Saturday, February 28, 2009

Philippine politics is corrupt because Filipinos are corrupt?

With the rampant corruption in Philippine politics which caused the country loose key infrastructure project funding and continues to put it's reputation as the most corrupt in Asia, I remember the statement "politics is a reflection of culture." With this in mind, one can conclude that Philippine politics is corrupt because Filipinos are corrupt. Do you agree or disagree?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Remembering EDSA Revolution 1986

Where were you during the EDSA Revolution? I was in grade 5 or 9 years old at that time and I remember being glued to the TV watching all the events live with Angelo Castro and June Keithly as anchors. But what impacted me most of the event was my dad's reaction. Dad was quick to gather the whole family and lead all of us to pray for peace and for the country. To this day, I will never forget seeing my dad sob in prayer for his beloved Philippines. Thank you, Tatay for the positive influence!

In commemoration of the 23rd anniversary of the EDSA Revolution, I would like to once again pay tribute to the man who sparked a series of uprising against the former President Marcos that lead to the EDSA Revolution of 1986, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino.

The video clips here (part 1) and here (part 2) are excepts from the 1997 documentary Batas Militar, which I think is the best Filipino documentary ever produced (I'm so glad I have a copy of it). The clips show how who Ninoy is and how his death sparked the revolution against the Marcos regime.

I also want to post an excerpt from a speech Prison Fellowship founder and my "boss" Chuck Colson made in 1991 at Harvard University entitled The Problems with Ethics where he mentioned his encounter and relationship with Ninoy and his impact to the Filipino people.

...I remember getting on a plane and coming up to Boston to see our first grandson when he was born, back in 1981. A man got up in the aisle of the plane and was all excited to see me. He said, “Chuck Colson!” He was blocking the people coming behind me, so I finally got him into his seat. He was talking so fast that I couldn’t understand him. To make a long story short, he introduced himself as Benigno Aquino.

Aquino told me that when he was in jail for seven years and seven months, as a political prisoner of Marcos, he had read my book "Born Again". He was in a prison cell and had gotten down on his knees and surrendered his life to Jesus Christ. He said after that his entire experience in prison changed. Well, Nino and I became pretty good friends. We did some television programs together, and we visited frequently.

He called me up one day and said, “I’m going back to the Philippines.” I said, “Ninoy, do you think that’s wise?” He said, “I have to. I’m going back because my conscience will not let me do otherwise.” He was safe here in America, he had a fellowship at Harvard, he could lecture anywhere he wanted. He and his wife had everything they could possibly want.

But he knew he had to go back to the Philippines. “My conscience will not let me do otherwise.” He said, “If I go to jail, it’ll be okay, I’ll be president of Prison Fellowship in the Philippines.” He said, “If there are free elections, I’ll be elected president. I know I can beat Marcos. And if I’m killed, I know I’ll be with Jesus Christ.” He went back in total freedom. And he was shot and killed as he got off the airplane.

But an extraordinary thing happened-what’s known as people power. People went out into the streets. The tanks stopped. People went up and put flowers down the muzzles of guns: A tyrant was overthrown. A free government was reasserted because people believed in a power above themselves...

(image from Library Thinkquest)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Chris Brown and Rihanna were in the Philippines

Hit ang dalaw at concert nila Chris Brown at Rihanna sa Pilipinas last year. Ngayong may issue sa kanilang dalawa ng pangbubugbog, ano kaya ang reaction ng mga Pinoy fans nila? Sayang, isa pa naman sila sa mga hip hop artist ngayon na maganda sana ang impluensya sa mga kabataan dahil may pagka-wholesome ang kanilang image at mensahe ng kanilang mga kanta. Sabi ko nga sa The Point blog yung problema nilang dalawa is a realistic reminder that artists need more than clean lyrics to be wholesome -- more importantly, they need to live good lives to lend truth and credibility to the messages of their positive songs.

Friday, February 20, 2009

"The Prayer of Dependence" by Rick Warren

Here's an inspiring article referring to Rick Warren's recent sermon entitled "The Prayer of Dependence" at his mega-church Saddleback Church in California. Many Filipinos know Rick Warren because of his popular book "The Purpose Driven Life" which is also translated to Tagalog - the book is considered the second most translated book next to the Bible.

Rick reminds us that God will provide our needs, not a stimulus bill or in Filipino context, not more money, economic prosperity, a job, low gas prices or winning a multi-million peso lottery.

Here are my favorite sermon quotes that all Filipinos can also learn from:

Whatever your need is – physical, emotional, relational, spiritual, whether it is the need in your body, in your mind, or a need in your soul or a need in your spirit – God says ‘I will take care of that need if you will depend on me.

There’s nothing I need that God can’t supply... It means that as a child of God, as a follower of Christ I should never, and you should never, have a scarcity mentality.

What is the scarcity mentality? Scarcity mentality says, ‘I’m afraid there isn’t enough. There isn’t enough to go around. So I’m going to panic, I’m going to worry. I’m going to get anxious, I’m going to be afraid.' There’s more than enough to go around friends.

The number one way that God tests your faith? Money.

God wants to know: Are you going to worry, or are you going to trust me? … When I meet others' needs, God takes care of mine.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

US Stimulus Bill & Filipino World War II Veterans

US President Barrack Obama just signed the billion dollar Stimulus Bill aimed to jump start the ailing US economy and Filipino World War II Veterans have all the reason to celebrate. The Stimulus bill includes the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which authorizes the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund. The Equity Compensation Fund, which is estimated to cost around $198 million authorizes the US Secretary of Veterans Affairs to make a one-time payment to all eligible Filipino veterans who served in the Philippines during World War II. Filipino veterans residing in the US would receive a lump sum payment of $15,000 and non-US citizens or residents would receive $9,000 each.

I am happy that our veterans are getting the benefits they long deserve. I hope other Filipinos will help them on what to do next with the compensation and no one will take advantage of them. Because what's more valuable to our veterans is the unconditional honor, respect and recognition we can give them whether they are a thousand dollars richer or not.

Do you know any Filipino war veteran? What do you think is the biggest challenge they face and how can we help solve it?

(Image from Asian Journal)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

"Strike while the iron is hot" - GMA Calls for Moral Renewal

"Strike while the iron is hot" is a popular idiomatic expression that means do something immediately while you have a good chance of achieving success. The expression was sent to me by Lambat Philippines founder Conrado Tolosa to alert me of an Adminitrative Order (AO) issued by President Macapagal-Arroyo instructing all Cabinet and government agency officials to lead moral renewal to their respective offices.

“Moral renewal refers to values formation and ethical behavior for government officers and employees as well as strengthening of people’s values to achieve zero tolerance for corruption,” she said. All Cabinet and agency leaders should also promote the Filipino values of being “maka-Diyos,” “maka-tao,” “makabayan,” and “maka-kalikasan,” the AO said.

Moral renewal and the promotion of Filipino values is exactly the mission of Lambat Philippines as well as this blog The Living Rice. The AO is a good sign for Lambat and other ministries to expand and teach Filipino and Biblical values to all Filipinos.

I commend the formation of the AO and I am very hopeful that our government officials can uphold their ethical standards and influence their agencies at the same time. As for GMA, I am a bit skeptical of her sincerity because of the alleged corruption problems she and her husband are involved in that are still unaddressed. If she want all government officials to be influencers of good character and honest government it should start with her.

As for me and I hope the rest of the Filipinos, the AO is a call to be more watchful and demand more accountability in the government.

See full report on Manila Bulletin or below from Journal Online.

LEAD in the campaign to promote zero tolerance for corruption and other good deeds among government employees.

President Macapagal-Arroyo issued Administrative Order 255 directing all Cabinet secretaries and heads of agencies to lead moral renewal in their respective agencies.

“Moral renewal refers to values formation and ethical behavior for government officers and employees as well as strengthening of people’s values to achieve zero tolerance for corruption,” she said.

All Cabinet secretaries and heads of agencies should also promote the Filipino values of being “maka-Diyos,” “maka-tao,” “makabayan,” and “maka-kalikasan,” the AO said.

The order tasked all agencies to submit their respective Moral Renewal Program to the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission and the Office of the President within 90 days. The PAGC on the other hand shall submit regular reports to the President on the progress and implementation of the program copy furnished all the religious, civil society and civic groups that have been enlisted by the different agencies.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the President’s directive is in response to public opinion amid persistent allegations of corruption in government.

“If we are calling on the people to tighten belts and sacrifice in view of the global economic crisis, officials of government should also lead by example,” he said.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Kapuso, Kapamilya, KaBlog

Blog posts that caught my attention this week:

Probe of LPG ‘Shortage’ Should Start with ‘Big Four’ Firms
A supposed shortage in the supply of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), one of the prime commodities in the Philippines, has sent some quarters pushing for an investigation into the issue. The question, however, is the context within which the probe is to be carried out...

Top Ten Filipino Films, According to The Movement
One of the best and informative Filipino news sources online, , asked a cross-section of aktibistas in the Philippines what their top ten local films were. The poll was conducted in 2002 among 37 organizers representing people’s organizations and NGOs. Most of the films mentioned match up with many critics top lists, such as Lino Brocka , Ishmael Bernal and Mike De Leon’s martial-law era social critiques (Maynila - pictured above, Himala , Sister Stella L ). But it’s interesting, but not surprising, to note how high Orapronobis (Brocka, 1988) - Brocka’s most overtly political film (and which has been banned from screening in the Philippines) - is ranked.

26 Percent Growth of Outsourcing in The Philippines
Sound like good news but I still keep my fingers crossed. This was about the announcement or declaration made by the head of the country’s Business Processing Association, Oscar Sanez. He declared that there was a 26 percent growth compared to 2007 and the companies in this country earned 6.06 Billion dollars in 2008. Also, officials and industry leaders anticipates the continuous growth due to the global financial crisis because foreign companies are seeking ways to cut expenses by hiring cheaper labor like in the Philippines.

Bb. Pilipinas 2009 Notables
Binibining Pilipinas Charities, Incorporated (BPCI), a non-stock, non-profit organization founded by its chair, Stella Márquez de Araneta, and the organizer of the Philippines most prestigious beauty pageant and the Philippine franchisee of the three most prestigious beauty title in the whole universe, namely, the Miss Universe Pageant, Miss World and Miss International, has concluded its grueling search for who will make it to their initial screenings.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Probably the Best Place to Find Your True Love

Thought this is a good post to share on Valentines Day. Colleague and fellow FilAm and The Point blogger Angelise Anderson shares her thoughts on a best place to find your true love.

Young people today, of whom I am one, seem to have this focused goal of finding "the one." It makes sense, since most of our parents and grandparents were already married by our age. But I believe that sometimes the obsession can sidetrack us from really fully living. Funny too, because in that place of fully living, one is not only fulfilled, but also will meet those with common passions.

Fox 5 anchor Laura Evans met her husband, Mike Manatos, at the 2002 Make-a-Wish Foundation triathlon. A year later, they were married. Evans told the Washington Times that she recommends doing charity work as a means to romance because "you can meet like-minded people, have meaningful conversations, and it's not over a beer."

Too many singles, especially here in the city, spend their weekends clubbing, many hoping to meet someone. Dating coach Jess McCann says that's half the problem with meeting people at bars: "You don't know what to say." How do you strike up a conversation with a complete stranger, and how -- even more difficult -- do you luck-out on introducing yourself to someone who actually has the same calling and passions?

It's time for young people of this generation to step out of the traditional dating box and find their purpose in a world that desperately needs their helping hands.

John and Staci Eldredge, in the bestselling book Captivating, write, "There is much life saving that needs to be done yet, and someone needs to do it. We must live this out, no matter where we are." One should not be sitting around waiting, but working toward a goal, pouring one's life out for the purpose of helping the world in some form or fashion. As Frederick Buechner's wise words remind us, "The place that God calls us is that place where the world's deep hunger and our deep desire meet."

A word to the wise on getting involved: Pick a way to get involved that you are actually passionate about. Cathy Alter, author of Up for Renewal: What Magazines Taught Me About Love, Sex, and Starting Over, reminds her readers, "If you are doing things that are will attract people into your life with the same values. The most important thing is to do things you like to do. Don't do things because you think you will attract a man."
So if you are, or you know someone who is, looking for love -- and I know most of us know somebody -- please encourage them to start living their lives out for a cause, and wait to see God open doors to friendships and relationships that will not only change their lives, but the communities around them.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ninoy Aquino Assasination: An Unsolved Crime

Thought I'll share this editorial I read about the Presidential clemency GMA gave to the remaining soldiers convicted of assasinating Ninoy Aquino and Rolando Galman. Please share your thoughts on this issue. Is this fair? Has justice been served? How can Filipino pursue reconciliation with Ninoy's murders?

Pardon is granted to a convict who has admitted his crime, shown remorse and appears to be fully rehabilitated and ready to become a responsible citizen. In the case of the soldiers convicted of assassinating Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and then finishing off Rolando Galman, all continue to maintain their innocence and pointing to Galman as Aquino’s assassin — the same story given to the nation by the Marcos dictatorship. In the absence of an admission of guilt, there is also no remorse.

The slain senator’s heirs, led by former President Corazon Aquino, believe two crimes were committed on Sept. 21, 1983: the murders of two men, and the cover-up that followed. Both crimes remain unsolved, with the mastermind of the first felony still unidentified, and the second one a continuing offense, according to the family.

The views of Ninoy Aquino’s heirs are worth noting as two more of the convicts in the twin murders regained their freedom. Last week Felizardo Taran Jr. and Rolando de Guzman walked out of the New Bilibid Prisons after President Arroyo commuted their sentence. Their release followed that of M/Sgt. Pablo Martinez in November 2007. The releases have raised the hopes for freedom of the 10 more soldiers serving double life terms for the Aquino-Galman murders.

Taran and De Guzman are reportedly ailing and were freed for humanitarian reasons. Ninoy Aquino’s son and namesake, who is now a senator, countered that if the release was on humanitarian grounds, then a convict serving time for stealing a coconut should have been freed first. Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III pointed out that none of those convicted of assassinating his father and Galman has admitted guilt, shown remorse or apologized for their crime.

The absence of those factors in a presidential decision to free convicts is not new. President Arroyo also pardoned her predecessor, Joseph Estrada, as soon as he was convicted of plunder, ensuring that he would never set foot in a prison cell, even if to this day he maintains his innocence.

Unless otherwise stipulated in the sentence, convicts are entitled to presidential clemency and credits for good behavior while in prison. They can be freed any time after they have served their minimum sentence. But the sentiments of the heirs of Ninoy Aquino about this crime cannot be ignored. As far as they are concerned, justice in this case has not been served.

(Source: The Philippines Star, February 11, 2009)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Gambling Filipino

Umabot pala ng more than $100 million ang jackpot sa lotto recently. Sigurado akong humaba na naman yung pila sa mga lotto stations sa Pilipinas.

Whether you agree with me ot not, lottery is a form of gambling at napakalaki ng impluwensya ng sugal sa buhay ng mga Pilipino. Linggo-lingo makikita mo ang dami ng taong bumibili ng lotto tickets. Bukod dito meron ding organized gambling activities (illegal or legal) na popular sa mga Pinoy tulad ng jueteng, casino, sabong, karera, at iba pa. Siguro nga dahil sa kahirapan ng buhay kaya malakas ang sugal at tumataya na lang ang ilang Pilipino sa suwerte. Ang mga TV gameshows tulad ng Wowowee at Eat Bulaga ay sugal din. Milyong-milyong piso ang pinamimigay araw-araw at kapansin pansin na tinatarget nila ang mga mahihirap. Maganda ang kanilang intensyon, but good intensions doesn't always mean a good idea.

Ano bang ang Christian perspective sa gambling o sa Wowowee? I hope hindi ito lumabas na legalistic or parang nanghuhusga pero bilang mamamayan, dapat di tayo pabor sa gambling dahil sa problema na dulot nito sa bayan tulad ng corruption, poverty, broken family at krimen.

Oppose din tayo dahil it promotes poor work ethics. Mas maraming tao ang mas gustong tumaya o sumali sa gameshows kaysa sa magtrabaho, mag-aral o mag-ipon. Naghahangad ng instant gratification na hindi naman realistic o healthy lalo na sa mga mahihirap.

Kailangan mas maging demanding tayo sa ating mga lawmakers to make tighter limits on gambling and be tougher to those who promote and abuse illegal gambling.

More importantly, we should also oppose gambling because it encourages people to substitute faith in God’s provision with the illusion that trusting in luck is the surest route to wealth and happiness.

(image from The Philippine Star)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Kapuso, Kapamilya, KaBlog

Here's my first Kapuso, Kapamilya, KaBlog post that will feature snippets of selected blog posts that caught my attention this week. Visit, read and post your comments.

Filipino Voices blog posted some good thought provoking questions about the 2010 presidential elections that will serve as a good reminder for us to examine all aspiring candidates for experience, truthfulness and integrity. Will anyone tell me who should lead this country next so that any form of corruption can - no longer rear its ugly head?

Some good news from Good News Pilipinas about Filipino ingenuity and the transformation of former landfill Payatas, Quezon City: A Philippine social enterprise won the Grand Prize in the international leg of the Business in Development Challenge, an online business plan competition, presented in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Rags2Riches, whose bags are produced by women from Payatas, stole the spotlight from 32 other entries, no less than the best and the brightest after a series of rigorous elimination rounds done in nine BiD satellite countries worldwide.

Just when we thought we've seen the last Rocky movie, here goes a new tsismis of Rocky 7 on the planning table. It will of course feature grandpa Sylvester Stallone and no other than our very own Pambansang Kamao Manny Pacquioa. Click here for a blog post on it and share your joy or dismay.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Christian Books by Local Filipino Authors

As a book and product marketer for BreakPoint and Chuck Colson, I get free books in the mail all the time either as a gift or for review. Some are worth reading but most sits on my desk collecting dust mainly because the theme doesn’t interest me – these books will end up in a balikbayan box to be sent to my pastor friend in Manila. The US has so many Christian resources for everyone, books, DVDs, curriculum, etc. and my hope is that Americans will not take these for granted and realize how blessed they are to have tons of choices on church and Christian resources.

One thing I don’t like living overseas is my limited access to books written and published by Filipino authors. Especially now that Christian book publishing by Filipinos has grown a lot since I left the Philippines many years ago. How I wish I can easily drive to a National Bookstore or Power Books and browse new titles from our very own authors. That’s why I am happy to see this list (thanks Kevin!) of the best selling Christian books of 2008 by CSM publishing. This is a good way to support our authors. Aside from purchasing their books we can help by spreading the word about their published work. I haven’t read any of the books on the list, but from the information I got from the website, one or two on the list interest me. Please just check the website for the description of each book I have no time write them all down:

Top 10 Best Sellers by CSM Publishing:
#1 A 2 Z Creative Teaching Methods, by Lizette Knight and Sonia Silbor
#2 Till Debt Do Us Part, by Chinkee Tan
#3 Called To Excel, by Rex Resurreccion
#4 Yes! I’m a Pastor’s Wife 2nd Edition, by Leah Marasigan Darwin
#5 Basta Lovelife, by Kevin Sanders
#6 Asian Adventure, by Various Authors
#7 Young Women on the Journey, by Various Authors
#8 Walking On: The Best of Women on the Journey, by Various Authors
#9 True Love Waits Student’s Workbook, by Various Authors
#10 A New Breed: Call for a New Generation of Pastoral Leaders by Philip Flores

By the way, if you have any book recommendation by local authors (Christian or non-Christian) or if you know other sources of Filipino books or local publishers that I can browse online, please let me know. I'll share my book recommendations next time.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Pinoy's Journey to the Super Bowl

Here’s a clip of Journey’s performance during last Sunday’s Super Bowl pre-game show. For those who aren’t aware the Super Bowl is America’s football championship game and considered the biggest TV event of the year, drawing millions of American glued to their TV screens – parang PBA championship o laban ni Pacquiao sa Pilipinas. Our very own Arnel Pineda did an excellent job in showing off his talent; once again proving Filipinos are gifted musicians and can achieve anything. What a good inspiration to Filipinos.

Journey happens to be one of my favorite karaoke tunes, but the tune seem not to like me or my vocal capacity... more practice na lang muna.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Ang Katotohanan ay Yaong Sang-ayon sa Sinasabi ng Diyos

Ang paniniwala ay ang pagtitiwala sa katotohanan ng isang bagay, may katibayan man ito o wala. Ang isang paniniwala na batay sa katotohanan ay makapagdudulot ng benepisyo samantalang ang isang paniniwala na batay lamang sa haka-haka ay maaaring mauwi sa kapahamakan. Halimbawa, ang taong naniniwala sa suwerte ay madalas tumataya sa lotto, sa sabong o sa jueteng maski magkaubos-ubos man ang kanyang pera. At kapag mayroong mabuting bagay na nangyayari sa kanyang buhay sasabihin niya na siya ay sinusuwerte.

Ang tanong ay ito: Paano mo malalaman kung ano ang totoo?

Sa Genesis 2, nasasalaysay ang ginawang pagsuway ni Eba’t Adan sa kaisa-isang utos ng Diyos. Sinabi ng Diyos kay Adan na puwede siyang kumain ng bunga ng kahit anumang puno sa Hardin ng Eden maliban sa puno ng kaalamanan ng mabuti at masama. Binalaan siya ng Diyos na kung siya ay kakain ng bunga nito, siya ay tiyak na mamamatay. Ang sinabing ito ng Diyos ay pinabulaanan ng ahas sa hardin. Sinabi ng ahas kay Eba na hindi siya mamamatay maski kumain siya noong prutas na iyon.

Ang totoo ay yaong sang-ayon sa salita ng Diyos. Ang kasinungalingan naman ay ang kontra sa Kanyang salita tulad nang pagsasalungat na ginawa ng diablo. Sinabi ni Cristo sa Juan 8:44 na ang diablo ang ama ng kasinungalingan. Namatay nga si Eba’t Adan nang sila ay kumain ng bunga ng puno ng kaalaman ng mabuti at masama. Tinamo nila agad-agad ang kamatayang espirituwal (ang paghihiwalay ng Espiritu ng Diyos sa tao) at namatay din ang kanilang katawang lupa matapos ang maraming taon.

Minsan napag-usapan sa aming klase ang tungkol sa pagbabayad ng buwis. Noong mga panahong iyon, ang tawag sa BIR ay Bigay Ikaw Regalo. Balita ang pagiging corrupt ng maraming tax examiners. Balita rin na ang mga yumayaman sa lagay ay malaking magbigay sa simbahan. Naniniwala kasi sila na nababayaran ang kanilang mga kasalanang kapag sila ay nagbibigay sa simbahan o namumudmod sa mga mahihirap. Ang pagyaman sa ganitong iligal na paraan ay naging bahagi na ng kulturang Pinoy. Tinatawag natin ngayon ang nakapag-amas ng ill-gotten wealth na “ma-abilidad.” At ang ating maling katuwiran ay, “Eh, bakit pa tayo nasa puwesto?”

Sa Exodo 23:8, pinag-utos ng Diyos sa Kanyang bayan ang ganito: "Huwag kayong tatanggap ng lagay, sapagkat ang lagay ay nambubulag at nagbabaliko ng salita ng katarungan.” Sinasabi naman sa Proverbs 17:23 na, “Ang isang masamang tao ay tumatanggap ng lagay sa ilalim ng mesa upang patirin ang takbo ng katarungan.” (sulat ni Conrado Tolosa, Lambat - posted with permission)