The heat is on!
The past days have been really hot and we can actually feel the start of summer in the Philippines. Although, PAGASA has not yet declared the start of the much-anticipated season, a lot of Filipinos are already starting to plan their summer vacations as early as now. We are expecting a lot of people to start heading out of the beach to cool down from the heat of this year’s summer.
As the heat of the season seeps in, the heat is also building up in the party-island of Boracay. The devastation on the island during the height of a weather disturbance brought to light a pressing environmental issue that has long hounded the country’s premier tourist destination – the slow decay of its natural resources driven by its tourism activities.
I still remember my first Boracay visit. I was in college and, as a summer treat from my dad, he gave us a 3-day trip to Boracay. Outrigger boats were allowed to dock along the shores of White Beach, back then, on three stops – Station 3, Station 2, and Station 1. The beach front was immaculately clean, the shoreline was clear of obstructions, and the place was void of the usual restaurants that you see in the city. This was the Boracay that I fell in love with.
Things quickly changed after my third visit. Outrigger boats now docked on the side of Manoc-Manoc. Establishments were getting closer to the shoreline. City businesses have opened their own branch by the beachfront. More establishments meant more tourists. More tourists meant that solid waste was going to be a problem. From that point, I knew that problems were starting to mount and manifest. Boracay went on to become one of the top beach destinations in the world and with it came more tourists which translated to aggravating the island’s environmental issues. It was a time bomb waiting to explode.
The aftermath of the flooding in Boracay is THE effect of a long-standing disregard of local officials in properly managing their tourism programs. You can point a finger to business owners but I think local officials are to be blamed fully for the current situation of Boracay. The flooding was a result of the local government’s negligence and greed.
It will take time to fix the problem of Boracay and it will take longer to rehabilitate the sound environmental state of the island. The threat to temporarily close down Boracay for a period of 6 months is a glaring option to start the ball rolling to fix the problem. Again, it is just the start of what is long overdue. Yes, people’s livelihood will be affected if it happens but it is a consequence that locals will have to take for allowing years of neglect. The local’s passive behavior and silence towards the issue for years played a part in Boracay’s current state. Filipinos need to realize that we need to get involve with the state’s affairs, most especially at the local level. The local’s passive behavior towards their local government officials and their actions aggravated the situation. Remember, the cohesive action of the local government and the community is essential for an effective and sound community program, in this case, Boracay’s tourism program.
The sound option to close down Boracay for 6 months is also consistent with this administration’s resounding call for political will. It can be done if the government wills for it. The “threat” created a stir that has so far resulted to improvements in Boracay. I have seen pictures on social media showing a wider shoreline along the beachfront after the local government went on to doing their job. Local establishments willingly dismantled these structures in compliance to the local government’s ordinances. Now, the beach looks better and can breathe better.
These immediate effects tell us two things about Filipinos – the first being political will. Political will makes the government work for its people. Second, Filipinos work better and become more law abiding when “threatened”. Let us face it, most Filipinos behave better and are more disciplined when they are out of the country compared to being here in their homeland. The difference all stems to the application of the law. We, Filipinos, feel that we can always go around breaking the law in our own country hence the lack of discipline. That is one reason why I like PDiggy – he shows us that political will is key to making our country better and he instills discipline in us. Case in point, Philippine Airlines paying their long overdue debt and Boracay’s improvement.
Boracay’s problem serves as an eye opener for everyone. It is not a problem that is endemic in Boracay. It is a problem that is affecting prime tourist destinations in the country and will affect our tourism sites that are being geared for exposure. As early as now, we are seeing local governments of other prime destinations start cleaning up on their acts for fear of suffering the same fate as that of Boracay. The #UsapangBoracay turned a local issue to a national concern. I am glad, as an advocate of local travel, that it is being addressed by LGUs now. It is important for the LGUs and the community to realize that they need to work together towards a sustainable tourism program. Please take note of the operative word… “sustainable”.
It was interesting that February ended quietly contrary to how it started – with a lot of noise. It was not a surprise as to how much noise were created on social media against the present administration to the point that PDiggy was even reported as a “threat to democracy”. What is more interesting is that all the noise created falls in line on the month when we commemorate EDSA 1 – the pinnacle of the supposed yellow revolution.
Just like previous celebrations, this year’s highlight was the getting together of the supposed prime movers of the bloodless revolt along the country’s most popular highway. Only this year, Fidel V. Ramos was the only man on the pedestal. There were a few celebrities and politicians who were there to share their supposed “passion for freedom”. However, it can be noticed that the attendees and the crowds are thinning out year after year, and this year was no different.
San na nga ba napunta ang sinasabing “diwa ng EDSA”?
Let me be straightforward, I stopped believing in EDSA. All the EDSA mindset ingrained in me were shattered a couple of years after EDSA Dos. I was there on the very same street taking my stand on my generation’s own version of people power. They overthrew a Marcos while we overthrew an Erap. They installed a Cory while we installed a Gloria. In the end, it was all for nothing. Decades later, we are still in the same shit where we started. My only consolation was that our girl was far better than theirs.
The breakdown of my EDSA mindset started after watching ERAP rise up again in the political scene – to a position where our national leaders deem he should be. Its funny how “people” rose up against him to be later pardoned and be elected into a government position again, considering that he was accused and proven guilty of plunder. His case made me think and realize that he was either a sacrificial pawn who played his part because of his popularity or he was legitimately ousted because he was a President who was not popular among the “in crowd”. In both cases, members of this political dynasty dusted the road for his ouster. Too bad that I fell for their prey.
EDSA 1986 was a beacon of hope for many Filipinos. The bloodless revolution was our pride and was a symbol of a promise for a better nation. It was so inspirational that it moved my generation to have our own. It embodied the Filipinos desire for change.
I asked my dad his thoughts on EDSA One having lived through the Martial Law years and the bloodless revolution as a military man. He stated his position very clearly – he realized through the years that it was wrong. Initially, he believed the movement in EDSA was the answer to the Filipino’s woes during those times if the initial plan was followed. But the breakdown with the plan after the shift in power made our country decay.
32 years after EDSA, I think most Filipinos have realized that it has failed us. The hopes that we pinned on that single event have shifted power from one to a few, who abused the Filipino’s vunerability. These people are no different to the man that they abhor and claimed that they stood up against. The only difference is that these people hid behind the guise of our percieved civil liberties and the idea that we are free. They blinded us while they milked our country.
One good thing about my EDSA realization is that I asked and read more about the supposed “dark days of the country”, not only on what they want me to believe in, but also the other side of the coin. Interestingly, I am finding a lot of information being ommited in our history. Philippine history have long been revised by victors through ommission and I challenge those who are reading this to read up and ask your parents and the elders about life back then. It is not an attempt to revise history. It is getting a balance of information to give us a clear picture of what happened. This will give you an opportunity to find your truth.
I seriously think that the diminishing numbers of those commemorating EDSA is because more people are realizing how it failed us. It never gave us the change that we wanted for our country. I believe that the failure of EDSA 1986, 30 years after, gave rise to the clamor for real change under this administration. And honestly, this administration has been the most responsive to the clamor.
EDSA is no more than just a highway for me and having Trillanes standing on that EDSA monument just made it worse – a highway with a piece of shit on the side.
I walked around the town plaza of Tagudin the morning after I arrived from Manila. Much have changed from my very first memory of my dad’s hometown. The plaza that was once an open space where we used to run and play around had more monuments and memorials honoring the lives of local heroes. The open air auditorium where we use to crash fiesta programs was now a covered auditorium. The town landscape have changed but its rustic feel remains.
I have always associated Tagudin with my grandmother which town locals fondly calls “Nang Gring”. Unfortunately, my unplanned visit to Tagudin was to pay my last respects to her. She died at the age of 99 years old, a few weeks short of her 100th birthday. She was a mother, an honest public servant and socio-civic leader, a World War 2 veteran, and a lola.
Nang Gring was a strong-willed mother who brought up her children the way any mother would. She was a protective mother. The last thing that you would want to do is cross the path of any of her children unless you want her anger to be upon you. It was interesting and amusing listening to the stories of Auntie Vida and Auntie Nancy on Nang Gring’s antics to ward off or to guard her daughters from their suitors. I thought that throwing the messy contents of an arinola from the balcony to young men serenading beautiful ladies were a thing for the movies. In Nang Gring’s case, it was not. It was her way of showing her love by shielding and protecting her daughters.
Nang Gring was fierce and was a disciplinarian. Whether her children admit it or not, she was feared but more importantly respected. To give you an idea of how she was feared by her children, her only son and my dad, who endured the gruelling academe of the Philippine Military Academy and a very smart and tough military man, would never win against Nang Gring. When she says no with conviction, my dad, after countless discussions and arguements, would fold up and follow Nang Gring’s instructions to the detail… and with conviction. You would probably think that it was because he was the son hence the outcome of the situation. But it was the same situation as that to one of my auntie ’s first husband, a retired Major General. Only one fierce lady can break a tough military pilot and a former Chief of Staff of the Philippines onto their knees – only Nang Gring.
For a lot of people in her community, Nang Gring was a popular civil servant. I have never seen a person who gave herself selfessly to public service as a government official to a community that she loved as her own. She lived a life where she lived and breathed caring for a community she called her home even until her last days. This character of Nang Gring had the biggest impact to me that I opted to take a course in college in line with her civil service profession. Although I later opted to practice my profession in the private sector, I have always made sure that me and my teams get grounded on our social responsibilities to the communities that we serve. It is with the same passion that I have stood my ground to fight for a better and a more responsive governance for our country through various political discourse on social media. It all boils down to my grandmother’s influence on how I saw her serve as a public servant. Her actions meant more than her words. I sincerely wish that we have more of her in our government.
One of the facets of Nang Gring’s life that I wished I was able to work on was documenting her life as a guerilla fighter during World War 2. It makes me feel proud that I come from a bloodline of Filipino freedom fighters. Her courage and her fierceness was her fuel to keep her love for her country burning through those challenging times. Unfortunately, we have only bits and pieces of her story and I was bent on getting the whole story from the horse’s mouth. I already had plans this summer of conducting a series of interviews with her that will document her life as a guerilla fighter. Her story would have been a good source of inspiration for younger Filipinos that love for country goes beyond the four corners of their comfort zones. It would entail doing what is best for the country, setting aside personal gains. It would have been a good way of celebrating her 100th birthday this year. Unfortunately, God had other plans.
Most people know her as Nang Gring but for us, her grandchildren, she was our Lola Gring. A lola who made sure that our Tagudin vacations were ingrained in our memories. She was a lamp who took the time to sit with me and tell me “your dad is still your dad and your dad loves you so much” at a time when me and my dad was going through tough times. She was a lola with a sharp mind, she knew every “apo” and her “apo sa tuhod” to the tee. While those who are of her age will struggle to remember names, the sharpness of her memory cannot be questioned. Her eloquence was unparalleled. I guess her “swimming lessons” had secondary benefits.
She was a lola who in her 99 years personified that of a Filipino who held her head high against all odds, someone who truly valued and embodied the true essence of public service, a protective mother who showed tough love in its true form, and a lola who made us realize that our parents are our anchors in life.
On a happier note, Lola Gring has a funny kind of sense of humor. As I looked at the memorial for our local World War 2 heroes installed at the Tagudin plaza, she made me realize that she was the only 2nd Lieutenant who made a Colonel and a Major General bend their knees.
As the days get closer to Christmas, we are also getting more information coming in about the issue surrounding the Dengvaxia vaccine. The issue have been hugging the headlines on social and mainstream media the past days which have created both fear and anxiety especially for the parents and kids who were recipients of this government program. The fast and widespread exchange of information and accusations are not helping in the process. It has created more paranoia rather than peace of mind.
Dengvaxia was a drug that was supposed to help in the reduction of dengue cases in the country. It was to give its recipients the peace of mind that they will be safe from this illness that can cause death. Unfortunately, a few years after the program was approved, budgeted, and rolled out by the Aquino Administration, the developer of the drug, Sanofi, released its findings that their studies show that those who have completed their vaccines have a higher chance of suffering severe dengue if they get infected 31 months after the administration of the vaccine. This is the case of some 700, 000 elementary students who became unsuspecting victims of this Aquino-driven government program.
But stepping beyond the parameters of public safety is the issue on the acquisition process of the said drug. A whopping Php3.5B was released for the purchase of the vaccines. The process was believed to be hastened by the PNoy administration and was coursed through the PCMC. The phase 1 of the program rolled out not long after the purchase to which the present DOH officials are claiming that almost 800K Filipinos were administered the vaccine. The purchase and the program roll-out happened just months before the Presidential election of 2016.
It will not take a genius to figure out that this Dengvaxia Program of the PNoy administration was more of a political move rather than that public service. It was supposed to be a two-way win for the Liberal Party with the hope that it should help push a Roxas administration. Its purchase and implementation had the right timing to generate funds and create a perceived public concern that they were hoping would help them in the election campaign.
Let me break this further down.
The purchase of the vaccine is a financial opportunity to dip their hands into public funds that they can use in the campaign. It was already confirmed that the Dengue Program was not part of the DOH’s budget for the year and its purchase were mainly funded from the savings of other line items. The funds were also diverted to a government hospital that can expedite the purchase of these items. I have heard that the purchase of these vaccines was done urgently and in haste. We also need to consider the huge volume of the order for a new drug in the market which standards dictate should have been done in a smaller scale. The volume of the purchase was so massive that the program became a priority of the PCMC and was rolled out to anyone a year after as against to its initial target of just students.
If it was indeed a priority then why was it not given a budget with the DOH in 2016 and 2017? Why was there a need to course billions of pesos through PCMC if it was an urgent program? Lastly, why was the PNoy administration expediting a 3B peso release a few months before the 2016 Presidential election through means that will not be scrutinized by other government bodies prior to execution?
With the elections coming in fast and with their candidate losing against his opponents, it would not be a surprise to me that this Dengvaxia Program was a means to get additional funds for their personal interests and/or political interests.
Furthermore, the actual program roll-out was also meant to dupe the public into thinking that the PNoy administration was pro-poor. It was perfectly timed a month before the election. It was a last ditch effort to save a party from its sinking ship. Interestingly, the program was rolled-out in Central Luzon, NCR, and the Calabarzon provinces which incidentally was PRRD’s stronghold during the elections. These were the very same provinces that PRRD finished way ahead of all the other candidates. Well, they can always claim that these three provinces registered the three highest dengue cases in 2015. But if you compare reported dengue cases between 2014 vs 2015, the Cagayan Valley region registered an increase of 229% in dengue cases followed by the NCR at 133% increase, and CALABARZON at 102% increase. Region 3 registered a 93% increase from 2014. Looking through this scenario, I think the DOH should have focused their efforts on Region 2 since it had more dengue cases in 2015 against 2014. Alas, Cagayan Province did not have the number of voters needed to propel the administration candidate to the Presidency so the campaign efforts, disguised as government programs, were not directed to the province.
Unfortunately, the effort to swing public votes through the program was unsuccessful as PRRD is now in the position to sort out the mess. And that leaves us with a botched political plan hatched by the PNoy administration in an effort to stay in power.
Now for the Aquino apologists, the Dengvaxia issue is just one of the many effed up programs of the PNoy administration. It is funny as to how much silence we are hearing from the the Liberal Party’s “dakdak” bunch – Pangilinan, Drilon, Aquino, Hontiveros, and De Lima. I cannot blame them because, if the Liberal Party benefitted from the program, these senators become complicit to the crime. And with the 2019 senatorial elections fast approaching, I also understand that they need to downplay another blow to their party’s effed up image.
What is even funnier is the fact that some of these apologists go all the way by blaming the present administration for continuing the program. They try all these stupid efforts to try to wash the hands of their so-called “saints”. They do not mind defending them even if they come out really stupid.
It is a very straightforward issue with only one question to be answered – was the bulk purchase of the Dengvaxia Vaccine, understanding its clinical arguments on public health and safety and the hurried process that it went through for its purchase, another case of the PNoy administration’s corrupt and manipulative practice that was meant to keep them in power?
The question weighs heavily on the PNoy administration and there is no question to that. The process and the purchase is in question. That is the bottom line.
In the end, the Dengvaxia controversy is a clear indication that a deadly illness coupled by a stupid yellow monkey is a fatal combination for Filipinos.
I just came back from a week-long conference which unintentionally made me absent on my social media accounts. Except for a couple of pics, some FB check-ins, and brief moments of browsing, I was out of touch. So when a colleague asked me if it was true that Mocha Uson was running for Senator, I was not aware and asked her to check which media outfit published the news. She read the FB post from CNN Philippines which I said then it is probably true.
In the end, I told her that it was probably a political tactic of checking the winnability of Mocha as a Senator. A means by which a name is floated and then observed for the reactions of the people at the receiving end. I never really took much of it because, one, I am not a fan of Mocha and neither am I interested with her, and two, I do not simply care – I support the President and it does not necessarily follow that I support ALL of his officials.
Yes, that is possible.
It never dawned on me how much this affected some of my FB friends when my FB and Twitter timelines were bombarded by Pro and Anti Mocha sentiments as soon as I stepped out of the plane. It has come to a point that I muted a friend’s posts because of her anti-Mocha posts, not because I supported Mocha but because I just had enough of it.
I was not interested in Mocha Uson.
Interestingly, more information are trickling in that she was not running and she did not take any oath with the said party. There are also clarifications that a Senator-wannabe and member of the current administration’s info team was clarifying his statement and that he claims he was misquoted on the issue. Whether it be a shift on the idea or fake news, things are getting clearer now.
A quick point though that this issue have clearly shown is the power within Mocha Uson. Whether people admit it or not, Mocha Uson is a power to reckon with in social media. Her breadth and scope goes beyond the people who support her and transcends to even those who hate her. It has come to a point that even I, who have no interest in her, is writing this blog entry about her.
If you still do not get it, Mocha Uson’s power lies in the reaction and interaction that she gets with her social media presence. The name of the game in social media is reach and influence. With millions of followers, she definitely has the reach. Their reaction, your reaction, and even my reaction, through this post, counts as her influence. It does not matter whether you agree or disagree with her. What matters is that she has the reach and that she has influenced you to react. That is the name of the game of social media. Inadvertently, we are making her effective in the government post that she is in.
If there was any grain of truth to her running for the position of a senator, let it be. As far as I know, the Philippine Constitution gives her the liberty to do so. She has the same right as anyone to run for a government office, in the same way that you have the right to influence others not to vote for her.
Now voting for her is entirely a different story for me. I have to agree that she can run for office but giving her my vote will require a lot of thinking and re-thinking. Again, it is something that I am keen on NOT doing. If she does run for office, I have to agree that giving the public an educated discussion as to her merits and qualifications be the key focus of the discussion rather than lambasting her for her personal convictions and her past.
It does not help that some people inadvertently create a victim out of Mocha. Remember that the current sentiments are with the pro-Duterte bloggers after the unmasking of prominent FB personalities from the other side of the fence. The unmasking has proven one thing… that they were right all along with the accusations against these anti-Duterte bloggers and their associations. The truths that were revealed strengthened the hold of Mocha Uson to her followers. A funny and interesting observation after the “unmasking” was the mellowing down of the anti-Duterte bloggers. They were not as hard-hitting nowadays compared to the times when they were anonymous.
Mocha Uson is Mocha Uson. Whether we like it or not, she is a popular and a well-received persona in the Duterte administration. You may not like her but she is loved by many, judging from the number of followers that she currently enjoys. If she decides to run, she may also turn out to be a force to reckon with, come election time. Stop bullying her because the favour is with her at this time. In the end, she might rise up a hero because you keep on putting her down.
Again, I do not care about her BUT I care for my country.