The Awkward Situation of the Philippines in Global Tradef Arena

The Awkward Situation Of the Philippines
in the Global Trade Arena
by Apolinario Villalobos

In a global trade arena of players, the Philippines is a midget compared to the giants with advanced technology and humungous economy. Even compared to fellow third-world countries whose economies are anchored on sound nationalistically operated industries and modernistic agricultural technology, the Philippines is like a guppy swimming among carps in an aquarium. The Philippines has nothing to be proud of as regards agriculture which should have been the foundation of its economy. It has wasted the opportunity given by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the learning center for rice technology in Asia. It practically neglected its natural resources whose exploitation by both the corrupt Filipinos and foreigners has been left unchecked for so many years.

The government kept on encouraging the influx of foreign investors instead of using the loaned money, the amount of which escalates every year, in developing revenue generating programs for the Filipinos. Instead, the government practically depended on the exported service as the primary source of revenue in the form of remittances, and the BPOs which can be relocated anytime and to any country, as necessary. Meanwhile, the loaned money is allotted on projects that have no direct effect on the lot of the Filipinos, and worse…on “projects”, that serve as “reasons” for variously- named discretionary budgets. To date, the Philippines has 5.9 trillion pesos total accountability due to incurred loans.

As globalization calls for better management and modernization regardless of who are the managers, the government is not stopping its effort in privatizing even crucial public utilities such as hospitals for the sake of the two aforementioned reasons. The government did not learn its lessons from the privatization of MERALCO and NAWASA, Petron, and even the deregulation of the oil industry which worsened the woes of the Filipinos. So, for the government, it doesn’t matter if the new administrators or managers of the “offered” utilities are foreigners, for as long, corrupt and inefficient management of these by Filipinos is stopped. Nationalism goes down the drain!

Trade globalization eliminates “fences” that separate countries for the sake of good trading among country members. Such could have been ideal, if players have equal footing. But how can a backward country like the Philippines, for instance, that just rely on old-fashioned farming facilities be at par with countries that use tractors and modern technique in irrigation? Such is the plight of the Philippines, a glaring reason why it now imports rice even from its neighbors that used to be at the tail end of statistics on progress a few years ago. The Golden Era of agriculture during the time of Ferdinand Marcos is now relegated to the past which many Filipinos today are wishing to be revived….which may just be left as such, a wish.

The Administration of Marcos has approved the rejection of economic liberalization policies proposed by the Congress in 1969. When Cory Aquino took over, she did the opposite by liberalizing economic policies. The liberalization was continued by Fidel Ramos during his term which also saw the height of privatization and selling of government properties to foreign investors, even the historic Manila Hotel, which fortunately, was successfully checked. The two past presidents set precedents enhanced by the rest that followed them. And the result today is the economic quagmire where the country is seemed to be permanently submerged from which no escape can be perceived. Due to the liberalization of economic policies, practically, even the toothpick comes from China!

What the present government is insisting to show the people is a “robust economy”, hence, an improved credit standing. As regards the robust economy, nothing can be felt by the ordinary Filipino, as unemployment balloons every year due to the added number of unemployed graduates and displaced OFWs returning from the Middle Eastern countries beset with political unrest. Prices of basic commodities that have soared have no hope of ever be brought down to their once affordable levels. As regards, the improved credit standing, if the attitude of the government is just to rely on loans, especially, from the World Bank that also determines projects on which their loaned money will be spent, then the country will forever be shackled to this greedy international institution that has the gull to make pronouncement that the economy of the country on its upward trend! The government even tried its best to make use of such pronouncement as an enhancement to the latest State of the Nation Address (SONA) of the president, by holding the meeting with the World Bank a few days before the SONA during which the encouraging statement was repeated. What a shame!

The country is in a dilemma with the approach of the 2016 elections. Nobody among the aspirants is worth the trust of the Filipinos. Aspirants are either blubbermouths who rhetorically make promises or show unbelievably “humble” and innocent faces on TV, but insinuates strong desire to be on the topmost rung of the government. But what is clear, is that they are strung together by a common thread – corruption.

This early, dynasties of political families, are already treading the campaign trail for the 2016 election. These families are so shameless as appearing on TV to smile their sweetest while enumerating what they have accomplished, albeit questionable, for their constituents – with the mileage paid for by the tax money. As if, a father and a son who are in the different areas of governance are not enough, there are yet, the mother, the daughter, the niece, the nephew, the in-laws who are distributed in different agencies, as well as, local government units.

With the unabated corruption in the government, what remains of our country may just be its name and the colors of its flag, as it piteously battle with the giants in the global trading arena, in order to survive on the pittance returns from the so-called “investments” made by the so-called “brilliant Filipino leaders”.

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Forever will I be with you….message of the butterfly

message of the butterfly…

“Forever, will I be with you…”
(for Gie)
By Apolinario Villalobos

This he seems to say…

“No matter where I am now
Forever, will I be with you…
Not even time, nor space
Can set us apart,
Not even life, nor death
Can set a distance,
As my kind of devotion
Is one that knows no end
Till we touch each other again –
On that blissful day… in heaven.”

Binay courts Pacquiao to nail presidency

Quierosaber's Blog

Vice President Jejomar Binay Vice President Jejomar Binay

I hate to be writing this early about Vice President Jejomar Binay’s run for the country’s presidency in the 2016 elections.

But if writing about it this early will diffuse and explain why Filipinos should not be too agog about him and his keen ambition to lead this nation, then I should have done my humble part in elucidating the electorate from my point of view.

Consider this article as a sequel to my previous blog about Binay: http://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2014/07/24/binay-tops-presidential-survey/.

What is even more repulsive about the man now is that he has obscenely invited world boxing champion and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao to be in Binay’s senatorial slate when the latter runs for president in 2016.

What I am saying here is that not only has Binay committed already the highest indiscretion of declaring his choice of PDAF scammer Jinggoy Estrada as his running mate…

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Sa Aking Paglisan….pasasalamat ni Vivian C. Talusan

Sa Aking Paglisan…
(pasasalamat ni Vivian C. Talusan)
Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Dahil nadama ko ang pagmamahal
Ninyo sa lahat ng pagkakataon –
Masaya ang aking paglisan
Tungo sa buhay na walang hanggan.

Dahil kahi’t sa matinding kakapusan
Pinilit ng mga mahal ko sa buhay –
Na ako ay bigyan ng kasiyahan
May ngiting mga labi ko sa aking paglisan.

Sa mga nagtaguyod sa akin mula noon
Sapul pa sa aking kamusmusan –
Sa kabilang buhay ay dadalhin ko
Ang alaala ng paghubog nyo sa buhay ko.

Masaya ang aking paglisan, mga mahal ko
Dahil baon ko’y inyong pagmamahal –
Kaya dasal ko rin na ang Panginoon
Gagabay sa inyo sa lahat ng pagkakataon.

(Ang kasama ni Vivian noong nabubuhay siya ay ang kanyang ina, kaya ngayong wala na si Vivian, mag-isa nang mamumuhay ang kanyang ina, dahil wala na rin silang malalapit na kamag-anak.)

Historic Agusan del Norte

Historic Agusan del Norte
By Apolinario Villalobos

As early as the eleventh century, the people of Agusan had been trading with the Chinese junk merchants. Archaeological diggings that yielded potteries dating back to the Ming and other dynasties attested to the healthy commercial relationship of the early Butuanons with those of the mainland China and neighboring kingdoms. Butuan which is presently referred only to the capital city was what the whole area under Rajah Si-awi was known to the traders who came long before it was Hispanized.

During my visit to the city in the late ’70 during which I had a talk with the local historian, Adolfo B. Sanchez, I was told that the settlement known before as Baug (now Magallanes) at the mounth of the Agusan River was the hub of flourishing commercial activities. The deep bay provided a good mooring ground for junks and other boats that came laden with merchandise from the mainland and neighboring sultanates.

The pre-Spanish prominence of the province attested by the archaeological finds and contentions of prominent historians such as J. Mallat, Thomas de Comyn, Morga, Alcazar, Zuῆiga, and Fr. Juan Francisco de Antonio just added weight to the claim of Butuanons that the first Mass was held at Masao, near Butuan. Except for J. Mallat, a French, the rest of the mentioned historians were Spaniards who wrote that Magellan, indeed, landed in Butuan, where he acquired fresh provisions, exchanged courtesies with the local kings, Si-Awi and si-Colombo, and then, celebrated Mass. A marker commemorating the Christian act done by Magellan was erected late in 1872 by Don Jose Maria Carvallo on the left bank at the mouth of the river.

Until 1911, Butuan, which was later named Agusan, was part of Surigao, known then as Caraga District. With the passage of Act 1693, Agusan became independent from Surigao, and in 1914, Teopisto Guingona was appointed as the first Filipino Governor, ending the American military administration. In 1923, the first election was held in the province and Apolonio P. Curato became the first governor to be chosen by popular vote.

Located in northeastern Mindanao, the present Agusan del Norte is bounded on the north by Butuan Bay, Surigao del Norte on the south, and the east by Agusan del Sur, and on the west by Misamis Oriental. The province’s 204,254 hectares of land area is ringed by mountain ranges.

The provincial capital which retains the original name of the province, Butuan, is linked with other parts of the province, the neighboring Agusan del Sur and Davao del Norte by the highly navigable Agusan River. Its strategic location made it a trade center of Agusan Valley, dominating all trades going to and from the upper ports.

The name “Butuan” is believed to have been derived from “batuan”, a sour fruit, an important ingredient for sour Visayan fish dish. Others affirm that it came from the name of its early ruler, Datu Buntuan. Still others insist, it is a derivative of the word, “but-an”, a Visayan word which means, a good-natured person.

About less than ten -minute drive from the city is Libertad, particularly, Ambangan, where nine of the much talked-about “balanghai” were unearthed, near the old El Rio de Butuan and Masao river. The “balanghai” which is presently referred to as barangay to connote the basic Filipino political unit, is a large swift boat used by the early Filipinos. It could carry a considerable number of persons aboard and mentioned in the Philippine history books as the means of sea transport used by the ten Bornean datus who came in the early part of the thirteenth century. Accordingly, the people of Butuan were already enjoying a flourishing commercial intercourse with the Kingdom of Champa (formerly south Vietnam), as early as the 10th century. By the 11th century, it has become the central point of commerce in the the Philippines.

For one who is really piqued in going deeper into the province’s past, a trip to Magallanes which is 35.9 kilometers from the city is suggested. Masao which is being contested by local historians to be where the first Mass in the Philippines was held is just a stone’s throw from the boulevard where a marker on Magellan’s landing was erected. Several hundred meters from the mouth of the river is Panaytayon “mountain” where on its crest, Magellan reputedly planted a cross.

Going farther up north, covering the towns of Kitcharao and Jabonga is the vast Lake Mainit that teems with local carp, freshwater catfish and eels. At Santiago which is about 49 kilometers from the city is the Mapaso Hot spring.

For those interested in caving, there’s the Vinapor Caves in the town of Carmen, carved from the limestone cliff, facing the open sea. From the mouth of its main chamber, a commanding view of the city can be had and on a clear day, even the distant Camiguin Island can be discerned. Consisting of many caverns which some claim to be numbering to thirteen, hence, the (sometimes) name, Thirteen Caves, Vinapor Caves are also said to be enchanted that earned it another name, Diwata Caves.

The provincial coastal area of Agusan is lined with clean beaches, especially, Carmen, Nasipit, Buenavista, and Cabadbaran. The area is also known for its “laksoy”, a wine distilled from nipa sap. The Butuanons sometimes soak “albotra” wood chips in “laksoy” to give it a distinct taste.

Other touristic landmark of the city are Butuan Regional Museum, the repository of archaeological finds; Mount Mayapay, rising to 2,214 feet above sea level, for a tame trek; Bood promontory First Easter Mass Eco Park, a historic site where Magellan was supposed to have planted the cross on March 31, 1521; and, Banza church ruins, located at the original site of the city when it was yet a “poblacion”, built in 1625 by the Recollect friars but burned to the ground by Moro pirates in 1753, and considered as the oldest church ruin in the whole of Mindanao.

The airport of Butuan is located at Bancasi, while the port is located at Nasipit. The city can be also reached from Manila by bus that travel to Surigao and Davao, which though, the cheapest, could be tiresome as it takes three days to make, with about three or four Ro-Ro transfers. The modes of transportation around the city are by taxi, multi-cab, and tricycle.