The “Other Side” of Divisoria (Manila, Philippines)

The “Other Side” of Divisoria (Manila, Philippines)

By Apolinario Villalobos


While Divisoria has always been known as the shoppers’ Mecca, especially, during Christmas, there is” another side” of it which I do not want to present as an image of poverty but that of perseverance, patience, and honest endeavor. This is the “other Divisoria” which many people just refuse to see as it might cause them to puke! The accompanying photos show how these honest Filipinos contentedly strive to live in sheer honesty.


The skeptics always say, “it is their fault for going to Manila and suffer deprivation”. These hypocrite skeptics have  TV, radio, and occasionally read newspapers, so they should know that the provinces from where these people who are eking out an honest living on the “other side” of Divisoria, are infested with NPAs, Abu Sayyaf, opportunistic landlords, and loan sharks. For the arrogant, the world is just for those who can afford to live decently. On the other hand, as these skeptics have not endured days of hunger, they may not understand how it is to make a difficult decision to live a hand-to-mouth life in Manila by scavenging in garbage dumps, rather than die of hunger and be in constant fear for dear life in the province.


It is true that the slums have been in existence for many decades now, but there would be no slums had the government ever since the time the nation has become independent, did not get infested with corrupt lawmakers and officials. The slums have been around since the time that deprivation and exploitation have been propagated by learned Filipinos who found their way in the halls of Congress and Senate, as well as, agencies, even at the helm of the government. Unfortunately, the seed of exploitation has grown into an uncontrollable proportion today, making corruption as wrongly and unfairly viewed to be always a part of the Filipino culture.


The striving people from the slums near Divisoria, and other districts of Manila, in this regard, may be viewed by the arrogant as akin to dogs and cats, because of their many children, oftentimes making them utter unsavory remark, such as, “they know they are poor, yet, they keep on having children”.


How I wish these skeptics can also openly, make biting remarks –

  • to the corrupt politicians and government officials, such as, “they graduated from prestigious universities and colleges, yet, they do not know what is right or wrong”


  • to the filthy rich, such as, “they have plenty of money, yet they can’t even throw a piece of bread to a beggar”


  • to the stiff-necked Catholic priests, pastors, and other religious ministers such as, “they are supposed to be representatives of the Lord, but they can’t afford to take a look at the spiritually hungry”


Finally, compared to the disgusting hypocrites, loan sharks, corrupt government officials, arrogant “religious ministers” and conscienceless rich, who are supposed to be learned and intelligent, the people who honestly make a living such as those who belong to the “other side” of Divisoria, are worthy to be called creatures of God – true human beings…slum denizens who are viewed by aforementioned with utter repugnance.


(This blog will definitely, not hurt those who do not belong to the mentioned “classes” of loathsome Filipinos.)



Ang Addiction, Harakiri, at Dangal

Ang Addiction,  Harakiri, at Dangal

Ni Apolinario Villalobos


Ang addiction ay hindi limitado lang sa alak, sigarilyo at droga. Sa Pilipinas, may mga maidadagdag pa sa listahan: addiction sa pera, addiction sa pagsinungaling, at addiction sa cellphone.


Ang mga sintomas ng addiction sa pera ay ang hindi makontrol na paggalaw ng mga hinlalaki (thumb) at hintuturo (thumb) sa pagkiskisan na animo ay nagbibilang ng pera, pagkataranta kapag nakarinig na kalansing ng baryang nahulog, panlalaki ng mga mata kapag pinag-uusapan ang pera, at madalas na pagkadulas sa pagsabi ng “how much are you”, sa halip na “how are you”. Talamak itong sakit sa Kongreso at Senado at iba pang mga ahensiya ng gobyerno na palaging may project (na pinagkikitaan).


Ang mga sintomas naman ng addiction sa pagsisinungaling ay ang hindi nawawalang ngiti sa mga labi upang ipakita sa iba na malinis ang kanyang budhi at isip, pagsambit ng pangalan ng Diyos na idinudugtong sa mga pangako, pagbanggit ng kidlat, kulog, malusaw, mamatay, at iba pang kahindik-hindik na mga salita upang idiin ang katotohanan kuno ng mga sinabi niya at yong iba ay binebetsinan pa ng “peks man” at “cross my heart”, at ang pinakamalinaw na palatandaan ay ang walang kabuhay-buhay at hindi kumukurap na mga matang nandidilat habang nagsasalita sa harap ng camera dahil nag-aalala na baka madulas ang kanyang dila.


At, ang addiction naman sa cellphone ay may mga sintomas na paggalaw-galaw ng hinlalaki na animo ay may pinipindot. Napapansin din ang hindi mapalagay na pagkilos ng addict kapag ang katabi ay may kausap sa cellphone dahil parang may nag-uutos sa kanyang agawin ang cellphone upang siya naman ang makipag-usap. Napapakislot din itong uri ng addict kapag may naririnig na tunog ng cellphone, na sinasabayan pa ng pagdidila ng mga labi na para bang natatakam sa pagkain. At sa isang tahanan, malalaman kung may mga addict sa cellphone kapag may nagbabangayan na maririnig hanggang kalye dahil sa pagwawala ng mga anak na gustong magkaroon ng mga bagong cellphone.


Kung dangal naman ang pag-uusapan, matindi ang mga Hapon sa pag-alaga nito. Nagpapakamatay sila kapag nadungisan ang kanilang dangal. Yong mga nasa gobyerno ng Japan, na nabigla o hindi sinasadyang nakagawa ng masama ay nagpapatiwakal agad kahit hindi pa nasisimulan ang imbestigasyon.


Kung sa Pilipinas mangyayari ang pagpapatiwalak o pagharakiri ng mga nagkasalang government officials, siguradong walang matitira….mula sa pinakamataas na puwesto hanggang sa ibaba. Pero hindi nangyayari, dahil sinanay ang mga Pilipino ng mga prayle o Spanish friars noong panahon ng mga Kastila sa paniniwalang kahit sangkaterba ang kasalanan, lusaw ang mga ito sa paulit-ulit na pagdasal ng Our Father, Hail Mary, at I Believe in God,  na ipinapataw sa nagkumpisal. Kaya ngayon, tingnan ninyong mabuti kung sino ang mga mahilig gumawa ng mga kasalanan na nakaluklok sa kawawang gobyerno ng Pilipinas!…hindi ba silang mga nananalig sa kumpisal?…dahil pagkatapos ng mga penance ay gagawa uli sila ng mga kasalanan!

Plans, Promises, and Pleadings of Candidates During Philippine Electoral Campaigns

Plans, Promises, and Pleadings of

Candidates During Philippine Electoral Campaigns

By Apolinario Villalobos


The electoral campaigns in the Philippines are treated by Filipinos as both spectacle and financial opportunity. Candidates assume different convincing facial expressions as they blurt out plans and promises if they are voted to the position and these are spiced up with pleadings that are made colorful with courteous vernacular words such as, “po”, “ho”, “opo”, “oho”, “natin”. Audiences are entertained by singers and dancers from the showbiz industry. Virtually, during electoral campaigns, corrupt personalities become saintly, and worse, demean themselves by being funny as they take the risk of being ridiculed – all in the name of the dirty Philippine politics. As a financial opportunity, well….vote-buying is done in the open, no question about that.


Mar Roxas plans to transfer the Manila International Airport to Clark Airbase. He must be dizzy when he mentioned this during an interview. He forgot about the terribly unpredictable traffic along the South Luzon Expressway going through which would take at least three hours before a motorist from Metro Manila could make it to the first Bulacan town. The reality is, if one would come from the Metro Manila area, he or she has to muster, yet, any of the hellish traffic along EDSA, Pasay, Roxas Boulevard, Commonwealth and Rizal Avenue. Passengers are used to reaching the airport today from their residence within the city or the suburbs such as Cavite, Laguna, Novaliches, and Antipolo in just about two or three hours depending on the unpredictable traffic. With the transfer of the airport to Clark, they must allow at least six hours, inclusive of the two hours leeway for the check-in before the published departure time. Worst is if the passenger will have to commute by bus to Clark. To be safe, a passenger will have to spend for an overnight somewhere around Clark Air Base if he or she is taking a flight the following day. Even if the government will offer free shuttle service, the same hellish traffic  will be dealt with along the way.


Roxas keeps on promising the continuance of the programs of the administration to which he is so much attached as if with strong sentimentality. What is there to continue, anyway?…the obvious inept and insensitive attitude?…and still, another big question is, has there been anything accomplished that benefits at least the majority of the impoverished? If he is talking about the cash being doled out, such program is still being questioned, as in some areas it is allegedly tainted with graft.  If he is talking about the “progress” based on statistics, this too, is being viewed as dubiously self-serving. He should also, not forget that the administration still has to answer many questions as regards the fate of donations for the typhoon Yolanda victims, aside from so many other issues with the hottest, as the Mamasapano massacre and the purported well-concealed pork barrel in the just-approved budget. It would do him good at least, if he scraps out the “tuwid na daan” from his campaign statements and just promise what he can do. He should make people believe in his capability, not in his association with Aquino whose reputation is debatable. As for being not corrupt, he could claim that.


Duterte is promising to eradicate criminality and corruption in six months or he would resign. Unless heads will roll at least within the first two months upon his assumption if elected, he better be prepared with a resignation statement. How can he control the undisciplined and financially-pampered Congress? For a town, city, or province, this may be possible, but not for a nation whose law-making bodies got calloused with corruption.


Binay on the other hand, keeps on saying that he is not corrupt. He must be imagining that the Filipinos are idiot! It is suggested that the word “corrupt” be not ever mentioned in any of his campaign ads, or uttered by him. He should, instead, promise hospitals and terminal buildings to be built during his incumbency…and find out if his listeners will boo him just like what he experienced in Cebu.


Candidates for the 2016 election know that plans and promises during the past electoral campaigns were made to be broken, so they will do it, too. They should not be meddling in politics if they are not honestly aware of this fact. Those that will come after them will again make promises, propose plans, and plead, as expected. During the electoral campaign that will follow, it will be done again….still, again and again…..a vicious cycle of the dirty Philippine politics!



The Monstrous Problem of Manila’s Metro Rail Transit (MRT)

The Monstrous Problem of Manila’s Metro Rail Transit (MRT)

By Apolinario Villalobos


The seemingly regular occurrence of crack, though, hairline in some portions of the MRT should have given a clear signal to the management that there is something wrong with the quality of the steel rails. Several years ago, China was prominently put in the limelight when inferior steel bars from the mainland that were supposed to be delivered to the provinces were intercepted. The locals dubbed them as fake steel which was not true, although, just of low-grade quality – inferior. Accordingly, they were sent back, but many are alleging that some are still stashed away in warehouses and being sold liberally. Steel is graded according to its quality that would suit its purpose, as well as, ability to withstand stress, and the grade must be compatible with the kind of welding rod to be used.


There is a question now, as to whether quality control has been observed in checking  the delivered steel bars of MRT or not, knowing how the tolerant culture of Filipinos is oftentimes observed in many projects, that has got to do with the “ pwede na” or “sige na lang” attitude.  In fact, when the new trains have been delivered, another problem came out, that of compatibility with the towing capability of the engine. The questionable quality of the steel rails has compounded the poorly-maintained elevators, escalators, and toilet facilities…making the MRT one of the monster problems of the Aquino administrations due to lackadaisical attitude of his supposedly trusted people.


Many are wondering why the Light Rail Transit which was built during the Marcos administration seldom encounters frequent problem on the cracked rails. Has it got to do with corruption? There is a general impression today, that corruption during the time of Marcos was stringently “controlled”, unlike the presence of such repugnant practice in practically, all levels of transaction today.

Umaayon ang mga Pagkakataon kay Pnoy na Pinaghandaan Niya

Umaayon ang mga Pagkakataon kay Pnoy

na Pinaghandaan Niya

Ni Apolinario Villalobos


Sa pagkalaglag ni Mar Roxas mula sa kalinga ni Pnoy Aquino dahil sa hindi pagka-apruba sa dalawang libong pisong dagdag sa buwanang pensiyon ng mga retirado, wala ring problema sakaling manalo si Jejomar Binay. Dapat tandaang ang kalaban ni Binay ay ang tatlong senador na pursigidong siya ay makulong-  sina Escudero, Trillanes at Pimentel. Sa isang banda ay paulit-ulit na sinasabi ni Binay na malaki ang utang na loob niya kay Cory Aquino na siyang nagluklok sa kanya sa Makati City bilang mayor nang umupo ito bilang presidente pagkatapos ng People Power 1. Dahil diyan, malayo sa isip niya na sumuporta sa anumang balak na kasuhan si Pnoy, bilang pagpapakita ng utang na loob. Wala rin siyang probema dahil naghihintay na sa kanya ang pork barrel fund na inaprubahan ni Pnoy, na lalo pang nilakihan sa halagang nakakalula.


Maraming mapaggagamitan ang pork barrel fund na inaprubahan ni Pnoy, lalo na sa panunuhol upang maharangan ang anumang tangkang kasuhan siya sa kanyang pagbaba at pagkawala ng immunity. Sa Ingles wika nga ay, the road has been paved for smooth travel….o pag-absuwelto kay Pnoy mula sa anumang kaso. Majority ng miyembro ng Korte Suprema ay naimpluwensiyahan na ni Pnoy at ang iba ay iniluklok naman niya sa panahon ng kanyang panunungkulan kaya hindi maiiwasang magkaroon sila ng utang na loob sa kanya. Yong mga inuluklok ni Pnoy na nagsasabi ng, “gagawin ko lang ang trabahong itinalaga sa akin”, ay mabuti pang manahimik na lamang mula ngayon dahil siguradong sisirain lang nila ang binitiwang pangako. Hindi dapat kalimutan na ang isang bahagi ng kultura ng mga Pilipino ay matiim na nakaangkla sa “utang na loob” na siya namang dahilan kung bakit napakarumi ng pulitika sa Pilipinas.


Ang mga nabanggit na senaryo ay malamang na matagal nang nakikita ni Pnoy kaya kung gumawa siya ng mararahas na aksiyon na taliwas sa mga inaasahan ay ganoon na lang. Samantala, ang pag-asa na lamang ay ang kasong inilalatag sa kanya ni Juan Ponce Enrile tungkol sa direktang pananagutan niya sa madugong kamatayan ng SAF44 sa Tokanalipao, Mamasapano, sa probinsiya ng Maguindanao. Subalit kung ito ay ihahain sa Korte Suprema, tatanggapin naman kaya ng karamihan ng mga mahistrado ang “command responsibility” bilang batayan ng kanyang kasalanan? Ano ang magagawa ng isang mabigat na ebidensiya sa harap ng mga naimpluwensiyahang kaisipan na nabaluktot kaya hindi makagawa ng patas na desisyon? Nangyari na yan nang kung ilang beses….at siguradong mangyayari pa!

Though how Progressive a Country is, there will always be Poverty because of Corruption

Though how Progressive a Country is, there will always be

Poverty because of Corruption

By Apolinario Villalobos


Perfection should be ruled out in the reckoning of a progressive country, because there will always be poverty due to corruption somewhere in the system of governance. In other words, the glitter of progress cannot hide poverty. For ultra-progressive countries, the signs may be insignificant as they try to blend with the glamour of urbanity. But in other countries, especially, the third-world, the signs are very prevalent, so that there is always a massive effort to cover them up occasionally, literally, as it is done every time there are special occasions such as visits of foreign dignitaries. This practice is successful in the Philippines.


Practically, poverty is the shadow of progress, and literally, too, as where there are looming high-rise buildings that are pockmarks of progress, not far from them are slums or homeless citizens who huddle together under bridges and nooks. These are misguided citizens who flock to the cities after selling their homestead, that have been farmed for several generations, to deceitful land developers, at a measly price. These are the urban squatters willing to be relocated but found out that the promised “paradise” do not even have a deep well so they go back to their sidewalk “homes”. These are contractual workers who have no job securities as they earn only for five to six months, after which they leave their fate to luck while looking for another job.


How does corruption ever be involved in the sad fate of the exploited? Simply, by the government’s negligence  in providing decent relocation sites with job opportunities and basic facilities to those uprooted from their city abodes for more than so many years; by its cuddling of the spurious contractualization perpetrated by greedy employers; by its failure to guide and protect the rights of farmers who sell their rice fields to subdivision developers at measly prices that are not even enough to sustain them for six months; by its failure to provide the citizens with the basic necessities as funds are allowed to be pocketed by corrupt officials; and practically by looking the other way despite the availability of laws against vote buying.


Third- world country leaders should stop using the word “progressive”, but instead they should use “surviving” to describe their respective economy. If a country’s economy cannot sustain, much less, provide a “comfortable life” to majority of its citizens, then it is still “ailing”…hence, expect poverty to be trailing behind, just a few steps away from the pretentious allegations!




Ang Kababawan ni de LIma

Ang Kababawan ni de Lima
Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Pagkatapos ma-disable ng pamahalaan sina Enrile, Revilla at Estrada, sa pamamagitan ng mga patung-patong na kaso na ikinasadlak nila sa kulungan, heto si de Lima at titigil na raw sa pagsampa ng mga kaso sa iba pang mga tiwaling opisyal na nabistong mga kaalyado pala ng pangulo. Idinahilan ni de Lima ang marami pa daw niyang “priorities”kaya hindi na kaya ng schedule, lalo pa at siya ay magbibitiw na. Ganoon lang? Hindi ba mahalaga ang mga kasong may kinalaman sa pagnanakaw sa kaban ng bayan kaya nagkandahetot-hetot ang Pilipinas na lalong ikinasadlak ng mga Pilipino sa hirap at gutom?

Sa napakaagang pagkakataon ay ipinakita ni de Lima ang kanyang pagka-iresponsable bilang inaasahan sanang hepe ng isang mahalagang ahensiya na siyang aalalay sa mga Pilipino sa pakikipaglaban sa mga tiwaling opisyal upang makamit ang hustisya. Ano ang sinasabi niyang mga “priorities”?… ang pagbibiyahe upang magpakilala sa mga tao bilang isa sa mga kakandidato para sa senado? Kung yon ang dahilan, lalo siyang lumalabas na iresponsable at hindi maaasahan o mapagkakatiwalaan dahil hindi siya marunong magtimbang ng mga “priorities”.

Ang dapat sana niyang ginawa ay madaliin ang pag-file man lang mga mga kaso, upang maitala sa record ang pangalan ng mga taong sangkot at ang mga ibinibintang sa kanila ng Commission ng Audit. Kung hindi man umabot sa mga deadline dahil sa nalalapit na eleksiyon, saka na lang niya ipamana sa papalit sa kanya. Ang masama, nagpaka-obvious siya sa paghugas ng kamay dahil kaalyado ng kanyang boss ang mga taong dapat sana ay kakasuhan na.

Ang ginagawa kaya niya ay bahagi ng alituntunin ng boss niya sa pagtahak sa “tuwid na daan” daw?