August 31, 2009

Are you on this list yet?

The Philippines' 40 richest by Forbes magazine.

The biggest question, of course, is how many of them were able to land/remain on this list through their legitimate businesses and not through illicit activities. I see at least five names fitting the latter category. Ahem.

Also noticeable is that there are some folks who are below the top 10 of the Forbes list but who, in reality, have higher net worths except that, a number of their assets and investments are held abroad, under corporations that cannot easily be connected to them. I've spotted at least three names who fit this bill.

Unsurprisingly, there are also a number of super-wealthy Filipinos who are not on this list bec. most of their businesses remain privately-held and they generally keep a very low profile about their activities. A number of them reside in the provinces and go about their operations under media's radar. On the ground, some of their businesses appear small-time operations, but if you put all these together along with their other various interests, they can easily edge out a few billionaires off the Forbes list.

Blackwater and Haliburton in the Phils.

THIS was posted by one of my friends on Facebook today. According to the investigative journalist who did a piece on the presence of these private military contractors in the Philippines, their operations here have the go-signal of the presidentita.

Btw, here's an old story in Vanity Fair regarding profiteering military contractors like Halliburton's subsididary, KBR. There have been separate accusations vs Blackwater as well about how it too has allegedly overbilled the U.S. gov't for its services.

FOUND! Arroyo sons' properties in California

HERE'S a great story to start off your week, even though it's still a holiday today.

PRESIDENTIAL son and Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo has failed to declare in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth (SALN) for the last two years a $1.32 million or P63.7 million beachfront property in the San Francisco Bay Area in California, which he bought and then transferred to his wife Angela in 2006. (Click Vera Files for the rest.)

Btw, folks, let me assure that while the house doesn't look like much from the outside, Foster City is widely known as one of the most affluent areas in California. It is where the rich folk of San Mateo County reside. Last I heard about this property was in July 2008, and that time, the house was undergoing renovation, and a small living area for the property owner's julalays was being constructed.

(UPDATE 6:18 pm) According to Rep. Arroyo, excuse my dust! he can afford to buy this house in San Mateo. Oo nga naman, di ba all his films made money?

Watch out, we have another national artist in the making here.

Good vibrations

CALL me crazy, but I feel a "disturbance" in the Force. I just don’t know how to explain it, but that’s the closest description I can come up with. It’s not a negative disturbance, rest assured, because all the changes that I’ve been observing have so far been positive amid the seemingly unfavorable events that have played out in the past few weeks.

I’ve been feeling this positive energy since July, when a number of my friends were blessed with wonderful changes in their lives. I even Googled “feng shui” or “zodiac readings” to find out what could be the possible explanation for all these buoyant stirrings. (Click Something Like Life for the rest.)

August 29, 2009

Not quite the real thing

YOU'VE heard of Facebook. But have you heard of Facebuko?

Click here. I swear it's frigging hilarious! Ang galing mo Jonas Roque!

Happy weekend people! :)

August 28, 2009

Vacation pics

AS I posted earlier, my gang and I went to Misibis Bay Raintree during the weekend of Aug. 21 for a little R&R. It's a gorgeous resort owned by Elizaldy Co, one of the most dynamic businessmen in Bicol and managed by the same group behind Discovery properties of the Tiu family (JTKC Group).

The resort has yet to be formally opened, but is already accepting guests. One thing great about going to Albay is that it is generally sunny down there, when our weather here in Manila is rainy. So it makes an alternative wet season destination for tourists.

Here are some photos I took of the resort:

Current travel package to Misibis starts at P13,000 inclusive of roundtrip airfare, 3D/2N accommodations, breakfast. Click here for more details. Can't wait to return there and try out more activities.

August 24, 2009

I'm baaaack!

SORRY gang, I was on vacation. I was enjoying my stay at Misibis Bay Raintree in Cagraray Island, Albay w/ my gang so much I didn't feel any urgent need to look for a computer and go online. I'll tell you about the vacation soon, and post photos too.

I have such a hangover from Albay, I keep looking out my window and imagining the Mayon Volcano. Shucks, Miggy and I were saying that if only we could find great jobs there, we'd move to Legaspi City in a heartbeat.

August 19, 2009

Let's take a break!

POLITICS is such a bitch no? And especially if you're talking about the stuff that goes on here in the Philippines, you'll likely get a coronary.

I try to escape once in awhile by watching TV or my newly-downloaded episodes of my favorite shows (hurray, the new TV season has started in the States), or by going to the movie theater. Here are a few of my latest guilty pleasures:

Mad Men Season 3 (via EZTV)

(Jon Hamm as adman, Don Draper in Mad Men.)

To those who still aren't aware of this show, Mad Men is about the American advertising industry ("Mad" as in Madison Ave. where the ad firms where located) in the 1960s which was a turbulent time in the history of America. The ad industry at this time was also growing and becoming edgier in terms of concepts and ideas. w/c helped in the explosion of American consumerism.

The new season has started and the first episode, although not as punchy as the other episodes in its previous seasons, had some moments of excitement. Most notable was Sal's first almost gay sex encounter - ruined by a fire alarm though. Rats. Jon Hamm as Don Draper is gorgeous as usual. But what was up w/ that flashback to his childhood again? We get it already, Don is a tortured soul. Now move on and pick up the pace.

Entourage Season, Season 6 (via EZTV)

Based on the life of actor Mark Wahlberg, Entourage is the story of up-and-coming actor Vincent Chase and his childhood friends whose lives depend on his continued employment. The biggest change in the new season is that the storyline now seems to be revolving around E's sex life! I mean, who is the star here anyway? Isn't it supposed to be Vinnie Chase? And geez, that new girlfriend of E is just fugly and annoying!

Anyhoo, we still love Entourage bec. of Jeremy Piven's character Ari Gold who may be a pain in the ass especially to his gay asst. Lloyd, but he is morally upright at the core. (Imagine trash talking Ari frowning on his co-worker having an adulterous relationship with an agent at the office. Tsk, tsk.)

The Proposal (still showing in some theaters)

Yup, I just watched two days ago, and it wasn't a total waste of time and money, despite the warnings I got from my friends. To those who still haven't seen it, the plot revolves around Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock), a book editor who is about to be deported to Canada for some violation in her work visa. She decides to blackmail her asst. Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds), who is also a wanna-be novelist, into marrying her so she could become a U.S. citizen.

The film has a few clever snarky lines written and delivered w/ relish by Bullock and Reynolds. Margaret's interaction w/ Andrews' basically psycho and in-your-face family made the firm so laugh-worthy. Of course, seeing Reynolds and his hot bod also did add points to my enjoyment. Woof!

Gossip Girl (10 pm, Sat., ETC)

I never really liked the show but lately, I've been watching it to just give my brain a rest. I dunno what season is playing right now, and don't really care. It's just stupid and juvenile it actually is entertaining. I especially like Blair Waldorf and her silly dramas and revenge plotting. Of course, evil b**ch that I am, expect me to root for the student who manages to have a teacher fired haha.

Oh yeah, the show is about this group of basically spoiled rich brats who have petty little dramas and have equally screwed-up parents that don't make you wonder why the kids have ended up the way they are. Yep, take away the fashion, it does sound like your next door neighbor's family right? Haha.

Project Runway Philippines, Season 2 (Wed., 10 pm, ETC.)

The first episode was high camp (staged drama bet. a queen and a punk graphic artist) but it's still too early to tell who will win this contest. For now I like graphic artist Russell who has a youthful edgy style, which makes the outfits of the other contestants look boring. I just wish the designers who can't speak English well, just speak in Tagalog or whatever dialect they're most comfortable with.

But I'm happy to see some improvement among the hosts. For one, designer Jojie Lloren is now more articulate in his critiques. Aside from pointing out what's wrong with an outfit, he actually makes suggestions now what the designer can do. And yes! Apples Aberin now looks/sounds awake! Unfortunately, like the first season, the sound is still crappy. With Solar Entertainment's tons of cash, I can't for the life of me, comprehend why they can't use better sound recording equipment for the show.

TMZ (Tue-Sat. 11:30 pm, ETC.)

Unlike the format of most showbiz gossip shows, TMZ features lawyer/host Harvey Levin while his staff each pitch their stories of celebrities either caught on video or on photos. The ensuing discussions and side comments of Harvey and his staff on each showbiz item is what's mostly hilarious about this show. The discussions usually border on the silly what with the youthful personalities of the staff. I like the show also bec. it does manage to outscoop its rivals in celebrity news gathering and it's features don't patronize the showbiz personalities.

Chelsea Lately (Tue-Sat, 12 midnight, ETC.)

Chelsea Handler is a bitchy comedian who comments on current events and showbiz news in her trademark sarcastic wit She has a lot of help from her equally snarky panelists/guest co-hosts, most of whom are fellow comedians, w/c makes the show super-funny. (Btw, a regular is comedian Jo Koy is half-Filipino.) It's pure mayhem as they make fun of all these stupid celebrities or their antics. So far, most of Chelsea's celebrity guests are B- and C-listers but we hope she gets stars w/ higher wattage as more people become more aware of her comic genius. Oh, she has a Mexican midget sidekick Chuy whose presence alone make the show pure gas!

The Doctors (Lifestyle Network)

I'm not sure how often this show is on the Lifestyle Network except that I usually am able to catch it at around 12 midnight. (Tried to get the exact schedule on the Lifestyle Network's web site but no such info was available.) The Doctors feature four physicians with their own fields of specialization (a pediatrician, cosmetic surgeon, OB-Gyn, and ER doctor) and their daily topics are always interesting and highly informative. They also show medical procedures on camera w/c can make you cringe if you don't have a stronger stomach. I've learned a lot from this show. And yes, ER doc Dr. Travis Stork (and The Bachelor alumnus) does make the show oh-so-watchable :)

What about you guys? What do you do to relax from all the political chatter?

August 17, 2009

How Martin became a banker

SOME people continue to wonder how Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez could afford to treat the presidentita and her party of some 30-odd people at Le Cirque, one of the most expensive restaurants in New York. (Although his staff maintains it was his brother Daniel who did so. On the other hand, I've been told it is Martin who is the "galante" bet. the two.)

Remember that Rep. Romualdez' father is former Amb. Kokoy Romualdez, younger brother of former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos, and a beneficiary of some largesse from her family's good old days in Malacañang esp. via the Meralco Foundation, among others. It is through the family's supposed ownership of shares in the old PCIBank that allowed Martin, a lawyer, to eventually become chairman, then vice-chairman of Equitable-PCIB (merger of PCIB w/ Equitable Bank). (Btw, those PCIB shares that were sequestered by the PCGG from the Romualdez family (via ownership of Trans Middle East Equities) were also being claimed by the Lopez family.)

Curiously, graft cases vs. the elder Romualdez have been dismissed, the latest of w/c was just in May, 2009, while the PCGG has entered into compromise agreements with him re: his firms. Also, Martin has yet to be charged for unilaterally w/drawing some P138 million in cash from PCIB back in 2005, at the time he was chair of the bank. Can you guys think of better reasons why Martin and his family are such ardent supporters of the presidentita and have a need to constantly butter her up?

Meanwhile, here are the statements of assets and liabilities of Rep. Romualdez for 2008 and 2007, as gathered by the GMA News TV research team. To his credit, at least he bothers to detail his stock investments unlike his big boss in Malacañang.

SAL 2008
Rep. Martin Romualdez's SAL 2008

SAL 2007

Rep. Martin Romualdez's SAL 2007

On grieving

I remember at my own father’s wake a couple of years ago, when someone very close to me saw Pop lying in his coffin. She suddenly freaked out and shrilly complained that his makeup was awful. She then proceeded to have his makeup redone by the mortician. I didn’t notice any difference in how he looked, though. Okay, you had to be there, but I thought that was so laughable it would’ve probably qualified as an episode on Six Feet Under. (Click Something Like Life for the rest.)

August 16, 2009

Congen tries, but fails, in defending GMA

SORRY to interrupt your weekend, folks, but this story caught my eye today...

(RP Consul General to New York Cecilia Rebong. Photo from The Filipino Express.)

Apparently, New York Consul General Cecilia Rebong says the Le Cirque banquet story of the presidentita and her loyal band of sipsips, is false and cites a news report of the Filipino Reporter, just one of the dozens of newspapers/tabloids catering to Filipino-American communities in the United States.

According to the scanned report posted online here (thank you to whoever posted this upon the prompting of Manolo Quezon), the "contact manager" of Le Cirque, one Mario Wainer, was quoted saying: "President Arroyo had dinner here just like everyone else." (Now, what exactly does that mean? That she and her gang of thieves ate there as lavishly as its other patrons usually do?)

When asked if reports were true that the tab of the presidentita's party reached $20,000, "Wainer became furious and said it was not true." Of course, the reporter could not exact the real amount of said dinner from the manager, w/c begs the question, was he furious because the bill was too high, or too low from what was actually paid? And btw, was he referring to the first or the second dinner, bec. apparently, there were two held at said restaurant?

The story doesn't really say much and in fact, may be considered a dud, by journalism standards. It really isn't a credible defense for the presidentita either. How laughable and amateurish as usual, for GMA's minions to even quote a newspaper to protect her honor!

(Now, what's up with ANC and its North American bureau? Or the U.S. correspondents of the major Philippine broadsheets? Shouldn't they be snooping into this? Why so slow in getting to the bottom of this Le Cirque story?)

* * * *

Btw, if Rebong's name sounds familiar, it's because she was the Filipino diplomat who was exposed in 2005 for leasing a two-bedroom flat in Trump World Tower for $10,000 a month. Of course, NY apartment rentals are not the cheapest in the world. But I'm pretty sure, w/ more patience and a lot more looking, Rebong could've gotten a better deal for us Filipino taxpayers who are paying her salary and that lease. (At the present conversion rate, that is P500,000 a month.) Besides, the bulk of Fil-Ams in NY do not live in Manhattan, but in Queens!

With this kind of decadent lifestyle led by Rebong, I wonder if she was in the dinner party of the presidentita at Le Cirque. Hmmm...question is was it dinner 1 or dinner 2?

August 15, 2009

Where's the Woodstock couple now?

THE Woodstock concert gathered many talents to celebrate love, peace, and most of all, music. It is considered a life-changing moment for many of those who watched the three-day festival considered a first in American history. The couple featured on the album cover and later, the DVD of the concert, is still together after 40 years. What an inspiring story.

This is dedicated to all those aging hippies out there, mga hippie na kulelat, feeling hippies lang, and especially to anyone who loves music, rock and roll history, and romance.

Happy weekend, gang! :)

August 14, 2009

Did he or didn't he? (Updated)

(Daniel Romualdez w/ Aerin Lauder Zinterhofer, granddaughter of Estee Lauder at the Breast Cancer Research Foundation's Hottest Pink Party ever, a fund-raising event, in April 2008 at the Waldorf Astoria. Photo from the New York Social Diary.)

WHILE Malacañang apologists are pointing to Rep. Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez as the one who paid the $20,000 dinner tab at Le Cirque of the presidentita, his own staff are now denying this. They say it was actually Romualdez's brother, celebrated New York architect/interior designer Daniel Romualdez, who picked up the tab.

I have it on good authority though that Daniel didn't pay for the dinner either. Apparently it's a well-known fact among those close to the Romualdezes that while Daniel may be generous in charitable events, he is "too kuripot" to shell out that much for a lavish dinner where he doesn't even personally know half of the guests. "It's actually Martin who is galante," as per a source. Martin is so galante, he is said to have gifted the presidentita a Rolex w/c costs anywhere bet. $3,600 to $11,000. Hmmm....

A bit of trivia: One of the most well-known design projects of Daniel Romualdez is the Manhattan apartment of fashion designer Tory Burch, w/c was featured in the Oct. 2004 issue of Vogue. Also, here's a story on Daniel in The Departures magazine published in 2001.

(Romualdez, far right, with friends Dan Moe, Brian Kinsella, and publicist James LaForce at the Sag Harbor fund-raiser of God's Love We Deliver, on June 30, 2007. Photo from the New York Social Diary.)

* * * *

(UPDATE 3:25 pm) Manolo Quezon gives a good rundown of the presidentita's activities in the U.S., including another dinner whose details are still-to-be uncovered, but revealed (unwittingly or sadya?) by Rep. Danilo Suarez. Btw, the good congressman now claims he paid for Bobby Vans steak escapade.

Comment ko lang, ang tagal naman na afterthought nito ni Rep. Suarez. What, he just woke up yesterday morning and suddenly he remembered he paid for the meal pala? Whatta joke!

Anyhoo, Bukidnon Rep. TG Guingona reveals that the presidentita has spent close to P3B in her foreign trips. Now accdg. to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, foreign direct investments into the Philippines are down $103 million as of the first quarter of the year. So how can Malacañang justify that GMA's trips abroad are benefiting the Philippine economy?

(UPDATE) Here's a list of the presidentita's trips abroad, and how much she spent on travel expenses, as per GMA News TV's research.

August 13, 2009

One of the world's most expensive hotel suites


THE Presidential Suite at the Plaza Hotel in New York is one of them. One night's stay costs $15,000, according to the Travel Channel.

Guess who stayed there in September, 2008 while attending the United Nations General Assembly as well as various meetings with businessmen, and a women's conference w/ former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice?

The caption is supplied by the Office of the Press Secretary and available on the OPS web site. It says: "President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo confers with (L-R) Citibank CEO Bill Ferguson and Citibank Chairman Bill Rhodes who paid a courtesy call on her Monday afternoon (Sept. 22, NY time) at the President’s suite at The Plaza Hotel in New York City. The President is in New York to attend the 63rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and hold a series of meetings with world financial and political leaders. (Rey Baniquet/OPS-NIB Photo)"

Of course we don't expect the presidentita to stay at the "Y", but come now, did she have to stay at The Plaza's presidential suite? Just bec. you're a president of a country doesn't mean you have to stay in a presidential suite! Besides, isn't the gov't supposed to be cutting back on expenses bec. of its burgeoning budget deficit? (As of the first half of 2009, the budget gap has widened to P153.4 billion or $3.21 billion.)

Even Eloise, sweet child that she is, is bound to raise an eyebrow at this!

(P.S. Thank you anonymous 11: 58 pm for the correction. Actually the most expensive hotel suite appears to be the $40,000 a night Hugh Hefner Sky Villa at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas. But accdg. to several news items I've read just now, there are very few guests who actually check into these suites. The bulk of the guests in the high-end category still check into presidential suites. I suppose that could be the explanation behind Travel Channel's piece on the most expensive hotel suites in the world.)

Chillax muna!

OKAY, we're all worked up again bec. of this latest dining scandal of the presidentita. We need to relax a little before our blood pressures do us in. Thankfully, I stumbled on to this tune while listening to my favorite online lounge radio station. It's called Face of Beauty by Lovers Lane. And I just love it because there are voiceovers that mention Boracay. So I searched for it on YouTube hoping to find a video.

This is especially dedicated to my buddy, Pangs (aka Kasabad), who has been hyperventilating again over his presidentita's dining escapades, and a few other issues I am not at liberty to discuss here. So okay, altogether now...breathe in, breathe out, and click!

Btw, Lovers Lane is composed of Ansgar Üffink (aka Vargo) and Bruno Lepretre (aka DJ Bruno, official DJ of the sunset bar Café Del Mar in Ibiza). The original mix can be heard on the duo's Island Memories CD. These guys know their beaches, that's for sure.

According to nmolff, another guy who posted the same song on YouTube: "while on a gig in boracay on the phillipines, bruno recorded some natives talking on the beach and put that in the song. roughly translated, it says: 'the face of beauty appears in every step, every sunrise, every ray of sun that kisses my face.'"

(Lovers Lane is Ansgar Üffink and Bruno Lepretre. Aren't they cute? Photo from

August 12, 2009

Let them eat steak!

NOW I'm the one getting a heartburn! But can you blame me? I can't stop laughing after reading one more stupidity from this glorious administration. Check this out: Two big meals. (Repost from MLQ3 via FB)

Of course, this meal wasn't as bad as Le Cirque's ($230/pax vs $740/pax at Le Cirque is no contest), but I'm just amused how all these stories of her dining pleasures are now coming to fore. I'm guessing the Pinoys behind the counter are the ones ratting out the presidentita.

Well, she wished for the foreign media's coverage. Now she's got it.

Btw, if you can guess who the woman w/ the handbag was, maybe I'll give you a prize.

(UPDATE 7:43 pm)
Here's the same thing in the New York Post. My what a frenzy the presidentita has caused among the US media. Now they're trying to outdo each other in reporting about her eating habits. haha.

In the meantime, here's Barack Obama eating at a fast food joint again:

Now who was the idiot who said if we expected the presidentita to eat at a hot dog stand only in New York? Haller? Has this idiot ever gone to New York before this trip w/ his boss? Eating at a hot dog stand is what many New Yorkers do. Excuse me, even celebrities and VIPs do it. Go ask Mayor Bloomberg and Donald Trump, gago. Hay, que horror! The presidentita should really get a new apologist!

August 11, 2009

Jim Turner and his hobbits

I haven't been to Hobbit House in Malate in quite a while. There was a time, I would hang out there and regularly watch many up and coming musicians and bands perform. (A number of them actually have gone on to great careers.) There were nights devoted to folk music, then sometimes rock, but my favorite were the Blues night where I could watch Lampano Alley starring Binky Lampano, or the Blue Rats growl their music for a wildly cheering appreciative audience.

I dunno how many times my friends and I had to remain standing, watching the bands perform bec. there were no more seats in the house. That was how packed Hobbit House was. The foreigners especially just loved chilling out in that joint bec. of the little people who served them, and rang up their tabs.

(Jim Turner, founder of Hobbit House. Photo from the LA Times. Click here for more.)

The guy who owned the joint is a burly American named Jim Turner, a former Peace Corps volunteer who eventually settled in Manila. I would often see him at Hobbit House (or at his other bar now closed called Remembrances) drinking and chatting w/ his favorite patrons. (Trivia: one of those patrons of 'brances was the presidentita, then just a senator, who drank her scotch w/ former journalist and now RP Ambassador to Greece, Bobbi Tiglao. I shall not name the others who participated in these drinking sprees w/ these two to protect their ahem, innocence?)

Anyhoo, there's a piece in the Los Angeles Times today featuring Turner and his hobbit family. It's basically a touching story of how man can make all the difference in the lives of the disenfranchised. A bar may not be much to some people, but for the dwarfs and midgets working at Hobbit House, it is home and family.

Click here for your good news of the week.

August 10, 2009

On the DLSU-ADMU basketball game

CONGRATULATIONS to the Green Archers for putting up such a fight when all the sports analysts where clearly betting on Ateneo's Blue Eagles winning the game easily. For a team like the DLSU Green Archers with so many rookie players, their play, 3-point shots, and assists were definitely impressive. (Mejo mahina lang ang rebounds kids.)

It was a very exciting game that put me on the edge of my seat. Even towards the very end, as the game went into overtime, no one was sure anymore who would win. With the game ending at 76-72 in favor of the Blue Eagles, that was not a bad showing by the Green Archers. Not at all. And by god, that boy Joshua Webb can play! Wow, I'm sure his lolo, basketball legend Freddie Webb was so proud of Joshua's performance yesterday. Woo-hoo!

(A sea of yellow at the Araneta Coliseum, Aug. 9, 2009. Photo from BusinessMirror.)

But what I'm most proud of is seeing both teams, as well as students, alumni, and other guests, casting off their team colors for once and wearing a solid yellow in tribute to former President Corazon C. Aquino who passed away last week.

As Bro. Bernie Oca FSC told Jiggy Aquino Cruz, grandson of the late president, who was in the Araneta audience yesterday, Tita Cory was watching the game and is now watching over us. Aren't we so lucky?

(Take a look at the yellow shoe laces of Team La Salle. Aren't you just proud of these kids?! Photo by Ryan Ong. More photos of our team in the Green Archers' blog.)


The propaganda

(Rep. Romualdez w/ GMA in New York. Photo from the congressman's web site.)

DOESN'T anyone find it strange that Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, who supposedly foot the $20,000 Le Cirque tab of the presidentita and her band of loyal sipsips, is nowhere to be found? He's just keeping quiet about the whole affair, which I think is even more incriminating for the presidentita dontcha think?

(Btw, pls. be warned that the "tab" that supposedly has been posted by several bloggers and shared on Facebook is not real. The original post can be found in Manolo Quezon's blog and he clearly says there that it's a "theoretical" tab, an explanation how it could have reached $20,000. So quit posting it guys and stop spreading the disinformation.)

So, people are wondering how Romualdez could afford such a dinner. Well from what I hear, he was a banker and of course, a million pesos is just a drop in the bucket for bankers esp. if they're working for foreign institutions. And well, just read your history books and find out how the family became so wealthy. (Just for your added knowledge, Rep. Romualdez is the son of former Ambassador Benjamin 'Kokoy' Romualdez, a brother of former First Lady Imelda R. Marcos. The congressman is also the younger brother of Benjamin Philip Romualdez, chairman of Benguet Corp. who is married to the Inquirer's Sandy Prieto.)

I wonder what Rep, Romualdez's constituents now feel about him after reading that he spent $20,000 for a lavish dinner for his beloved president? You see, apart from progressive Tacloban, most of the municipalities in the congressman's first district are either 3rd class, 4th class or 5th class municipalities - meaning people there are dirt poor and don't have access to basic services. Imagine how P1 million could've helped his constituents! Tsk, tsk.

(FINAL UPDATE: The Presidentita and her loyal sipsips at dinner. Many have been asking if this is the photo of THE dinner - or dinners, as we are now hearing - at Le Cirque. I just confirmed that it is not bec. NEDA DG Ralph "Ate Vi" Recto, who is at the right of GMA, wasn't part of this last NY trip. As per a source, this is the dining room at the Townhouse, the official residence of our Philippines Permanent Rep. to the UN, Hilario Davide. This was taken sometime in Sept. 2008, when the presidentita made a speech at the UN. Rep. Romualdez is on the far left. I told my source that this room kinda reminds me of the private dining area of the Presidential Suite in Waldorf Astoria. Hmmm...)

In case Malacañang still doesn't get it (and yes, Le Cerge, we know you're just doing your job but you're really just making an A** of yourself doing so), the howls of protest from the citizenry are not about the dinner per se and who paid for it, but how the presidentita (and her loyal sipsips) can sleep soundly at night, having just eaten a costly dinner (about P950,000), when the rest of her kababayan here can't even eat one square meal a day? And pls. don't tell us Le Cerge that nobody among your crew knew how expensive dinner at Le Cirque would be - well maybe YOU don't - but that's exactly why nagkandarapa kayo sumama sa dinner na yan is bec. you know can't afford kayo!

No one is begrudging Mrs. Arroyo her good food and wine on her wedding anniversary at that, and by most accounts, Le Cirque is one of the best fine dining restaurants in New York, but yes, it is all about appearances. The leader of a third world country where most of its citizens earn less than $2 a day seen dining at an expensive restaurant just sends the wrong signals doesn't it? There she was trying to get some bit of good news for her and successful trip, hoping she gets a mention in the foreign media, but she just botches it by dining, unthinking, at Le Cirque. Even NY Post's Richard Johnson knew something was amiss in that picture. Then again, hey, at least she did get a mention in the US media. Oh aren't we all so proud of her!

(The presidentita and her minions sightseeing in LA in 2008. Is that Jaza I see on the right? My, my, we've put on the pounds haven't we? Rep. Romualdez's web site is such a treasure trove for photos documenting the presidentita's moves. We thank him from the bottom of our heart for all these photos.)

* * * *

Now I don't mean to waste your time or bore you w/ text messages. But I just wanted to let you read the kind of propaganda coming from Malacañang, especially in the light of the recent $20,000-dinner at Le Cirque. These are just examples of the kind of poor, inefficient thinking that goes on in the seat of power. And I feel insulted, because man, if this is the kind of sh** we taxpayers are paying for (to defend the presidentita's honor), then I want my money back!

From: 0935-1913-785 (Aug. 10, 5:36 pm): masyado nman sinesensionalays issue bawat galaw GMA. Ganito trabaho oposisyon. dpat linisin bakuran nyo alisin puwing mata b4 magma2linis s sambaynang pilipino



And you don't want to know what Malacañang has been saying about Sen. Noynoy Aquino during the wake of his mother. Out of respect for Tita Cory, I'm not gonna publish it, but imagine how idiotic Malacañang's propaganda machine is, its handlers won't spare anyone, even the son of the deceased president. Tsk, tsk.

Oh and maybe, someone should shut up Pampanga Rep. Mikey Arroyo, who is probably doing even worse explaining the dinner away. Loose lips sink ships.

August 09, 2009

From someone who's not a Cory fan

Let me confess right now that I was not a fan of Tita Cory. I didn’t even join the People Power Revolution in 1986, out of respect to my father who was in government then. (I did sneak out the next day to Malacañang after the Marcoses had abandoned it.) Previous to that, I didn’t vote in the snap elections that had thrust whom everyone dubbed as “just a plain housewife” into the political limelight. (Click Something Like Life for the rest.)

August 07, 2009

Tita Cory as a 'lola'

I'M SORRY, I'm crying again. I just read this an article featuring Tita Cory's grandkids sharing their wonderful memories of their Lola (grandmother). I hope Philippine Star doesn't remove this from its web site. To read stories like this about Tita Cory is such a privilege.

"I don’t know what life will bring the next few days, weeks, or years. But what I do know is that I will forever miss my lola.

I will miss everything about her. The happiness of her eight grandchildren meant everything to her and she never put herself ahead of anyone." (Click Grandchildren pay tribute to Cory.)

I just want to hug these kids. But I think they'll be okay. I know their Lola Cory will be guiding them every step of the way.

* * * *

FOR those who were also enamored with Conrado de Quiros' eulogy for Tita Cory last Aug. 4 at the Manila Cathedral, read it here. Wrote Conrad:

"I’ve seen activists who began by serving the people, or exhorting the world to, end up serving only themselves. And I’ve seen students who thought only of saving their families end up saving the world, or trying to. I’ve seen the best and the brightest turn only into the worst and greediest. And I’ve seen someone who was walang alam, or who was made out to be so, teach the world a thing or two about honor and courage and grace."

August 05, 2009

Saying goodbye to Tita Cory

(The casket of Philippines' former President Corazon C. Aquino as it passes under the Buendia/South Superhighway flyover. Screen capture from Facebook/GMA TV News' livestreaming video.)

(Tita Cory's niche at the Manila Memorial Park. At this time, 4:06 pm, the funeral cortege is still making its way through Sucat.)

(My friend Edwin's video of Tita Cory's funeral procession as it passed by Bangkal, Makati.)

(The cortege at 6: 29 pm, along Sucat Rd. near the cemetery entrance. Broadcasters note that this was the "mainit na pagpugay ng mga tiga-Parañaque" to Tita Cory.)

(The crowd along Sucat Rd., Parañaque, 7:13 pm.)

(Kris and family at the Manila Memorial Park 8:08 pm)

(Kris blessing her Mom's remains w/ holy water. 8:15 pm.)

(Flag draped on Tita Cory's casket is prepared for folding.)

(Tita Cory's coffin is placed inside the niche beside her husband's, Sen. Ninoy Aquino. At this point, the people burst into applause with many in the crowd chanting "Cory! Cory! Cory!" What a great lady she was.)

Rest in peace Tita Cory. You have fought the good fight. It's now our turn.

* * * *

Special thanks and congratulations to GMA News TV for the live streaming of Tita Cory's funeral via Facebook. What a great public service esp. to all our kababayan abroad. Iba talaga ang Kapuso. Mabuhay kayo!

GMA visits Tita Cory's wake

AS to be expected, it was a bit awkward in the beginning. Sen. Noynoy Aquino was seated about a feet away from the visiting presidentita and you could see that they were waiting for each other to say something. But eventually, I suppose they both found some safe unpolitical items to discuss, and gradually, they warmed up to each other. We'll find out later in the day for sure, what they spoke about.

I had a feeling the presidentita would go straight to the wake upon landing in Manila. It was actually the best time to go. There were not too many people outside who could possibly jeer her. But even if there were crowds, I doubt if they would've disrespected the presidentita. It's just not in our nature to be impolite.

But at least, the ordeal is over and done with, both for the Aquino and Arroyo families. Everyone appeared civil and polite. And so now...exhale...

Meantime, here's the raw footage from ABS-CBN:

(UPDATE 2:29 pm) SORRY guys, the link to ABS-CBN seems to be loopy. I'll try to get a better video for you later. Or try clicking here. Thanks!

August 04, 2009

Really tasteless, ABS-CBN

(Gabby Lopez, chairman of ABS-CBN Corp. really knows how to thank Tita Cory for returning the network and Meralco to their family. Photo from Top 100 Pinoys.)

FILIPINOS abroad were enraged this afternoon after finding out they had to whip out their credit cards to pay for The Filipino Channel's (TFC) livestreaming of the necrological services for former President Corazon C. Aquino.

So, many of them had to switch to GMA TV's livestreaming instead, that in fairness, was so overwhelmed at some points that many had to constantly refresh their connections. Thankfully, the connection held up and improved later on, w/c was very much appreciated by our kababayan abroad.

Earlier, some people already called our attention to the text game raffle by Umagang Kay Ganda, requiring the audience to give answers based on Tita Cory's wake/funeral arrangements. (Kuya Kim: Sang simbahan dinala ang labi ni Presidente Corazon Aquino?) In exchange, those who get the correct answer will get P300 worth of cellphone load.

In previous days, there were numerous complaints about Wowowee and how it's host has been conducting the show while a live feed of the wake was being shown. Honestly, I've never expected exemplary behavior from someone like Willie Revillame. And frankly, many of us know why Revillame hasn't been kicked out of the network yet, his services to Mr. Gabby Lopez being above and beyond the call of duty.

But turning Tita Cory's wake into a "text game" and making people pay for a live stream of her necro services is truly tasteless, ABS-CBN. This is how the Lopez family thanks Tita Cory and her administration for returning the network and Meralco to their family? Tsk, tsk. Barya-barya lang talaga, Gabby ano?

* * * *

PUBLIC ADVISORY (c/o GMA TV News): Updated schedule for Cory Aquino services Mla Cathedral: public viewing resumes 9pm Tues to 4am Wed, closed 4-7am Wed. Funeral Mass: 9am.

Tears for Tita Cory

I DON'T think I cried so much in one day, even for my brothers or father who have passed away. The necrological service for former President Corazon C. Aquino ("Tita Cory") was just so moving. There were so many heartfelt messages from her friends, family members and former colleagues in government, which showed just how much she was loved. How wonderful to listen to so many who have this much affection for her.

The most moving for me was I suppose, the eulogy of her PSG aide, Mel Mamaril. It was so simple, unrehearsed, and straight from the heart. He told people how much a part of the family Tita Cory made him feel. It was truly honest and touching. I hope someone is able to get a copy of his eulogy and post it on the web. (UPDATE 08/05/09 2:56 am: Click this link for Insp. Mamaril's eulogy via ABS-CBN's web site.)

In the meantime, here's the eulogy of Rep. Teddyboy Locsin, former speechwriter and an adviser of Tita Cory during her term of office. He has been one of her closest allies to the very end.

Eulogy for President Cory Aquino

Look how far we've come

BACK in 1986, housewife Corazon C. Aquino, and widow of the late senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, called for a boycott of crony companies and media like Bulletin Today to show the public's displeasure w/ the Marcos administration. Several advertisers, heeding, Tita Cory's call, even pulled out their ads from Bulletin.

This was the front page of Manila Bulletin on Aug. 2, 2009, the day after the former Philippine president died.

...and today's front page.

I think we're gonna be okay.

August 03, 2009

Tita Cory's funeral cortege

Pics from my friends in Makati:

(Photo by Tina Tubongbanua, from the offices of TV5.)

(Photo by Stanley Cris Laraño, from the corner of Paseo de Roxas and Ayala Ave.)

(Photo by Stanley Cris Laraño)

Watch the funeral cortege as it makes its way to the Manila Cathedral via live streaming through ANC or GMA News TV/Facebook.

Ituloy natin ang laban Pilipinas!

(UPDATE 5:04 pm) Screenshots from GMA News TV's live streaming video w/ Facebook. It never ceases to amaze me how far Philippine media has come in terms of technology when covering important events like these. Great job guys!

It's touching how kids, probably not even born yet during the People Power revolt in 1986, went to pay their last respects to Tita Cory.

According to Howie Severino, head of GMA News TV's online group, the network will also be live streaming Tita Cory's funeral on Wed.

August 02, 2009

August 01, 2009

The power of prayers

Like many of her media colleagues, friends and relatives, I, too, subscribed to an e-mail group that had been set up so Chet could give us almost daily updates on Margie’s condition. At times, many of us felt weepy and helpless reading Chet’s updates, especially when it seemed that Margie’s condition had taken a turn for the worst. And then, she would get better, and we would all breath a sigh of relief, thankful that the good Lord had heard our prayers. (For the rest, click Something Like Life, July 31, 2009.)

(UPDATE 1:05 pm, Aug. 1, 2009) Thank you Lord for lending us Tita Cory. She has served You well.

Read this obit by veteran journalist Seth Mydans in NYT.

Whatta joke!

RECEIVED this email from a friend who got it from actor/comedian Leo Martinez, director-general of the Film Academy of the Philippines, who wants to know how Carlo J. Caparas, king of local massacre films, made it to the National Artists Awards list.

But hey, Malacañang says Lani Mercado is super qualified to become San Miguel board director. So should we even wonder why Carlo Caparas became a National Artist?

From: Leo Martinez [mailto:******]

Where did he come from?

Some weeks back, news was rife about the National Artist Awardees awaiting confirmation by Malacañang. Cited as National Artist for Film, albeit posthumously, was Manuel Conde. We at the Film Academy of the Philippines had nominated Director Celso Ad. Castillo, but really, nobody can dispute Mr. Conde’s place in Philippine cinema’s history. We believe that even Director Castillo who is similarly deserving of the award will graciously acknowledge the greatness of the man.

Two days ago, the confirmation was finally announced and to our surprise and to the surprise of many in the film industry, the National Artist Award for Film was also conferred on Carlo Caparas. Not only that, he was bestowed the National Artist Award for Film AND Visual Arts.

So, where did he come from? Throughout the long and exacting selection process, Carlo Caparas was never ever mentioned as nominee, not for film and surely not for visual arts. All of a sudden, he is a National Artist and seemingly the most gifted of all for straddling two major art fields.

There only seems to be one answer to this mystery. Between the Awards selection panels and us, the people, the list of awardees made a stop-over in Malacañang. Someone waved the magic wand and a name appeared, a person who never went through the incisive and deliberate scrutiny that the rest of the awardees were subjected to by the Awards organizers. I believe that this is an act of blatant accommodation.

Conferring the highest award on someone who was never in the running makes a travesty of the National Artists Awards, an institution that has been looked up to, venerated even for the recognition it gives to Filipinos whose body of works or whose contribution to the Filipino people is of the highest order. We have as this year’s awardees Manuel Conde for Film and Federico Alcuaz for Visual Arts. Both are commendable, both beyond question. It has never been done before but had the Organizers wanted to give the same award to more than one person, why not consider the other most deserving nominees. Instead, and to our utter disgust, a new category was coined and the two most prestigious awards for Film and Visual Arts were conferred on Carlo Caparas.

It is a pity that the National Artist Award has been reduced to a joke.

Director General
Film Academy of the Philippines

(Photo credits: Carlo J. Caparas from PEP, Leo Martinez from FAP)