The Philippines: From Commonwealth to the Present

THE PHILIPPINES: from Commonwealth
to the Present
By Apolinario Villalobos

From the Philippine Commonwealth that evolved into Republican form, despite the many years that transpired, the promises of presidential candidates did not change their course which is supposedly towards the uplift of Filipinos and the advancement of the country. The graft and corruption in the government just got worse, much more with poverty which is very evident despite the “encouraging” statistics. Prices of commodities are sky-high and jobs are on contract. Today, only Chinese businesses are flourishing in the country.

The Commonwealth government under Quezon was cut short by the WWII. But during his time, the Americans already observed the culture-based administration of the government which was hinged on “gratitude”, “brotherhood”, and “kinship”. The Post-war era of independence saw the granting of independence to the country, transforming the Commonwealth to Republican under Osmeῆa. As the country was still reeling from the effects of the WWII, it was in total disarray. This situation bred profiteering on the part of the businessmen and graft on the part of the government officials, resulting to the much dissatisfaction and dismay of the masses.

The dissatisfaction of the Filipinos was perceived as an opportunity of enterprising and ambitious politicians for grabbing the power from Osmeῆa. As a last effort, Osmeῆa reorganized the government by signing an Executive Order in March 7, 1945, restoring the Executive departments. Unfortunately, Osmeῆa was perceived as lame by the then, Governor-General, MacArthur, who coerced him to convene Congress. Many were against the convening of Congress, then, as it might fall into the hands of the “collaborators” of the WWII, one of whom was Manuel Roxas who fortunately, despite his being a former “collaborator”, was favored by the support of MacArthur.

Among those that the newly-convened Congress approved was a three-year back pay to its members, which was equivalent to the three-year Japanese occupation of the country. It was a telling premonition of more self-serving Congressional actions to happen. The employees followed suit with their own demand for similar back pay covering the same period but was not granted due to unavailability of fund. The cunning Roxas perceived the dissatisfaction of the employees as an opportunity to back up his bid for presidency. He authored the Back Pay Law which was eventually passed in 1948. It gave three years back pay to all pre-war government employees in 1958, after a ten-year period during which the government would have already saved enough funds.

The country did not gain much from Roxas when he held the reins of the government. Graft and corruption still proliferated. But his prominence became more pronounced when the provision on Parity Rights of the Americans was inserted in the Philippine Constitution. Hours before he died, he again committed the loyalty of the Filipinos to the Americans. His true color as “collaborator”, first with the Japanese during WWII, and later, with the Americans, surfaced till the time he drew his last breath.

Quirino took over the presidency when Roxas died. He promised “government reorganization to achieve efficiency at all levels of the bureaucracy, immediate increased production to give employment to thousands of idle laborers, vigorous and honest enforcement of tax laws, the preservation of the national integrity, and continued friendly relations with the countries of the world”. The Hukbalahap movement just became active because of unresolved agrarian issues during Quirino’s administration, and due to the worsening corruption. He wisely gave an all-out support to his Secretary of National Defense, Ramon Magsaysay who was perceived as honest and with unquestionable ability to lead, who somehow mellowed the administration’s strong image of ineptness . The charisma of Magsaysay brought him nearer to the masses.

When Magsaysay became president with the help of the CIA, he unfortunately, went beyond the tolerable treatment of the masses. His pampering of the masses, made them over-dependent to the government, resulting to their idleness. He went to the extent of opening the gates of Malacaῆan to them, practically resulting to the presidential official residence’s transformation into a “park”. During his term, he promised, the improvement of the land tenure system with land resettlements, easy-term credit for the peasants, intense community development founded on self-help. To support those promises, the National Resettlement and Rehabilitation Administration (NARRA) in Palawan was established in 1955, as well as, the Farmers’ Cooperative and Marketing Association (FACOMA). It was also during this time that Visayans and those from the north, rushed to Mindanao to clear cogon-covered fields. To date, among the results of the resettlement effort were General Santos and Koronadal cities. General Santos City was formerly, “Dadiangas”, while Koronadal City was formerly, “Marbel”.
Magsaysay realizing his mistakes for pampering the common “tao”, was reported to have lost his temper several times, one of which was when he “exploded”, saying: “the people want me to do everything for them!”. His ten-point program was never realized when he met an accident while on board the presidential airplane in March 17, 1957 on the way back to Manila from a speaking engagement in Cebu. The ill-fated airplane was later found on Mt. Manunggal in Cebu. Vice-President Carlos P. Garcia took over the presidency with the demise of Magsaysay. It was alleged that Magsaysay did a corrupt act by posting newspapermen in important government offices, as well as, extended to them favors that not even government officials were lucky to have a share.

The presidential election in 1957 confirmed the presidency of Garcia, although, the said process was said to be the noisiest and most expensive in the country’s history until the time. It was during this time that the Catholic Church was dragged into the chaos, which however, proved that the votes of the Catholics were not reliably solid. Diosdado Macapagal who belonged to the opposition won as Vice-President.

During his term, Garcia promised: “to complete the Philippine economic independence through the adoption of the Filipino First Policy….; to establish Filipino dignity as a free people by dealing with foreign powers on terms of sovereign equality; to achieve a balanced economy by providing equal impetus to agriculture and industry; to promote social justice and the general welfare of the masses, and; to minimize and, if possible, to eradicate graft and corruption”. Just like his predecessors however, Garcia also failed, as the poor not only multiplied but continued to suffer from poverty, while the economy was at its worse.

The people’s disillusionment of how Garcia administered the government, steered Diosdado Macapagal towards victory when he made a bid for presidency. Graft and corruption were the focus of all issues against Garcia which Macapagal used to his advantage. When he won, Macapagal promised: “the immediate restoration of economic stability, alleviate the common man’s plight, and establish a dynamic basis for future growth.” He added to strengthen the deteriorating moral fiber of the people. Unfortunately, a few months after he was sworn in, his province mates indulged in extravagant celebrations, with him and his family at the center. Such flagrant show of opulence went on which slighted the Filipinos much. Macapagal will however, be remembered with his nationalistic decision to move the Philippine Independence Day from July 4 to June 12, and the Land Reform Code which unfortunately was not implemented effectively.

The nepotism, graft and corruption issues were used by Ferdinand Marcos against Macapagal when the former ran for president. The Filipinos, for having no choice and who had been clamoring for change, voted for him.

Among the presidents, it was Marcos who openly admitted that the country was in a dire crisis situation, and to arrest the further deterioration of the country, he promised: “self-sufficiency in the production of rice and the diversification of crops, implementation of the land reform program, and intensification of the community development program. During his time, the country experienced a phenomenal infra-structure boom, to support the drummed up tourism and industrialization efforts of the government. Not satisfied with the Constitution-mandated tenure, he declared Martial Law, to supposedly prevent the Communist take-over of the country. The drastic move was accepted for several years by the Filipinos, until the issue on the murder of Benigno Aquino erupted.

The People Power Revolution in 1987 toppled the dictatorship of Marcos and installed Cory Aquino as President. Issues that her administration faced were recovery of the people’s money, replenishment of the dried up budget, and corruption that was not totally swept out of the system. Her tenure did not accomplish much for the recovery of the country until she was taken over by Fidel Ramos during whose administration there was a spree of privatization and selling of government properties. As the Filipinos got tired of the same economic and political mishaps of presidents, they gave a chance to Joseph Estrada from the movie world, and who promised “heaven”, and something “new”…indeed, corruption with a “new” face, that just got worse. The recurring despair of the people brought Gloria Arroyo to power. Despair again made the Filipinos look for another leader, and this time they bit the bait dangled by the old-time crooks who used the “martyrdom” of Ninoy Aquino to push the presidency of Pnoy Aquino…. TODAY, RODRIGO DUTERTE IS AT THE HELM OF THE COUNTRY.

The rest is history, literally, because as stated in the pages of the Philippine history, the same problems are the issues today– graft, corruption, nepotism, poverty. But many Filipinos are keeping their fingers crossed that President Duterte who was catapulted to power due to the aggravating drug problem in the country, would make true his promise of eliminating even the graft and corruption in the government.

 

Maguindanao vendors of Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat, Mindanao, Philippines

Maguindanao vendors of Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat, Mindanao, Philippines…

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ANTONETTE…nakadanas mangalakal at tumira sa bangketa, hanggang maging eskolar sa kolehiyo

ANTONETTE…NAKADANAS MANGALAKAL AT
TUMIRA SA BANGKETA, HANGGANG MAGINS ESKOLAR SA KOLEHIYO
Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Si Antonette ay nag-iisang anak ni Minda na nagtitinda ng kape, tinapay at tsitserya sa bangketa malapit sa Sta. Monica St. ng Ermita na nai-blog ko two days ago. Nahiya akong tanungin noong unang nag-usap kami kung single mom si Minda pero mabuti na lang at siya mismo ang nagsabi na maliit pa si Antonette ay namatay na ang tatay nito nang magkita kami uli. Bumalik ako sa puwesto ni Minda upang maghatid ng kumot at ilang gamit. Mabuti rin at napaunlakan ang pakiusap kong makita si Antonette kaya walang kaabug-abog na sindundo siya ni Minda mula sa inuupahan nilang maliit na kuwarto.

Sa mabilis na pag-uusap namin ni Antonette, nalaman kong eskolar pala siya, kaya sa isang semester ay mahigit lang ng kaunti sa sampung libong piso lang binabayaran sa Universidad de Manila subalit malaki ang nagagastos pa rin sa mga project at iba pang requirements para sa kurso niyang Business Administration. Ang allowance niya sa isang araw ay 150pesos. Second year na siya at napansin ko ang hawak niyang lumang cellphone na inamin niyang ginagamit niya sa kanyang pag-research. Tulad ng ginagawa ng ibang mga kinakapus na estudyante, naghahanap siya ng libreng wifi site upang makapag-browse. Hindi nila kaya ang bayad sa internet café na ang singil ay hindi bababa sa 30pesos kada oras. Hindi ko na tinanong kung saan galing ang cellphone dahil baka isipin niyang masyado akong maurirat.

Nang makiusap ako kung pwede akong sumama sa kanya sa inuupahan nilang kuwarto ay malugod niya akong pinagbigyan. Mula sa puwesto ng nanay niya ay nilakad namin ang di-kalayuang kanto ng Sta. Monica at pumasok kami sa isang maliit na sidestreet. Naalala ko ang mga eskinita sa Baseco compound na pinapasok ko habang binabaybay namin ang eskinitang maputik at sa isang gilid ay mga barung-barong. Akala ko, nang pumasok kami sa isang maliit na pinto, nandoon na ang kuwarto. Ang ground floor ay marami ring maliliit na kuwarto. Pumasok pa kami sa isang maliit na pinto bago itinuro ni Antonette ang butas sa itaas na animo ay manhole lang sa laki. Ito ang “lulusutan” papunta sa “second floor”.

Sa tabi ng matarik o halos patayong hagdan papunta sa “second floor” ay may isa pang kuwarto na ang pinakatakip ay kurtina. Hahawiin ko sana out of curiosity kung hindi ko narinig ang, “may tao pa kuya”….CR pala! Unang “lumusot” si Antonette sa butas papunta sa “kuwarto” niya at sumunod ako. Dahil sa kalakihan ko ay halos hindi ako kasya at kinabahan pa ako dahil sa dulas ng matarik na hagdanang gawa lang sa maliliit na pinagtagpi-tagping kahoy.

Ang kuwarto ay talagang maliit. Kung ako siguro ang hihiga sa loob ay nakalabas ang mga paa ko sa pinto. Para lang itong malaking cabinet. Walang bintana at ang pinanggagalingan ng hangin ay isang maliit na electric fan. Ang upa sa kuwarto ay 1,500 pesos isang buwan, libre nga lang ang tubig at ilaw kaya pinagtitiyagaan ng mag-ina. Ang nakakabahala lang ay kung magkaroon ng sunog. Siguradong lahat ng nakatira sa lugar na yon ay masasawi.

Nang bumalik ako kay Minda, tinanong ko siya kung bakit wala halos siyang paninda ganoong maaga pa. Wala raw siyang pambili at ayaw pa muna siyang pautangin ng Bombay at nagpaparinig pa daw ito na mahirap maningil kaya dapat ay magbayad pa daw muna siya ng balance. Nag-alala nga daw siya dahil sa sinabi ng anak na aabot na sa mahigit 600pesos ang mga kailangan para sa kanyang mga kailangan sa eskwelahan. Mabuti na lang at hindi ko pa nagastos ang 500pesos na pambili sana ng mga payong kaya inabot ko na muna sa kanya upang magamit nila. Pati ang payong na gamit ko ay iniwan ko kay Antonette dahil wala pala itong payong. Dahil kulang na ang pamasahe ko pauwi sa Cavite, pinagkasya ko ang mga barya hanggang sa Buendia (Pasay) at dahil umuulan ay patakbu-takbo ako upang makarating sa bahay ng isang kaibigan na inutangan ko ng pera para magamit sa pagbili ng mga payong sa Baclaran bago umuwi sa Cavite. Mabuti na lang at inabot ko ang kaibigan kong paalis na sana kung hindi bumagsak ang ulan. Ang mga payong ay para sa mga pinangakuan kong mga estudyante noon pa, at ang iba ay pambenta ng mag-asawang may sanggol na nakilala ko sa Luneta.

Babalikan ko sina Minda upang dalhin kay Antonette ang mga gamit na naitabi ko na magagamit niya tulad ng laptop bag dahil ang ginagamit niya ay maliit na backpack lang….

Ang Baha sa Manila, Ang Manila Bay, Ang Pasig River, at “High Tide”

ANG BAHA SA MANILA, ANG MANILA BAY,  ANG PASIG RIVER,  AT “HIGH TIDE”

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Ang baha sa Manila ay hindi dahil lang sa tuloy-tuloy na malakas na ulan nang kung ilang araw kundi dahil sa kawalan ng labasan ng tubig kung sumabay ang “high tide” o pagtaas ng tubig sa dagat kaya natatakpan  ang mga outlet o labasan ng tubig mula sa mga establisemento tulad ng hotel, restaurants, carinderias, at mga tirahan ng mga tao tulad ng mga bahay at  condominiums. Ang iba ay dumidiretso sa Manila Bay at ang iba ay lumalabas muna sa Pasig River.

 

Ang  tubig ng Pasig River ay sa Manila Bay dumadaloy o lumalabas. Maraming bayan ang dinadaan ng Pasig River na nakadugtong din sa Laguna de Bay at Marikina River kaya lahat ng mga bayan  na umaasa sa Pasig River bilang labasan ng tubig o outlet ay apektado din ng baha. Kapag high tide kaya tumataas ang tubig sa Manila Bay, hindi na nakakalabas dito ang tubig mula sa Pasig River, at kung sinabayan ng malakas na ulan, baha ang resulta.

 

Ang mga dating labasan ng tubig mula sa mga lumang bahay at business establishments sa Manila na sinimulang gawin noong panahon ng Kastila ay masyadong mababa kaya bumabalik sa mga ito ang tubig kapag hindi makalabas sa Pasig River kung high tide o tumaas ang tubig sa Manila Bay, KAHIT WALANG ULAN.

 

Hindi lang Manila ang apektado ng high tide na nagsasanhi ng baha kundi pati na rin ang Las Pinas, Paranaque at Cavite na ang ang hantungan ng dumadaloy mula sa drainage system nila ay  Manila Bay. Nang magkaroon ng reclamation project sa Manila Bay na tinayuan ng isang maunlad na distrito, nangyari ang pinangangambahan ng mga taga-Paranque  at ilang bahagi ng Las Pinas dahil “nasakal” ang dati ay maluwag na daluyan ng tubig mula sa mga ito patungo sa Manila Bay, kaya mabilis ang pagkaroon ng baha sa kanila kung tag-ulan.

 

Ang Marikina River ay nagdudugtong sa  Pasig River kaya kung bumalik ang tubig mula sa Manila tuwing high tide na sinabayan ng malakas na ulan, matinding baha din ang resulta.  Ang mga ilog na mula sa bulubunduking bahagi ng Rizal ay sa Marikina River din dumadaloy kaya nakakadagdag sila sa mabilis na pagtaas ng tubig na sanhi ng mabilis na pag-apaw.

 

HIGIT SA LAHAT, MAS MABABA ANG MANILA KAYSA WATER LEVEL NG DAGAT NA NOON PA LANG AY ALAM NA….AT DAHIL MAS MABABA KUNG IHAMBING SA IBA PANG MGA NAKAPALIGID NA BAYAN,  ITO ANG   PINAKALABASAN NG TUBIG MULA SA PASIG RIVER PAPUNTA SA MANILA BAY.

(The image of the Pasig River is from the Google archive.)

PASIG RIVER 1

 

Sa Pag-unlad ng mga Bayan, Uunlad din ang Buong Bansa…pero, maayos na sistema ang kailangan

SA PAG-UNLAD NG MGA BAYAN, UUNLAD DIN ANG BUONG BANSA

…pero, maayos na sistema ang kailangan

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Upang mapaunlad ang mga bayan, ang unang dapat bigyan ng pansin ay ang “purchasing power” ng mamamayan o kakayaha nilang bumili. Paano silang magkaroon nito?…dapat ay may pinagkikitaan sila kahit paano sa anumang malinis na paraan – pagtinda sa palengke na may puwesto o sa bangketa man lang kung market day, pagtulak ng karitong may paninda, paglibot ng mga paninda gamit ang “topdown”. Kapag  kumikita ng maayos ang mga mamamayan, sisigla ang malalaking grocery, mga mall, mga kainan, etc. Kapag nakita ito ng mga investors, magtatayo sila ng mga negosyo, ng mga building na magiging opisina. Kapag lalo pang sumigla ang negosyo, lalo pang lalaki ang kikitain ng mga LGu sa pamamagitan ng buwis. Kapag malaki ang buwis ng mga LGU marami na silang magagawang project….basta hindi lang mahaluan ng corruption.

 

Hindi dahil “malinis” sa paningin ang isang bayan ay maganda na itong palatandaan na umuunlad ito. Ang ibig kong sabihin sa “malinis” ay ang RESULTA NG WALANG PATUMANGGANG PAGTANGGAL SA MALILIIT NA NEGOSYANTE SA KANILANG KINALALAGYAN KUNG WALA SILANG MALILIPATAN….YAN ANG DAPAT NA ISAALANG-ALANG NG LGU. HINDI DAPAT BASTA  MAGTANGGAL KUNG WALANG MAPAGLILIPATAN SA KANILA. ANO ANG GAGAWIN NITO SA MGA MAGUGUTOM DAHIL WALA NANG MAPAGKIKITAAN?

 

Kapag nawalan ng mapagkikitaan ang mga dislocated na maliliit na mga negosyante, istambay ang labas nila dahil walang ginagawa at dahil ayaw nilang magutom ang pamilya may mag-iisip na gagawa ng masama – magnakaw, magtulak ng shabu, ang mga anak na babaeng tumigil sa pag-aaral ay papasok sa mga beer house, ang mga anak na lalaki na tumigil sa pag-aaral ay magiging call boy o batang holdaper o runner ng mga nagbebenta ng shabu. Marami akong nakausap na ganyan sa Manila slum areas kaya ko sini-share. Yong walang ganyang karanasan na napagdaanan ko, huwag mamilosopo. May kasabihang “kapit sa patalim” at ganyan ang nangyayari kapag ang tao ay hindi na makatiis ng gutom.

 

KAPAG MAUNLAD ANG MGA BAYAN, SIGURADONG UUNLAD ANG BUONG BANSA…PERO DAPAT AY MAY MAAYOS NA SISTEMANG PAGBATAYAN…HINDI PABARA-BARANG PERSONAL NA KAGUSTUHAN LANG NG MGA OPISYAL UPANG MAGING SIKAT.