About my WWII Japanese Imperial Army officer friend who knew my father was an American hiding from the enemy

I was seven going on eight years old when World War II broke out and the Japanese military occupied the Philippines. In 1941, while I was a student at the Cubao Elementary School in Quezon City, I met and was befriended by an officer of the Japanese Imperial Army who was stationed at a post near Camp Murphy in Quezon City, north of Manila.

My dad – an American citizen and US Army veteran – was in hiding at a farm in Cubao that was owned by my sister Rosalia (Rosie) and her husband, Joseph. My dad declined to report to a concentration camp for American citizens at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila as he was instructed by the US Embassy. My dad believed that the war would last “just a few days . . . maybe a month at most.”

My dad – with my stepmother Antonina and me in tow – made the long trip from our home in Baclaran, Parañaque (south of Manila) to Cubao (north of Manila) where my dad believed he would be safe for the “duration” of the war. My younger siblings – Hattie, Thomas, Roscoe, and Emma – were sent to the town of Agoo, in the province of La Union, where they stayed with my stepmother Antonina’s family – for the “duration” of the war.

To shield my identity and protect my dad, I was enrolled at the Cubao Elementary School under the name Julian Velez. The school was about three miles from our home on Natib Road. I would walk to and from the school for classes and other school activities.

I was in the third grade (I was in the third grade at the American Central School on Taft Avenue in Manila when the war broke out). In school, we were assigned books in which pages that had the American flag or any images or text relating to the United States or to America were pasted over with blank sheets of paper to conceal their content (curiosity, of course, led most of us to take peaks into the hidden text or pictures). We were taught Japanese – and did calisthenics daily while singing a song that started with “Odoro asahi no . . .

On one of our school days, a short man wearing the uniform of the Japanese Imperial Army came to our classroom. Speaking in fluent English, the officer spoke about his role in the community. He must have given his name and rank, or wrote them down on the blackboard, but I didn’t notice. At the time, I considered his appearance a distraction.

Several days later, during a recess, the Japanese officer sought me out at the school yard. He told me he had something to tell me and took me to one side of the school building, away from the other kids.

“I lived most of my life in America,” the Japanese officer said. “And I went to college at Yale University,” he added. He then pulled out a wallet from which he showed me a picture of his “girlfriend” who he said was in America. I remember saying “really” and “how nice” but not much more.

About a week later, during a class recess, my Japanese officer friend came to the school yard looking for me, and when he found me, handed me a bag of Japanese food that he asked me to take home. I ate most of the food while I walked home that afternoon and discarded the bag in a ditch on Arayat Street.

About two months later, again during a class recess, my Japanese officer friend sought me out at the school yard. He took me aside – out of hearing distance from other kids. He sat on a bench while I stood in front of him. He held a twig which he used to gesture, and, looking me in the eye, told me he was going on a mission “tonight” to “kill an American.” I felt uneasy and concerned. He used the twig to sketch on the ground the location of the American’s “hiding place,” explaining that the “hiding place” was on Natib Road, off Arayat Street. As he spoke those words, I began to panic. I realized it was my sister Rosie’s house that he identified. Without saying a word, I turned away from him and started running home as fast as I could.

My Japanese officer friend came after me, calling out to me and yelling for me to stop – but I kept running until I lost him.

I got home scared and screaming. The first person I met at home was my sister Rosie. I yelled to her, half-crazed and excited, “sister, sister – the Japanese are coming – they’re going kill dad!” My sister Rosie grabbed me by my shoulders and, shaking me, told me to calm down. I explained to everyone who had surrounded me by then – my nephews Rafael, Frankie, and niece Teresita – what the Japanese officer had said to me at school.

Sister Rosie’s husband, Joseph, and his two sons Rafael and Frankie, took my dad out of the house through the back yard and into the corn fields on their way somewhere I never got to know. That very same night we heard there was some Japanese military activity around the area where we lived – but no Japanese soldiers came to our house.

My dad returned to the house two days later. My dad never spoke to me about the incident or asked me any questions about it.

I did not attend classes for the next two school days – I would walk out of the house dressed for school, but would just walk around town and hang out at the rotunda until it was time to return home. On the third day, I decided that I would go to school. My classmates asked me questions, but I dismissed them all. I was hoping the Japanese officer would not ever again come to the school.

But he did. The Japanese officer came over to the school yard while we were in recess. I tried to avoid him, but he picked me out and took me aside. I was nervous and worried. And then he spoke.

“I know your father is American. But I would not hurt him.” He said that he only wanted me to know that he knew.

I said nothing. I don’t think I even looked at him while he spoke the words.

I felt relieved when he turned and walked away.

I kept silent about what happened at the school when I got home that afternoon. As in the last two days, when I was asked if I had seen the Japanese officer again, I said no – and not much more.

I did not return to Cubao Elementary for the following school year, in 1943. The war had intensified.

And I never got to see my Japanese Imperial Army officer friend again.

I will forever remember my Japanese Imperial Army officer friend whose name or rank I regret to not know. I often wonder what his fate was after the war. I have a feeling that he survived the war – and that he remembers a little odd-looking boy he met in the Philippines whose father was an American hiding from the enemy.



  1. My sister Rosie was my dad’s daughter from his first wife, Demetria Osorio. My dad and Demetria had three children: Rosalia (sister Rosie), Vicenta, and Elena. After Demetria’s death in 1930, my dad married my mother, Soledad Ramos, with whom he had three kids: myself, Thomas Henry, and Hattie Florence. After my mother died in 1936, my dad married Antonina Ventura, with whom he likewise had three children: Roscoe Konklin, Emma Jane, and Walker Ernest. At seven years of age, I had nephews who were adults (children of my sisters Rosie, Vicenta, and Elena).
  2. My sister Rosie’s house was on #15 Natib Road. Sister Rosie and her husband Joseph Thomas Casey Jr. owned land on both sides of Natib Road. On the west side (#15 Natib Road) sister Rosie raised poultry (duck, turkey, and chicken), planted crop (corn, sugar cane, and pineapple), and had a handful of fruit trees. Across the street from the house, my sister Rosie had a piggery – about 50 pigs in a row of sties. Sister Rosie stopped farming when the Japanese military began to commandeer her produce (around the beginning of 1943); her piggery ran empty because Japanese soldiers would come over and take pigs away until they ran out. As their provisions were no longer arriving from Japan, the Japanese military began to commandeer all available food products from the population.
  3. Also on Natib Road (north of sister Rosie’s house) was the home of a family of Swiss nationals with whom we had very little interface.
  4. North of the Swiss home on Natib Road was the home of the Paz family. Jaime “Jimmy” Paz was my friend and classmate at the Cubao Elementary School. Jimmy would scare the wits out of our teachers by drawing war planes with the American star on their wings. On weekends, Jimmy and I hung out at the huge Cubao rotunda. Jimmy later became an executive at the Development Bank of the Philippines.
  5. Also on Natib Road (next to my sister Rosie’s piggery) lived the family of a retired Spaniard whom my dad befriended. In some ways, the Spaniard protected my dad who passed himself off as Spanish (my dad had a decent Spanish vocabulary that helped).
  6. At the southernmost end of Natib Road lived the family of an American Air Force pilot (who perished at the start of the war) and his Japanese widow. They had three wonderful children who were all under the age of five in 1941.
  7. Sister Rosie’s husband, Joseph Thomas Casey Jr., owned a shoe store in Ermita, Manila; he shut down the store when war broke out. Joseph was also the chief of police of Quezon City. His position as chief of police protected us – the Japanese troops respected the huge sign on the gate to our home which read: “HOME OF CHIEF OF POLICE.” And my sister Rosie’s oldest son, Rafael, was a member of the Quezon City police force.
  8. Sister Rosie and her husband Joseph had five children: Rafael, Frankie, Joseph Jr., Teresita, and Dorothy – all of them my nephews and nieces. They called me Uncle Sunny. Dorothy – the youngest – and I were of the same age.
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Imelda, Imee, and Bongbong: give it up, surrender plundered wealth, change your last name, and start a new life somewhere else

imeldagrievesoverpreservedbody-620Three members of the Marcos family – Imelda Romualdez Marcos and her children Maria Imelda ‘Imee’ Marcos and Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. – refuse to admit that the name of their late husband and father, former dictator Ferdinand Edralin Marcos, is so irremediably tainted, discredited, and despised.

marcos-1917to1989-220The three continue their fight to gain control of the Philippine government in an effort to accomplish the late dictator’s dream of establishing a Marcos royalty and change the name of the country to ‘Maharlika.’ The steps they hope will help achieve their goal are: (1) have the late dictator proclaimed a ‘national hero’ and belatedly interred at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery), and (2) win the country’s presidency. Through the presidency, the three hope to set up a new dictatorship and – eventually – a Marcos royalty, and then rename the country. It’s what the late dictator wished.

Their motives are so obvious.

Imelda, Imee and Bongbong believe that Filipinos can and will forget the twenty-one years of tyranny under Marcos’ martial law. Like the late dictator, they think poorly of the Filipino people.

noherosburialfordictator-320Imelda, Imee, and Bongbong cling on to wealth said to have been plundered from the country’s treasury and deny and suppress the grievances of the more than 100,0001 citizens that were wrongfully imprisoned, tortured and displaced or murdered during the late dictator’s rule.

Why do Imelda, Imee, and Bongbong want to rewrite history by denying the illegitimacy of, and the harm done, by the Marcos dictatorship?

Call it false pride – or call it avarice – the fact is that they persist in wanting to rewrite history.

Imelda, Imee, and Bongbong should realize that their ‘cause’ is lost – and give it up. The three should resign their government positions, surrender all plundered or ill-gotten wealth, change their last name, and start a new life somewhere else.

The name Marcos has become a liability.

marcostriestoclingtopower-6201 Amnesty International (AI) reported that about 70,000 people were imprisoned, 34,000 tortured, and 3,240 killed during the Marcos dictatorship.

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The battle for the liberation of Manila: in 144 pictures taken by US army personnel during and after hostilities

The battle to liberate Manila lasted a month – between February 3 and March 3, 1945. The Japanese were the occupiers from whom the city and its surrounding areas were being liberated by American troops.

My dad was an American-in-hiding during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. He had refused to submit himself to internment at the University of Santo Tomas campus where he was told by the US Embassy in Manila to proceed with his family at the onset of hostilities in 1941. I was seven years old at the time.

My dad went into hiding. He took me with him to seek refuge at the home of his oldest daughter (my sister Rosie) in Cubao, Quezon City, while my step-mother took my four brothers and sisters with her to lie low in Agoo, La Union in Northern Luzon. Hiding was quite difficult for my dad who was visibly Caucasian though my siblings and I easily passed for Filipinos.

My dad had a short-wave radio which he managed to keep undetected by the Japanese and from which he was able to get reliable information on the status of the war in both Europe and the Pacific. The Japanese military had earlier ordered everyone that owned radios to submit them to official censors so their “short wave” circuitry could be disabled.

1944ustroopslandonleyte-320The Japanese military controlled information published by local broadcast and print media – propagating lies about the war situation. For example, during American air raids, I would count between 100 and 200 US Air Force planes in the sky and watch them from a hillside dive-bomb and strafe the nearby Camp Murphy which was occupied by the Japanese air force. Very, very rarely would I witness an American plane shot down during a raid. Each morning following an air raid, however, the Manila Tribune would run a headline that would read: “200 YANK PLANES SHOT DOWN OVER LUZON.”

From short wave radio, we learned that American troops had made a landing in the north of Luzon – in Dagupan, Pangasinan. We also learned that General Douglas MacArthur made another landing on the southern island of Leyte, where he famously waded to shore.

1944ustroopstendtowounded-320American forces started bombing vital Japanese bases and fortifications in the greater Manila area in September 1944. In the first week of February, 1945, rumors started spreading that American troops were coming into Quezon City from the north on their way to Manila at a time when I would be celebrating my twelfth birthday. A regiment of Japanese troops had fortified themselves at the Catholic nunnery and the water reservoir in Quezon City.

My dad and I followed the American forces from the time they arrived in Cubao, Quezon City, through the slow march to the city of Manila. My dad and I met the American troops and six American tanks that were heading to knock out the Japanese who were fortified at the Catholic nunnery and water reservoir in Cubao and then later to proceed to the city of Manila.

1944soldiersitsnexttodeadenemy-320The video accompanying this story shows 144 images of the death and destruction wrought by the liberation. Ninety-five percent of these images are credited to John Tewell who retired from the US Army and resided in Manila until his death. It was Mr. Tewell’s wish that these pictures be shared and propagated. Other pictures used in this video and story are official US Army photographs.

The Manila landmarks that could be identified in the video include the Manila Hotel, the Army & Navy Club, the Elks Club, the U. S. High Commissioner’s Office building, the US Embassy, the Jai Alai building, the Bay View Hotel, the Luneta Hotel, the San Luis Terraces building, the Cathedral of St. Mary and St. John Episcopal, the Central Methodist Church, the Agriculture and Commerce buildings, the Legislative building, Manila’s City Hall building, the Manila Post Office building, the Metropolitan Theater, and the Adamson University buildings.


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The curious case of an outstanding school superintendent and a school district’s dysfunctional board of trustees

03-husdmeetingpublic-530In the city of Hayward, California, there was a school superintendent that the community’s civic and business leaders – as well as parents and school teachers and administrators – admired and respected for his work in ameliorating the quality of instruction and the academic achievements of the students.

And in the same city of Hayward, California, there is a school district board of trustees that people say couldn’t resist meddling with the school superintendent’s work and placing roadblocks along his way. The school board’s meetings have been characterized as disorganized and contentious, thus the label “dysfunctional.”

The school superintendent in this story is Stan ‘Data’ Dobbs – the fourth school superintendent that the Hayward Unified School District’s (HUSD) board of trustees has hired and fired since 2010, a span of a little over five years. Four school superintendents in five years must be a record of some sort.

Dobbs was terminated by the HUSD board of trustees during its raucous meeting held Wednesday night, September 14. The action took place in spite of a unanimous outcry and demand for his retention by Hayward parents, teachers, school administrators, and civic and business leaders. The board’s action was condemned as being in utter disregard of the people’s wishes.

Dobbs was first placed on paid administrative leave by the board last June 29. Hayward’s community rallied behind Dobbs, gathering hundreds of signatures for a petition to drop all trumped-up charges and lift the suspension. The petitioners claimed that the accusations against Dobbs were whimsical.

02-lisabrunner-250x250On July 23, Dobbs filed a claim against the school district, alleging that the school board and its president, Lisa Brunner, violated his “statutory rights to privacy” and made “defamatory statements” against him during the board’s July 13 meeting where Dobbs was publicly accused of entering into contracts without the board’s approval and of “receiving gifts.” The claim seeks unspecified damages. If the claim is denied, Dobbs is expected to sue the school district.

Meanwhile, the citizens of Hayward have organized CLASS (Civic Leaders Advocating Student Success) and CLASS action is taking place in the city of Hayward. CLASS is a political action committee (PAC) that is campaigning to elect three new board members on November 8. If the CLASS action succeeds, the three new board members will constitute a majority on the 5-member school board – and the city of Hayward can get back on the road to providing the best in education to its students.04-husd-boardmeeting-530

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte needs to improve his manners, and put an end to extrajudicial killings

VictimsOfExtrajudicialKillings-530The great majority of Filipinos continue to admire and show support for President Rodrigo Duterte in spite of the rising voice of discontent and dissatisfaction among the nation’s intelligentsia. The discontent and dissatisfaction are brought about by three – among many – of the president’s widely publicized recent bloopers.

  1. He ogled his lady vice president’s legs and naughtily bragged about it.

Duterte&Robredo-320In televised remarks to army troops in Zamboanga del Sur on August 10 this year, the president related an incident in which his eyes caught the legs of his vice president, Leni Robredo. Duterte said that he admonished himself “. . . don’t do it!” and added “but I kept staring at her . . . she is beautiful.” The president told his audience, somewhat lewdly, that if he became “unlucky” while travelling and his vice president succeeded him to the presidency, “you would not be listening to her when she speaks but would just keep staring at her because she’s beautiful.”

How much lower and depraved could one get – one who is looked upon to set the proper moral compass for his people? Behavior and speech of the sort demeans the office of the president.

2. He maligned and disparaged United States Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg.

GoldbergCourtesyCallOnDuterte-320Last August 5, while talking of the recent visit of U. S. Secretary of State John Kerry to the Philippines and about U. S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg, Duterte told an audience of soldiers in Cebu City: “Secretary Kerry is okay, but his ambassador – that homosexual son of a whore – he gets my goat.”

While a majority of the Filipino masses cheer Duterte for his boldness, his remarks have nevertheless been rightfully condemned by political and social leaders as despicable.

3. He authorized and continues to encourage the extrajudicial killing of the country’s drug pushers and drug lords.

DuterteThePunisher-320Duterte has publicly announced the names or identities of what he said were drug pushers and drug lords with the admonition that police and other authorities were free to “kill” those of them that do not “voluntarily surrender.” In less than two months – as of August 9 this year – 513 drug “suspects” have been reported killed by Philippine National Police “for resisting arrest.” Human rights organizations have placed that number at more than 900, with some of the killings described as “execution style.”

Duterte’s actions have been condemned by many of the country’s lawmakers and justices as a violation of due process, the rule of law, and respect for and protection of universal human rights. In return, Duterte has threatened to declare Martial Law in the country if he did not have his way.

President Rodrigo Duterte must mend his ways – and mend them soon – if he wants the Philippines to remain a respectable member of the community of nations, and if he wants his people to learn how to be civil and maintain respect for the law.


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The 2016 U. S. presidential race: how Trump and Clinton compare – their strengths, their weaknesses, and their odds of winning

TheTickets-ClintonKaineVsTrumpPence-532The 2016 presidential primaries are history, and the 2016 Republican and Democratic conventions are over. These events have given the American people an insight into the two parties and their candidates. On November 8, Americans will decide who will lead their country for the next four years: Donald John Trump or Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The differences between the two candidates and their party and personal platforms and agendas – just like their personalities – are like the difference between night and day.

This much we know about the two parties and their candidates:

TheFight-VeryUGLY-300(1) Republicans are in utter disunity, Democrats are united. Ted Cruz refused to endorse Trump, while party leaders George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney, among others, indicated their disdain for Trump and boycotted the party convention. Democrats were united and unanimous in proclaiming Hillary Clinton as their presidential candidate.

(2) The Republican Party convention was mismanaged, the Democratic Party convention was a huge success. The Republican convention featured a plagiarized speech, many miscues, and a lineup of second-rate speakers. The Democratic convention was entertaining, informative, well-organized, on cue, and featured big-name and compelling speakers.

(3) Republicans are pessimistic about their country, Democrats believe America is the greatest nation on earth. Republican convention speakers pictured America as a “dark” and “morbid” place and the rest of the world as “falling apart.” Democrats drew an optimistic picture of the world and of America as the greatest nation on earth.

AmericasChoices-320While Donald Trump pictures America as a “broken” country and proclaimed that he “alone can fix it,” Hillary Clinton speaks about work “we are all engaged in” to keep America a great nation and which aims to “make our country even greater.” And while Donald Trump pitches a message of hatred and division, Hillary Clinton talks of her struggle for national unity and dialogue.

Never in the history of the United States has a woman been nominated and offered a chance to lead the country – and never before have Americans had the chance to elect a leader who has eerily striking similarities to Adolph Hitler!

Trump incites violence, is racist, misogynous, xenophobic, and a pathological liar. Trump is absolutely ignorant with regard to issues of world economy, diplomacy, and military strengths and weaknesses, while an expert in bilking people, including students of his so-called Trump University.

Hillary Clinton has spent her entire adult life serving the people – the underprivileged, women and children, and minorities. She is credited with representing the interests of the United States and building good, sound relationship with peoples and nations around the world.

If Americans vote the way they have in the past 238 years – and there is absolutely no reason they will not – we can safely predict that Hillary Rodham Clinton will be elected the 45th president of the United States this November.


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Cronyism and the ‘padrino’ system: what they do to the Philippine’s political and business culture, and how to get rid of them

NoToCronyCapitalism-600Cronyism and the ubiquitous padrino (patronage) system describe an economy in which certain business people and government officials maintain a close relationship, resulting in favoritism in the allocation of government contracts, permits, grants, benefits, etc. In its more despicable form, cronyism makes use of illegal and corrupt practices, causing people to lose respect for, and develop a mistrust of, both business and government.

While cronyism is an important factor in the growth of capitalism and the economies of countries, it results in discrimination against honest, legitimate business.

The Philippines ranks among the top ten countries in which cronyism is rampant. And the connection between cronyism and pervasive graft and corruption in the Philippines is all too obvious and well-known.

Bribery&Accomodation-400Every area of business in the Philippine economy is fueled by cronyism, including retail, manufacturing, banking, transportation, energy and natural resources, real estate and construction, and communications – and all branches and agencies of the government are affected.

Cronyism owes its spread in the Philippines to the proliferation of political dynasties, the culture of patronage, and the fact that Filipinos value social and institutional bonds, sometimes over blood relationship. Almost every adult Filipino has a kumpadre or two, and the bonds created by each relationship extend across entire families. Strong ties also grow through college organizations and the fact that people were schoolmates, or are members of the same service club.

Newly installed President Rodrigo Duterte has promised to eliminate all forms of graft and corruption in government and business – and between business and government. Mr. Duterte can succeed by adopting the following measures to curb cronyism:

  1. Bring the salaries of all civil servants – including and especially law enforcers – at all levels of government to living wage standards. This will reduce the temptation to accept bribes or privilege.
  2. Guarantee transparency in government conduct by using smart technologies in government processes, activities, and procedures.
  3. Enforce transparency in all government transactions. This will assure openness and minimize misconduct.
  4. Streamline procedures and processes to eradicate red tape. Red tape induces bribery.

With a civil service that is above-board and transparency in government conduct, cronyism – and the padrino system – will fade away.

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Why Filipinos would rather live in sin than seek to legally dissolve a nonworking marriage, or why the Philippines desperately needs a divorce law


Rep. Lagman’s HB 116 promises relief from “long-dead marriages” to multitudes of “hapless women”

The Philippines is the only country in the world – outside of the Vatican, which has only about 30 women citizen/residents – that does not allow divorce. Many married Filipinos live in sin and illicitly when they separate and one or both ‘remarries’ outside the law. Only Filipinos who are Muslim can legally divorce under Philippine law.

The Roman Catholic Church of the Philippines has used all its power and influence to prevent the passage of a divorce law in the country. When the Philippines gained independence in 1945, the church made sure divorce was no longer allowed under Philippine law.

UntilWeGetDivorced-300Filipinos whose marriages are utter failures can seek recourse through a marriage annulment, a decree obtainable from the church or a civil court under very limited and highly improbable or difficult-to-prove grounds. The process for a legal annulment is long and tortuous, and a great majority of Filipinos could not afford the time or the cost of a church-sanctioned or civil court-promulgated marriage annulment.

The other alternative for Filipinos is “legal separation.” Legal separation is easy to obtain but does not dissolve a marriage – it simply allows the spouses to live separate from each other while maintaining the conjugal partnership.

Several attempts have been made in the past to enact a divorce law in the Philippines. All such attempts were defeated either by failure to pass Congress or by a veto of the president.

The Roman Catholic Church of the Philippines has so far succeeded in making sure that the Filipino people – those who are not Muslim – are bound to a life of misery, sin, and illegal relationships, simply because they failed in their attempt at building a family. The Roman Catholic Church of the Philippines can take pride in helping to create a population of illegitimate children, adulterers, concubines, and all forms of broken homes.

Divorce-WeAreDone-350But relief is in sight. Representative Edsel Lagman of Albay province has filed a bill – House Bill 116 – that seeks to allow absolute divorce in the country. The congressman says the bill would provide “a merciful liberation of the hapless wife from a long-dead marriage.” Rep. Lagman was the principal author of the country’s newly-enacted Reproductive Health Law which the Roman Catholic Church of the Philippines opposed with all its might.

The grounds for absolute divorce, under Lagman’s bill, in addition to those allowed for legal annulment, are: (1) when either of the spouses secures a valid foreign divorce; (2) gender-reassignment surgery; and, (3) when “irreconcilable differences or conflicts exist between the married couple, which are beyond redemption despite earnest and repeated efforts at reconciliation.”

If reason prevails in the Philippines – and there is no reason for it not to – the bill will pass both houses. The legislation will most likely be quickly signed by President Rodrigo Duterte into law – and the Philippines can leave that distinction of being a “marry-and-suffer-the-rest-of-your-life” society to the Vatican, where there are only a handful of married people.

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What makes Metropolitan Manila traffic so congested, and what can be done to fix it

Four Lanes To Six Lanes

You’re in Makati. It is 1:00 PM. You have a 3:00 PM appointment in Parañaque – a mere twenty kilometers from where you are. You get in your car and drive to your appointment. Because the traffic is so bad, it takes you 2-1/2 hours to get to your destination. You miss your appointment. Don’t curse – you’re in Metro Manila!

Metro Manila (also known as the National Capital Region) has a traffic problem like no other place on earth. Most political and business leaders in the country blame the situation completely on “bad traffic management.” But bad traffic management is only one of the causes – and not the primary cause – of Metro Manila’s traffic woes.

According To WazeMetropolitan Manila is made up of sixteen cities and municipalities. The region covers an area of 611 square kilometers (236 sq. miles) with a population of 12 million people. Metro Manila is likely the world’s most populated region, with a density of 19,000 persons per square kilometer (50,000 persons per square mile).

While not all the people who live in the Metro Manila drive their own vehicle, most of them are on the road travelling, at least twice a day – by car, bus, “jeepney”, taxi (or Uber), tricycle, pedicab, motorcycle, motorbike, or on foot. And those who walk help obstruct and slow down vehicular traffic.

American Chamber SaysAccording to the Philippine Statistics Authority, 2.5 million vehicles of all types were registered to operate in the Metro Manila area in 2015 – more than 25% of the total number of vehicles operating in the entire country. On the other hand, there are only 1,030 kilometers of roadways in the entire region of 611 square kilometers.

From these facts, one could easily glean the reasons Metro Manila’s traffic is so notoriously bad:

  1. There are 2.5 million vehicles operating in an area with only 1,030 kilometers of roads – more than 2,400 vehicles per kilometer of roadway.
  2. Traffic patterns are disorganized.
  3. Drivers, generally discourteous, disregard and violate traffic rules and safe driving habits.
  4. Pedestrians and peddlers occupy traffic lanes in congested areas.
  5. Passenger vehicles double-park in wait for fares in congested areas.
  6. Development continues unabated without regard to environmental impact, especially on traffic and parking.

What’s the solution?

  1. Thin out the Metro Manila population by requiring large industrial complexes to move out of the area.
  2. Move the nation’s capital to a planned community at least 200 kilometers away from Metro Manila.
  3. Promulgate a national policy for agricultural development and growth to discourage people from migrating to the cities in search of opportunity.
  4. Enforce traffic rules.

Without these steps, the Metro Manila area will literally stagnate.

Too Many Vehicle Few Roads

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As he lost his bid to be president, Jojo Binay will likely lose a lot of unexplained wealth – and serve jail time to boot

His son Junjun and wife Elenita – both similarly accused of plunder, graft, and corruption – may end up with a similar fate


Immediately following his election as vice president on May 10, 2010, Jejomar “Jojo” Binay – who was born Jesus Jose Cabauatan Binay – was a sure bet to be the sixteenth president of the Philippines six year later, in 2016. Binay announced his bid for the presidency – and started organizing and actively campaigning for the post – just days after being sworn in as vice president on June 30, 2010. At the time – and for quite a while – Jojo Binay was the man to beat for president in 2016.

But the almost six years of wait took its toll on Jojo Binay’s destiny: in the May 9, 2016 election, he garnered just a little over 5 million of the more than 43 million votes cast for president. His poor showing resulted from Jojo Binay’s utter lack of regard for reality.

Jojo Binay started his political career in early 1970 when he ran several times for a seat on the Makati city council, losing each time. In 1986, then-president Cory Aquino named him acting mayor of the city. Binay served as acting mayor until 1988 after which he was elected and reelected to serve until June 30, 1998. Due to term limits, his wife Elenita ran for the office and served from 1998 through 2001, when Jojo Binay returned to the post and served as mayor until June 30, 2010. Jojo Binay was elected vice president in 2010, and his son Junjun succeeded him as Makati mayor.


When he first sat in the Makati mayor’s office, Jojo Binay had very meager assets. The Binays (Jojo, his wife Elenita, and son Junjun) were able to build up tremendous wealth in both real estate and cash while serving as city mayor. Even before becoming the country’s vice president – while he was city mayor – Jojo Binay was hounded by charges filed against him with the Ombudsman for plunder, graft, and corruption – as were his wife and son. Jojo Binay routinely dismissed all charges as part of what he claimed was a “political demolition job” aimed at stalling his quest for higher office. He continued to disregard charges filed against him while serving as vice president. In addition, Jojo Binay ignored summons after summons for him to appear before a Senate Blue Ribbon committee investigation of the same accusations.

During the presidential campaign, Jojo Binay promised a better life for Filipinos once elected. He told of his life as a poor orphaned boy growing up even poorer, and making his riches through hard work. What people could not understand is how a person whose only occupation in life is to engage in politics could get extremely wealthy through “hard work.”

Left unanswered and un-refuted, the accusations against the Binays began to gain credence. Supporter after supporter started abandoning Jojo Binay’s presidential campaign, and leagues of campaign workers began jumping off his floundering campaign ship.

His campaign slogan “Life will get better with Jojo Binay!” suddenly lacked meaning to voters. His not-so-affable stature contributed to his shortcoming. People just could not believe that this short, dark, unassuming person was capable of giving them a better life, what with all the legal problems he was running up against. Jojo Binay tried to portray a better image of his self, but failed miserably.

BinayExplainsHisLoss-470x290When he steps down from the vice presidency at the end of June this year, Jojo Binay will have to face reality: multiple charges for plunder, graft, and corruption will be filed against him at the Sandiganbayan by the country’s Ombudsman. Plunder – under Philippine law – is a nonbailable offense.

Asked about his fate when those charges are submitted to the Sandiganbayan, Jojo Binay was quoted as telling newsmen: “I’m a practicing lawyer. A lawyer knows when he will win and when he will lose a case.” Any sane person – lawyer or otherwise – will tell you that Jojo Binay needs to get off his high horse and be real.

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