The Neglected Advantage of “Internet” and the “Infinite” Promise of Improved Cyber Services in the Philippines

The Neglected Advantage of “Internet” And the

“Infinite” Promise of Improved Cyber Services in the Philippines

By Apolinario Villalobos


In the Philippines, it is obvious that the IT (information technology) is generally limited to the use of cellphone and facebook. The national government keeps on promising about the modernization of the “internet system” for the Philippines to be at par with other Asian countries with fast and cheap cost of cyber service providers, but the pronouncements have remained a promise because of greed and corruption. There is news about the entry of a “third party” but when will the Filipinos feel its presence?  As with commodities and other services, especially, the basic ones such as rice, tobacco, electricity and water, the field of information technology has also gone into the basket of greed called “monopoly” encouraged by the seemingly innate corrupt character of many government officials.


The Philippines, despite her being a “third world country”, is already technologically equipped, even how meager these equipment may be. But due to corruption, in some LGUs, while documents show that computer units have been purchased, they are nowhere to be found. Worse, if ever some Barangays are lucky to have been provided with them, they become “typewriters” ONLY due to the absence of signal, hence, not fully utilized.


Another issue is on the lack of proper orientation of the concerned on how the “internet” can be fully utilized for the benefit of the LGUs and interested parties. The “internet” is the system that keeps the cyberspace alive. The world has practically become dependent on it for just anything from show business gossips to sensitive and supposedly confidential securityswinformation of nations. Travelers browse through its travel pages for information about places, food, hotels, etc. Students download information from it for their projects and thesis.


The “internet” is the world’s archival system of information… the web of information highways connecting peoples and nations. This glaring fact has been neglected by many Philippine LGUs as again, their computers have become “typewriters”…not connected to the cyber world, part of which is their “head office” or their Municipal or City Hall . Many  LGus are already contented for having an  “internal archive” in their offices, as instead of hard copies of memos, reports, being printed and filed in the filing cabinet, all that the clerk does is push the “save” on the keyboard  and the work is done!


Another oversight is on the lack of important information on the LGU’s total scope of coverage, especially, historical data. For instance, although, all the barangays are listed in the internet site of their town or city, many of them do not have a site of their own. And worse, although listed, there are no historical data…just current statistics on the area, population and list of officials without accompanying photos of these personalities. How can those be informative?  The LGUs are supposed to have “information offices”, but the question is..are they conducting researches to collect information  right from the field to establish an historical archive?


My suggestion is for these information offices to gather first-hand information by taking photos of anything interesting in their community, conduct interview of old folks for historical information, etc.,  and upload these for archiving in their computers ready for downloading or quick access of visiting researchers and tourists.


The towns and cities should have their own archive for each barangay, and the information shared with the sites of the latter which are technologically ill-equipped.  Information should not be limited to visuals or photos of fiestas and social gatherings, oath taking, etc., as well as, mere statistics which are required of them in the first place, but also extensively written dissertations….essays, studies, gathered proposals, etc. It is not duplication of job, but “enhancement” to what the other offices are doing. This effort shall indicate COOPERATION which many LGUs lack as this expectation is oftentimes overshadowed by COMPETITION among offices which from all angles can be viewed as very unhealthy and viciously unproductive to the detriment of the LGU as a whole.




The Sad Plight of the Philippine Tourism Industry

The Sad Plight of the Philippine Tourism Industry

By Apolinario Villalobos


I find it unnecessary to hire Consultants who would come up with “tourism plan” for LGU units that are already with potential tourist destinations. Why the need for a Consultant when all that the tourists need are ONLY clean accommodation facilities, exotic foods and honest tricycle or taxi drivers? And, worse, with the Consultant coming yet, from outside the community being promoted!


Is it difficult for a local government to require stallholders in the public market to maintain cleanliness?…for restaurant owners to have clean restrooms, tidy halls, and staff clothed in clean uniform and with a ready smile? Or, is it difficult for a local government to call on the drivers of public conveyances to be courteous and be honest?…why the need for a Consultant to dictate what to do when all the things that should be done are supposed to be just dictated by COMMON SENSE?


Puerto Galera in Mindoro did not become famous because of Consultants, and so are Boracay, the scuba diving sites around the country, the mountains, the caves and the festivals. PHILIPPINE AIRLINES DID A LOT IN PROMOTING THEM AS PART OF ITS AIR TRAVEL EDUCATION PROGRAM. The Department of Tourism just “researched” on them so that they can have something to print in their brochures that they displayed in their “field” offices around the country and some cities around the world. They literally picked up easily the “opportunities” of already famous tourist attractions of the country.




The word-of-mouth system of promotion also did a lot…made by satisfied travelers who told their friends when they went back to their countries. THERE WAS NO PLAN. What is worse that is happening today is the idiotization of festivals of different cities and towns that differ only in outlandish costumes but with street dancers moving to the same rhythm and beat copied from the Ati-atihan of Ibajay in Aklan and later, Kalibo, as well as the Binirayan of Antique. In fairness to some of them,  however, there are many towns who are steadfast in coming up with costumes symbolic of their festival or celebration. But generally, the general impression about the festivals is “…if you have seen one, you have seen them all…” WHICH IS NOT GOOD AND SHOULD SERVE AS A STRONG SIGNAL TO THE DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM TO DO SOMETHING.


The Philippines is lagging behind the rest of the traditional destinations in Southeast Asia such as Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore with even those that had a late start-up like Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia catching up. It should be noted that even Singapore is making to full use the “colors” of its rich multi-faceted culture that include street foods and market scenes. On the other hand, the rest of the highly-attractive nations are also doing the same with the same pride. Meanwhile, the Philippine tourism guys think that the country MUST hold an international pageant to make her popular!


The country should be thankful to Duterte whose feisty and rhetorical statements have earned added curiosity of the world and the respect of many nations….but to the guys who are salaried to work for such purpose?…WELL…!#$@^&%$!


The Problem with Some Philippine Government Agencies and the People Behind Them

The Problem With Some Philippine Government Agencies

and the People Behind Them

By Apolinario Villalobos


The Philippines can be perceived as taking steps forward, though with difficulty, and there are indications that some of the agencies don’t just seem to be effectively doing their job. For one thing, guys behind these agencies always blame the lack of budget when in fact, what they lack is the skill in being resourceful and the drive….but, most especially, the “intelligence” and common sense.


On the social service which before was encompassing to include sports and the welfare of the human sector, today, it has been decentralized with the functions distributed among local governments and newly-created “Commissions” or “Offices”. So we find today “offices” for senior citizens, disaster management and relief distribution, rehabilitation; the sports concerns handled by “Commissions”, the family, women and child welfare given to the PNP that came up with “Desks” and the overall “social services” going to the LGUs, and so on. What happened to the DSWD and their Social Workers who earned their Social Work degree from colleges and universities? Many LGUs do not even have facilities to temporarily accommodate abused children and women.


On tourism service, its information and promotion efforts have been made inutile by the fast-growing cyber industry and technology. All that one needs to do if he wants to know about a tourist destination or facility is open his smart phone and presto!…he gets all that he wants, complete with directions and suggested packages. On the other hand, the salaried guys who are supposed to work for better ideas to drum up  interests, come up with copied ones from those of other countries’ and still worse, they chose what they thought could make the Philippines “different” or above the highly-attractive  nations around. The result is a big flop!


Some of these “wise guys” in the tourism industry thought that a once-a-year festival is enough to sustain the attraction of localities…or that a beauty pageant is all that matters to make the whole country, or a province, or a city, or a town, or even a barangay popular. They also practically “bundle” a region into “one destination” without giving regard to the clamor of specific LGUs to be identified with their respective tourist spots which is the right and honest “marketing” of a tourist destination. They misconceived the idea of “one” which just implies “united effort”, but must maintain the “specific locations” of what are being promoted.


Putting in the forefront of promotion the name of a region for instance can sow confusion because it affects the elements of travel and time in packaging…and definitely, disappointment. The regional location can just be mentioned as a “by the way”, with the specific destinations given the rightful and appropriate priority so that the tourists are HONESTLY informed of their destination. I will mention here again the case of the underground river in Palawan which  before was known as ST. PAUL SUBTERRANEAN PARK and whose promotion included its specific location which is too far away from Puerto Princesa City where the airport is located, to prepare the tourists of what to expect along the way. Today, the destination has become PUERTO PRINCESA UNDERGROUND RIVER!..when did the city have an underground river?


In Mindanao, there is a “region” with an acronym, SOCSKSARGEN, that supposedly refers to the provinces and cities that compose it such as South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos. The big question is…. why is Koronadal City and Tacurong City not specifically mentioned in the banner name in fairness to them because General Santos City is mentioned?…are the people behind the idea worried in coming up a longer acronym? General Santos City need not be spelled out and instead can just be included in “South Cotabato” just like Koronadal City, as Tacurong City is in “Sultan Kudarat”. With that, what can be referred to as components of the region are simply South Cotabato, Sarangani, and Sultan Kudarat. Much worst is the further contracting of the acronym into “SOX” which is the name of a very popular baseball team in America!…aside from being homonymous to SUCKS which is among the worst cussing word in the American language.


The office of these people is located in General Santos City which is already called by many travel writers as “filthy” with a “hellish traffic” and neglected landmarks. All that the guys should do is go out of their office and visit the TUNA QUEEN PARK and the park in the heart of the city, but most specially, walk their way around the city to end right at the downtown area. They should also visit the deteriorating Bula Public Market. They can cap their check for the day with a visit to the supposedly international airport. They should do that as General Santos is their “yard”, before going out of it to check on the others.


How can they present their “home” to visiting tourism officials from neighboring nations with pride if they have nothing to show as an honest-to-goodness park for instance? How can they show the wasteland that has become of the Tuna Queen Park?…and worst, the confusion at the supposedly international airport without even a simple canopy to protect departing and arriving passengers who cross the street to and from the parking lot to the terminal…and the mess worsened by the SOX right in front of the terminal! How can these guys look far beyond their “yard” when right under their nose, so many things are waiting to be done?


In the meantime, they should release the budget for the LGUs that need it to develop their respective touristic attractions. They should release the money without directing the LGUs to hire Consultants to work on their tourism plan as they are supposedly staffed with knowledgeable people who know better than the highly-paid guys who come from somewhere else. The budget is intended for the LGUs anyway and are subject to auditing, so what is the problem? …if the LGU officials do something about the money other that what it is intended for…Duterte has something for them!




As Filipinos, We All Belong to the Same Race…why hate one another, then?

As Filipinos, We All Belong to the Same Race

…why hate one another, then?

By Apolinario Villalobos


The inhabitants of the archipelago that Ruy Lopez de Villalobos (not related to the author), named “Las Islas de Filipinas” in honor of his king, Philip II, all belong to one race. There is no reason therefore for an inhabitant to assert his being different just because he is a Muslim and lives in Mindanao. Along this line, there is no reason also, for another inhabitant to assert his being different as a Christian who lives either in Visayas or Luzon. The “Filipino” that we know today, regardless of his region, is the result of cultural impregnations by the different races that came to the archipelago, either to trade or colonize. Most importantly and very clearly, too, our ancestors were not born Christians and Muslims. They were converted by missionaries who were converts, themselves!!! How can we be proud then, of such imposed faith and culture???


Before Mohammed became a prophet, his people were practicing a different religion. He even went through persecutions before he finally succeeded in converting his people and such effort that took a route is the one being followed by those who undertake the “haj”. On the other hand, the Romans were pagans and it was only through the diligence of St. Paul that Christianity took a foothold in that city, but still, only after a series of persecution of Christian missionaries. And, that is how the Roman Catholic religion was developed, spread to as far as Spain, and finally, brought by the Spanish friars to the islands of Visayas and Luzon, as well as, a small portion in Mindanao, particularly, Zamboanga.


The natives of Luzon and Visayas were formerly animists – worshippers of nature.  But, long before the Spaniards came, Islam as a religion was already widely practiced in the archipelago. When the Spaniards set foot on the shores of Manila and Visayas, they already found Mohammedan inhabitants, some of whom they successfully converted into Christianity. Those from Mindanao, who pestered them with piratical raids, they called “Moros”, with barbaric connotation, as it was derived from the “Moors” who were driven out of Spain by Christian Crusaders. This shows then, that the “Moro” which was originally used by the Spaniards with reference to the Muslim pirates from Mindanao does not even have the slightest “native” hint in it. The Spaniards used the reference to show their disgust at the barbaric ways of those from Mindanao, all of whom they thought were pirates, robbers, and uncivilized. In other words, such reference was not concocted by the Mindanao Muslims. So, how can pride emanate from such Spanish-given name with horrible connotation?


Our ancestors were never referred to as “Filipinos” during the Hispanic regime. During the time, the “Filipinos” referred to, were actually the indolent Spanish settlers who lived comfortably in Manila out of the revenue derived from the galleon trade. When the trade faltered, the Spanish king was even forced to send financial replenishment for their sustenance, resulting to the clamor to abandon Manila. These colonists occupied the minuscule stronghold and walled city of Intramuros – the Manila of the old.


The affluent natives were called “Indios”. Those who lived far from the moot-ringed walled city were the Chinese who were forcibly clustered in Parian by the Spaniards with an objective to control their movement. The Parian eventually became the present-day Chinatown, reputed as the oldest in the world. The non-converted Mohammedan natives dwelt along the length of the Pasig River, and as far as Tondo. The friars even called the natives ugly “chonggos” (monkeys)! So how can we be proud of our so-called Hispanic past, when our ancestors were also treated as serfs who provided forced labor in building galleons and churches?


The only time the natives were called “Filipinos” was when the Americans took over the reins of the colony. But, still in the eyes of the new colonists, the natives were still a helpless lot who need succor and further conversion as if Catholicism was not enough, that is why they brought in their own Protestant missionaries and teachers who forced the natives to sing “The Star Spangled Banner”.


That is how we were pitifully victimized as a race and treated as ignoramus, when in fact, before the two groups of colonizers came, the natives were already enjoying a brisk trade with the neighboring southeast Asian states and kingdoms, even Japan and China. Mindanao had its own “royal houses”, too. Our ancestors were already weaving fabrics, manufacturing cannons, and mining for gold. The primary reason why the Spaniards came was to take over the wealth of the natives and bring them back to Spain. And, history books are clear on that. The natives of the archipelago were never helpless. The conversion into Christianity was just secondary and even still with questionable sincerity.


On the other hand, had there been a reversal of events, in which the Arab missionaries concentrated their evangelization effort in Luzon and Visayas, those who are living in these islands would be clinging to the Islamic faith. And, had the Spaniards decided to drop anchor in Sulu or Zamboanga, to put up permanent colonial outposts, those who are living in the whole of Mindanao including Sulu, Tawi-tawi, and Sabah groups of islands would have been embracing Roman Catholicism.


The Filipinos as a race are victims of historic events that dwelt on the scramble for overseas colonization by former western powers such as Spain, Portugal, Holland, and England. We are now suffering from identity crisis due to imposed faiths and cultures. Worse, this dilemma threatens the unity of the whole archipelago. And still worst, the effort to unite is greatly hampered by an inutile and deteriorating government due to incorrigible corruption. Fortunately, Duterte surfaced by virtue of a popular election, as a crime-busting President.


The mistake of the early political leaders was their failure to change the name of the archipelago into something more nationalistic and encompassing when “Commonwealth” status was granted by the United States. The early leaders’ minds were focused on the imposed erudite Hispanic and American cultures. They forgot that somewhere down south, there were other inhabitants, albeit, with different faiths and dialects – the Muslims and Lumads.


The so-called “Filipino” historic leaders whose questionable reputations are beginning to be exposed today had a short-ranged view. They did not consider the geographical situation of the country when they came up with a governing system, such that control may pose a problem in time due to its fragmented situation, which is happening right now. They adopted the unicameral system of other countries, but in framing the Constitution, they followed the “structure and formal appearance” of America’s own. Curiously, they did not copy the Federal system of the Americans who introduced “democracy”. Is it because they did not want to share the authority with those living in the far south? Does this show that greed for power has prevailed as early as that time to benefit a handful pretentious “Filipinos” who framed the hybrid Basic Law of the country, but which proved to be a flop today, despite two revisions?


As a native of this archipelago, I ask: why do we have to begrudge one another today, just because we differ in faith and dialect?  Is it the fault of those living in Luzon and Visayas that Mindanao is being neglected by the dysfunctional government? The “enemies” are the faulty government system and corrupt officials. The solution to the problem is not the separation from the organic homogenous system to become a separate state or annexation to another country. There are options that can put an end to the problem on unity, among which could be the federal system, relocation of the seat of the central government somewhere at the midpoint of the archipelago, or review of the current Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to make it more service-oriented. But the eventual solution could be the 24-degree turnaround in our attitude as inhabitants of this archipelago, specifically in the way officials are chosen that is shamelessly hinged on vote-buying!


It is a disgrace, indeed, that we, as a people who came from the same stock should hate one another based on what were imposed on us to become what we are now – Christians and Muslims. We should, instead, fight for our real identity, to enable us to maintain our unity.





Sa Amin…sa Mindanao

Sa Amin…sa Mindanao

Ni Apolinario Villalobos


Luntiang kaparangang halos walang hangganan

Kabundukang kahi’t paano’y balot pa ng kagubatan

Mga batis na animo ay musika ang paglagaslas

‘Yan ang Mindanao na ganda’y ubod ng timyas.


Malalagong palay, sa ihip ng hangin ay umiindayog

Mga masisiglang alagang hayop, lahat ay malulusog

Mga halamanang gulay, mayayabong ang dahon

‘Yan ang Mindanao na nabibiyayaan ng panahon.


Maraming katutubo, iba’t ibang makukulay na tribu

Magkakapitbahay ay mga Muslim at mga Kristiyano

Sila’y nagbibigayan, taos-pusong nagkakaunawaan

‘Yan ang Mindanao na may pangakong kaunlaran.


Subali’t kung ang pagkagahama’y biglang umeksena

Ang mga minimithing pangarap, lahat ay nababalewala

Kung bakit naman kasi may mga taong puso’y sakim

At mga adhikaing baluktot na dulot ay paninimdim.


Sa amin sa Mindanao ay masaya at may kasaganaan

Kaya dinayo ng mga tao na ang hanap ay kapayapaan

Nguni’t dahil sa damdaming sakim ng ilang hangal

Nakakabahalang ang tinatamasa ay baka ‘di tumagal!





By Apolinario B Villalobos



Mga luntiang islang magkakahiwalay

Mga katutubong iba-ibang pananalita

Iyan ang Pilipinas, watak-watak sa paningin

Subali’t iisa ang adhikain, iisa ang damdamin.


Halos gutayin ng pabago-bagong panahon

Kasama na diyan ang mga pag-uga ng lindol

Nguni’t buong tapang na iniinda ng mga Pilipino

Animo’y kawayan, sumasaliw sa hagupit ng bagyo.


Mula sa Batanes, hanggang Tawi-tawi

Mga katutubo’y nagbubuklod- iisang lipi

May isang kulay, matingkad, hinog sa panahon

Nagkaisa-  magkaiba man ang damit, salita at relihiyon.


Mayabong na sining at mayamang kultura

Taas-noong maipamamalaki, saan mang bansa

Hindi nagpapahuli, lumalaban, hindi nagpapaiwan

Sa ano mang uri ng patas na paligsahan o tunggalian.


Inang Pilipinas, mahal nating bayan

Huwag nating hayaang siya’y tapak-tapakan

Huwag hayaang mayurakan, iniingatang dangal –

Nang kung sino – Pilipino man o banyagang hangal!


Mga Pilipino tayo, kailangang magbuklod

Nang sa unos ng buhay matatag, ating pagsugod

Walang kinikiling na pag-imbot sa puso ng bawa’t isa

Nag-uunawaan, nagkakaisa – sa buong mundo, ating ipakita.


Mapalad tayo sa pagkakaroon nitong bansa

Na kung wariin, mahirap pag-ugnayin at mapag-isa

Subali’t ito ang itinadhana sa atin ng Poong Maykapal

Kaya’t buong puso nating arugain ng masidhing pagmamahal.


(This poem is dedicated to those who exerted effort to maintain peace, unity and understanding in Mindanao –to preserve the sanctity of our heritage as one nation and one people, despite a diversity in religion.)