I realized that the internet is an extremely vast universe where everyone can create a comfortable niche for himself. Many netizens are brilliant enough to write highly informative and helpful articles, and generous enough to share those articles with others. Thus, the advent of blogging.
I, myself, love reading and learning from blog posts. It’s reassuring to know that my plight is not unique – that there are others out there who also go through what I am going through on a daily basis. And since I am fairly good at writing and can come up with decent articles, I decided to put this up. My very own blog. Yay, finally!
In this little corner of the Blogosphere, you will meet a mother who loves sharing with everyone who would care to read all her random musings, dignified rantings, profound thoughts about family, love, parenthood, home and life, personal advocacies, dreams and experiences, observations, opinions and impressions, everyday exploits, confessions, and innermost desires. I would also like to connect with all of you so do not hesitate to leave me a message (I am an active Facebooker, and as soon as I get the hang of all these, I will also be a familiar face and voice in Instagram and Twitter!) or a comment at the end of my every blog entry.
(Note: The header image is owned by David Kracov, an American painter, animator and sculpturist.)
Christmas can be tough when you’re single. After all, it is the season of joy, generosity, and, of course, love. You probably just attended a party or a family reunion over the Christmas break, where you inevitably experienced some awkward moments with all the innocent yet incessant teasing, insensitive remarks, and downright offensive comments about your relationship status –or lack thereof.
“Another cold Christmas for you? That’s too bad.”
“You look attractive enough. I don’t understand why you can’t find a man to marry you.”
“Don’t worry. I’m sure the perfect man is right around the corner.”
“Maybe you should lower your standards.”
“Your biological clock is ticking. Your career won’t keep you warm on cold nights, you know. Neither will it keep you company when you grow old and gray.”
“Your father and I are already old. When are you going to give us grandchildren?”
All the single men and women I know are eerily familiar with these thinly veiled criticisms, and all too often, these never fail to annoy and exasperate them.
That, however, is not the case with Techie Buenaventura.
Yes, Techie is no stranger to that entire affair. But, unlike when she was younger, she no longer allows herself get affected. With age and stature comes self-confidence, I suppose, and as a 43-year-old bank executive, she is assured of her place in the sun. Nothing much can ruffle her feathers.
Techie spends her workdays attending meetings and conferences, conducting client calls, and ensuring the smooth operation of the bank branches she handles. Her spare time, on the other hand, is devoted to bonding with her family, going out with friends, mountain climbing or wakeboarding with her more adventurous colleagues, or exploring new destinations with her travel buddies. Her Christian duties usually occupy her Sundays as she serves as a lector-commentator in their parish church. She also lends support to community-based missions and other worthy causes. In short, she is having the time of her life! Thus, she is completely immune to other people’s reactions of regret, disappointment, or pity that she gets when they learn that she is still single.
Like Techie, many of today’s women (and men), especially millennials, decide to put off marriage or not get married at all for various reasons.
A great majority consider themselves too ambitious and career-driven to ever contemplate marriage. Some have already been married once in their lives but, due to different circumstances, now live in solitude. Others, who are in “complicated” relationships, cannot marry because of legal, religious or cultural considerations and impediments. An increasing number are in happy, long-term relationships yet rather opt to live with their partners without the benefit of either a marriage contract or the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. And, still, there is a handful who have never been in a serious, committed relationship since, well, time immemorial because they are either pining for their “one that got away” or still waiting for their “Mr. Right.”
The world used to adhere to the feudal view that the women’s rightful place is at home – that while men are busy working outside to support the family financially, women should spend their days (and nights!) painstakingly tending to their brood. The world, however, has changed tremendously over time – and with it, our collective belief of women’s role both in the family and in society.
I, for one, have come to realize that marriage is not the be-all-end-all for everyone. Women should have the freedom to choose their own path and the equal opportunities afforded to men to pursue their dreams. In fact, I have a lot of contemporaries, mostly friends and acquaintances from college, who have remained single to this day, and contentedly so. It is actually these single men and women who seem to have acquired total control of their lives.
They can pursue their dreams and further their careers with an enviable ferociousness and singlemindedness that married people like me, with our tons of extra baggage, cannot afford to do. Time is a commodity that they can avail and dispose of on a whim. They can socialize with friends, pay relatives frequent visits, explore new hobbies, travel to any place that strikes their fancy – all without the need to secure someone else’s approval or permission. They have gained adequate financial independence that allows them to spend on things that could make any girl’s heart sing. They have the freedom to go out with different guys and have noncommittal fun, guilt-free. They look a lot younger than people their age who are perennially burdened with issues about their flailing careers AND inadequate finances, less-than-perfect marriages, nonexistent time for themselves, strained relationship with their in-laws, and/or a whole slew of worries and concerns with regard to the kids. They don’t need to constantly compromise with someone whose set of needs, wants, beliefs or habits may be totally conflicting with their own. Also, with today’s dismal and staggering rate of marital separations all over the world, this growing bunch is spared from the potential of becoming just another statistic. And if they are observant enough, they could learn many lessons just by watching other people’s lives unfolding before them. Valuable, free, painless lessons.
These “men/women of the world” are invariably oozing with boundless confidence. They are used to wielding power, authority and influence. They are comfortable in their own skin. They have no qualms using whatever is at their disposal to get what they want and, believe me, they do know what they want. And they never fail to command rapt attention and admiration from the people around them.
So, the next time people ask why you’re still single, or treat you condescendingly, just because you decide not to settle down – just yet or permanently –, say “I’m fabulous and I haven’t found anyone equally as fabulous, that’s why!”
When people ask what my occupation is and I tell them that I am a housewife/homemaker/stay-at-home mom (SAHM), the first reaction I normally elicit is that of disbelief.
“Really?” “Are you serious?” “Weeeh, you’re just pulling my leg.”
And when I eventually manage to convince them that I am indeed a housewife, the next reaction would be a look of either disappointment, pity, or disinterest.
Without uttering a single word or making a single sound, they are able to convey their message quite loudly and clearly – “Oh. So you’re just a housewife. A plain housewife.”
Every time something like that happens, I always feel my teeth unconsciously grit – not just because these people seem to find immense pleasure in belittling others to make themselves feel bigger than they actually are, but because there was a time in my life when I would let myself get affected by their not-too-subtle insult.
Yes, years ago, when every minute of my existence was dedicated to raising my three little kids, such jabs could actually reduce me to an emotional wreck. I would be inclined to retreat to the nearest corner to sulk and wallow in self-pity.
What further aggravated my situation then was the feeling of isolation that used to grip me.
You see, it was during my children’s formative years that my husband was just starting his career in the cutthroat pharmaceutical industry. Understandably, he was consumed by a need to prove himself to his work colleagues and superiors with the ultimate goal of advancing his career. I knew that all his efforts and his passion for his work were for our family and our family’s future, but that knowledge did not diminish the feelings of wretchedness and insecurity that frequently assailed me and whose clutches I could not seem to escape.
Living in a city where I did not know a single soul and with nary a moment to spare to make someone’s acquaintance, I was prone to bottling all of my emotions and sentiments inside. And as I was too busy to indulge in old hobbies or to pursue new ones, I had no outlet to release my pent-up frustrations.
I became somewhat of a recluse.
As a consequence, I constantly felt alone, lonely, useless, unappreciated, embittered, resentful. I was stagnating mentally, languishing emotionally and deteriorating socially. When I would look at myself in the mirror, I could no longer see the independent, self-confident, active and empowered woman that I used to be. What I would see was a stranger who hated the hand she was dealt. A stranger who loathed everything about her situation. A stranger who despised even herself.
Eventually, I succumbed to depression.
I was in a really, really dark place then.
It was a long, slow and arduous journey to get out of that rut and to reclaim the old me. But once I decided that I had had enough, I worked hard to turn my life around.
I knew that nobody else could possibly do it for me –the change had to start from deep within me. I was just grateful that the people who genuinely loved and cared for me did not give up on me. They stayed with me and helped me get out of the hole I dug for myself.
Today, I hope and pray that no stay-at-home moms (or even dads, for that matter) are going through or have to go through something like that. Nobody deserves to feel like s#!t about himself/herself.
So, for all the SAHMs out there, here are some pieces of advice from someone who wished that she had received the same when she needed them the most.
First, know your value. You may be economically dependent on your husband, but that should not relegate you to an inferior position within your home. You should be your husband’s equal partner in everything that involves your family — the ownership, acquisition, management, administration, enjoyment, and disposition of a property; the exercise of parental authority; the making of pertinent choices and decisions; the setting of goals; the determination of various rights, opportunities and responsibilities (including child care and household chores); etc. You have your voice. Use it.
Spouses who are equal partners “enjoy more stability in their marriage and experience less conflict, less dependency, and less resentment.”
Be proud. You may not be rewarded for having successfully climbed a career ladder, but your contribution to the community and humanity is immeasurable. You are raising, guiding and molding your children to achieve their highest potential so as to be wonderful, fearless, compassionate individuals and productive members of society. To accomplish such a tall task, you do not simply perform the duties of a mother. You morph yourself into an educator, an advisor, a referee, a juror, a juggler, a healer, a leader, a friend, a diplomat, an organizer, a cheerleader, a pep-talk provider, a magician – virtually anything that your children need you to be! Only someone special could pull that off!
Take pleasure, take pride, and celebrate those accomplishments.
Love yourself. You have to wake up very early in the mornings and have to stay up late at nights. You are on call 24/7. No vacations, no days off, no sick leaves, and no paycheck. To avoid burnout or to blow off some steam, you need to pamper yourself once in a while. Go to the nearest salon for a new ‘do and a much-needed mani/pedi. Have a relaxing massage. Go see a movie with friends or have chats with them over cups of coffee and your favorite pastries. Run to the mall and shop for bags, shoes and clothes. Head to the gym and do yoga or Zumba or boxing. Read. Bake. Take a trip.
You cannot genuinely love anyone if you are incapable of loving yourself.
Finally, do not let anyone pull you down! Remember, you are not just a housewife. Or just a homemaker. Or just a stay-at-home mom.
If you think that animals are only found in the wild, in the zoo or in our homes, you are terribly mistaken. The hallowed halls of our government offices are actually teeming with them!
Opportunistic Vultures – are unscrupulous birds of prey. Though they primarily scavenge for dead animals that they can eat, vultures also feed on defenseless animals like newborns and the wounded. They habitually gorge themselves, sometimes to the point of having difficulty flying immediately after a meal.
Vulture-like people are always on the lookout for opportunities to make money. They hate to work, preferring to shadow other aggressive characters until opportunities arise. They circle these situations with infinite patience and have an uncanny ability to determine when the moment is ripe. Only when assured of a reward will they swoop in and take control. They can be extremely possessive with their prize and will defend it against all intruders. However, vultures won’t risk injury, and they take flight when the situation becomes volatile. They have a reputation as creatures that swoop in, take what they need, and disappear. Their loyalty is only binding for as long as their partner is actively contributing to their wellbeing.
Businesspeople who get into politics to enrich themselves more are the vultures in government.
Greedy Crocs – the ultimate predators, crocodiles have powerful appetites. They attack without subtlety or intelligence, using any weapon at their disposal. They think nothing of using dirty tricks to gain an advantage and have little sense of honor. Their mating style is cold-blooded and mechanical, for crocs prefer to devour their conquests whole.
Known for their ruthlessness, crocs have little conscience, compassion, or guiding philosophy save that of survival and self-interest. They are tough, street-smart and conceited. Beware the crocodile’s tears, because although they may run freely, they do not run deep.
DOJ Sec. Vitaliano Aguirre, particularly during the height of the P50-million BI bribery/extortion scandal and the house probe against Sen. De Lima, is the perfect example of a croc in government.
Wolves in sheeps’ clothing – cunning, duplicitous, ferocious and intimidating, cruelty is the wolves’ most defining characteristic. Often, they simply kill as much prey as is possible, regardless of hunger and appetite. Although savage and bloodthirsty, wolves are among some of the world’s smartest and most perceptive mammals.
A wolf in a sheep’s clothing is a person with a pleasant and friendly enough appearance that hides the fact that he is basically evil. He is intensely ambitious, aggressive, bloodthirsty and vicious, is notoriously loyal to his pack, works within a social environment, and is a highly territorial predator.
PNP Chief Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, especially when he turns on the waterworks during senate hearings, reminds me of a wolf in a sheep’s clothing.
Male Chauvinist Pigs – men, especially men with some power, who think that women are inferior or lesser than they are, and who express that opinion freely in both word and action. However, contrary to popular belief, one of the distinct characteristics of pigs is their cleanliness. It is, therefore, an insult to these social and intelligent farm animals to be used to refer to lowly chauvinists.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, who unabashedly flaunts his mistresses and slut-shamed Sen. De Lima during the House probe on the latter’s alleged involvement in the drug trade in Bilibid, is the epitome of what a male chauvinist pig is. There are many others in government who are just like Alvarez, though. In fact, the President could give him a run for his money.
Crafty Chameleons – are best known for their distinct abilities to change colors easily and to look in two directions at once. A person who often changes his beliefs or behavior in order to please others or to succeed is referred to as a chameleon. In the government, political chameleons abound. They are the people who habitually conform to avoid discomfort. Senators Grace Poe and Chiz Escudero could be considered political chameleons.
Political Butterflies – are politicians who flit and float from one political party to the other, “driven by the politics of convenience and personal interest.”
Sen. Manny Pacquiao holds the record of being a world boxing champion in eight (8) weight divisions, while as a politician, he has changed political parties for seven (7) times already since he entered politics in 2007 —from Liberal Party to KAMPI to People’s Champ Movement to Nacionalista Party to PDP-Laban to UNA and, now, to PDP-Laban again. Whew!
Rats abandoning a sinking ship – are people who desert something or someone that is failing or about to fail. They do it with great haste and having only personal well-being in mind. In the recent history of the Philippine politics, these unfaithful, selfish and disloyal “public servants” are best exemplified by the honorable men and women who quit their allegiance to the Liberal Party when its presidential standard-bearer, Mar Roxas, lost to Duterte in 2016. Those rats are now affiliated with PDP-Laban, Duterte’s political party.
Parasitic Leeches – are boneless worms with two suckers (each on both ends of their bodies) that suck the blood out of their unsuspecting victims. They have huge appetites. They can ingest amount of blood that is five times bigger than their own weight. Leeches will detach from their victim only once they are full.
Most, if not all, politicians are leeches. They refuse to leave “public service” as long as there is still money in the public coffers that they can pocket. Their ultimate goal is to bleed their constituents dry through kickbacks and other personal moneymaking schemes. They consider their government positions as their cash cows.
Politicians who build political dynasties are parasitic leeches. Among them are the Ejercito-Estradas in San Juan, the Binays in Makati, the Cojuangcos in Tarlac, the Marcoses in Ilocos Norte, the Revillas in Cavite, the Singsons in Ilocos Sur, the Dutertes in Davao City, and the Ampatuans in Maguindanao.
Ass-licking Dogs – are persons who flatter and serve obsequiously to gain favor from somebody in authority. They will stop at nothing to impress that somebody, even if they end up looking like a fool.
Since Duterte is notorious for appointing his campaign supporters to various government posts regardless of a lack of necessary credentials and experience, his minions are now scrambling and elbowing their way to get to the good side of the President. The vicious and fake news-propagating DDS bloggers (and yes, Sen. Dick Gordon, too!) immediately come to mind when talking about ass-licking dogs.
Brainless Jellyfish – are distinct creatures because they are also bloodless, spineless, heartless, and their body has no left and right side. They are made up of 95%-98% water, and are extremely venomous. If you dare touch it, you can be in big trouble.
Sen. Tito Sotto can be considered a brainless jellyfish. Who could ever forget his brilliant answer when he was confronted about his privilege speech that was copied from at least five online sources? “There is nothing wrong with copying. Even our image was copied from God. We are all plagiarists.” The brainlessness of our honorable House Speaker, Congressman Pantaleon Alvarez, was likewise brought to our attention when he was aptly called an “imbecile” by the chief of staff of former BOC Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon.
Duplicitous Snakes – the symbol of Satan or the devil. Remember the serpent in the Bible, and the significant role it played in the Garden of Eden and the Fall of Man?
A snake is a creature with a dubious, sneaky and treacherous nature that shows particular cunning in its deception. Although basically shy and insecure, it has the ability to deceive with its poisonous wit and quick tongue. A cold-blooded animal with no sense of loyalty, it is not the most respected in the animal kingdom. When it comes to relationships, if a snake senses more warmth in a new partner, it slithers off without looking back even when it is in a committed relationship.
I cannot think of a more fitting example of a snake in government than the present occupant of Malacanang, Rody Duterte.
When you were young, you used to keep a long list of qualities to look for in a man. You wanted someone who was good-looking, tall, filthy rich, generous with his gifts, flatteries and promises, demonstrative with his feelings for you, adventurous and daring, possessive and protective, and always ready to engage in a brawl to defend you and your honor. You would imagine yourself flaunting him before your relatives and friends, with his arm constantly draped across your shoulders in a proprietorial way, making you the object of people’s admiration and envy.
But, then, you grew up — and with age came maturity.
You realized that all those qualities were flitting and superficial, and were based solely on your immature, romantic — twisted even– notion of what love should be.
You came to understand the importance of taking seriously the pursuit of a great life partner. After all, the man you will marry was to be that person you will have to live with under one roof, the one person you will have to sleep with every night and will wake up to every morning, the one person you will have to stay with until you are both old, wrinkly, toothless and senile, the one person that you will have to make the most important decisions with, and the one person who will be the father of your children and your partner in raising them.
So, you came up with a new list of qualities to look for in a man.
It was still long. But you could declare with pride that, this time around, it was based on a much more mature, insightful and realistic view of what love –true love—should be.
QUALITIES THAT MY POTENTIAL LIFE PARTNER SHOULD HAVE
Reliable / Dependable. He should be solid and stable in all aspects, and should be willing and ready to step up each time the need arises. He does not crack easily under pressure or heavy burden, is not needy or clingy or lacking in self-esteem, and neither should he be walking around with lots of emotional baggage with him. He should be my pillar of strength.
Faithful / Committed. He should prove that he is loyal and dedicated, not only to me and our family, but also to his other relationships, his job, his health, his obligations and his word. He should not show any indication that he will cheat on me with the first woman who will give him the come-hither look.
Honest / Decent. He should be a man of integrity who is able to handle himself in a principled and honorable manner. He must be truthful, sincere and candid in all his dealings, most particularly in how he treats me. Yes, truth sometimes hurts, but secrets and lies oftentimes ruin most marriages.
Smart. He should have a quick-witted intelligence and critical thinking skills that will not fail to arouse my interest, and to challenge and keep me on my toes mentally. It is of utmost importance that we be on the same mental wavelength. It would not hurt if he is also street-smart and financially savvy.
Spiritual. He does not have to memorize Bible verses or to go to church every single day. However, he should be God-fearing and must walk in obedience to God. His unwavering faith will get us through the good, and the not so good, times. He should always start and end each day with a prayer of thanks, fully aware that every blessing we enjoy could only come from the Lord. He should also have a forgiving heart.
Hardworking and Motivated. To be a great provider for our family, he should know how to set his priorities straight. He should be patient, diligent and focused. He knows that good things come to those who work hard. He should be willing to sacrifice and go the extra mile for our family.
Witty and Funny. He should know how to find a reason to laugh even amid the darkest and most challenging moments. When the demands of the adult world prove to be overwhelming, he should be able to bring out the children in us. His sense of humor, playfulness and happy demeanor will keep us both afloat and eternally young at heart.
Affectionate. He should be attentive to my needs, sensitive to my moods, appreciative of my efforts, and accepting of my flaws, quirks and imperfections. He would want to spend time with me, is genuinely interested in what’s going on with my life, and is comfortable in sharing with me his thoughts, his convictions, his dreams. He builds me up, and values and supports my opinions and beliefs. He is willing to make compromises. He views me as his partner, his equal and his teammate.
Passionate. He should be enthusiastic about and fired up over his advocacies, intentions and endeavors. Mediocrity should never be in his vocabulary. Even when it comes to our sexual relationship, he should always be sizzling with sexual energy and is not afraid to try new things so as to spark excitement. Boredom in bed can be a deal breaker for some couples. On the other hand, passion ignites the flame that keeps the home fire burning.
Compatible with me. Although it is important that we celebrate and support each other’s individuality, a certain level of compatibility between partners is essential towards a happy and enduring relationship. We should complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses, we should have significant things in common (such as basic values and principles in life), and we should be a good friend to each other as friendship is a solid ground for a future together.
Ultimately, the most consequential ingredients of a blissful, healthy and fulfilling marital relationship are LOVE, TRUST and RESPECT.
It was sometime in July, 27 years ago, that I saw my parents break down in anguish because of me.
That moment still haunts me up to this day.
I was home in Bataan for the weekend. Normally, I would just be lounging around the house — in a worn shirt and tattered shorts, and with my hair in an untidy bun. That particular Saturday, however, I was holed up in my bedroom. In baggy jeans. With my long hair left loose. Apparently, that was what gave my parents the warning sign that something was out of the ordinary. But what really convinced them was when they noticed the perceptible limp in my walk and the apparent pain in my every move, so they made me take off my clothes.
What they saw was something that they never thought they would see in any of their children, especially in their sensible firstborn.
My face bore the marks of fading bruises, my upper arms showed signs of livid and bad hits, and my thighs were fully covered with purply, ugly patches. When my mother saw this, she nearly collapsed. Good thing that before she crumpled like a piece of paper, my father was able to catch her. She had, by the way, a heart condition.
After that, they wanted to know what happened to me.
Amid crying and sobbing, they asked, they pleaded, they threatened. So, after a while, I told them.
I told them that being away on my own, with no family and friends around, was sad and frightening. I told them that there were a lot of organizations and sororities in UP that wanted to recruit me. I told them that, barely a month into my first year in college, I decided to join a confraternity. I told them that those bruises were from hazing.
Yes, I am a member of a confraternity – a brotherhood/sisterhood that promotes integrity, nationalism, and academic excellence. A confraternity that had in its roster of members most of those who became student council chairpersons of our campus. A confraternity that I believed was the best choice for me.
Don’t get me wrong. I do not have any regrets in deciding to be a confrat member. I am partly who I am today because of my confraternity and the values and principles it espoused. I just regret that I have caused my parents unnecessary sorrow as a result of that decision. Because now that I am, myself, a parent, I can finally understand what I had made them go through. Because, believe me, if I were in their position, I would have moved heaven and earth to make the people responsible for my child’s pain pay royally.
It wouldn’t matter that my child voluntarily signed up for it and was fully aware of what was going to happen. It wouldn’t matter that she signed a waiver prior to the Final Rites. It wouldn’t matter that she was taken care of by her brods and sisses after those same brods and sisses almost beat her to a pulp.
What would matter was that they had the guts and audacity to hurt my child, and to cause us, her parents, distress and grief in the process. Nobody deserves that.
And now that I can see things more objectively, less tainted by the fact that I am a sorority gal, and more influenced by maturity and the many lessons of parenthood, I can finally and fearlessly declare that I abhor hazing or any act of inflicting pain among its neophytes.
I support the Anti-Hazing Law.
I am for the imposition of harsh penalties for those who would break that law.
And I also want the Supreme Council of the erring frat/soro to be held accountable for the actions of its resident members.
Finally, I understand that when someone dies of hazing, it is usually accidental. After all, no organization wants to have dead members. But, for the bereaved family of the victims, that excuse would never be acceptable. Nothing would be. So, I hope that for the benefit of everyone concerned, all frats and soros would finally put a stop to the age-old tradition of hazing. Because, surely, there are other ways to test and be assured of the neophytes’ endurance and loyalty to and love for the brotherhood/ sisterhood.
Psychopath – (noun) a person with antisocial personality disorder manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior without empathy or remorse, in extreme egocentricity, in failure to learn from experience, etc. Psychopaths tend to lack normal human emotions such as guilt. They also lack the ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships. They are often highly intelligent and skilled at manipulating others.
Sycophant – (noun) a person who acts obsequiously toward someone important in order to gain advantage; a servile self-seeking flatterer.
Power could be such a potent motivation that people are willing to go to great lengths to possess it — or even to get close to it. It is no wonder, therefore, that when Duterte won the presidency, opportunists of all colors and sizes huddled up close to and swarmed Malacanang.
Just like flies would to manure.
Many members of the opposition readily deserted their respective sinking ships and jumped into that of the PDP-Laban, which was fast getting jam-packed with the other political chameleons.
New alliances and coalitions between other political parties and the president’s party were formed.
People who supported and worked for Duterte’s campaign saw it as the perfect opportunity to collect and reap the benefits of being a loyal boot and ass licker.
Those closest to him, meanwhile, elbowed their way through the burgeoning crowd to secure the meatiest positions available.
Needless to say, their efforts paid off.
Despite Duterte’s initial pronouncement that he will get only the best and the brightest people because “the Filipinos deserved nothing less,” he went on an appointing spree (with their contribution to his campaign as the main qualification for the selection of those appointees) weeks before he was proclaimed the election winner.
The following are some of the President’s political appointees. Together, let us know them a little better and see if, indeed, their connection to the Palace was not their only credential to their current positions. We will also take a peek at what they have managed to bring to the table thus far.
DOJ Sec. Vitaliano Aguirre II. He was the legal counsel of Hubert Webb in the celebrated Vizconde massacre case; the former lawyer of Sen. Lacson and Ramon Tulfo; the deputy counsel who conducted the direct examinations of now Sen. Trillanes and the other Magdalo members during the investigation of the 2003 Oakwood Mutiny; Duterte’s fraternity brother in San Beda and his lawyer when he was linked to the Davao Death Squad by then CHR Commissioner Leila De Lima; the defense lawyer of retired SP04 Bienvenido Laud (the owner of the quarry in Davao believed to have been the burial ground of the DDS victims); the founder and president of the Brotherhood for Duterte Movement; and the controversial target of the late Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s ire during the Corona impeachment trial. (Yes, Aguirre and the Hear-No-Evil lawyer are one and the same.)
When Aguirre was appointed by then presumptive Pres. Duterte to head the DOJ, the latter’s orders were quite specific: “Focus on illegal drugs, graft and corruption and heinous crimes, and file appropriate charges no matter who gets hurt.”
After only a year at the helm of the Justice department, Aguirre has already figured in a plethora of controversies.
The government’s drug war has already killed thousands, many of which were perpetrated by unidentified masked men, yet no single killer has been held legally accountable. Amid the international community, the Catholic Church and the human rights advocates’ resounding call for accountability and end to the killings, the Dep’t. of Justice has remained deafeningly silent.
Aguirre used 12 convicted felons (all of whom were granted immunity and witness protection, while 5 of whom have had pending applications for pardon or clemency) to testify against Sen. De Lima during a congressional probe on the Senator’s alleged involvement in the drug trade at the National Bilibid Prison. (Said felons were reportedly granted certain perks and privileges in exchange for their testimonies.) At the same public hearing, he threatened to present sex videos allegedly of De Lima and Dayan “to establish their relationship.” He also released fake BDO deposit slips to further implicate De Lima. During presscons and interviews even before a single case against De Lima was filed before a court of law, he found great joy in destroying the Senator’s reputation by accusing her of being the country’s biggest drug lord — an action that utterly ran counter to what a judicious Justice Secretary should be.
To date, Peter Lim is still as free as a bird despite PDEA and Kerwin Espinosa’s separate testimonies that the presidential friend is a bigtime drug lord. (Lim has been, in fact, named by no less than the President himself in his drug matrix as among the top-tier drug lords operating in the country.) Just recently, DOJ downgraded the murder charge against the 19 policemen involved in the rubout of Mayor Rolando Espinosa. (Ex-CIDG Chief Supt. Marvin Marcos, the team leader, has long been involved in illegal drugs, according to PNP Chief Dela Rosa.) Both of these despite the administration’s controversial War on Drugs.
It is also on his watch when the bloody raid (eyewitnesses assert that it was a massacre, not a raid) against the Parojinogs of Ozamiz City took place. Amid claims of irregularities in the execution of the operation, and a clamor to look deeper into the incident that resulted to the death of 15 people, the DOJ thru its constituent agency, the National Bureau of Investigation, has been conspicuously quiet. Yet again.
Aguirre has the uncanny habit of parroting Duterte’s statements. According to him, the killings of thousands of drug suspects and criminals may not be considered crimes against humanity because those drug suspects and criminals are not humans. Duterte has been repeatedly heard making the same statement.
The DOJ Sec. and the gambling mogul Jack Lam had a private meeting at some hotel room hours before a P50-million bribe/extortion money changed hands from Lam’s camp to Aguirre’s. The DOJ Sec. was even quoted telling an ex-BI official who was with him at that meeting, “Ikaw na ang bahala diyan” before leaving the room. Two BI officials (both are Duterte’s frat brothers and appointees) were implicated for extortion, while both Aguirre and Lam walked away scot-free.
He earned the title “The King of Fake News” after exposing to the media that some opposition lawmakers, in connivance with some Moro clans, were behind the Marawi clashes. He even used a photo (which turned out to be an old one) to support his claim. Before that, he also accused former Sen. Jamby Madrigal, along with a Laguna solon, of allegedly trying to bribe the inmates who testified against De Lima to recant their testimonies. He once accused Sen. Trillanes, moreover, of having benefited from the PDAF scam with Napoles. All claims were eventually proven to be baseless, malicious and outright lies. Sen. Grace Poe lambasted Aguirre for “propagating fake news like a troll,” while the NUJP called him a “mean-spirited coward” for blaming the media for his blunders following Aguirre’s yet another claim that he was just being misquoted by the media.
He is also among the 11 government officials tagged in the criminal complaint filed against Duterte at the International Criminal Court at The Hague, Netherlands.
For the succeeding parts of this article, we shall get better acquainted with these other notable Duterte sycophants:
POLITICAL APPOINTEES (continuation)
PNP Chief Director Gen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa
Solicitor Gen. Jose Calida
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella
Budget Sec. Benajamin Diokno
Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez III
Foreign Affairs Sec. Alan Peter Cayetano
Presidential Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo
Tourism Sec. Wanda Tulfo-Teo
Communications Sec. Martin Andanar
PCOO Assistant Sec. Mocha Uson
Bureau of Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon
DSWD Assistant Sec. Lorraine Badoy
Ambassador to the UN Teddy Boy Locsin Jr.
Tourism Promotions Board COO Cesar Montano
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez
Senate Pres. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III
Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chair Richard “Dick”Gordon
Senate Ethics Committee Chair Vicente “Tito” Sotto III
The World Health Organization has pegged the annual number of deaths due to road accidents globally at 1.25 million. It estimated the fatalities in the Philippines to be at 10,379, broken down as follows:
53% – motorcycle riders
19% – pedestrians
14% – four-wheeled vehicle drivers
11% – four-wheeled vehicle passengers
2% – cyclists
1% – others
These figures paint a grim and alarming picture of road safety in the country. However, most road accidents (a total of 95,615 for the year 2015 alone, as reported by MMDA) can easily be avoided and the fatalities greatly reduced, or even totally eliminated, if we only make a habit of practicing these important road safety tips.
Before you hit the road, especially during long trips, always check your BLOWBAG – an acronym for Brakes, Lights, Oil, Water, Battery, Air, Gasoline.
For the Brakes:
You know that you have to drive to the nearest mechanic’s shop for a much-needed diagnosis when you experience any of the following:
when the brake light appears (and refuses to disappear) on the car’s dashboard
when the car takes longer to stop after you brake
when you hear a high-pitched squeal or a harsh grinding sound while applying the brakes
when the car pulls as if it wants to make a right- or left-hand turn on its own
when the brake pedal vibrates or thrums
when the brake pedal is non-compliant or over-compliant
when the steering wheel shakes while braking
For the Lights:
Many accidents occur as a result of a misuse or nonuse of your car’s many lights. Know all of them and their specific functions.
Headlights (Low Beam or High Beam) – these are turned on when visibility is low. Low Beam is used when you are driving closely behind another car, while High Beam is for when there is no car up ahead or approaching from the opposite direction.
Parking/Park lights – these are used to increase the car’s visibility when parked in a dark area or at night.
Tail lights – these automatically turn on whenever the headlights are on.
Fog Lights – these are used during poor visibility conditions like fog, rain, snow, and dust
Signal Lights – these are used when making turns and changing lanes.
Hazard (Flashing) Lights – these are used when the driver is having trouble on the road.
Brake Lights – these appear on the back of the car when the driver is stepping on the brakes.
Reverse Lights (usually in high-end vehicles only) – these pop up at the rear when the driver is moving the car backwards.
Running Lights – these automatically come on when the car is running but the lights are off.
Flash Lights – these are used as a way of communicating with other motorists.
Interior Lights – these are used when light is needed inside the car.
For the Oil:
The engine oil’s main purpose is to lubricate all the parts of the engine. Aside from this, it also prevents excessive wear of parts, cleans the surfaces, keeps the engine cool, inhibits corrosion, and keeps the engine sealed properly. The level (and color) of your car’s oil needs to be checked once a month. This could easily be done by opening the hood of your car, locating and pulling the oil dipstick out, wiping it clean, inserting it back into its tube, and pushing it all the way back in. Pull it out again, this time to read the oil level. If it is too low, add the appropriate amount of oil. If the color of the oil is either black or brown, or if it looks milky or foamy, it should be checked by a mechanic. (Aside from the engine oil, there are other fluids that you need to monitor regularly. Read http://lifehacker.com/five-fluids-you-should-check-to-keep-your-car-running-s-1556413981).
The car battery plays a crucial role as it supplies electrical energy to your motor vehicle. The engine will shut off and your car won’t run with a dead battery. Luckily for you, a dying battery gives off warning signs. Beware of the following:
when the Battery Warning Light illuminates on your dashboard
when the vehicle electronics like remote locks or interior lights randomly stop working
when your lights are not as bright as they should be
when your car is backfiring
when your car won’t start unless you step on the accelerator
when you turn the key in the ignition and the only reaction you get is a clicking or ticking noise
when you hear the engine of your car cranking slowly but it won’t stop
Maintaining the proper air pressure of your car tires is important to avoid the potential of a flat tire or a blowout. It also helps optimize tire performance and fuel economy. When your car’s tires are underinflated, you would experience a significant loss of steering precision and cornering stability. When they are overinflated, however, they could get damaged more easily when running over potholes or debris in the road. Improper inflation can also cause excessive or uneven tread wear that can lead to an accident. The recommended air pressure for your car (usually between 30 and 35 PSI) may be found on a sticker in the door jam or in your owner’s manual; some models even place the stickers on the trunk lid, in the console, or on the fuel door. As your tires’ air pressure cannot be accurately estimated through visual inspection, you must have it checked with a quality air gauge. Tire experts suggest doing this at least once a month.
For the Gas:
Just like your body converting food into energy, a car engine converts gas into motion. So basically, your car won’t move an inch without gas. You can easily monitor the level of fuel left in your tank by consulting the fuel/gas gauge indicator that is usually found on the car’s dashboard. The needle strikes the F when you have a full tank, and E when you are about to run out of gas. Once the indicator comes on, you have to bring your car to the nearest gas station for a much-needed refill. However, if the gauge already reaches a critical level and there is still no refilling station in sight, you better start praying your rosary and heed the advice of this article: https://www.cars.com/articles/six-things-to-do-when-youre-about-to-run-out-of-gas-1420684453409/.
Familiarize yourself with your dashboard indicators. Ignoring a warning dashboard light could not only result in a costly visit to the mechanic, but could also pose a threat to your life. Although all those lights blink for important reasons, there are five warning lights that you should never ignore. Read http://www.aa1car.com/library/5_warning_lights.htm.
Be mindful of the traffic lights. Green means it is safe for you to cross, while Red means you have to make a full stop. Contrary to the popular practice of going faster because it’s about to turn red, Yellow indicates that you have to prepare to stop in preparation for the red light. If you are unable to stop safely, proceed with caution.
Change lanes with caution. It is never safe to swerve (to weave in and out of traffic by constantly changing lanes), but if you have to go to another lane for any one of these reasons (your lane is ending; you need to be in another lane to make a turn at an approaching intersection, you notice a hazard ahead in your lane; you are in the wrong lane; or you want to pass the vehicle in front of you that is going at a speed lower than the speed limit), there are steps that you should follow to ensure a safe change of lanes. First, turn on your appropriate signal light. Second, check your mirrors, then check your blind spot by looking over your shoulder. Next, slowly change lanes. And finally, turn off your signal after completing the lane change.
Observe speed limits. Every driver has this occasional urge to unleash his inner fast-and-furious persona. However, each type of road you traverse has its own speed limits that you must follow, not just for your own safety, but also for that of your passengers, of other motorists, and of the pedestrians. Remember, speeding is a major cause of collisions. For a quick guide to these speed limits, read this: https://www.autodeal.com.ph/blog/quick-guide-speed-limits-in-philippines.
Pass or overtake carefully. Do not pass or overtake over solid white or yellow double center lines; when there is a “no overtaking” sign; when the distance is not safe for overtaking; when you are approaching a bridge, an underpass, an intersection, or a railroad crossing; or when there is a bend, dip, or hill ahead that can obscure oncoming traffic. Additionally, overtake only on the left side of the road.
Neither cut in nor counterflow. Cutting in (making a sudden sideways movement in order to position your car in front of another car, while leaving an unsafe distance between the two vehicles), counterflowing (driving against traffic), and tailgating (driving too close to the vehicle in front of you) are common causes of road accidents.
Do not use the road shoulder as you would an ordinary lane. The road shoulder is designed for emergencies and emergencies only. Parking on no-parking zones will not only earn you dirty looks from other motorists, but a parking ticket as well from the traffic enforcer. Additionally, you should not stop on railroad tracks. Otherwise, you’re just an accident waiting to happen.
Before moving your car, wear your respective seatbelts. Many vehicular deaths could be avoided if only people, both the driver and the passengers, would realize the importance of these inconspicuous and seemingly useless belts. Remember, seatbelts save lives.
Do not overload. Aside from the fact that it carries penalties under the law, its consequences could also be fatal. Overloading places massive strain on vehicle tires, making the vehicle less stable, difficult to steer, and harder to stop. It causes damage not only to the vehicle’s suspension and tires but to our roads and bridges, too.
Whenever you need to stop your vehicle on an area where standing or parking is prohibited, install an Early Warning Device (EWD) at least 4 meters to the front and another one at least 4 meters to the rear. Under the law, a pair of EWDs is a mandatory accessory for all vehicles except for tricycles and motorcycles.
You are not above the law. (Nobody should be!) So, as a law-abiding citizen, you are expected to follow all kinds of laws, rules, ordinances, and the like that govern all road users. These are designed to protect you, your passengers, the other motorists, the pedestrians and commuters, and properties and infrastructures, both public and private. You must also respect the traffic enforcers.
Never ever drive if you are drunk, under the influence of drugs, sleep-deprived, or when you can’t give driving the benefit of your full concentration.
Keep distractions away while driving. Even without the new Anti-Distracted Driving Act in effect, you should know that driving while using your mobile phone poses a great danger, not only to you and your passengers’ lives, but also to those of other motorists and pedestrians. Aside from phones and other electronic devices, there are many other hazards inside your car that could drive you to distraction: an unrestrained pet, a cup of coffee, the sight or even the aroma of food, a shapely leg next to you, the noise of your nagging spouse and bickering children, etc.
Be an informed, levelheaded, and considerate driver. If you have a standing anger management problem, better steer clear of the steering wheel for a while until you have sufficiently addressed your condition. The monster traffic in our cities, coupled with the absence of discipline in many motorists, can make any driver angry – but if the person behind the wheel has a hostile or aggressive behavior, the situation can easily escalate into a heated road altercation, and may even lead to death.