November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving and the turkey

I'VE always liked turkey, even if some people think it's a totally tasteless bird. I suppose it all depends on the stuffing and rub used on its skin. I have been eating it since I was little, so even today, I eat it as a sandwich, although usually what restaurants serve in their sandwiches are white meat.

Anyhoo, every time Thanksgiving in the U.S. comes around, I always get caught up in the news stories of Americans trying to rush home to their families, the dishes served and the various recipes used, and try to catch the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade broadcast by some U.S. news shows. (One of my favorite films on this American holiday is Home for the Holidays, starring Holly Hunter and directed by Jodie Foster. It's a funny take on the kind of homecoming people get from their families and how one survives all the weirdness.)

Btw, Thanksgiving is a common celebration in a lot of European countries and in some form or another in Asian and South African countries as well, because it traditionally celebrates good harvests.

But why turkey on Thanksgiving? One web site I read said when the Pilgrims/Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621, they had other food served than just turkey. One story goes that roast goose was actually the traditional bird to celebrate good harvests in England. But in America, there were more wild turkey available than geese, so turkey became identified w/ Thanksgiving.

In Saipan, where I worked for a year, I was able to attend a Thanksgiving feast w/ some Pinoys. I was happy for the turkey, which was served along w/ lechon and leche flan. Coolness. Hankering for a more authentic American Thanksgiving dinner (okay, I just couldn't have enough turkey, yumm!), I went to one of the restaurants and ate turkey again w/ some pumpkin pie. (It was so long ago I can't remember if I liked the pie.) Stuffed, and happy at experiencing some kind of American holiday, I went home w/ still more turkey in hand, for the next day's baon at the office.

Here in the Philippines, we don't actually have Thanksgiving as a tradition in November, although some hotels and restaurants capitalize on it and offer turkey dinners to their dining patrons. But we do give thanks for our blessings during Christmas. So there are families, like mine, who've served turkey, alongside the regulatory baked leg of ham, lengua estofada, quezo de bola, chocolate eh, and ensaimada.

This year, we decided to forego the turkey (sniff!) primarily because we have yet to find someone or some establishment in the Alabang area (where we celebrate Christmas) w/c roasts it well. (Santi's last year was just too chaotic and couldn't give us a straight answer when we could pick up the bird.) The only other roaster I know of, and w/c we've used in the past, is in Makati w/c is just way too far for Christmas Eve pickups. For a few seconds, while my sister and mother were discussing the Christmas menu, I did think of roasting the bird myself. As an amateur cook, I always like challenging myself to experiment w/ certain difficult dishes. The thought, as I said, lasted no less than 10 seconds as I realized that roasting a bird would just be too much stress for me.

So I will not have my roast turkey this year, and will have to get my fix some other way. How depressing. Meanwhile, if you want to read up on the pressures of cooking a Thanksgiving dinner, the NYT is hosting a Live Thanksgiving Blog by one of its food writers. The entries so far are quite amusing, and makes the reader feel thankful we don't get that crazy on this day. Except during Christmas boo-hoo.

And while it's not a Filipino holiday, I still want to wish everyone, especially my friends and family residing in the States, Guam, and Saipan, a Happy Thanksgiving. And I give thanks for my loving weird family, my crazy fabulous friends, and all the great blessings I continue to receive through the year.

November 26, 2008

House panel votes to kill 4th impeachment rap vs Arroyo

The House Justice committee on Wednesday junked the fourth impeachment complaint against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, declaring the complaint "insufficient in substance."

Ending a marathon hearing on the impeachment complaint, the House Justice committee voted 42-8 dismissing the latest impeachment complaint against President Arroyo, effectively throwing it alongside similar complaints filed against the President in previous years. (Read the rest in GMA News TV.)

SERIOUSLY guys, did anyone actually think this Nth impeachment complaint would amount to anything considering all the tongressmen in the pockets of Malacañang?

What will be approved instead, is the resolution seeking an extension of the presidentita's term:
The resolution filed by administration Rep. Hermilando Mandanas of Batangas seeks to keep Ms Arroyo in her post for one more year should his parallel proposal of moving the May 2010 elections a year later be adopted. (Read all about it here.)

I am starting to like my friend Gidi's proposal on what to w/ these tongressmen.

November 25, 2008

Is anyone watching?

ARE any of you still watching the hearings in the House of Representatives (Impeachment complaint vs. GMA) and the Senate (starring Joke-Joke Bolante and the fertilizer fund scam)?

I gave up at the last House hearing where former Speaker Jose De Venecia was shooting his mouth off regarding the money allegedly distributed by the presidentita to the congressmen to shut them up in the last impeachment complaint.

I don't doubt that what JDV is saying is true, and even whatever else he is claiming to have happened in China while the presidentita, her husband and he were playing golf w/ ZTE executives. It's just that, too late na dava? Why only now JDV? Just bec. you were still Speaker, you kept quiet all the while your son Joey and Jun Lozada were being grilled over the barbeque pit on the ZTE Broadband issue? Tsk, tsk. How convenient.
* * * *

I did sneak a peek at this afternoon's hearing at the Senate. I was curious to find out Ibarra Poliquit's involvement in this fertilizer fund scam.

(Barry Poliquit is currently VP of physical resources of the GSIS.)

You see I knew an Ibarra/Barry Poliquit almost two decades ago when he was just a staff assistant at the office of Undersecretary Celso Roque at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Roque, a former UP professor, I thought ran a tight ship, and handled the environmental concerns of the department. So even in the late '80s, we were already talking and writing about global warming, and debt-for-nature swaps, etc. Our environmental officials were pretty much ahead of their time compared to their counterparts in the U.S., Japan, and Australia.

Going back to Barry Poliquit, I knew him when he was thinner and was one of the people whom I knew who was already into scuba diving even before it became a rage in the Philippines. He was married to Rhoda Poliquit, who worked in the Dept. of Agrarian Reform then. He also struck me as one of those guys in the DENR who knew his stuff and was willing to share good environmental stories with us reporters.

In my 23-year-old mind, Barry didn't look like someone who would engage in nefarious activities involving gov't funds. Even though he was much older than I, he appeared as someone who still retained his youthful idealism despite the corruption in most government offices.

After I left the beat, I lost touch w/ Barry and his wife, and only heard of him again during the reopened Senate investigation on the fertilizer fund scam. According to the media reports, he was assistant secretary at the Dept. of Agriculture and had helped Joke-Joke Bolante, then Usec, oversee the implementation of the fertilizer fund program. Today he was being grilled on his apparent inadequate monitoring of the program w/c led to the purchases of overpriced fertilizer by their field office.

I wonder what happened to Barry. What changed? Did the corruption eventually get to him? Did it become an "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" type of situation for him? Or did I just read him all wrong when he was still at DENR?
* * * *

After googling Dr. Celso Roque to find out what had become of him, I found out that he had passed away on June 30, 2002. Dr. Roque, who was such a masterful storyteller (he always had entertaining stories for us reporters), usually held court at Trellis, the original purveyor of sisig in the metro.

Among the DENR officials of his time, he was really the coolest cat. I could listen to him make kwento for hours, and learned a lot about enviromental issues from him. He is remembered as having pioneered the environmental movement in the Philippines. I raise a glass of wine in his memory.

November 24, 2008

La Greta is back!

(Gretchen Barretto's debut as a game show host. Apologies for the blurriness of the TV grabs.)

JUST when we all thought it was safe to watch free TV, well now, who shows up on the new TV5 but La Greta herself, hosting her own game show called, you better sit down now, You and Me against the World! Hahaha! I just love the tongue-in-cheek humor of the producers of the show, although the jury is still out regarding the show's merits.

So who said Gretchen was already separated from her significant other/momma's boy Tonyboy Cojuangco, owner of the broadcast station out in the boonies of Novaliches? (Okay, okay, there are no mountains in Novaliches, but I'm from Q.C., and even I think Novaliches is pretty far.)

And yet, who does she have as a first celebrity guest on the show but none other than John Estrada, the has-been artista who briefly regained fame after a photo of him and La Greta smooching in a party that was captured on his cellphone circulated around the Internet! My, my, TV5 is definitely pushing the envelope, not to mention Tonyboy's buttons, in drumming up interest in this show. (Then again, if the rumors are true that La Greta and he are no longer an item, he couldn't care less who she has on her show right?)

(John Estrada and La Greta...uyyy)

The other guest celebrity was Lucy Torres Gomez, wife of another has-been artista Richard Gomez. (She who gained notoriety way back when for her, errr, shopping habits.) Boring! although she had on a pretty cute green outfit. W/c we can't say of the host herself who wore an awful pink frou-frou dress! Ayayay! According to our TV5 source, the dress – designed by Ivar Aseron – actually looked gorgeous up close, but as we've seen, didn't make the same transitition to the tube. It made Gretchen look hideously fat! or pregnant. Take your pick. Tsk, tsk.

Now back to the show itself, I personally found it sooooo long. I think 30 minutes is enough for a game show, unless it's Jeopardy or Price is Right. And the level of challenge was very low. You can't actually lose on this show whether you're a contestant or an audience member.

As far as I can tell, the object of the game is for the contestant to win a million pesos. There are two contestants who may or may not team up in answering questions asked by the host. They have to correctly guess the answer of the audience which represent "the world." At the show's beginning, the two contestants can team up, and give the same answer. If they do, they both win P20,000. If they choose to answer separately, the winner only gets P10,000. If they don't guess the answer of "the world" correctly, the audience wins their own pot. Then, in the next portion, the two contestants play off against each other until either of them win P100,000. Whoever wins the most money or reaches P100,000 wins the next round. The one with the least money leaves. The winner of this round then moves on to the next round and asked another set of questions. Confusing? You betcha. I didn't bother to find out how the show ended.

(La Greta w/ the shoppingera, este Lucy Torres Gomez)

To be fair, La Greta is a good host. She's bright and funny, and knows how to play to the audience, both in the studio and at home. I found myself actually laughing at some of her potshots at Estrada, and her other witty remarks. But she is out of her element here. Perhaps TV5 should give her a showbiz gossip show instead.

I think she will be much more at ease hosting a talk show, and interviewing fellow celebrities. Her knowledge about the inner workings of the business and possibly tidbits about the celebrities themselves will serve her best. Now as to what format of such a showbiz show would be, well maybe it can be a cross between Chelsea Lately, David Letterman, and Entertainment Tonight. No grand productions like that idiotic lie detector stunt on another TV station's show, but maybe just straight celebrity interviews. We want the dirt.

As to You and Me Against the World, this is just the first episode so it could get better in the next few weeks (it plays every Sunday at 7 pm.) I was just waiting for it to get more exciting but sadly, it didn't deliver. There were no cliff-hanging moments where you think either of the contestant will lose. Unless I misunderstood the game mechanics, from what I've seen so far, no one goes home a loser. Everyone wins some money in the end. So there's no tension. No tension, no excitement.

Still, let's give the producers an A for effort for conceiving this new game show. After all, there is a dearth of originality out there. And I'd also clap for La Greta. Her social climbing ways aside, she did manage to hold her own as a host. Kudos.

When did we become afraid?

Something Like Life
Nov. 21, 2008

Until about our late 30s, especially for women, I think, most of us still thrive on some amount of adventure. We’re unafraid of taking risks with our lives, challenging ourselves to overcome certain physical or emotional limitations placed before us....Then we hit 40 or 50. And, suddenly, taking chances is no longer that palatable.

(Read the rest of my column in the BusinessMirror.)

November 22, 2008

National embarrassments

DONTCHA just hate it?

We have a President who forces the President-elect of the United States to acknowledge her existence by calling him not once, but twice! and goes all the way to Chicago to get a meeting, only to be brushed off.

Then her husband embarrasses himself by overeating steak on a flight to Peru, then getting diarrhea daw, thus, forcing the chartered presidential plane to land in Osaka!

A KSP (kulang sa pansin) and a glutton...gads, what an embarrassment the both of you are for us Filipinos! Juice ko Lord, have you no mercy on us?

* * * *

It never ceases to surprise me how much of a cold-hearted b**ch the Presidentita really is.

Just check out the AP photos: the First Gentleman has his eyes closed, being wheeled into an ambulance, and the Presidentita is seated at the side, looking very pissed at this inconvenience. Even at the hospital, the Presidentita looked constipated instead of concerned over her husband. Gads, have you no heart woman?!

* * * *

Okay, okay, someone just nudged me that Presidentita's face is all botoxed up, that's why it doesn't show any emotion. Remember her "I am sorry" video on the Hello Garci scandal?

Sya, sige na nga.

November 20, 2008

Dinelli, a new deli-cafe in Q.C. (and a word about TARA)

LIKE your salami and pepperoni? how about some prosciutto, sausages and delicate cheeses from Europe and Australia?

If you live in Q.C. like I do, you probably go to Santi's for these delicatessen items, as well as their steak cuts and bottled goods. I have no complaints about Santi's and continue to pay for their items through my nose. Yup, they are expensive but like I said, I always thought I was getting my money's worth. I don't have to fly all the way to Switzerland just to get a block of gruyere.

Well a new deli just opened on the opposite end of Timog Ave. called Dinelli, owned by Rep. Eric Singson of Ilocos Sur, and managed by his daughter Kristine Singson Meehan and husband Anthony Meehan. I was invited to its official launch last Tuesday, Nov. 18 by boy wonder, Chef Robby Goco, who designed the menu of this deli-cum-cafe.

At first glance, the prices of its deli items looked about 10% lower than Santi's, although I wasn't able to inspect all 'cos the entire place was in a frenzy. Space was tight, and everyone was talking while eating and drinking. But according to Pinky Mendoza, director of sales and operations of Dinelli, they are getting their goods directly from suppliers instead of consolidators which helps the establishment cut down on expenses. (If her name sounds familiar, yes, Pinky used to be w/ the other deli.)

The dishes on the cafe's menu seemed affordable as well even by Q.C. standards. (My friend Pangs had his doubts, but I assured him that there were enough rich folk in Q.C. who support good food.) I haven't eaten a full meal at the cafe so I can't assess its dishes just yet. Although so far, Robby's concoctions in his own Cyma as well as other restaurants he has worked with, have yet to let me down. I intend to have lunch there next week and will give you the lowdown.

We enjoyed the various hors d'oeuvres served during the event which used ingredients sold at the deli (e.g. slices of wagyu beef on polenta, halibut on toasted french bread, creme brulee w/ chocolate mint discs, etc.) as well as the red and white wine selections w/c were flowing the entire night.

(Pinky Mendoza and Rep. Eric Singson)

Other products sold at the deli include Australian wagyu, various lamb cuts, black angus; free range chicken; lumpfish black caviar from Norway; Chilean seabass and Halibut from Norway; foie gras from France; and as I mentioned earlier, sausages, hams, as well as cheeses from Europe and Australia.

There is also a wide array of bottled condiments like vinegars, olive oil, whole peeled tomatoes, and kalamata olives, canned zucchinis, chocolates, etc. Almost everything that a home cook or chef may require. I will personally go back to pick up some wagyu and halibut, and I've already been looking up the various recipes I can experiment w/ for the fish. Wish me luck!

Oh did I mention Dinelli also has a small selection of wines? I promise to inspect the wine section further and tell you about it as well.

Dinelli is located on #5 Timog Ave., Q.C. across St. Peter's Church and near the old Circle Theater. Tel. No. 666-3544.

* * * *

BTW, the hosts for the night were our own Philippine team to The Amazing Race Asia, Tisha Silang and Geoff Rodriguez. I didn't really know them but I was kapal anyway to blurt out to Geoff who was standing about 5 feet away from us, if they won the race. Of course he didn't want to say but was very good natured about it.

Geoff was actually very friendly, surprisingly, considering how he managed to rub off the other contestants the wrong way w/ his seeming arrogance. Siguro, he was just under too much pressure to win. After all, we all know what happened our team last year, right? (Boo-hoo)

(Geoff Rodriguez and Kristine Singson Meehan)

But he, and even Tisha, were very nice and sounded sincere. They accepted our good wishes for the show (but it was kinda weird; we were wishing them luck when the race was actually over weeks ago, ngek). Huy she's very sexy ha. So thin. Kainggit. (Of course, if she spent part of her time scouring and buying from delis like I do, she wouldn't be so slim haha.) Lurved her pumps. Sorry, I wasn't able to take her photo, only of Geoff, and it didn't even do him justice. Too much libation on my end. Oof! my apologies man. He is actually much cuter in person.

Geoff was even almost apologetic that he didn't look Pinoy enough to represent the country. So to make up for it, I guess he wore all those very cool Pinoy-themed shirts all throughout the show w/c he said were available at Team Manila at Powerplant in Rockwell Makati.

Anyway, watch TARA tonight. It's the finale show. I'm rooting for them.

* * * *

UPDATE: Tish and Geoff came in second place. Not a bad showing. Congratulations are still in order. Maybe next year, Team Philippines will come in first.


Obamas Expected to have Sex in White House, Insiders Say
By Billy Kimball

In what is sure to be a controversial move, President-Elect Barack Obama has indicated to his inner circle of advisors that he and his wife may have sex in the White House sometime during the four years of his first term in office.

"He's not saying they definitely will have sex," said an Obama confidante who declined to be named, "But he's not ruling it out. He's also not ruling out having sex more than once." (Click here for the juice.)

LOL! para di naman kayo masyadong serious.

Although if you've watched the interviews of the presidential couple, especially that of 60 Minutes last weekend, you can sense there is still a deep level of intimacy between the two despite the 16 years of marriage. They joke w/ each other a lot (what we term as nagkukulitan), kiss, and hold hands. They look into each other's eyes when they speak to each other. So you know these two just love each other.

Let's hope the White House stint ah, "enhances" the relationship even more.

Random commentary

(Ford Expedition 2008, gorgeous but a gas guzzler)

THE Big Three automakers in the United States are asking for their own bailout package. Why? What good will that do for the U.S. economy? These automakers — Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler — have long been inefficient. They make huge expensive SUVs that guzzle up a lot of gas! It's no wonder most Americans buy Japanese-made sedans. Compact, fuel-efficient, and reasonably-priced. Why should American taxpayers for the Big 3's incompetence?

At the U.S. House of Representatives' recent hearing, the chief executives of the Big 3 said they cut their expenses every which way. But guess what? They flew their company jets to get to Washington. This is a repeat of AIG whose executives were found to have gone on a chi-chi Caribbean vacation even as the company was going under, and just as Treasury Chief Hank Paulson announced a credit line for it. The gall of these CEOs. Such excesses!

* * * *

I had lunch recently w/ a friend whom I call "El Presidente", a former banker and one-time head of a large private entity conducting vital business in the local market, and he was mightily incensed at the bailouts in the U.S. What gets his goat are what he feels are unnecessary and violative business practices by those companies to be bailed out, such as hedging.

Hedging is basically described as taking a position on a commodity today, and betting on its price in the future. Like some airlines hedge on oil prices, betting that the commodity will be priced higher in say 3-6 months against its current price. So if the current market price of oil is $56/barrel, and an airline feels oil prices will again shoot up to $100/barrel in say a year, it can lock in its oil purchases at the current price. Companies hedge on raw materials or vital products they need for their operations to minimize the risks of working in a highly volatile environment when even a small event somewhere in the world can send price shockwaves in the global market.

But El Presidente thinks hedging distorts the markets and really doesn't resort to anything beneficial for the one who practices it bec. you don't always win. Meaning, in the case of the airline which hedges on its oil needs, if it bets that the commodity will go to $100/barrel a year, but in actuality, it falls to even lower than $56, then it loses out and it ends up w/ very expensive oil. Basically it is gambling, he says.

But then I think going into business is a gamble in itself. Your business can either prosper or fail. All you can do is minimize the risks in your business, and one of those tools available is hedging. So no, I didn't agree w/ El Presidente.

Arbitrage? Derivatives? Well now that's another story. I'll save that discussion for another day.

* * * *

So someone must be doing cartwheels in Malacañang because she made a new "friend."

Not since that illicit phone call made by the presidentita to former Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano ("Hello Garci") at the height of the 2004 elections has a phone call been much talked about, blogged, derided and a constant source of news bits in the tri-media.

It's really so sad to realize the depths our country, Philippines my Philippines, has sunk that the President-elect of the United States, didn't return the congratulatory phone call of our illegally-elected presidentita until two days ago. She made two phone calls earlier which were just noted down by White House operator and Barack Obama's staff but the presidentita was not among the first heads of state that he had called back.

Undeterred, the presidentita flew out to Chicago, purportedly to meet w/ the local Fil-Am community (and probably trying to find a direct connect among them to Obama), but still, she didn't get a meeting w/ Obama even if he was also in the same state. Grabeh naman the lengths to which this woman would go to just so the new U.S. President will notice her. Gumastos pa ng malaki, our taxpayers' money 'yan ha! all for nothing.

Finally, Obama calls her on Tuesday, at the ungodly hour of 3:17 a.m.! Obama's staff isn't stupid. They knew very well what time it was in Manila before placing that call. They were probably hoping the presidentita was asleep already. But noooo! Sympre excited, the presidentita answered the VIP call. Nanginig-nginig pa siguro sa kilig!

But then there were no details about the phone call. Did it actually take place? It doesn't matter really because all signs point to the fact that in the eyes of the newly-elected U.S. President, the Philippines means nothing. It is not a military power like the UK and Australia; it is not a huge trading partner; it is a country w/c the U.S. taxpayers still support through grants, out of delicadeza for some shared WWII history, and w/c are only inefficiently used by our corrupt gov't agencies; it is only a country to sell excess harvests by American farmers; it poses no strategic importance to the U.S. militarily bec. we kicked out its bases; and what's more, we have an illegally-sitting president.

If you were Obama, papansinin mo ba si GMA?

November 19, 2008

Clean coal is an oxymoron, says NBC

LISTEN up DENR! There is no such thing as clean coal. You cannot burn coal and expect clean smoke. But there is a way to capture all that dirty emissions.


November 17, 2008

Finding your perfect space

Something Like Life
Nov. 15, 2008

TO continue our thoughts from last week....

Once you’ve made up your mind to actually move out of the parental units’ shelter, stick to your decision and try not to be swayed by your mother’s tears or your father’s bribes. (I have received the mother treatment.)

Getting past that sticky situation, it’s time to look for an actual place to live. You must have a clear idea in your mind what kind of home you want. Would it be a house? An apartment? A condominium unit? Are you going to share it or go at it solo?

Most people I know who’ve gone solo do so not only because of their need for privacy and independence, but also because they want to be near their offices. My girl cousins who live in Parañaque City, for instance, rent a condo just a few steps away from the school where they teach. (Click here for the rest.)

November 14, 2008

Where in the world is Cito Lorenzo?

THE testimony of former Agriculture U/Sec. Joke-Joke Bolante yesterday was certainly a joke on the Senators and the Filipino people as he stood his ground and denied there was any anomaly involved in the release of some P728 million to congressmen and local government units in fertilizers and other farm inputs under the Dept. of Agriculture's Ginintuang Masaganang Ani program.

Bolante tried to pin the blame on his former boss Luis "Cito" Lorenzo, then agriculture secretary, whom Bolante said ordered the release of the funds. Which has given rise to questions anew, "Where in the world is Cito Lorenzo?"

Lorenzo was booted out of DA because the presidentita lost heavily in Mindanao during the 2004 presidential elections. Then he was kicked upstairs as presidential adviser on countrywide development with the task to create 1 million jobs nationwide. Take a look at this news story in 2004 based on an interview w/ Sen. Nene Pimentel:


MANILA, July 12, 2004 (STAR) By Jess Diaz - Politics is behind last week’s resignation of Agriculture Secretary Luis "Cito" Lorenzo, opposition Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said yesterday.

"It’s politics. It’s the culprit behind the forced resignations of Cito Lorenzo, Joey Lina (former secretary of the interior and local government) and (Social Welfare Secretary) Dinky Soliman," he said.

Pimentel said President Arroyo forced the agriculture secretary to quit because she lost in the areas in Mindanao where the Lorenzo family runs agricultural plantations and agriculture-based businesses.

"She lost in these areas, where she expected to win. And she’s taking it against Cito, who has performed creditably as agriculture secretary," Pimentel said. (Read more here.)

After that stint, w/c I believe was just for a year, and telling journalist-friends about how he was able to achieve his mandate of creating one million jobs, Lorenzo then kept to a low profile. Perhaps he could no longer take the heat from the brewing controversy that came to be known as the fertilizer fund scam.

Last we heard, Lorenzo then involved himself in Gawad Kalinga and became its adviser, such that in March 2007, he even gave an inspirational talk in St. Louis, Missouri during the premiere of the Cesar Montano-starrer "Paraiso", a film supposedly on the poor in the Philippines and GK's projects. So if the Senate wants to get in touch w/ Lorenzo, then all it has to do is call up Tony Meloto.

Why Lorenzo was never summoned by the Senate during its first investigation into the fertilizer fund scam, I wouldn't know. If he was summoned, he never showed. So the questions still linger, did he have a part in pushing for the release of funds w/c have been cited as the source of the presidentita's campaign kitty, she who was then running against the very popular veteran artista Fernando Poe Jr.?

When Lorenzo took over as DA Secretary in December 2002, my sources told me then that he wanted to get rid of Bolante or re-assign him somewhere else. The talk already then was, Bolante was assigned to the DA for a specific purpose. (Someone who had worked w/ Bolante before had wondered to me then what he was doing heading DA's finance department when his background was actually in marketing. Bolante used to be an official of Prudential Life which he helped set up w/ well-known pre-need plan pioneer Francisco Alba.)

But it is a well-known fact among the business and political communities that Bolante was a "bata ni Mike", referring to the First Gentleman, and Bolante's fellow Rotarian. This meant that even if Lorenzo tried, he wouldn't have been able to shove Bolante out the door.

Look, it is also widely known that the Department of Agriculture, including some key agencies like the National Food Authority, is a hot bed of ahem, income-generating projects. Maybe not for the farmers and fishermen that these agencies are pledged to serve, but for the officials who head them. (Why do you think the DA keeps insisting there's a rice shortage and needs to import the commodity, when all rice farmers in the provinces will tell you they have a lot of rice? And don't let me get started on the purchases of those jute sacks for the NFA rice.)

Also, even prior to the presidentita's time, I've already heard stories from former DA officials how they were made to carry "bayong-bayong ng pera" during election time, for distribution to voters. And mind you, these were not officials during the time of Marcos but under Presidents after him. So the DA does have a long history of illicit election-related activities w/c I believe continues to this day. (Come on, why even name a program after the initials of the President? Ginintuang Masaganang Ani, erg.)

I don't know Cito Lorenzo personally, but I know he basically has a strong agribusiness background having headed Lapanday Holdings Inc., and belongs to a rather well-respected family from Mindanao. (Read this 2001 interview with Lorenzo in Phil. Business.)

I haven't heard anything negative about him either from the business community even from the older CEOs who only have kind words for their younger colleague. Would Lorenzo tarnish his and his family's reputation by pushing a program w/c he knows would just be used as an election scheme for his boss in Malacañang, in exchange for what? a 20-percent commission? Ang cheap naman. Although it's true, there are some people who would it for less.

It's time for Lorenzo, wherever he is, to come home and speak up. If he is really a "man of honor" as his friends and defenders say that he is, then it's time for him to tell the Filipino nation the truth.

(Photo of Cito Lorenzo from

Airlines respond to growing demand for online bookings

ALL over the world, major international airlines are responding to the growing demand for customers booking and paying for their tickets via the Internet, and are, thus, beefing up their online-transaction capabilities by redesigning and offering promotions on their respective web sites.

All representatives of airlines interviewed for this piece—Philippine Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Emirates Airlines and Northwest Airlines— also predict stronger growth in Internet bookings, especially in Asia and the Pacific as computer penetration and usage rise.

Todd Anderson, director for marketing and distribution of the Minneapolis-based Northwest Airlines, said in a telephone interview that for Asia-Pacific, the reservations made via its web site ( “generally vary by market and by country…between 2 percent and 35 percent [with Singapore on the higher end of the scale]” accounting for total bookings by the airline. The rest of the bookings are made via travel agents and general service agents (i.e. accredited ticket agents).

(Click here for the rest.)

Senate hearing on the fertilizer fund scam

FINALLY Joke-Joke Bolante makes an appearance at the Senate reconvening to re-investigate the P728-milllion fertilizer fund scam.

People note how Mr. Bolante's tone and demeanor have changed from one who usually goes around strutting and making sure people know who is boss, to one so meek and mild as a mouse. (BP 140/overacting pa din!) (He has been described by those who know him as "cargante", a braggart, and someone who will jump at the chance to lash out at his staff or subordinates. They say the grilling by the Senators yesterday was suffering already for him.)

Noticeable also how he stammered and stumbled on even easy questions like the true nature of his "illness" and who recommended him to his position as U/Sec finance of DA), an indication that he is lying. Of course we all knew he was going to cover up the role of the presidentita in this scam. After being holed up at St. Luke's for a week, I'm pretty sure FG Mike's lawyer drilled into Joke-Joke that he better testify that her royal smallness didn't have anything to do w/ the sordid affair.

And all these Senators talking their heads off, will something come out of these hearings other than new sound bites for the TV/radio news? (Thank you Sen. Santiago for making our day as usual.)

November 12, 2008

Malacañang reacts

OOH, the presidentita's Dirty Tricks Ops has been very busy sending out text messages to the public, mostly its violent reactions about the Feeling Obama campaign of Makati Mayor Jojo Binay. Malacañang is taking him to task regarding his alleged corrupt activities and how the public outside Makati will react negatively to him.

Seems to me a case of the pot calling the kettle barack, este, black.

Tired of Obama already?

Na-ah! As far as my friends and I go (and even my Mama!), we continue to be fascinated with the President-elect of the United States. We still can't get enough of the news about him and his family. I personally am still hooked to CNN and BBC and surf there often to find more video news about Barack Obama, and read every scrap of news bit about him among the newspapers/wire services online. Obama fanatic? Fer shur. (But not for that pretend Obama.)

Here's another one from my favorite essayist, Pico Iyer:

My Chance Encounter with Obama in Hawaii

It was three days before the New Year in late 2006, and I was eating a burger with the traveler and writer Paul Theroux on Oahu's North Shore. Beside us in the rickety little shack was a quintessentially Hawaiian group of Chinese Americans, African Americans, semi–Southeast Asians and kids who could have been any or all of the above, waiting for the dad in the group to bring over their avocado burgers from the counter. It took Paul and me a few seconds to realize that the dad in question — who looked like a skinny teenager — was, in fact, the freshman Senator from Illinois, who was expected to enter the presidential race in the next week or two. (Click TIME for the rest.)

November 11, 2008

You must be joking!

SO the rumors started about a month ago. I didn't think anything of them because I believed they were just jokes, and that politicos were just playing around as usual. Until this morning that is. No joke-joke. All true-true.

Binay declares presidential bid

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE) Vowing to take the fight outside the country's financial district, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay announced his bid for the presidency on Tuesday as he marked his 66th birthday in city hall.

More than 2,000 supporters from the city and the provinces carrying streamers like "Obama of the Philippines" and "Jojo Binay for President" gathered at 7 a.m. for a Thanksgiving Mass as they waited for the mayor to make the declaration. (Click Obama in Makati for the rest.)

Natawa ba kayo?

(Barack Obama)

(Feeling Obama)

November 09, 2008

That Narciso Rodriguez dress

THIS is the original dress of Narciso Rodriguez:

(Via NYT/AP)

And this is what Michelle Obama wore on Victory Night at Grant Park:

(Photo via

The dress looked great on the model. It looked hideous on Mrs. Obama. Her hips and thighs look way too huge. Ugh, very unflattering. Maybe she shouldn't have tampered w/ the original design no? Because now that I've seen the original on the model, I actually love the dress and would want wear it myself...IF I had a model's figure! haha

And maybe Mrs. Obama should've lost that sweater. I mean, if you are going to wear something daring, then do it all the way. Perhaps Mrs. Obama first thought that the dress looked fabulous on her, then had second thoughts bec. it could just be too bold for Victory Night, so she decided to wear the black sweater to take it down a notch. The result. Ick. Maybe if she had worn heels, the look would have been much improved.

Okay, we all have our off days. At least we know Mrs. Obama is human.

Enough already!

CAN the presidentita's minions just shut up already about Barack Obama? So she got snubbed. Not once, not twice, but three times. Once when she was in New York and Obama was running his campaign elsewhere; the second time when she called him after he won the U.S. presidential elections and he never returned her call; and again a third time, according to deputy presidential spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo. The presidentita's calls have yet to be returned. (Geez, how dense can a person be? Obama doesn't want to speak w/ you, GMA, get it?)

Revealing that, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said our presidentita and the U.S. President-elect already have an understanding on issues:

"With reference to a letter to President Arroyo on June 24, 2008, during the [her] last working visit to the United States, President-elect Obama outlined issues and concerns for collaboration between the Philippines and the United States hinged on a "partnership that makes progress on 21st century challenges," Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said.

He said the these issues include climate change, food security, poverty reduction, the future of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, human rights in Burma and defense reform.

"President-elect Obama expressed confidence in successfully addressing these challenges," Ermita said.

He added that in the letter, Obama cited the "shared history" between the US and the Philippines. (The rest here)

(Poor presidentita...still waiting for Obama to call her back. Photo from ABS-CBN News.)

Gads can't these guys just quit? Talking about Obama constantly makes the snub even cut deeper dontcha think? I mean, forget it already. He snubbed the presidentita, so move on to other issues. He probably has a very good reason why he doesn't want to talk to her. (We know why, but she's still living in some parallel universe where she thinks people love her.)

If the guy doesn't wanna talk to you, no amount of preening for the media and propaganda will make your phone ring, anu? Tigilan na ang kahibangan na 'yan!

Why leaving home is a good thing

Something Like Life
Nov. 7, 2008

WHENEVER I’m asked to write magazine pieces advising young people on how to save up or build a nest egg for their eventual retirement, I always like to joke that the best way to pinch pennies is to keep staying with your parents until they throw you out. Being Filipinos, of course, we are all secure with the fact that such a situation will never arise. Our parents just love us too much.

I’ve always admired the resolve of American parents to encourage their children to leave their nests once the latter reach 18 years of age. This is one of the American values I’d like Filipinos to emulate the most, that of teaching their young how to be independent, productive citizens of their country.

Most Americans view people living with their parents past 18 as pathetic and weak. It’s like if you still live with your parents, you are considered a failure. Some news stories do show a trend, however, of young Americans returning to their parents’ homes because they can no longer afford their own. But that’s another story. (Click here for the rest.)

November 07, 2008

You know Christmas is coming when...

...employees of the Bureau of Customs in our international airports are in their usual "pahingi" or "Merry Christmas!" mode.

3 BOC personnel sacked for harassing Fil-Am entertainer

MANILA, Philippines - Three Customs examiners are in hot water for allegedly asking for “free samples” of promotional shirts from a visiting Filipino-American entertainer at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

The three – Omar Indol, Samuel Saed and Cecilia Venzon – were relieved from their posts and transferred to the Human Resource Management Division (HRMD) pending investigation, Customs commissioner Napoleon Morales said Thursday.

“Apparently, the examiners asked for samples of the T-shirts which is against the bureau’s policies because this is not a commercial importation where you check the merchandise for right valuation and classifications,” Morales said. (Click GMA News TV for the rest.)

ON a personal note, there was one Christmas my Aunt from the U.S. came home and she told me she spent almost $50 just because of the "pahingi" of those people assigned at the NAIA –– from the baggage handlers, Immigration agents to the Customs examiners. I told her she shouldn't have forked over any cash but she said she just wanted to quickly get out of the airport and away from the bedlam. These balikbayans and other foreign visitors sure get a warm welcome at the NAIA don't they? ngek.

* * * *

In another instance, two lady Thai chefs who were recently asked to come in as part of a hotel's Thai food festival also received the same fate. They brought in special spices, not a lot, but were needed for their cooking; the Customs examiners also charged them a humongous amount of duties. Duties daw! Of course, the chefs were not given a receipt for said duties, so the hotel, owned by a Filipino-Chinese taipan, can't reimburse them. And btw, said taipan absolutely forbids his employees to give bribes to, or fix government employees.

Hay kaluoy naman these two nice Thai ladies. No one from the hotel briefed them about what to expect at the NAIA. And now they are probably swearing off from ever returning to the Philippines.

* * * *

But passengers arriving at the NAIA aren't the only ones getting a warm welcome from the Customs examiners these days. Even those landing at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark, Pampanga are getting harrassed as well.

Just recently, my friend Miggy's husband bought her an LV Trevi purse during a trip to Malaysia, and of course, so as not to crush the bag, he just hand-carried it on his flight home. Upon arrival at the DMIA, the Customs examiners asked him to pay duties on the bag. Teka, teka...are you guys kidding? The bag is for personal use!

Miggy's husband would've understood and gladly paid the importation duties if he was bringing an entire luggage full of stuff to sell but he's no viajero. He's just a loving husband bringing home a nice bag as a present for his lovely wife! Incensed at the unreasonableness of the Customs examiners, Miggy finally called a top DMIA honcho, after which her husband and the bag were let through. E talaga namang mali sila noh!

According to Miggy, her hubby was on the same flight as OFWs and she supposes, the Customs examiners just thought he was one of them and targeted him for their no-good tricks. Ang kapal! But then when you think about corruption, how apt the name of the airport dontcha think? Monkey see, monkey do.

Bubut Quicho reflects on the US elections

FOR those still too young not to know or remember him, Perfecto "Bubut" Quicho was probably the first Filipino to ever head a major foreign hotel chain (Hyatt Regency) in the Philippines. He has gone on to become a partner in several restaurant ventures mostly with businessman Tonyboy Cojuangco, the latest of which is the newly-opened French bistro in Makati called La Régalade.

I got this email from a friend who wanted to share Mr. Quicho's thoughts on the conduct of elections in the United States and in the Philippines, and how local politicians need to behave more statesmanlike whether they win or lose. Read on:

We need change even more.

For the past couple of years, there was so much to dislike about America. After just one day – with the way they carried out a presidential election – there is so much to admire about America.

How can their elections be so inspiring, when ours have been so hopeless, even disgusting?

There are lessons to be learned here. Lessons we have to take to heart if we are to get out of the rut we are in. We have just been shown what clean elections are all about.

Foremost of the lessons is how ordinary citizens can control their fate, instead of having politicians control them.

The American people took their responsibility as voters seriously. Instead of asking, they gave – which right away eliminated the politics of patronage that has blighted elections all over the world.

Ordinary people contributed to the Obama campaign – small amounts of one to ten dollars each, which grew to millions of dollars because there were millions of them who gave.

The same ordinary people were actively involved – volunteering to work for their candidates, campaigning in their areas, and urging everyone to get out and vote.

Voters respected their rights. They came out in huge numbers– many going to the polls at break of dawn, enduring long lines and waiting for hours – to make sure their votes will be in.

The politicians were just as responsible. While there were some personal attacks and unsavory statements, the campaigns for the most part tackled issues and explained where they stood to the people. Much more than the mudslinging, there was a serious discussion of programs and prescriptions to deal with the nation's most pressing problems.

There was no cheating, nor attempts to subvert the election process, which has been part and parcel of our own elections. Which made it easy for everyone to accept the results.

The candidates displayed wisdom and maturity in the aftermath. Senator John McCain was gracious and magnanimous in defeat, despite the passion with which he competed against his rival, as he delivered what was described by a TV anchor as a "handsomely generous speech."

President-elect Barack Obama, in his own speech, was grateful, conciliatory, and grounded in reality as he acknowledged the challenges the nation faced and the hard work that waited to be done.

And he was humble in victory, telling the people that "I will listen to you, specially when we disagree." How different from the way our President reacts to critical views.

(Mano-mano counting in Manila. Photo by David Greedy/Getty Images, May 10, 2004)

But above all, we have to learn how count the votes quickly and get the results out immediately. Despite having to use different systems and unavoidable glitches, everyone in the US was determined to get the votes in and counted as quickly as possible. Not one politician made an attempt to delay the proceedings or manufacture excuses to postpone the counting. They did not want to influence the outcome, they wanted to know what the real results were.

Long drawn out counting of votes is the sure recipe for failed elections. But through the years, our political leaders have thwarted every attempt to computerize the elections.

We can do it, of course. The Indians have shown the way, using an efficient and inexpensive automation system that even the US concedes is superior to theirs.

But no one in our country is even taking a look at this system which can solve our election woes.

Most candidates believe that the only way to assure victory is to monkey with the results – long counts allow that to happen, automation will make it very difficult.

These trapos completely ignore the fact that the best way to win elections is to genuinely work for the welfare of the people.

It is more rewarding for them to make fortunes from irregular deals and tainted projects. And to win votes – they grandstand, issue empty statements that land in media, spoil local leaders with favors in exchange for support, use money to influence voters when election time comes, and tamper with the results that do not go their way.

We need to change, more than they do in America.

People need to develop the courage to stand up for what is good for them. Demand concrete platforms and clear solutions to the problems that savage us. Get involved in the process by exercising the right and protecting their votes.

Our leaders have to look beyond their interests and give the people their due. By not insulting their intelligence with campaigns that are more like showbiz-style circuses. Campaigns should be what they are supposed to – a chance to let people know what they stand for and how they intend to help the taong bayan. With specific, concrete plans of action and not merely slogans and catch phrases.

They must seriously attend to the job of working for the people, does anyone still remember that officials are supposed to be public servants?

And we must finally overhaul the rotten political system that has only made our people miserable. Starting with the use of appropriate technology – something practical, affordable and suited to our needs – to automate our elections.

The politics of corruption and naked power has to end.

It is time to give the Filipino people the governance they deserve.

November 06, 2008

A fighting chance

I WAS glued to the TV set the entire day yesterday and well into the night until the U.S. morning shows came on. It was as if I still couldn't believe what had just happened that I had to keep watching all the news programs just to make sure I wasn't living in some parallel universe. Americans have, for the first time, elected an African-American as their President. Wow!

And while listening to President-elect Barack Obama make his speech in Grant Park (named after another U.S. president Ulysses Grant who also hailed from Illinois), it was if the entire mood of the world changed. It's like we now have something better to look forward to, even if stock markets everywhere are crashing, and food prices are rising. We now have hope that someone will help us turn all of this around.

It may be awhile 'til we see some concrete results. We have to be pragmatic that there is no magic formula that will solve all America's problems w/c have been impacting on the global ills. But at least now, we have a fighting chance to overcome these difficulties, with a little help from a strong inspiring leader that will hopefully, set things right in America.

Here's the text of Obama's victory speech on Nov. 4, 2008 (Nov. 5 here) at Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois.

OBAMA: Hello, Chicago.

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.

We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It's the answer that led those who've been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment change has come to America.

A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily gracious call from Senator McCain.

Senator McCain fought long and hard in this campaign. And he's fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader.

I congratulate him; I congratulate Governor Palin for all that they've achieved. And I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart, and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton ... and rode with on the train home to Delaware, the vice president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years ... the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation's next first lady ... Michelle Obama.

Sasha and Malia ... I love you both more than you can imagine. And you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us the new White House.

And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother's watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight. I know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my sister Maya, my sister Alma, all my other brothers and sisters, thank you so much for all the support that you've given me. I am grateful to them.

And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe ... the unsung hero of this campaign, who built the best -- the best political campaign, I think, in the history of the United States of America.

To my chief strategist David Axelrod ... who's been a partner with me every step of the way.

To the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics ... you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you've sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. It belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington. It began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to the cause.

It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy ... who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep.

It drew strength from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not perished from the Earth.

This is your victory.

And I know you didn't do this just to win an election. And I know you didn't do it for me.

You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime -- two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.

Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us.

There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after the children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage or pay their doctors' bills or save enough for their child's college education.

There's new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.

I promise you, we as a people will get there.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!

OBAMA: There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can't solve every problem.

But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it's been done in America for 221 years -- block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night.

This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.

It can't happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.

Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers.

In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let's resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.

Let's remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity.

Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.

As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.

And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.

To those -- to those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.

That's the true genius of America: that America can change. Our union can be perfected. What we've already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight's about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons -- because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America -- the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that We Shall Overcome. Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.

And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.

Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves -- if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.

This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.

Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.

(Text of speech from the Baltimore Sun. Photos from

November 05, 2008

Barack Obama is the 44th president of the U.S.

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.'

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers." (Martin Luther King, I Have A Dream, Aug. 28, 1963)

45 years after this speech was delivered by pastor Martin Luther King at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, the Americans have elected Barack Obama, an African-American, as the 44th president of the United States. As I write this, Obama has captured 338 electoral votes vs Republican presidential candidate John McCain's 155 votes, a landslide victory.

This is truly an historic event that resonates not only among Americans but with every citizen of the world. In the U.S. we see what things are possible, and how any dream, maybe outrageous everywhere else, is achievable there. And I am truly grateful for being alive at this time to bear witness to such a momentous event.

Congratulations to the American voters for changing the course of our history.

* * * *

Kudos to Sen. McCain for a very gracious concession speech. In his hometown in Arizona, he emphasized his duty first to his country above everything else, that's why he is throwing his full support behind the new President. He is truly a remarkable man, who was heroic in so many ways, but to whom fate wasn't just as kind. But he ran a good race, a real fighter to the end.

Now can you please send Sarah Palin back to Alaska?

* * * *

WHAT amazed me most of all throughout this electoral process, was how much the U.S. media invested in trying to outdo each other in their coverage and presentation.

While BBC had this oh-so-boring host trying to coordinate the discussion and field coverages, the network was ahead of CNN in terms of the poll count. Not to mention, it also had really snazzy touch graphics with the news presenter operating some kind of floating screen. Coolness!

The CNN though kicked ass with its holographic interviews. I caught the one of Anderson Cooper w/ Galeng.

Despite the third-world phone coverage of our own ANC (no live video, just phone patches...kaluoy naman), it still managed to deliver w/ its lively discussions among Americans living in Manila representing the Republican and Democratic Parties. And for awhile, it was fun to watch TJ Manotoc voting for Obama by using a typical voting machine w/c made available by the U.S. Embassy during its mock polls at the Mall of Asia.

The local network scored by snagging an on-site interview w/ US Ambassador Kirstie Kenney done by our favorite host Edu Manzano who started off by ribbing her about her rooting for Ateneo during the UAAP championship. (LOL! I just love Edu's wit.)

Sayang lang, with such an historic presidential election the Lopezes should have invested in bringing us Filipinos live feeds from the U.S. Ah well, maybe in 2012.

* * * *

UPDATE: "If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer." (Barack Obama victory speech, Nov. 4, 2008, Chicago, Illinois)

Read the rest in BusinessMirror online and in NYT.

November 04, 2008

Goodbye Dubya!

(Photo from

AMERICANS go to the polls starting tonight (Nov. 4 morning in the U.S.) to vote for their next president. Whoever wins (of course I'm still rooting for Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama), that will be the end of Dubya. Thank God!

George W. Bush has led the U.S. into becoming probably the most reviled nation on earth with its foreign policy missteps (what can you expect from someone who's never traveled abroad until he became president?), and with his economic mismanagement, has made his oil friends richer, while pushing many Americans out of their homes.

Goodbye Dubya, you will not be missed. (Well okay, maybe David Letterman, Jon Stewart, SNL, and all the late-night comics would.)

* * * *

Btw, playing now on HBO is the Kevin Spacey/Dennis Leary-starrer Recount, a dramatization of events w/c took place during the Florida 2000 recount. It's very timely because it shows how the American democratic system actually failed the American voters because of the fallibility of the people in power tasked to implement their laws and regulations. The U.S. Supreme Court eventually intervened in the recount and gave the election to Dubya. (Tsk, tsk, I wonder if the SC justices managed to sleep well at night throughout the 8 years of Dubya's term.)

Of course, Fate has a funny and sometimes cruel way of working things out for everyone's good. Former VP Albert Gore Jr. may have lost his bid for the White House but won an Oscar and a Nobel Peace Prize for his environmental work. So there.

Just how dumb is Sarah Palin?

This is sooooo precious. Palin 2012 woo-hoo!

November 03, 2008

Sen. John McCain on SNL/The Obama Ad

(I think 'The Sad Grandpa' would work best hehe. Poor guy, he really sounds desperate na.)

McCain has good comic timing, too bad that the material written for him last Saturday was not that funny. I think SNL writers gave their everything for the Palin episode and had not much juice left for McCain.

Palin 2012? LOL! More like Tina Fey 2012! This woman is just awesome.

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ON a more somber note, here's Barack Obama's much-talked "American Stories" ad.

I dunno why but I think my cynicism has taken over again. When I first watched this ad, I was affected by the 'real life' stories of the 'ordinary Americans' featured. Now I'm a bit bothered by the apparent slickness of it all. It brings an undercurrent of fear into the picture, that if you don't vote for Obama, kawawa naman all these people in the ad, they will lose their jobs.

It portrays Obama as having the answer to everything. He says the right things you, as a voter, would want to hear from a candidate. And if you pay particular attention to New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's endorsement, Obama is just the most perfect presidential candidate ever.

Obama has run a great, very emotional campaign. He sounds very sincere and he has touched a lot of hearts w/ his message of change and hope. Now my brain is just telling me there's something terribly amiss w/ him (aside from his cigarette smoking). Or maybe I'm just overanalyzing.