June 2018
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The Beautiful Philippines

Sunset Borocay White Beachholds the Miss Universe finals tomorrow, and may think it has won back the world’s good graces. Yet one of the suspects in the slaying of a Korean businessman simply slipped away and is at large now (link).

More than ever before, the Philippines exudes an air of untrustworthiness, and a lot of things come across as sleazy. It feels more like a tawdry mix of Macau and Vegas now, rather than like a respectable Southeast Asian country.

A country with a unique history, difficult as it may be. A country where, most unfortunately, the principled seem to be weak and the strong are simply ruthless. A country that works well at the level of families and villages, sometimes even cities, but never really learned to deal with larger units in a way that benefits the majority. Larger units that conquerors imposed.

A country that effectively has two systems of justice: well-paid lawyers for the rich, cramped cells and years without even a trial that gets finished for the poor. A country that has hypermodern malls and offices – and wretched drug-ridden slums.

A country that is Christian on paper, yet more often than not polygamous, and a sense of vengeance that is un-Christian. Democratic on paper, yet run mostly by a few families. With a mainly rent-seeking economy based on exploiting human and natural resources – hardly adding value to them. What a waste. Yet the world, with all its bigger issues, hardly blinks.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 29 January 2017

21 comments to The Beautiful Philippines

  • – from today’s travelling (hiking, mountaineering, ) and writing Doctor, Gideon Lasco..

    Bogotá — Colombians have a reputation for being friendly, and even before my plane touched down in Bogotá’s El Dorado airport, I was convinced of it. My seatmate, upon discovering that it would be my first time in Colombia, took it upon himself to furnish information about his country. “We have mountains, beaches, historic towns,” he began, listing the attractions of a country that is all at once Pacific and Caribbean, Andean and Amazonian.

    “A lot has changed from the 2000s. It’s now completely different,” he said, adding: “For the first time, there is a middle class. Did you know that Colombia is South America’s third largest economy?”..

    The tension between trying to move on and remembering the past is more palpable in Medellin, a charming highland city where the mere mention of the name Pablo Escobar can still offend locals. For many, he is best relegated to oblivion—not notoriety—even as some continue to view him as a Robin Hood who built football stadiums and helped the poor.

    Equally a source of discomfort is a discussion of Colombia’s recent history—and today’s divisive politics. One major point of contention is how to deal with the FARC: A referendum last year was defeated by a hair, but President Juan Manuel Santos has persisted with a fragile peace deal. Meanwhile, Alvaro Uribe, the iron-fisted ex-president, wants a tougher stance. He remains popular, and many are convinced of his view that Colombia is becoming the next Venezuela. As in the Philippines, social media is rife with fake news..

    I will leave Colombia with much fondness, and not just because of its beauty or the warmth of its people. Like my beloved Filipinas, this is a country that is misunderstood by the outside world, and one that has been forced into a history not of its choosing. But somehow, it is pulling itself through, which gives me hope that we, too—despite our many contradictions and flaws—can overcome the struggles in our side of the Pacific.

    As I learned in my trip, we are only an ocean apart.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico

      Promoting Philippines as host to Miss Universe is giving idea to Filipinos that to be beautiful one of the upmost criteria is to be white.

      On the other hand it is good Philippines host all miss beauty contests yearly …. so the street children can expreience what it is like to stay in air-conditioned hotels with three square meals a day …. shower all day … with perfumed soap …….

      2ndly, it keeps Philippines clean …. clean streets … no gridlocked traffic …. no street children ….. no gross corruption news ….

      3rdly, it prmotes thriving burgeoning skin whitening industry …..

      • karlgarcia

        Now, it is confirmed that there will no hosting of the Miss Universe pageant in the Philippines.

        • Mariano Renato Pacifico

          1. Metro Manila will always be clean …
          2. Smoother traffic …
          3. No street children …
          4. No gawking hawkers …
          5. Homeless will spend one week in environmentally controlled hotels with three square meals a day …

          1. Filipinos wanted to be like contestants of Miss Universe, white and fairy …
          2. Skin Whitening lotion sales spikes …
          3. Filipinos will hate their looks in comparison to the contestants …
          4. Filipinos will hate their skin color more …
          5. Filipinos will be more less patriotic because they do not want to be identified as Filipinos
          6. Filipinos will be more less nationalistic …
          7. Men will look for foreigners partners which unfortunately Filipino men are not in demand only Filipino women, sorry guys.
          8. The cost of hosting is rediculously expensive for just promoting that white fairy skins is better than Filipino brown skin
          9. It attracts ISIS and Mautes to hold these prettifuls hostage

  • karlgarcia

    Tourism branding must be used wisely, not wastefully

    Manny V. Ilagan
    Tourism is big business. The tourist market is getting broader, changing and becoming more competitive. Understandably, nations and cities are constantly battling for their share of the huge tourism revenues to sustain the viability of attractions that bring in tourists and travelers – whether they are pristine beaches, ancient monuments, or natural wonders. To attract more tourists, destinations strive to outdo one another in trying to be different through destination branding.

    In today’s competitive tourism industry, a country must stand out to draw the attention and interest of tourists. It must be distinctive and unique. Thus branding is seen as a major factor in gaining attention and motivating tourists to visit a place. However, it must be used wisely.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico

      Here are my issues with Philippine Tourism
      1. Their tourist destination are fakes …
      2. Fake lumber fences … made of concrete
      3. The sayaw-sayaw sa kadalanan and dancing on the street are all over towns and cities … BORING
      4. I hate foreigners riding in air-conditioned tourist buses oogling, pointing, laughing and snapping pictures at sweaty Filipinos waiting for their rides along hot humid EDSA like animals in African Safari adventure…
      5. I do not like to see my brown compatriots running up to tourists selling their wares begging cajoling pleading … “please, please, please buy my seashell necklace my sister is sick”
      6. Hotels cuisine are not Filipino cuisine …. they are cuisine from a foreign land because hoteliers know tourists would rather eat Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese and Korean cuisine than Filipino cuisine.

  • karlgarcia

    With the intervention of cultural activists, DPWH sec stopped the demoltion of ancient bridge.

    • sonny

      Kudos to Mark Villar for this history conservation initiative. This move could be the needed reminder for preserving the Philippine Camino Real that was the start of the unification of our country. The settlements followed by the Spanish from Sorsogon (Bicol to Manila, sea & land) and on to Central & Northern Luzon have their own stories still to be told. Just a thought – Sen Saguisag is now a most capable senior Citizen as is Buddy Gomez III. These two have memory banks

    • sonny

      Kudos to Mark Villar for this initiative of history preservation. This will be a big step as reminder to preserve the stories of the settlements that lay along the path of the Philippine Camino Real: starting from Sorsogon (Bicol & Tagalog regions) to Manila and on to Central and Northern Luzon. This was the start of the physical unification of what was to be our country. The stories of the settlements/towns along the Camino are still to be discovered and told.

      The links found by you and Irineo are so on track regarding this national narrative. Reminds me, Sen Saguisag and Buddy Gomez III have memories about this narrative as do many others who are still alive.


        ..Mayor Abby Binay was silent as to what the 347th Foundation was all about and what from. Well, it is the year 1670 when San Pedro Makati became a “parish- municipio” on its own, separated from the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the ancient Santa Ana, then known as Lamayanor Namayan. Then, the Makati ‘poblacion’ abutted a Jesuit-owned estate, an hacienda later to be noted for growing nothing more than horse feed…

        The whole terrain was first privately possessed, by way of an ‘encomienda,’ a Spanish royal land grant in the late 1500s. Original owners Captain Pedro de Brito and wife Ana were childless. In 1608, the property was bequeathed to the Jesuits along with some material wealth. As a consequence of the 1768 expulsion of the Jesuits from all of the Spanish realm, the property was repossessed by government and subsequently auctioned off. Two other previous owners had taken possession until it was sold to Jose Bonifacio Roxas in 1851 (one of children of Don Domingo Roxas, born in what is Taguig today and founder of Casa Roxas, 1834, from which Ayala y Compania is directly descended).

        It is from this ownership that today’s Makati can be directly traced, the ownership of which has remained within the same clan since.

        Jose Bonifacio Roxas is a brother of the legendary Dona Margarita Roxas de Ayala (pioneering businesswoman, benefactress of charities; her husband was Antonio de Ayala, a bookkeeper, a nephew of Manila Archbishop Jose Ma. Segui, 1830s). Jose Bonifacio wed a Juana Lim de Castro, their son Don Pedro Pablo Roxas married a first cousin, Carmen de Ayala, a daughter of Dona Margarita Roxas de Ayala. A daughter of Pedro and Carmen, Consuelo Roxas y Ayala, in turn married another cousin, a grandson of Dona Margarita through the marriage her other daughter, Trinidad, to Jacobo Zobel Zangroniz. A son of this union was Enrique Zobel de Ayala who married Consuelo Roxas y Ayala, daughter of Pedro Pablo Roxas and Carmen de Ayala, as mentioned earlier.

        Did I lose you somewhere? Then, please read again. Paper and pencil would help. The Ayala story is fascinating!

        The ownership of Hacienda San Pedro Makati was an inheritance of Consuelo Roxas (from her father Pedro Pablo Roxas, inheriting the spread earlier from his father, Jose Bonifacio Roxas), which she brought into the marital union with second cousin Enrique Zobel de Ayala. After Consuelo passed away, her three children Jacobo Zobel (father of Enrique Zobel); Alfonso Zobel de Ayala (father of Jaime Zobel de Ayala and grandfather of today’s Ayala prinicipals Jaime Augusto and Fernando), Mercedes Zobel de McMicking (childless) and widower Enrique Zobel de Ayala inherited the Makati hacienda.

        The second wife of Enrique Zobel de Ayala, Dona Fermina Montojo de Zobel (mother of the late artist Fernando, Gloria Z. Padilla and Consuelo Z. Alger. Dona Fermina was the niece of the bachelor Admiral Patricio Montojo whose fleet was sank by Dewey on May 1, 1898, our history books, remember?) inherited a fourth of the estate, after the demise of Enrique Zobel de Ayala in 1943. Dona Fermina’s share was subsequently taken over by her aforementioned three children.

        Thus, in its pre-development stage, immediately after World War II, Hacienda San Pedro Makati, property of Ayala y Compania, (predecessor of Ayala Corporation) had four owner-partners, each with equal share: Jacobo Zobel, Alfonso Zobel de Ayala, Mercedes Zobel McMicking, and Fermina Montojo de Zobel de Ayala..


          Ben Diokno and Mark Villar, secretaries of Budget and of Public Works and Highways, respectively, propose to upstage Simon and Garfunkel! Remember “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” their 1970s-era song hit?

          Our ‘Dutertenomics’ duo want to build “Troubled Bridges Over Water!” In fact, as their February presscon announced, thirteen more bridges over the Pasig!

          Of course, this is all part and parcel of the much ballyhooed increase in infrastructure spending and/or investments as a share in the Gross National Product. From something like 5% to something like 7%. The essence of Dutertenomics is to jump start the economy, (very much of which with borrowed Chinese monies at higher rates of interest, mind you) as though the Philippine economy is immovably stalled! A national spending scheme that is also intended to show up the previous administration, prime the pump, stimulate (not as in tickle much less as in tease!) the economy. And create new wealth and enhance employment, all in one stroke of self-adulating ingenuity. Not incidentally, of course, Dutertenomics is also to comply with the campaign promise to conquer Metro Manila’s monstrous malaise!

          Or, are the government’s dream projects added artifices to augment and expedite foreign funded loans the needs and uses for which have not really been ‘democratically’ validated? Pursuit regardless of whether the projects are sensibly needed and utile?
          A seeming quandary, then? Personally, I find it perplexing because ultimately our children and their children’s children are to bear the burden of repayment. We have experienced this pain before, have we not? Are we then a citizenry of unrepentant masochists?

          Please do not get me wrong. There is a need for additional bridges over the Pasig. But thirteen? And for that matter, even for sections along the Marikina River. It being the Duterte administration, it is my sincere wish that President Duterte is indeed able to bring about succor to Metro Manila..

          We begin by doing the numbers. Between the east and west mouths of Laguna Lake and Manila Bay, Pasig River snakes along a length of 27 kilometers, plus or minus. Now, mark this. Already there are sixteen crossings spanning Pasig River. 13 roadways and 3 railways. Add another 13 and we shall have 29.

          WOW! Our longest ‘national septic tank’ will become the world’s most bridged-over river, kilometer per kilometer!

          That is one bridge for every distance of less than a thousand meters! For short-legged Filipinos, that is most probably 1,500 paces in between bridges!

          In a sincere desire to augment the country’s infrastructure investments and the challenging commitment to solve Metro Manila’s horrendous vehicular traffic, I am almost certain that this ‘little’ detail did not escape the deliberative considerations of bureaucratic geniuses like Messrs. Diokno and Villar. Do you think the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) may have been likewise involved in this momentous reckoning?

          I am also almost confident that our duo have thoroughly studied and are therefore fully informed of the sine qua non right of way components to bridge construction. Approaches from both ends, you know. Otherwise, what is the bridge for, in the first place. I speak of the availability and the uncalculated costs of the real estate that will be displaced to make room for those approaches and new roadways. There is some subtle under-the-table rhythm to the process of right-of-way acquisitions, I have been told..

  • karlgarcia

    I don’t know if this is the proper blog to insert this.
    With the photobombing of Luneta, demolition of old beautiful builfings, some bridges almost demolished due to infra development; let us remember the beautiful buildings that are gone.

    • sonny

      Neph, being born in the middle of WW2 Japanese occupation positioned my growing-up years surrounded by the rich visuals of Manila written about by the article. An active imagination was all one needed to travel to world sights hinted to by our old capital city. The names & sights, oh the names & sights of those years … (You and Irineo are so on track keeping this history narrative of our country alive for the coming generations.)

  • – Gideon Lasco:

    “Like us Filipinos, they are warm-hearted and cheerful; their resilience is fortified by strong family ties. But when I see the logos of telcos (i.e., Tigo) and sodas (i.e., Pepsi and Coca-Cola) dominating the streets—even as many people live on less than a dollar a day—I cannot help but reflect on the enduring inequities, both here and at home, that make clear that the struggles of Simon Bolivar and Jose Rizal remain unfinished.

    “I hope we find a way to rediscover our Latin American connection. This part of the world is beautiful, and the music, like the people, is upbeat and hopeful. We may not need each other’s rice and bananas, but we can trade something more valuable: friendship and solidarity borne out of our shared past, conflicted present, and hopefully, a closer future.”

    Back in Latin America, these same thoughts – penned last year in Nicaragua – resurface, but I am learning a whole lot more here in Colombia and will write about my experiences soon.

    • – Miguel Syjuco (from 2015)..

      Every nation has its unfair share of dickheads, douchebags, dingleberries and degenerates. But my country, the Philippines, bests most in democratic tomfoolery. My entire life, a panoply of perfidious politicians has reigned, inheriting or bequeathing unchallengeable dynasties. Congress, Senate, governorships, mayoralties and even the presidency are but a game of musical chairs (which function, yes, like thrones)…

      Such is the evidence that the separation of powers remains a quaint myth. Party lines aren’t drawn from ideology but from personality and political expediency. Checks and balances just aren’t sympatico with bank cheques and account balances. The system is geared accordingly. The president alone has the power to appoint hundreds of prominent officials, including judges, chiefs of departments and bureaus, heads of task forces and the mid- to top-level brass of the armed forces. The ability of the president’s anointed ones to appoint others extends our commander-in-chief ’s influence into many thousands of key positions…

      Why would anyone in power seek to change what clearly works for them? That is why our dynasties put the 1980s soap opera to shame: clans control cities, districts, entire regions. They seem to be familial fiefdoms because they are.

      To this asks the regular Filipino – a decent citizen, a reasonably informed voter, patriotic in her or his quiet way – what can we do? What is left to be done but poke our fingers into the newspaper and shake our heads and curse the terrible kleptocrats who won’t bugger off?

      Take, for instance, Imelda Marcos: she of the famous shoes, the former first lady to the late strongman responsible for thousands of extrajudicial killings, billions plundered from government coffers and the country’s economic demise during their twenty-one-year conjugal dictatorship. After opposition leader Benigno Aquino, Jr was assassinated, the Marcoses were ousted in the famous People Power Revolution of 1986, fleeing in distress and disgrace. Yet Imelda returned after a few years, was elected a governor and is now on her third term as a congresswoman. This, despite billions of pesos stolen, with much still missing, and a graft conviction demanding ten years in jail, which she managed somehow to dodge. Imelda’s daughter was also in Congress and is now governor of her father’s home province. Imelda’s son, Bongbong, took his turn as governor and congressman and is currently a top senator with promising presidential aspirations for next year’s election – despite recent revelations that he lied about receiving degrees from Oxford and Wharton.

      What can we do?

      • Mariano Renato Pacifico

        Miguel Syjuco is barking at Filipinos. Syjuco is wrong! It is not the fault of the “dynasties. Congress, Senate, governorships, mayoralties and even the presidency”. It is the fault of electorates …

        … but … who informs the electorates? Of course, The U.P.-journalism Graduates !!! Either the U.P.-Journalism graduates are not doing their homeowrk like U.S. journalists do, Or, they are just absolutely undeniably degenerate and stupids.

        I do not know the Binays. I voted for them based on newspapers accounts. I do not know Gloria Arroyo. I voted them because of glowing promotion by journalists and columnists. If these dingdongs and wackos who write good English had concentrated in digging up the candidates past … if these degenerate journalists did their candidate research like they do in checking and vetting their English grammar in every article they spew ….. The Filipinos would have known who these people are.

        Miguel Syjuco is barking at the wrong tree. He should be barking at his fellow U.P. journalists.

  • karlgarcia

    “A country that has hypermodern malls and offices – and wretched drug-ridden slums.”

    Sooner or later our way to escape the heat through artificial cooling maybe gone.

    “Retailers are bracing for a fresh wave of store closures at the start of the new year. 
    The industry is heading into 2017 with a glut of store space as shopping continues to shift online and foot traffic to malls declines, according to analysts.
    “I f you are weaker player, it’s going to be a very tough 2017 for you, ” said RJ Hottovy, a consumer equity strategist for Morningstar. 
    He said he’s expecting a number of retailers to file for bankruptcy next year, in addition to mass store closures.
    Nearly every major department store, including Macy’s, Kohl’s, Walmart, and Sears, have collectively closed hundreds of stores over the last couple years to try and stem losses from unprofitable stores and the rise of ecommerce. ”

    But SM is not worried.

    THE Philippines’ biggest retail property developer is not at all bothered by the emergent e-commerce, not even considering the latter as a latent competitor but more as a shot in the arm.
    “I am very bullish about that—I mean, SM’s commercial buildings and shopping centers,” SM Prime Holdings Inc. President Hans Sy told reporters Tuesday on a sidelines of the SM Group of Companies’ turnover of a P400-million building to the new University of the Philippines campus in the uptown Bonifacio Global City.

    SM Prime Holdings is the SM Group’s property arm, the biggest integrated property developer now in the Philippines, and the builder of about a hundred malls and shopping centers all over the Philippines.
    Sy said the SM Group had anticipated the growth of e-commerce, noting that more shops have been going online.
    In response, SM rebranded its ubiquitous SM Department Stores into SM Stores, to make its brick-and-mortar business more lifestyle-oriented, given the emergence of the now influential millennial market.
    Sy said such rebranding strategy would attract consumers to visit the malls instead of shopping online.
    “Even if there’s e-commerce, you cannot see people just staying in the house, so they definitely gotta do something and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Sy said.
    He cited the current transformation of the SM Mall of Asia as an example of the firm’s lifestyle mall initiative.
    “We are going to introduce a lot of lifestyle features,” Sy said.
    He clarified that the firm does not see e-commerce as a threat to its retail business.
    “No, we don’t look at it as a threat,” he stressed. “When we see these things, we look at it as a challenge and we find means and ways to go around the challenges. We do not let it top us or slow us down. We have to evolve into these things. That’s the reality.”

    As to the hypermodern offices, I posted this here before. Here is my entire comment.

    “A country with more than 10% of its people working abroad. A country that is home to a lot of business process outsourcing….”
    If we don’t watch it , with the deportation of Mexican-Americans who lived in the US for decades might wipe out Philippine BPOs in no time.
    THE business process outsourcing industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. Call center agents speak fluent, neutral-accented English. BPO employees are paid less than their US counterparts. Dollar earnings rival that of remittances. Citizens of this country top the list of source countries for immigrants and visitors.
No, we are not referring to the Philippines but Mexico.
    Of the 1.4 million people returning to Mexico for the five-year period (2005 to 2010), a critical sector is that of those who were deported: teens and working- age youths and workers who have lived most of their lives in the United States, have a good command of the English language, know America by the palm of their hands and maintain family, community and personal ties through social media and web-based calls through Viber, Skype, WhatsApp and FaceTime.”

    I do not have to find links for the wretched drug infested slums, because they are everywhere.

    Soon, what we see as a competitive advantage like malls and BPOs would be a uncompetitive disadvantage.

    Unless we make discarte.

  • Mariano Renato Pacifico


    ANSWER: The Church. CBCP. And, those pseudo-intellectuals
    HOW: By prayers ! 24/7/365

    Regardless, physically, geographically Philippines is a beautiful place. Batanes Group of Islands is still off the beaten path even Filipinos are afraid to go see the sights of these islets Itbayat is closer to Taiwan than Philippines because of huge waves.

    If Filipinos are afraid of waves how are they going to retake Spratley Islands which is closer to Vietnam than China? How are Filipinos going to develop these group of islands a small ripple of waves makes these Filipinos seasick and throw up.

    Filipinos should give up Spratleys. Their claim to these islets is more of honor and principle of it.

    • They say that in rough seas, the captains easily can find out who is Visayan.

      Visayans have fun when the waves are high, others are scared I read somewhere.

      Visayan pirates sometimes even raided Southern China in the days before Magellan.

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