Traversing the “Daang matuwid” led by President Benigno Aquino III may not be as easy as passing a well-paved highway. Like in the classic Filipino horror movie Shake, Rattle and Roll, there are and there will be a brood of evil spirits and shape shifters (they sometimes deceive us by appearing innocuous) who are all set to make us miserable and impede our country’s progress. The first 100 days of PNoy was defied by numerous “curses.” Some were inherited and have been mothballed for decades while some morbidly surprised and tested the administration’s strength and faith.
Mystery of Jueteng Jueteng
(An illegal numbers game played in some cities and provinces in the Philippines) is a gambling issue that past administrations have had failed to resolve. The Juetenggate scandal even fuelled the downfall of President Joseph Estrada’s governance. In June 2005, relatives of former president and now Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo were allegedly receiving payouts from jueteng operators. Recently, retired Lingayen- Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz exposed and accused Pangasinan Governor Armando Espino as a jueteng lord. As a result, the bishop was threatened with the risk of being declared a persona non grata. In a privilege speech by Senator Miriam Defensor- Santiago, she identified former Pampanga Gov. Rodolfo “Bong” Pineda and Charlie “Atong” Ang as the country’s top jueteng operators and said that they are earning millions of pesos in daily income from the illegal numbers game. The senator also identified Ilocos Governor Luis “Chavit” Singson as one of these operators thus, igniting a word war between the two politicians. Senators such as Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senator Jinggoy Estrada proposed that the jueteng must be legalized and taxed so that its profits will go to the government. President Aquino rejected the proposal; instead he directed the Department of Interior and Local Govern- ment and the Philippine National Police to formulate a comprehensive plan to combat and to end the operations of jueteng in the Philippines.
A Department of Health (DOH) report says that recorded dengue cases rose by 75% from January 1 to August 14 of this year, compared to the same period in 2009. There were 429 deaths noted down in the last seven months and almost 80% of the cases recorded belonged to the 1-20 year old age bracket. DOH Secretary Enrique Ona, together with presidential sister and dengue ambassador Kris Aquino, intensified their campaign against dengue by visiting schools and disseminating information on how to prevent this disease. The Department of Science and Technology (DOST), under the helm of Secretary Mario Montejo, works hand-in-hand with DOH in this drive. As part of the drive, the DOST invented a device that can help stop the spread of Dengue in the country. The mosquito trap is made up of a black tin can with lawanit wood on the inside that is soaked in an organic solution to kill the eggs of the mosquito before it can turn into a flying dengue-carrier. With the help of local governments, their crusade paid off. According to Secretary Ona, there were only 2,000 dengue cases recorded in September, compared to 7,000 in August.
The battle over RH bill
One of the more controversial health issues that the Aquino administration currently faces is the House Bill 5043 or the Reproductive Health & Population Development Act of 2008. It is an act providing for a national policy on reproductive health, respon- sible parenthood & population development. In essence, this bill aims to resolve population problem (57.3% of Filipino families with seven children are in poverty while only 23.8% of families having two children live below the poverty threshold) in the Philippines. But as a Catholic country, Catholic priests have intensified their actions to hamper the progress of the bill’s passage including threats of excommunication and civil disobedience. As the chief who takes care of Filipinos’ well-being, Secretary Enrique Ona said that there should be equal promotion of all family planning methods, whether natural or artificial. “We in government should be able to present it to them (couples) in a very objective manner and at the same time making sure that they are given all the options…be it natural planning, which my Church, the Catholic Church, supports aggressively, or for those who like to use scientific methods,” Ona said in his interview with Gerard Naval of 2010 Presidentiables blog site.
Spine Chilling Luneta Tragedy
Who will ever forget the gruesome tale of the Luneta Grandstand hostage-taking incident, which left eight dead and seven wounded Hong Kong nationals? The blood- bath placed us on the map of shame and even endangered the Philippine-Chinese relations. Competency of our policemen was criticized and the SWAT definition was ridiculed in various social networking sites that replaced Special Weapons and Tactics with Sorry Wala Akong Training. Spearheading the govern- ment’s fair and in-depth investigation are Justice Secretary Leila De Lima and Interior and Local Govern- ment Secretary Jesse Robredo who have signed a Joint Department Order creating the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC). Recently, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr. assured the public that PNoy would make his final decision on the recommendations of the IIRC based purely on merits. “The President has always been fair and he will decide on the merits of this case, and not on the personalities or politics involved. He will make a decision that will satisfy the demands of justice, not the demands of political expe- diency,” Ochoa said.
Vice Ganda – not in real life but in the remake of the classic comedy Petrang Kabayo – changes into a horse every time he’s mean. With this basically being the central plot of the film, the mythological gay-horse, kind-hearted hero character of Petra that was once portrayed by Roderick Paulate, it seemed, was diluted into a less endearing, unhappy, sarcastic protagonist.
Critics and fans apparently had high hopes for the movie, but the weak central theme, the flat sarcasm and the ultra-long back story explaining Vice Ganda’s character Peter, and how his life’s episodes inevitably turned him into Petra, gave them reason to doubt the comedian’s talent. This is not to say that not a lot of people found the film funny. Critic Ria Limjap in her review said, “I fell asleep somewhere in the middle of this Viva Films comedy directed by Wenn Deramas. Mind you, everyone else around me: high school students, senior citizens, young families, middle-aged women, were laughing. I did not laugh once throughout the movie.”
In real life, Vice Ganda does not really turn into a horse when he’s mean – which happens a lot during his acts at comedy bars and during his morning talent show, Showtime. He does however get occasional bad raps for his alleged mayabang personality, and fast retaliation at fellow comedians when used as subject for jokes. (Read: Vice Ganda vs Tado verbal swordplay).
It was the first week of October when the shocking news broke out – first on AM radio perhaps because of its uncanny nature, and later on seeping into the TV waves: Kris Aquino, along with her two sons Joshua and Baby James, were reported to be suffering from hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) due to unknown causes.
The TV actress first told the press via telephone patch that she believes it was her son Josh that caught the illness during a school field trip, and the contagious disease was caught by baby James and herself shortly after.
In an October 12 interview with Bombo Radyo, however, Kris denied this first claim and said she still could not pin-point how she and her kids caught HFMD.
She added that it still mystifies her as none of Joshua’s classmates had the disease, show she’s sure that her son did not get it during the field trip.
Kris and her sons are at this time in the recovery stage. In her recent Twitter post, the actress-host announced that the mouth sores of her two sons are now drying out. However, she’s not yet allowing Baby James near Josh to avoid any other possible complication of the illness.
Whether or not the Aquinos figure out the mysterious cause of this disease, we here at T3 wish they come out of this healthier, and for Kris particularly, wiser in more ways than one.
In a press conference last October 12 for the movie Till My Heartaches End top-billed by the “Kimerald” love team, a shocking turn of events unfolded in teary-eyed, life-threatening fashion. The cheery affair involving Gerald Anderson and Kim Chiu, director Jose Javier Reyes and other cast and crew, ended in tears and a medical emergency when discussion about Gerald’s rumored break-up with Kim arose. Although there was really no boyfriend-girlfriend relationship confirmed between the two, the fans took it as Gerald “calling it off” when he began courting Bea Alonzo. Since finding out about this incident, many of the love team’s die-hard fans began sending hate mail and packages to Gerald’s own home, and even expressed bold threats to harm and even threats to kill Bea Alonzo. One of the threats even went as far (and very pelikulang Pinoy) as “sasabuyan si Bea ng asido sa mukha.” “Magiging sinungaling po ako kung sasabihin ko na hindi ako nasasaktan. Na may mga fans na nag-backout at ayaw na akong suportahan. Marami na akong natatanggap na hate mails sa bahay ko. Mga mahal ko sa buhay nadadamay,” expressed Gerald, who after saying his piece walked out of the press con and was reported to be brought to the nearest clinic as he began hyperventilating. Kim Chiu was left with the other cast and crew, and began crying as she was further asked by the press on the issue. To her fans, the young actress had this to say: “Ayoko lang nung—’papatayin si Bea, tatapunan daw ng asido, papatayin si Gerald.’ Ayoko yung ganun, e. Tanggapin na lang natin kung anuman yung nangyari.”
Secretary Enrique Ona
Department of Health
Dr. Ona hails from Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur. He is the son of the first Provincial Health Officer of Zamboanga del Sur and a puericulture nurse. Before being appointed by President Benigno Aquino III to the Health Secretary post, Ona was the executive director of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, a post he held for 11 years. He has been the president of the Transplantation Society of the Philippines since 1989 and also holds a medical license in the State of Massachusetts, U.S.A.
Secretary Ona received prestigious distinctions including The Presidential Award of Recognition in 2000 and in 1979, he was a Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) awardee for Medicine.
Secretary Leila De Lima
Department of Justice
Eldest daughter of former Philippine COMELEC Commi- ssioner Vicente de Lima and Norma Magistrado, Secretary Leila Magistrado De Lima (born August 27 1959 at Iriga City) was the Chairperson of the Philippine Commission on Human Rights until President Aquino chose her to be his Justice Secretary.
On July 2, 2010, De Lima took over the helm of the Philippine Department of Justice. During her speech, she said that “the marching orders of President Benigno Aquino III were not mere election promises…Reform is a fundamental theme of this administration: first to rid ourselves of corruption and second to shore up our competence.”
Secretary De Lima, a Dean’s Medalist, consistent honor student and former editor-in-chief of the San Beda Law Journal placed 8th in the 1985 bar exam. She also holds high profile election cases such as those of opposition candidate Senator Alan Peter Cayetano and defeated candidate Aquilino Pimentel III.
Acting Secretary Jesse Robredo
Department of Interior and Local Government
Secretary Jesse Manalastas Robredo (born May 27, 1958), a second-generation Chinese Filipino, was the former Mayor of Naga City in Bicol who is also the first Filipino mayor to receive the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service in 2000. During his service at Naga, Robredo transformed the city to one of the “Most Improved Cities in Asia,” as cited by Asiaweek Magazine in 1999.
His dedication in public service gave him 14 major individual awards including the Konrad Adenauer Medal of Excellence as Most Outstanding City Mayor of the Philppines (1998), 1996 Outstanding Young Persons of the World (TOYP) Award (1996), The Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines (TOYM) (1990), and the first ever “Dangal ng Bayan” Award of the Civil Service Commission.
He obtained his degrees in Industrial Management Engi- neering and Mechanical Engineering at the De La Salle University. Secretary Robredo was an Edward Mason Fellow and a graduate of Masters of Public Administration at John F. Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1999. He finished his Masters in Business Administration at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City as a scholar in 1985.
Executive Secretary Paquito “Jojo” Ochoa, Jr.
PNoy’s little president was born on November 11, 1960. Jojo’s father, Paquito Ochoa Sr., former mayor of Pulilan, Bulacan, was an associate of Aquino’s father, the late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. The young Ochoa is also the long-time legal counsel of the 15th Philippine President. He took Economics at the University of Santo Tomas and law at the Ateneo School of Law. His pro-bono work in his province led to his election as Director and then Vice President of the Bulacan Chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. His work as City Administrator of Quezon City has earned praises from governance specialists in the academe like Ateneo School of Government Dean Tony La Viña, who called Atty. Ochoa “an effective, efficient and innovative public servant,” whose “programs intended to improve education, health and business permitting processes” have helped improve the delivery of basic services in Quezon City. Today Quezon City’s health workers are trained to properly implement the Magna Carta of Health Workers; its teachers receive additional training that have helped increase the scores of students in the Q.C. public school system; and Q.C. residents can expect less red tape at city hall.
Our country is a basketball-crazy nation despite the fact that basketball gods have not looked too kindly on us nor our players. Think about it: the game we love so much is ruled by countries whose people are gifted with height and heft, two things a country whose average height is 5’4” doesn’t have in abundance. We all long for Philippine basketball’s international glory, but our country hasn’t been dominating the sport since the 50’s and the era of the great Caloy Loyzaga, when we won four consecutive FIBA Asia Championships and have placed 3rd in the World Championships. Ron Jacobs led the Northern Consolidated team that captured the hearts of a captivated basketball world by beating the Chinese and US teams back in the early 80’s. In the 2002 Asian Games, we had hoped that Ron Jacobs could weave his magic once more. The PBA sent its best players and arguably the most talented squad ever fielded so far, bannered by the high-flying Fil-American Daniel Charles Seigle. Unfortunately, luck was certainly not on our side; Jacobs suffered a life-threatening stroke even before preparations for the Asian games began in earnest. Seigle sustained a serious injury in the team’s last tune up match before the games. The team wound up losing the semi-final game to South Korea, after the country’s best free throw shooter, Olsen Racela, missed two precious free throws in the game’s dying seconds, allowing the Koreans to heave a Hail Mary shot from way back court. The shot miraculously went in, to the despair of the Filipinos. The Koreans would eventually beat a Yao Ming-led Chinese team in the final. Read more
Here comes this time of the year when it becomes fashionable, even downright obligatory, to share our experiences with ghosts and the paranormal. This is a time for trick-or-treating, and a time for remembering the dead. This is a time for spooky ghost stories.
I would share my own experiences with ghosts, but I don’t have one. I don’t believe in ghosts, primarily due to my staunch Catholic upbringing that convinced me that God is above all else and I need not fear anyone or anything. Not some lady who wears white, nor some Kapre or Manananggal that stalk their prey in the night. Many people agree that seminaries and retreat houses are hotspots for ghosts; however, I have spent seven years in three seminaries and the last decade from one retreat house to another but have yet to see a single ghost. Read more
By Joan Lopez-Flores
I didn’t sleep at all the night before my much-awaited interview with the Philippine film icon I’ve looked up to for many years – whose horror and fantasy movies I grew up watching and whose period films showed me that there’s something wildly amazing, disturbing and inspiring all at the same time that Filipino filmmakers can bring to life.
As I prepared my questions for him that night – which I forgot to print anyway in my reckless anticipation of our 3pm meeting that rainy Monday – I tried to review as much as I could about one of the very few directors that have earned the merit of attaching signature taglines to their work. A Peque Gallaga Film, after all, is not your ordinary movie, and it’s rarely for the faint of heart in more ways than one. Hardly anyone else in the Filipino film industry was able to recreate the eye-opening, visually grand war movie that Oro, Plata, Mata was, or the period film Virgin Forest, or the horrific breakthrough of his manananggal, tiyanak and aswangs as never before seen in Philipine cinema. Read more
In a Catholic country like the Philippines, candle making is a lucrative source of income. From the day we were baptized to the day we are six feet under, flickering candles are out there. From fiesta processions to home altars, an array of candles is a traditional sight. They say that if you wish for something, be it material, spiritual or emotional, lighting a candle coupled with a sincere prayer will help.
Upon your way out from the Quiapo Church, candle vendors will call your attention and offer you their merchandise. It’s fascinating to see these candles in different sizes, forms and colors. Some are even shaped like the Black Nazarene but what’s more interesting are the colors of the candles and their corresponding uses and meanings. Read more
In the middle of the time when J.R.R. Tolkien created the literary masterpeice, The Lord of the Rings (1954) and those years before Hollywood fascinated the world with its film versions, a restaurant and bar in Manila was founded in tribute of this fantasy universe—The Hobbit House.
Aside from Legolas’ archer-next-door charm, Aragorn’s sexy fighting prowess, and Frodo and Sam’s homosexual tendencies (Sam: You’re my Frodo), the one vivid image which I remember from the movie The Lord of the Rings is the round door of the hobbit’s house. Read more