Though it maybe true as Sharon also sees it, but then again politics is more than just a game.
Considered as one of the oldest professions, politics, according to Michael Curtis in The Great Political Theories (A comprehensive selection of the crucial ideas in political philosophy from Plato and Aristotle to Locke and Montesquieu) is “more than a sordid, if exciting, story of personal intrigue and machination.”
Look at our country’s leaders. They quarrel on almost anything. They set their own agendas and criticize the rival’s political platforms.
Politics is more than the “spectacle of a multitude of ambitious politicians trampling on one another’s egos.”
I am pretty sure, Sharon knows the above “shallow” definitions of politics.
Politicians fighting like kids over a lost candy.
Curtis notes that politics is also the history of strong differing conceptions of the desirability of public policies, and beliefs on the right kind of political structure and behavior.”
This would mean that politicians should refrain from character assassinations and demagoguery. Instead, our candidates must focus on the real issues confronting the nation.
They must present to the voters a clear picture of their policies that they are going to implement during the next three or six years of their term.
They must start now giving us hopes to address the complex problems of the country that includes massive poverty in the cities and countryside, unemployment, high prices of basic commodities, low wages in the labor sector, over dependence on imported agricultural products, and the current health situation due to the Corona virus and many others.
Hopes not false promises are what the electorate deserve to expect from the candidates.
We need leaders who are not playing games during political exercises like the upcoming 2022 Elections.
Election results are always unpredictable. Candidates take risks and regret it later as they end up sore losers.
But ABS-CBN news anchor Noli De Castro made the wisest move so far in the runup to the 2022 elections. Will there be more?
The former Vice President just withdrew from the senatorial race, drawing much applause from netizens as well as batting eyelash from bashers. (It really sucks. But since we all enjoy probably the most democratic space you would not imagine in this ailing country).
De Castro may have thought that before regretting it later it is better to do it now.
By doing so, he also avoids further public scrutiny and below the belt tirades on social media, whatever his reasons maybe.
Speculations have it that it has to do with conflict of interests. The veteran newscaster, who is well-loved by Filipino TV viewers, has earlier expressed his support for presidential aspirant Manila Mayor Isko Moreno.
But his TV network ABS-CBN is openly throwing its support to Vice President Leni Robredo, who is also seeking the presidency.
Many bashers have already expressed their sentiments over De Castro just after learning that he filed his certificate of candidacy.
Because of his popularity, the newscaster easily made it to the Senate before becoming the second highest public official in the government.
But that was before social media became a vital part of the freedom of expression that is now being enjoyed and often abused by almost every citizen of this politically divisive nation
This time, however bashers believe that De Castro cannot win, easily making conclusions that they have proven that he was “ineffective as a lawmaker and cabinet member.”
He topped the Senatorial race in 2001 and won as VP under the Arroyo administration.
Critiques say De Castro earlier decided to run as a move to give at least ABS-CBN Channel 2 some clout if he wins following the government’s closure of one of the country’s two biggest news networks aside from GMA7.
Channel 2 is still closed and was forced to go online.
A total of 97 aspirants for president, 29 for vice president, 176 for senator, and 270 party-list groups filed their certificates of candidacy.
This is an unprecedented number in Philippine elections but the Commission on Elections is expected to reduce the official list when those considered nuisance are scrutinized.
Media personalities had been successful in their bids every election time, using their popularity as their primary advantage. Same thing with national athletes and from the entertainment industry.
This is because election in this country becomes a popularity contest, a characteristic of Philippine politics over the years.
That is why seldom that we see a lawyer or an economist, or political analyst or scientist who join the political exercise or even if they join they just end up scratching their head after finishing way behind from same personalities who should not in the first place have the right qualifications to become a lawmaker.
This is the danger of direct elections. The result or the highest number of votes decides the winners but the result is not necessarily what the truest kind of people to sit in the chamber most especially the Senate.
This is the consequence of a participatory democracy if you call that.
It is true that the people’s choice should be respected after the official counting is done because the sovereignty of the people must reign supreme.
But that philosophical mantra in politics must be taken into its proper perspective.
The Senate, whose mandate is to deliberate laws that affects all aspects of society must be given to those who have the best minds and not merely on untrained ones elected via idolatry.
Photo shows Indigenous People’s Mandatory Representative the late Richard de San Jose delivers his opening remarks during the cultural night of the 2016 Kabinnulig Festival, his braindchild commemorating the founding anniversary of Flora on June 22. The late Cathy Ortega is one of the hosts sitting at the middle behind Richard.
NO date is more appropriate than today to remember a man who all of his lifetime dreamt, worked hard and cared for the betterment of Flora and its people.
Six years ago, the late former Mayor/Vice Mayor/SB Member Richard Usita De San Jose (1967-2020) organized the first ever Christmas Party of the different tribes that comprised a large population of Indigenous People within the Municipality of Flora, Apayao in Northern Philippines in December 2015.
Representing the Ibanag tribe, Richard was then the newly-selected IP Mandatory Representative to the Sangguniang Bayan.
Being a long time public official, “Itchay” as he is popularly known, exerted time and effort as well as sacrificed personal money to help the IP members on almost anything that caters to their need.
His devotion to public service and his generosity are his natural traits, becoming a daily habit. These, he inherited from his late father, one of Apayao’s leading political figures during his long public service.
A year later on his 50th birthday October 10, 2016, he celebrated with the biggest ever gathering of all the different tribes and its leaders that included Itneg, Igorot, Ibanag, Kankanaey, Tingguian, Aeta, Itawes and Malaweg.
During that day incumbent Mayor Rodolfo B. Juan urged the local legislature to adopt a Resolution to make Oct. 10 as Indigenous People’s Day in Flora perhaps in recognition to Itchay’s untiring efforts. (I have yet to verify if that ever happened).
Today, it will be the second time that Itchay is not around to celebrate his birthday.
Along with wife Jessica, the current Vice Mayor who is now seeking the mayoralty post and Itneg tribal leader Antonio Claveria, I had the opportunity to work with them closely for the interests of the IPs, sharing ideas and plans to uplift their plight and assert their basic social, political and human rights.
But sadly those avowed plans and ideas came to a halt.
Itchay was murdered in the early evening of July 28, 2020 when the town is locked down due to the government’s response to the corona virus.
Two unidentified men with automatic pistols fired at him while resting and having fun with friends and personal aides at a makeshift food stall after he supervised a road project nearby and two blocks away from the mayor’s house.
The perpetuators shot him from behind. He died instantly as they left him on foot with four fatal wounds to the head and body. He was carrying his licensed pistol but never had the chance to retaliate.
How could this be happened to a man who is supposedly the most heavily guarded public official in this supposedly peaceful side of the country, next only of course, to the police-backed Mayor.
I suspect that only those who have the means and power can do that cowardly act to a man who is passionate about high powered guns and owns several of them at home. These are all licensed firearms and he is using them to protect his family. I never knew if these were ever used. These guns he was keeping are a public knowledge. The NBI once raided his house and took the guns but returned it later after a process of verifications.
Accordingly, the killers of Itchay were of unfamiliar faces and are not from Flora. How could they enter town at a time when all roads leading there are closely guarded? This remains a mystery. Only those who have the means and have the open access to checkpoints may have to do with this. But there is no suspect. No one is dared to come forward and give even a small hint for sure a fear of their own life.
The case is still unsolved and the killers scot free.
It maybe that police investigators lacked interest in finding the truth behind this barbaric act.
Rumors had been circulating around town that the killing of Richard may have to do with the war on drugs of President Duterte. This is a blatant lie. It is adding insult to injury.
It is even sadder that the mayor kept silence that he didn’t even bother to visit him during his wake and funeral as he even wanted to end the vigil early citing social distancing as a reason.
This stabs the heart. It reminds of a similar way the Mayor did to a cousin when he did not also appear at the wake and funeral of Cathy Beltran Ortega who was also similarly murdered on May 17, 2019.
Cathy was then the Human Resource Management Officer of the town. She just came from office when two motorcycle riding men shot her pointblank in front of her house. Her case is also still unsolved.
Imagine a superior who intentionally does not want to pay respect to his former key public officials’ death? Visiting them and offering condolences to the bereaved families could have been a big morale boost to help ease their misery.
Anyways, mine is just a feeling of sadness as both Itchay and Cathy are not only distant cousins but very close to me.
Back in the days, Cathy and I were members of a choral group that competed in the district meet but it was only many years later during my stint with the vice mayor’s office as a legislative staff that we learned we are cousins after her grandmother (a cousin of my grandfather by my mother’s side) died. From then on, she was always a good source of news and told me issues confronting the municipal hall and its employees, petty or relevant.
Cathy was a strong-willed woman. In fact, she had the courage to file three different administrative cases against Mayor Juan with the Ombudsman.
Itchay is a first degree cousin by my father’s side and his father’s side but by affinity. He was a small brother to me.
What has been bothering me for the past two years is that their cases are likely to become part of the hundreds of cases remained unsolved They will certainly be just included in the list of victims in this unabated culture of violence in a country already stricken with graft and corruption.
Human Rights Watch reported that the human rights situation in the Philippines deteriorated in 2020.
In June, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published a highly critical report on the human rights situation in the Philippines, accounting over eight thousand killed either by police or unknown suspects. That is a big discrepancy with the PNP’s figure of almost six thousand killed.
“Threats and attacks, including killings, against left-wing political activists, environmental activists, community leaders, Indigenous peoples’ leaders, journalists, lawyers, and others rose in the past year,” the report said.
“The government harassed journalists and media companies, including through politically motivated prosecutions and other legal action; a court convicted journalist Maria Ressa of cyber libel in June, while the government shut down the country’s largest television network the following month.”
(Ressa has just been named as the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize Awardee.)
This report is so alarming and killings still on the rise.
Meanwhile, let us go back to a man’s past to give tribute befitting a true, kindhearted, generous, caring, energetic, disciplinarian and sometimes fallible individual — a strong leader, good providing father, true friend, caring to relatives and others. He was close to the basic masses. Like his father, he was a people person, easy to go along with and very easy to approach.
Who is Richard or Itchay?
Richard was still very young at 54 at the time of his murder. His untimely demise is a big loss to the Indigenous People. His big and ingenious plans for Floranians will never be realized.
But Richard will always have a special place in the minds and hearts of many town folks. He is a legend by his own right. I keep many memories and anecdotes with him during our youth and as matured individuals.
When he was about seven years old and I was 10, we were allowed to go with our elders to deliver logs via a 6 x 6 truck to a log pond in Binalan in nearby town of Ballesteros. This was our first time to see each other in person.
The trip was difficult in those times since the road from Flora to junction Ayaga was tricky muddy.
But this tough trip at dawn break was in itself an enjoyable experience for growing up kids that we were even allowed to sit on top of the logs while tightening our grip on the steel binders on our way to the destination point.
Richard, like any other “spoiled brat (excuse the word) but smarter-than-others kid” was often scolded by his uncle, Manong Berning, while my father who was on the driver seat also occasionally checked me if I am alright.
This is just one of the indelible marks in our lives that we have shared as relatives and separate human beings with different human frailties. But the closeness has been kept intact through the years and that I haven’t move on yet with his passing.
After our first meeting, it took about 10 years later when we crossed path again following my transfer to Saint Joseph’s high school at Flora from another school in SY 1980-81.
We were not really that close enough as I was with his older brother Ben all the time because the latter was my classmate.
Mang Ben (RIP) and I continued our closeness when we entered college in Manila. We were even classmates in a basketball class when he cross-enrolled from another school.
Richard and I became inseparable “partners- in-crime” two years later when he entered University life.
I was responsible for leading him to University of the East and even chose a BS Management course for him after all schools have already close for the Civil Engineering that he preferred to take up.
He however realized his dream course when he transfered to the University of Manila. One day, he came to me and showed his swollen legs as a result of a hazing following his entry to the Samahang Ilocano fraternity.
He knew that I do not approve of this but explained that it was a moment when he can no longer resist the temptations of a college life or a calling of his youthful age.
Out of touch, my absence from the apartment where my family and his family shared in Sta. Cruz Manila changed the direction where I want him to take.
Misguided, his go-lucky, freedom like attitude somehow cause him to commit misdeeds that sometimes threaten his life.
One day, Richard consumed too much alcohol in a friend’s boardinghouse after school. When he went home alone he could not bring himself up for the jeep ride so he just sat at the edge of a busy street at the Manila Central Market. It was around 11 pm. But maybe with God’s grace, a woman province mate noticed someone familiar and recognized him and finally he reached home though in a bad state.
One time before that he was cornered by fraternity members at UE forcing him to join while pointing knife at him and threatening him to be hurt if he refuses. Luckily, I saved him from that harrowing experience because of my popularity within the frat community as being a campus journalist at that time.
We were classmates in two PE classes and at one instance, he was challenged to a fistfight by our karate instructor. Good thing that I played the peacekeeper which prevent ed a possible dismissal from the University.
But the funniest of all was when we shared a toothbrush during an out-of-town trip. This was at the wedding of his sister Dr. Josie Ferrer in San Carlos City, Pangasinan in (1987?).
He forgot to bring a toothbrush and because the nearby store ran out of supply, he said he just use mine after I use it first. He needed only a hot water to dip the toothbrush before he used it. That’s how the two of us were treating each other during those memorable days.
When I was bedridden for over a year because of a colostomy operation, he was always there at my side, tears flowing while boosting my morale.
Richard was a full-blooded Marcos Loyalist and he was deeply saddened when the former president was ousted in 1986.
But with pure curiosity, I persuaded Richard to join me during some of the biggest rallies calling Marcos to stepdown from power including the proclamation of Cory Aquino and Salvador Laurel to face Marcos in the snap election at the Bonifacio Plaza in front of the National Post Office where teenaged Kris Aquino showed up to the public for the first time by joining the podium.
Later on, Richard joined several political forums we in the progressive movement have organized in universities and colleges.
Richard and I have survived the infamous Mendiola Massacre. We were about meters away from the frontline when shots reverberated the afternoon rally forcing us to scamper for safety.
Richard was the first person that went to my mind and he was nowhere to be found but I realized later that I have already instructed him to go home early because of the volatile situation.
My advocacy work and commitment to community organizing caused us to part our ways for the longest time.
The next thing I know about him was that he is already married, went home to Flora and turned to politics, his longtime dream. I was at this time a newspaper reporter and only meet him once in a while.
The only instance I was with him during his term as Mayor was that when he was conducting a pre-nuptial at home and when I showed up he cancelled his time to office instead the office came to him as documents to be signed were being transported from the municipal hall.
From then on we never saw each other again until I came home from a six-year stint abroad for good. When he learned about this from relatives, he immediately contacted me and offered a job to which I could not resist.
Richard supported Duterte in 2016, the only man to openly campaign for him while all the other aspirants were either for LP’s Roxas or UNA’s Jejomar Binay, including Rep. Butzy Bulut and Gov. Eleanor Bulut-Begtang.
I was always pushing him to run for a provincial post but Richard, in a heart to heart talk told me he does not want to because of his devotion to keep the good things he started at home. He cannot just leave the political front at home.
In 2016, Richard and his father along with wife Jessica made one of their most difficult decisions in their political life.
Incumbent Mayor Rodolfo Juan came to the vice mayor’s office to ask Jessica to convince Richard to give way for him for the top post. (Previously, Richard beat Juan twice for Mayor and once for VP).
After she told Richard about this, Jessica went to me and asked pointblank what do I think about it. I was shocked and silent.
Juan as Mayor and Jessica as Vice Mayor and no other candidates will contest them. Kind of breaching the democratic process.
It took then Gov. Butzy Bulut and his party to go to the De San Jose residence to convince them for such an arrangement but they did not immediately give their approval.
That gentlemen’s agreement to be forged have assured the de San Joses to take the mayoralty post in the next polls and no opposition.
With some reservations, Richard and Jessica again had a serious talk with me on the eve of filing certificate of candidacy to ask my opinion.
I wanted Richard or Jessica not to agree but I never advice them with that and kept it to myself. Instead I told them to just pray and it is up to both of them to decide.
They agreed anyway and it is hard to imagine that when Richard died Mayor Juan did not have the conscience to appear during this miserable moment of a family that gave him an easy road to the throne.
Before the 2019 elections, the gentlemen’s agreement was sidetracked after Mayor Juan came to the de San Joses again to give him another chance. They agreed again.
The gentlemen’s agreement is totally forgotten now. Mayor Juan and Jessica both filed their COCs for the top post for the May 2022 polls.
Richard would have been joining the fray again but he is now in God’s care and watching us doing our share to care for the betterment of Flora, a thriving town that he loved so dearly.
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SO the playing field is too tight and tough, the protagonists are too many, the attacks become personal, often hitting below the belt. As of Oct. 8, a total of 56 have already filed their certificates of candidacy with the Commission on Elections to seek for the position of PRESIDENT. The frontrunners are (listed down in alphabetical order by their last names just to avoid bias accusations) outgoing Senator Panfilo Lacson, former Senator Bongbong Marcos, current Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, boxing legend Manny Pacquiao and current Vice President Leni Robredo. The complete list is found at the bottom of this article. As of this writing, the administration candidate is yet to file but outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte said a tandem of his daughter Sara Carpio and Senator Bong Go is likely to be forged by a faction of the PDP Laban, the ruling party that recently split up due to disagreement with whom they field as standard bearer. Sara has already filed her COC to seek reelection as Davao City Mayor. As early as few months ago, Duterte signified his intention to run for vice president but law experts is contesting that this would be unconstitutional. Duterted said he is retiring from public office but critiques accused the president of misleading the nation with his bag of tricks like what he did in 2016 when he filed via last minute decision or extra judicial process. As the campaigns started, the heat is on. Arguing for their vested interests, the candidates divert the debate from the real issues besetting the country. These are expected of course. It is nothing new or not news worthy anymore except that somebody has to remind us about the sorry state of our political system. The Philippine election season has just kicked off and Filipinos are getting their share of space as they join in the virtual campaigning via Facebook and other social media platforms. As soon as the candidates have officially filed their certificates of candidacy, even every citizen of this ailing nation join the virtual debate inundating Facebook with thrash talks on every minute possible with many of these are the works of the so-called trolls (paid propagandists trolling the candidate in campaign sorties but now the playing field is virtual that is why there is an upsurge of scandalous write-ups circulating in the social media). They are the modern mafia of this digital age. Let’s have some guessing pointers that may interest you to pick your own bet.
Outgoing Senator Lacson is running alongside Senate President Vicente Sotto III. He ran for VP in 2016 and lost. The former chief of police under former president Joseph Estrada has been a controversial figure in the kuratong baleleng rubout case, when members of the kidnap for ransom gang were allegedly killed by police on purpose contrary to claim by authorities a legitimate operations. Lacson is a celebrated retired officer from the police force and while in the Upper House chamber, championing the their plight. However, he is also a staunch advocate against graft and corruption. His vast experience in police work and administration has given him an advantage in the performance of his legislative functions. He is ready to defend his ground whatever issues that come his way. Sotto’s solid support from the movie industry and the millions of viewers of the longest running noontime show Eat Bulaga might be an added inventive for both.
FERDINAND MARCOS JR.
Former Senator Bongbong Marcos or BBM lost the VP race in 2016 finishing a distant second to outgoing VP Lenie Robredo. BBM is a close ally of Duterte. Supporters had been pushing them for a tandem which many political observers would likely to happen. BBM is backed up by the solid Ilocano vote and the influence that his father former president FEM Sr. is still a formidable advantage that could put the “infamous” Marcos family back to power and according to progressive forces and the Liberal Party, try to rewrite history and the horrors of Martial Law.
Young but veteran Manila public servant Isko Moreno defeated former president Joseph Estrada in the mayoralty race in the 2019 local elections. Moreno is running alongside lesser known Willie Ong. Accordingly, Moreno is pushing himself too soon. He was reportedly approached by Pacquiao as his running mate but talks didn’t work out. An action man, Isko championed the plight of the poor families of Tondo, Manila where he grew up until he landed the showbiz world. He quit movies to concentrate his passion for public service beginning as Councilor of Manila.
Fighting Senator Manny Pacquiao is running for PDP-Laban/PROMDI/PCM Alliance with his longtime mentor/adviser Lito Atienza, Buhay Party List Representative. Pacquiao put graft and corruption in government on top of his priorities warning violators to be in jail when he wins. A man of no introduction, his worldwide fame and the honor that he gave to his countrymen, his generosity to poor people and his devotion to God maybe an advantage. But Pacquiao’s lack of educational attainment, lack of knowledge of laws, lack of oral argument remain the biggest stumbling block to his ambition.
Maria Leonor ‘Leni’ Robredo is a lawyer by profession and has proven herself to be an effective vice president. She surprised many when he filed his COC as an independent candidate, a move seen as a ploy to avoid the unpopular “yellowish” tag of the Liberal Party. She has forged with a tandem with Senator Kiko Pangilinan (LP). She had been calling for a unity ticket for the opposition but efforts did not work out after Moreno and Pacquiao decided to run. The rest of the aspirants will be expected to be declared by the Comelec as nuisance candidates as it has been in the past, which will make the political circus more complicated.
Complete List of Candidates for President — Manny Pacquiao, PDP-Laban/PROMDI/PCM Alliance — Dave Aguila, IndJose Montemayor, DPP — Ley Ordenes, Ind — Edmundo Rubi, Ind — Laurencio Yulaga, PGRP –Victoriano Inte, Ind –Tiburcio Marcos, Ind — Sonny Boy Andrade, Ind — Juanita Trocenio, Ind — Alfredo Respuesto, Ind — Faisal Mangondato, Katipunan — Francisco ‘Isko Moreno’ Domagoso, Aksyon Demokratiko — Leo Cadion, PGRP — Mercedes Remedios Pesigan, Ind — Delia Aniñon, Ind — Reynato Valera, Ind — Melchor Juno, Ind — Winston Kayanan, Ind — Marsden Luhayan, Ind — Arnel David, Ind — Leonardo Fernandez, PPP — Edgar Niez, Ind — Happy Lubarbio, Ind — Dolores Quirao, Ind — Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr., PFP — Jimmy Torres, KBL — Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson, PDR — Sahiron Salim, Ind — Norberto Gonzales, PDSP — Danilo Villanueva, Ind — Luzviminda Raval, Ind — Benjamin Rivera, Ind — Leodegario ‘Ka Leody’ De Guzman, PLM — Ramon Asuelo, Ind — Rudy Flores, Ind — Alexander Encarnacion, Ind — Jeffrey Roden, Ind — Salic Arap, Ind — Antonio Valdes, Ind — Ma. Antonia Aquino, Ind — Rodel De Vera, Ind — Nathaniel Jayoma, Ind — Jose Romel Murio, Ind — Rolly Casino, Ind — Nancy Megio, Ind — Maria Leonor ‘Leni’ Robredo, Ind — Corina Joyce Felix, Ind — Juan Ollesca, Ind — Danilo Roble, Ind — Hilario Andes, Ind — Juan Aguilar Jr., Ind — Percival Kevin De Guzman, Ind — Loreto Agcaoili, Ind — Alejo Katigbak, Ind — Gerald Arcega, Ind — Ricardo Domingo, Ind
Election season in the Philippines has just kicked off. As always, eradicating graft and corruption in the government is on top of the list of every candidate’s political platform. Demagoguery is the order of the day. False promises, fake news and switching of allegiance divide political parties in a nation that is already stricken with graft and corruption. Turncoatism becomes common but this practice is not surprising anymore since politicians in the past 30 years have been doing this every time their grip of power is at stake in every election time. They abandon their parties in the last election to ride with the ruling party or the party of the sitting president. In the next election they will switch party again as they cling to the party by the winner of the presidential derby in next year’s election. The fever is too high and is expected to heatup higher and higher during the next six months or so. Police authorities are helpless in stopping politically motivated killings. The culture of violence especially in the local election front remains a stumbling block to attain peace and harmony among the same public officials whom we should have trusted in times of crisis. Money is expected to flow during the campaigns. Vote vying is already an institutionalized part of the political circus. It further downgrade the dignity for both the candidate and the voter. Global index indicates that in 2019, corruption in the Philippines worsened when ranked 113th of 180 countries studied on their perceived political integrity. Transparency International, a nonprofit watchdog monitoring the status of global corruption in the public sector, has issued the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2019, showing that the Philippines dropped 14 notches from 99th in year 2018, a CNN report said. The Philippines’ score indicates that it “continue[s] to struggle to tackle corruption,” along with other countries in the Asia Pacific region, the report read. The filing of candidacy started on Oct. 1st while election will be held May 2022. Those who aim for the national positions (president, vice president and Senate) have the pleasure to start the campaign early on that is why they are virtually going on each other’s throats now on social media and other digital platforms. Those who are vying for Congressional and local posts will have to wait few weeks before the polls. The question remains who among these wannabes could fix the country’s complex problems of unemployment, massive poverty in cities and the countryside, the corona virus pandemic and an endemic graft and corruption? This should not only be asked from the top but also from the local government unit officials because graft and corruption in the country is unabated from top to bottom or vice versa. Six years ago, outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte promised to end illegal drugs and other forms of criminality and get rid of graft and corruption. It turned out to be just false promises. For even in times of health crisis, billions of pesos that are supposed to mitigate the upsurge of corona virus cases in the country and how to respond to the global pandemic, are allegedly unaccounted for. An executive of a pharmaceutical company who had been held for contempt by the Senate as it investigates the overpricing of test kits and PPEs contracted with the government, specifically the Department of Health. The ongoing investigation followed the mounting clamor from various sectors of society for the resignation of DOH Secretary Duque for his alleged mismanagement of the health agency, his mishandling of multi-billion peso budget intended to respond to the health crisis including hazard pay to health workers who are in the frontline. But this is just the latest corruption issue that the Senate committee chaired by Dick Gordon has been investigating. The upper house chamber also investigated similar multi million peso corruption issues before and even before the Duterte administration. The dictatorial administration of former president Ferdinand E. Marcos was tainted with graft and corruption. Despite his promise of bringing peace and order, massive graft and corruption, inequality on the country’s resources, abuse of power and unabated human rights violations were tolerated by himself. While there was a chance for successor Cory Aquino to at least lessen the impact of Martial Law’s flaws, graft and corruption remained mostly in the regional and provincial to to the municipal and even barangay levels. This institutionalized system of graft and corruption became as if a regular system in a rotten bureaucracy. According to boxing legend Manny Pacquiao, graft and corruption will be his top priority and he is confident to end this during his administration. He said he is capable of putting in jail all corrupt public officials, a dream that every aspiring president in this country has already used as a campaign platform in past national elections. This was used by past presidents Fidel V. Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Arroyo and Benigno Aquino III. But their administrations were also tainted and this graft-ridden country remains to be cured. Pacquiao, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, economist Walden Bello have already filed their COCs along with other nuisance candidates. Moreno, a young but experienced political stalwart, is also a staunch advocate of ridding out corrupt public officials. How he does remains a mystery. The economist Bello may have some sound policies to offer and at least lessen economic sabotage but for the third time as presidential candidate, he will again fail to gather enough votes because in this country most voters are duped to popularity contest and the color of money. Both factors are lacking in him. Other aspirants the former dictator’s son and namesake Ferdinand “Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. and vice president Lenie Robredo, have yet to file their COCs as of this writing. Senators Ping Lacson and Grace Poe as well as former speaker Alan Peter Cayetano have yet to officially file following their unannounced intentions. Marcos, who lost the VP last time, has just confirmed he is gunning for the top post while Robredo is yet to commit as standard bearer of the Liberal Party. Marcos is emboldened to defend his father’s infamous legacy. Robredo, if she runs, will try to weed out the inevitable. She will inherit the Liberal Party’s ” “yellowish” tag, a negative coinage from the Marcos loyalists and recently, the “Dutertards.” For sure, all of these standard bearers in next year’s polls will be debating about corruption and criminality like boxers throwing hard punches but how they will present a concrete solution to stop it is a different matter. And if our reading is right, graft and corruption from top to bottom and vice versa will continue to demoralize and dehumanize us as a nation.
One of the biggest impacts on the advent of social media to society is the upsurge of mediocre writers who come from various fields of study including politics. In the past, only the educated ones can lay claim to being genuine writers with their scholarly done works. Pretending writers nowadays pollute the internet. Writing about politics should be left to political scientists and political philosophers and political theorists. In the Philippines, for instance, thousands of crazy people pose as political writers to advance their political agenda. They propagandize the political landscape especially now that the election season has just took off. The Philippine political circus, which has always been the case, will be virtual this time because of the corona virus pandemic. Political pundits are expected to increase by leaps and bounds. Pretenders will outnumber the real ones. And sadly, ungrammatical, no style and lacking in substance and social relevance. Writing about politics is never a laughing matter. It should not be just for the sake of writing and politicking. A true political writer must be of qualified stature, well-versed on political beliefs, theories and philosophies, disciplines that are needed by a political writer to produce a good story or article about politics. Many government leaders, cabinet members, legislators, senators and the like saturate Facebook with write-ups, debating on current issues against their political rivals. They are not real political writers. They are just plain politicians who are politicking the political scene. The world wide web is bombarded with fake news due to political bickering. Today’s youth face a critical period where their education has been stalled due to the corona virus pandemic and it is compounded by wrong political writings and ideals as they try to catch up via alternative or modular or distant learning. The quality of one pundit’s work is important. It should be scholarly done so that the education of the youth is saved from mediocrity and insanity. Today’s digital age and social media makes life easier for political writers and there are so many of them on social media sites. Their outputs are sore in the eyes. Each is projecting himself as the Nostradamus of this digital era. They come in various political views, color, agenda, interests and the like. Most of their writings deserve the dustbin, yet others are worthy to read and reread and reread and reread…. the latter is sizesibly outnumbered because people are simply by nature “political animals” (not to twist Aristotle’s) always forgetting their humane existence. With unlimited sources of knowledge that are available on the internet, google, yahoo, wikipedia etc., etc., pundits maximize the unlimited space and frequency that this digitalized world has to offer. They distort facts from out of these information and instead of helping to bridge the gap in world peace, they create havoc with their broken political beliefs and propaganda. Sometimes, however, one does not need to study philosophy and political science or theories to produce a good write-up about politics. One such individual I admire most about writing is Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Although apolitical in more ways, he does what he say from his write-ups. His speeches revolve around his philanthropic work, the aim of his Foundations on education and development inspire many people’s organizations and communities around the world. These speeches are a result of a good writing. His commitment to bridging the gap between the privileged rich and the underprivileged poor. This in itself is a political work thus some of his writings are in- itself a political write-up. His recent one is about how government around the world will respond to the pandemic. Before the opening this week of United Nation’s General Assembly Gates wrote that this will be “an opportunity to refocus energy and commitment on ending the crisis phase of this pandemic and to make sure we’re better prepared for the next one. In this piece I talk about how we can apply what we have learned since early 2020 and embrace a set of global actions that chart an equitable course out of the pandemic—vaccinate now, contain the disease, and coordinate the global response.” This is not politicking but pure message of caring for all, a message for world leaders to heal us one. He is not a member of the UN but such write-up or statement tend to advice or command the world leaders and it is difficult to ignore. The famous “I have a dream” speech by Martin Luther King Jr. should be considered an excellent political writing. In this speech on August 28, 1963, the baptist minister was calling for civil and economic rights and an end to racism in the United States. “I still have a dream, a dream deeply rooted in the American dream – one day this nation will rise up and live up to its creed, “We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal.” I have a dream … Another who is worthy to emulate is Abraham Lincoln with his Gettysburg Address that we have recited in high school even if it is nothing to do with us Filipinos. This is because of how it was written well and how it influenced and inspired American people during one of their nation history’s darkest period. This is why our literature teachers wanted us to memorize and recite in class. Impoverished communities in India and somewhere else in Asia and Africa and South America produce good political writers as much as from socially and politically advanced countries in Europe. Gates, Luther King and Lincoln continue to inspire people because of their writings and its relevance to politics and society. Renato Constantino, Claro M. Recto, Jose W. Diokno, Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Antonio Luna, to name a few, were illustrious social and political writers during their prime. Without batting an eyelash, even Jose Maria Sison, Benigno Aquino Jr. and Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr. are exemplified eloquent writers and oral lecturers but of course they have wide differences with their own political ends. Writing well and inspiring many should be what someone from our political aspirants nowadays persevere especially that we are again choosing leaders who can fix the complex problems of our dearest country, instead of going at each other’s throats.
Time to tell anecdotes with the Pacman. With this piece, not even a hard punch but just a left jab, I can proudly say that once in my decades-long stint as a sportswriter I had the opportunity to interview boxing legend turned bigtime politician Manny Pacquiao. I hope this will not hit someone’s pride and with your indulgence you will understand my humble intention. The young Pacman was, from my honest opinion, no sign of a future Senator, staggering on simple questions. At 22, he was just a young serious boxer, training hard to achieve success. I admired him for being kind and polite to “trying-hard” media men like me. Back then as a struggling sports correspondent, my brief encounter with the Pacman was very special — TO ME. I learned a lesson which was not even about boxing. It taught me a basic ethic in newspapering. Do not mess around on someone’s turf. In other words, do not breach on the unwritten journalism code that prohibits you to go to beats not assigned to you. Work hard within your beat assignments. But sometimes, common sense will dictate you — as what happened in my case. My interview with Manny left an indelible mark in my brain, a basic moral and a sense of urgency in the line of duty which have guided me through the years. Now that Manny Pacquiao is retiring and making real his promise to seek the presidency, this may be the most appropriate moment to look back at those memories after keeping them for myself for so long. This is what happened. He was taking off to worldwide fame when I came face-to-face with the Pacman — BY CHANCE. If my recollection is right, it was around May 2001 and I was covering for The Daily Tribune as Correspondent. Colleague Nick Giongco was the one assigned to boxing beat for us. Manny was starting to hit paydirt. It was the only interview I had with him throughout my entire stint as a sportswriter. One day while me and two other budding media men, one of them Miramon Nuevo of TODAY, were going back to the media center after scouring for stories around the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex where many of the national athletes were housed, we spotted Manny having a light workout at a newly-built fitness gym inside the complex. We introduced ourselves and promptly requested for interview. Jinkee was also there watching the workout then intently listening to the Q & A and even helped in confirming vital information regarding schedules, etc. By this time the couple were still living in a simple apartment nearby San Andres, Manila, that is why he frequented the RMSC for training. (He played billiards near home but I never saw him play. Friends say he is good at it). Manny was preparing for his first fight in the U.S. It should be against Lehlonoholo Ledwaba. So by tomorrow this information will be known to the public for the first time along with whom he will fight next and how he prepares for this and such other insights — via my story. He was predicting that if he wins this fight it could set him up for bigger fights against top boxers from Mexico possibly against Marco Antonio Barerra, which came two years later during their first meeting on Nov. 15, 2003 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. So he defeated the South African Ledwaba at the MGM Grand via TKO on June 23, 2001 to bag the IBF super bantamweight title. (Manny’s next ended in a controversial draw with Agapito Sanchez when Manny sustained a cut in an accidental head clash. Then he won four more fights before Barrera. After Barrera, Manny faced Juan Manuel Marquez ending to a draw. Nick was a regular fixture for the Team Pacquiao in those times having the opportunity to travel with them too.) After my interview, we shook hands with husband and wife, wished them good luck. On our way, I gave myself a sincerest silent prayer that one day this man should become a famous boxer around the world. Back at the media center, I called my ever supportive Editor Aldrin Cardona as it is customary for every reporter to do so because this will let your superior know where you are at this deadline hours and let him know what story to expect from you. Aldrin immediately asked for my story and I said I have two — basketball advancer and Manny’s next fight. Naturally, he is surprised and slightly scolded me but with my simple explanations his usual kindness saved me, told me to write it and he will be the one to explain to Nick about the breach I made. The next day I learned that I was the only one who made the story, kind of morale boosting. Not most people are interested anyway in those days unlike today when a Pacman bus to be used during the run-up to next year’s polls, is even gaining thousands of likes, comments and shares and attracting millions of views on Facebook and other social media sites. Then when I saw Nick, I explained and apologized. The amiable Nick Giongco is one of several friends in the sports writing fraternity whom you admire most. But that was the last time I ever write a boxing story until the Pacquiao vs. Oscar De la Hoya fight on Dec. 6, 2008 when I was covering for the Saipan Tribune via a big screen at the mini theater of the posh Saipan World Resort along Beach Road in Garapan, Saipan, CNMI. The last time I wrote a story about Manny Pacquiao was when I was requested for an article featuring other things the Pacman does outside of boxing by a United Kingdom-based newspaper HELLO PHILIPPINES in 2010. He was by now a Member of the House of Representatives and I was not able to establish contact how to reach him and at least get a small chance from his busy itinerary. So I looked for another angle. Anyways, the focus of the story was how sportswriters compare his public duties to his boxing performance. Nick (now with Manila Bulletin?) was ready for help, and so with other good guys Abac Cordero of Phillipine Star and Francis Ochoa (Inquirer?). Given all these circumstances and now that he is hanging his gloves and seeking the highest post in the country, I hope you don’t get me wrong. Just like any other well wisher, this is a time when everyone of us is giving tribute and expressing our sincerest appreciation to a living legend who gave so much pride and honor to his countrymen at times when they needed most and continue inspiring people around the world. Police authorities attest that there is a zero crime rate during a Pacquiao fight. So amazing indeed! Alright! For the sake of just saying it, ‘Do I vote for Manny Pacquiao?’ Sorry but I do not vote for plain idolatry. I vote with ideological reasons, common sense and conviction. Thank You Manny. Be smart in pursuit of your ambition. Congratulations for your retirement and Good Luck Again.
IF there is one thing I like most about Toni Gonzaga, it is her willingness to risk her image as long as her YouTube channel makes profit, and she does it so well. There is nothing wrong whom she wants to invite for interview in fact BBM (as Bongbong is now popularly known) and Manny are good materials if you are a fulltime-fullblown youtuber like Toni. As it turned out she has succeeded in captivating all sorts of viewers and getting more subscribers. However, she failed to dig enough thoughts from both guests regarding key issues that beset Philippine society. She merely repeated questions that already been asked of them before, answers that most Filipinos already know. Toni didn’t bother to ask their thoughts on Foreign Policy, not just about China and the US but relations with other nations and international organizations such as ASEAN and the UN or even NATO. She should have asked their about genuine land reform program and how they are going to accelerate the agricultural sector. Toni Gonzaga didn’t bother to ask if their policies will include stopping of rice importation and other agricultural products such as onion and garlic. How would they deal with the military and the insurgency? What is their visions for the labor sector as well as with the business side and big corporations, MNCs and SMEs? It was her prerogative not to push BBM about graft and corruption but it should have been an opportunity. Manny said it will be his top priority to stop graft and corruption in government and put all violators in jail. Toni didn’t ask how Pacquiao will do it. She just smiled at the thought and said OK! OK! Maybe, Toni isn’t aware that the most corrupt officials are found in the LGUs that is why she didn’t have time to ask Manny how he would deal with them. Since both BBM and Manny are aspiring presidents, there are many more important issues to ask which need concrete answers.