Democracy at the Crossroads

images_church_stateIt is utterly shocking to learn that women could be banned from wearing trousers in Sudan. In Egypt, women resort to the use of fake hymen to “restore” their virginity before marriage so their future husbands don’t divorce them. The re-virgination is also a way to prevent their very own family from embarrassment and avoid the dreaded and feared “honor killing” on them. The Egyptian government wants to ban the product and punish those who import and sell them to the public. We Pinoys cringe at the thought of such restrictive and oppressive practices of other cultures and pride ourselves with the freedoms we enjoy in our country. Yet for a long time we harmed ourselves the opposite way, by our government’s inaction and lack of political will to confront the most serious threat to our country today, the problem of overpopulation and its tragic consequence of poverty. At last, after more than a decade of debate, the RH bill is finally put to law. There is reason to rejoice. The approval of the RH bill in both legislative houses is an epiphany, a profound pronouncement to the world that Pinoys live in the present and not the medieval times. The approval is well timed to complement the country’s plan towards economic prosperity. Today, Pinas’ economic numbers are solid and the country is now an acknowledged emerging “Tiger Cub” economy of Asia poised to break out in the next 3 decades as the 16th largest economy in the world. The government needs to create a long term plan to ensure that the momentum gained is maintained and sustained in the long haul.


church_stateThere is no doubt that a large population creates a strong consumption economy but it is only strong when such population collectively contribute to “creating” the economy and not becoming a wholesale encumbrance, a liability to the government. Creating human beings isn’t the goal. Rather, creating human beings that won’t wallow in abject poverty and sub-human conditions should be the goal. A country’s exploding population that outruns economic growth exacerbates poverty. At some point it has to slow down, not totally stop and prudent population control strategy is the right approach. The RH bill will provide the much needed sex education to prevent teen pregnancy and help parents right size their families, to that which they can financially support. This kind of strategy is a necessary ingredient to any country’s social program, that is if such country believes that it no longer exists in the medieval times. It took 14 years for the bill to get passed. In the the end the state was able to sail through turbulent waters – the church’s incessant meddling and fear mongering. The reason for the separation of church and state in the constitution is express and unambiguous – to guarantee and maintain the secularity of government in the context of democracy.  In short, the law of the land not the law of religion is in force to rule the country. Unless we are prepared to run democracy with its core principles intact, we better return it to the Americans.


RHThe RH bill created a passionate debate amongst Pinoys where the pro and con supporters take a stab at the issue whenever they can, sometimes in a humourous, satirical fashion. I watched Ann Curtis diss Andy Eigenmann who in the movie A Secret Affair played the role of the slutty woman who was desperately trying to snatch lover Derek Ramsey from her – “ I wish the RH bill was approved long time ago so a slut like you could have been prevented to come into this world “. It sounded a tad gaudy and clumsy but hey, we hear the point 😉 Of course who could have missed that Iskul Bukol moment in the Senate when Sen. Sotto, a staunch opponent of the bill, asked what he thought about contraceptives for men said “ Is there such a thing ? If so then it’s the women’s turn to protest about it “ 😉 I have never been a fan of Sen. Miriam Defensor. This pugnacious and scrappy lawmaker, an outspoken supporter of the RH bill, is an acquired taste for most people but I thought she put the kibosh on the accusation of heresy when she compared herself to Nicolaus Copernicus, the 16th century astronomer whose theory that the earth revolved around the sun, not the other way around as believed by the Catholic church was condemned as heretical. Science proclaimed Copernicus’ discovery to be true, years after he posited his theory. Copernicus body was reburied in 2010 and proclaimed a hero 500 years after lying in an unmarked grave. He was never given a Christian burial because the church denounced his work until the day he died. You can trust I am with you on this one Miriam 😉 And who could forget Cong. Manny Pacquiao, who said that the 2 minute slumber he experienced from that Hulk Hogan punch courtesy of Marquez made him appreciate the sanctity of life even more, hence his NO vote for the bill. He obviously forgot the Incredible Hulk punch he delivered on Ricky Hatton’s head in 2009. It laid the poor guy motionless on the mat for 4 minutes. 😐


loserIn the aftermath of the bill’s approval, it is not uncommon for people to be disappointed when the result isn’t what they expected. But that’s the essence of democracy lest we forget – the rule of the majority takes precedence. The CBCP is extremely upset with the result. How dare the flock lend a deaf ear to its leaders ?

“I never thought of losing, but now that it’ s happened, the only thing is to do it right. That’s my obligation to all the people who believe in me. We all have to take defeats in life”. Muhammad Ali

Perhaps the bishops and cardinals must ask themselves the question – why have we failed ? What did we do wrong ? The result is crystal clear. It is not Pnoy nor the legislators. The church has clearly failed to connect with its people. In retrospect, the church, along with its anti RH bill supporters trumped their chance to win with their lame, fear mongering tactic of labeling contraceptives as abortifacients. In a way, they shot themselves in the foot with such idiocy. This scare tactic was meant to garner support from the bottom of the social ladder, the impoverished and the most ignorant among us. Contraceptives are already legal and available at the pharmacies to those who can afford a doctor’s prescription. When the government proposes to make contraceptives available to the poor – free to those who cannot afford, all of a sudden they’re abortifacients ! Since when ? If they are dead serious about their abortifacient pitch, why not lobby to take these pills out of the drug store shelves NOW ?

The CBCP’s call for civil disobedience and the exhortation to Catholic voters to defeat the pro RH politicians in this coming election is a clear violation of its statement of faith, a throwback to its mission as mediator and pacifier of men and a clear insult to the democratic processes and principles it must uphold, respect and promote. It is tragic that the church has engaged in the game of dirty politics to compensate for its shortcomings. It has failed to understand that genuine faith has to come from the heart – not coercion. Sadly is has behaved like the church of the days of the Inquisition, intent to destroy and burn those who contradict its views. It has refused to accept defeat in a democratic exercise blaming the heretics for the failure and not itself. Poor loser is such a heavy word. There is dignity in defeat. My wife’s response to the RH bill was bluntly simple – ” they could enact any law they want but the decision still rests with the woman, right ?

Archbishop Tagle said it best :

“It is tragic and unfortunate but we do not take it as a defeat of truth for the truth shall prevail. We call on all Filipinos to work towards healing, and journey together humbly and justly as children of God.

Now that’s the mark of a truly enlightened leader. I wish there are more church leaders of his mold.


I am back after a long recess. My brain is a little rusty. The reason for twiddling my thumbs and procrastinating for my comeback post was insanely simple – I couldn’t drum up a good title. I am serious. One thing I’ve learned is that a long lay off makes you lazier to write. Maybe the excellent summer weather or the relocation of my office to another city had to do something with it. I had such a terrific summer that I couldn’t muster enough gusto to write. I am disappointed that I could only whip up a measly 10 posts or less this year. Driving 1.5 hours one way ( more depending on traffic) may have contributed to my remissness. My early morning ritual at the driveway is like going to an excursion or fishing trip. My laptop bag, gym bag for the workout , lunch bag plus the usual 3 fruit a day combo, my holy trinity of fruits – banana, apple and orange – my tall coffee mug filled with extra large brewed java, a breakfast to go cereal bar takes me a couple of trips back to the house before finally slamming down the trunk of the car. At the height of summer I would have to throw my golf clubs in the trunk every now and then. After work a short trip to the driving range or a quick 9 hole at late twilight ( 5pm) at the nearby golf course extends my work day until sunset, except that in summer the sun sets at 930pm here. I had to watch TV too. Blogging had to take a back seat.

It’s autumn , getting a little colder therefore things move a little slower. No more golf, no more fishing, no more picnics, no more backyard bbqs. People seem to have a bit more time to recoup and focus on things they have missed during the busy summer season. You see I have a whole slew of topics I’d like to blog about but they’ve been sitting idle in my smartphone’s memo pad for months. I have no excuse for not having any ideas to blog about. It’s just plain laziness.


When I did my last post in April, Barack Obama was president. I was kinda speculating that in my comeback post he might not be the president and a republican would take over. I’m glad Obama won. I’m not American so I can’t vote but Barack Obama bailed out Wall Street and that’s the reason why I still have a job. I work for a Wall St. bank outside the US of A. Like the US auto workers who were bailed out by Obama, I would have no second thoughts of voting for the man. If he saved my job – he gets my vote. Prove me figging wrong – or can you ? No brainer eh ? Politicians fulfill the saying – you cannot establish a reputation by telling people what you are going to do. Yep, all the crap talk and the lies included. I shake my head knowing that Mitt Romney unequivocally opposed the bailout of the auto industry, yet in his campaign he trotted around GM, Chrysler and Ford counties asking for their votes and promising the world – a glaring testament to the two-facedness of politicians at its best on display here.

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Presidentiable or Scoundrel ?

images_presI’ve been monitoring this 2010 Presidentiables website and noticed the frequent changes of the personalities that seek to vie for the most powerful job in the nation. At this early juncture, the list is dynamic as political parties jockey and strategize, changing candidates depending on polls and survey results. Some candidates are incumbent politicians who have been endorsed by their respective political parties. Others are religious leaders who feel that their self-avowed righteousness is the antidote to the plague of corruption that could avert the social and economic atrophy that threatens the disintegration of the nation. Party-less as these two religious leaders are, I am amazed at their audacity. I have thought all along that in a democracy, the executive power of the president complements the legislative and judicial powers in the governance of the nation. Minus the political machinery that backs the president in the upper and lower legislative houses, how could independents Villanueva and Velarde possibly survive the presidency should one of them win? Is the Pinoy president an autocratic ruler, some kind of emperor whose subjects are beholden to his eminence and expected to acquiesce to his every behest?

images-erapAnd of course, the ultimate embarrassment to the Filipino race is the name of convicted plunderer ex-President Joseph Estrada who has the gall to run for the presidency. In a complete turnaround after his pledge not to run for public office as condition for President Arroyo’s imprudent pardon from his sentence of reclusion perpetua, Estrada is back on the campaign trail, trying to  reclaim  the throne that once was his. His name is back in the headlines reeking with more controversies as his political enemies dig more skeletons in his closet to smear his credibility. Lawsuits are being filed left and right – again. Haven’t we gotten enough of this vampire already? Why are we wasting time with a convicted felon who equates the presidential pardon (granted due to his frail health) as exoneration from his crime ? Worse, there are those among us who believe that Erap is the comeback kid, reminiscent of his movie exploits, and is on his high horse seeking to exact revenge on those who mauled and left him for dead 😦

The recipe for a consummate disaster for the nation would be an Erap win. It might be unlikely, but not mathematically impossible. Should it happen, it will be the triumph of poverty – both intellectual and spiritual. As Pinoy writer F. Sionil Jose aptly said ”

“We are poor because we have lost our ethical moorings. We condone cronyism and corruption and we don’t ostracize and punish crooks in our midst. We allow their practice because our loyalty is to family or friend and not to the larger good”

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Post Christmas Blues

santa_after_boxOnce the all the Christmas parties are over and done with, a respite from the rather strenuous holiday comes in form of a brief lull until the New Year’s celebration. The house is in a bit of disarray – garbage bags of boxes and gift wrap paper need to be recycled, fridge smacking full of left over food, car oil change schedule missed, and darn we worry about our diet which had been deferred until the season is over. It’s time to get back to routine things that were postponed all because of Christmas. There’s a sense of relief that big day is over but then there’s the anxiety on the ton-load of things to do 😯

When you think that the day after Christmas you can loaf around, it is not the case in this country. Dec 26th is Boxing Day, a statutory holiday and this is not to say that we spend the whole day watching boxing matches on TV – I wish we did 🙂 Boxing day is the day when prices of goods fall off from the cliff, a much anticipated day for people to shop and haggle with stores especially for big ticket items. It is a rather hectic day for some when they have to queue up early morning hours for the appliance stores to open before the stock runs out. If your wallet got burned with Christmas, it’ll be charred by Boxing Day if you’re not careful. Having said so, I did buy my large screen HDTV on a Boxing Day and boy it was a real sweet deal. This time, I’ve opted not to visit a store on Boxing Day. The bad news is Boxing Day prices last until New Year’s day. 😦

santaOne FM radio station here plays the yuletide carols ad free all day on Christmas Day since carols are are slowly taken off the air after Dec 25th. Maybe it’s just me but have you noticed the sudden surge of big name artists cutting Christmas albums lately? I don’t mind listening to Hall and Oates singing Jingle Bell Rock but James Taylor singing Santa Claus Is Coming to Town is kind of odd. He sounds like a drunken octogenarian peeing in the bushes, murmuring to the goblins to duck his pee. Michael Bolton singing White Christmas grunting and frowning like tacks are piercing his butt can cause depression to the weak hearted. Absolutely no comparison to the original Bing Crosby version. I was a bit shocked to hear Willie Nelson sing O Little Town of Bethlehem. It’s a rather solemn song fitting a church choir setting and Willie’s country style, mousy sounding pitch didn’t quite do justice to the song. Like it or not – time to say bye bye to the carols. Not in Pinas though. Last time I came home for vacation – the last week of Jan, the Little Drummer Boy was still playing his drums at the NAIA airport speakers 🙂

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Rethinking Capitalism

About a year ago, as I was flipping through my cable channels, I stumbled upon author Jeremy Rifkin lecturing to his studio audience the context of his interesting but rather disputatious book – The European Dream. Disputatious in a sense because he predicts that the recently formed European Union will replace America as the superpower of the future. To make the story short, according to Rifkin, “the European Dream, which champions communalism, sustainability, and human rights over property rights and radical individualism, is better-suited to 21st century challenges than the “American dream” of personal fortune, which may be obsolete”. Rifkin went on to say that Canada is caught between the American and the European dream but rightfully managed to preserve its identity and carve its own vision of the future.

The recent financial meltdown saw the US government manufacture money so it can bail out its ailing financial institutions. It likewise sought the help of its G7 allies to save the world from a paralyzing economic catastrophe. In the midst of the bedlam, French president Nicholas Sakorzky threw a curve ball by exhorting the leaders of advanced nations to “rethink capitalism”.  Perhaps the capitalism that America championed and revolutionized had grown into a runaway train that is bound to collapse into a barrier and disintegrate and derailment is the only cure. The CNN investigative report “ The Fall of the Fat Cats” seem to accentuate Sakorsky’s foreboding. The report said that prior to the financial crisis, Wall Street players were spending about $250 billion a year on personal acquisitions, a staggering amount that eclipsed the annual spending of the entire population of Italy.

The Greenspan economic poker strategy of betting heavily on debt as a prime mover and shaker of prosperity had finally unraveled and paid back all its gains. As early as 2005 , economist Ravi Batra wrote the book “ Greenspan’s Fraud” to warn the world of the impending disaster of an economic policy that put too much premium on productivity  yet freezing wages but encouraging people to get in debt to satisfy their acquisitiveness. Here’s a 10 minute interview of Batra on the Canadian Business News Network (BNN) on the subject.



Noam Chomksy underscores a strong point that resonates very well with the European dream and that is capitalism that works to seek for the interest of the greater whole, the community rather than personal gain. With this statement I am reminded of those capitalist nations that took a bit more taxes from the pockets of its citizens to institute a universal health care system for everyone. I also think that it is incumbent upon countries to prune capitalism to its needs, rather than emulating the system to the letter. Emulating the American style capitalism in Pinas may not work at all because the playing field is completely different and there are dynamics such as culture that can be incompatible hence ruinuous . Persisting in such an incompatibility is akin to stuffing the latest Microsoft Office Suite on a Windows 98 PC. It is recipe for disaster.

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