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Political Dynasties in the Philippines: In My Opinion

Next year’s Philippine midterm elections are fast approaching and it paints an all too-familiar image once again: candidates that are ei...



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About two weeks ago, I spoke to the student writers of Northern Mindanao for the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) for a journalism training workshop about opinion writing upon the invitation of the Chairperson Rommel Limjoco of MSU-IIT.
It was an enjoyable time which I considered as a matter of paying back to my fellow youth. I started my campus journalism stint in 1999 and I have to say that can very well relate to these college and high school students on the challenges of becoming a student-writer.

The seminar was well represented with delegates coming from Xavier University, Bukidnon State University, Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology, Mindanao State University – Marawi, Picardal Institute of Technology, Lanao Chung Hua School, Mindanao Sanitarium and Hospital, and Iligan Capitol College. Delegates from the MSU College of Law – Iligan Extension also attended the said event.

I was an hour-long lecture and after it, the workshop ensued. I asked them to make an impromptu essay for their workshop with the theme, “Are the Filipinos Hopeless?”. While I have to say that the theme has a hint of pessimism on it, it was my way of gauging the kind of foresight the new generation has for the country.
Below are some of the noteworthy lines written by the guilders on their impromptu opinion pieces written under time pressure:
“A man is a living paradox. I believe that there is no such thing as a purely evil or good person… With this, there is always a ray of hope in every situation that seems so dark.”

“… How to change these situations? There is still a way and that is to start changing ourselves.”

“All it needs is to open their eyes and realize that hope is right in front of them. Filipinos are not hopeless.”
- Mindanao Sanitarium and Hospital College delegates
“Filipinos are not hopeless, we have a chance to still be one of the best countries here in Asia. But to make that happen we need to have love for our country.”
- Lanao Chung Hua School student
“Filipinos” and “hopeless” are two words that just don’t go well together. We are a happy people, people who are still able to laugh, smile and make jokes out of our worst problems…”
- MSU College of Law student

… I’ve met remarkable individuals who have the passion and drive for change. But the thing is, one or [a] few people cannot change the whole country.
– Xavier University student

“So how can one say that the Filipinos are hopeless when in fact that’s not written in our vocabulary?”

“Though they [Filipinos] are suffering from poverty…still you can not see that they are losing their hopes”

“… we [the studentry] will realize our hopes by putting those thoughts into paper and transcending it beyond today’s generation.”

“I see hope within us. With unity and cooperation for all the Filipinos who still believe in change, we are still hopeful.”
- Mindanao State University – Marawi City delegates

“Filipinos are not hopeless when they take the problems as challenges, for them to become stronger…”
- Picardal Institute of Science and Technology

“As a young writer… I will do my best to [impart] good thoughts to my readers…”
- Iligan Capitol College delegate

“…coining Filipinos as hopeless people is like [judging] a book by its cover... Even Pandora treasured the last positive [trait] in her jar, and that is HOPE.”

“Filipinos strive for their own in times of difficulties. Even though how hard it is, Filipinos are very optimistic and they don’t have the ability to surrender.”

“… it [hopelessness] is a sense of surrendering to the solutions offered to us due to the fact that we expect there is no way…”

“Mythically speaking, the only positive attribute [which] came out [of] Pandora’s Box is hope… The term ‘hopeless’ for Filipinos is not fit…”
“… Didn’t he [PNoy] realize that more people [in the program] means that more people are going dependent to the government?”

“Philippines is rally sinking. And every one of us has a crucial role in saving her.”

“Our smiles… are one of the manifestations of our immeasurable hope”

I was surprised to know, upon reading their editorial pieces, that the view of the guilders are mostly positive. Despite the problems the country is constantly faceing, it sure was a breath of fresh air.

I just believe that we just have to couple this youthful optimism with the drive to do something good for the society. Guilders, mabuhay po kayo!
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Images are part of human learning. A lot of the things we know come from our sense of sight.
Whether it’s an instructional book, a textbook, or a blog, words arranged on paper look a lot more polished when they mix with pictures. Black-and-white pages are painfully shy and needs the company of vivid images.
You're right, Mr. Corleone.
I learned about photos at an early age because I grew up to our small photo studio business in South Cotabato. Back in the day, professional cameras or instamatic ones, have to be loaded with a film. And those don’t come for free. But now, anyone can take pictures from their phones at will. All you need is your set of digits to become a photographer these days.

When you look at a group photo, who would you first look for? 
Yup, yourself. 

You would then think of how you look, how you smiled, or what you wore on that picture. Certainly, taking pictures of ourselves is a telltale sign of our proclivity towards placing self-importance and narcissism. Over the years, we developed this new sense of “over-documentation” of our day-to-day activities, and day-to-day faces – through self portraits known as selfies.

We Filipinos became too acquainted and "shutter-happy". One quick look at your Facebook newsfeed and you’ll see what I mean.  As much as you wanted to only see those sensible images on the newsfeed, these “photos of self-love” are prevalent because of the ever-decreasing private space. These are the dangers of oversharing in the cyberspace.

It has been said that vanity is “the Devil's favorite sin”.  And with this, I ask:

Just how many tidbits from a vacation does a traveler need?
Who granted us the obligation of letting the world know our “outfit of the day”?
How many snapshots does a person need in a month? Or in a day?
And what causes a girl to smile with pouty lips for a series of self-portraits?

Why does this generation love self-portraits?
Well, first of all, this is due to the skyrocketing advances in technology. Now everyone can have a “Kodak moment” anytime, anywhere. Most phones have built-in cameras these days and one can have seemingly endless shoots. It’s probably just someone’s way of writing their own lifestory. And this brings us to the second point: for posterity.

Well, humans have this desire to leave legacies and memoirs. Those people who take selfies probably think for the next generation. It is for the younger generation to see what they were up to and what kept them occupied. 

But this fascination towards photo journals may have become a bit too much.  When Filipinos watch a live concert, as what a Canadian friend of mine noticed, we take pictures and videos of the performers, most of the time. We frequently do that, instead of enjoying the concert as it is. When Pinoys visit a tourist spot, it’s like forever till we finish snapping pictures of ourselves with the view at the background.

Pinoys take portraiture a notch higher. Because of the proliferation of the photo uploads for most social networking sites, it paved the way for new table manners: instead of praying before meals, people now take photos before eating. Other selfies are taken by our well-documented friends as they drank their coffee at Starbucks, posing sideways for our “better photo angle”.

Some people would even send private messages begging others to ‘like’ their newly-uploaded profile pics. And that's beside the fact that they are the first ones to like their own photo.

On a another note, imagine the dismay of a person who just realized that the person they chatted with on the net, looks way different up close and personal during meetups. No thanks to Adobe PhotoShop, everyone may now write "model" as an occupation in their "About Page". Times are really a-changing.

But I guess the worst kind of these selfies is of those 'epal' politicians who gladly greet us on their sturdy tarpaulins. This, of all, causes a personal complaint from me, and not just an annoyance. In line with the misuse of taxpayer monies, these are the kinds of selfies which get on our nerves.

This may be dark, but it sure makes us want to do a literal “point-and-shoot". 

[1] Auntie Grace is my mother. She is a photographer in South Cotabato up to this day.
The Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) is now accepting nominations for the 6th RAFI Triennial Awards for the Ramon Aboitiz Award for Exemplary Individual and the Eduardo Aboitiz Award for Outstanding Institution.

The RAFI Triennial Awards is conferred every three years to honor men, women, and organizations, who, through their efforts and selfless commitment, bring about change in the lives of the less privileged in various groups and communities in the Philippines.
The Ramon Aboitiz Award for Exemplary Individual is open to every Filipino, natural born or naturalized citizen, at least 30 years old, and of good moral character whose dedication to their profession has made significant contributions to the advancement of the well-being of fellow Filipinos.

The Eduardo Aboitiz Award for Outstanding Institution is open to all institutions or organizations. They may be government organizations, non-government organizations, civic organizations, or people’s organizations, which have been established for at least three years, with functional programs and work with other groups in bringing about comprehensive and responsible development.

The nominees should exhibit unending commitment and dedication to uplift the socio-economic condition of the poor and the marginalized sectors.

Nominees for each category will undergo an extensive screening process. The selection process starts when individuals and institutions are nominated for the RAFI Triennial Awards.
A search committee, composed of representatives from the media, academe, business groups, and people’s organizations or non-government organizations, leads the shortlisting of nominees and selection of finalists, before the RAFI Board of Trustees selects the awardees.
The RAFI Triennial Awards was launched in Dec. 6, 1996 during the 39th anniversary of the foundation to commemorate the philanthropic, humanitarian, and holistic ideals of RAFI founders Don Ramon Aboitiz and his son Don Eduardo Aboitiz.

It is one of the awards capabilities of RAFI, recognizing individuals and institutions that go the extra mile in bringing about change and in uplifting the quality of life of communities.
Winners of each award category will be given a trophy, cash prize of not less than Php 400,000, and the opportunity to travel in the Visayas and Mindanao to share their expertise and experience to various groups.

Nominations are also accepted from government agencies, non-government organizations, people’s organizations, civil society, academe, and the business sector. Self-nomination is discouraged.

Nomination forms should be submitted to: RAFI Triennial Awards Secretariat, 35 Lopez Jaena Street, Cebu City, 6000.

Online nomination forms can also be accessed through RAFI’s website at of nominations is on December 15, 2013.
For more information about the RAFI Triennial Awards, please contact (032) 418-7234 loc. 109 and look for Cathy Margate or e-mail, or visit or, or follow @rafiorgph on Twitter.

For more information, please contact:
HAIDEE EMMIE K. PALAPAR                                               DR. JOCELYN B. GERRA           
Communications Officer                                                     Chair, Call for Nominations Committee           
Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc.                                       RAFI Triennial Awards                                                                                             
Tel. (63 32) 418 7234 loc. 504                                                   Tel. (63 32) 418 7234 loc. 701     
Email:                                Email:              

 The list was compiled according to the documents accompanying whistle-blowers' affidavits as published on page 18 of the August 30,2013-issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The data was collected from 2006 to 2011.

Here are the "Top 10 Lawmakers and their Pork Barrel Exposure to Napoles Scam":

10 - Abono Party-list Rep. Robert Raymund Estrella (41 million pesos)

9 - Benguet Rep. Samuel M. Dangwa (62 million pesos)

8 - Agusan del Sur Rep. Rodolfo G. Plaza (81 million pesos)

7 - Apec Party-list Rep. Edgar L. Valdez (85 million pesos)

6 - Pangasinan Rep. Conrado M. Estrella III (97 million pesos)

5 - Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. (100 million pesos)

4 - Masbate Rep. Rizalina L. Seachon-Lanete (137.29 million pesos)

3 - Sen. Jinggoy Estrada (585 million pesos)

2 - Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile (641.55 million pesos)

1 - Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla, Jr.
(1.02 billion pesos)

Other solons included are:

  • La Union Rep. Manuel Ortega (34 million pesos)
  • Cagayan de Oro Rep. Constantino Jaraula (30 million pesos)
  • Davao del Sur Rep. Marc Douglas Cagas IV (24 million pesos)
  • South Cotabato Rep. Arthur "Dodo" Pingoy, Jr. (22 million pesos)
  • Malabon/Navotas Rep. Federico S. Sandoval II (21 million pesos)
  • Sen. Gregorio Honasan (15 million pesos)
  • La Union Rep. Victor Francisco Ortega (13 million pesos)
  • Davao del Norte Rep. Arrel Olano (12.5 million pesos)
  • Ilocos Sur Rep. Salacnib Baterina (10 million pesos)
  • Oriental Mindoro Rep. Rodolfo Valencia (7 million pesos)
  • Valenzuela Rep. Antonio Serapio (6 million pesos)
  • Zamboanga del Sur Rep. Isidro Real, Jr. (5 million pesos)
  • Muntinlupa City Rep. Rozzano Rufino Biazon (5 million pesos)
  • CIBAC Party-list Rep. Joel Villanueva (4.3 million pesos)
  • Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (3.5 million pesos)
  • Manila Rep. Ernesto Rodriguez (2 million pesos)
  • Manila Rep. Amado Bagatsing (1 million pesos)

The total amount of the pork barrel exposure to the Napoles Scam is 3.13 billion pesos.

Photo Credits:,%20Rodolfo.jpg