The Ambivalent and Critical Political Situation in the Philippines

The Ambivalent and Critical Political Atmosphere

In the Philippines

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Politics is universally ambivalent and being such, nobody inside the political arena is a permanent ally and friend. In the Philippines, ambivalent politics is not just prevalent but literally, dirty. Proofs of these characteristics are turncoatism, vote buying with the use of drug money during elections, and slaying of opponents. A few of politicians who staunchly remain clean and idealistic pitifully lag behind during the election, while the rest of them who fortunately get elected, do not last long, as they are either murdered or become victims of image demolition scheme There are clear indications that the general desire of the dirty traditional politicians (trapos) to maintain their clout in the government at all cost is to recoup their expenses during the election, or simply stated, to amass a vast “return of investment” at the earliest possible time. There is a popular adage that says, “the shortest way to get rich is via politics”.

 

Currently, Duterte is a victim of the ambivalent dirty political system in the country. He got elected because Filipinos perceive in his person a “hope” that they have been wishing for, after the long decadence and downslide of the political system.  In his effort to merge with even the unfriendly elements aside from his political enemies, Duterte extended his hand to them. His effort seemed to have reaped success as peace talks have been undertaken with MILF, MNLF and NPA. Unfortunately, the NPA reneged from its promise to cooperate, proof that the said group is so splintered that its leadership has become inutile due to its inability to control their rank.

 

On the other hand, the relationship of Duterte with the MILF and MNLF seems stable despite the debacle at Marawi city which involved the initially taken-for-granted terroristic Maute Group. The Marawi debacle is the most acidic test of the Duterte administration as it has greatly affected the long-coveted federalization of the country. It has also diverted the attention of the Armed Forces of the Philippines from other urgent concerns.  The historic city and cultural seat of the Maranaos has impressed an ugly scar in the map of Mindanao that even the Islamic religious groups and elders have come out in the open to denounce the ruthless act of the Maute Group and their Christian recruits.

 

Meanwhile, politicians in Manila, have all eyes towards Duterte who is from Mindanao, not because they appreciate his effort, but because they view him as evil in his effort to suppress the drug menace. Many of them have not been to Mindanao, yet, they compete with the ageing Catholic bishops in filling the air with condemnations of the guy. That’s how it is with politics in the Philippines, the ambitious and the unthinking make noise to be noticed.

 

 

Sabotage as Part of the Demolition Scheme Against the Duterte Administration

Sabotage as Part of the Demolition Scheme

Against the Duterte Administration

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

I have consistently emphasized that despite the seemingly indestructible image of Duterte due to his machismo, his detractors are bent on doing possible ways to shake his administration. The best way to do this is make use of the untouchable civil service eligibles left in practically all agencies loyal to them. Newly-appointed chiefs of agencies cannot even bring along their trusted staff due to delicadeza, thereby, helplessly leaving them at the mercy of the holdover corrupts in the office.

 

Who would be expected to feed detractors with inside information about the weaknesses of the new appointees but the insiders? Who would be expected to discreetly muddle the decision of the new appointees but the insiders?  If this is not sabotage committed by the corrupt holdovers and who are protected by the Civil Service eligibility, I do not know what else to call it.

 

Sabotage is a universal destructive act of “mercenaries” in an organization, entity, and nation. These saboteurs are sometimes called “spies” to give them an exciting color. These devils of sort can throw into trash bins or burn documents, make equipment bog down, block the flow of information, feed wrong information to the media, etc., with the end view of destroying the credibility of the agency and the appointed chief.

 

The case of the Bureau of Customs is one classic example. Since time immemorial, the agency always alleges the lack of facilities, especially, x-ray machines for their inability to detect contraband items. How can such an agency whose main responsibility is to “check” items lack this basic equipment? Accordingly, the agency has x-ray machines but they have been purposely made to malfunction!

 

Sabotage will definitely pull Duterte down unless something drastic is done to the evils in the agencies – the incorrigible Civil Service eligibles!

The Problems with Some Filipino Entrepreneurs

The Problems with Some Filipino Entrepreneurs

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

First of all, many Filipino entrepreneurs are copycats. Their attitude is such that if they have observed the success of a certain business, they get envious and start their own, thinking that they would attain similar success. That is how the long line of bibingka stands along the highway of Digos in Davao came about, as well as roadside eateries all over the Philippines.

The copycat syndrome also brings about the proliferation of “fad businesses” that eventually, dies a natural death.

 

Many Filipino entrepreneurs forget one most important factor which is very necessary in putting up a business…the personal conviction or determination founded on personal interest. This factor is determined by the character of the person who is putting up a business. Simply put, an investor will definitely not succeed in selling a product that he does not use. How can a vegetarian for instance, be successful in selling meat products? How can a person sell herbal products if he does not even drink coffee?

 

Filipino entrepreneurs expect overnight success of their investment. They want an immediate return of their investment and lose heart in proceeding at the sign of any loss. They forgot that any investment that involves money is risky and may take years for the initial capital to be recovered. Meanwhile, recovery of investment may even be impossible if the Filipino entrepreneur spends not only the profit but the capital itself which should be used as a revolving fund.

 

Finally, one reason why many of these entrepreneurs always depend on the “5/6 loans” from enterprising Indian nationals, the so-called “Bombay” is their failure to save even a small portion of their profit that can be used as revolving fund later on. This attitude is an offshoot of the “Bahala na System”…a very negative aspect of the Filipino culture that seems so difficult to eliminate or at least, minimize.

 

If we want to move up, we should change our attitude!

Katangahan ng isang Iskolar ng Bayan Kuno

Katangahan ng isang Iskolar ng Bayan KUNO

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Sabi ng isang “iskolar ng bayan” KUNO na tuwang-tuwa dahil sa pagpirma ni Duterte ng scholarship program para sa tertiary level, “SIGURADONG MAKAKATULONG ANG ISANG EDUKADO SA BAYAN”…TANGA SIYA!…MAKITID ANG ISIP AT MAIKLI ANG PANANAW!

 

Hindi guarantee ang edukasyon para makatulong ang isang Pilipino sa bayan. MARAMING OPISYAL NG BAYAN NA MGA MASTERS AT DOCTORS NG KUNG ANU-ANONG KAEK-EKAN NA TINAPOS SA MGA UNIBERSIDAD SA PILIPINAS AT IBANG BANSA ANG NAGING DAHILAN NG PAGHIHIRAP NG BAYAN DAHIL SA KANILANG KORAPSYON. SA SOBRANG DUNONG O INTELLECT, NAGKAROON SILA NG IDEYA KUNG PAANONG MANGURAKOT AT MAGPALUSOT KAPAG NABISTO. MARAMI RING NAGDODOKTOR-DOKTORAN SA KUNG ANONG LARANGAN GANOONG BINILI LANG NILA ANG TITULO….MGA KAPALMUKS!

 

Nakalimutan ng taga-UP pa naman na IBA’T-IBANG URI ang pagtulong sa bayan, hindi lang ang pag-upo sa aircon na opisina. Diyanitor man o security guard o pulis o sundalo o messenger o driver o matadero o tindera o manikurista o barber, etc. ay nakakatulong din sa bayan. Ang mga iyan ay maituturing ding mga haligi ng ekonomiya ng bayan. ANG MGA ISKOLAR NG BAYAN KUNO…GUSTO AY MGA PANG-OPISINANG TRABAHO LANG!…SINO SA KANILA ANG GUSTONG MAGING MEKANIKO NG SASAKYAN O COMPUTER TECHNICIAN NA MADALING PAGKITAAN?…WALA!!!!! ANG GUSTO NG MGA HANGAL NA ITO AY NAKA-HIGH HEELS SILA O NAKA-KURBATA KAPAG PUMASOK SA TRABAHO.

 

Ang matindi pa, ang mga iskolar kuno ng bayan ay walang utang na loob dahil sa halip na tumulong kay Duterte ay sumasama pa sa mga TRYING HARD o NAGMAMAANG-MAANGAN NA MGA KOMUNISTA KUNO UPANG MAG-INGAY SA KALSADA AT MAGBATO NG PINTURA SA U.S. EMBASSY…LALO’T HIGIT AY MAGKONDENA KAY DUTERTE DAHIL SA PROGRAMA NIYA LABAN SA DROGA NA ANG LAYUNIN AY MAILIGTAS SA KAPAHAMAKAN ANG MGA KABATAAN! SILA AY MGA NAGKUKUNWARING MATATALINO PERO UTAK IPIS NAMAN NA ANG GUSTO LANG AY MAKI-RIDE ON SA KUNG ANO ANG USO. Kaya, kung tutuusin ANG KARAMIHAN SA KANLA AY HINDI KARAPAT-DAPAT NA GASTUSAN NG PERA GALING SA BUWIS NA ANG KATUMBAS AY PUYAT, PAGOD AT PAWIS NG ORDINARYONG PILIPINO NA NAGHIHIKANOS DIN SA BUHAY.

 

Dapat sa scholarship program ay gawing “study now, pay later plan”…meron na yata nito pero hindi lang naipapatupad ng maayos kaya pumalpak. Dapat papirmahin ang mga gustong mag-avail upang mapilitan silang magbayad sa gobyerno kapag nakakita na ng trabaho. Kapag hindi nila ginawa ay ipatanggal sila sa trabaho upang magkaroon ng leksiyon. Kung nakapasa sila sa programa, dapat din silang palinisin ng kalsada tuwing walang pasok o di kaya ay papuntahin sa slum areas upang magturo sa mga bata.

 

Ang hirap din sa mga iskolar kuno na ito, ang yayabang pa! Nabisto tuloy na hindi lahat sa kanila ay mahihirap, lalo na ang pumapasok sa UP dahil ang requirement lang ay makapasa sa exam. Ang habol nila sa UP ay prestige. Masabi lang na graduate sa UP, kahit pasang awa ay solve na sila. Kung may interview man bago maka-avail ng scholarship,  hindi rin siguradong epektibo….ang dapat ay masinsinang background check (BI). Ngayon, kapag ipinilit ang BI requirement, siguradong magrereklamo ang mag-iimplement ng scholar program dahil sa kakulangan ng mga taong gagawa nito. So, balik na naman sa sisihan kapag pumalpak ang programa tulad ng nangyari sa 4Ps na hindi lahat ng beneficiary ay mahihirap kundi malalakas lang sa Barangay na siyang nagbibigay ng recommendation sa DSW.

 

Sa bandang huli, hindi maso-solve ng scholarship program para sa tertiary level ang problema sa edukasyon. ANG DAPAT NA TUTUKAN AY ANG NAPAKABULOK NA SISTEMA KUNG SAAN AY KASAMA ANG MGA DISPALINGHADONG TEXTBOOKS NA KARAMIHAN AY MARAMING MALI AT GINAWANG WORKBOOKS KAYA HINDI NA NIPAGAGAMIT SA IBA PAGKATAPOS NG PASUKAN. ANG DAPAT GAWIN AY IKULONG ANG MGA NAGKUKUTSABAHANG CHED AT DECS OFFICIALS AT MGA PUBLISHERS….PERO DAHIL WALANG GINAGAWA TUNGKOL DITO, TULOY ANG PAGDURUSA NG BAYAN!

The Problems with Some Filipino Entrepreneurs

The Problems with Some Filipino Entrepreneurs

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

First of all, many Filipino entrepreneurs are copycats. Their attitude is such that if they have observed the success of a certain business, they get envious and start their own, thinking that they would attain similar success. That is how the long line of bibingka stands along the highway of Digos in Davao came about, as well as roadside eateries all over the Philippines.

The copycat syndrome also brings about the proliferation of “fad businesses” that eventually, dies a natural death.

 

Many Filipino entrepreneurs forget one most important factor which is very necessary in putting up a business…the personal conviction or determination founded on personal interest. This factor is determined by the character of the person who is putting up a business. Simply put, an investor will definitely not succeed in selling a product that he does not use. How can a vegetarian for instance, be successful in selling meat products? How can a person sell herbal products if he does not even drink coffee?

 

Filipino entrepreneurs expect overnight success of their investment. They want an immediate return of their investment and lose heart in proceeding at the sign of any loss. They forgot that any investment that involves money is risky and may take years for the initial capital to be recovered. Meanwhile, recovery of investment may even be impossible if the Filipino entrepreneur spends not only the profit but the capital itself which should be used as a revolving fund.

 

Finally, one reason why many of these entrepreneurs always depend on the “5/6 loans” from enterprising Indian nationals, the so-called “Bombay” is their failure to save even a small portion of their profit that can be used as revolving fund later on. This attitude is an offshoot of the “Bahala na System”…a very negative aspect of the Filipino culture that seems so difficult to eliminate or at least, minimize.

 

If we want to move up, we should change our attitude!

Walang Perpektong Pamahalaan, Subali’t…

Walang Perpektong Pamahalaan, Subali’t…..

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Saan mang panig ng mundo ay walang matatagpuang perpektong pamahalaan. Kahit ang mga kinabibilibang bansa ngayon tulad ng Japan at Singapore ay may mga tiwali o corrupt  rin na mga opisyal sa kani-kanilang gobyerno. Hindi lang sila napapansin dahil napakaliit ng mga nagagawa nila kung ihambing sa mga bansa kung saan ay talamak ang korapsyon. Sa Singapore ay wala pang nagpatiwakal na opisyal dahil inimbestigahan tungkol sa katiwalian. Subalit sa Japan ay meron nang ilan.

 

Sa puntong ito, kahit ang sinasabing pusod ng Kristiyanismo, ang Vatican at ang malawak nitong nasasakupan sa buong mundo ay tadtad din ng korapsyon at mismong ang bagong santo Papa na si Francis ay dismayado dahil dito. Paulit-ulit siyang nanawagan sa mga kasama niyang “pastol” na magbago, subalit tulad ni Duterte, kahit nagkandapaos na siya sa kanyang paulit-ulit na panawagan ay wala halos nakinig. Malayo kasi ang Vatican at walang ultra-powerful CCTV camera na aabot sa mga parishes sa iba’t ibang panig ng mundo kung saan ay may mga tiwaling kura paruko.

 

Sa Pilipinas, ang itinuturing na pundasyon ng pamahalaang nasyonal, ang Barangay ay hindi na rin maaasahan dahil karamihan sa kanila ay kinokontrol ng mga mayor na korap. At, dahil sa pangyayaring yan, walang nangyari sa pinangarap na sana ang mga matitinong opisyal ng pamahalaan ay matuto ng lahat nang dapat malaman ng mga susunod na ibobotong opisyal. Pati ang mga Kabataang Barangay ay nadamay dahil saksi sila sa mga ginagawang katiwalaan, kaya marami sa kanila ang natuto na ring “magpalusot”.

 

Inaasahan ang pangungurakot saan mang gobyerno. Ang pinakaswabeng katumbas ng “kurakot” ay “gift” at ang medyo mabigat ay “komisyon”. Kung magpakasimple lang sana ang mga opisyal ng gobyerno pagdating sa “komisyon” na ang standard ay 10%, wala sanang problema. Subalit marami ang hindi kuntento dahil ang gusto ay 40% at ang iba pa nga ay 70%! Ang ibang buwayang opisyal ay humihingi pa ng buong floor ng condo building na ang kapalit ay pirma niya upang maaprubahan ang pagpapagawa ng project. Ang iba namang garapal ay humihingi ng puwesto sa kumpanyang bubuksan sa lunsod na nasasakupan nila.

 

Ang nangyayari sa gobyerno ng Pilipinas ay isa na yata sa pinakagarapal na kurakutan sa buong mundo. Hantaran ang garapalan at kung umasta ang mga kurakot, animo ay sarili nila ang kaban ng yaman ng Pilipinas! Sa Pilipinas lang makakakita ng talamak na ghost projects!

 

WALANG PERPEKTONG PAMAHALAAN, SUBALI’T HINDI ITO DAPAT GAMITING DAHILAN NG MGA OPISYAL O EMPLEYADO NG GOBYERNO UPANG GAYAHIN ANG GINAGAWA NG MGA KASAMA NILANG HANTARAN KUNG MANGURAKOT DAHIL SA KAPAL NG APOG SA MUKHA!

 

Manila Metropolitan Theater…its history and story of neglect

Manila Metropolitan Theater

…its history and story of neglect

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

But the theater’s story before the dark years of WWII was something else. It was full of struggle and challenges that just strengthened its foundation. In 1924, with an appeal from Mayor Earnshaw, an area of 8,293.58 square meters was leased  by the government of Manila to the Metropolitan Theater Company, represented by Horace Pond, Antonio Milian, Leopoldo Khan, Manuel Camus, Enrique Zobel and Rafael Palma. The land then was used as a flower market of Mehan Garden. It was an untrimmed and not so pleasantly landscaped area that gave way to the theater.

The concerted effort of various communities of Manila that comprised of Americans, Chinese, Spanish and Filipinos, bolstered the hope of the crusading artists. A magazine, Manila’s Philippine Magazine, carried encouraging write ups on the proposed theater in its effort to gain support from its readers. Stocks were sold by the Philippine International Corporation at Php100.00 and Php50.00 to raise the needed fund which was one million pesos.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The timely mediation of Mrs. Imelda Marcos gave assurance to the artists’ victory over their destructive opponents. The Met was finally restored to its pre-war grandeur and has been called the Manila Metropolitan Theater.  Its seating capacity was increased from 1,670 to 1,709.

To augment its finances, galleries that fringed the outer structure were rented out to shops that sell handicrafts, restaurants, studious and a night club. Bigger rooms on the second floor were furnished for receptions and meetings. Even the auditorium was leased to a movie company which showed three-dimensional films whenever the theater was free. Once again, shows and concerts were held.

 

The recovery of the theater was, however, short-lived. The emergence of the modern Cultural Center of the Philippines, Folk Arts Theater, modern cinema theaters and other cultural and artistic venues signaled again its slow deterioration. Groups of concerned artists joined hands to prevent its continued relapse to no avail….until, finally, it is back to its former state of gross neglect that we woefully see today. To protect it from intruding street dwellers, the periphery of the structure is fenced with board on which are pasted scenes of its former glory.