Ending weeks of speculation, ABS-CBN announced last January 26 that its noontime show Happy Yipee Yehey (HYY)will be having its final episode on February 4 – or just a week shy of its first anniversary.
As a consolation, network spokesperson Bong Osorio added that the show’s hosts will be given new projects soon. “We also extend our deepest gratitude to our viewers, here in the Philippines and in The Filipino Channel (TFC) markets worldwide, for their support to the program,” Osorio said in a statement given to the Philippine Entertainment Portal.
Hunk actor Matteo Guidicelli is one of the hosts of Happy Yipee Yehey
Like Pilipinas Win na Win before it, HYY suffered from perpetual low ratings. It must be very tough going up against Eat Bulaga, a television show that has aired since 1978. ABS-CBN’s noontime woes began in May 2010, when then-Wowowee host Willie Revillame went on an indefinite leave a day after challenging the ABS-CBN management to fire entertainment writer/TV host Jobert Sucaldito from the network, or else he will resign. Sucaldito earned Revillame’s because of his negative commentaries against Wowowee.
Instead of having Revillame return to hosting Wowowee, the network decided to replace the show altogether with Win na Win. It had a new set of hosts which initially included Kris Aquino and Robin Padilla, and later on, The Hit Makers. The move prompted Revillame to rescind his contract (valid until 2012) with ABS-CBN, triggering a P426 million court battle which remains unresolved to date. Win na Win was canceled by the end of December 2010.
After learning that his buddies John Estrada and Randy Santiago have accepted ABS-CBN’s offer for them to do a noontime show in the network, Revillame railed on national television: “Hindi magre-rate ‘yan! Ako nagsasabi sa ‘yo!” Nearly two years after Revillame’s abrupt departure from the Kapamilya network, ABS-CBN still hasn’t found a worthy replacement to the hugely popular Wowowee. With HYY’s impending exit from the boob tube, it looks like Revillame will have the last laugh.
A few days after being placed under hospital arrest for allegedly committing electoral sabotage, I wrote a blog about a fictional interview with former President and now Pampanga 2nd district Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Yesterday afternoon, I had the real thing.
I was able to visit the former president in her detention suite at the Veterans’ Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City. I did not formally interview her since doing so requires permission from Judge Jesus Mupas of the Pasay Regional Trial Court (of course, the ex leader has to agree to the interview first). I asked her some questions, nevertheless.
From the main gate of VMMC (the one facing North Avenue), visitors have to ride in one of the orange-painted tricycles plying inside the sprawling hospital facility to get to the 150-square meter Presidential Suite (the same facility where ousted President Joseph Estrada was briefly incarcerated back in 2001). During the five-minute travel, I realized the vast area occupied by the VMMC also serves as a golf course. Sure enough, I saw caddies and golf carts roaming all over the place.
Before getting near the suite, one has to pass through two security checkpoints. Only confirmed guests will be allowed to get inside. The name of the guest has to be submitted to members of the Philippine National Police (safe to assume there were at least 10 of them when I visited) guarding the area by noontime the day before the scheduled visit.
This photo of former Pres. Gloria Arroyo, seen here wearing a Miami J brace, was taken by Bullit Marquez of Associated Press just before she was transferred to VMMC
My schedule was confirmed by an Arroyo confidante (name withheld) two days ahead. The rules were strict. All electronic devices such as cameras, cellular phones, and iPads are not allowed inside the premises. Visitors are required to leave those behind inside their cars or, in my case, at the main desk in the detention suite’s entrance. Last December, Mupas barred Arroyo from using her laptop computer and cellphone, even in her capacity as a lawmaker.
On my way toward the suite, I saw a number of parked private vehicles. Two PNP patrol vehicles can also be seen in the area. As I signed in the daily log, I found out that local officials from Sasmuan, Pampanga (one of Arroyo’s constituencies) were there for a meeting. Much to my embarrassment, my long umbrella triggered an alarm in the metal detector – prompting officials to frisk me. Soon, visitor number 17 was led into the suite’s spacious receiving area by a female Arroyo staffer (not the one who facilitated my visit).
The receiving area is adorned with four framed Arroyo family pictures – three were placed near a lampshade while the other one is hanging on the wall. I sat in a flesh sofa right across the long table where Arroyo is having the meeting. I arrived 20 minutes earlier than scheduled, and while waiting, a male staffer gave me a plateful of pancit with siomai and a glass of Coke for merienda.
The air-conditioned room has two pairs of fluorescent lights, four ceiling lamps, and a Devant flat screen TV. The music playing in the background breaks the monotony of the human voices heard inside the suite. The entire area has shiny wooden flooring. I saw Ms Elena Bautista-Horn, Arroyo’s spokesperson, in the background.
Not long after, my contact approached me to give last minute instructions. The former president will leave the meeting for a few minutes to talk to me. At last, the woman once labeled by Financial Times as the “Iron Lady of Asia” was on her way toward where I was seated. “Hi! Thanks for the visit!” she told me. Clad in a gray dress with black imprints and her hair down, the former president is not wearing her neck brace during our chat. A day earlier, Negros Occidental Rep. Ignacio Arroyo, her brother-in-law, died of cardiac arrest in London.
Apart from expressing my condolences, I asked the former president how she is feeling. She told me she still feels sick occasionally and that she continues having difficulty swallowing. She added that she does not maintain a fixed schedule of activities while in VMMC. Before she stood up to return to the meeting, I asked her to write a brief note for me – and she readily obliged.
Quoting former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, ABS-CBN’s RG Cruz reported that Negros Occidental Rep. Ignacio Arroyo has died after the life – support systems were removed from his body. “Support systems were pulled out already thirty minutes ago. My brother passed away already. I’m so sad,” the elder Arroyo said.
UPDATE (1:40 PM):
ABS-CBN’ RG Cruz reports that according to the former First Gentleman, “Iggy is brain dead or clinically dead but has not been pronounced as dead by doctors.” Iggy is still on life support, but it “could be taken out anytime.” The older Arroyo said’d he’ll issue an official statement at the proper time.
Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Isa Avendano reports that Negros Occidental 5th District Rep. Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo has “succumbed to cardiac arrest while undergoing treatment abroad.” He was 60. His remains would be brought to the country any day from now, his brother former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo said in an interview with DZIQ.
Rep. Ignacio "Iggy" Arroyo has died of cardiac arrest while undergoing treatment abroad
He was on his third and final term in Congress. He was first elected in 2004, a year after he gained nationwide prominence when he went public to claim ownership of the mysterious Jose Pidal bank accounts. In a series of Senate inquiries held from August to September 2003, Senator Panfilo Lacson repeatedly stressed that the First Gentleman is the real owner of the bank accounts. He also scored the younger Arroyo for acting as a “fall guy.”
In an interview with ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau’s Rose Eclarinal last December from the United Kingdom, the younger Arroyo stated that he will not be able to return to country until January of this year upon the recommendation of his doctor, Professor Roger Williams of The London Clinic. He refused to elaborate on his medical condition, but he insisted that he is not running away from charges stemming from his alleged involvement in the sale of second-hand helicopters to PNP.
During the 14th Congress (from 2007-2010), when members of the ruling Lakas-Kampi CMD still dominated the House of Representatives, Iggy Arroyo chaired the House Committee on Natural Resources. He was also the vice chair of the Committee on Government Reorganization. At the same time, he was a member of the following congressional committees:
Public Works and Highways
Trade and Industry
He earned his degree in Business Administration (major in finance) from the University of San Francisco in 1974. He is survived by his three daughters Bianca Marie, Dina, and Alelu.
The solon from Albay said he will be an independent fiscalizer of the Aquino administration and an advocate for what he describes as a “progressive and alternative agenda.” After being allied with the now-detained ex leader for years, Lagman now declares that he “cannot continue serving a political aggrupation that “follow blindly the importuning of former President Arroyo” instead of recognizing “a competent, militant, and responsible leadership.”
Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay will be explaining his decision in a privilege speech this January 24
Lagman has criticized President Benigno Aquino III since the honeymoon period of his presidency. Two days after the infamous Manila hostage drama where eight Hong Kong nationals were killed, Lagman called on Aquino to fire three of his cabinet men, Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo as well as spokespersons Ricky Carandang and Sonny Coloma for their “palpable incompetence” in handling the crisis.
My mom, me, and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman during the 7th PopDev Media Awards
Lagman’s unflinching support for the Aquino-backed RH bill might have played a role in driving a wedge between him and Arroyo. In an interview with veteran journalist Raissa Robles, Lagman explained that his support for the bill will not wither just because of Aquino’s efforts to prosecute Arroyo, insisting that his RH advocacy and the issue surrounding Arroyo’s incarceration are not related.
Have you ever received a text message from an unregistered number saying you have won a huge prize for a contest you don’t remember joining at all? Here are two scam text messages I have received:
June 29, 2011
Congratulations! Last Jun/29/2011 Ur Cell# had Won! P750,000+N95:frm-PCCNS DTI NCR Permit#1948-S’of11-to Claim Ur Prize! Pls Call me Now! IM ATTY.MARK Mendez
January 17, 2012
(Congrats)!Ur SIMcard#won Php880,000.2nd prize winner draw last night.To claim ur prize,pls call me now!I’m Atty.Miguel A.Lopez.,Per DTI#5247seriEs of 2012.
The two SMS were sent seven months apart but they follow essentially the same structure. First, the sender tells me that my number won a particular amount through an unspecified promo. Notice that the message sender (which purports to be a lawyer on both occasions) is urging me to call him immediately for my prize.
Then, they use a fake promo permit number from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to give their modus operandi a semblance of authenticity. You can easily countercheck this through the DTI website.
The authenticity of permit numbers mentioned in text promos can be verified via the DTI website
Here’s what I found out:
Permit # 1948 – Love Life Discount Health Card from the St. Luke’s Medical Center
Permit # 5247 – HSBC Premier’s 2011 Member Get Member Promo
1. You don’t know the person who sent you the message.
2. You are asked to provide your bank account number and the sender offers to deposit money into it.
3. The request contains a sense of urgency.
4. The text message appeared credible because it supposedly came from a trusted government institution and/or a well-known government official.
5. The person texting you appeared to be credible (like a lawyer).
Kung wala ka namang sinalihan na promo, napakaliit ng posibilidad na ikaw ay nanalo ng isang malaking premyo.
Ang mga nananalo ng malaking premyo sa isang promo ay pinapadalhan ng sulat o telegrama upang sabihin na sila ay nanalo at hindi sa pamamagitan ng text message lamang.
Huwag basta-basta magbigay ng mahalagang impormasyon tungkol sa iyong sarili gaya ng address sa bahay at opisina, pangalan, at lalong-lalo na ang bank account number na diumano ay gagamitin “for verification.”
Lalong huwag magdeposito ng pera sa isang bank account number at huwag magpadala ng prepaid load na diumano ay para sa “tax” ng inyong premyo.
The public can call the DTI at 751-3330 for their complaints. Scam text promos can also be reported to the National Telecommunications Commission website (www.ntc.gov.ph), which ironically is inaccessible at this moment.
Nelson Macam, a Math teacher in Ramon Magsaysay High School (RMHS) – Manila (the institution where I graduated back in 2006), was found dead in his Tondo, Manila residence. He was stabbed at least 20 times by a yet-to-be-named assailant. And as if Macam’s killing is not yet brutal enough, the local media’s irresponsible and sensationalized reporting on his death is tragic as well.
Nelson Macam, 1963-2012 (photo taken from his Facebook page)
Apart from being an alumnus of RMHS, what made me interested in this case is the fact that I was in the school doing research when the news broke out in the afternoon of January 12. Born May 13 1963, Macam has taught in RMHS-Manila for twenty years already. At least five tabloids and one broadsheet carried this story. They are the following (click the headlines to read the story):
Reading the news stories made my stomach turn. All the writers either speculated or explicitly mentioned that Macam is gay. It is no secret that he is, but I am wondering if these journalists even bothered to ask for permission from the victim’s relatives if they can mention that.
Those hoping to watch international pop star Katy Perry’s performance at the SM Mall of Asia Concert Grounds on January 22, 2012 will have to buy their tickets as soon as possible.
With merely six days left before the concert at the, two of the five ticket types for the Katy Perry concert are already sold out, a representative from SM Tickets said in a phone interview. Here are the tickets available to the public and their corresponding prices:
Diamond – P10448 – sold out
Titanium – P6844 – 184 tickets left
Gold – P3710 – sold out
Silver – P1620 – 504 tickets left
Bronze – P889 – 1981 tickets left
The figures mentioned here are as of 6PM of January 16, 2012. With phone-in reservations already stopped since yesterday, Katy Perry fans will have to go an SM Cinema Ticket Booth within the mall hours to purchase concert tickets.
Katy Perry California Dreams Tour - live in Manila (official poster - courtesy of MMI)
Apart from the five abovementioned concert ticket types available to the public, the promoters had set aside Super VIP and VIP seats to certain individuals. No discounts are provided for bulk orders.
Tickets are only good as long as supplies last. Smart subscribers can get a 10% discount in ticket prices by typing TEXT COUPON (space) 510 to 9800, P1 per text. SM tickets can be reached at 470-2222.
“The president’s approach to fighting corruption is to punish the sins of the past rather than try to prevent crimes in future. Mr. Aquino has proposed few reforms to the system…Recent history gives little reason to think his approach will succeed.”
Even under detention for charges of electoral sabotage and plunder, former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo remains steadfast in defending her administration’s economic accomplishments. In a lengthy article titled “It’s The Economy, Student!” Arroyo slammed President Benigno Aquino III for focusing too much in prosecuting her at the expense of the Philippine economy. The paper was read during a Manila Hotel forum last January 12 by Dr. Gonzalo Jurado, one of Arroyo’s graduate school professors in UP Diliman where she received her PhD in economics.
Then-President Gloria Arroyo and Dr. Gonzalo Jurado during the launching of the book "Beat the Odds" (credits: Balita.ph)
She faulted Aquino, who was her student at the Ateneo de Manila University, for the “vacuum of leadership, vision, energy, and execution in managing our economic affairs.” She also charged Aquino for his “obsessive pursuit of political warfare.” The article title is derived from “It’s the economy, stupid,” the famous 1992 campaign slogan of ex United States President Bill Clinton. Clinton and Arroyo both attended Georgetown University during the 1960s. Below is the full text of Arroyo’s seven-page paper. Credits to Mr. Mike Acebedo Lopez for letting me repost this here.
IT’S THE ECONOMY, STUDENT!by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, PhD
[I wrote this article on and off in my spare time during my house recuperation, re-hospitalization and hospital detention from October to December 2011.]
The economy I turned over
Countless studies have shown that rapid increases in average incomes reduce poverty. Policy research, notes economist Stephan Klasen, has shown that “poverty reduction will be fastest in countries where average income growth is highest.”
When I stepped down from the Presidency in June 2010, I was able to turn over to the next Administration a new Philippines with a 7.9 percent growth rate. That growth rate capped 38 quarters of uninterrupted economic growth despite escalating global oil and food prices, two world recessions, Central and West Asian wars, mega-storms and virulent global epidemics.
Our country had just weathered with flying colors the worst planet-wide economic downturn since the Great Depression of 1930. As two-thirds of the world’s economies contracted, we were one of the few that managed positive growth.
If you look around you in our cities as you drive by the office towers that have changed the skyline, if you look around you in our provinces as you drive over the roads, bridges and RORO ports where we made massive investments, that is the face of change that occurred during my administration.
By the time I left the Presidency, nearly nine out of 10 Filipinos had access to health insurance, more than 100,000 new classrooms had been built, 9 million jobs had been created.
We built roads and bridges, ports and airports, irrigation and education facilities where they were sorely needed. To millions of the poor, we provided free or subsidized rice, discounted fuel and electricity, or conditional cash transfers and we advanced land reform for farmers and indigenous communities.
No amount of black propaganda can erase the tangible improvements enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of families liberated from want during my decade at the helm of the nation. But these accomplishments have simply been part of the continuum of history. The gains I achieved were built on the efforts of previous leaders. Each successive government must build on the successes and progress of the previous ones: advance the programs that work, leave behind those that don’t.
I am confident that I left this nation much stronger than when I came into office. When I stepped down, I called on everyone to unite behind our new leaders. I was optimistic and I was hopeful about our future.
However, the evidence is mounting that my optimism was misplaced. Our growth in the 3rd quarter of 2011 was only 3.2 percent, well below all the forecasts that had already been successively downgraded. The momentum inherited by President Aquino from my administration is slowing down, and despite his initial brief honeymoon period, he has simply not replaced my legacy with new ideas and actions of his own.
The politics of division
In the last year and a half, I have noted with sadness the increasing vacuum of leadership, vision, energy and execution in managing our economic affairs. The gains achieved by previous administrations – mine included – are being squandered in an obsessive pursuit of political warfare meant to blacken the past and conceal the dark corners of the present dispensation. Rather than building on our nation’s achievements, this regime has extolled itself as the sole harbinger of all that is good. And the Filipino people are paying for this obsession–in slumping growth, under-achieving government, escalating crime and conflict, and the excesses of a presidential clique that enjoys fancy cars and gun culture.
Vilification covering up the vacuum of vision is the latest manifestation of the weak state that our generation of Filipinos has inherited. The symptoms of this weak state are a large gap between rich and poor — a gap that has been exploited for political ends — and a political system based on patronage and, ultimately, corruption to support that patronage. Recently, politics has seen the use of black propaganda and character assassination as tools of the trade. The operative word in all of this is “politics” – too much politics.
I know that the President has to be a politician, like everybody else in our elected leadership, whether Administration or Opposition, and we must all co-exist within this system. But what really matters is what kind of politics we espouse, not how much. The enemy to beat is ourselves: when we spread division rather than unity; when we put ego above country and sensationalism above rationality; when we make everyday politics replace long-term vision in our country’s hour of need.
Everyday we draw nearer to what may be our country’s hour of greatest need, because an increasingly ominous global environment is aggravating our self-inflicted weakness. The leadership’s palpable deficiencies in vision and execution are hurting our economy at a time when the rest of the world faces the ever more real threat of a double-dip recession, one that we may have escaped the first time during my term, but might not be able to avoid again.
Our dream of growth
In order to avoid such a grim outcome, we must pursue the economic growth of our country as the permanent solution to our age-old problems of poverty and even corruption. Every postwar Administration to my recollection has sought to advance the economic growth of our country as a matter of highest priority. Only by enlarging the economic pie can there be more and bigger slices for everyone to enjoy.
It is in poverty that we find the material roots of the problem of corruption – because the political system based on patronage–and ultimately, corruption to support patronage–is made possible only by the large gap between the rich and the poor. This will persist until and unless we enlarge the economic pie.
Unfortunately, the present Administration has chosen to turn the problem upside down, anchoring their entire development strategy on one simplistic slogan: “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” If there is no corruption, there is no poverty—this is a proposition that also tells us that the undeniable persistence of poverty to this day therefore means the continuation of corruption under this Administration.
The Economist commented earlier that: “…The President’s approach to fighting corruption…is to punish the sins of the past rather than try to prevent crime in the future. Mr. Aquino has proposed few reforms to the system.”
Meanwhile, most analysts are downgrading their growth forecasts for this year and the next. The Dutch bank ING cited the government’s “under-spending in the name of good governance” as the reason for lowering its growth forecasts.
International magazine The Economist on Aquino's anti-corruption drive: "Progress or payback?"
Now more than ever, as the rest of the world faces renewed threats of financial and even sovereign defaults as well as economic recession, it is high time for us to return to the commitment to growth that has been the primary objective of every administration in the past.
Returning to this mainstream commitment to growth enables the country to tap the opportunities of the 21st century. In line with this, during my time we promoted fast-growing industries where high-value jobs are most plentiful.
One of them is information and communication technology or ICT, particularly the outsourcing of knowledge and business processes. My Administration developed the call center industry almost from scratch: in June 2010 there were half a million call center and BPO workers, from less than 5,000 when I took office. It was mainly for them that we built our fifth, virtual super- region: the so-called “cyber corridor”, the nationwide backbone for our call centers and BPO industry which rely on constant advances in IT and the essentially zero cost of additional bandwidth.
These youthful digital pioneers deserve government’s continuing support – by upgrading instead of downgrading and politicizing CICT, the government agency that oversees our digital infrastructure; by continuing to fund related voc-tech training programs; by wooing instead of alienating foreign companies seeking to set up shop here. As countries like China and Korea rapidly make their own way up the value-added ladder of outsourcing, we must work harder to stay ahead of them.
I had coffee with some call center agents one Labor Day when I was President. Lyn, a new college graduate, told me, “Now I don’t have to leave the country in order for me to help my family.” I was touched. With the structural reforms we implemented to promote ICT and BPOs, we not only found jobs but kept families intact.
We created appealing employment opportunities by focusing on the development of priority sectors, such as BPO. We need to create more wealth and keep people working here at home. That is why I remained so stubbornly focused on the economy. Many times during my tenure I expressed how much I longed for the day when going abroad for a job is a career option, not the only choice, for a Filipino worker. My economic plans were designed to allow the Philippines to break out of the boom and bust cycle of an economy dependent on global markets for agricultural commodities, and pursue consistent and sustainable growth anchored on a large domestic market and the resiliency of Filipino workers at home and abroad.
Pres. Noynoy Aquino giving his 2011 State of the Nation Address
My successor flattered me by parroting what I said, but tried to frustrate me by distorting what I did. Instead of acknowledging his debt to his predecessor, he accused me of doing the opposite of what I had achieved, by describing my government as “…[one] that treats its people as an export commodity and a means to earn foreign exchange”. Then he promised to install what I had already established and which he appears bent on dismantling: “… a government that creates jobs at home, so that working abroad will be a choice rather than a necessity; and when its citizens do choose to become OFWs, their welfare and protection will still be the government’s priority.”
Indeed, it’s so easy to claim achievements that have already been accomplished by others, and take credit for what is there when the one who did the work has gone. Just make sure she is forgotten, or, if remembered, vilified.
The President’s words were brave indeed—and yet his government has consistently failed to back them up: by failing to rescue our countrymen from China’s death row, or promptly evacuate them from national disaster in Japan, or comprehensively secure them from political unrest in Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East. Now we are facing a new challenge of “Saudization”, as the government of our largest OFW market, Saudi Arabia, sets out to implement a massive program of replacing OFW’s with its own nationals, starting next year.
Will this government have the will and the skill to properly navigate such uncertain waters? Protecting our overseas workers will urgently require contingency planning and continuous backdoor diplomacy with their host governments, while creating alternative jobs at home for them will require—again—the kind of commitment to economic expansion that I cannot over- emphasize.
Infrastructure strengthens our competitiveness and enables us to attract new levels of job- creating foreign direct investment. Infrastructure investment not only drives economic growth, but also creates a more efficient, competitive economy, by improving productivity and lowering the costs of doing business.
I am alarmed that the pace of infrastructure build-out has slowed dramatically under this Administration, with some projects even being cancelled outright for no good reason—such as the earlier-noted flood control projects in Central Luzon—and our country being sued by investors. At a time when we should be wooing their money, we are inviting litigation from them instead. This kind of flip-flopping may help explain the tepid investor response to the Administration’s flagship public-private partnership (PPP) program, where only one project has been awarded after all of eighteen months.
I was heartened to hear the President announce recently his willingness to resume government infrastructure spending next year. However, one cannot help but notice the timing, so close to the upcoming 2013 election campaign.
In my first State of the Nation Address in 2001, I said that the first component of our national agenda should be an economic philosophy of free enterprise appropriate to the twenty-first century, while the second should be a modernized agricultural sector founded on social equity.
Within a couple of months after taking office in January 2001, I personally conducted Cabinet meetings to implement the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act of 1995, which had never been implemented for lack of funds.
After several discussions with selected department secretaries as well as heads of government banks, we uncovered budget items and available credit to channel more than P20 billion a year to provide fertilizers, irrigation and infrastructure, extension services, more loans, dryers and other post-harvest facilities, and seeds and other genetic materials to our farmers and fisherfolk. This was perhaps the biggest reason for the decline in poverty that was posted during my first few years in office.
The current Administration originally fixated on the single goal of achieving self-sufficiency in rice by 2013. I too wanted to achieve rice self-sufficiency, but I knew the odds were tough. Since the Spanish period we’ve been importing rice. While we may know how to grow rice well, topography doesn’t always cooperate. Nature did not gift us with a mighty Mekong River like Thailand and Vietnam, with their vast and naturally fertile river delta plains. Nature instead put our islands ahead of our neighbors in the path of typhoons from the Pacific. So historically we’ve had to import 10% of our rice, and so I took care to keep our goals for agriculture wide- ranging and diversified.
Recently the Administration seems to have retreated from the original objective of rice self- sufficiency by 2013. In its place, do they have an alternative vision in mind for our all-important agricultural sector?
The real challenge in this century is broader. The real task at hand is to make the finite land that we have planted to agriculture ever more productive, through agricultural modernization founded on social equity.
Higher productivity from farm lands is critical for our development. By making more food available at lower prices especially to our poor, we are effectively bringing down the required level of real wages in our country—already among the highest in the world, according to UP Professor Manny Esguerra—and helping to make our manufacturing industries globally competitive again.
As for social equity, being the daughter of the late President Diosdado Macapagal, the father of land reform in our country, I am gratified by the evaluation of one of my favorite Economics teachers, UP Professor Gonzalo Jurado: “The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, to the extent that it is a land distribution program, can now be described as having almost completely succeeded in attaining its goal. [CARP] should now be a developmental program aiming explicitly to raise farm productivity…so that the country as a whole will benefit from the tenurial rearrangement.”
And of course it is the landowners who must set the example of compliance with the law in order to allow the rest of us to move forward—such as the Arroyos in my husband’s family, who voluntarily submitted long ago to land reform even without an order from the Supreme Court to do the right thing.
For Filipinos, family is everything and the future of our children is sacred. That is why I invested so much time and effort in rejuvenating our education system. I met with teachers and other educators to get a first-hand look at the improvements that we need to make. I listened to what these fine public servants had to say, and in response to their advice, I increased the country’s total budget for education by nearly four times: from Ps 6.6 Billion in 2000 to Ps 24.3 Billion in 2010 when I stepped down. Those funds went into the following critical areas of educational spending:
We built 100,000 new classrooms, more than the three previous administrations combined.
We supported one in every two private high school students – a total of 1.2M students – with the GASTPE financial voucher program.
In 2009 alone, we doubled TESDA’s budget.
For the long term, key recommendations were also submitted by the educational task force I created in 2007–comprising representatives from the major educational and private sector bodies under the leadership of former Ateneo president Fr. Bienvenido Nebres–in order to fashion a new educational roadmap with special attention to the needs of the youth and our growing knowledge-driven industries.
The task force report is the only document I personally handed to President Aquino, when we were together in the car being driven to his inauguration last year. Unfortunately that report seems to have landed in his circular file, making our schoolchildren yet another casualty of the ongoing vilification being waged against me.
I’m now saddened by news reports that the administration has been under-funding state colleges and universities without offering alternatives to the more than ten percent of our student population who attend these institutions.
Moreover, to my knowledge, any major educational reforms implemented by this administration have been limited only to adding another two years to basic education. I do not know how sound this is, or how widely supported among education professionals.
I often said during my Administration that we need to continue translating our economic and fiscal achievements into real benefits for the people. We must continue to invest in what I like to call the three “E’s” of the Economy, Environment and Education. These include such pro-poor programs as enhancing access to healthcare, food, housing and education, as well as job creation. They are central to lifting our nation up.
Over the past decade—fuelled by the windfall from our mid-term fiscal reforms—I initiated or expanded a raft of social programs for the poor. We increased PhilHealth insurance coverage, set up nearly 16,000 Botika ng Barangay outlets to deliver affordable medicines to the poor, ordered the drug companies by law to reduce their prices, energized 98.9 percent of our barangays, provided water service to 70 percent of previously waterless municipalities. And of course, we also introduced “Four P’s”, the highly successful conditional cash transfer program aimed at encouraging positive behavior among the poor in exchange for cash assistance.
But perhaps more than our social services, what the poor benefited the most from was the low inflation and the low unemployment we made possible through effective management of the economy. Despite the global food and oil price spikes of 2008, domestic inflation slowly declined on my watch, bottoming out at 3.9 percent by the time I stepped down in June 2010. And unemployment, which had peaked at nearly 14 percent under President Estrada, was averaging only around 7.5 percent toward the end of my term in office.
The problems of the poor are serious indeed, and they deserve serious thinking and serious solutions—not empty slogans, not the bloating of the cash transfer program for patently political ends, and certainly not the inability of this administration to keep the price of rice affordable or create more jobs by continuing the growth agenda. The moment that agenda is compromised, it is the poor who will feel first and the hardest the dire consequences.
No nation can aspire to become modern without protecting its environment.
On my watch as President, the country’s forest cover increased from 5.39 million hectares in 2001 to 7.17 million hectares by 2009. And we registered 40 projects abroad to reduce greenhouse gases—the sixth largest number of such projects among all countries.
I also signed a large number of laws to codify environmental protection—including new legislation to promote Ecological Solid Waste Management, Wildlife Resource Conservation and Protection, Clean Water, and Biofuels. And I tried to set the example for our countrymen by dedicating every Friday to environmental concerns.
I created the Presidential Task Force on Climate Change in 2007, which was later enhanced into the Climate Change Commission under the Climate Change Act of 2009. Under the law, the Chief Executive chairs this Commission, just one of only a few bodies headed by the highest official of the land. And yet President Aquino to date has not convened the Commission even once. The country can ill afford his lack of interest in this matter, now that climate change is causing calamities at the most unexpected times and places, such as the December typhoon floods in Cagayan de Oro and my home town of Iligan City.
As my father, the late President Diosdado Macapagal, used to say: “The Presidency of the Philippines is a tough and killing job that demands a sense of sacrifice.” At the end of the day, it comes down to plain hard work. A president must work harder than everyone else. And no matter what he thinks he was elected to do — even if that includes running after alleged offenders in the past — he must not neglect the bread and butter issues that preoccupy most of our people most of the time: keeping prices down, creating more jobs, providing basic services, securing the peace, pursuing the high economic growth that is the only way to vault our country into the ranks of developed economies.
Good management begins with planning ahead, not pointing fingers and blaming others after the fact. It means spelling out your vision quickly and clearly so your team grasps their mission at once and immediately starts to execute it.
Unfortunately, planning and preparation seem to be absent from this administration, whether it’s for taking OFWs out of harm’s way on short notice, or evacuating flood victims—or rescuing foreign tourists held hostage by a crazed gunman.
By comparison to that incident, not a single life was ever lost in all the coup attempts against me that I had to put down by force. There is no secret behind this: it against any crisis, implemented with hands-on leadership from the very top.
Once the plan is in place, the leader must proceed to hands-on execution. There is no room for absenteeism, nor for coming to work late and leaving early. There is simply not enough that can be done if the Cabinet meets only four times in an entire year.
The last major task for good management is to exercise control without fear or favor. This was the principle I was following when I brought AFP controller General Garcia up on charges in 2005, and cancelled the NBN/ZTE deal in 2007.
These days—alas—there is absolutely no fear in the administration when they’re running after me or my allies. But there is definitely a lot of favor involved when they excuse— and even defends—their friends even from misdeeds committed in full view of the public.
This is not the kind of ethics that should be practiced by one who claims to have a genuine reform agenda. Neither will it attract capital from investors who desire regularity and a level playing field. Nor do our people deserve to be consigned to economic stagnation, government lethargy, and nobody-home leadership.
Neither the President nor anyone else can truly expect to govern the next five years with nothing but a sorry mix of vilification, periodically recycled promises of action followed by lethargy, backed up by few if any results, and presumptuously encouraging gossip about one’s love life in which no one can possibly be interested. Given the electoral mandate that he enjoyed in 2010— the same size as mine in 2004, as predicted by every survey organization at that time—our people deserve more, and better, from him.
*Word of warning – the website is loading excruciatingly slow at the moment. This is like prolonging the agony, but you’ll surely feel triumphant once you confirm that you’ll soon be an iskolar ng bayan.
According to GMA News Online, results can also be accessed on the following mirror websites: Stickbread Solutions, Creative Point Online and Preginet. The article also mentions that over 10,000 examinees aced the UPCAT.
But, why do I still see this statement on the official UPCAT page?
I’ll never forget the exact circumstance when I phoned the UP Admission Office to ask about the results of the UPCAT for school year 2006-2007. That was February 26, 2006, a Sunday. It is a significant date in our country’s recent history.
Earlier that day, Major General Renato Miranda, commandant of the Philippine Marines, was unceremoniously relieved from his post after urging his subordinates to withdraw their support from the government of then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. I made the inquiry late in the afternoon. Here’s what’s happening during that time, as chronicled by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism:
“As news of (Miranda’s) resignation made the rounds of text messages in an edgy city, members of civilian groups like the Black and White Movement, Sanlakas and Brother Eddie Villanueva’s Bangon Pilipino Movement rushed to the Marine headquarters in Fort Bonifacio to support what they believed were embattled Marine troopers.
By 5 p.m., scores of civilians had gathered at the Marine chapel and were subsequently joined by Marine Col. Ariel Querubin, who is said to have been involved in the failed attempt to withdraw support from the Arroyo government last Friday. ‘We are asking the people to support us from aggression,’ Querubin told ANC.”
I will forever associate Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Ariel Querubin, and Renato Miranda to the day UPCAT Results 2006 was released
The results were posted later that night, and I was informed of it by a high school friend early morning of the following day. She asked her sister (who is a student in UP Manila) to look for my name among the passers. You see, I am not the type who swoops in into a university to look for my name in the list of qualifiers posted in the school wall/board.
Although I didn’t find the UPCAT particularly tough, I was not expecting to pass it. Even though I have heard all the harrowing tales about how tough it is to qualify, I chose not to enroll in a review center. A number of my high school batch mates did, and they failed to make it to UP ultimately. Prior to the release of the UPCAT results, I am already set to take up Political Science in the University of Santo Tomas. Has six years passed that fast?
The past three weeks must have been a roller-coaster ride for 2008 American Idol runner-up David Archuleta. During a Christmas concert in his hometown Salt Lake City, Utah last December 20, Archuleta surprised his fans when he announced that he will be leaving the music industry for two years to become a Mormon missionary. Although Archuleta has been eclipsed in popularity in recent years by Justin Bieber, he still has a global fan base (Archie Angels, raise your hands!). Excerpts from his remarks:
“It’s not because someone told me that I was supposed to do it, not because … I no longer want to do music anymore.It’s because (of) the feeling that I felt that I need to do next in my life. It’s just the same feeling that I’ve always followed, tried to follow in my life.”
His unexpected pronouncement was widely reported in the American media, including the Washington Post and ABC News. Britain’s The Daily Mail also had a piece on it. The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, ran an op-ed by Allison Pond, a former Mormon missionary. The write-up gives its readers a glimpse of how drastically life would change for the 21-year-old Archuleta:
“He’ll trade a life of stardom for the rigor of waking up at 6:30 every morning, studying scripture for a couple of hours, then working 10-hour days teaching interested people in their homes and taking on other community-service projects before falling into bed exhausted.”
David Archuleta to do a TV series in the Philippines before being a Mormon missionary (click image)
Let me explain some stuff for non-Filipino readers of this blog. Here in the Philippines, we used to have only two major networks, ABS-CBN and GMA. The past two years, TV5 has emerged as a third-force. Now, we already have three broadcast giants, similar to ABC, CBS, and NBC in the United States.
It remains unclear how long Archuleta will stay in the Philippines. The target date for the series’ premiere has not yet been announced as well. Will Archuleta be able to religiously watch his own TV series? According to Washington Post, his religious mission would begin sometime of first-half this year (location still undisclosed). Archuleta’s TV project in the Philippines this month effectively belies Alyssa Newcomb of ABC News’ assumption that his mission might begin “shortly after the 1st of January.”
This will be David Archuleta's fourth visit to the Philippines
This would be the fourth visit of Archuleta to the Philippines. The first was in May 2009 with David Cook, the second was for a benefit concert for Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) victims with Katy Perry, while the third was just last July. As to what (or more accurately, how much) convinced an international music star like him to do a TV series in this Southeast Asian nation will certainly be the subject of speculation for the weeks to come.
David Archuleta is obviously very excited for his first lengthy acting gig. In his latest Twitter posts, he talks about participating in acting classes. He also uploaded a three-minute video blog, his first this 2012, for his fans in YouTube. In the description, he wrote: “Headed to the Philippines later today! I’ll be arriving this week to start a new adventure in acting. I’m nervous, but also really excited to try this new experience. I’ll be doing a mini-series for TV5 and will be filming in the Philippines for the next few weeks.” He also promised to do another video blog once he arrives to the Philippines. Hope to see him here!