Manila Metropolitan Theater

Manila Metropolitan Theater
…its history and story of neglect
By Apolinario Villalobos

A country without a cultural landmark is just like a basket that can’t hold water. Nothing is left to stand for the past, be it significant or not. Events just happen and forgotten, and for this, the people’s culture suffers. Many countries, though how small they are, have won the respect of powerful ones because of their rich past, made tangible by whatever remains.

The Philippine’s rich past has made its people look for an outlet which took form in plays, songs, poems, paintings, sculpture and other artistic expressions. The admixture of the eastern and western influences, have surfaced in all these expressions. Foreign influences which left their respective sediments in the country nourished cultures which are distinctly different from each other. These are however, consolidated by the Filipinos in a compromising effort to have just one that could be identified with them.

That was the benevolent intent which was magnified during the administration of Ferdinand Marcos. The Metropolitan theater was then, beginning to gain momentum in its effort for revival, as plays and concerts were again held, but unfortunately cut short when the feisty president was deposed.

Despite its sorry state today, it is important that Filipinos know how such neglected important edifice came to be.

The Metropolitan Theater that sprung up on an area of 8,293.58 square meters at Liwasang Bonifacio (formerly, Lawton plaza), embodies the several periods that saw the metamorphosis of the country. The unpretentious environment in which the expressionistic framework of the theater took shape is just a stone’s throw from the Bonifacio monument that stands witness to rallies of disgruntled students and workers. It is also a few steps from Mehan Garden, once a popular recluse of Manilans on weekends.

Its colorful and massive façade reflects its mute desire to stand firm and solid despite the challenges posed by turbulent years that rocked its structure more than five decades ago. The month of February in 1945 saw the crumbling of its roof as a result of bombings and shelling by the Allied Forces during the liberation of Manila from the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army. Its walls however, withstood the barrage of both the allies’ and enemy’s fires.

But the theater’s story before the dark years of WWII was something else. It was full of struggle and challenges that just strengthened its foundation. In 1924, with an appeal from Mayor Earnshaw, an area of 8,293.58 square meters was leased by the government of Manila to the Metropolitan Theater Company, represented by Horace Pond, Antonio Milian, Leopoldo Khan, Manuel Camus, Enrique Zobel and Rafael Palma. The land then was used as a flower market of Mehan Garden. It was an untrimmed and not so pleasantly landscaped area that gave way to the theater.
The concerted effort of various communities of Manila that comprised of Americans, Chinese, Spanish and Filipinos, bolstered the hope of the crusading artists. A magazine, Manila’s Philippine Magazine, carried encouraging write ups on the proposed theater in its effort to gain support from its readers. Stocks were sold by the Philippine International Corporation at Php100.00 and Php50.00 to raise the needed fund which was one million pesos.

The project inspired many artists. Almost everybody was concerned and did not hesitate to offer help. One of these early sympathizers was Juan M. Arellano, a leading architect of the era, and who was sent to study in the United States with Thomas W. Lamb, an expert in theater construction. His sojourn in the United States marked the birth of a unique theatrical design which stood for the Filipino’s artistic traits. A brother of Arellano, Arcadio, contributed his skill in decking the structure which took form shortly after the cornerstone was laid in 1930.

What took shape was what the Phlippine Magazine editor, A.V.H. Hartendorp called modern expressionism. Flagstone paths were cut across lawns greened by tropical creepers and shrubs. On each side of the rectangular theater were pavilions separated from the main hall by open courtyards.

The theater’s façade truly expressed the richness of the Malay culture imbibed in the ways of the Filipinos. Colorful were the glasses that made up the big “window” and the tiles on both sides of the façade. Philippine plants in relief added exoticness to the theater’s face which was crowned with traditional Muslim minarets. Additional oriental accent was provided by shapely sculptured figures of two women who seemed to be preparing to take flight.

The theater’s interior equaled the exterior’s magnificence – wide marble staircase, mural paintings by Amorsolo and modern sculptures by Francisco R. Monti. The latter was an Italian sculptor, who practiced his trade in the country in the early 1930s. To give a feeling of spaciousness, boxes were eliminated. Relief figures cast shadows on the proscenium. Elongated lamps of translucent glass in the shape of bamboo stalks filled up the empty wall on both sides of the hall. The translucent stalks pointed to the ceiling that burst with a cornucopia of mango fruits and leaves.

The auditorium’s facilities were excellent, although the seating area could only accommodate 1,670, quite small for a fast-growing city like Manila. Its lighting, acoustics, air-cooling system and dressing rooms were all excellent and almost faultless. However, there was no understage and the orchestra pit was too narrow.

Dramatic Philippines was responsible for the showing of outstanding plays that made the theater famous. Very active members were Francisco Rodrigo, Emma Benitez and Narciso Pimentel. The theater’s stage was also grace by the zarzuela queen, Atang de la Rama.

Even when the country wallowed in the misery of subordination by a foreign power during the WWII, the theater continued to draw art lovers. It was used by members of the Volunteer Social Aid Committee (VSAC) as a front in raising funds for the underground movement against the Japanese. This group of artists likewise acted as secret mail carriers for Manilans who would like to get in touch with relatives detained at Capas and Cabanatuan. These Manila girls, some of whom were Conchita Sunico, Helen Benitez and Pilar Campos, went to the extent of spending for their own clothing materials which were then designed by Matilde Olmos, the best modiste of European clothes during that time.

The scarred Met which lost its roof during the liberation of Manila in February 1945 held on to what remained. Unfortunately, the transition period did not give much impetus to those who were previously active in theatricals. Of the several establishments housed by the Met, only the Magnolia Rendezvous, an ice cream kiosk held firm. Meanwhile the building underwent painful changes from a boxing arena into a cheap motel and gay bar, basketball court, garage and warehouse, until finally, into a home for half a hundred of displaced families.

It was in such a sorry state when a new breed of artists surfaced and made an appeal to the government to help salvage the Met. Their plea awakened the public from its long indifference and sheer neglect of a priceless heritage. Trouble between the artists and a group of enterprisers ensued when the latter proposed its demolition to give way to a modernistic commercial complex. A petition was submitted to the National Historical Institute to stop the sacrilegious hand and recognize the theater as an historical landmark.

The timely mediation of Mrs. Imelda Marcos gave assurance to the artists’ victory over their destructive opponents. The Met was finally restored to its pre-war grandeur and has been called the Manila Metropolitan Theater. Its seating capacity was increased from 1,670 to 1,709.
To augment its finances, galleries that fringed the outer structure were rented out to shops that sold handicrafts, restaurants, studious and a night club. Bigger rooms on the second floor were furnished for receptions and meetings. Even the auditorium was leased to a movie company which showed three-dimensional films whenever the theater was free. Once again, shows and concerts were held.

The recovery of the theater was, however, short-lived. The emergence of the modern Cultural Center of the Philippines, Folk Arts Theater, modern cinema theaters and other cultural and artistic venues signaled again its slow deterioration. Groups of concerned artists joined hands to prevent its continued relapse to no avail….until, finally, it is back to its former state of gross neglect that we woefully see today.

To date, the veteran show host, actor and comedian, German Moreno is practically moving heaven and earth in his effort to revive to life the dying theater.

Ang Mga Problema ng Mga Ahensiya ng Pamahalaan

Ang Mga Problema ng
Mga Ahensiya ng Pamahalaan
Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Hindi ito pagbabatikos, sa halip ay isang pamumuna na ang layunin ay makatulong…

Sa mga nagaganap na imbestigasyong sangkot ay mga ahensiya ng pamahalaan na pumuputok pa sa media tulad ng radyo at TV, pati na sa mga diyaryo, malaki man o maliit na karamihang nilalaman ay tungkol sa showbiz, lumilitaw na ang problema ng mga ahensiya ng gobyerno ay kawalan ng malinaw na internal procedures. Ang palasak na tawag dito ay “operating procedures” na dapat ay nakapaloob sa mga manual. Kaya kapag nagkaroon ng problema, nagkakatarantahan kung ano ang gagawin. Malinaw na walang magandang koordinasyon sa pagitan ng mga ahensiya kaya kung may pumutok na kaso ay nagtuturuan.

Umiikot ang mga operasyon ng mga ahensiya sa mga alituntunin na nasa Civil Service Code, Labor Code, at mga maya’t maya ay pinapalabas na mga memo o kautusan kaya tagpi-tagpi ang mga batayan ng desisyon, na kadalasan pa ay may mga puwang, mga kakulangan – mga butas na ginagamit ng mga tiwali upang makapagnakaw at gumawa pa ng ibang kamalasaduhan.

Kung minsan nakakatawang marinig sa mga interbyu ng kinatawan ng isang ahensiya na wala silang alam sa mga nagaganap na dapat ay may kinalaman sila, dahil wala pa raw silang natatanggap na fax man lang tungkol sa mga ito, at sa diyaryo lang nila nalaman. Halimbawa, makailang beses nang naghukay sa mga kalye ng Maynila ang mga kontraktor subali’t hindi alam ng MMDA, kaya nagkakagulatan kapag buhul-buhol na ang trapiko na halos ay hindi pa umuusad. May mga ginagawa ang Malakanyang na hindi alam ng Senado o Kongreso officially, dahil malaman man ng mga mambabatas ay sa pamamagitan na lang diyaryo. Ang Malakanyang ay ganoon din…sa diyaryo na lang nakakaalam ng mga ginagawa ng mga mambabatas. Paano na lang kung may kinikilingan ang naglabas ng mga balita? Dito na nagsisimula ang turuan!

Hindi maikakaila na ang mga gawain ng bawa’t ahensiya ay kumakawing sa iba pa, kaya mahalaga ang mahigpit na koordinasyon sa pagitan ng mga ito, subalit hindi nangyayari dahil sa kawalan ng malinaw na sistema. Idagdag pa rito ang mga makalumang gamit sa komunikasyon. Maraming mga opisina ng gobyerno ang nakikihati sa paggamit ng mga fax machines. Marami rin ang hindi digitized, manu-mano ang operasyon, kaya ang pagdaloy ng komunikasyon at impormasyon ay hindi maaasahang epektibo. Marami pa ring opisina ang gumagamit at umaasa sa mga sinaunang makinilya. At, ang mga telepono, kung minsan ay putol ang linya, na gusto naman ng mga empleyado na tamad sumagot sa mga tawag.

Ang gobyerno ay umaasa sa mga nakasaad sa Civil Service Code na ang iba ay dapat tinanggal na dahil hindi na applicable sa mga kasalukuyang pangangailan. May mga batas na may kinalaman sa paggawa na dapat ay repasuhin nang naaayon pa rin naman sa mga patakaran ng International Labor Organization, at dapat iangkop sa kalagayan ng Pilipinas, subali’t hindi ito ginagawa. Ang resulta tuloy ay, maraming mga empleyado ng gobyerno na napatawan na ng mga karampatang parusa dahil sa kanilang kaso, subali’t naka-float lamang, o di kaya ay inilipat sa ibang opisina. Ang ginagawang dahilan palagi ay “protektado” sila ng Labor Code o Civil Service Code. Isang halimbawa ay ang pagkabisto na ang ilang pulis na sangkot sa EDSA hulidap ay may mga kaso nang “nakabinbin” at yong iba ay may sintensiya na subali’t pinayagan pa ring mag-duty.

Ang mga nabanggit na bagay ay ilan lamang sa mga dapat na pinagkakaabalahan ng mga mambabatas upang mapaayos ang paggalaw ng mga ahensiya ng gobyerno. Hindi dapat maghintay ang mga mambabatas ng mga eskandalo na masasawsawan ng kanilang mga daliri, at makibahagi sa atensyon na bigay dito ng media. Ang mahirap sa mga mambabatas, ay matakaw sila sa media mileage, na magbo-brodkast sa taong bayan na may ginagawa kuno sila! Sabagay, kailangan nila ito bilang puhunan sa pagtakbo sa mga susunod na eleksiyon kung sila ay reeleksiyonista.

Ang Mga Maling Akala ni Binay

Ang Mga Maling Akala ni Binay
Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Ang akala ni Binay, dahil sa pinipilit niyang imahe na siya ay mahirap at maka-mahirap, patok na siya sa taong bayan. Nagbandera pa ng mga retrato sa mga pahayagan – puro front page, kaya may nakahalata na parang paid advertisement. Maka-tribu din daw siya kaya todo costume din at nagpakodak kasama ang mga miyembro ng isang tribu sa Mindanao. Paanong hindi siya asikasuhin ng mga taong nilapitan niya, eh namigay daw ng mga dokumento tungkol sa mga kaek-ekang “pabahay”, na dapat lang naman niyang gawin dahil trabaho niya. Ginamit pa ang puwesto niya at pera ng bayan, na hindi naman nakatulong sa pagkubli ng tunay iyang layunin na pangangampanya lang pala! Sana mag-resign na lang siya bilang Bise-Presidente at cabinet secretary, upang makapag-concentrate sa kanyang kampanya, at nang lahat ng isla ng Pilipinas ay masuyod niya.

Nagpakodak pa kasama ang mga bata na nagbo-boodle fight- kainang nakakamay sa dahon ng saging. Pati mga bata ay sinangkalan pa sa kanyang maitim na hangarin! Sana sinamahan niya ng cake ang mga nakalatag na pagkain, upang lalong mabuo ang kanyang drama. Naglagay din sana siya ng flower arrangement sa gitna ng hapag kainan, gamit ang mga rare orchids ng kanyang asawa na inaalagaan sa asyenda nila sa Rosario, Batangas. At upang lalong masaya, hiniram sana niya ang mga mamahaling ibong alaga ng anak niyang si Abigail upang magamit na palamuti sa paligid ng kainan.

Ang isang wild suggestion ay bumalik siya sa Mindanao, at pasyalan si mayor Rod Duterte, makipagkamay dito tulad ng ginawa ng isang dating presidente na pilit na nagmamalinis, at habang nandoon siya, dumaan na rin siya kay Quiboloy tulad ng ginawa noon ni Gloria Arroyo. Pwede rin siyang dumiretso sa Makilala, na hindi kalayuan at tahakin ang isang landas patungo sa New Israel, sa paanan ng Mt. Apo – doon maraming unggoy…at, siyempre, mga miyembro ng isang nakakabilib na sekta, lahat din lang ng paraan ay ginagawa niya upang magkaroon ng media mileage. At mula sa Makilala, ay mag-side trip siya sa kampo ng MILF.

Magdala siya ng sangkaterbang tagakodak niya at umupa ng eroplano ng PAL o Cebu Pacific…gumastos din lang siya ng pera ng bayan, lubus-lubusin na niya. Pero sa isang banda, kaya ng sarili niyang yaman ang mga gastusin, dahil nakaya nga niyang ibili ng bahay na may elevator ang kanyang anak na kapangalan niya, kaya may adhikain ding kapareho niya. Kapag ginawa niya ang mga suggestion, papatok siya sa mga diyaryo, TV, at radyo…bilang isang trying hard na trapo na pang-Guinnes Book of World Records ang effort!

Maglaan din siya ng isang magdamag na ititiyempo sa prayer rally ng El Shaddai sa Paraῆaque, sabayan niya sa pagkanta si Velarde sa stage. Maghanda siya ng payong na ititihaya upang makasalo ng grasyang awa na hihikayatin niyang bumagsak sa pamamagitan ng pagwagayway ng puting panyo – tumingala siya. Huwag niyang kalimutan ang Iglesia ni Kristo at ang bagong Obispo ng Maynila, upang hindi sila magtampo sa kanya.

Dapat ang isuot niya sa mga lakad na nabanggit ay damit na galing sa ukay-ukay, dahil ang palagi naman niyang sinasabi ay mahirap siya, kaya siya maka-mahirap…at ang mga kalaban niya ay mga mayayaman. Dapat isama niya sa kanyang mga talumpating gasgas, na dahil sa kahirapan ay nabanat siya sa trabaho at kumapal ang kanyang mga palad kaya nagkaroon siya ng kakayahang humawak ng limpak- limpak na salapi, at ang mukha naman niya ay kumapal sa sobrang pagkabilad sa init ng araw dahil sa kaiikot niya sa ekta-ektaryang lupaing hindi naman kanya, kaya lalo siyang umitim. At huwag sana niyang kalimutan ang mga Mangyan sa Mindoro at mga tribu sa norte kung saan ay makakatipid siya ng malaki dahil ang isusuot niya kung magpapakodak ay bahag lang!

Sa mga lakad niyang yon, sana hindi umulan…para walang kidlat na magngangalit at maghahanap ng tutusuking sinungaling na taga-lupa!

Dapat isipin ni Binay na matatalino na ang mga botante ngayon. Pati ang ilang pari ay nagpapayo na tanggapin ang mga perang suhol ng mga garapal na mga kandidato pagdating ng kampanyahan subali’t bumoto nang naaayon sa kanilang konsiyensiya, dahil talagang hindi mapigilan ang bilihan ng boto…at ang perang binibigay sa kanila ay pera din naman ng bayan, kaya bawi-bawi lang.

Ang Ka-epalan ng Mga Mambabatas

Ang Ka-epalan ng Mga Mambabatas
ni Apolinario Villalobos

Ang ibig sabihin ng “umeepal” ay nagyayabang, nagpapasikat, pumuporma, nagpapa-istaring, at iba pang gawaing may kinalaman sa katakawan ng atensiyon. Ganyan ang ugali ng mga mambabatas ng Pilipinas, naghihintay ng magandang pagkakataon upang maka-epal sa pagpatawag ng mga imbestigasyon na gagamiting batayan daw sa paggawa ng batas. Hindi naman sila bulag upang hindi makita ang mga bagay o mga araw-araw na pangyayari upang magamit ang mga ito bilang batayan sa paggawa ng mga batas. Ang mga hinihintay nila ay ang “pagputok” o “pagsabog” ng eskandalo na humahatak ng atensyon ng taong bayan. Kung walang eskandalo kasi, walang mga report sa diyaryo, TV at radyo, kaya walang “media mileage”.

Tulad na lang halimbawa ng nakaambang pagputok ng bulkang Mayon. Nagkukumahog ang mga epal na mga kongresista sa pagpunta sa Albay upang mangalap ng mga pagbabatayan para sa “imbestigasyon” ng sitwasyon, at pati ang mga Phivolcs na maayos ang trabaho, dinadamay. Noon pa man, alam na ng lahat na wala talagang instrumentong makakabasa ng mga mangyayari na may kinalaman sa pagputok ng bulkan. Sa kabila ng ganitong katotohanan, para sa mga kongresista, hindi maganda ang pabagu-bagong pahayag ng Phivolcs, kaya dapat silang imbestigahan! Saan napunta ang katinuan ng mga kongresista? Bakit hindi na lang sila maghintay ng mga pahayag na katulad ng ginagawa ng iba pang Pilipino?

Kung ang gusto ng mga mambabatas ay magkaroon ng batas upang hindi na tirahan ang mga lugar na nakapaligid sa aktibong bulkan, maaari naman nilang gawin ito sa “tahimik” na paraan na bahagi ng kanilang responsibilidad, at sa Kongreso na nila pag-usapan, sa halip na mambulabog at manggulo sa Albay. Nagpakodak lang yata sila sa Albay upang may magamit sa press-release nila!

Sa isang banda, ang problema na dulot ng pagsisikip sa piyer dahil sa mga walang lamang container hanggang ngayon ay hindi nareresolba sa kabila ng mga impormasyong galing mismo sa mga negosyante na may kinalaman dito, subali’t hindi kinikibo ng mga mambabatas. Takot ba sila na makalkal ang eskandalo tungkol sa “maperang” kalakaran na bistado ng ultimong mga kargador? Anong batas ang ginawa nila tungkol dito?

Ang Bureau of Customs, alam na din ng buong bayan na lumulutang sa korapsyon…hanggang ngayon ay hindi pa rin nalilinis. Mismong ang bagong komisyoner ang umamin na talagag batbat ng korapsyo ang kagawaran, subali’t ang mga taong alam namang sangkot sa mga anomalya, ay hindi tinatanggal. Ang mga batas para sa kagawaran ay animo mga band-air lamang na tinatapal tuwing may anomalya…wala pang ngipin kaya sa katagalan ay binabalewala. Sa kainitan ng mga smuggling nagkaroon ng imbestigasyon, pero hanggang doon na lang. Hanggang ngayon ang mga batas na magpapabago sa imahe ng nasabing ahensiya ay pinapangarap pa lamang.

Ang Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), na butas-butas ang imahe dahil sa sunud-sunod na anomalya, ay pinamumunuan pa rin ni Dinky Soliman na noon pa man ay hiniling nang tanggalin dahil wala namang binatbat sa pamumuno, subali’t hanggang ngayon ay nakakapit pa rin sa pwesto na parang tuko. Walang batas na ginawa na dapat ay batayan sa maayos na pangangalaga ng mga donasyon, at puro imbestigasyong wala namang kinahihinatnan ang ginagawa.

Ilan lamang ang mga nabanggit na kaepalan ng mga mambabatas. Ang mga kaepalan nila ay kabilang sa mga sakit na unti-unting nagpapaagnas sa bansa. Kaya dahil dito, walang katapusan ang pagdurusa ng taong bayan….

Ang Debateng Binay-Trillanes

Ang Debateng Binay-Trillanes
Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Kung matutuloy sa November 10 ang pagtatalo sa pagitan ni Binay at Trillanes, marami ang dapat asahan, tulad ng:

1. Pagpupumilit pa rin ni Binay na pinupulitika lamang siya, hindi siya nagnakaw sa Makati noong nanunungkulan siya bilang mayor, hindi nila pagmamay-ari ang asyenda sa Rosario, Batangas, at ang kanyang pamilya na ang hangad ay magsilbi sa taong bayan kaya inosente sila hangga’t hindi napapatunayan sa hukuman.
2. Mawawala sa porma si Trillanes kapag napikon, uulitin lamang niya ang mga bintang na nasabi na sa mga pagdinig sa senado, isa na ang mabigat na pagkaroon ni Binay ng mga dummy na pansamantalang umaako ng mga pag-aari nila, at hindi siya masasapawan ni Binay kahit abogado pa ito dahil ang hahanapin ng mga tao ay ang laman ng kanilang mga sasabihin, at hindi mga teknikalidad sa isang pormal na debate.

Kahit ipagpipilitin ni Binay ang kanyang pagmamalinis sa araw ng debate, mahihirapan siya dahil mabibigat ang mga ebidensiyang nailatag na, at siyang ikalulusaw ng kanyang pagkakataong manalo sa eleksiyon 2016. Kung iisa-isahin niya ang mga isyu na binibintang sa kanya at tatapatan niya ng mga paliwanag, malamang mahihirapan siyang makumbinse ang taong bayan, dahil simula pa lang nang unang araw na pumutok ang eskandalo, malayo na ang inabot ng pag-analisa nila batay sa mga ebidensiya na mahirap pabulaanan. May mga ideya na ang taong bayan kung paanong napatungan ng kung ilang daang porsiyento ang halaga sa pagpagawa ng Makati City Hall II, pati na ang mga gamit sa Ospital ng Makati, at ang mga cake na binibigay sa mga senior citizen. Pati na rin ang paraan kung paanong napapasakamay nila ang mga nakurakot na pera na nakalagay sa mga bag.

Tungkol naman sa asyenda sa Rosario, Batangas, kahit manikluhod pa si Binay sa harap ng kamera sa araw ng debate upang madiin ang pagdi-deny, wala na rin itong epekto, dahil mismong mga dating may-ari ang nagpapatunay ng bentahan- mga matatanda na hindi aasahang magsinungaling. Pati ang naunsiyaming pagpresenta ni Tiu ng sarili niya bilang may-ari ng asyenda, hindi na rin maisasalba ni Binay kahit pa sabayan niya ito ng hagulhol. Naipaliwanag na ni Cayetano kung paanong naitatago ng mga tiwaling opisyal ng bayan ang kanilang mga nakaw na yaman upang walang makitang ebidensiya, na malinaw na naipakitang ginawa ng mga Binay, kaya anumang paliwanag ni Binay sa araw ng debate ay wala na ring saysay.

Kung ang debate ay style na walang rebuttal, kundi paglalahad lamang ng bawa’t panig subalit may ipapataw na taning o limitadong oras, talung-talo na si Binay, dahil taong bayan ang huhusga kung sino ang mananalo. At dahil siya ang panig na nagdedepensa, dapat maunang magsalita si Trillanes na siyang nag-aakusa. Dapat pabulaanan ni Binay punto por punto ang mga sasabihin nito, subalit alam naman ng taong bayan na talagang wala siyang maisasagot na katanggap-tanggap. Kung meron kasi, dapat yon na ang sinasabi niya sa mga interbyu, o di kaya ay umaper man lang sa senado upang sagutin ang mga katanungan. Subalit ang palagi niyang sinasabi ay pinupulitika lamang siya.

Sa kabuuhan nito, ang debate ay gagamitin lamang upang madiin ang pagsisinungaling ni Binay, kaya tama ang sinabi ng isa niyang kaalyado sa partido na ito ay isang patibong upang lalong maipakita sa taong bayan na walang karapatan si Binay na maging Presidente ng Pilipinas.

Si Bogz…may Big Heart Na, May Warm Smile Pa!

Si Bogz..may Big Heart Na
May Warm Smile Pa!
(si Bogz Jamorabon siya)
Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Nakaka-intimidate kung siya’y tingnan
Dahil sa laki ng kanyang katawan,
Subali’t kung sa mukha ka naman tumingin
Matamis at mainit na ngiti ang mapapansin.

Siya si Bogz, na kung kumilos ay maliksi
Kahi’t na siya ay mabigat at malaki,
Ang ‘di lang napapansing madalas sa kanya
Ay ang kanyang pusong malaki, pang-masa!

Mapalad siya’t nagkaroon ng isang Angie
Ulirang asawa, mabait, mapagkandili,
Pati mga anak, sina Andrea at Angelica Ann
Mapalad dahil sa isang masayang tahanan.

Subok na si Bogz sa maraming pagkakataon
Kahit na ang faith niya sa Panginoon,
Pakisama niya sa iba’y ‘di rin matatawaran
Dahil ano mang ng oras, siya ay nalalapitan.

Naipakita ni Bogz na marami palang paraan
Upang magkaroon ng mga kaibigan,
Marami ding paraan upang maipakita sa Diyos
Ang pagmamahal sa Kanya, na talagang lubos!

(Si Bogz ay alumnus ng NDTC, na mula pa noong
Elementarya ay nakitaan na ng kakayahang
mamuno. Nang dumating ang tamang pagkakataon
naging kagawad ng lunsod ng Tacurong ng tatlong termino.)

The Survival Instinct of the Filipinos

The Survival Instinct of the Filipinos

By Apolinario Villalobos

Survival is a human instinct, but varies according to environment and culture. Some can survive with utmost honesty, some with deception, and still others do with violence. The Filipinos use ingenuity and resourcefulness in order to survive, sometimes even with much tolerance of a wrongdoing – a manifestation of a non-violent character. This tolerance does not mean, however, that the Filipinos are of a cowardly race. By survival, this writer, mean endurance and persistence.

Filipinos have shown that despite the onslaught of disasters, they have recovered, with grace, yet. And, recovery is made with resourcefulness. Though typhoons and floods may have flattened villages and towns, the affected literally pick up pieces of their lives– actually, useful debris that could be pieced together even for a scant roof over their head.

Tin cans become pots for rice to be cooked and water to be boiled for doled out coffee or instant noodles.

In big cities such as Manila, what some perceive as vagabonds are actually Filipinos who survive on the jingling coins in their pockets and junks that can be salvaged from dumps, and sold in recycling centers for their daily subsistence. Those who sell candies and cigarettes in traffic-clogged streets do their best to set aside substantial amount for a pedaled trike (traysikad) that would become a regular source of a bigger income. Some patiently gather vegetable trimmings discarded by vegetable wholesalers, to be cleaned and sold by pile on sidewalks.

The non-violent character of the Filipinos made them tolerate even the blatant ineptness of the government, and instead of raising hands that grip guns, they make do with rallies where effigy- burning, shouts, speeches and songs become their “most violent” expressions. Not even the much ballyhooed “People Power Revolution” that caused the toppling of the Marcos dictatorship saw violent actions from the waves of protesters. Compatriots in military and police uniforms reciprocated by accepting flowers and foods offered to them.

While in the Middle East and Africa there are incidents of suicide bombings, nothing of same sort has ever happened in the country. Long before the spate of kidnapping for ransom in Mindanao rocked the island, particularly Jolo and Basilan, some countries in South America have already been suffering from it. Despite the threats announced by headlines in broadsheets and tabloids about the sure collapse of tourism industry because of the varied turmoil, the Filipinos nonchalantly continue to hope for the better by doing something to arrest the downtrend.

The Philippines is a case of “unity in diversity”. Filipinos who have diversified cultures and religions have managed to maintain a closely-knit society. When the vast Philippine Arena of the Iglesia ni Cristo in Bulacan was inaugurated, the whole country celebrated. During the seasons of Ramadan and Eidl Fitre, Christians are one with Muslim brethren, the former being respectful to the solemnity involved. During Christmas, many Muslim homes also display lanterns and Christmas trees. When the MNLF-Nur Misuari faction devastated Zamboanga City, Christians and Muslims joined hands in condemning his act. In Mindanao, when ragtag bands of rebels would attack a village, Muslims and Christians flee to the same direction for safety.

This unique survival character of the Filipinos is once again put to test in the face of the political and economic unrest that beset the country today. Not a single day is without a tabloid or a broadsheet shouting headlines about corruptions in the government and the weakness of the leadership. The Filipinos turn to the social media to express their ill-feelings. There are pockets of rallies but they are held with utmost restraint. Issues on the volatile economy and impending “chaos” that might result to starvation due to skyrocketing of prices and expected long power interruptions do not deter the steadfast Filipinos who astutely maintain their patience and poise.

The unique survival instinct of the Filipinos may be attributed to their fear of God. Their religiosity is so deeply-rooted in their character that even in the face of any adversity, they are unfazed.

May Kapalit Ang Pagtitiyaga…tungkol ito kay Wilfredo Bautista

May Kapalit Ang Pagtitiyaga…

(tungkol ito kay Wilfredo Bautista)

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

May kasabihan tayong “kapag may tiyaga…may nilaga”

Ganyan ang nangyari sa buhay ni Wilfredo Bautista

Sa Kenram, ang pamilya niya ay unang napatira

Na kalaunan ay napadpad sa New Isabela.

Nasa elementarya pa lang ay matikas na ang pangarap

Maging sundalo, tagapagtanggol ng mga mahihirap

Hindi masisisi dahil sa mga nakitang nagaganap –

Mga karahasang nagpapadilim ng hinaharap.

Sa murang gulang, gabay niya ang nagisnang kahirapan

Lakas na sa kanya ay nagtulak upang pagsumikapan

Na matamo, pangarap na maalwang kinabukasan

Pipilitin niyang makamit sa malinis na paraan.

Nang mag-high school ay nabago ang kanyang minimithi

Maging CPA na katumbas ng kanyang pagpupunyagi

Subali’t sa tulad man niyang mahirap, ‘di ito madali-

Abut- abot pa rin ang kanyang pagbabakasakali.

Nangyari nga ang kaniyang kinabahala, ang agam-agam

Kahi’t noong sila ay nakatira pa sa malayong Kenram

Na sa kahirapan, pangarap niyang kay tagal inasam

Malabong makamit, masakit man sa pakiramdam.

Sa isip natanim ay pagpursigi, at Diyos sa kanya ay gagabay

Mayroon pa naman siyang lakas, lusog, at may buhay

Pupuhunaning tiwala sa sarili’y dagdag na kaagapay

Sa pagtahak ng daan tungo sa hangad na tagumpay.

Ang dalawang taon sa kolehiyong inabot ng pagsisikap niya

Ay malaking bagay na, basta sa sarili’y mayroong tiwala

Sa paghanap ng kapalara’y narating niya ang Maynila

Kaya pati mga dasal ay sinamahan na rin ng pag-asa.

Masalimuot ang buhay sa Maynila, nakakagupo ng mahihina

Subali’t wala iyan kay Wilfredo…taga-Tacurong yata siya!

Hindi niya kinalimutang sa bayang pinanggalingan niya

Walang mahinang loob, lahat matatapang, isa na siya!

Naging welder, trabahong pinasok ay lakas-loob ang puhunan

Mabuti na ito, sabi sa sarili, kesa magpalaboy sa lansangan

Tama din ang desisyon dahil sa naipon niyang karanasan

Nagkaroon siya ng tsansang makapagpangibang-bayan.

Siya’y nakarating sa Middle East, pangarap ng mga kababayan

Pagka-welder na kakayahan ang bitbit niya at isinangkalan

Mga amo naman ay napabilib niya sa kanyang kakayahan

Kaya naging supervisor agad ang pwesto, hindi kalaunan!

Ngayon, maayos na buhay ang tinatamasa sa piling ng pamilya

Kalagayan nila’y payak, ‘di maluhong buhay ang tinatamasa

Nguni’t pagmamahal naman ay umaapaw sa tahanan nila

Kaya sa Panginoon, si Wilfredo’y wala nang mahihiling pa.

(Nagtapos si Wilfredo sa NDT Boys’ at napangasawa niya si

Fely Casama na nagtapos naman sa NDT Girls’. Nabiyayaan

sila ng dalawang supling – isang lalaki at isang babae.)

Phil-Am Relationship as the Most Volatile And Sensitive Issue to Blog About

Phil-Am Relationship as the Most Volatile

And Sensitive Issue to Blog About

By Apolinario Villalobos

I have always been careful when blogging about politics, more so with Philippine-American relationship, but still take the risk by going to the extent of coming out with hard-hitting views against local politicians, and sometimes the United States. The Philippine politics is just a small fleck compared to the global politics that involve superpowers, like the United States. In most cases, third world countries like the Philippines, become pawns when these superpowers discuss matters for their own benefits and advantage. And, in this global political play, many things are involved, some are even unbelievably happening. Manipulation of the weak by the strong becomes the norm.

On the other hand, the issues between the Philippines and the United States as regards mistrust, betrayal, etc. are deeply- rooted, so sensitive that most writers stay away from them, unless they are ready with hard proofs to prove their allegations. In Manila, all we see during rallies of leftist groups are anti-American slogans and even US flag-burning rituals, enhanced by chants about being a US “puppet” of whoever is the current president of the country. This scenario did not change since the time of the early presidents. Even the supposedly spirit behind the “People Power Revolution”, Cory Aquino, was not spared. There are so many underlying reasons for these that require thorough presentation before they can be understood and appreciated. Of late, noticeable are the absence of most of the principal participants of the first People Power Revolution during its subsequent commemorations. There are big reasons why they are suddenly distancing themselves away from the supposedly historic event. And, they are about politics that dwell on the Philippine-American relationship.

Basically, the Philippine system of governance was born out of the American ideology. Unfortunately, not even the several changes that the Philippine Constitution underwent, have successfully transformed it into one that centers on a “pure” Filipino ideology, based on the people’s cultural diversity and economic needs. Even the latest ratifications during the time of Cory Aquino, contained biased provisions that are still tainted with American influence. This is the reason why there is a general feeling of ambivalence among the Filipinos today, on the move to ratify the Constitution drastically, to make it a truly Filipino Basic Law. For, how can that be possible with general apprehensions in the light of the corrupt image of the administration and the two law making bodies? Mistrust and perceived betrayals are again the reasons.

In addition to the aforementioned reality, the economically and militarily frail country is faced with threats from different sectors. This weakness, though not expressed out of pride, could be the reason why the government entered into the Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States which in the eyes of many is biased in favor of the latter, especially, on the aspect of custody of erring members of the US contingent while on Philippine shore. Specifically, for the US to hold in custody their soldiers who committed a crime in the Philippines, though hearings are conducted in the Philippines, is for many Filipinos “foul”. The Jeffrey Laude murder has emphasized this supposedly “biased” provision, a replayed situation, since the early Nicole rape case.

The current Agreement is the second for the same purpose – joint exercises on the shores of the Philippines. The question is why did the government hastily finalize the agreement without considering the lesson from the Nicole rape case? Was there an oversight?…or was it done deliberately? If only those who represented the Philippine government observed utmost care and sensitivity to the general sentiment of the Filipinos, there could have been no problem on the issue of custody. Also, had there been more care on the part of the local government of Olongapo in giving appropriate caution to the locals who view the “liberty” or “rest and recreation” binges of the Americans after the joint exercises, as a source of revenue, finger-pointing may have been avoided. As reported by field radio reporters from Olongapo, the city is divided in their feelings toward the Laude case. Those who are earning honestly from the American soldiers on “liberty” or leisure are blaming those who use questionable ploys to earn.

Jeffrey Laude was suspected as a sex worker who initially went into bargaining for his/her service as mentioned even by a friend, before going with the suspected American soldier to the motel. And, yet, he/she is supposed to be scheduled for marriage to his/her German fiancé. During later interviews, another friend of Laude denied the sex worker issue. In the first place, Laude was not supposed to be hanging out in such kind of joint, if he was fair to his/her German fiancé. So who committed fault here?

The latest issue on the Visiting Forces Agreement, muddled by the Laude case has just added more lesions to the already stinking issue about Philippine-American relationship. Ironically, as I have mentioned many times in earlier shared views, the purported nationalistic Filipinos who cry anti-American slogans are themselves, dreaming of holding on to a passport stamped with a US visa. And, where was the Commission on Human Rights on the day when the Laude case exploded? Did the CHR people come out in place of the President who has no habit of going to wakes of people he does not know? Is the act of the CHR, another belated cover-up, which is the tendency of the present administration?

I personally perceive the Visiting Forces Agreement as a ploy to show some borrowed muscles to the Chinese who keeps on advancing on the western maritime front of the country. It is unethical for the President to express this. As regards the issue on custody, how can the US allow its citizen to stay in a stinking Philippine jail some of which are pitifully filled to the rafters? The Philippine government extends assistance to its citizens that have figured in drug activities in other countries, even go to the extent of appealing for the calling off of a death sentence. So how can the US be blamed for protecting its citizen, too, and who still has to undergo trial, yet, on a foreign shore? Also, there is another question on the fickle justice system of the Philippines. So how can the US government leave its citizen at the mercy of such system, by letting him languish in a stinking jail for a case that may take years to be resolved?

Finally, Atty. Harry Roque should know better than instigate his client, the Laude family into loudly protesting the supposedly injustice committed on their member, Jeffrey, by the suspected American soldier. The mother and the sister of Jeffrey even went into dramatics by insisting that they just want to ask the suspect why he committed the crime. What if the American will tell them that Jeffrey did not honor the agreed cost of service by asking for more after their act, or that Jeffrey tried to steal something from him? Will Jeffrey’s mother and sister accept the allegations calmly? Nobody in his right mind will commit such crime without any reason at all. The question on the gender of Jeffrey is out, as the sexual act was supposedly concluded which implied acceptance on the part of the suspect.

On the other hand, as a lawyer, Atty. Roque should show restraint for the sake of reason and fair justice. No amount of shouts can put the suspect in jail, this early. Trial has not yet even started, but, Atty. Roque acts as if verdict has already been handed down in favor of the suspect.

I am not taking sides. I am just amplifying realities already presented by the different media for fair information of the public. If ever conclusions have been drawn by viewers, I would like to presume that these are their personal opinions that should be respected. Sensitive issues should be perceived with open mind so that due and diligent scrutiny can be made. There are so many factors that must be considered, aside from the immediate ones that surround them. Some may not even be visible unless patiently researched. They are deeply-rooted and cling to other issues that involve security and economy of countries concerned. Most importantly, we should not resort to finger-pointing.