The Irony of the Philippine Government’s “Prides”

The Irony of the Philippine Government’s “Prides”

By Apolinario Villalobos

The Philippines, first and foremost is an agricultural country but the government is insisting on infrastructures to make it at par with other realistically progressive neighboring Asian countries. Mountains are left to unscrupulous and illegal loggers. Rice fields are converted into housing areas. Resources for renewable energy are left untapped. Garbage in cities are not disposed properly. Manila is becoming the dump site of waste from industrial countries. Most towns and even small cities are without drainage systems and clean source of potable and socialized  water system. Manila infinitely, is suffering from traffic and flood. Despite all these hurting realities, the Department of Tourism prides in its slogan “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” and the administration of Pnoy with its “Matuwid na Daan”.

The country also prides in its world-class universities where knowledge on economics, industry and more, are supposed to be bred. The first rice-breeding laboratory in Asia can be found in Los Baῆos, Laguna, and which has trained agricultural scientists from other countries….but the country yearly imports rice from the countries of these once “students” of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). We have lakes, and other small bodies of water and rice paddies that can be converted into small-scale fish farm, but foreign financiers keep on strangling tilapia and bangus in much abused Laguna lake using small fish pens…and shamefully, we import even the common galunggong from Taiwan. Meanwhile, the streams and lakes are polluted by seepage from mining sites decimating the fish population, rendering them useless and leaving those who depend on them go hungry.

And the worst irony is the ill-prepared K-12 program that the government is touting to prepare the youth for jobs abroad! Such insanity is true because good-paying jobs for skilled workers are found in other countries. Will K-12 finishers like to work in this country where contractualization for five months is the common practice, and for a take home pay which can barely maintain the daily existence of a family of four? Even if jobs will flood the country, still the pay will be pittance due to the prevailing policies that are unfair to labor! That is the reason why labor unions do not tire of shouting invectives against the government for its failure to remedy the situation, especially, the contractualization. Obviously, the K-12 program has been hastily implemented so that it can be included in the list of accomplishments of Pnoy.

The government prides in the “quality education program”. Still, ironically, the textbooks are so commercialized, obviously making the publishers and conniving government officials, and even schools rich, and making it impossible for the poor to go on with their effort to acquire basic education. I found out that one book for a level of the K-12 program costs 700 pesos, and to think that such book shall be discarded at the end of school year! How about the classrooms without chairs and whose students are overflowing to the corridor or being lectured in gyms, basketball courts, under trees, etc? Lucky are communities with overflowing students than those without schools! Worst, how about the schools without decent toilets, or with decency only good for several months after school opening as maintenance is next to impossible due to the lack of water facilities and fund?

I love my country…but I hate the corrupt system of the government today, and the liars that “operate” it to their own advantage! Nevertheless, I am still hoping that from the coming generations, decent and conscientious leaders will rise to heal the wounds of this ailing country…..

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The Planned Loan from the Asian Development Bank…and its impending further bleeding of the Filipinos!

The Planned Loan from the Asian Development Bank

…and its impending further bleeding of the Filipinos!

By Apolinario Villalobos

Months ago, at least two surveys reported that the Philippines has been recovering from its economic woes, with the figure of unemployment reduced, rice in abundance, etc. Yet, it was followed by the “fluctuation” of the peso due to underspending of the government and of course, the people who has nothing to spend, anyway, then the announcement that the government is importing rice to buffer its stock to prevent hunger. Lately, the confusing scenario is worsened by the joint statement of ADB President Takehiko Nakao and Philippine Finance Secretary that Asian Development Bank, based in Metro Manila is ready to increase loans from USD1.8 billion for 2015-2017 up to USD 3billion from 2016 to 2018, and as based on the country’s latest accountability, would be about 66 percent increase!

The series of loans shall purportedly continue to “support the country’s infrastructure needs, programs to strengthen high school education, job creation for the youth, social protection and development in the southern Philippines.” Purisima added that support from ADB “ is crucial and quality education and infrastructure are needed to fuel growth beneficial to all.” Wow!…what a mouthful avowal!

The country is now wallowing in debt renewed every year for the same reasons but no tangible result can be seen. The glaring example is the K-12 program which has been haphazardly launched without the needed preparation due to the “lack of fund”!…no materials, no teachers appropriately trained, lack of rooms – the same problems since after the Martial Law! What is funny, even with the billions of donations for the rehabilitation of the Yolanda typhoon (Hayan) victims, not a single statement from the government about its progress is heard. So, what “funding” can the government honestly handle, when even the mentioned donation is being viewed as mishandled…and with so many questions about it left unanswered?

And, what infrastructure is Purisima talking about?….the “built and destroyed” roads for what reason, the people already know, if not due to poor quality of materials used by contractors?….there are many government structures that need refurbishing but are left untouched! Purisima should go out to the countryside to validate his statements that indeed, the loans are being used for the building of infrastructure – check for himself, the length of highways and roads already built, number of bridges already finished, and most especially, farm to market roads that have been “really” built!

On tourism, what has the government done? If not for the initiative and resourcefulness of the local facilities and tour operators, the industry would have gone down the drain due to neglect. What little historic remains of the once hated Spanish colonialism are left to rot due to non-availability of funds but the Filipinos are surprised at the notoriously hefty amounts of money that have gone to the pockets of the unscrupulous government officials…that is why, there are cases being investigated now. What a shame!

The Philippines is a sucker to what ADB keeps on telling the world that its economy has grown rapidly for several years and expanded 6.1 percent in 2014, forecasting still, that by the end of 2015, it will rise to 6.4 percent, and 6.3 percent in 2016. Are the ADB people serious about their revelation? Where did they get their information?…from paid survey firms? What economy is this bank talking about with the practice of the five-month contractual employment going on?…the decline of agriculture industry?…the mining industry given on silver platter to the foreign miners, especially, Chinese?…. the poor Filipinos left with the sidewalk vending business while decent ones are left to the Chinese and Koreans in malls that these same foreigners built? Are these foreign “investors” expected to invest further in the country, as common sense dictates that they should bring back to their country what earnings they have sucked from this ailing country?

The presence of the BPO outfits in the country should not be relied on to bolster its economic foundation. These are service-oriented companies that can easily be pulled out anytime, just like the factories. They rely on service output that can be done anywhere with cheap labor. Try to imagine if these BPOs and factories suddenly transferred their companies to neighboring Asian countries such as Malaysia, Vietnam or Cambodia, because of unrest in the country, and what do we get?…ghost economic processing zones of Cavite, Baguio, Cebu; empty commercial buildings vacated by BPOs, and unemployed four-year course university and college graduates – call center agents, gawking at emptiness pitifully left with developed vices of smoking and drinking!

The government should wake up to the reality that the country’s economy is crucially hinged on remittances of OFW, toiling pitifully, some even in inhuman situations, in countries  some of which are already feeling the pang of economic adversity that is slowly gripping the world.

The government should never mention quality education to bolster its “accomplishment”, with the yearly tuition increase that its concerned agencies are tolerating. The situation is worsened, again, by the K-12 program that has become the dead- end for the aspirations of the youth, who cannot even afford a backpack for school materials and a decent pair of shoes, much more a breakfast of gruel before going to school.

So, if the loan from the ADB materializes, the guess of my dumbfounded compatriots about this shocking revelation, as to where the money shall go…is as good as mine! …nothing has changed for our beloved country, despite the proliferation of university-educated officials that hold its reins…some even claiming to be descendants of historic political figures!

Ang Daang Matuwid ni Benigno Aquino III…nasaan ito?…tigilan na niya ang pag-iilusyon

Ang Daang Matuwid ni Benigno Aquino III

…nasaan ito?…tigilan na niya ang pag-iilusyon!

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Daang matuwid na ang binanggit ni Pnoy

Sa unang araw pa lamang ng kanyang panunungkulan

Doon daw niya aakayin ang bayan.

Dinagdagan pa ang kanyang pambobola

Dahil sa kanyang mga boss, siya ay makikinig pa daw

Nguni’t ito pala’y pangakong ampaw!

Upang umangat daw, buhay ng mahihirap

May ipinangakong pagsagana ng pagkain lalo na bigas

Subali’t salita lang pala ng mandurugas!

Sa pamahalaang kay tagal nang lupaypay

Maraming palpak best friends na itinalaga at iniluklok

Kaya gobyerno niya ay mabantot, bulok!

Siya ay pinalakpakan, inakalang tutupad

Sa binitiwang pangako para sa mga bakwet – mga tirahan

Palpak din, sa gutom, kumalam pa ang tiyan!

‘Pinas ay nabulaga dahil sa kanyang inasta –

Pagkatapos ng barilan doon sa Mamasapano, Maguindanao

Wari’y sapilitan, pagsilip sa SAF44 na pumanaw!

Siguro iniisip niya, di naman siya magugutom

Kaya nagtaas man mga presyo ng bilihin, si Pnoy, dedma pa rin

Dahil walang pakialam sa mga taong gusgusin!

Naniniwala sa lahat ng report na kagila-gilalas

Mula sa mga taong nakapaligid sa kanya…lahat mga mambobola

Umangat daw ang ‘Pinas!… napamangha siya!

Dahil nagagalit na at naiinis pa ang sambayanan

Dapat ay tumigil na itong presidente sa kanyang pagsisinungaling

Dahil baka sa kangkungan lang siya makakarating

Sa pagtahak niya sa kanyang matuwid daw na daan

Ganoong ang mga sinasabi’y puro drowing lang naman!

“Mr. President, may nakalimutan po kayo sa inyong talumpati….” tungkol ito sa huling SONA ni Pnoy

“Mr. President, may mga nakalimutan po kayo

sa inyong huling talumpati…”

ni Apolinario Villalobos

“Kung ang State of the Nation Address o SONA, sa Pilipino ay talumpati tungkol sa tunay na kalagayan ng bansa, marami po kayong nakalimutang banggitin, Mr. President. Ang mga nabanggit ninyo kasi ay tila hindi tumutugma sa tunay na kalagayang nakikita naming mga boss ninyo. Kaya bilang boss ay nagtatanong ako… kami. Kungbaga sa office, “pinag-eexplain why” po namin kayo, dahil ang ganoong sitwasyon ang gusto ninyo, hindi po ba? Paano namin mauunawaan ang dinadanas ninyong hirap bilang presidente ng isang bansa na umaapaw sa dami ang mga korap na opisyal kung kayo mismo ay nagsasabi na walang problema? Maisasaing ba namin ang papel na may mga numero na nagsasabing umangat ang kalagayan ng bansa? Maaari ba namin itong ipa-xerox upang mapalitan ng pera?

Mr. President, hindi ba lumalala ang problema ng droga kaya maski nakakulong na ang mga drug lords ay nakakapag-operate pa rin? Hindi ba problema ang kawalan ng mga gamot sa mga ospital at klinika ng gobyerno, maski pa sinasabi ninyong lumawak ang sinakop ng Philhealth? Hindi ba problema ang lumalalang trapik dahil sa hindi makontrol na pagdami ng mga sasakyan ganoong hindi naman nalalaparan o nadadagdagan ang mga kalsada? Hindi ba problema ang hindi pagpansin ng mga telcom servers tulad ng Smart at Globe sa lumalalang problema sa kanilang signal na hindi nila inaayos sa kabila ng warning ng gobyerno, kaya para na rin nilang niloloko ang mga kawawang customer na walang magawa dahil wala silang choice?

Hindi ba problema ang baha? Hindi ba problema ang pagkakaipit ng matataas na presyo ng bigas kaya hindi bumaba sa dati nilang lebel? Hindi ba problema ang kawalan ng trabaho pagkalipas ng limang buwang kontrata, kahit pa sinasabi ninyong maraming negosyo sa Pilipinas? Kaya ang nangyayari, sa loob ng limang buwan ay masaya dahil may makakain pa…pero pagkatapos ng limang buwan, buong pamilya, kumakalam ang sikmura at nakanganga! Ang paghukay ba ng lupa na may mineral upang hakutin sa ibang bansa ang tinatawag ninyong investment ng mga dayuhan?

Bakit hindi ninyo binanggit ang Freedom of Information Bill na kung ilang taon nang nabagoong, ganoong wala naman kayong dapat katakutan dahil hindi naman kayo korap…sabi nyo yan, di ba? Ayaw ba ng mga kaalyado ninyo dahil natutumbok sila? Bakit wala man lang kayong nabanggit tungkol sa Mamasapano massacre na sariwa pa sa isipan ng mga Pilipino, lalo na sa mga pamilyang namatayan, kaya walang dahilan upang makalimutan ninyo?

Bakit hindi nyo man lang mabanggit-banggit na ang pinagmamalaki nyong Pantawid Pamilya Program ay sinimulan ni Gloria Arroyo at ang orihinal na tawag ay cash transfer program, at pinalawak nyo lang? Pati ang extension ng LRT hanggang Cavite, hindi ba nabuo ang ideya noong panahon din ni Gloria na dapat nga daw ay lalampas pa ng Bacoor at ang dapat na babaybayin ay Aguinaldo Highway?

Bakit hindi pinapaalam sa taong bayan na hanggang ngayon ay walang linaw ang rehabilitasyon ng mga nasalanta ng bagyong Yolanda at mga biktima ng pagsalakay ng MNLF sa Zamboanga na hanggang ngayon ay nasa kalunus-lunos na kalagayan ang mga pansamantalang tirahan? Kung sakali, baka may magbigay pa uli ng mga donasyon. Yon nga lang, magkakaproblema uli kung makakarating ba talaga sa mga biktima dahil sa dami ng mga uwak at buwitre na nakaabang!

Bakit kailangang ipagmalaki ninyo ang kuryente na umabot na sa mga liblib na lugar, ganoong ang mayroon nang mga linya ay nagdurusa naman sa mahahabang blackout? Seryoso ba kayo tungkol sa bagay na ito?…o totoo kaya ang report sa inyo?

Bakit  pinagmamalaki ninyo  ang pagdating ng prototype ng mga gagawing bagon ng MRT at kung maaaprubahan ay tuluy-tuloy na ang pagdating ng iba, ganoong ang pinakadahilan ng pagkaantala ng rehabilitasyon ng mass transport system na ito ay ang hindi ninyo pagbitaw kay Vitangcol sa mahabang panahon sa kabila ng naghuhumiyaw niyang kaso? Sino siya, at tila ganoon na lang siya kahalaga sa administrasyon ninyo?

Kung napakahaba ng pagkakataon ang ginugol ninyo sa pagpapasalamat sa inyong yaya, hairdresser, stylist, at mga cabinet secretaries na kwestiyonable naman ang mga performance, at iba pang hindi kailangang banggitin, bakit ang mga mahahalagang bagay ay initsa-pwera ninyo? Hindi ba kayo pwedeng magdaos na lang ng get-together o thanksgiving party sa Club Filipino para sa kanila at doon ay pasalamatan sila with hug o kiss pa?  Kung sabagay dahil sa mga pangalang binanggit ninyo ay nakarinig naman kayo ng mga palakpakan, eh, di wow!… dahil siguro kailangan ninyo ng pampalakas ng loob…okey lang! Sana ay hindi nerbiyos ang pahiwatig ng ilang beses ninyong pag-ubo…o baka kung ano na yan….concerned lang po, Mr. President.

Hindi lang siguro ako ang nagtatanong dahil marami ang nag-abang sa mga sasabihin ninyo sa inyong talumpati…subalit maaaring pati sila ay disappointed din dahil sa kalagitnaan pa lang ay inantok na, at naglipat ng estasyon ng TV o radyo dahil wala rin namang maririnig na bago. Kung pipilitin kayong sagutin ang tanong kung bakit marami kayong nakalimutan…baka sasagot lang kayo ng, “basta”. Kapag umabot na sa ganito, may magagawa ba kami?…eh, di wala!!!!

Isang abang mamamayan lang po ako na may maliit na boses…at umaasang maunawaan ninyo ang pakay ng mensahe kong ito na hindi naninira ng pagkatao ninyo, hindi tulad ng iba na idinodrowing ang mukha ninyong may sungay. Hindi rin ito tulad ng isang effigy ninyong nakakatakot ang hitsura na sinusunog pa. Iniisip ko lang po na kung ang mga taong tinuturing ninyong kaibigan ay hindi makapagsabi o makapagtanong, gagawin ko po ito bilang karapatan ng isang boss dahil yon ang palagi ninyong sinasabi…at kahit papaano ay yon lang din ang pinaniwalaan ko….wala nang iba. Kung pasado naman sa inyo ang ginawa ko…eh, di wow!”

Bakit Hindi Binabatikos ng mga Militante si Binay?…napansin ko lang

Bakit Hindi Binabatikos ng mga Militante

Si Binay?….napansin ko lang

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Kapansin-pansing sa kabila ng mga imbestigasyong nangyayari sa mga Binay, wala man lang ni isang militanteng grupo na sumusuporta sa mga ginagawang ito. Subalit kung si Pnoy naman ang binabatikos, may mga sinusunog pa silang effigy nito. Ano ang ibig nilang sabihin?…na may dalawang uri ng korapsyon?

Kung ang pinaglalaban ng mga militanteng grupo ay prinsipyo at kapakanan ng taong bayan, dapat ay pantay ang kanilang ginagawang aksiyon. Hindi ba korapsyon ang isyu laban sa mga Binay? Mga kaalyado lang ba ng presidente ang itinuturing nilang korap? Bakit ang mga senador at mga kongresman na alam nilang mga korap ay ayaw nilang igawa ng mga effigy at sunugin sa Luneta, tapat ng grandstand upang malawak ang mapagdadausan at marami ang makakakita o kung gusto nilang pasundan ng rally ay lalong mabuti dahil malawak ang lugar? Bakit palaging si Pnoy na lang ang pinapatutsadahan nila ganoong hindi naman ito ang mismong korap kundi ang mga nakapaligid sa kanya?

Hindi ko pinapanigan si Pnoy dahil binabatikos ko rin siya pero hanggang sa mga bagay na tingin ko ay mga kakulangan at kahinaan lamang niya bilang presidente. Kung ang problema ng mga militanteng grupo ay ang sinasabi nilang pakikialam ng Amerika sa Pilipinas, bakit hindi nila ipaglaban ang pagbabago sa Saligang Batas upang mabawasan ang kapangyarihan ng presidente sa pamamagitan ng pagbabago din ng sistema ng gobyerno upang tuluyang mawala sa eksena ang mga Amerikano?

Dapat unawain ng mga grupong ito na dahil sa patung-patong na utang ng Pilipinas, nakikialam ang mga inutangan kung paano magamit ang inutang na pera upang siguradong maibalik sa kanila ang mga ito na may kasama pang interest.

Ang pagsulpot ng mga Amerikano dahil sa Balikatan Exercise ay kailangan ng Pilipinas kahit papaano.  Ginagawa rin ng maraming bansa sa ibang kontinente ang ganito dahil sa magandang relasyon nila sa isa’t isa. At isa pa, malinaw naman na may interes din ang Amerika sa West Philippine Sea kaya talagang hindi ito magpapabayang makamkam nang ganoon na lamang ng Tsina ang nasabing dagat…ano ang problema dito? Malinaw naman sa buong mundo na itinuturing na “highway” ng mga naglalayag na mga barko ng iba’t ibang bansa ang nasabing dagat.  Ang pag-aalala ay pangkalahatan, hindi lang ng Pilipinas, kaya bakit itinuturing na problema ng mga militanteng grupong Pilipino ang pagpapakitang-gilas ng Amerika sa bahaging ito ng Dagat Pasipiko upang makapanindak man lang kahit bahagya sa Tsina?

Dapat ang pagtuunan ng pansin ng mga militanteng grupo ay ang kaso ng mga Binay, upang lumabas na talagang prinsipyo ang pinaglalaban nila. Kung kakalabanin pa rin nila ang mga korap na kaalyado ni Pnoy, mas lalong magaling. Kung yon ang gagawin nila, lalabas na talagang “instrumento” sila ng Demokrasya, hindi ng kung ano pa mang ideyolohiya.

Kimberly Bautista Rosel:Angel on the Road

Kimberly Bautista Rosel: Angel on the Road

By Apolinario Villalobos

Around seven in the morning of July 26, I was on my way to Divisoria, on a jeepney that plied the Mabini Street of Ermita. At the corner of Salas St., two young Koreans hailed the jeepney and showing the photo on their cellphone to the driver, asked if he was passing by the said landmark. The driver inaudibly replied which was of course, not understood by the tourists. At this point, I asked them if it was alright for me to see the landmark on their cellphone which I found to be the bastion of Intramuros, after which I gave them directions.

A young pretty lady across from where I sat, volunteered that she was on her way to Intramuros and offered to guide the couple. She told me that she was a student of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) and that she had enough time to drop the two tourists where they wanted to start their walking tour. As I was impressed by her attitude which was another inspiring act, my favorite subject for blogs, I ventured if it was okey for me to write something about her, giving my “credential” in the process. Also I asked her to share with me what would transpire in the course of her angelic gesture. As the three hastily alighted for a connecting ride, all I got from the young lady was her name, “Kimberly”.  I thought she would forget all about me until I checked my facebook the following day for any message from her which I fortunately got. With it she sent a “friend request” which I immediately confirmed.

She was Kimberly Bautista Rosel. In her message, she shared that she brought the young tourists to the landmark where they wanted to start their walking tour. Not long afterwards,  pedicab drivers approached them to offer their service of a quick tour of the Walled City but were declined with her help, as the tourists knew only a sprinkling of English.  After giving more information, she left them and hastily proceeded to her class. She shared that they were wondering why I was nice to them on the jeepney to which she explained the Filipino trait of volunteerism.

At sixteen, Kimberly impressed me as having a strong personality. During our short exchange of pleasantries on the jeepney, and while talking to the tourists, she spoke with confidence and in a very good English without a ‘trying hard” twang, for which many teens are apt to do today. I was not surprised as I found later that her mother is a teacher. She also unabashedly confided that her father is a driver in a school in Pasay City. Her family hails from Nasugbu, Batangas. When I checked the photos on her facebook, I found images of a happy family.

Kimberly is the epitome of the Filipino hospitality, on which hinges the effort of the country in upholding its lure in the face of the cutthroat competition in the tourism industry. Hopefully, the two Korean tourists will tell their friends back home about their experience, that indeed, the Philippines is really a safe place where one can enjoy the sights and goodwill of the people. I firmly believe that “word of mouth” is more effective than the printed advertisements, as the former is a reliable first-hand account.

Kimberley more than advertised the country with her act. If I may add, she is also pretty, a typical dusky Filipina. How I wish there are thousands more of her kind that tourists will find along their way around the country.

Ang Tubig at Hangin

Ang Tubig at Hangin

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Ang tubig at hangin –

Bahagi ng buhay kung sila ay ituring.

Sa tubig ng sinapupunan nakalutang

Ang binhi ng buhay na sumisibol pa lamang

Na sa mundong lalabasa’y walang kamuwang-muwang.

Gaya ng tubig, ang hangi’y buhay din,

Nagpapatibok sa puso, nagpapapintig;

Ang sibol, nakapikit man, ito ay nakakarinig

Na animo  ay naghahanda na, paglabas niya sa daigdig.

Hangin ang unang malalanghap niya

Sa takdang panahong siya’y isinilang na,

At, sa kaguluhan ng mundo

Imumulat ang mga mata

Kasabay ng malakas niyang pag-uha.

Sa tigang na lupa, ang tubig ay buhay

Ito’y ulang bumabagsak mula sa kalawakan

Subali’t kapag lumabis na’t hindi mapigilan

Nagiging baha, pumipinsala sa sangkatauhan

Ganoon din ang hangin na dulot ay ginhawa

Basta ang ihip, huwag lang magbago ng timpla.

Baha at bagyo

Dulot ng tubig at hangin sa mundo

Hindi masawata

Kaya dulot ay matinding pinsala

Subali’t sana, kahit papaano’y maiibsan

Kung napangalagaan natin ang kalikasan

Na ating inalipusta nang ganon na lamang!