Manny F. Dooc

76 posts

The inspiring journey of the regulatory framework promotion of pro-poor insurance markets in Asia

The Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit, more popularly known as GIZ in more than 120 countries where it operates, is a private sector entity founded and funded by the Federal Republic of Germany. It maintains an army of 24,977 employees worldwide, about 70 percent of whom are nationals of the host countries, with 58.8 percent of them women. GIZ’s primordial aim is to promote international cooperation for sustainable development and education activities around the world. 

It’s time to remove the taxes on microinsurance!

IT the beginning of this century, the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) had recognized the need to provide risk protection to the poor. This document stressed that “protecting the poor and the vulnerable groups is imperative in winning the battle against poverty.” It likewise called for the involvement of the private sector in the provision of services and other assistance to our impoverished population through innovative and sustainable models that will be affordable to them. 

SSS will not retire at 65

The Social Security System (SSS) observed its 65th birthday on September 30, 2022. No less than President Bongbong Marcos was the guest of honor to lead the commemoration of the anniversary of the implementation on September 1, 1957 of the Social Security Act of 1954 (Republic Act 1161). The law was enacted in 1954 during the term of President Ramon F. Magsaysay but became operational only three years later when President Carlos P. Garcia assumed office after the objections coming from certain business sectors and labor groups were resolved. 

The CJ as Executive Secretary

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court heads a co-equal branch of our government. Under our system of separation of powers, the Executive, Legislative and the Judicial branches of government enjoy separate and independent powers. This tripartite model prevents the concentration of power in one authority by providing for checks and balances among the three branches. 


I will never get tired of writing about the hero of my province, Wenceslao Quinito Vinzons, of Indan (now renamed Vinzons), Camarines Norte. He’s a great Filipino whose patriotism, services to his country and extraordinary achievements despite his abbreviated life were unique and unsurpassed. He was born on September 28, 1910, exactly the same date as former President Diosdado P. Macapagal’s natal day and the feast day of St. Wenceslao, 122 years ago but we have yet to see the likes of him blazing our firmament.  

September–A great month to be born

Legends are born in the month of September. A number of Filipinos who made names in our history, both heroes and anti-heroes, saw the first light of day in September. Four of our presidents are September-born beginning with Sergio Osmeña Sr. who became our country’s president following President Manuel L. Quezon’s death on August 1, 1944 while in exile in the United States during the 2nd World War. He was born on September 9, 1878 in Cebu. 

Ceboom and the bridges of Cebu country

I was in Cebu City last week to inaugurate a new extension office of Stronghold Insurance where I sit as its Chairman. It’s located in the bustling Cebu Business Park, now acknowledged as the heart of the city. It’s our 4th sales office in Cebu City and attests to the rapid business growth and booming economy of the place. The term “Ceboom” came about during the closing decade of the 20th Century when Cebu rose from economic stupor following a series of destructive typhoons, which ravaged the entire islands. Unable to get much needed relief from the national government, which was also reeling from the massive devastation brought by the calamities across the archipelago, the Cebuano political and business leaders joined hands to revive and develop the economy.

The Little President

The resignation of Executive Secretary Victor Rodriguez from his post last Saturday finally ended the speculations that he would be vacating his office following the sugar importation mess and other controversies that bogged the early days of the BBM administration. Rodriguez, however, was not the first appointed ES to leave or be fired from his post the soonest after a new President assumed office. Peter Garrucho left office just a month after he was named ES by President Fidel V. Ramos following a controversy over the grant of tax breaks to miners. Rodriguez outserved Garrucho by a month. A Little President cannot act puny if he wants to keep his big title. 

King Charles I and King Charles II: Two ill-fated kings

IF I were the consigliere of King Charles III, the newly installed King of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, I would have advised him not to take the name Charles for his royal name. He could have used any of his other names given by his parents, the late Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, which is more illustrious and respected in British history. 

The Asean is the cornerstone of our foreign policy

President BBM had just concluded his first foray in foreign diplomacy after completing his state visits to our Asean neighbors Indonesia and Singapore. It barely took him five days to complete his official tour of the two countries, but its impact on our trade and political relationships may outlive BBM’s presidency. Our relationship with our next-door neighbors plays a pivotal role in promoting and managing our international affairs. When the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) was established on August 8, 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand at the height of the Cold War, it was hailed as “the most successful intergovernmental organization in the developing world today”. It has provided a forum to our head of state to espouse his foreign policy to a friendly audience. 

Goodbye, Gorby!

No leader in modern history had attempted to transform his autocratic country with democratic reforms as Mikhail Gorbachev. Last Tuesday, he died at the age of 91 after a long and lingering illness while confined at the Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow.

The remarkable life of Antonio Cabangon Chua

Few Filipino lives, particularly those who settled or lived in Metro Manila, would be left untouched by the diverse and manifold businesses of a self-made billionaire, Antonio L. Cabangon Chua, who was fondly called  “Amba” by those who closely know him. Were he alive today, Amba would have celebrated his 88th birthday anniversary on August 30. And had he been born a day earlier, he would be sharing birthday with all the heroes of our land, although he was no doubt a hero in the eyes of the common tao from whom he sprang. His Horatio Alger story has given inspiration to many, and his rise from humble beginnings has propelled the young and the poor to succeed in life. On the other hand, had he first seen the light of day a day later, he would have shared the limelight with the true icon of the Filipino masses, the late President Ramon F. Magsaysay. Fate gave him his own day since Amba had led a unique life typically his own.

The inexorable rise of Cardinal-Bishop Luis Antonio Tagle

Last weekend, Pope Francis inducted 20 new cardinals mostly coming from small cities and developing countries. Pope Francis himself broke tradition when he was elected as the first Latin American Pope in 2013. This year’s batch of cardinals include priests from South Korea, Singapore, East Timor, Mongolia, Ghana, Paraguay, Nigeria, India and Columbia.

The continuing relevance of Ninoy Aquino

The yellow ribbons tied on the trees and lamp posts from the airport to his modest home in Times Street, Quezon City were long gone almost four decades ago but people still remember the tragic drama that unfurled on August 21, 1983. Everyone can recall where he or she was and what he or she was doing when news first broke out that former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino was shot while disembarking from his plane at the Manila International Airport. I was tending to my small patch of garden in my yard when my activist friend drove in front of my house to break the sad news. He was at the MIA earlier that day to welcome the arrival of Ninoy, together with a large throng of Ninoy supporters organized by the opposition elements led by former Senator Doy Laurel. They were the first to know about the assassination of Ninoy at the tarmac.   

The awesome tasks of the presidency

The recent debacle surrounding the unauthorized approval to import 300,000 metric tons of sugar has exposed the vulnerability of the President to the abuses of his subordinates. While the President is endowed with enormous powers, the challenges that confront the President are overwhelming. The Executive branch of government, which the President heads, has tremendously expanded over the years. The number of executive departments has greatly increased with the creation of new cabinet portfolios. 

Liza Araneta-Marcos: Our First Lady

AS legally defined, it’s been a while since we had a First Lady. The last time we had one was during President Joseph Estrada’s term when Dr. Loi Ejercito was our country’s most gracious host. Now, Filipinos can be truly proud of having Louise “Liza” Araneta-Marcos as the Philippines’s “prima donna.” A holder of Bachelor of Laws degree from the Ateneo de Manila University, she is the first lawyer to become a First Lady of the Philippines.

The first SONA of Marcos 1.0

President Bongbong Marcos, or Marcos 2.0, delivered his first State of the Nation Address yesterday before the Joint Session of Congress. It signals the opening of the regular session of both chambers of Congress following their respective organization where the Senate President and the Speaker of the House, as well as the other Senate and House of Representatives officials are elected and installed. In the SONA, the President reports on the state of the country, introduces his program of government and unveils his legislative agenda and priorities for the year. 

Apolinario M. Mabini: Triumph of mind over matter

One of the brightest minds that served the first Philippine Republic under General Emilio Aguinaldo was Apolinario Mabini. It was not an accident that he was dubbed the Brains of the Revolution since he was gifted with a powerful intellect and mastery of political craft, which had guided our republic during its birth. Unlike Andres Bonifacio, Aguinaldo and many other heroes who fought on the battlefields, Mabini wielded his intellectual prowess and mighty pen to oppose foreign invaders. Despite his physical condition, he was never daunted neither by the Spanish invaders nor the American colonizers until his death. Mabini had not fired a gun or wielded a bolo against any invaders who trampled our shores, but his contribution to gain our country’s freedom is immense. 

Back to school

MY grandson and his mom trooped to his school in Loyola last week to have his school uniforms fitted. He just completed his junior high school last term and will start Grade 11 next month when the school opens. He has grown tall, 5’10”, for his age and he could hardly fit into his old school outfit. Moreover, the color of the shirt and trousers for senior high is different from the lower grades. 

Nurse May Parsons: A modern-day shero

Another Filipina has placed our country on the world map. She has joined the ranks of famous achievers—the first and only Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz and the first Filipino to win the Nobel Peace Prize, journalist Maria Ressa. This time, a Filipina health worker based in the United Kingdom, May Parsons, has brought unprecedented honor to the Philippines when she received the George Cross Award from Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles of England on July 12, 2020. May received the prestigious decoration at Windsor Castle on behalf of the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS), to which she has been affiliated. As announced by the Royal Family, the George Cross Award is the highest civilian award for courage and bravery. King George VI first conferred it in 1940 to honor exceptional courage and heroism by non-military groups or individuals.         

The senseless killing of Shinzo Abe

Another senseless and dastardly act has been committed against humanity, which jolted the people around the world. Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan was assassinated last Friday while delivering a campaign speech ahead of the elections set over the weekend in Japan. Gun violence is almost unheard of in the country that has one of the strictest gun laws in the world, together with Denmark and Norway. But his assassin used a homemade gun. His grieving countrymen from all sectors of society lined up the streets to offer flowers and prayers at the site where he was shot and fell. 

Where do we stand on Roe v. Wade?

There’s a raging conflagration burning America right now. It’s an issue that has gripped the Americans overshadowing the horrors of the pandemic and the cataclysm of the war in Ukraine. The controversy came to a head when the US Supreme Court overruled its landmark decision in Roe v. Wade, 410 US 113 (1973) promulgated on January 22, 1973, which ruled that the US Constitution protects a pregnant woman’s rights to choose to have an abortion before fetal viability. Viability can occur at around 23-24 weeks of pregnancy. 

Passenger jeepney: King of the road no more

Once, they were immortalized in the popular ditty, “Manila, Manila.” And who could forget the iconic lines composed by the legendary Hotdog band, “Mga jeepney mong nagliliparan, mga babae mong naggagandahan…,” sang by both the “masa” and the elite; the young and the old. It’s the most beloved song, which makes every Filipino abroad feel homesick every time he or she hears it on the airwaves. Passenger jeepneys are the cheapest form of public transportation available to ordinary commuters. It’s only recently that the transport authorities have increased their minimum fare by P1 due to the dramatic surge of the price of diesel. Still, jeepneys remain the most affordable means of public transport compared to buses, taxis, MRT/LRT, or even tricycles. But it seems that the jeepneys’ popularity and dominance among our public commuters are under serious threat. 

Remembering Princess Diana

Today is Princess Diana’s 61st birthday. She was born on July 1, 1961 to Viscount Johnny Spencer Althorp and Frances Roche. She was raised in Sandringham, a luxurious 20,000-acre estate close to the royal family. They leased one of the royal houses inside the estate and young Diana met and played with the Queen’s sons Prince Andrew and Prince Edward whenever the royal family spent their holidays in Sandringham. Prince Charles was almost 13 years her senior. 

The president as a cabinet member

The president is the head of our government. Among others, “the President shall have control of all the executive departments, bureaus, and offices.” (Sec 17, Article VII, Executive Department, Philippine Constitution). This plenary power of the president was amply demonstrated when incoming President BBM announced on Monday, June 20, that he would temporarily assume the post as secretary of Agriculture. 

Goodbye to the SSS champions at the Senate

The graduating senators, Senators Franklin Drilon and Ralph Recto, and one re-electionist senator who failed to win another term at the Senate, Sen. Richard Gordon, will no longer be members of the Upper Chamber when the 19th Congress of the Philippines convene on July 25, 2022, but they will be surely missed by the million members of the Social Security System (SSS).

The vice presidency

Last Sunday, June 19, Sara Duterte-Carpio was inaugurated as the 15th vice president of the Philippines at San Pedro Square in her native Davao City. The date coincided with the 161st birthday anniversary of our national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal. Being the 3rd Sunday of June, it also fell on Fathers’ Day, which was widely celebrated in many parts of the world. 

Nora Aunor: Superstar National Artist

ON June 10, 2022, Malacañang declared Nora Aunor, fondly called “Ate Guy”, as one of the 8 National Artists of the Philippines for 2022. It is the highest honor conferred to a Filipino who has made outstanding contribution to the development of Philippine arts and culture. This much-coveted award was created under Proclamation 1001 issued by the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos on April 27, 1972. Ate Guy was given the honor for her excellent accomplishments in film and broadcast arts upon recommendation of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines. In cinema and film, the first awardee was Lamberto Avellana. Only a small number have won as a National Artist in this category. The list also include Gerardo de Leon, Lino Brocka, Ishmael Bernal, Eddie Romero, Manuel Conde and Fernando Poe, Jr.. National Artists De Leon, Brocka, Bernal, Conde and Poe were given the recognition posthumously. Most of them were prominent directors, except for Poe and Ate Guy who were noted more for their acting.  

Carlos P. Garcia: The champion of economic independence

Today marks the 51st death anniversary of the 8th President of the Philippines but hardly anyone remembers him now.  Except for streets and public schools named after him, no town, city, or province has been named after the late President Carlos Polestico Garcia. President Emilio Aguinaldo has two towns named in his honor—one in Cavite and another in Ifugao.

Food insecurity: The next pandemic

The significance of the problem of food insecurity was highlighted when the German ambassador to the Philippines, Her Excellency Anke Reiffenstuel and President-elect Bongbong Marcos discussed the subject during the former’s courtesy call to the incoming president. They agreed that food security shall be given priority in the Marcos administration and acknowledged the significance of the upcoming international ministerial conference on food security to be hosted by the UK on July 28-29, 2022. 

Imee Marcos: The super senator

When you’re the victor, you can say things you want to say and the world will listen. The landslide win of president-elect BBM has definitely emboldened the Marcoses to say that from now on “we will not revise anything, all we will do is to also make known, make public what we know of the side of the story which we have perhaps been remiss in not telling simply because we were scared of the traditional media, of all the abuse, diatribe, the insult.… We’ll just tell our side of the story the best we can.” 

The coming-of-age of VP-elect Sara Duterte

I’m not using the term “coming-of-age” as the transition from childhood to adulthood but the attainment of prominence and respectability of an unspoiled and unsophisticated woman from Mindanao who is now the incoming vice president of the Philippines. From a big fish in a small pond, she is now set to be a major player in the national stage where the crucial issues are acted upon and resolved. From a humble hizzoner of her native Davao City, she will now occupy the second highest position in our government—unquestionably a center of power in a highly centralized government, especially because she belongs to the ruling party.   

The politics of Susan Roces

She could have been an outstanding First Lady—a paragon of beauty, virtue and moral courage. Susan Roces, or just plain Inday Susan, led a full and remarkable life both in the real and make-believe worlds in which she lived in perfect splendor. She died on May 20, after she was brought to the hospital on May 17. Senator Grace Poe, her only child, told the media that Inday Susan died peacefully of cardiopulmonary arrest, surrounded by her family and close friends.

The dwindling opposition

It’s an understatement to say that there’s a dwindling political opposition in this country. Maybe the proper term is a dying or vanishing opposition. This is very evident in the results of the past two senatorial elections. In 2019, the entire opposition slate, the Otso Diretso or Straight Eight ticket representing the opposition coalition of the anti-Duterte elements was completely overwhelmed by the administration candidates. 

The story of Robinhood

His real name is Robinhood Ferdinand Cariño Padilla, but he is better known as Robin Padilla, the so-called “Bad Boy” of Philippine movies. Like his old namesake from Sherwood Forest, Robin is a swashbuckling hero to his legion of movie fans who have watched him portray anti-hero roles such as Anak ni Baby Ama, Bad Boy, Manila Boy and many other unforgettable action characters. Robin is not only a certified action man but a ladies’ man as well.

The Senate presidency

There’s no question about it. If Senator Imee Marcos wants it, she’ll definitely get the Senate presidency. It’s hers for the asking. And her colleagues, in deference to the President, will make no issue out of it. On the other hand, Senator Imee may pass it up to avoid public censure.

Vindicating the Marcos name

It’s Friday the 13th after the presidential election. To many who are unhappy with the results, the travails of the last campaign still hound and torment them. When one has given his heart and soul to make his or her candidate win, defeat is a bitter pill to swallow. Losing is one thing; getting steamrolled is another. Buoyed up by the massive record attendance at VP Leni’s campaign rallies, it was hard to accept the one-sided early returns fed on TV screens. 

‘The audacity of hope’

Soon the circus will leave town and the most entertaining spectacle that visits us every three years will be gone. Nothing but the memories of the tumultuous campaign and the vivid colors—red, pink, blue, and green—that permeated our political landscape will remain. But the jokers and the clown will still be with us and continue to pester our political life. Whatever the outcome, the 2022 presidential election will stand out as the first presidential campaign when the spirit of self-help and volunteerism has reached its pinnacle. 

Is Armageddon coming?

TWENTY nineteen  to  2022 may be the most momentous years during the past 80 years in world history. In 2019, the world was hit by a pandemic, which has devastated the entire planet. It has caused untold human tragedy causing dramatic loss of human lives. It has triggered the most serious economic crisis the world has known since World War II, with undetermined number of businesses shuttered and hundreds of millions of jobs lost. And before the pandemic could be contained, Russia invaded its neighbor and former fellow member of the Soviet Union, Ukraine. 

It’s the economy, stupid!

IF there is one saving grace of the present administration, I think that even the fiercest of the President’s critics will grudgingly admit that it’s the economic performance that will define the Duterte legacy. It’s not the much vaunted drug war, which has spawned too much violence and extrajudicial killings nor the government’s costly and yet anemic response to the pandemic, which has buried us in debt. 

Catching up is hard to do

Based on the poll surveys, it seems that Vice President Leni Robredo and the other presidentiables are not gaining much ground, if they are making any, on the frontrunner, former Senator Bongbong Marcos. The numbers and ranking of the six prominent aspirants, to wit: BBM, VP Leni Robredo, Mayor Isko Moreno, Senator Manny Pacquiao, Senator Ping Lacson and Ka Leody de Guzman have hardly changed since the surveys were conducted last year. 

A tale of two US presidents

No two American presidents differ as night and day in their dealings with Russia than that of President Joe Biden and former President Donald J. Trump.  Their contrasting styles are made more pronounced by the fact that they succeeded each other and their posture toward President Vladimir Putin during their term of office are too recent to be overlooked. Biden is an implacable foe who never hesitates to call out Putin’s despicable conduct, while Trump is a condescending figure who never misses the opportunity to prostrate himself before the Russian ruler despite the latter’s egregious behavior.

When the US invaded Russia

Russia has been very much in the headlines today. Its unprovoked and unjustified invasion of its neighbor and former member of the Soviet bloc has been unparalleled in recent history. The atrocities it has committed—ruthlessly bombing civilian targets including schools, hospitals, cultural centers, children’s hospices, humanitarian corridors for fleeing children and women, etc.—in prosecuting the war will be unmatched in the history of warfare. Guided missiles and powerful artillery rain on Ukraine everyday leveling to dust its entire cities. Russia, next only to the US, is the second strongest military power in the world but it has the largest number of nuclear warheads in its stockpile. 

Christiane Amanpour: The accidental journalist

Christiane Amanpour will not be a stranger to anyone who hankers for international news. Her husky voice and British-accent is familiar to CNN viewers around the world where Amanpour serves as CNN’s chief international anchor. In the raging war between Russia and Ukraine, you won’t get the complete coverage of the war unless you hear Amanpour’s report.

Russia: A victim of unprovoked and unjustified war

Russia has not always been the aggressor of the war it has gotten involved in. On June 22, 1941, Nazi Germany launched a surprise attack on the Soviet Union. This military offensive was code-named “Operation Barbarossa” and was executed with the typical blitzkrieg fashion by the German military forces. And this offensive was launched despite the existence of a nonaggression treaty entered into by the two countries shortly before the outbreak of the global hostilities. 

The bastardization of the party-list system

One of the most heralded and lauded provisions embodied in our 1987 Philippine Constitution was the inclusion of the party-list system in our fundamental law. Political scholars who had followed the deliberations of the 1986 Constitutional Commission that drafted the Constitution had touted it as the most significant act that returned power to the people. If the Edsa People Power had demonstrated to the whole world that the sovereign power resides in the people, not with the authoritarian usurper, the institutionalization of the party-list system ensures the marginalized sectors that comprise the majority of our population of representation in the highest lawmaking body of our government. It has given true meaning to our republican form of government where the voices of all sectors of our society—the workingmen, women, youth, farmers, fisherfolk, and the poor and the powerless—have the chance to be heard. 

The women’s votes

Election is a numbers or statistics game. The critical demographic factors that figure in politics include age, gender, education, religion, social and political affiliation, cultural background and economic status. Every candidate and his political operatives consider these factors and attributes in mapping their campaign strategies. Of these, gender plays a major consideration and every political strategist worth his salt regards the women’s votes as a decisive component in getting his candidate elected into office.   

The war in Ukraine

IT is incredible how a former actor and comedian can lead his small, beleaguered nation and withstand the onslaught of one of the most powerful military powers in the world. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy leads his country as it battles its autocratic neighbor, Russia, on all fronts as the latter relentlessly launches massive attacks by land, air and sea. As his country’s commander-in-chief, Zelenskyy has demonstrated unflinching courage in the face of a formidable and ruthless enemy. The fierce Russian army is trying to enter the capital city, Kyiv, where Zelenskyy and his top government officials are holed up with their loyal troops. 

Electing a majority president

Without counting the 1986 snap presidential contest between President Ferdinand E. Marcos and challenger Cory C. Aquino since the final number of votes obtained by the two protagonists was never settled, our last majority elected president was President Marcos when he overwhelmingly defeated Senator Sergio Osmeña, Jr. in the 1969 presidential election. Marcos garnered 5,017,343, or 62.24 percent, votes against Osmeña’s 3,043,122, or 37.75 percent, votes. While a dozen candidates ran for president that year, 10 of them were nuisance candidates. Only the bets of the two major parties, NP’s Marcos and LP’s Osmeña, were the serious contenders. In fact, not one outside the two main rivals obtained 1,000 votes out of 8.2 million who voted in that election. 

What will be the face of the new Senate?

The senatoriables may be classified into three distinct groups based on the official list of candidates certified by the Commission on Elections. The first group will be the reelectionists, namely: Senators Richard Gordon, Risa Hontiveros, Leila de Lima, Win Gatchalian, Joel Villanueva and Migz Zubiri. They are all able and competent legislators who have made significant contributions in lawmaking. As chairmen of their respective committees in the Senate, they have distinguished themselves by sponsoring major bills benefitting their constituencies.

Election as guardrail of democracy

Democracy is the lynchpin of a society that values liberty, and the ultimate standard of legitimacy of any government that imposes authority upon its people. Unlike an authoritarian system of government where political power rests with the dictator or the oligarch, power and privilege belong to the sovereign people in a democracy. Etymologically, the term is derived from two Greek words, demos (meaning people) and kratos (rule). Roughly, it translates to “rule of the people,” or by extension “people power.” 

The never-ending issue of corruption

SO, what else is new? Once again, corruption is a dominant issue in this year’s elections. Since we gained our independence from the US in 1946, corruption issues hurled by opposing candidates against each other have marred our elections. In the first post-war presidential election on April 23, 1946, Manuel Roxas’s paramount issue against the incumbent, President Sergio Osmeña Sr., was graft and corruption in the government. Right after the war, the US provided massive financial aid to the Philippines for rehabilitation and reconstruction, and Roxas claimed that rogue government officials in the Osmeña administration personally profited from it. Jose P. Laurel and Ramon Magsaysay raised the same issue against President Elpidio Quirino when they challenged the incumbent president in the presidential elections of 1949 and 1953, respectively. 

We should keep the Senate a bulwark of freedom

The Senate of the Philippines remains as one of the most revered institutions in our country. On October 17, 2016, the Senate observed its Centennial Anniversary and this year it will turn 106 years old. It’s been a long time since the first Senate President, Manuel Luis Quezon, banged the gavel to start its first session ever. Its inaugural session was held in the big living room of Goldenberg Mansion near Malacañang, which used to be the residence of Admiral Patricio Montojo of the Spanish navy until 1898 when Montojo was defeated by Admiral George Dewey in the Battle of Manila Bay. 

The gathering war clouds

The massive deployment of over 125,000 Russian troops along the border of Ukraine has sparked fears that Russia is preparing to invade its neighbor. This is the largest massing of Russian troops since the Cold War. Russia is strongly opposed to Ukraine’s desire to join North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It claims that Nato’s eastward expansion into the former Soviet republics will pose a threat to the country. It demands that Nato withdraw troops and war equipment from Eastern Europe and a security guarantee that Nato will bar admission of erstwhile member-states of the former USSR into Nato. This is, however, unacceptable to the Western countries. Hence, the ongoing impasse between Ukraine and the western countries forming the North Atlantic Alliance.

The independence of the Comelec

After the entire opposition slate of the Lakas ng Bayan (Laban) coalition led by then Sen. Ninoy Aquino lost in the 1978 Interim Batasang Pambansa regional elections, the late Speaker Ramon V. Mitra was quoted as saying: “I won’t run anymore in any election until the Comelec has learned how to count!” The disastrous defeat of all the 21 opposition candidates that included Neptali Gonzales, Ramon Mitra, Jr., Tito Guingona, Aquilino Pimentel, Jr., Ernesto Maceda, Charito Planas, Soc Rodrigo and many other household names in politics reflected the bankrupt state of the electoral process in our country during the dark years of martial law. After the Edsa Revolution, we have had relatively peaceful and clean elections and an orderly transition of power from one administration to the next. Unfortunately, it was marred by the so-called “Hello Garci tapes,” which seriously cast doubt on the electoral victory of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo over her leading opponent, the late actor Fernando Poe, Jr.  We trust that the 2022 presidential election will be free from any controversy or anomaly to spare our nation from political tension and civil unrest. 

Happy birthday, President Cory!

Today marks the 89th birth anniversary of the late icon, President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino. President Cory would be 89 years old today if she were still alive. Our oldest living former president, President Fidel V. Ramos who succeeded her in office, who is now 93 years old is older by four years. She died at the age of 76 on August 1, 2009 after she was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2008. Her family declined the government’s offer for a state funeral but her wake was held at the Manila Cathedral where a throng of people paid their last respects. Just like her martyred husband, President Cory’s flag-draped casket was borne on a flatbed truck enroute to her tomb during the funeral procession joined by hundreds of thousands of people. 

Stonewall Jackson: The great general of the American Civil War

I’M an incurable romantic when it comes to the heroic exploits of the famous American generals who figured prominently in the US Civil War in 1861 to 1865. When I was in high school, I would spend my Saturdays at the public library reading about the military campaigns waged by the two sides distinguished by the color of their uniforms—blue for the Union soldiers and gray for the Confederates. I never missed every movie featuring the memorable battles during the civil war. My favorites include Gettysburg, Glory, Horse Soldiers and Shenandoah. Of course, the classic film of epic length is the ultimate movie about the civil war, Gone With the Wind, which depicts the life and culture of the South just before and after the Civil War. 

A battle of taglines

IN every presidential election, a battle royal of taglines erupts among the presidentiables to promote their candidacies. Presidential taglines are the political campaign slogans. They are normally catchy and pithy phrases that project the best feature of the aspirants to keep them alive in the minds of the voters.

Winnowing the chaff from the grain

There was a rich harvest of candidates for national positions —for president, vice president and senators—after the deadline for filing of certificates of candidacy closed on November 15, 2021. A total of 97 individuals had filed their COCs for president and 29 for vice president. An even bigger number of people, a total of 178, had sought to become senators representing various political groups and colors of the rainbow. It’s heartening that many Filipinos respond to the call of public service. 

To Sidney Poitier, with love

IN one of my forays in the secondhand bookstores at the mall, I found a treasure of a book. It was inserted in between heaps of children’s literature where no serious adult reader would scour. Obviously, it was left there by one who had browsed it to keep it from being discovered by others. Either he or she did not have the cash to buy it or decided to pick it up later when he or she gets the money. The book is entitled, “The Measure of a Man—A Spiritual Biography”, a candid memoir of the first black actor, Sidney Poitier, who won the Oscar Best Actor Award for his excellent performance in Lilies of the Field in 1964.

Arch. Desmond Tutu: The moral force and conscience of his nation

IT must be hard to walk in the shadow of Nelson Mandela, a man described as South Africa’s “combined Washington, Lincoln and Gandhi,” but Archbishop Desmond Tutu held his own against his country’s foremost icon. If Mandela was the greatest black South African political leader and acknowledged as the father of his nation, Archbishop Tutu was the moral force that opposed the apartheid system, which promoted racial segregation and white minority rule in South Africa. While Mandela was still imprisoned in Robben Island, Tutu prominently led the anti-apartheid movement as a human rights activist.

The President’s rhetoric

I never had the ears of the President although we have known each other long before he became the official tenant of Malacañang. He may not even know that this column exists, but it does not deter me from giving this unsolicited advice. I just hope that his confidants or any well-meaning friend may relay to him my message. As a politician steeped in the culture of local politics, he loves mixing with the crowd and engages them in small talks and banter. 

Ka Leody: The Labor Candidate

Promoting labor and protecting the workingmen is always in the campaign planks of every presidential candidate in our country. One’s political platform is incomplete unless the cause of labor is covered by anyone seeking a public office. Creating jobs for our people is a genuine concern of every incoming administration from Quezon to Duterte. High employment rate is a valid yardstick to measure the health of our economy. And a president’s political fortune may rise or fall depending on how well he or she has served the workers’ interests. 

Bongbong Marcos’ inexorable march to Malacañang

The latest survey results released by Publicus Asia Inc., an independent and non-commissioned polling conducted on December 6 to 10, 2021, showed presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos (BBM) increased his commanding lead over his political rivals. More than half or 51.9 percent of the voters polled have indicated BBM as their preferred candidate for president. This is 2.6 percent higher than the 49.3 percent votes that he garnered the last time Publicus Asia Inc. held a similar survey last November 16 to 18, 2021 right after the deadline for the filing of substitution of candidates had expired.

Dr. Jess P. Estanislao: A Quintessential Filipino

Today is the birthday of Jesus P. Estanislao—the foremost advocate of good corporate governance in our country. Jess, as his colleagues fondly call him, graduated summa cum laude from the University of San Carlos in his native Cebu with a degree in Philosophy. He earned his Master’s Degree in Economics at the Fordham University in New York and his Ph.D. in Economics at the Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts where he was also a Teaching Fellow and Research Fellow.

Bob Dole: The Great Political Wit

Let’s take a breather from local politics for a fresh change. Forget about Mayor Isko’s ambivalence, VP Leni’s puritanical politics, BBM’s revisionism of political history, Lacson’s positive approach in campaigning and Pacquiao’s populism and money politics. I have generously devoted many columns about the rough-and-tumble game of presidential politics in the past. I hope they helped crystallize somehow the issues in this coming election. But as the former Kremlin tyrant, Premier Joseph Stalin, once said: “It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.” I know we can do better than that.

Gang of Four or The Fantastic Four?

The current presidential contest is full of surprises just like the gift packages that we unwrap on Christmas Eve. Earlier, despite topping all pre-election surveys, we were all jolted when Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio announced that she was seeking the vice-presidential seat after all. She had opted to run in tandem with former Sen. Bongbong Marcos who will be her standard bearer. Her decision had gravely miffed her father that upon learning of his daughter’s action, the President announced in exasperation that he would file his candidacy for vice president to contest his daughter’s bid, although he abandoned it over the weekend and filed his COC for senator instead. In another unexpected move, Sen. Bong Go, who had previously slid down to VP position to open the presidential slot to Mayor Sara, refiled his COC for president under Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan (PDDS). 

The Robot as a Poet Laureate

On the 700th death anniversary of Dante Alighieri, the great Italian poet who wrote the “Divine Comedy,” he had a special guest. She’s Ai-da, the first robot who read and performed poetry in public that were written by its own AI algorithms. The performance was held last Friday at the Oxford Ashmolean Museum. 

The business of election polling

Conducting a survey to determine voters’ opinion, preference or attitude regarding particular candidates, parties or platform of government has been a fixture in our electoral process. No election has taken place without any pre-election polls being undertaken to gauge the electors’ sentiments and guide political campaigns to achieve victory in the election. By far, polling is a reliable tool to obtain both qualitative and quantitative data, which capture public opinion from a random sample of the population.

Doy Laurel: In memoriam

HE could have been the president of our country had he played his cards well. Salvador Hidalgo Laurel, better known as Doy, was at the cusp of succeeding President Cory C. Aquino in
Malacañang as he was elected as her vice president in the snap election of 1986 where he and Cory C. Aquino, his standard bearer, claimed victory over Marcos and his running mate.

Farewell, PGen. Guillermo T. Eleazar

Tomorrow, November 13, is Police General Guillermo Lorenzo Tolentino Eleazar’s 56th birthday anniversary, the mandatory retirement age for Director General of the Philippine National Police. General Eleazar, fondly called “Guillor” or “Gimo” by his friends and peers, will leave his post after 34 years of service with the Philippine National Police. He’s the 6th PNP Chief to be appointed by President Duterte, after Generals Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa, Oscar Albayalde, Archie Gamboa, Camilo Cascolan, and Debold Sinas. He serves as the 26th PNP Chief since the civilian police force was formally reorganized pursuant to RA 6975, otherwise known as “An Act Establishing the Philippine National Police” in 1991.

‘Dr. Andrew L. Tan: The Visionary, The Philanthropist’

The award-winning coffee table book on the above-captioned subject deals about the life and work of an extraordinary man who accumulated his millions well before he was 30. He was not born to wealth and privilege. Dr. Andrew Lim Tan was born in Fujian, China. At age 4, the family moved to Hong Kong where he grew up. His family lived in a tenement unit shared with several families under sordid conditions. When he was 16, his family migrated to the Philippines where they rented a place in Sta. Cruz, Manila to be near to school and work. 

‘The future is female’

Time is past when women stay at home, tend to their children and keep the house. Those were the halcyon days when the mother was appropriately called a housewife and a homemaker. But over time, there has been a remarkable transformation in the role of women in our family and society. The tremendous social changes driven by growth in education, science and technology have opened up wide opportunities for women and redefined their status in the community. Even before the landmark book, The Feminine Mystique, was published in 1963, there had been a growing voice from throngs of women to expand their limited gender roles.  

Co-housing during the pandemic

Studies show that the mental well-being of people is a major casualty of this pandemic. Isolation, financial insecurity and, worse, bereavement trigger mental conditions and exacerbate existing ones. These cause stress, anxiety, loss of sleep and even drinking or drug use if not addressed appropriately. Severe isolation caused by long lockdowns, or quarantine, designed to protect the individuals from the pandemic may lead to mental and neurological problems. People under such conditions become even more vulnerable to the Covid-19 they fear from. It becomes a Catch-22 situation.

Atty. Jesus Melchor V. Quitain: The President’s Chief Legal Beagle

It’s definitely a giant leap from being the City Legal Officer of Davao City in 2001 to become the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel of the President of the Philippines in 2021. It took 20 long years and countless other public positions in between before Atty. Jesus Melchor Vega Quitain was appointed to his current post. Becoming the foremost resident lawyer of President Duterte in Malacañang is a distinct honor accorded only to one who does not only know the law but most importantly the President who is his principal client.

‘Goodbye, I do!’

I was disturbed by a recent article published in the New York Times which said that “married people will soon be the minority” in the United States. This observation was based on a study conducted by the Pew Research Center in the US, which showed “that in 2019 the share of American adults who were neither married nor living with a partner had risen to 38 percent.”