Author Archives: Manuel Garcia Calleja


All the President’s men want to be Digongs

Friday, 15 July 2016 | Written by

cabinet By tradition or out of habit we bestow ‘terms of endearment’ on our officials, especially on our Presidents. Thus we pet heart patient and viagra name Ferdinand Marcos, Macoy; Corazon Aquino, Santita; Fidel Ramos, Tabako; Joseph Estrada, Erap; Gloria Macapagal, GMA; Benigno Aquino, PNoy. Rodrigo Duterte, the country’s new President, we tag Digong. As in strong, which his blustering rhetorics project him to be. For who but only Digong could cuss Francis, beloved Pope of the Filipinos, and get awayBarbour Online Uk with just  raised eyebrows and shaking heads? Who but Digong could threaten  to burn down Congress with not one of the ‘honorables’ calling his dare, all of them with their tails between their legs? Who but Digong could lace his levitra or viagra forum mouthings, foul as they are, with ‘putang ina’ and still find himself being hugged and smooched by the ‘mga ina’ he calls ‘mga puta?’ Digong, as in bongga. For who but only Digong could promise big to cleanse the country of criminals within six months? And, to show he means business, muster a nationwide posse to hunt down all tsinelas-wearing poppy-eyed adiks and blow their brains out? Who but only Digong could call Uncle Sam terror exporter? Flushed with tough ‘change’ pep talk, all the President’s men now want to be Digong or  bluster like him. “Bato,’ no intro needed on who he is, echoed the Digong’s promise, call it brag if you say so, to wipe out the country’s crime scourge in six months’ time (or both of them will pack their bags and go home.) And so the ‘killing spree,’ as some alarmed quarters say it is, along trash-filled barbour uk online shop sale esteros, under bridges, in dark, musty alleys, and would you believe, even right inside the viagra and cancer ‘teritorio’ of the gendarmes. The ‘Rock,’ who looks it, also challenged ‘rotten’ cops to surrender within 48 hours or he will change their birth dates to November 2. No takers though, but of course! At the sidelines a battle is brewing between the CHR et al saying the gun is shooting one too many and the OSG vowing to defend the hand pulling the trigger. Not to be out media-played, a newbie ‘honorable’ is proposing the building of crematories in every district, siyempre, to be named Batocabe Crematories. Meanwhile, the AgriSec tasked to bring back the fun in planting rice told the NIA officials who questioned, even deemed ‘impossible’ his free irrigation for farmers program that there is a big garbage can fronting his office where the nay-sayers can throw in their resignation letters. Which is a mild version of a Digong reply to opposers. The new TranSec sees in his dreams, OK, envisions cable cars, double decker buses, bus canadian pharmacy uloric rapid transit programs and modernized railway systems during his tenure. The horrendous Metro Manila traffic gridlocks and snarls he says he will solve in two years (100 days in the latest pronouncement) otherwise he is a ‘failure… useless’ and should be booted out of office. A joke obviously but not as hilarious as the Aquino/Abaya version that if they are unable to deliver their railway modernization promise on time they will let themselves be ran over, oh, so crunchingly slow by their beloved slow trains. Digong rode to victory on the twin campaign promise to eradicate criminality and change the present form of  government to Federalism. viagra shelf life Sixteen million souls believe he can – and will – do away with the scalawags. The same sixteen million may not know what the heck is Federalism or may just have an inkling that the exercise would chop the nation into several ‘imperials’ to be ruled by clan dynasties and warlords. Still, the President’s men are scrambling to make it happen. Simply because Digong wants it. The new AFP Chief says he will ‘launch non-stop, 24/7 operations’ against the Abu Sayaf which he says is the only way to defeat them. Problem is Digong is also saying that the kidnap-for-ransom gang are not bandits. Nor are the NPAs for that matter. Now don’t be surprised if one of these days the VP as ‘housing czarina’ makes the vow that in two years time there will no more Filipinos snoring under the stars or getting drenched revolution dogs canadian pharmacy by the rains or burned by the sun, or else. Or else, what? Though the BudSec says 24/7 infra constructions are to viagraonline-edstore be implemented, he cautioned that ‘things will get worse before they get better… that things will not get better right away… but all the major roads will be fixed.’ Finally, sober, reasonable, refreshing pronouncements amid the braggadocios.   Photo credits:

senior discounts

It’s fun to be a senior citizen!

Saturday, 2 July 2016 | Written by
senior discounts

senior discounts

It used to be that growing old posed a grim prospect. If only getting on in years could be put on hold or even stopped.

Used to be the scene was that of the elderly with closed eyes on a rocking chair in a dark corner of the room trying to remember what can’t even be remembered. Of endlessly puttering around the house, sweeping and dusting again what has been swept and dusted minutes before. Of arranging plants in the backyard garden one way one day and rearranging them another way another day. If only the roses and the bromeliads, ferns and azaleas could talk!

No more, however, these funny and pitiful images! So where have the senior citizens been going and what have they been doing?

On February 12, 2010, the government together with non-government entities, other stakeholders and senior citizen groups came up with The Expanded  Senior Citizen Act of 2010 (Republic Act No. 9994) and since then it’s been fun for senior citizens!

The tumba-tumba is now collecting cobwebs. Rocking on it gathers no memories anyway. The pretty queen red rose and her equally pretty court stay put (and sighing in relief) as they were arranged weeks back. The broom and the dusting rag are closeted, seeing duty only when things get really dirty around the house.

That done and behind them, senior citizens from our little barangay (but could also be true with the elderlies of other barangays) would flock, without fail, on Mondays and Tuesdays, to Fisher Mall nearby. A  picturesque group in retro togs with some of the more hip dressed to the times – Keds sneakers, Uniglo tees, American Eagle baseball caps, big round shades – lining up and raising eyebrows and knowing grins around, at Elar’s for platefuls of lechon. Or, sitting down for tall glasses of halo-halo at Razon’s. Then going up (Look, no hands on the escalator hand rail!) to see Nadine Lustre and James Reid coo at each other on the movie screen and try to live again those moments when just a light, even accidental, touch of their fingers made their hearts skip a beat.

Twice  a week, on Thursdays and Saturdays, it’s Sumba time. The covered basketball court near the palengke  would be filled by enthusiasts, mostly senior citizens. In jogging pants with the more daring in shorts, they swayed and turned and stretched and danced to fast-paced music, sweating out tension-freeing sweats. And unwanted poundage as well.

They are not tied to the house anymore. They have gone out and formed neighborhood associations of senior citizens. In our little barangay there were initially four (4) groups  which eventually became a coalition. A wise move for greater and louder voices to get the ears at City Hall and the government to listen and act on their concerns.

Besides the eagerly awaited free movies, senior citizens are now entitled to mandatory Philhealth memberships and the privileges thereof, free medical and dental services in all government facilities, educational assistance through scholarships and financial grants.

No more Kim getting a slice of a senior citizen income.

No more elderlies groaning from aching old bones queuing with the rest of the younger ones transacting business at commercial establishments as they are provided with ‘priority lanes.’

No more age qualification (discrimination more like it) for employment as it is now not being  ‘over-the-hill’  but about ‘capacity and desire to work.’ Why not if I can still hack it?

Perhaps the flagship of the Senior Citizen law is the 20% discount provision for its practicality and usefulness in the daily lives of senior citizens. Isn’t it nice they only get to pay a good less of the costs of medicines, services and transportation they avail of? And surely, the hefty discount doubles the enjoyment of a plateful of lechon and a tall glass of halo-halo!

Of course, there would be some kind of ‘resistance’ as in that instance when a resto famous for its finger-licking- good fried chicken refused to honor the 20% discount because what was ordered by the missus was ‘to go’ or ‘take out. The courteous but adamant resto manager didn’t reckon the sweet  smiling ‘utsukushi roba’ (Japanese for ‘ beautiful old woman’) could raise such a tantrum! After a li’l standoff, friendly it was, however,  the  20% discount was given and to subsequent ‘take out’orders.  With a smile ‘to go’ everytime.

In our little barangay senior birthday celebrants are gifted with cakes, sometimes with Five Hundred bucks to boot. In Makati, because of politics, the tradition turned into an issue between opposing politicians. How we on the sidelines would have guffawed, stomped our feet and clapped our hands in glee if it had escalated into a cake-throwing-in-your-face Cake War!

Also in our little barangay a resident reaching the age of 100 years receives a check for P100,000. I wonder  if I would get to live that long. Or, if I could still appreciate the significance or value of having survived the years. Still, the good thing is that the One Hundred Thousand bucks would come in handy once I  kick the bucket.


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On Duterte: shocked but not awed

Tuesday, 28 June 2016 | Written by


Today everybody love Rodrigo Duterte when only yesterday they lined up to have the honor of cutting off his tongue and throwing it down the sewers where, they said, it belongs.

And so the rush to Davao these past weeks. Dust biters in the last elections turning in their yellow coats for plaid shirts. Cash cows collecting paybacks. School chums, boyhood pals, blood kin, Uzi pards carrying armfuls of bios and resumes for possible slots in the new dispensation. Campaign tinkerers, stringers, gofers, rah-rah boys cadging for a slice of the victory pie.

Not to forget God’s Anointed One, unabashly self-proclaimed, who raised a hell of a tantrum when not allowed to pay homage to the Elected One. Peace Pipe has been smoked though.

For sure the gang were all there at that breezy mountain resort whooping it up after ma’am Henrieta’s PPCRV had finished counting showing Rodrigo Duterte with a runaway win. No happier place anywhere else on the planet.

photo courtesy of HQ Barbershop Facebook page

photo courtesy of HQ Barbershop Facebook page

No gloomier place, however, than at Egay’s barbershop that day Time’s cover boy ‘The Punisher’ whupped the rich mom’s son, the amgirl and the little dark man.

On June 30, 2016, Rodrigo Duterte will be sworn in as the country’s new President (and if you haven’t notice, he is already running the show.) He will be wearing his signature plaid shirt, denim pants and soft shoes, without socks, unless he changes his mind, again.

Maruya will be served at the Inaugural reception and this early the supplier could be thinking of branding the popular street snack Maruya ni Rody, getting a patent, building a consortium of investors and setting up franchises all over. Don’t giggle but an IPO and a listing at the PSE could also be in the dreamworks.

The Duteristas, as ma’am Chit adoringly calls them, will have an Inaugural bash, no matter how the pr guys are billing it as ‘simple lang,’ while the hangers-on at Egay’s barbershop continue to bash their heads figuring out why things turned out the way they shouldn’t.

George, the ‘Professor’ is shocked at the way Rodrigo Duterte peppered his election campaign with spiels scrounged from the Payatas dumpsite. For his brashness, Rodrigo Duterte was commended as being ‘authentic.’ Hailed a ‘genius’ even for blustering the ‘ublusterables.’ Thank heavens there is Sir Leandro Coronel who says it’s simply ‘bad manners.’

Taxicab barker Buting is also shocked at Rodrigo Duterte for joining the cussing competition at the palengke, even out’putang-ina’ hands down the fish and vegetables vendors who thought they were the best in the game. Buting recalls being slapped, hard on both cheeks, by his mother every time, and there have been lotsa times, he had cussed. He also recalls being poked at the nose ( only his mother could love) and told that calling his pal’s mother a whore is calling his own mother also a whore.

Buting now groans seeing women scramble to hug and kiss Roldrigo Duterte as he embellishes his pronouncements with the no-no cuss then but now the Pambansang Mura.

Barber Egay is perplexed but nonetheless shocked at Rodrigo Duterte’s verbal turnarounds, like when he flip-flopped on whether he will or will not run for President, when he cursed The Pope and later said he was not cussing Francis but the traffic mismanagement, when he said he will deal with the China problem this way one day, then another way another day, then daring the Chinese to shoot him as he jet skis toward the disputed islands, when he wormed around the backlash from is infamous rape joke, among other acrobatic mouthings.

People could have just dismiss him as just a stand up comic but 16 millions souls say he is their knight in shining armor
Ancient Amang, ever the wise man, chuckles that Rodrigo Duterte, in his own words, is just ‘taking (us) for a ride.’

A bloody ride it is turning to be and Amang is shocked at the increasing number of persons being killed daily. Amang says it’s not his itch whether the killings are right or wrong. He can only asks if those who do the killings are comfortable with the blood of those they have killed on their hands.

The way to do it to save the poor policemen from ending up with after-killing nightmares, says the fat lady who rumples the newly-trimmed hair of her son, is to line up the 50, 100 or the thousand wayward pharmacists at the Luneta every month and have the sanctimonious one who tags them for killing do the killing himself.

That wouldn’t be shocking anymore, says the fat lady as she leads her son through the door, but it would dandy be awesome!


Bugbears from booboos by the new President

Monday, 20 June 2016 | Written by


For reasons only God knows the new President falls as others did in the past into the same pits.

He  must have groaned seeing previous made-for-movies presidencies and so is expected not to do re-runs. But predictably the new President does the same booboos. Commits the same gaffes. Comes up with the same bloopers. Consequently, where there are the same terrible, honest, idiotic, in-good-faith, whatever, mistakes there are the bugbears not far behind.

In an effort to be seen as hitting the ground running, the new President at once lays all on the table a grand buffet of ideas and proposals (the more discerning see these as half-cooked spiels offered on the campaign trail) which during implementation could –and do – swamp and choke the bureaucracy so that what are cooked at the end, according to the barbershop wags in our little barangay, are a bridge there spanning a dry river bed, a highway somewhere in the boondocks leading to nowhere.

Overpromising during wooing time can’t be helped but it’s not a sign of underachieving if the new President concentrates on just a couple of specifics. Like getting rid of the bad guys, but not unjustifiably inundating the streets with their blood. Us here in our little barangay understand it can’t be done in six months time. Taking down a good number of the SOBs in relentless clean-up drives is just fine. Nice, too, is working on an economy that would not only bulge already bulging pockets of a few but also fill up the other millions of stomachs that for so long now are grumbling.

The fun begins just as soon as the Inaugural hoopla winded up, the last (ugh!) rhetorics spewed and the last morsel of maruya eaten and the last drop of buko juice gulped down and the last guests shuffled out of the Palace in rubber sneakers and flip-flops.

This is when the reality of the enormity of the tasks at hand descends on the new President.

Of course, the new President can’t do them all alone. He needs the thumbs up of Congress to a lot of legislations vital to the welfare of the country and the people other than boosting the funeral parlor industry. Problem is, the new President can’t reprise yesterday’s lube job done smoothly on the ‘honorables’ by the ex-President as the grease taps are closed today (at least for now while everybody is looking.)

Confronted with the prospect of dealing with recalcitrant ‘honorables’ now sans ‘incentives’ the new President threatens to execute the King’s gambit, that is, burn down their enclave at Hogs Hills. Which, to us here in our little barangay, would be a most ‘commendable’ mistake. Bravo!

Alas, in the same breath, the new President commits a ‘terrible’ mistake by declaring  journalists persona-non-grata at his midnight pow-wows,  boasting  he’s got the state-run tv and radio networks and a planned government in-house newspaper at his disposal to churn out the news, mostly –if not all – good, of course. The press in turn threatens a boycott then backtracks citing ‘civic duty’ and all that ‘commitment’ jazz. Down the road, however, both sides would realize they need to scratch each other’s back to be relevant.

The new President faces risks in taking on board KKKs for high government positions. This practice is a proven mistake, however done ‘in good faith.” Most often the motley group of appointees, save for a couple, lack brilliance and drive. Too often they bungle their jobs and the President does not have the heart and guts to fire them. Reason why the boy who saved the future President from being punched on the nose (where it would have hurt most) by a bully in the elementary grade now struts along the corridors of power, untouchable and not accountable to anybody, even when he breaks all the chinaware in the pantry.


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When a promise is not a promise

Sunday, 8 May 2016 | Written by

The usual hangers-on at the barbershop in our little barangay upped their thumbs when I remarked the other day that the world swirls with promises.

photo courtesy of HQ Barbershop Facebook page

photo courtesy of HQ Barbershop Facebook page

Barber Egay chuckled there is the “… for better or for worse…” promise following the “I do” exchange at the altar with the beaming bride triumphantly patting her swollen tummy.”

Sometimes wise man, oftentimes wise guy Amang said, “Then afterwards there is the “Don’t-you-dare-break” promise between husband and wife not to let anyone else sneak up on the marital bed.”

George, the ‘professor,’ added that years later there would be the lachrymal promise to stay true – at least for one year – to the one being lowered to the grave.

Taxicab barker Buting with a li’l smirk said there is also the “You-better-believe-it” promise to stay off or go easy with the bottle.

“Ah…” I said, ‘… don’t forget the peksman bended-on knees promise of undying love for the girl next door.”

Without taking away her gaze at her little son whose fuzzy hair is being oh-so-carefully trimmed by Egay, the plump lady asked, “What about those we are being bombarded with by politicians these days”?

promise“Promises…” I muttered, “the usual.”

The plump lady must have heard and facing us she declared, “They are not promises. The millions one candidate says he will give local government units are but grease money to smoothen the rough roads his tottering candidacy is encountering. Nice, though, if there is no “It –all-depends” string attached.”

George was about to open his mouth but Amang shook his head indicating that we let the plump lady continue.

“The other candidate is saying he will also give millions to the poor like himself. Yeah, right. Certainly, dole-outs with certain conditions are quite successful in other countries like Brazil, India and Mexico but there are empirical doubts that it is working here they way it should. Of course, not everybody can be accommodated but allegations of ‘palakasan’ are a-plenty. Not one among the really poor families cramped in ramshackle boxes masquerading as houses teetering along the trash-filled creek in the barangay informal settlers area is a beneficiary. Thinking of the poor? Thinking about the millions of votes in return is more like it.”

Buting let out a yeah-yeah yell. The plump lady continued as she returned her gaze at her son who looked he’s had with the choking bib and Egay turning his head this way and that way.

“The candidate who gurgles with gutter slime is something else. His saying he will clean up the country of rats within six months or we send him back to where he will continue exterminating rats – turned out to be just teeny mice – is a brag. Call it by any other name and it would still be a brag.”

The kid got off the barber’s chair jauntily. He looked clean-cut, handsome. The plump lady paid Egay but she’s not done with her talk.

“There is nothing to lose sleep over what the lady in white has been saying. They are, well, just coming attractions.”

She ushered her son out of the barbershop but turned before closing the door. “Because you guys have nice listening ears I will send over a bilao of pansit. I promise…”

And in less than half an hour the yummy noodles came. Ah, a promise kept!

What about those the plump lady said the politicians are carpet-bombing us these days? Which she said are not even promises? Oh, they are promises, alright, and the way promises go they will be soon forgotten. Reneged on. Even denied.

I didn’t promise you a rose garden, did I? How can you believe I can pluck the moon and the stars and lay them at your feet? Hey, I didn’t promise that!

may 9

My barber and I might just stay home on election day

Friday, 6 May 2016 | Written by
may 9

may 9



By now, Trump’s twin, the rich mom’s son, the little dark man, the ‘amgirl’ and all the candidates out there are on edge. Losing sleep. Having nightmares. So are their campaign people, the money bags and supporters. The voting public, too, are itching to get their hands on the ballots this coming Monday.


Not I and my barber Egay. May 9 will be just another haircutting day for him and a regular crossword puzzle-solving day for me.


Why would I walk half kilometer under the hot sun to a voting precinct and risk getting a heat stroke? Why, indeed, would my barber and I participate in an exercise we don’t anymore trust, don’t believe in and that offers us only between-the-devil-and-the-deep –blue-sea choices?


I and Egay don’t trust the Comelec. Back in 2010, now exiting – thank God – bsA predicted loud – and heard by the number counters in Intramuros – he’ll win by a margin of 5 million votes. He did and it was not because he threatened to lead a people power march ala Edsa 1 if he loses. In 2013, the unknown, erstwhile movie censor with a Philippine SSS card in one pocket and a US SNN card in another pocket was proclaimed by Sixto – of the ‘Ah, basta’ quip notoriety – a Senator with a whopping 20 million votes!


The IT guys – who should know – are saying and have been saying the smart machines of the Venezuelan sales rep have everything to do with everything wrong in the past two elections. Forget for a moment the sewer mouth and consider  the following: The loss and change of CF cards a couple of days  before actual voting, the more than average non-transmissions of voters results, the non-review and even the question of the non-existence of the source code, the receipt of voter results from other countries, the discovery of the ‘Antipolo voting machines’ and some voting machines dumped somewhere, the unvarying 60-30-10 voting results across all regions of the country, the haste in proclaiming winners with some 2 million votes still unaccounted for and other snafus and glitches. Which then Comelec headman Sixto says sheepishly he did not tell the public because he had solved them. Oh?


Present Comelec chief Andy is now saying the May 9 elections is going to be ‘transparent, efficient and accountable’ in response to negative perceptions about the work of the agency and they are working hard to plug loopholes and prevent glitches.


Andy’s assurance seems no assurance at all as Al S. Vitangcol 3rd, CHFI, CEI, in his 3-part series  on  Election Fraud: The dark side of Automated Election Systems (The Manila Times,April 25, 26, 27, 2016) says that elections results with the AES can be ‘possibly’ tampered with. Minimum or none at all human intervention, he says, should be done  in the ‘delivery of electronic services’ to prevent ‘vulnerability’ and the chance for not-so-nice fraudsters to do their job.


Egay and I also don’t believe in – disdain – surveys. The legendary lawmaker Miriam laments that while she always tops surveys in universities she is not even included in commercial surveys. Sir Jose Sison (A Law Each Day, The Philipine Star, April 26, 2016) says surveys are ‘unreliable and harmful’ and my barber and I fully agree. Surveys, according to him, ‘…are not… public service projects… are conducted only as a means of conditioning the minds of the electorate… used as tools for protesting the results of the elections… and prevent the electorate from finding out who is the most qualified candidate…as they based their choice on who is winnable.”


Lastly, my barber and I look with dismay at the choices of candidates. No debates can alter the obvious that what we see are what we get. Not a pretty sight. Uninspiring to listen to.


Along the stretch of road I daily pass through on my way to the outskirts of our little barangay to buy a couple of newspapers and palaver with my street-corner friends are sprawled groups of old people, little children, girls and boys, even babies, who look they have not taken a bath for days and weeks, haven’t eaten a decent meal. Seeing them so simply breaks my heart. Now, if only one candidate would say with certainty, not promise, to build them shelter, places to stay protected from sun and rain, I might just change my mind, brave the harsh sun and the risk of a heat stroke and walk the half kilometer to our voter precinct and vote for that candidate. Even if he turns out to be the candidate who makes the blood of the missus boil with just the mention of his name.


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Don’t make friendship an election casualty

Saturday, 30 April 2016 | Written by



Part of my life so far is a series of having and losing friends.


My early childhood friends were the kids in our neighborhood near the railroad tracks. Can’t remember any of them now. Can’t recall any name or face. There was a classmate in prep school, however,  I readily got friendly with because perhaps he was a seatmate and, well, because he brought with him bars of chocolates every day. (Turned out his father worked in a US army commissary.) Didn’t take long before the other kids took notice and they swarmed over him, took turns carrying his school bag. Which I can’t picture myself doing as I would be burdened with another bag to carry.  Even for all the chocolates in his pockets.


Making friends in the elementary grades was goodam bloody. Not a week passed at the end of a school day or recess period when there wasn’t a fist fight – mano a mano – at the abandoned bus terminal (now a tennis court) for no other reason than just to have two boys in short pants slug it out. Katuwaan lang, we’d say or maybe to prove something. For after the fisticuffs the gang would go back to their classes, jostling, laughing loud and making fun along with the protagonists, bloodied noses, sore knuckles and all, their arms ‘round each other’s shoulder.


Nothing beats high school friendships, they say. All the time –four years – to really cement friendships not only with the guys but with the giggling girls as well. In the high school I went to, however, things were a little complicated. You don’t have the chance to have the girl who was causing your pimples to act up  to be your seatmate, or classmate or even a schoolmate. With the girls and boys bunched up in separate buildings it was like ‘…for he lives on the side of the mountain and she lives on the other side of the hill..’


College friends were forgettable. “Semester friends’ I call them. One or a couple fleeting in and fleeting out before you get to know them well.


It is at the workplace (if you are lucky to get a job after schooling) where one gets to experience what friends are for. No more as an individual  adding up numbers and making book reports but a buddy on a team working  to get a job done and well. Or be like the female officemate who got punched in the nose by another staffer, a man at that,  for botching her assignment and getting the group in hot water.


In our barangay, friends are a-plenty. Our place is so small that I have a friend or a nodding acquaintance in every street corner. Of course, there would be one or two who’d suddenly snub my greeting for reason only heaven knows. Of course there would be someone, like my next door neighbor, who altogether stopped being friendly. From the grapevine, I learned he was blaming me for his three-time loss at the barangay elections.


The friends I have now I hold dear. Barber Egay and the hangers-on at his barbershop, the sunburnt beer-guzzling guys and the cackling gals at the informal settlers area right across the creek, the noisy band of jeepney barkers, kibitzers and the newspaper hawker at the outskirts of our barangay. For sure our friendship will be tested as it was tested a couple of times before as it is being tested this election time by divergent choices and heated arguments.


But I am done with losing friends. So I keep my peace, stay at a distance and don’t join in the election discussion fray. For me, the foul-mouthed braggart, the little dark man, the rich mom’s son, the ‘amgirl’  and all ‘em politicians  are just passing fancies and are not worth a cent fighting over. They will be gone after the Venezuelan magician is done with his abracadabra election. And if we don’t hold our horses, so will our friends.


Photo credits:

survey results

Paid pipers aka pollsters

Tuesday, 19 April 2016 | Written by
survey results

survey results

I am not – and will never be – in love with surveys.

Let me count the whys…

To begin with, the number of persons usually being polled is ridiculously miniscule. Even much, much less than the proverbial drop in the bucket. I can’t accept the postulation, no matter how ‘scientific’ as claimed, that the opinions or says-so of a mere 1200 or even 2500 represent those of 50 plus million people.

The science guys behind the exercise may have the good intention but I am afraid that along the way waded in the business guys. And so it has become less of achieving merit than of raking in profits. Employing a few pollsters to survey a few people in a blink of an eye does the trick.

I have never been ‘surveyed’ (reason I don’t believe in surveys, barber Egay teases me) but neither was he ever polled nor the other hangers-on at the barbershop. Not one in our little barangay is telling me he/she has been approached by the number pushers from Pulse Asia, Social Weather Stations or any other survey firm.

George, the  “Professor,” tells about this practice of hokey pollsters  coming up with answers without actually going out to the field and asking questions. He calls their end-products table surveys.

Years back, there was this survey prior to an election in our little barangay that predicted the defeat of the pretenders to the barangay throne. Turned out the sitting royals were the ones who bit the dust. It also turned out the survey was commissioned by the defeated camp.

If my experience  then was an eye-opener, the recent poll that says a better-than-good number of people approve of a decision by the Supremes on a certain issue that has yet to come out left me wide-eyed. Tricycle driver Alex used to vote according to what the surveys say until a week ago their group was summoned to a meeting ostensibly to discuss their concerns. To their surprise, if not chagrin, a barangay official instead talked at length on whom to vote in the coming election with not-so-subtle “or-else” reminders. Afterwards, they were given survey forms to fill up. Hearing about it, the usual voluble Amang, was without words because, really, there is no word to describe the incident. Taxicab barker Buting, however, came up with the two words that got Digong’s presidential gutter run going.

I am sure there are among the hawkers and buyers at the palengke, OTB bettors, weekend streetcorner San Mig gulpers, Sunday church goers and a lot others out there who are not enamoured with surveys. They believe surveys exploit the starstruck and the bandwagon hitchers while at the same time blindsiding them from seeing what they have to see in the candidates which are their qualifications, personal demeanor and track records.

Dissecting a voter preference poll for the presidency, Manila Times columnist Rigoberto Tiglao conceded as credible the numbers for NCR but found those for ‘balance of Luzon’… out of whack..’ noting the candidates steep rise and fall ‘without reason’ could mean some ‘clever manipulations’ were done. He also has worrisome reservations about the SWS ‘mobile survey’ which he said is ‘flawed’ and can be massaged to invigorate dull candidates lagging in the rankings.

Sure, the Supremes are against doing away with surveys saying curtailing them would infringe on the freedom of something but the call for some time now is just for the results not to be published days or even weeks before an election for reasons that are obvious even for Buting.

An offshoot of the story ‘The Pied Piper of Hamelin’ is the English proverb ‘He who pays the piper calls the tune.’ No question there. True everywhere.

Hereabouts, it would be good if present-day paid pipers –aka pollsters – just rid the country of rats. Bad if they lead us blind again in the coming elections. Just as we are coming out of the dismal pit we found ourselves in these past six years.


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Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 9.59.13 AM

Keystone Kops

Monday, 11 April 2016 | Written by
Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 9.59.13 AM
“The chances of passing it now are easier,” at Senate hearing on Anti Money Laundering Law.  March 15, 2016, Senate Building Pasay City, Philippines.   Senator Sergio Osmeña III, chairman of the Senate committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies.  Philippines Online Chronicles images / Photograph by Edd Castro.  Copyright © 2016. All Rights Reserved.

“The chances of passing it now are easier,” at Senate hearing on Anti Money Laundering Law. March 15, 2016, Senate Building Pasay City, Philippines. Senator Sergio Osmeña III, chairman of the Senate committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies.
Philippines Online Chronicles images / Photograph by Edd Castro. Copyright © 2016. All Rights Reserved.

An investigation by the Senate in ‘aid of legislation’ is generally viewed as an exercise ad nauseam. Tiresome to watch with what is hoped to find out at the start is nowhere in sight at the end of grindingly long hearing sessions. This is because whatever is on the table for scrutiny is oftentimes set aside on the sly to give way to the investigating Senators’ own agenda.

For one tedious year a Senate committee of 3 scrounged for alleged kickbacks from a couple of infra projects in Makati. Touted as in aid of legislation the dirty spadework turned out to be a costly – at our expense – scheme to tar the feathers of the little dark man and keep him from flying to the presidency.

Obviously, it was also in aid of soaring ambitions which woefully have hardly left the ground. The eternally grim mutineer is at the bottom rung of the vice presidential ladder. The baby-faced other practically begged on bended knees that he be anointed the running mate of the Davao killer (by his own admission.) Last heard he was mouthing the Digong brag of cleansing the country of farts in six months, or less.

From the ‘nognog’ muckraking fiasco, the SBRC (Senate Blue Ribbon Committee) could have bounced back with the reopening of the Mamasapano massacre probe but it flubbed the chance, miserably. Swamped by all the president’s men circling the wagon, the pompous committee members were reduced to just contemplating their well-manicured finger nails.
The ballyhooed investigation-changing recording between top government officials during the crucial hours of the tragic incident was not played. Either the guy holding the tape chickened, or was offered all the chickens of the world, or was gently reminded that things can be arranged for him to see St. Peter ahead of his schedule.
Then the ‘amgirl’ who’s poised to be survey-elected president declared the SAF 44 massacre probe closed, with her previous chairman report staying as is. To the unsatisfied and the unbelievers she dared go whine at the Supreme Court. Which would be like baying hoarse at the moon.

Yet another opportunity came up with the Bangladesh Bank heist. Another chance for the Senators to assuage bruised egos and lost credibility (but then, what credibility is there to lose?)

This time the SBRC guys seemed to have done well, squeezing answers from the bank branch manager (looking like she hasn’t slept for a century) who moaned she is just a pawn in the game being played by bigtime heisters and at the same time pointed an accusing finger at the top honcho of the bank who denied, of course, of any wrongdoing or complicity (and predictably was at once back- patted by colleagues with an ala old-boys-club defense); from the remittance company head (whose babe-in-the –woods mugging countenance provided amusing moments in the proceedings) who only admitted to being just the transporter of the loot to their end beneficiaries, and from the smug casino junket operator (who it turned out is not a newbie in this kind of game and has spent time on the Senate dock for an investigation of some sort years back) who says the money he received he did not know was stolen and has promised, and in fact, has returned the loot, or some of it.
At this point, the investigating Senators would do well to get up from their seats. They have gathered adequate inputs for them to take the next step, which they are mandated to, and that is to amend existing laws, the AMLC and The Bank Secrecy Law in this instance, or enact new laws to fix problems relevant to the current and future sticky situations.
Leave further sleuthing to those whose job is precisely to catch cyber criminals. Like the FireEye Inc., an American cybersecurity firm the Bangladesh Bank has hired.

Having able to connect the dots, at least locally, in the Bangladesh heist puzzle, the investigating Senators deserve pats in the back but would do well not to push their luck. Many times in the past they did and they ended up going around in circles like Keystone Kops. And in those times they were not even funny.

cousins all

Cousins all (Imagine we are all family)

Wednesday, 30 March 2016 | Written by
cousins all

cousins all

Last Sunday our 3-member barangay Lupon heard a case involving a man and his wife. Not unusual as we get to confront marital spats quite often.

Except that this time the couple was not on a fighting mode, raring to paw each other  the moment they sat down facing our panel.

Except that last Sunday’s wife didn’t do all the talking, shrieking more like it, crying out loud how she caught her husband hunkered down  between the quivering gams of their kasambahay.

Except that last Sunday’s husband didn’t do the retelling of the story  being peddled by the usual barangay whisperers about the wife revealing her Victoria’s Secrets to some guy everybody but the husband knows who.

Except that it was not a tug-of-war between a young pair, barely out of their teens, over who gets custody of the child that came out from their trysts at Sogo’s.

Last Sunday’s couple simply wants to separate. In words devoid of drama, they told of their contrasting lifestyles which neither is willing to compromise.  Their story is of the husband being the penny pincher and the wife the big spender. The husband being the toiler, the wife the party goer.

A mismatch, it seemed, between the frugal Ilocano and the extravagant Bisayan.

But cross region  pairings do not guarantee living-happily-after marriages. No stats but just looking around  shows it’s more of the same feather flocking together. They marry among themselves.

If ever the Ilocanos  are likely to get hitched with somebody from other regions. Always in search of greener pastures or because of their being wanderlusts, Ilocanos are not apt to stay and die in one place. Reason why they are found in every nook and corner of the archipelago.

Unlike the Bicolano who can’t leave their spicy food laden with hot pepper and drowning in cholesterol-rich coconut milk. Who has a foot into the batten door of a seminary or a convent.

Unlike the Muslims and indigenous tribes in Mindanao who do not stray from the traditional circle they are hemmed in.

Unlike the Tagalogs who stay put in their places because their region is the ‘center of cultural and commercial life.’ They bask in the richness of their farms, thrive in their commercially viable rivers. Prone, OMG! exclaimed my barber, to live with their parents or in-laws even after marriage.

The genealogical and regional walls that divide us, however, may soon crumble. A.J. Jacob, editor at large at Esquire magazine,  writes of a novel and quixotic (but aren’t swell things we are enjoying now started with dreams?)  ‘turbocharging’ of family trees with a ‘collaborative Wikipedia-like approach.’ An uploaded family tree into one of several websites – WikiTree, WeRelate, MyHeritage –  and merged with another tree that has a ‘cousin in common’ can ‘merge and merge again’  until  ‘vast webs’  of ‘hundreds of thousands, or millions cousins by blood or marriage are created.’

Mr. Jacob was probably tickled pink finding Gwyneth Paltrow his kin a ‘mere 12 steps away.’ Surely proud his great-grandfather is King David from the Bible.

Now imagine.

Exiting prez bsA a cousin of GMA just once removed.

Senate warlocks Cayetano, Pimentel and Trillanes, whisle-pfft!- blowers Bondal and Mercado, cousins of the little dark man Binay.

Mesdames Ferrer and Deles a couple of links from Igbal.

Sixto and Andy not surprisingly cousins, too, of the smart Venezuelan who has been ramming his machines down our throats.

Poe and Sereno just one link away.

Rich Mar being a cousin –what do you know! –  of the just-scraping-by Yolanda survivors.

The 5 name-calling, mudslinging presidentiables finding themselves cousins pala!

Me,  I wouldn’t mind or be surprised if the missus turns out to be a cousin, ha-ha.

It won’t be long, Mr. Jacob predicts, when we will have a World Family Tree ‘containing mostly all seven billion humans on Earth.’

We’ll realize then that cousins  we are all. We will be family and hopefully  we’ll  ‘treat one another with more civility.’


Regional Traits,

‘Are you my cousin?’ by A.J. Jacob, International New York Times, Feb. 1-2, 2014

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