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.)



The Commercialization of Traditions

The Commercialization of Traditions

By Apolinario Villalobos


Shrewd people see money in everything that man does and needs to do. From birth to death, practically, the life of man is manipulated by these people who created “necessities” without which they made life some sort of miserable to live.


When a mother gives birth, today in the Philippines, it has to done in the designated “birthing center” (Paanakan) in every barangay, or clinic or any hospital if available. If the couple lives kilometres away from such center, a vehicle must be hired to reach it. Resourceful husbands may make use of a cart pulled by a carabao, otherwise, it must be a contracted tricycle or a jeepney. Somehow, though, the use of the birthing center is free as mandated by the law. But for goodwill’s sake, the couple must shell out some cash for the midwife whose services come cheaper compared to giving birth in a clinic or hospital. Even if birthing is done at home, the attending “kumadrona” must still be paid for her services.


Basic needs of babies have flooded the market, from feeding bottles to diapers and cribs. Registration in the local government’s Registrar’s Office requires money for the processing of documents and so is the baptismal ceremony in the local Church, and more cash is needed for the thanksgiving celebration at home, a social venue, or a restaurant. A year after birth and every year thereafter, there is a need to celebrate the “birthday” so the baby needs new clothes and a celebration has to be made either at home or restaurant or burger outlet, at least. (I found out that many of those from the impoverished provinces who found their way to Manila to look for a job have no birth certificate, as they told me that they were not registered in their locality’s Civil Registrar’s office due to their poverty).


Then, of course, the parents have to be given recognition for their sacrifices, so today we have the “Father’s Day” and “Mother’s Day”. Gifts must be bought for them, at least flowers for the loving mother or a new shirt for the hardworking father. When the grown up children decide to get married and have families of their own, their parents become “grandparents”, so there’s also, the “Grandfather’s Day” and the “Grandmother’s Day” to celebrate….presents are needed to be given to show the love of the family. Dine out for bonding needs to be earmarked in the budget. Why the need for such “special” days when it is the obligation of children and grandchildren to show love to them “every day”?


Today, schools require that at least parents of their students must attend the “Family Day”, which personally, I just cannot understand because every second, minute, hour, day, week, month and year, the students are with their family or at least with their parents. So why must they spend precious time and money for food and other “contributions” just to be part of this foolish day, either in school campus or in expensive resorts or any other “educational” venue? I assume that this kind of “tradition” which the Department of Education allows is just an invention of some private schools and which later were imitated by other private schools that see the sparkle of cash in the activity. So, there you have the “Family Day” which many parents view as some kind of a racketeering effort. For, how can it be called a “family” bonding day when only the students and their parents are present while the rest of the members are not…as perhaps, brothers and sisters may be busy in the internet café or having fun with their buddies?


Another school “tradition” is the so-called “Educational Tour” a familiarization of something or someplace, most often, a mall or a resort. Poor students who cannot afford the fee are slapped with research requirements that will see them a whole day or two at the internet shop if they do not have a computer at home. Just imagine the expense to be incurred if the internet cafe would charge almost Php50 per hour plus printing of several pages of researched materials…everything amounting to almost a thousand pesos or more! Such required research comes out as a punishment for not joining the tour. In other words, joining the junket tour or making research will amount to the same expense, although, the former is purely a leisurely activity while the latter is accomplished with much difficulty.  This academic insanity is such that many parents cannot understand how a trip to a mall or resort can be compared to a researched thesis that can be graded. To justify the tour, schools include in the itinerary a trip or two to some facilities like hotel or restaurant if the course is related to tourism. But, can’t teachers show footages of these facilities as a module in the school room?


Of course, as regards recognition, teachers must not be left out because there is now what is celebrated as “Teacher’s Day”, even if some or many of them cannot pronounce the letter “R” properly when speaking in Filipino or any dialect, a mistake that their students perceive as “correct” or “just right”, because their teachers do it.


When graduation comes, the “traditional” march and ceremonies require toga, photo taking, and new clothes for mama and papa. No amount of warnings from the seemingly helpless Commission on Higher Education and the Department of Education and Culture can stop schools from holding their graduation ceremonies in expensive venues.


And, here’s for the “traditional” marriage for the couples in love. Registration in the Municipal or City Hall requires money. Nuptial ceremonies in the church require money, especially, the outfit for the whole entourage. Then, most especially, the feast for the godparents and well- wishers must be impressive as such occasion happens once in one’s lifetime that can even bring parents to tears. For the unlucky ones who call it quits after just a few years of companionship, filing of legal separation or divorce requires money. Those who persist for years till death, have to celebrate “wedding anniversaries”, very important traditions that require symbolic gifts. The “anniversary” tradition dates back to the pagan days and today, it is being observed by Christians and made more colourful with symbolic gifts, mostly made in China!


But the most outstanding “tradition” that has made many people filthy rich or woefully poor, is the “Christmas” which was not even celebrated by the original Christians, although, it is supposed to be about the birth of Jesus Christ, as what were celebrated  then, were his circumcision and baptism. I need not elaborate on this, as we already know stories of how, impoverished families would squander hard-earned money during this occasion, while wise businessmen laugh their way to the bank!


Finally, when death occurs, the funerary tradition requires money, too. The need to be buried or cremated has given life to the “funeral” and “memorial parks” industries. A lot for two remains could amount to not less than Php200K and some coffins could cost more than a million pesos!

Early Trade Relations of the Philippines with China

Early Trade Relations of the Philippines with China

By Apolinario Villalobos

While Spain was resolute in her desire to colonize islands with the use of the cross, China was more reclusive, as her rulers were even discouraging the voyages of their people. Nevertheless, the Chinese traders were stubborn in carrying out their occupation to the point of risking their lives in crossing oceans. According to archaeological findings, the natives of the Philippine archipelago had their first contact with the Chinese traders during the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618-907), based on the discovered pot shards which are now at the National Museum.

The hectic trading activity was recorded during the 13th century. Chinese traders coveted the Filipino products such as, corals, gold, cotton, hard wood, edible nuts, gums, resins, rattan, pearls, and many others. In the course of their trading, the Chinese traders intermarried with native women, while establishing commercial centers, a wise move which checked the entry of other trading nationalities. The first mention of the trading activity in the Philippines by the Chinese was in 982, when merchandise from Ma-I (Mindoro), where brought to Canton.

A clear account of how the trading was conducted was mentioned by Chao-Ju-Kua in 1225, in which he said that as soon as the ships of the Chinese traders dropped anchor where the local official was located, they were boarded for checking, after which the natives were already free to ply their trade with the foreign merchants. A converging place was assigned for this commercial activity.

Trading Chinese vessels were also said to have sailed to “Sanhsi” (three islands), which could have been the reference for central Visayas,  also to “Pu-li-lu” (Polilio), and “Tung-Liu-sin” which could be eastern Luzon.

According to the Ming Annals, embassies from Luzon visited China in 1372 and 1408, and brought with them gifts for the emperor, such as small but strong horses. In return, the emperor gave them silk, copper, cash and other valuable things. There is also an account about Chinese traders bringing gifts to the “King of Luzon”.

Natives of Pangasinan had their share of trading with the Chinese as early as 1406 during the Ming Dynasty. Pangasinan was mentioned in the book of Kiyoshi, published by Toyo Gakubo, where it was referred to by the Chinese traders as “Ping-chia-shih-lan”.

When the Spaniards arrived, they found a Chinese settlement of traders along the Pasig River. This settlement was known then, as “Parian”, and later evolved into what is now known as the Manila Chinatown, the oldest in the world. Among the locals, though, it is more popularly called “Ongpin”.

China and the World

China and the World

By Apolinario Villalobos

While China has tricked the US in the latter’s ploys in Asia, it has gone way ahead of Russia in territorial expansion. While the US uses its “big brother” approach, China uses cheap labor as the main factor in becoming an economic giant which made practically the whole world dependent on its cheap and fake products. No wonder why no country, even the United Nations, ever made an attempt to slap China with some kind of an embargo or boycott, which has been the practice to punish other countries, despite its unbecoming actions, particularly,  its reclamations at the West Philippine Sea.

While the US has not done anything yet, as regards territorial expansion, Russia uses force and has been successful in the Ukraine region, and China on the other hand, uses its “resourcefulness” by building fake islands to legally extend its territories, as well as, money to win the confidence of economically-ailing nations.

The ASEAN is obviously helpless in counteracting the moves of China, with most members even blatantly showing their once covert image as allies. There is no hope for the Philippines on the other hand as regards the West Philippine Sea, as even if the United Nations shall decide on its favor, there is a question on how the decision shall be implemented. China is a member of the Security Council of the UN, together with the USA, France and Russia. While the US is obviously helpless even in checking the ongoing reclamations in the West Philippine Sea, France is helplessly silent on the woeful issues that are now befalling third-world member countries, and Russia is clearly on China’s side because it is also doing what the latter is doing, aside from their obvious close relationship to date due to their common objectives. That is the sad picture of the United Nations which China could have perceived a few years after the WWII!

China has already made its presence in the African continent strongly felt with its various investments disguised as “aids”. The nearby Mediterranean could be the next target, thanks to the economic downfall of Greece which China could be regarding as a timely opportunity for their entry into the Mediterranean region. If Greece will eventually get out of the European Union, it will be on its own, but how can it be possible without help from outside, unless drastic moves by the government shall be made such as declaring a Martial Law to enforce stringent measures on spending? The issue on Greece is money. If the Greeks would like to recover from their misfortune, there are so many things that they should sacrifice, so that they will be left with a difficult choice – give up luxurious life under a Martial Law? Or, still enjoy the same life under a “caretaker country” such as China through its “aids”. There is no way for the US to get into the picture because it is also indebted to China.

China could have foreseen the problem of the world which is centered on money that is why it has initiated the organization of AIIB which gained many members in so short a time after the launching. If the image of the United Nations as a reliable organization of nations continues to slide, the World Bank would definitely follow suit. There is no problem with the UN as it has been seen as a helpless organization anyway, so it can just melt away. Besides, the world is seemingly being apportioned today, either three-way or two- way: three-way among the USA, China and Russia, or just two-way between Russia and China. It will be a goodbye to the “manifest destiny” of America as fighter for democracy…and a welcome to the “economic destiny” of China!

Is the world nearing the epoch of “world confederacy”?… in which all nations shall be federated under a permanent leader while left as they are with their own cultural identity?…in which only one monetary token shall be used?…in which two or three universal languages shall be used?…in which the ideology shall be the “hybrid communism”?

Ang Globalization at Pilipinas

Ang Globalization at Pilipinas

Ni Apolinario Villalobos


Ang pagsirit ng mga halaga ng iba’t ibang bilihin, lalo na ng mga pagkain – ito ang bangungot ng globalization na dulot sa Pilipinas. Ang idinulot ay malawakang paghihirap. Kung dati, ang mga umaangal ay ang mga walang regular na trabaho, lalo na yong mga nakatira sa depressed areas, ngayon, halos lahat na ay nag-iingay. Hindi kasama dito ang mga talagang mayayaman na kayang sabayan ang mga pangyayari.


Nakakatawa ang sitwasyon ng Pilipinas sa paningin ng mga taga-ibang bansa. Nandito sa atin ang International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), dalubhasaan ng mga rice scientists at technologists mula sa ibang bansa upang mag-aral ng mga bagay-bagay tungkol sa makabagong kaalaman sa pagtanim ng palay, subali’t nag-aangkat tayo ng bigas mula sa bansa nila! Isang agricultural country ang Pilipinas, subali’t ang presyo ng sibuyas, bawang at luya ay katulad ng sa mga bansa sa Europe at Amerika na nag-aangkat ng rekadong ito. Ang mga gulay-butil tulad ng monggo, tapilan, at iba pa ay tahimik kaya hindi napansin ang pagsirit din ng mga presyo. Idagdag pa diyan ang pananamantala ng ibang Pilipinong mangangalakal na nagtataas ng mga presyo ng mga dati na nilang paninda, upang sumabay sa kaguluhan, at lalo na ang kalamyaan ng pamunuan ng bansa kaya hindi makontrol ang mga pangyayari.


Ang mga nananamantala para bang sinubukan lang ang pamahalaan kung makakalusot sila…nakalusot nga!… kaya, kaliwa’t kanan ang pagsirit ng mga presyo. May ginagawa din naman ang gobyerno – ang walang katapusang imbestigasyon. Baka isa ito sa ipamamana ng pangulo sa susunod na administrasyon. Wala man lang sinampulan upang maging halimbawa, kaya pati yong tauhan niya na dapat noon pa nag-resign o tinanggal dahil sa kapabayaan, kapit-tuko sa pwesto. Sabagay, maganda ang dahilan niya – siya pala ang may pinakamalaking sweldo!


Nang umupo bilang pangulo si Fidel Ramos, nagsimula ang walang puknat na pagbenta ng mga pag-aari ng bansa na pinalabas na “privatization” upang mapaayos daw ang pagpapatakbo ng mga ito dahil tadtad ng korapsyon. Yong iba, ibinenta dahil “non-performing” o natetengga lang, hindi kumikita. Isang panlilinlang na nakalusot. Mabuti na lang at naagapan ang pagbenta sana ng historical landmark ng bansa na Manila Hotel. Ang mga ospital na gustong ibenta ay bantay-sarado ng mga militante. Ipapaayos daw ang mga ito upang maging moderno kaya ibebenta ng gobyerno sa mga private corporations. Ang mga lupang kinatitirikan ng mga ospital, hanggang ngayon ay hindi pa nalilipat sa kanila. May malaking dahilan kaya?


Ibenenta ang Fort Bonifacio sa mga negosyanteng Indonesian, ang National Steel sa mga Chinese-Malaysians, Petron sa mga Saudi Arabians, pinuno ang Subic ng mga Taiwanese, ang mga iba’t ibang nakatiwangwang na mga lupa ng bayan, sa iba pang mga banyaga ibinenta at pinatayuan ng mga condo at malls. Ang mga condo, karamihan ay tinitirhan ng mga banyaga dahil hindi kaya ng mga Pilipino ang presyo. Ang mga malls ay pinuno ng mga produkto galing sa ibang bansa, lalo na China at Korea. Ang karamihan sa mga pwesto, pag-aari ng mga banyaga. Saan nakalugar ang mga Pilipino?…..kung hindi mga dispatsadora, janitor at security guards, ang iba nagtitinda sa mga bangketa!


Ang mga Pilipinong gustong sumabay sa “globalization”, nagbenta ng mga lupain nilang dati ay taniman ng palay, gulay, kape at mga punong-prutas upang ma-develop na subdivision. Ang developer ng malalawak na lupain…mga banyaga! Inasahan ang turismo at may nakitang kapirasong pagbabago subali’t karamihan pa rin ng mga pasilidad para sa industriyang ito ay pag-aari ng mga banyaga, ito ang mga mauunlad na resort sa mga popular na isla tulad ng Boracay.


Pinapalabas na korporasyong Pilipino ang nagpapatakbo sa mga na-privatize na pasilidad para sa tubig at kuryente, subali’t sa loob ng mga korporasyong ito ay may mga banyaga, kaya ganoon din ang kinalalabasan ng lahat, na ang pang-kontrol ng mga ito ay may impluwensiya nila at ito ang nakakapag-alala.


Ang mga likas na yaman tulad ng itim na buhangin na pinagkukuhanan ng mga elementong ginagamit sa makabagong gadget, hantarang hinahakot sa ibang bansa. Nakatanghod lang mga lokal na opisyal at mga ahensiyang nakatalaga para dito, duda tuloy ng iba, pati sila ay sangkot sa mga transaksyon – kumita!


Ang masaklap, kung nagtaasan ang mga presyo ng mga pangunahing bilihin, ang tanging naisip agad na gawin ng gobyerno ay umangkat sa ibang bansa. Umabot nga sa punto na pati ang galunggong at pusit ay galing sa Taiwan – frozen!


Ang prinsipyo ng globalization ay umiinog sa maayos at hindi sa kung sino ang nagpapatakbo ng negosyo. Kaya maraming banyagang negosyante sa ating bansa ngayon ay dahil sa ganitong prinsipyo. Ang paniwala ng mga taong may pakana na isali ang bansa sa globalization, mga banyaga lamang ang may kakayahang mamuhunan o magpatakbo ng negosyo – wala silang tiwala sa kababayan nila. Isa pa, pangangalakal na lang ba ang maaaring pagkitaan? Bakit pinabayaan ang agrikultura na dapat sana ay pinaunlad muna? Alam naman ng lahat na ang bansa ay kabilang sa grupo ng third world countries kaya wala talagang kakayahang makisabay sa mga nakakaangat na mga bansa pagdating sa kalakalan at teknolohiya.


Nagkaroon man ng trabaho ang ibang Pilipino dahil sa globalization, ito ay seasonal lamang at higit sa lahat, kontraktwal, kaya ganoon din ang nangyari, wala pa ring spending capacity ang mga Pilipino, dahil sapat lang o kulang pa ang kita nila. Sinasabi kasi ng mga ekonomista na kung maraming gumagastos, tuloy ang kalakalan, kaya aangat ang ekonomiya ng bansa. Hindi ito nangyari sa Pilipinas. Kaya siguro ang mga may pakana ng globalization ay halatang tahimik, dahil napahiya!


Kung malampasan man natin ang bangungot at magigising pa tayo na buhay, baka ang mabuglawan ng ating mga mata isang umaga ay mas matinding pangyayari, na ang nagpapatakbo ng Pilipinas ay hindi Pilipino. Yan ay haka-haka lang naman dala ng matinding panlulumo dahil sa mga nakakabaliw na pangyayari sa ating bansa!