MattAndJojang's Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘Philippines

We’re Excited With The Pope’s Visit

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Photo: Aaron Favila/Associated Press

Photo: Aaron Favila/Associated Press

Tomorrow afternoon, Pope Francis will arrive in our country, the Philippines, for a five-day visit (Jan. 15-19). And we’re all excited!

In a country where 80% of the population (80 million) are Catholics, the Pope is expected to be welcomed with a rock-star intensity.

Josephine Graza, a retired government employee, sums it all up:

Filipinos are excited about the visit because people have a lot of problems and have been through a lot of calamities.

Although our country is rich in natural resources, it has always been plagued by a vast inequality in the distribution of wealth and widespread poverty. It is for this reason that one-tenth of the population is working abroad to support their families.

To compound this, our country is hit by 20+ typhoons every year, causing loss of lives and destruction of property among a populace that, for the most part, are saddled with poverty.

Two years ago our country was hit by Typhoon Haiyan, considered as the strongest typhoon in recorded history. Entire villages were destroyed and thousands were killed.

We’re not surprised that Pope Francis opted to spend a significant amount of time in Leyte, the province that was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.

But even before Pope Francis’s arrival pope mania has swept our country. You can see his face in tarpaulins, posters, shirts, dolls, coffee mugs and all sorts of mementos. Someone even wrote a musical entitled Pope Francis, the Musical in his honor.

Rev. Enrique Luzung, a theologian who plays the young Argentinian pope when he was still then known as Jorge Mario Bergoglio, admits that reading about Pope Francis’s life and playing him in the musical has been a life-changing experience for him. He adds:

Through him we see the presence of God.

The Pope’s humility, compassion for the poor, and message of God’s mercy has touched not only Rev. Luzung, but also countless numbers of individuals — I and my wife included.

In the words of Marina Bringas, a retired doctor:

You always feel that he cares.

–Matt

Written by MattAndJojang

January 14, 2015 at 1:24 pm

When Will We Choose To Live More Simply?

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Victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines (Photo: Associated Press)

Victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines (Photo: Associated Press)


Delivered to the 19th Session of the Conference of the Parties, (Warsaw, November 2013)

This week – even as the world mourns the tragic loss of life in the unprecedented Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippine Islands – political leaders have converged on Warsaw, Poland, in yet another anticipated meeting on climate change. Concerned citizens throughout the world are hoping and praying for prompt and practical results.

The conference follows on the heels of an important report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which warns of the urgency of immediately addressing the alarming escalation of climate change in order to avoid catastrophic consequences.

Scientists talk of “tipping points” and “abrupt climate change.” Political leaders talk of the “challenges” that lie ahead. Scripture speaks of human crisis and God’s forgiving grace. All three make it clear that the time will come when we must face consequences; the time will come when it is simply too late.

At first glance, it may appear strange for the leader of a religious institution concerned with “sacred” values to be so profoundly involved in “worldly” issues. After all, what does preserving the planet have to do with saving the soul? It is commonly assumed that global climate change and the exploitation of our nature’s resources are matters that primarily concern politicians, scientists and technocrats. At best, perhaps they are considered the preoccupation of interest groups, naturalists or activists.

Nevertheless, there are no two ways of looking at either the world or God. There is no distinction between concern for human welfare and concern for ecological preservation. The way we relate to nature as creation directly reflects the way we believe in God as Creator of all things. The sensitivity with which we handle the natural environment clearly mirrors the sacredness that we reserve for the divine.

Moreover, scientists estimate that those most hurt by global warming in the years to come, are those who can least afford it. According to the Gospel of St. Matthew, the questions that will be asked of us all at the final moment of accountability will not be about our religious observance but on whether we fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, clothed the naked, comforted the sick, and cared for captives.

Our reckless consumption of the earth’s resources – energy, water, and forests – threatens us with irreversible climate change. Burning more fuel than we need in an overpopulated city, we may contribute to droughts or floods thousands of miles away.

To restore the planet we need a spiritual worldview, which brings frugality and simplicity, humility and respect. We must constantly be aware of the impact of our actions on all of creation. We must direct our focus away from what we want to what the planet needs. We must choose to care for creation; otherwise, we do not really care about anything at all.

In our efforts, to contain global warming, we are ultimately admitting just how prepared we are to sacrifice some of our selfish and greedy lifestyles. When will we learn to say: “Enough!”? When will we understand how important it is to leave as light a footprint as possible on this planet for the sake of future generations?

After all, we are all in this together. Our planet unites us in a unique way. While we may differ in our conception of the origins or purpose of our world, and while we may disagree on social or political ideology, surely we can all agree on our responsibility and obligation to protect its natural resources – which are neither limitless nor negotiable – for future generations.

It is not too late to respond – as a people and as a planet. We could steer the earth toward our children’s future. Yet we can no longer afford to wait; we can no longer afford to be idle. The world has clearly expressed its opinion; our political leaders must accordingly act with urgency. Deadlines can no longer be postponed; indecision and inaction are not options. We have a choice to make. The time to choose is now.

We remain optimistic about the results at Warsaw; quite simply because we are optimistic about humanity’s potential. Let us work together; let us offer the earth an opportunity to heal and continue to nurture us.

~ Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide

Following Philippines Typhoon Haiyan, Here’s How You Can Help

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A woman stands amidst the devastation brought about by powerful Typhoon Haiyan at Tacloban city, in Leyte province, central Philippines Saturday Nov. 9, 2013.

A woman stands amidst the devastation brought about by powerful Typhoon Haiyan at Tacloban city, in Leyte province, central Philippines Saturday Nov. 9, 2013. (Photo: AP/Bullit Marquez)

Philippines Typhoon Haiyan slammed into six central islands Friday, decimating buildings and homes.

One of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded, Haiyan (Yolanda in the Philippines) has caused more than 1,000 fatalities, the Philippines Red Cross is estimating.

Haiyan was the second category 5 typhoon to strike the Philippines this year.

“The devastation is, I don’t have the words for it,” Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said, according to Reuters. “It’s really horrific. It’s a great human tragedy.”

The organizations below are mobilizing and deploying major disaster relief efforts. See how you can lend support, and check back for further updates.

World Food Programme
WFP has allocated an immediate $2 million for Haiyan relief, with a greater appeal pending as needs become apparent. The UN organization is sending 40 metric tons of fortified biscuits in the immediate aftermath, as well as working with the government to restore emergency telecommunications in the area. Americans can text the word AID to 27722 to donate $10 or give online. Learn more here.

Red Cross
Emergency responders and volunteers throughout the Philippines are providing meals and relief items. Already, thousands of hot meals have been provided to survivors. Red Cross volunteers and staff also helped deliver preliminary emergency warnings and safety tips. Give by donating online or mailing a check to your local American Red Cross chapter. Learn more here.

The Philippine Red Cross has mobilized its 100 local outposts to help with relief efforts. Learn more here.

AmeriCares
The relief organization is sending medical aid for 20,000 survivors, including antibiotics, wound care supplies and pain relievers. AmeriCares is also giving funds to local organizations to purchase supplies. Learn more here.

World Vision
The organization is providing food, water and hygiene kits at the evacuation centers. World Vision was also still actively responding to last month’s earthquake in Bohol, which luckily was not struck by the eye of the storm. Learn more here.

Salvation Army
100 percent of all disaster donations will be used for relief efforts and “to immediately meet the specific needs of disaster survivors.” Text TYPHOON to 80888 to Donate $10 or give online. Learn more here.

 Source: Huffington Post

Written by MattAndJojang

November 10, 2013 at 11:47 am

CNN’s Statement About The Filipino People

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CNN Statement

Thank you, CNN, for honoring the Filipino people during these difficult and trying times. Thank you, too, for setting up this website: Impact Your World – to help…

Written by MattAndJojang

November 9, 2013 at 8:57 am

7.1 Magnitude Earthquake Hits The Philippines

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Pray

At least 20 people were killed on Tuesday when a major 7.1 magnitude earthquake tore down buildings across three islands that are among the Philippines’ most popular tourist attractions, authorities said.

Fifteen of the fatalities were in Cebu, the second most important city in the Philippines and a gateway to some of the country’s most beautiful beaches, civil defence office spokesman Reynaldo Balido told reporters.

Five other fatalities were reported on neighbouring Bohol and Siquijor islands, famed for their idyllic white sands and turquoise waters that are typically visited by fast boat from Cebu.

“I was fast sleep when suddenly I woke up because my bed was shaking. I was so shocked, I could do nothing but hide under the bed,” Janet Maribao, 33, a receptionist in Cebu, told AFP.

“I was so scared, I could not even run out of the house. It was only 30 minutes later that we were able to leave the house.”

The quake struck at 08:12 local time (0012 GMT) near Balilihan, a town of about 18,000 people on Bohol, at a depth of 20 kilometres, the United States Geological Survey reported.

The town lies across a strait about 60 kilometres from Cebu island.

Residents and tourists reported extensive damage to old churches and modern buildings, including a university, while major roads had also been torn apart.

Patients streamed out of one of Cebu’s major hospitals, which was damaged. Local media reported one floor of the building caught fire.

In the immediate aftermath of the quake, authorities were struggling to reach or contact damaged areas, with power lines as well as phone networks down, and a full picture of the disaster had yet to emerge.

“Communication lines are quite difficult here,” Neil Sanchez, head of the Cebu disaster management office, told ABC-ClimestoneBN television.

“Even the disaster risk reduction management office has been damaged. We had to move elsewhere.”

Cebu, with a population of 2.5 million people, is the political, economic, educational and cultural centre of the central Philippines.

It hosts the country’s busiest port and largest airport outside of the capital Manila. It also has a major ship building industry.

Bohol is famous for its “Chocolate Hills”, more than 1,000 small limestone hills that turn brown during the dry season.

A church on Bohol that was built in the early 1600s by Spanish colonisers collapsed in the quake, according to Robert Michael Poole, a British tourist who was visiting the area.

“It’s absolutely devastated … the entire front of the church has collapsed onto the street,” Poole said.

However he said there was nobody in the church at the time of the quake.

Tuesday’s quake was followed by at least four aftershocks measuring more than 5.0 in magnitude.

USGS initially reported the quake as having a magnitude of 7.2, but shortly afterwards lowered it to 7.1.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue a Pacific-wide tsunami threat.

The epicentre was 629 kilometres from Manila.

The Philippines lies on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, a chain of islands that are prone to quakes and volcanic eruptions.

More than 100 people were left dead or missing in February last year after an earthquake struck on Negros island, about 100 kilometres from the epicentre of Tuesday’s quake.

The deadliest recorded natural disaster in the Philippines occurred in 1976, when a tsunami triggered by a magnitude 7.9 earthquake devastated the Moro Gulf on the southern island of Mindanao.

~Source: The Telegraph

Written by MattAndJojang

October 16, 2013 at 8:51 am

Inaugural Address of President Benigno Aquino III

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Photo: Felice Ampil Gagelonia/ ANC 24/7 Facebook

His Excellency Jose Ramos Horta, Former President Fidel V. Ramos, Former President Joseph Estrada, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and members of the Senate, House Speaker Prospero Nograles and members of the House, justices of the Supreme Court, members of the foreign delegations,Your Excellencies of the diplomatic corps, fellow colleagues in government, aking mga kababayan.

My presence here today is proof that you are my true strength. I never expected that I will be here taking my oath of office before you, as your president. I never imagined that I would be tasked with continuing the mission of my parents. I never entertained the ambition to be the symbol of hope, and to inherit the problems of our nation.

I had a simple goal in life: to be true to my parents and our country as an honorable son, a caring brother, and a good citizen.

My father offered his life so our democracy could live. My mother devoted her life to nurturing that democracy. I will dedicate my life to making our democracy reach its fullest potential: that of ensuring equality for all. My family has sacrificed much and I am willing to do this again if necessary.

Although I was born to famous parents, I know and feel the problems of ordinary citizens. We all know what it is like to have a government that plays deaf and dumb. We know what it is like to be denied justice, to be ignored by those in whom we placed our trust and tasked to become our advocates.

Have you ever been ignored by the very government you helped put in power? I have. Have you had to endure being rudely shoved aside by the siren-blaring escorts of those who love to display their position and power over you? I have, too. Have you experienced exasperation and anger at a government that instead of serving you, needs to be endured by you? So have I.

I am like you. Many of our countrymen have already voted with their feet – migrating to other countries in search of change or tranquility. They have endured hardship, risked their lives because they believe that compared to their current state here, there is more hope for them in another country, no matter how bleak it may be. In moments when I thought of only my own welfare, I also wondered – is it possible that I can find the peace and quiet that I crave in another country? Is our government beyond redemption? Has it been written that the Filipino’s lot is merely to suffer?

Today marks the end of a regime indifferent to the appeals of the people. It is not Noynoy who found a way. You are the reason why the silent suffering of the nation is about to end. This is the beginning of my burden, but if many of us will bear the cross we will lift it, no matter how heavy it is.

Through good governance in the coming years, we will lessen our problems. The destiny of the Filipino will return to its rightful place, and as each year passes, the Filipino’s problems will continue to lessen with the assurance of progress in their lives.

We are here to serve and not to lord over you. The mandate given to me was one of change. I accept your marching orders to transform our government from one that is self-serving to one that works for the welfare of the nation.

This mandate is the social contract that we agreed upon. It is the promise I made during the campaign, which you accepted on election day.

During the campaign we said, “If no one is corrupt, no one will be poor.” That is no mere slogan for posters — it is the defining principle that will serve as the foundation of our administration.

Our foremost duty is to lift the nation from poverty through honest and effective governance.

The first step is to have leaders who are ethical, honest, and true public servants. I will set the example. I will strive to be a good model. I will not break the trust you have placed in me. I will ensure that this, too, will be the advocacy of my Cabinet and those who will join our government.

I do not believe that all of those who serve in our government are corrupt. In truth, the majority of them are honest. They joined government to serve and do good. Starting today, they will have the opportunity to show that they have what it takes. I am counting on them to help fight corruption within the bureaucracy.

To those who have been put in positions by unlawful means, this is my warning: we will begin earning back the trust of our people by reviewing midnight appointments. Let this serve as a warning to those who intend to continue the crooked ways that have become the norm for too long.

To our impoverished countrymen, starting today, your government will be your champion.

We will not disregard the needs of our students. We will begin by addressing the glaring shortage in classrooms and educational facilities.

Gradually, we will lessen the lack of infrastructures for transportation, tourism and trade. From now on, mediocre work will not be good enough when it comes to roads, bridges, and buildings because we will hold contractors responsible for maintaining their projects in good condition.

We will revive the emergency employment program established by former President Corazon Aquino. This will provide jobs for local communities and will help in the development of their and our economy.

We will not be the cause of your suffering or hardship. We will strengthen collections by the Bureau of Internal Revenue and we will fight corruption in the Bureau of Customs in order to fund our objectives for the public welfare, such as:

· Quality education, including vocational education, so that those who choose not to attend college or those who cannot afford it can find dignified livelihood;

· Improved public health services such as PhilHealth for all within three years;

· A home for every family, within safe communities.

We will strengthen the armed forces and the police, not to serve the interests of those who want to wield power with impunity, but to give added protection for ordinary folk. The armed forces and the police risk their lives daily so that the nation can live in peace and security. The population has doubled and yet their numbers remain unchanged. It is not right that those who make sacrifices are treated pitifully.

If there was a fertilizer scam in the past, today there will be security for farmers. We will help them with irrigation, extension services, and marketing their products at the best possible prices.

We are directing Secretary Alcala to set up trading centers that will directly link farmers and consumers thereby eliminating middlemen and opportunities for corruption. In this way, funds can be shared by farmers and consumers. We will make our country attractive to investors. We will cut red tape dramatically and implement stable economic policies. We will level the playing field for investors and make government an enabler, not a hindrance to business. This is the only means by which we can provide jobs for our people.

Our goal is to create jobs at home so that there will be no need to look for employment abroad. However, as we work towards that end, I am ordering the DFA, POEA, OWWA, and other relevant agencies to be even more responsive to the needs and welfare of our overseas Filipino workers.

We will strengthen the process of consultation and feedback. We will strive to uphold the constitutional right of citizens to information on matters of public concern.

We relived the spirit of people power during the campaign. Let it take us to good and effective governance. Those who believe in people power put the welfare of others before their own.

I can forgive those who did me wrong but I have no right to forgive those who abused our people.

To those who talk about reconciliation, if they mean that they would like us to simply forget about the wrongs that they have committed in the past, we have this to say: there can be no reconciliation without justice. When we allow crimes to go unpunished, we give consent to their occurring over and over again. Secretary de Lima, you have your marching orders. Begin the process of providing true and complete justice for all.

We are also happy to inform you the acceptance of Chief Justice Hilario Davide of the challenge of strengthening and heading a Truth Commission that will shed light on many unanswered issues that continue to haunt our country.

My government will be sincere in dealing with all the peoples of Mindanao. We are committed to a peaceful and just settlement of conflict, inclusive of the interests of all — may they be Lumads, Bangsamoro or Christian.

We shalI defeat the enemy by wielding the tools of justice, social reform, and equitable governance leading to a better life. With proper governance life will improve for all. When we are all living well, who will want to go back to living under oppression?

If I have all of you by my side, we will be able to build a nation in which there will be equality of opportunity, because each of us fulfilled our duties and responsibilities equally.

After the elections, you proved that it is the people who wield power in this country.

This is what democracy means. It is the foundation of our unity. We campaigned for change. Because of this, the Filipino stands tall once more. We are all part of a nation that can begin to dream again.

To our friends and neighbors around the world, we are ready to take our place as a reliable member of the community of nations, a nation serious about its commitments and which harmonizes its national interests with its international responsibilities.

We will be a predictable and consistent place for investment, a nation where everyone will say, “it all works.”

Today, I am inviting you to pledge to yourselves and to our people. No one shall be left behind.

No more junkets, no more senseless spending. No more turning back on pledges made during the campaign, whether today or in the coming challenges that will confront us over the next six years. No more influence-peddling, no more patronage politics, no more stealing. No more sirens, no more short cuts, no more bribes. It is time for us to work together once more.

We are here today because we stood together and believed in hope. We had no resources to campaign other than our common faith in the inherent goodness of the Filipino.

The people who are behind us dared to dream. Today, the dream starts to become a reality. To those among you who are still undecided about sharing the common burden I have only one question: Are you going to quit now that we have won?

You are the boss so I cannot ignore your orders. We will design and implement an interaction and feedback mechanism that can effectively respond to your needs and aspirations.

You are the ones who brought me here – our volunteers – old, young, celebrity, ordinary folks who went around the country to campaign for change; my household help who provided for all my personal needs; my family, friends, colleagues at work, who shared, cared, and gave their support; my lawyers who stayed all hours to guard my votes and make sure they were counted; and the millions of Filipinos who prevailed, kept faith, and never lost hope – I offer my heartfelt gratitude.

I will not be able to face my parents and you who have brought me here if do not fulfill the promises I made.

My parents sought nothing less, died for nothing less, than democracy and peace. I am blessed by this legacy. I shall carry the torch forward.

My hope is that when I leave office, everyone can say that we have traveled far on the right path, and that we are able to bequeath a better future to the next generation. Join me in continuing this fight for change.

Thank you and long live the Filipino people!

Written by MattAndJojang

June 30, 2010 at 5:59 pm

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Noynoy Aquino Fulfills Destiny

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Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III becomes the 15th president of the Republic of the Philippines.

The son of national hero Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino II and former president Corazon Aquino, Noynoy is “The new Aquino” who won convincingly in the country’s first automated — and fastest — elections Filipinos have ever witnessed.

A consistent topnotcher in polls, Aquino’s rise to power started after he reluctantly decided to become the Liberal Party’s bet after some prodding from supporters and family following the death of his mother on August 1, 2009.

The outpouring of love and devotion to the country’s mother of democracy convinced the unassuming Aquino to make a run for the highest post in the country, taking Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, a former presidentiable and also a strong contender, as his running mate.

Just a day after four of his rivals conceded, the ever-reluctant Aquino has refused to claim early victory. “My parents taught me to be humble,” he said at a press conference a day after the May 10 elections.

Amid the chaos of election day — defective electronic ballot machines, shootings, and long queues in polling precincts — the Commission on Elections placed Aquino on top of the race as it disclosed partial and official tallies coming from polling precincts.

The Comelec claimed that this year’s elections produced the highest turnout of voters and the “most peaceful” exercise of suffrage. Philippine stocks surged the next day, with investors relieved that the election passed without any major problems.

Aquino was slow to declare victory as after he received news that the Nacionalista party bet Manuel Villar’s decided to quit the race.

“Based on the partial election results, it is clear that I have significant lead over the next contender in the presidential race. I am grateful to the Filipino people for their support and to the loyal supporters in our People’s campaign who made this achievement possible,” he said.

Aquino will formally takes office on June 30.

The 50-year-old bachelor who drew on the enormous public support for his democracy hero parents, secured just over 15.2 million votes, or nearly 42 percent of the total, according to final results released by parliament on Tuesday following the May 10 election.

Former president Joseph Estrada finished well behind in second place with nearly 9.5 million votes.

A joint public session of Congress formally ratified the results and proclaimed Aquino.

His inauguration is scheduled for the end of the month.

The rafters were packed with supporters wearing yellow, the trademark campaign color of the Aquino family.

Wearing a barong, Aquino arrived at parliament surrounded by family and friends and was escorted to a holding room.

Legislators from the two houses of Congress approved Aquino’s election by acclamation, and Senate majority leader Juan Miguel Zubiri declared him “the duly elected president of the republic”.

“It is now time to heal the wounds of the election. It is time to move forward,” Zubiri said earlier on ABS-CBN television.

Ironically, the 73-year-old Estrada held the record for the biggest win in recent Philippine political history when he triumphed in the 1998 elections with 39 percent of the total vote.

But the former action-movie star was ousted three years later, half-way through his term, amid allegations of corruption for which he was later convicted.

“I sincerely offer my congratulations to my good friend and worthy opponent,” Estrada said in a speech read by his son in Congress.

“I am confident that president-elect Aquino will fulfill his campaign promise to address the problem of corruption.”

For Aquino, victory is another chapter in his family’s dramatic political story.

His father, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, was shot dead in 1983 at Manila airport as he returned from US exile to lead the democracy movement against Marcos.

His mother, Corazon Aquino, took over from her slain husband and led the “People Power” revolution that eventually toppled Marcos in 1986. She then served as president for six years.

Her death from cancer last August triggered a massive outpouring of support for the family that turned the son from a low-key senator to presidential front-runner.

Aquino, an economics graduate, has said that fighting corruption, improving the economy and bridging the enormous wealth divide will be among his top priorities.

But his Liberal Party will be hamstrung in its efforts to implement reforms after its choice for the vice presidency, Mar Roxas, lost.

Estrada’s running mate, Jejomar Binay, won the vice presidential contest and could potentially be a destabilizing force for Aquino.

However, Binay insisted on Wednesday he would be a positive influence in government.

“I am a team player and I am willing to work with the president. Whatever is asked of me (I will do),” Binay told AFP.

The Liberal Party will also not have a majority in either house of parliament.

The Lakas Kampi CMD coalition of outgoing President Gloria Arroyo will remain powerful in parliament, and Arroyo won a seat in the lower house, where she could lead opposition to Aquino.

Edwin Oliva

Written by MattAndJojang

June 10, 2010 at 9:59 am

Bayan Ko

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photo: Tarcs Taruc/Flickr

Ang bayan kong Pilipinas
Lupain ng ginto’t bulaklak
Pag-ibig ang sa kanyang palad
Nag-alay ng ganda’t dilag.
At sa kanyang yumi at ganda
Dayuhan ay nahalina
Bayan ko, binihag ka
Nasadlak sa dusa.

Ibon mang may layang lumipad
Kulungin mo at umiiyak
Bayan pa kayang sakdal dilag
Ang di magnasang makaalpas!
Pilipinas kong minumutya
Pugad ng luha ko’t dalita
Aking adhika,
Makita kang sakdal laya!

Bayan Ko was originally composed as a poem by Jose Corazon de Jesus in 1929, and set to music by Constancio de Guzman.

Written by MattAndJojang

April 30, 2010 at 9:07 am

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The Last Time I Saw Ninoy

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cory-aquino-with-ninoy

by Corazon C. Aquino, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Thursday, August 21, 2003

Throughout our three years and three months in the United States, Ninoy and were always aware that our life there was temporary. Ninoy never stopped talking about returning to the Philippines even as we enjoyed living together as a family in the land of the free.

In the first quarter of 1983, Ninoy was receiving information about the deteriorating political situation in our country combined with the rumored poor health of the dictator. Ninoy believed that it was imperative for him to speak to Marcos so that he could appeal to him to return our country to democracy, before extreme forces were released that would make such a return impossible.

I told Ninoy: “What makes you think that Marcos will want to talk to you or even listen to you?” And he said: “I will never be able to forgive myself if I did not least try.”

Hearing Ninoy say that, I knew there was nothing I can do to stop him from returning. Not even after we were warned about the threats to his life. The tiniest hope that there could be a peaceful and painless restoration of democracy was enough to convince Ninoy he had to try it. For him, the important consideration was that the solution did not involve more of the pain and suffering that the original problem spawned.

While it is true that Ninoy’s own sufferings had convince him of the inexhaustible capacity of the man to endure pain, still he did not want anyone else to go through the same experience. I think Ninoy was convinced that suffering ennobles, but he was not prepared to experiment with other people’s lives – only with his own.

ORIGINAL PLAN

The original plan was for Ninoy to arrive in Manila on Aug. 7, a Sunday, at a time when there would be four or planes arriving so there would be a ready-made crowd at the airport. Our only son, Noynoy, and our youngest daughter, Kris, would accompany him. It was necessary for Kris to be in Manila early in August so she could enroll at the International School. And in case Ninoy was arrested at the airport and detained again in Fort Bonifacio, Noynoy could take care of Kris. Our three other daughters, Ballsy, Pinky and Viel, were to saty with me to finish the packing and closing up of the house.

But then we learned from the Philippine Consulate official in New York that there were orders from Manila not to issue us any passports. At that time, all our passports had already expired and we had been denied new passports. So there was a change of plan. Ninoy decided it would be better if he went alone to attract less attention, and the rest of us were suppose to follow hi after two weeks.

Ninoy had acquired a passport through the help of Rashid Lucman, a former congressman from Mindanao. This passport carried the name of Marcial Bonifacio (Martial for martial law and Bonifacio to represent his imprisonment in Fort Bonifacio). Ninoy was able to get a second passport from one of his friends in one of the consulates in America, and this passport carried his name, Benigno S. Aquino, Jr.

LAST TIME

The last time I saw Ninoy alive was on Aug. 13, 1983. We had all attended Mass that morning at Saint Mary’s Chapel in Boston College.

Both of us had very little sleep the night before. I remember being so nervous and in fact I was shivering that night, which was quite unusual because it was a warm summer night in Boston. (Whenever I feel very nervous, I usually shiver regardless of the temperature.) I could sense that Ninoy was also feeling quite apprehensive, but he reminded me that we had already discussed the matter and he didn’t want to talk about it anymore. I guess he did not want me to worry more.

And so we left it at that. I just prayed and prayed as I could not sleep even as I felt that Ninoy was just pretending to be asleep.

We saw Ninoy off at the Logan airport and we tried to be cheerful as we told him that we would see him in two weeks.

Ninoy had to take another route home – from Boston on Aug. 13, 1983, to Los Angeles, then to Singapore, next to Malaysia, where we had friends in the ruling family, to Hong Kong, and then Taipei. And from Taipei to Manila.

He had chosen Taipei as then final stopover because the Philippines had severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan. This made him feel more secure; the Taiwan authorities could pretend they did not know of his presence. There would also be a couple of Taiwanese friends to take care of him.

Ninoy and I talked for the last time on Aug. 20, 1983, at 7 p.m. Boston time, which was Aug. 21, 1983, 7 a.m Taipei time. He told me that he had written letters for me and each of our five children, and that he would soon be leaving for the airport. I told him I had been informed that AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Fabian Ver had warned any airline bringing Ninoy in that Ninoy would not be allowed to disembark, and that the airline would be ordered to fly Ninoy back to his original port of embarkation.

Ninoy said they could not do that to him because he is, was and always would be a Filipino. And he told me that most likely he would be re-arrested and brought back to Fort Bonifacio. In that case, he said, he would ask Gen. Josephus Ramas for permission to call me up.

PHONE CALL

At around 2 a.m Boston time, Aug. 21, 1983, a Sunday, our phone rang and my eldest daughter Ballsy who answered it was shocked when Kyodo news agency representative in New York asked her if it were true that her father had been killed at the Manila International Airport.

United Press International and Associated Press reporters also called, asking for verification.

I was hoping and praying that all these reports were false. But when Member of Parliament Shintaro Ishihara of Japan called me up from Tokyo and told me that from Manila and verified the shooting report, my children and I cried as we had to accept the cruel fact that Ninoy had been shot dead.

Written by MattAndJojang

August 20, 2009 at 11:48 am

People Power’s Philippine Saint: Corazon Aquino, 1933-2009

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Cory Aquino

The arc of Corazon Aquino’s life lent itself to maxims, but two hard-nosed ones seem particularly worth pointing out. First, political sainthood is a gift from heaven with a Cinderella deadline — once past midnight, you are a pumpkin. Second, personal virtues are never a guarantee of effective or successful governance. What was truly shocking about Aquino’s tumultuous six-year term as President of the Philippines was that those maxims proved untrue. Midnight always threatened Aquino but never struck; and she was a good woman whose goodness alone, at the very end, was what proved enough, if only by an iota, to save her country.

The exact opposite was foretold by the husband whose murder she vowed to avenge and whose political legacy she promised to preserve. Anyone who succeeded Ferdinand Marcos, Benigno Aquino declared, would smell like horse manure six months after taking power. The residual effects of the dictatorship of Marcos and his wife Imelda, he said, could guarantee no success — only disaster, despair and failure. (See Aquino’s life in photos.)

But after a popular rebellion in 1986 overthrew Marcos and proclaimed her President in his stead, Benigno Aquino’s widow lasted more than six months; indeed, she lasted her entire six-year term. Furthermore, she retained a whiff of sanctity even as her government rotted, even as Filipinos worked hard to prove George Orwell’s aphorism that saints are guilty until proven innocent. As Aquino ruled, every month seemed to diminish the political miracle of her astonishing rise to power, but she survived. And her survival guaranteed the continuation of democracy in her homeland. (Read TIME’s 1986 Woman of the Year cover story on Aquino.)

The Philippines is still a raucous political hothouse. And every now and then it seems to return to the brink. But the dire days of deadly coup plots are over. Corazon Aquino died a revered figure, after an excruciating struggle with colon cancer, in a hospital in the Philippines.

Corazon Cojuangco was born into one of the wealthiest families in the islands. Fated to be married off in one dynastic match or the other, she was courted by and fell in love with Benigno Aquino Jr., a brilliant and ambitious journalist turned politician whose own family was as illustrious though not quite as wealthy as her baronial clan. The marriage would help propel Benigno’s career even as “Cory” was a cipher at his side, the high-born wife whose social ministrations at smoke-filled political sessions flattered her husband’s supporters. Benigno’s popularity soon challenged Ferdinand Marcos, who had been elected President in 1965. And so, when Marcos assumed dictatorial power in 1972, he threw his rival into jail. Corazon then became her husband’s instrument, smuggling messages out of prison and raising funds for the opposition. But as long as he lived, she was merely an extension of Benigno Aquino.

All that changed on Aug. 21, 1983, when Benigno Aquino returned to the Philippines after three years of exile in the U.S. only to be shot dead even before he could set foot on the tarmac of Manila’s international airport. Filipinos were outraged, and suspicion immediately fell on Marcos. At Benigno’s funeral, mourners transformed Corazon into a symbol. (Read TIME’s 1986 Woman of the Year cover story on Aquino.)

The devout and stoic Roman Catholic widow became the incarnation of a pious nation that had itself suffered silently through more than a decade of autocratic rule. Millions lined the funeral route and repeated her nickname as if saying the rosary: “Cory, Cory, Cory.” If she had agreed to let the massive demonstrations of outrage pass in front of Malacanang Palace, said Vicente Paterno, a Marcos official who would later be her ally, “that could have toppled Marcos.” But it would be nearly three years before she would learn to take advantage of her power. Instead, she concentrated on the fractious opposition, using her moral influence to help it choose a leader to oppose Marcos.

Filipinos saw her as that leader, but she declined the role until November 1985. It was then that a Marcos-controlled court acquitted the military men accused of killing Benigno. Marcos then decided to hold a snap presidential election to reaffirm his mandate.

Though hampered by the government’s near monopoly of the media, the Aquino campaign attracted millions of fervent supporters, all decked out in yellow, the reluctant candidate’s favorite color. And when Marcos cheated her of victory in the February 1986 vote, the outcry was tremendous — and his doom was sealed. Bearing witness to their political allegiance, the millions who crammed the streets to protect reformist soldiers who had mutinied against Marcos chanted the now familiar mantra: “Cory, Cory, Cory.” Nuns armed only with rosaries knelt in front of tanks, stopping them in their tracks.

By way of 24-hour cable news, the world witnessed four days of the military-civilian rebellion, a preview of similar uprisings that would later shake out the autocracies of Asia, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. And then, in a sweep of U.S. helicopters, Marcos was whisked off to exile in Hawaii and Aquino was proclaimed President of the Philippines. It was a most astonishing political story. TIME named her Woman of the Year at the end of 1986, the first female to hold TIME’s annual distinction on her own since the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth in 1952.

To govern the Philippines, she would need all the good will she could muster. The country was one breath away from the economic morgue, while Manila’s brand of democracy was built on reeds. Aquino survived eight coup attempts by plotters who hoped to head off her liberal constitution and the return of a bicameral Congress. She took pride in her fortitude. “I have to project my confidence even more than some men do,” she said early in her presidency. “No one can say that Cory did not give it her all.”

Aquino was convinced that her presidency was divinely inspired, even as her political foes mocked her piety. “If the country needs me,” she said, “God will spare me.” And miracle of miracles, she proved God right and her critics wrong. She would be succeeded by a democratically elected general — the first to be at her side as Marcos threatened to mow down her supporters in the streets. She anointed him despite the opposition of her church. Indeed, Fidel Ramos would be the first Protestant to lead the overwhelmingly Catholic country. And he would give the islands a taste of stability and economic prosperity that she was unable to deliver. But without her withstanding the enemies of freedom, he would never have had the chance.

After the presidency, she ran a think tank and center on nonviolence that carried her husband’s name. She also every so often led public protests opposing the policies of her successors, if not her successors themselves. She led demonstrations to remind Ramos that she had promised to dismantle America’s bases in the Philippines. He complied. She joined crowds that led to the overthrow of the inept and corrupt government of the actor-politician Joseph Estrada. She also led protests against her former ally, the second woman President of the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in the wake of corruption charges against Arroyo and her husband. Whenever the country appeared to be in a crisis, Cory Aquino rose above the bureaucratic procrastination that had always bogged it down, reminding her people that they once astonished the world with their bravery — and that they could do it again. But Filipinos must now take stock. Whom will they march with now that their saint has gone to meet her God?

Source: www.time.com

Written by MattAndJojang

August 1, 2009 at 9:25 am