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Archive for July, 2011


July is definitely fading into oblivion.  It’s a nice start to have August 01 falling on a Monday. No, this is not my usual, “goodbye July, hello August” blog.  There were a lot of things that happened yesterday and my thoughts keep on nagging me to write about them.

Hello AFCC friends! I really could not describe the happiness I felt seeing some of you yesterday. Thank you for gracing us with your gift of presence, cherishing and enjoying the day with Fr. Louie and me for our very first AFCC gathering in the Philippines.  I appreciate it a lot that you were not deterred by the heavy rains just to be with us.

When I think  of the earlier months I spent with the Apostles Filipino Catholic Community, I feel a sense of awe and wonder that it evolved from a simple Catholic group to something truly inspirational and uplifting.  The members’ involvement became somewhat personal in nature when  Fr. Louie  created the AFCC Global Tambayan page where they could post at their hearts’ content about anything “under the Catholic sun” (it’s how Fr. Louie puts it). It’s an offshoot from the more formal set-up of the AFCC main site.  It has evolved into something where we are now one big happy family.

Friends at AFCC, it is so amazing to see you share your thoughts with us, share a little of your life with us and even sometimes your heartaches too. It is so amazing to see you being very enthusiastic about most of the topics we share on the site. And it is even more amazing to see some of you contributing your own talents and gift of gab, even to the point of creating games and making interesting posts that keep the Tambayan page alive. And meeting some of you yesterday really made my day complete. And as I’ve said in my welcome remarks, yesterday’s event was a culmination of our wish to see each other personally.  It was a lovely  and enriching experience for me.  Compared to a well-executed plan, it was just like a blue-print before but the reality of seeing you made it a truly “certified true copy”.

I didn’t have much time to take photos of the event but thanks for those who brought their own camera and shared the pictures with us. It’s lovely to see us on cam, all smiles – a picture of happy togetherness. Here are some of the photos I picked from Eva, Paul, Reymon and Tere’s albums. Thank you very much. I took the liberty of downloading some of them for this blog.

Here’s a casual pose while waiting for the rest of the members to arrive.  Tere (in white shirt) was our secretary for the day, taking down notes at the start of the gathering but quickly lost it when Fr. Louie started the games. Paul, our talented and resident painter/artist at AFCC. He was so generous in taking videos and pictures of us while we were at our best laughing our hearts out with the rest of the group. Lilet, in green shirt  who was so generous with bringing a bag full of rosaries to distribute to everyone. I think it was  Aehvz who took this shot.

Take  two! That’s me in the red shirt, of course.

That’s our friend and mentor Fr. Louie Coronel, OP – the indefatigable and creative priest who is behind the success of the AFCC online and AFCC Global Tambayan. We are so lucky to attend this intimate communion with God. Lovely homily, great insight Father. Thank you very much.

Our group shot at the lovely conference room of Bahay Dominiko. Notice the smiles of everyone. It’s a nice proof that we enjoyed every minute bonding with each other.

We had our lunch at KFC. Happy moments, lovely day to cherish. Thanks Reymon and Aehvz  for the yummy KFC chicken.

With Paul, Fr. Louie and Reymon

Those two pencil sketches were our gifts from Paul, our talented artist. I could not thank you enough Paul for the lovely sketch of my favorite Pope.  Aren’t we lucky, having you around in our group? I cried seeing those lovely works of art.

“Halos isang oras na pagpapaalam” . We just could not get enough, you see, it took us almost an hour to say goodbye to each other.

 The boys in our group – from left to right: Fr. Louie, OP, Noel, Clemen, Matt, Reymon and Gian.

Another group shot before we go. This was taken at the lovely garden of Bahay Dominiko. At the back, left to right: Joan, Lilet, Fr. Louie, OP, Noel, Clemen, Matt and Reymon. In front: Aevz, Tere, me and Gian.

Charlene brought the whole family. It was lovely sharing and laughing with all of you. I could not describe how truly happy I was having you all around. We  are one big happy family. I really hope, we’ll have another chance to meet each other again in a future gathering.  My big thanks to my co-admin Jlyn de Guzman Bengala and to Fr.Tacky, OFM, our AFCC Spiritual Director in  Rome  for the lovely messages you sent us.

More days of happy togetherness. God bless us all!

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I’ve been blogging about AFCC (Apostles Filipino Catholic Community) now and then, writing about my journey as one of the administrators of the group.  We’ll be having our first gathering tomorrow at Sto. Domingo Church and every one of us is quite excited for the event.  Most of them are online friends and except for Fr. Louie and Noel, this will be the first time that I will get to meet them in person.  I’ve been bombarded with questions since this afternoon, they are all excited to meet each other and to meet the admins too. We’ll be having mass to be presided by Fr. Louie, the creator of the site.  They were asking what to bring and I told them, “your presence is enough.”

We are blessed with fellow sojourners -  sharing their lives with us, having one common goal in mind – to be closer to God.

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It’s been my dream to blog in Tagalog. Although I speak the language fluently, I still find it easier expressing myself in English. I feel though that the title of this post sounds better in Tagalog than in English. It simply means, “What does a billion dollar coffee taste like?”

For those of you who have read PNoy’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) which he delivered last Monday, July 25, 2011, you’ve probably noticed his mentioning what the Commission on Audit found out about the more than a billion worth of coffee spent by PAGCOR in all its 12 branches of operation.  This has a particular impact on a nation whose lower percentage of the population is  barely on a hand-to-mouth existence. Allow me to quote his exact words . I won’t attempt to translate them here because I have previously posted both versions of the SONA earlier.

Ang totoo nga po, marami pang kalokohan ang nahalungkat natin. Halimbawa, sa PAGCOR: kape. Isang bilyong piso po ang ginastos ng dating pamunuan ng ahensya para sa kape; sa isandaang piso na lang po kada tasa, lalabas na nakakonsumo sila ng sampung milyong tasa. Baka po kahit ngayong iba na ang pamunuan ng PAGCOR ay dilat na dilat pa rin ang mata ng mga uminom ng kapeng ito. Hanapin nga po natin sila, at matanong: nakakatulog pa po ba kayo?

My gosh, a billion worth of coffee! I was telling my friends that perhaps, it’s a gold coffee in a gold cup. Later reports say that it was overpriced by 70%. How can a government agency spend that much on coffee alone?  On valued clients, maybe?

As usual, there are more negative remarks about the SONA than positive ones. Doomsayers never believe that the Philippines would be able to lift itself up again. They always think that the success of one nation depends on its government alone, more particularly its president. I ask you, as I have always asked before in my previous blogs about such similar subject, are you doing your share? And is there a perfect SONA that would cover all aspects in one hour delivery? Do you expect the president to be a magician and wave his magic wand and all the problems of the nation will be solved in a year? Aren’t  we asking too much?

Our nation is like a victim of typhoon Ondoy or typhoon Juaning for that matter. There was a devastation, read – corruption in massive amounts that we could not even imagine.  We need a complete clean-up in order to start on a clean slate and do what is necessary. PNoy couldn’t have expressed it better when he said:

Ang mali—gaano katagal man ito nanatili—ay mali pa rin. Hindi puwedeng “Oks lang, wala lang iyan.” Kapag kinalimutan natin ang mga ito, mangyayari lang ulit ang mga kamalian ng nakaraan. Kung hindi magbabayad ang mga nagkasala, parang tayo na rin mismo ang nag-imbita sa mga nagbabalak gumawa ng masama na umulit muli.

Just my thoughts…what’s yours?

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I am sharing Nissa’s prenuptial pics taken by their official photographer at Pan de Amerikana and at Parks and Wildlife. Would have loved to add more pictures but they are reserving them for their guest album.

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Dear Rain:

You are welcome when you gently fall and I am lulled to sleep but I don’t like you when you drench everything in our garden and create large puddles on the street. It makes me feel so insecure to see you falling nonstop.

Insecure me

I wrote this on my wall at Facebook this morning. It’s been raining the whole day because of typhoon Juaning. We are presently under signal number 2 and there are lots of provinces affected by the typhoon. I wish and pray the rain would stop soon.

Please Lord, spare us from the wrath of the typhoon.

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State of the Nation Address
of
His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
To the Congress of the Philippines

[English translation of the speech delivered at the Session Hall of the House of Representatives, Batasan Pambansa Complex, Quezon City on July 25, 2011]

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile; Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.; Vice President Jejomar Binay; former Presidents Fidel Valdez Ramos and Joseph Ejercito Estrada; Chief Justice Renato Corona and the honorable Justices of the Supreme Court; honorable members of the diplomatic corps; members of the House of Representatives and the Senate; Local Government Officials; members of our Cabinet; members of the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police; to my fellow servants of the Filipino people;

And to my beloved countrymen, my Bosses:

I stood before you during my inauguration and promised: we would do away with the use of the wang-wang. This one gesture has become the symbol of change, not just in our streets, but even in our collective attitude.

Over the years, the wang-wang had come to symbolize abuse of authority. It was routinely used by public officials to violate traffic laws, inconveniencing ordinary motorists—as if only the time of the powerful few, and no one else’s, mattered. Instead of behaving like public servants, they acted like kings. This privilege was extended to their cronies and patrons, who moved along the streets as if they were aristocracy, indifferent to those who were forced to give way and were left behind. Abusing privilege despite promising to serve—this is the wang-wang mindset; this is the mindset of entitlement.

They had no right to do this. The law authorizes only the President, the Vice President, the Senate President, the Speaker, the Chief Justice, and police vehicles, fire trucks, and ambulances to use sirens in the fulfillment of their official duties—no one else. Yet the flagrant abuse we bore witness to prompts us to ask: if they felt it their privilege to flout the simplest traffic laws, how could we expect them not to help themselves to a share of projects funded by the Filipino people?

Do you want the corrupt held accountable? So do I. Do you want to see the end of wang-wang, both on the streets and in the sense of entitlement that has led to the abuse that we have lived with for so long? So do I. Do you want to give everyone a fair chance to improve their lot in life? So do I.

We have fought against the wang-wang, and our efforts have yielded results. Just this year, the number of Filipinos who experienced hunger has come down. Self-rated hunger has gone down from 20.5% in March to 15.1% this June—equivalent to a million Filipino families who used to go hungry, but who now say they eat properly every day.

As for business, who would have thought that the stock market would reach seven record highs in the past year?  At one time, we thought that for the PSE Index to reach 4,000 points would be, at best, a fluke. We now routinely exceed this threshold.

Our once low credit ratings have now been upgraded by Moody’s, Standard and Poors, Fitch, and Japan Credit Ratings Agency—in recognition of our prudent use of funds and creative financial management. These improved credit ratings mean lower interest on our debts. Our innovative fiscal approach has saved taxpayers 23 billion pesos in the first four months of this year. This is enough to cover the 2.3 million conditional cash transfer beneficiaries for the entire year.

Let me remind you: in the nine and a half years before we were elected into office, our credit ratings were upgraded once, and downgraded six times by the different credit ratings agencies. Compare this to the four upgrades we have achieved in the single year we have been in office. This was no small feat, considering that the upgrades came after ratings agencies have grown considerably more conservative in their assessments, especially in the wake of criticism they received after the recent American financial crisis.  But while they have downgraded the ratings of other countries, they have upgraded ours, so that we are now just one notch below investment grade. Our economic team is hard at work to sustain the momentum.

And allow me to share more good news from the Department of Energy: having rid the DOE of wang-wang, we have revived the confidence of investors in our energy sector. 140 companies, all ready to participate in the exploration and strengthening of our oil and natural gas resources, can attest to this. Compare this to the last energy contracting round in 2006, which saw the participation of only 35 companies. Just last Friday, a new contract was signed for a power plant to be constructed in the Luzon grid, so that by 2014, our country will have a cheaper, more reliable source of energy.

There is confidence and there is hope; the government is now fulfilling its promises. And I cannot help but remember a woman I spoke with during one of my first house-to-house campaigns. She lamented: “It won’t matter who wins these elections. Nothing will change. I was poor when our leaders campaigned, I am poor now that they are in office, and I will still be poor when they step down.” This is a grievance echoed by many: “Our leaders didn’t care about us then, our leaders don’t care about us now, and our leaders will not care about us tomorrow.”

Given the persistence of the wang-wang attitude, wasn’t their sentiment justified? This was the attitude that allowed helicopters to be bought as if they were brand new, but had in fact already been extensively used. This was the attitude that allowed GOCC officials, like those in the Philippine National Construction Corporation, to pay themselves millions of pesos in bonuses, even as they failed to render decent service and plunged their respective agencies deeper into debt. Before they stepped down from their positions, the former heads of the PNCC gifted themselves with two hundred and thirty-two million pesos. Their franchise had lapsed in 2007; their collections should have been remitted to the national government. They did not do this, and in fact even took advantage of their positions: the bonuses they allotted to themselves in the first 6 months of 2010 was double the amount of their bonuses from 2005-2009. Yet they had the audacity to award themselves midnight bonuses, when they had already drowned their agencies in debt.

To end the wang-wang culture in government, we employed zero-based budgeting to review programs. For this year and the last, zero-based budgeting has allowed us to end many wasteful programs.

For example, we uncovered and stopped an ill-advised plan to dredge Laguna Lake. We would have borrowed 18.7 billion pesos to remove 12 million cubic meters of silt—which would have re-accumulated within three years, even before the debt could be fully paid. We also uncovered a food-for-school program with no proper targeting of beneficiaries, and other initiatives that were funded without apparent results. All of these were discontinued, and the funds rechanneled to more effective programs.

The budget is the clearest manifestation of the straight path upon which we tread. I say to those who would lead us astray: if you will further disadvantage the poor, do not even think about it. If all you would do is to fill your own pockets, do not even think about it. If it is not for the benefit of the Filipino people, do not even think about it.

I wish we could say that we had completely eliminated the wang-wang attitude, but in some parts of our consciousness, it still persists.

It still exists in the private sector. According to the BIR, we have around 1.7 million self-employed and professional taxpayers: lawyers, doctors, businessmen who paid a total of 9.8 billion pesos in 2010. This means that each of them paid only an average of 5,783 pesos in income tax—and if this is true, then they each must have earned only 8,500 pesos a month, which is below the minimum wage. I find this hard to believe.

Today we can see that our taxes are going where they should, and therefore there is no reason not to pay the proper taxes. I say to you: it’s not just the government, but our fellow citizens, who are cheated out of the benefits that these taxes would have provided.

We are holding accountable—and we will continue to hold accountable—those who practice this culture of entitlement in all government offices, as there are still some who think they can get away with it. A district in Region 4B, for example, began a project worth 300 million pesos, well beyond the 50 million pesos that district engineers can sign off on their own.  But they could not leave such a potentially large payday alone.

So they cut the project up into components that would not breach the 50 million peso limit that would have required them to seek clearance from the regional and central offices. They tried to keep this system going. And often, since lump-sum funding was being used for the projects, no questions were asked about the plans or project details. They could have been spinning webs and they would have still been given the funds, so long as they knew someone in power.

Secretary Babes Singson did not let them get away with this. He removed the district engineer from his post, and suspended the awarding of the project in an effort to uncover other anomalies that may have happened. A thorough investigation of all those involved in the case is underway; we will blacklist all contractors proven to have engaged in foul play.

Because the project had to be delayed, Filipinos who would have otherwise benefited from them are still made to face unnecessary inconveniences.

These anomalies are not limited to Region 4B. We are putting an end to them. We are eliminating the patronage politics that had been prevalent in DPWH, and replacing it with a culture in which merit prevails. All projects must have work programs; we will require those involved in projects to submit well thought out plans for consideration, so that each project complements the other. We have also instituted an honest and transparent bidding process to provide equal opportunity to interested contractors.

Because of this, we have already saved 2.5 billion pesos, and expect to save 6 to 7 billion by the end of this year. The most important thing, however, is that now, we can count on well-paved roads—as opposed to the fragile pothole-ridden paths that our people had grown used to. Once, we believed that the system in the DPWH was impossible to fix; but look—it’s possible, and we’re fixing it.

Even in agriculture, the culture of wang-wang once persisted. Before we came into office in 2010, the Philippines imported 2.3 million metric tons of rice, which was already a million metric tons more than the 1.3 million that we needed. We even had to pay extra for warehouses to store the rice acquired through excessive importation.

How many years have we been over-importing rice? Many Filipinos thought that there was nothing we could do about it.

We proved them wrong in the span of a year. What was once an estimated yearly shortage of 1.3 million metric tons is down to 660,000—that’s almost half of the original amount. Even with our buffer of 200,000 metric tons as contingency against natural calamities, it is still significantly less than what was once the norm.

Our success in this sector was not brought about by mere luck. This is simply the result of doing things right: using the most effective types of seedlings, and careful and efficient spending on irrigation. In the past year, we irrigated an additional 11,611 hectares of fields, not to mention the near 212,000 hectares of land we were able to rehabilitate. The result: a 15.6 percent increase in rice production.

We envision two things: first, an end to over-importation that only serves to benefit the selfish few. Second: we want rice self-sufficiency—that the rice served on every Filipino’s dinner table is planted here, harvested here, and purchased here.

Let us look back on the situations of many of our policemen a year ago. The average salary of a common PO1 in Metro Manila is around 13,000 pesos. Around 4,000 pesos or abour a third of their salaries goes directly to paying the rent. Another third goes to food, and the final third is all that is left for electricity and water bills, commuting, tuition fees, medicine, and everything else. Ideally, their salaries match their expenses—but this is not always the case. Those whose salaries are not enough would probably resort to taking out some loans. What happens when the interest piles up and they end up having to spend even more of their salaries? Will they still be able to do the right thing when tempted with an opportunity to make a quick buck?

This is why, this July, we have followed through on the housing promise we made in February. We were able to award 4,000 Certificates of Entitlement to Lot Allocation. This is only the first batch of the 21,800 houses we will have constructed by the end of the year. Awarding our men in uniform these houses will turn their 4,000 peso rent expense into an initial 200 peso per month payment for a house that is all theirs. The cash they once paid for rent can now be used for other needs.

I hear that there are still more than a thousand houses left, so for our policemen and our soldiers who have not yet submitted their papers, this is the last call for this batch of houses. But do not worry, because this housing program will continue next year, covering even more people and more regions. The NHA is already preparing the sites for housing projects in Visayas and Mindanao, with an expanded list of beneficiaries that will also include employees of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and of the Bureau of Fire Protection.

Speaking of security, does enhanced security not also enhance our national pride? There was a time when we couldn’t appropriately respond to threats in our own backyard. Now, our message to the world is clear: What is ours is ours; setting foot on Recto Bank is no different from setting foot on Recto Avenue.

At times I wonder if the stories about some of our past stand-offs are true—that when cannons were aimed at our marines, they could only reciprocate by cutting down a coconut tree, painting it black, and aiming it back. True or not, that time is over. Soon, we will be seeing capability upgrades and the modernization of the equipment of our armed forces. At this very moment, our very first Hamilton Class Cutter is on its way to our shores. We may acquire more vessels in the future—these, in addition to helicopters and patrol crafts, and the weapons that the AFP, PNP, and DOJ will buy in bulk to get a significant discount. This goes to show how far we can go with good governance; we can buy equipment at good prices, without having to place envelopes in anyone’s pockets.

We do not wish to increase tensions with anyone, but we must let the world know that we are ready to protect what is ours. We are also studying the possibility of elevating the case on the West Philippine Sea to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, to make certain that all involved nations approach the dispute with calm and forbearance.

Our efforts to enhance the capabilities of our men and women in uniform are already succeeding. In the first six months of 2010, we had 1,010 cases of car and motorcycle theft. Compare that to the 460 cases in the first six months of 2011. Unfortunately, it is the one or two high-profile cases that make the headlines, and not the bigger picture—the fact that there is a large drop in car and motorcycle thefts, and that we have returned a higher percentage of stolen cars to their rightful owners.

And here is another example of positive change in law enforcement. The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act was signed in 2003. Unfortunately, because the government did not properly implement it, only 29 individuals were convicted in a period of seven years. In just one year, we have breached that amount, convicting 31 human traffickers. Perhaps, this is the “sea change” that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was referring to; and because of this change, the Philippines has been taken off the Tier 2 Watchlist of their Trafficking in Persons Report. If we had not been removed from this watchlist, the assistance we have been receiving from the Millennium Challenge Corporation, among others, would have been jeopardized.

Allow me to talk about jobs now. Our foremost pledge to the Filipino people was to create more jobs, and we have delivered. In April 2010, the unemployment rate was at 8%; in April 2011, it was at 7.2%.

To put things into perspective: We must all remember that the ranks of the unemployed represent a moving target. Every year, thousands of fresh graduates join the ranks of job hunters. Last year, the number of unemployed Filipinos in our labor force grew after many of our countrymen who earned a temporary living from election-related jobs—the people assigned to hanging buntings, the people tasked with clearing a path for politicians in crowds of people, the drivers, and other campaign staff—were laid off. But, despite all this, our results make our success evident: one million and four hundred thousand jobs were created last year.

Before, our foremost ambition was to work in another country. Now, the Filipino can take his pick. As long as he pursues his dreams with determination and diligence, he can realize them.

The number of jobs generated in our country can only grow from here. According to the Philjobnet website, every month there are 50,000 jobs that are not filled because the knowledge and skills of job seekers do not match the needs of the companies. We will not allow this opportunity to go to waste; at this very moment, DOLE, CHED, TESDA, and DepEd are working together to address this issue. Curricula will be reviewed and analyzed to better direct them to industries that are in need of workers, and students will be guided so that they may choose courses that will arm them with the skills apt for vacant jobs.

Despite the demand for these jobs, there are still people who are being left behind. What do we do with them? First, we identified the poorest of the poor, and invested in them, because people are our greatest resource. Of the two million families registered with the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, 1.6 million are already receiving their conditional cash transfers. Through the initiative and leadership of Secretary Dinky Soliman, we have been able to give much needed assistance to an average of more than 100,000 families per month. I am optimistic that we will reach our target of 1.3 million additional beneficiaries this year. With a compliance rate of 92%, millions of mothers are already getting regular check-ups at public health centers, millions of babies are being vaccinated against common diseases, and millions of school-aged children are now attending classes.

With these significant early results, I am counting on the support of the Filipino people and Congress to expand our Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. Before the end of 2012, we want to invest in the future of 3 million poor families.

We are giving these poor families a chance to improve their lives, because their progress will be the country’s progress. How can they buy products and services from businesses if they do not have a proper income? When a poor father turns to crime in order to feed his family, who would he victimize, if not us? When people cannot properly take care of themselves and fall ill, do we not run the risk of getting sick as well?

We are laying down the foundations for a brighter future for the poor. For example, in the health sector: PhilHealth beneficiaries increased during elections, as the agency was used as a tool for dispensing political patronage. Today, we identify beneficiaries through the National Household Targeting System, to make sure that the 5.2 million Filipino families who benefit from PhilHealth are those who really need it.

Let us turn our attention to the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. The politics there have been dominated by horse-trading and transactional politics. During national elections, whoever is in power in ARMM is free to manipulate the electoral machinery in his region, ensuring that non-allies do not get votes. That Mayor or Governor then demands payment for his services come the ARMM election, and it is the administration’s turn to manipulate the electoral machinery to secure the win of their candidate.

According to the Commission on Audit, in the office of the regional governor of ARMM, eighty percent of the funds disbursed were for cash advances that cannot be justified. If those funds had not gone to waste, a child could have gone to school. Instead, we built ghost bridges to reach ghost schools where only ghost teachers went to work.

We want ARMM to experience the benefits of good governance. And so, the solution: Synchronization—candidates in ARMM will run at the same time as candidates in other parts of the country. There would be less opportunity for them to employ command votes for political patrons. The result would be fairer elections. Thank you to Congress for passing the law synchronizing ARMM with the national elections.

And why do we need to postpone the elections? Because, in their desire to return to or retain power, many are prepared to engage in corrupt practices just to win again. Imagine if we had listened to the critics, and allowed the election to proceed under these circumstances. We would have perpetuated the endless cycle of electoral fraud and official abuse that has led ARMM to become one of the poorest regions in the country.

I do not doubt that the reforms we are putting in place will yield concrete results. When we talk about the straight and righteous path, we talk about that new road that was built in Barangay Bagumbayan in Sta. Maria, Laguna. When we say clean government, we are talking about the clean water that residents in Barangay Poblacion in Ferrol, Romblon now enjoy. When we refer to the light of change, we also refer to the electricity that now powers light bulbs in Barangay San Marcos in Bunawan, Agusan del Sur. This is happening in many other places, and we will make it happen everywhere in our country.

Government agencies are now focused on realizing this; they are working together to creatively solve the problems that have long plagued our country.

Have we not had flooding problems, which we know are caused by the incessant and illegal cutting down of trees? The old solution: A tree-planting photo opportunity, whose sole beneficiaries are politicians who want to look good. They plant trees, but they do not ensure that the trees would remain standing after they leave.

One of the possible solutions we are studying is to make the stewardship of these trees beneficial to communities. They will be given coffee and cacao seeds to plant. While they wait for harvest, they will receive stipends for safeguarding the trees planted to mitigate flooding. We are looking at informal settlers, who are currently crammed into our cities, as possible beneficiaries of this program.  We will be investing in the people, even as we invest in the environment.

Who could have thought that little over a year ago, we could accomplish this? Today, we dream; one day soon, these dreams will be a reality.

This same creativity is in display with the innovations that are already being implemented. We have developed low-cost traps that kill mosquito larvae, probably contributing to the nearly fourteen percent decrease in dengue incidents; coconut coir fibers that are normally just disposed of have been used as a cost-effective way to strengthen our roads; we have landslide sensors that warn when soil erosion has reached dangerous levels; we have developed early flood warning systems for riverside communities. All of these are products of Filipino creativity.

DOST and UP have even teamed up to develop a prototype monorail system, which could potentially provide a home grown mass transport solution that would cost us as little as 100 million pesos per kilometer, much cheaper than the current cost of similar mass transit systems. The potential savings could result in more kilometers of cheap transport, decongesting our urban centers and allowing rural communities easier access to centers of commerce and industry.

Let me reiterate: These proposals were developed by Filipinos for Filipinos. Do you remember the time when we were unable to even dream of these kinds of projects? I am telling you now: We can dream about them, we are capable of achieving them, and we will achieve them. Isn’t it great to be a Filipino living in these times?

All of these things we are doing will be wasted if we do not do something to end the culture of corruption.

To my colleagues in public service, from those at the top and to every corner of the bureaucracy: Do we not feel the pride that working in government now brings? That, now, we are proud to be identified as workers in government? Will we waste this honor?

I call on our Local Government Units: Those of you who are in the best position to understand the needs of your constituents can expect greater freedom and empowerment. But we trust that in providing for your communities, you will remain committed to the straight path, and will not lose sight of the interest of the whole nation.

For instance, there are some municipalities that want to tax the electricity transmission lines that run through their jurisdictions. Although this will augment local coffers, the rest of the Filipino people will have to deal with higher electricity rates. Let us try to balance the interests of our constituencies with that of the nation as a whole.

It is imperative that our programs remain in sync, because the progress of the entire country will also redound to progress for your communities. Let us do away with forward planning that only looks as far as the next election, and think of the long-term national good.

Ultimately, we have to unite and work together towards this progress. I thank the Congress for passing laws regarding GOCC Governance, ARMM Synchronization, Lifeline Electricity Rates Extension, Joint Congressional Power Commission Extension, Children and Infants’ Mandatory Immunization, and Women Night Workers.

Last year, Congress demonstrated their support by approving the budget even before the year ended. The timely passage of the budget allowed projects to be implemented more quickly. Tomorrow we will deliver to Congress our budget proposal for 2012. I look forward once again to its early passage so that we can build on our current momentum.

We have already made progress, but we must remember: This is only the beginning, and there is much left for us to do. Allow me to present to Congress some of the measures that will bring us closer to the fulfillment of our pledge to the nation.

We aim to give due compensation to the victims of Martial Law; to grant our house help the salaries and benefits that they deserve; and to improve the system that awards pensions to our retired soldiers. We likewise support the expansion of the scope of scholarships granted by DOST to outstanding yet underprivileged students; the advancement of universal quality healthcare; the responsible management of the environment; and the formation of facilities that will ensure the safety of our citizens during times of great need and calamity.

Our agenda also includes the development of BuCor, NBI, NEA, and PTV 4, so that, instead of lagging behind the times, they will better fulfill their mandate of public service.

Not everything we want to do will be explained today, but I invite you to read the budget message, which contains a more comprehensive plan for the coming year.

Some of my critics say that I take this campaign against corruption personally. It’s true: doing what’s right is personal. Making people accountable—whoever they may be—is personal. It should be personal for all of us, because we have all been victimized by corruption.

What is wrong remains wrong, regardless of how long it has been allowed to persist. We cannot simply let it pass. If we ignore the crimes of the past, they will continue to haunt us. And if we do not hold people accountable, then they will do it again and again.

The truth is, we have uncovered so many anomalies. In PAGCOR, the previous management apparently spent one billion pesos on coffee alone. At one hundred pesos per cup, that would be ten million cups of coffee over the last several years. Where did all that coffee go? Who drank it? Perhaps we can find the people who consumed all that coffee and ask if they have been able to sleep in the last few years.

When the new Ombudsman, former Supreme Court Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, takes office, we will have an honest-to-goodness anti-corruption office, not one that condones the corruption and abuses in government. I expect that this year, we will have filed our first major case against the corrupt and their accomplices. And these will be real cases, with strong evidence and clear testimonies, which will lead to the punishment of the guilty.

We are aware that the attainment of true justice does not end in the filing of cases, but in the conviction of criminals. I have utmost confidence that the DOJ is fulfilling its crucial role in jailing offenders, especially in cases regarding tax evasion, drug trafficking, human trafficking, smuggling, graft and corruption, and extrajudicial killings.

We are not leaving anything to chance; good governance yields positive results. Think about it: We have realized our promise of providing the public with the services that it needs and implementing programs to help the poor without having to raise our taxes.

This has always been the plan: to level the playing field; to stop the abuse of authority; and to ensure that the benefits of growth are available to the greatest number.

We have put an end to the culture of entitlement, to wang-wang: along our roads, in government, in our society as a whole. This will bring confidence that will attract business; this will also ensure that the people’s money is put in its rightful place: Funding for infrastructure that will secure the sustained growth of the economy, which will then give rise to jobs, and public service that guarantees that no one will be left behind. More opportunities for livelihood will be opened by tourism; the strengthening of our agriculture sector will ensure that every Filipino will have food on his table. We will invest on those who were once neglected. All this will create a cycle wherein all available jobs are filled, and where businesses flourish through the empowerment of their consumers.

I am aware that, until now, there are still a few who complain about our style of governance. But you have seen our style, and its ensuing results. You have seen their style, and, especially, where that took us. Anyone with their eyes open can clearly see which is right.

We are steering our government in a clear direction. A country where opportunity is available; where those in need are helped; where everyone’s sacrifices are rewarded; and where those who do wrong are held accountable.

I remember a woman warning me during the campaign: “Noy, be careful, you will be stepping on many toes.”

Sometimes, I do worry about what I am doing. But I am heartened because you are with me, and we stand on the side of what is right.

I thank the priests and bishops who have continued to dialogue with us, like Cardinals Rosales and Vidal. Cardinal Rosales and I may not be the closest of friends, but I believe that he did all that he could to reduce the tensions between the church and the government. The election of Archbishop Palma, defender of human rights and of the environment, as head of the CBCP only bolsters my confidence that the state and the clergy will be able to engage each other in a positive manner. I likewise thank my Cabinet, who have sacrificed their personal comfort to fulfill the national agenda. I give special mention to PAGASA, who now truly delivers reliable advice and warnings during times of calamity.

And to those who may resist the change we are trying to bring about, this I say to you: I know what I must do, and my personal interests are nothing when compared to the interests of the nation. There are many of us who want what is right for this country; and there are more of us than you. To those of you who would turn back the tide of reform: you will not succeed.

To those who have chosen to tread the straight and righteous path alongside us: it is you who created this change, and it is you who will bequeath our success to your children. To the jeepney driver plying his route; to the teachers and students coming home from class; to the artists whose work inspires our sense of nationhood; to our policemen, our soldiers, our street sweepers, and our firemen; to you who work with honor, in the Philippines, in the oceans, or in other countries; our colleagues in government who stand steadfast with us, whatever province you come from, whatever party you belong to; every Filipino listening to me now—you made this happen.

You created a government that truly works for you. We still have five years left to ensure that we will not return to what once was. We will not be derailed, especially now that what we have begun has yielded so many positive results.

If you see a loophole in the system, do not take advantage of it. Let us not acquire through patronage what we can acquire through hard work. No more cheating, no more taking advantage of others, no more one-upmanship—because in the end we will all realize our shared aspirations.

Let us end the culture of negativism; let us uplift our fellow Filipinos at every opportunity. Why are there people who enjoy finding fault in our country, who find it so hard—as though it were a sin—to say something nice? Can we even remember the last time we praised a fellow Filipino?

Let us stop pulling our fellow man down. Let us put an end to our crab mentality. Let us make the effort to recognize the good that is being done.

If you see something right, do not think twice—praise it. If you see a policeman directing traffic, coatless beneath the rain—go to him and say, “Thank you.”

If you fall sick, and you see your nurse caring for you, when she could easily be treating foreigners for a higher salary—say, “Thank you.”

Before you leave school for home, approach your teacher who chose to invest in your future—say, “Thank you.”

If you chance upon your local leader on a road that was once riddled with holes, but is now smooth and sturdy—go to him and say, “Thank you, for the change you have brought.”

And so, to the Filipino nation, my Bosses who have steered us toward this day: Thank you very much for the change that is now upon us.

The Philippines and the Filipino people are, finally, truly alive.

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State of the Nation Address
of
His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
To the Congress of the Philippines

[Delivered at the Session Hall of the House of Representatives, Batasan Pambansa Complex, Quezon City on July 25, 2011]

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile; Speaker Feliciano Belmonte; Bise Presidente Jejomar Binay; mga dating Pangulong Fidel Valdez Ramos at Joseph Ejercito Estrada; Chief Justice Renato Corona at ang ating mga kagalang-galang na mahistrado ng Korte Suprema; mga kagalang-galang na kasapi ng diplomatic corps; mga butihing miyembro ng Kamara de Representante at ng Senado; mga Local Government officials; mga miyembro ng ating Gabinete; mga unipormadong kasapi ng militar at kapulisan; mga kapwa ko nagseserbisyo sa taumbayan;

At sa mga minamahal kong kababayan, ang aking butihing mga boss:

Humarap po ako sa inyo noong aking inagurasyon at sinabing: Walang wang-wang sa ating administrasyon. At ngayon, patuloy nating itinitigil ito. Naging hudyat at sagisag po ito ng pagbabago, hindi lamang sa kalsada, kundi pati na rin sa kaisipan sa lipunan.

Sa matagal na panahon, naging simbolo ng pang-aabuso ang wang-wang. Dati, kung makapag-counterflow ang mga opisyal ng pamahalaan, para bang oras lang nila ang mahalaga. Imbes na maglingkod-bayan, para bang sila ang naging hari ng bayan.  Kung maka-asta ang kanilang mga padrino’t alipores, akala mo’y kung sinong maharlika kung humawi ng kalsada; walang pakialam sa mga napipilitang tumabi at napag-iiwanan. Ang mga dapat naglilingkod ang siya pang nang-aapi. Ang panlalamang matapos mangakong maglingkod—iyan po ang utak wang-wang.

Wala silang karapatang gawin ito. Ayon sa batas, tanging ang Presidente, Bise Presidente, Senate President, House Speaker, Chief Justice, at pulis, bumbero, at ambulansya lang ang awtorisadong gumamit ng wangwang para sa kanilang mga opisyal na lakad. Kung sa trapiko nga ay di masunod ang batas, paano pa kaya sa mga bagay na mas malaki ang makukuha, tulad ng sa mga proyektong pinopondohan ng kaban ng bayan?

Kayo po ba gusto ninyong makulong ang lahat ng tiwali? Ako rin. Gusto ba ninyong matanggal ang wang-wang, hindi lamang sa kalsada, kundi sa kaisipang nagdulot ng baluktot na sistema na pagkatagal-tagal na nating pinagtiisan? Ako rin. Gusto po ba ninyong mabigyan ng patas na pagkakataon ang lahat na umasenso? Ako rin.

Narito po ang halimbawa ng resulta ng ating kampanya kontra wang-wang sa sistema. Nitong taong ito, taumbayan na mismo ang nagsabi, nabawasan ang nagugutom sa kanila. Mula 20.5% na self-rated hunger noong Marso, bumaba na ito sa 15.1% nitong Hunyo, katumbas ng isang milyong pamilyang Pilipinong nagugutom dati, pero ngayon ay nakakakain na nang tama kada araw.

Sa larangan po ng negosyo, sino ba ang nag-akalang pitong ulit nating malalampasan ang all-time-high ng stock market? Ang dating 4,000 index na inaakalang hindi maaabot, o kung maabot man ay pansamantala lang, ngayon, pangkaraniwan nang hinihigitan.

Kung dati napako na ang bansa sa mababang credit ratings, itinaas ng Moody’s, Standard and Poors, Fitch, at Japan Credit Ratings Agency ang ating ranking, bilang pagkilala sa ating tamang paggugol ng pondo at sa malikhain nating pananalapi. Ang mataas na credit rating, magpapababa ng interes sa perang inuutang natin. Kumpara sa unang apat na buwan ng nakaraang taon, mas malaki po ng 23 billion pesos ang natipid nating interest payments mula Enero hanggang Abril ng 2011. Maaari na po nitong sagutin ang dalawang milyon at tatlongdaan libong benepisyaryo ng CCT hanggang sa katapusan ng 2011.

Paalala ko lang po, sa siyam at kalahating taon bago tayo maitalaga sa puwesto, iisang beses lang tayong nakatikim ng ratings upgrade, at anim na beses pang na-downgrade ng iba’t ibang ratings agency. Sa isang taon pa lang po natin, apat na beses na tayong nabigyan ng upgrade. Alam naman po natin na hindi madaling ma-upgrade sa panahon ngayon. Itong mga ratings agency, nabatikos na mali raw ang payo bago magkakrisis sa Amerika, kaya ngayon ay mas makunat na sila sa pagbibigay ng magandang ratings, at nakikita nga natin ito sa sunud-sunod na pag-downgrade sa ibang bansa. Pero tayo po, inupgrade pa nila. Sang-ayon silang lahat: gumanda at lalo pang gaganda ang ekonomiya ng Pilipinas. Isang hakbang na lang po, aabot na tayo sa investment grade, at wala pong tigil ang ating economic team upang tuluyan na tayong makaarangkada.

At may mabubuting balita pa pong parating. Dahil wala nang wang-wang sa DOE, muling nabuhay ang kumpiyansa ng mga namumuhunan sa ating energy sector.  Patunay dito ang isandaan at apatnapung kumpanya na nakahandang tumaya sa eksplorasyon at pagpapalakas ng ating oil at natural gas resources. Sa huling energy contracting round noong 2006, tatlumpu’t lima lang po ang nakilahok. Nitong Biyernes lamang po, nilagdaan na ang panibagong kasunduan para sa isang bagong power plant sa Luzon grid upang pagdating ng 2014, may mas mura at mas maaasahang pagmumulan ng enerhiya ang bansa.

May kumpiyansa, may pag-asa, at tinutupad po natin ang ating mga pangako. Naaalala ko nga po ang babaeng nakausap ko nang ako’y unang nagha-house-to house campaign. Ang kaniyang hinaing: “Miski sino naman ang manalo, pare-pareho lang ang kahihinatnan. Mahirap ako noong sila ay nangangampanya; mahirap ako habang nakaupo sila, at mahirap pa rin ako pag nagretiro na sila.” Sa madaling salita, ang hinaing po ng marami, “Walang pakialam ang mga pinuno namin kahapon, wala silang pakialam ngayon. Bukas, wala pa rin silang pakialam.”

Di po ba’t may katuwiran naman siya sa pagsasabi nito, dahil sa pagwawang-wang sa mga ahensya ng gobyerno? Wang-wang po ang pagbili ng helicopter sa presyong brand new, pero iyon pala ay gamit na gamit na. Wang-wang ang milyun-milyong pabuya na tinanggap ng mga opisyal ng GOCC, tulad ng sa Philippine National Construction Corporation, gayong hindi naman sila nakapaghandog ng disenteng serbisyo, at ibinaon pa sa utang ang kanilang mga ahensya. Bago sila bumaba sa puwesto, dalawandaan, tatlumpu’t dalawang milyong piso po ang inomento ng dating pamunuan ng PNCC sa kanilang sarili. 2007 pa lang po, wala na silang prangkisa; lahat ng kikitain, dapat diretso na sa pambansang gobyerno. Hindi na nga nag-abot ng kita, sinamantala pa ang puwesto. Ang bonus nila mula 2005 hanggang 2009, dinoble pa nila sa unang anim na buwan ng 2010. Ibinaon na nga po nila sa bilyun-bilyong pisong utang ang kanilang tanggapan, nasikmura pa nilang magbigay ng midnight bonus sa sarili.

Para po pigilan ang pagwang-wang sa kaban ng bayan, sinuyod at sinuri natin ang mga programa. Dalawang magkasunod na taon na po nating ipinatutupad ang zero-based budgeting, na nagsisilbing kalasag sa walang-saysay na paggastos.

Sa Laguna Lake po, magtatanggal nga ng 12 million cubic meters sa dredging, pero pagkatapos ng tatlong taon, garantisado naman itong babalik. 18.7 billion pesos ang magiging utang natin para lang maglaro ng putik. Hindi pa bayad ang utang, nag-expire na ang pakinabang. Pinigilan po natin iyan. Ang food-for-school program na bara-bara lang ang paghahanap ng benepisyaryo, at iba pang inisyatibang pinondohan ngunit walang pinatunguhan—binura na natin sa budget upang ang pera namang nalibre, ay mailaan sa mga proyektong totoong may silbi.

Ang budget po ang pinakamalinaw na pagsasabuhay ng ating tuwid na landas. Ang aking pahiwatig sa lahat ng gusto pang ilihis tayo rito: Kung mang-aagrabyado ka lang ng mahirap, huwag ka nang magtangka. Kung sarili mo lang ang papayamanin mo, huwag ka nang magtangka. Kung hindi iyan para sa Pilipino, huwag ka nang magtangka.

Sana masabi na natin na tapos na ang utak wang-wang, pero nakikita po natin ang latak ng ganitong kaisipan na pilit bumubulahaw sa aliwalas ng ating biyahe sa tuwid na landas.

Mukhang marami rin po kasi ang nagwawang-wang sa pribadong sektor. Ayon sa BIR, mayroon tayong halos 1.7 million na self-employed at professional tax payers gaya ng mga abogado, doktor, negosyante na nagbayad lamang, sa suma total, ng 9.8 billion pesos noong 2010. 5,783 pesos lang ang ibinayad na income tax ng bawat isa sa kanila—ang ibig sabihin, kung totoo po ito, ang kabuuang kita nila ay umaabot lang ng 8,500 pesos lamang kada buwan. Mababa pa sa minimum wage. Naman.

Nakikita naman po ninyong napupunta na sa tama ang buwis ninyo, kaya wala na pong dahilan upang iwasan natin ang pagbabayad. Nananawagan po ako sa inyo: Hindi lang po gobyerno, kundi kapwa natin Pilipino ang pinagkakaitan sa hindi pagbabayad ng tamang buwis.

Pinananagot at pananagutin po natin ang wang-wang saanmang sulok ng gobyerno. Ang masakit, hanggang sa mga araw pong ito, may sumusubok pa ring makalusot. Mayroon nga pong isang distrito sa Region 4B, may proyektong gagastusan ng 300 million pesos. Kaso hanggang 50 million pesos lang ang puwedeng aprubahan ng district engineer.

Kaya naisip nilang ichop-chop ang proyekto para di lumampas sa 50 million pesos ang halaga, at di na umabot sa regional at central office ang mga papeles. Kani-kaniyang diskarte, kani-kaniyang kaharian ang nadatnan nating situwasyon sa DPWH. Sinubukan nilang ipagpatuloy ang nakasanayan na nila. Kadalasan, dahil sa lump-sum na pagbibigay ng pondo, wala nang tanung-tanong kung ano ang plano at detalye ng proyekto. Miski yata bahay ng gagamba ang ipapatayo, bibigyan ng pondo, basta may padrino.

Hindi ito pinalusot ni Secretary Babes Singson. Tinanggal na niya sa puwesto ang district engineer. Pinigilan din po ang pag-award ng proyektong ito para busisiin kung ano pang magic ang nangyari. Masusi na ring iniimbestigahan lahat ng nagkuntsabahan. Ang mga kontratistang mapatunayang nakipagsabwatan para mag-tongpats sa mga proyekto, ibablack-list natin.

Tingnan nga po ninyo ang idinulot na perhuwisyo ng pagwawang-wang sa sistema: Tuloy ang pagdusa ng mamamayang dapat nakikinabang na sa proyekto ng bayan.

Hindi lang po iyan sa region 4B nadiskubre. Ngunit natigil na po ito dahil hindi na padrino kundi tamang proseso ang naghahari sa DPWH. Hindi na puwedeng walang work program; kailangang magpakita ng pinag-isipang plano para hindi magkasalungat ang pagsasagawa ng mga proyekto. Malinis at hayag na ang bidding, at pantay na ang pagkakataon sa pagpasok ng mga kontratista.

Sa sistemang pinaiiral ngayon sa DPWH, nakatipid na tayo ng dalawa’t kalahating bilyong piso, at umaasa tayo na aabot pa sa anim hanggang pitong bilyong piso ang matitipid sa taon na ito. Ang pinakamahalaga po, nakakaasa na tayo sa mga kalsadang matino, hindi ‘yung maambunan lang ay lulundo o mabibiyak agad. Paniwala natin dati, imposibleng maitama ng DPWH ang sistema nila. Hindi lang po ito posible; sa unang taon pa lamang, ginagawa na natin ito.

Kahit po sa mga bukirin, may mga nagwawang-wang din. Bago tayo maupo noong 2010, nag-angkat ang bansa ng 2.3 million metric tons ng bigas. 1.3 million metric tons lamang ang kailangan nating angkatin, ngunit pinasobrahan pa nila ito ng isang milyon. Dahil nga sobra-sobra ang inangkat, kinailangan pa nating gumastos muli sa mga bodegang pagtatambakan lang naman ng barko-barkong bigas.

Ilang taon bang walang saysay na pinasobrahan ang bigas na inaangkat? Dahil dito, umiral ang pag-iisip na habambuhay na tayong aangkat ng bigas. Ang akala ng marami, wala na talaga tayong magagawa.

Ngunit sa loob lamang ng isang taon, pinatunayan nating mali sila. Ngayon, ang dating 1.3 million metric tons na kakulangan natin sa bigas, halos nangalahati na; 660,000 metric tons na lang po ang kailangan nating angkatin. Kahit dagdagan pa natin iyan ng panangga laban sa sakuna at gawing 860,000 metric tons—na ginagawa na nga po natin—mas mababa pa rin ito sa tinatayang taunang kakulangan na 1.3 million metric tons.

At hindi po buwenas lang ang nangyaring pag-angat ng ating rice productivity. Bunga po ito ng matinong pamamalakad: ng paggamit ng maiinam na klase ng binhi, at masusi at epektibong paggastos para sa irigasyon. Nito nga pong nakaraang taon, labing-isang libo, animnaraan at labing-isang bagong ektarya ng bukirin ang napatubigan natin. Dagdag pa iyan sa halos dalawandaan at labindalawang libong ektarya na nakumpuni o nabigyang muli ng irigasyon matapos ang panahon ng pagkakatiwangwang. Ang resulta: umangat ng 15.6% ang inani nating palay noong nakaraang taon.

Ang gusto nating mangyari: Una, hindi tayo aangkat ng hindi kailangan, para lang punan ang bulsa ng mga gustong magsariling-diskarte ng kita sa agrikultura. Ikalawa: Ayaw na nating umasa sa pag-angkat; ang isasaing ni Juan dela Cruz, dito ipupunla, dito aanihin, dito bibilhin.

Balikan din po natin ang dinatnang kalagayan ng ating mga kawal at kapulisan. Labingtatlong libong piso po ang karaniwang suweldo ng isang PO1 sa Metro Manila. Apat na libong piso daw rito ang napupunta sa upa ng bahay. Tila tama nga po na isang-katlo ng kanilang sahod diretso na sa upa. Isang-katlo pa nito, para naman sa pagkain. At ang natitirang isang-katlo, para sa kuryente, tubig, pamasahe, pampaaral sa anak, gamot sakaling may magkasakit, at iba pa. Maganda na nga po kung tumabla ang kita niya sa gastusin. Kapag naman kinapos, malamang sa five-six po sila lalapit. At kapag nagpatung-patong ang interes ng utang nila, makatanggi kaya sila sa tuksong dumelihensya?

Kaya ang ipinangako nating pabahay nitong Pebrero, ngayong Hulyo ay tinutupad na. Nakapag-abot na po tayo ng apat na libong Certificate of Entitlement to Lot Allocation sa magigiting nating kawal at pulis. Bahagi pa lang po ito ng target nating kabuuang dalawampu’t isang libo at walong daang bahay sa pagtatapos ng taong ito. Ang dating apatnalibong ibinabayad para sa upa kada buwan, ngayon, dalawandaang piso na lang, para pa sa bahay na pagmamay-ari talaga nila. Ang dating nalalagas na halaga na pambayad sa buwanang renta, maaari nang igugol para sa ibang gastusin.

Mayroon pa raw pong mahigit isang libong bahay na natitira, kaya po sa mga pulis at sundalo nating di pa nakakapagpasa ng papeles, last call na po para sa batch na ito. Pero huwag po kayong mag-alala, sa susunod na taon, lalawak pa ang ating pabahay, at hindi lang pulis at kawal sa Luzon ang makikinabang. Inihahanda na ng NHA ang lupang patatayuan sa Visayas at Mindanao, para sa susunod na taon, makapagpatayo na tayo ng mga bahay doon. Sa ating mga kawani ng Bureau of Jail Management and Penology at Bureau of Fire Protection, may good news po ako: kasama na po kayo rito.

Kung seguridad na rin lang po ang ating pag-uusapan, di ba’t karugtong din nito ang ating pambansang dangal? Dati, hindi man lang natin makuhang pumalag tuwing may sisindak sa atin sa loob mismo ng ating bakuran. Malinaw ang pahiwatig natin ngayon sa buong mundo: Ang sa Pilipinas ay sa Pilipinas; kapag tumapak ka sa Recto Bank, para ka na ring tumapak sa Recto Avenue.

Tama nga po kaya ang kuwento tungkol sa isang stand-off noong araw? Tinapatan daw ang mga marino natin ng kanyon. Ang ginawa nila, pumutol ng puno ng niyog, pininturahan ito ng itim, saka itinutok sa kalaban. Tapos na po ang panahong iyan. Parating na ang mga capability upgrade at modernization ng mga kagamitan ng ating Sandatahang Lakas. Literal na pong naglalakbay sa karagatan papunta rito ang kauna-unahan nating Hamilton Class Cutter, isang mas modernong barko na magagamit natin para mabantayan ang ating mga baybayin. Maaari pa po tayong makakuha ng mga barkong tulad nito. Idadagdag iyan sa kukunin na nating mga helicopter, patrol craft, at sandata na bultong bibilhin ng AFP, PNP, at DOJ upang makakuha ng malaking diskuwento. Lahat po ito, makakamtan sa matinong pamamahala; mabibili sa tamang presyo, nang walang kailangang ipadulas kung kani-kanino.

Wala tayong balak mang-away, pero kailangan ding mabatid ng mundo na handa tayong ipagtanggol ang atin. Pinag-aaralan na rin po natin ang pag-angat ng kaso sa West Philippine Sea sa International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, upang masigurong sa mga susunod na pagkakataon ay hinahon at pagtitimpi ang maghahari tuwing may alitan sa teritoryo.

Alam ko pong magbubunga ang pag-aarugang ipinapamalas natin sa mga lingkod-bayan na nakatutok sa ating seguridad. Mantakin po ninyo: sa unang anim na buwan ng 2010, umabot sa isanlibo at sampung (1,010) kotse at motorsiklo ang nanakaw. Ikumpara po natin iyan sa apatnaraan at animnapung (460) kotse at motorsiklong nanakaw mula Enero hanggang Hunyo ng taong ito. Ang laki po ng naibawas. Malas ko lang po siguro na ‘yung isa o dalawang kaso ng carnapping ang nai-heheadline, at hindi ang pagbawas sa mga insidente nito o ang mas mataas na porsyento ng mga nanakaw na kotse na naibalik sa may-ari.

Isa pa pong halimbawa ng pagbabagong tinatamasa natin: Mayo ng 2003 nang lagdaan ang Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, pero dahil hindi sineryoso ng estado ang pagpapatupad nito, dalawampu’t siyam na indibiduwal lamang ang nahatulan sa loob ng pitong taon. Nalagpasan na po natin iyan, dahil umabot na sa tatlumpu’t isang human traffickers ang nahatulan sa ating administrasyon. Ito na po siguro ang sinasabing “sea change” ni Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ng Amerika. Dahil dito, natanggal na tayo sa Tier 2 Watchlist ng Trafficking in Persons Report nila. Kung hindi tayo natanggal sa watchlist na ito, siguradong napurnada pa ang mga grant na maaari nating makuha mula sa Millenium Challenge Corporation at iba pa.

Dumako po tayo sa trabaho. Dagdag-trabaho ang unang panata natin sa Pilipino. Ang 8% na unemployment rate noong Abril ng nakaraang taon, naibaba na sa 7.2% nitong Abril ng 2011. Tandaan po natin: moving target ang nasa hanay ng ating unemployed, dahil taun-taon ay may mga bagong graduate na naghahanap ng trabaho. Nito nga pong huling taon, nadagdag pa sa bilang nila ang libu-libong hawi boys, tagasabit ng banderitas, at iba pang mga Pilipinong kumuha ng pansamantalang kabuhayan mula sa eleksyon. Ang resulta po natin: Isang milyon at apatnaraang libong trabahong nalikha nitong nakaraang taon.

Dati, nakapako sa pangingibang-bansa ang ambisyon ng mga Pilipino. Ngayon, may pagpipilian na siyang trabaho, at hangga’t tinatapatan niya ng sipag at determinasyon ang kanyang pangangarap, tiyak na maaabot niya ito.

Malaki pa po ang puwedeng madagdag sa trabahong nalilikha sa ating bansa. Ayon pa lang po sa website nating Philjobnet, may limampung libong trabahong hindi napupunan kada buwan dahil hindi tugma ang kailangan ng mga kumpanya sa kakayahan at kaalaman ng mga naghahanap ng trabaho. Hindi po natin hahayaang masayang ang pagkakataong ito; ngayon pa lang, nagtatagpo na ang kaisipan ng DOLE, CHED, TESDA, at DEPED upang tugunan ang isyu ng job mismatch. Susuriin ang mga curriculum para maituon sa mga industriyang naghahanap ng empleyado, at gagabayan ang mga estudyante sa pagpili ng mga kursong hitik sa bakanteng trabaho.

Ngunit aanhin naman po natin ang mga numerong naghuhudyat ng pag-asenso ng iilan, kung marami pa rin ang napag-iiwanan? Ang unang hakbang: tinukoy natin ang totoong nangangailangan; namuhunan tayo sa pinakamahalaga nating yaman: ang taumbayan. Sa dalawang milyong pamilyang rehistrado sa ating Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, isang milyon at animnaraang libo na ang nakakatanggap ng benepisyo nito. Sa pagpapakitang-gilas ni Secretary Dinky Soliman, tinatayang may mahigit isandaang libong pamilya ang naiaahon natin mula sa kahirapan kada buwan. Kaya naman mataas ang aking kumpiyansang makukumpleto ang 1.3 million na dagdag na pamilya, mula sa kabuuang 2.3 milyong pamilyang target na benepisyaryo ng CCT bago matapos ang taong ito. At sa compliance rate nito na hindi bababa sa 92%, milyun-milyon na rin po ang inang regular na nagpapacheck-up sa mga health center, ang mga sanggol na napabakunahan, at ang mga batang hindi hinahayaan sa labas ng paaralan.

Simula pa lang po ito, at sa ganitong kalinaw na mga resulta, umaasa ako sa suporta ng bawat Pilipino, lalo na ng lehislatura, sa mungkahi nating salinan pa ng pondo ang Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. Inaasam po natin na bago matapos ang 2012, tatlong milyong pamilya na ang mabibigyan ng puhunan para sa kanilang kinabukasan.

Binibigyan natin ang mga maralitang pamilyang ito ng pagkakataong makaahon sa buhay, dahil ang pag-asenso nila ay pag-angat rin ng buong bansa. Sino ang tatangkilik sa mga produkto at serbisyo ng mga negosyante, kung isang kahig, isang tuka naman ang mamimili? Kapag may amang kumakapit sa patalim para may kainin ang kanyang pamilya, at siya ay nagnakaw o nangholdap, sino ba ang puwedeng mabiktima ng krimen kundi tayo rin? Kung ang mga kababayan natin ay walang maayos na pagkain o tahanan, mahina ang kalusugan at may malubhang karamdaman, hindi ba’t tayo rin ang nasa peligrong mahawa sa kanilang kapansanan?

Naglalatag po tayo ng pagbabago upang mas mapatibay ang pundasyon ng maaliwalas na bukas para sa lahat. Halimbawa, sa kalusugan: Di ba’t kapansin-pansin ang pagtaas ng bilang ng mga benepisyaryo ng PhilHealth tuwing maghahalalan? Ngayon, sa pamamagitan ng National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR), tiniyak natin na ang limang milyon at dalawandaang libong pamilyang Pilipino na nakikinabang sa PhilHealth ay ang talagang mga nangangailangan nito. Malawakang pag-unlad at pag-asenso ng lahat: Iyan po ang panata natin. Walang maiiwan sa tuwid na landas.

Tumungo naman po tayo sa ARMM. Ang dating sistema: Nagbabatuhan lang ng huwad na utang ng loob ang mga baluktot na kandidato. Kapag pambansang halalan, malaya ang nakaupo sa ARMM na imane-obra ang makinarya sa kaniyang rehiyon para matiyak na bokya ang boto ng mga hindi kaalyado. Kapag naman eleksyon sa ARMM at maniningil na ng utang si Mayor o Governor, ang administrasyon naman ang magpapatakbo ng makinarya para manalo ang kanilang kandidato.

Ayon nga po sa naungkat ng COA, sa opisina ng regional governor ng ARMM, mula Enero 2008 hanggang Setyembre 2009, walumpung porsyento ng mga disbursement ang napunta sa mga cash advance na wala namang maayos na paliwanag. Kung hindi nawala ang pondong ito, nakatapos na sana ang isang batang tumawid sa ghost bridge, para pumasok sa ghost school, kung saan tuturuan siya ng ghost teacher. Walang humpay na paghihirap, at walang pag-asa ng pag-asenso.

Gusto nating maranasan ng ARMM ang benepisyo ng tamang pamamahala. Kaya ang solusyon: synchronization. Dahil dito, kailangan nilang tumutok sa kani-kanilang mga kampanya; magiging mas patas ang labanan, at lalabnaw ang command votes. Salamat sa Kongreso at naipasa na ang batas na magsasabay ng halalan sa ARMM sa halalang pambansa.

At bakit po postponement ang kailangan? Sa kagustuhang makabalik sa puwesto, nakahanda ang ilan na ulitin ang nakagawian para manalo. Isipin na lang po ninyo kung pumayag tayo sa kagustuhan ng mga kontra, at itinuloy natin ang eleksyon. Wala po silang ibang gagawin sa loob ng dalawang taon kundi paghandaan ang susunod na halalan at isiksik ang kalokohan nila sa mas maigsing panahon. Habang nananatili sa pwesto ang mga utak wang-wang na opisyal, naiiwan namang nakalubog sa kumunoy ng kawalang-pagasa ang taumbayan.

Wala akong duda sa kahihinatnan ng mga repormang inilatag natin. Hindi po tayo nagbubukambibig lang; may kongkretong resulta ang ating mga paninindigan. Kapag sinabi nating tuwid na daan, may katapat itong kalsada sa Barangay Bagumbayan sa Sta. Maria, Laguna. Kapag sinabi nating malinis na pamamahala, may dadaloy na malinis na tubig sa mga liblib na lugar gaya ng nasa Barangay Poblacion, sa Ferrol, Romblon. Kapag sinabi nating liwanag ng pagbabago, titiyakin nating may liwanag na tatanglaw sa mga pamayanang dati ay nangangapa sa aandap-andap na gasera, gaya ng ginawa natin sa Barangay San Marcos, sa Bunawan, Agusan del Sur. Ganito na ang nangyayari sa marami pang ibang lugar; pinipilit nating ito rin ang mangyari sa kabuuan ng Pilipinas.

Nakatutok na po ang iba’t ibang ahensya ng gobyerno; nag-uugnayan at nagtutulungan sila upang maabot at mapabilis ang mga solusyon sa mga problemang kaytagal nang pinapasan ng bayan.

Di po ba’t may problema tayo sa baha, na alam naman nating dulot ng walang humpay at ilegal na pagputol ng mga puno? Ang dating solusyon: photo-op ng  pagtatanim na ang tanging benepisyaryo ay nagpapapoging pulitiko. Nagtanim nga ng puno kontra-baha, pero hindi naman siniguro na mananatiling nakatayo ang mga ito pag-alis nila.

Isa sa mga solusyong pinag-aaralan ay ang gawing kapaki-pakinabang sa mga pamayanan ang pagbabantay ng puno. Bibigyan sila ng binhi ng kape at cacao para itanim at mamunga ng kabuhayan. Habang hinihintay ang ani, makakakuha sila ng stipend upang bantayan naman ang mga punong itinanim laban sa baha. Puwedeng maging benepisyaryo ng programang ito ang mga informal settlers, na ngayon ay nagkukumpulan sa siyudad. Mamumuhunan tayo sa taumbayan, habang namumuhunan din sa kalikasan.

Noon bang isang taon, inisip ninyo na kaya nating gawin ito? Sa ngayon, tinutupad na natin ang ating mga pangako. Bukas makalawa, katotohanan na ang lahat ng ito.

Marami pa pong malikhaing konsepto na inilalapit sa atin. May mosquito trap na pinapatay ang mga kiti-kiti ng lamok, na siguro naman po ay may kinalaman sa halos labing-apat na porsiyentong pagbaba ng insidente ng dengue; may hibla ng niyog na itatapon na sana, pero puwede palang murang solusyon sa mga daanang madaling mabitak; may landslide sensor na magbababala kung tumaas na ang panganib na gumuho ang lupa; may mga kagamitang magbibigay ng senyales kung malapit nang umapaw ang tubig sa mga ilog. Lahat po ito, gawa ng Pilipino.

Pinag-aaralan na rin po ng DOST at UP ang pagkakaroon ng monorail system, para tugunan ang problema sa pangmalawakang transportasyon. Sa malikhaing pag-iisip ng kapwa Pilipino, may pag-asa palang magtayo ng light rail system nang hindi hihigit sa 100 million pesos ang gagastusin kada kilometro. Sa matitipid na pondo, mas mahabang kilometro ng riles ang mailalatag at makaka-abot sa mga lugar na malayo sa sentro ng komersyo. Ang mga dating sumisiksik sa siyudad para maghanap ng trabaho, maaari nang tumira sa malayo, nang hindi pahirapan ang biyahe.

Uulitin ko po: ang mungkahing ito ay galing sa kapwa natin Pilipino, para sa Pilipinas. Naaalala po ba ninyo ang panahon kung kailan ni hindi man lang maabot ng mga pangarap natin ang ganitong mga proyekto? Ngayon, sinasabi ko sa inyo: pinapangarap natin ito, kaya natin ito, gagawin natin ito. Hindi ba tayo nagagalak, Pilipino tayong nabubuhay sa ganitong panahon?

Sa kabila ng lahat ng ito, huwag po sana nating lilimutin: masasayang lang ang lahat ng ating narating kung hindi tuluyang maiwawaksi ang kultura ng korupsyon na dinatnan natin.

Sa mga kapwa ko empleyado ng sambayanan, mula sa tuktok hanggang sa bawat sulok ng burukrasya: Di po ba’t napakarangal na ngayon ang magtrabaho sa gobyerno? Di po ba’t ngayon, sa halip na ikahiya, gusto mo pang isuot ang iyong ID kung sumasakay ka ng bus o jeep papasok sa iyong ahensya? Sasayangin po ba natin ang karangalang kaloob sa atin ng sambayanan?

Iyan din po ang aking panawagan sa ating Local Government Units. Kabilang po ako sa mga sumasang-ayon na kayo ang pinaka-nakakaalam sa pangangailangan ng taumbayan sa inyong mga lungsod at munisipyo. Makakaasa po ang ating mga LGU sa higit na kalayaan at kakayahan, kung makakaasa rin tayong gagamitin ito sa tuwid na paraan, at isasaalang-alang ang kapakanan ng buong sambayanan.

Halimbawa po, may ilang munisipyo na naisipang magbuwis sa mga transmission lines ng kuryente na dadaan sa kanilang mga pook. Magpapasok nga po ng kita sa kanilang lokal na kaban, pero kapalit nito, tataas din ang gastusin ng mas nakararaming Pilipino sa kuryente. Tiwala po akong kaya nating balansehin ang interes ng inyong mga nasasakupan sa interes ng sambayanan.

Kailangan pong manatiling magkatugma ang ating mga programa, dahil ang ikauunlad ng buong bansa ay manganganak din ng resulta sa inyong mga pook. Wakasan na po sana natin ang agendang nakatuon sa susunod na eleksyon lamang, at ang kaisipang isla-isla tayong maihihiwalay ang sariling pagsulong sa pag-unlad ng bansa.

Tayo-tayo rin po ang dapat magtulungan tungo sa kaunlaran. Malaki ang pasasalamat ko sa Kongreso sa pagpapasa ng mga batas ukol sa GOCC Governance, ARMM Synchronization, Lifeline Electricity Rates Extension, Joint Congressional Power Commission Extension, Children and Infants’ Mandatory Immunization, at Women Night Workers.

Noong isang taon nga po, nagpakitang-gilas ang Kongreso sa pagpasa ng budget bago matapos ang taon. Dahil dito, nasimulan agad ang mga proyekto at hindi na inabot ng tag-ulan. Bukas na bukas po, ihahain na namin sa lehislatura ang budget para sa susunod na taon. Umaasa po ako na muli kayong magpapakitang-gilas, upang tuluyan na nating mapitas ang bunga ng mga naitanim nating pagbabago.

Maganda na po ang ating nasimulan. Pero mahalaga pong maalala natin: simula pa lang ito. Marami pa tayong gagawin. Hayaan po ninyong ilatag ko sa Kongreso ang ilan sa mga batas na magpapaigting sa pagtupad ng ating panata sa bayan.

Layon nating bigyan ng kaukulang kompensasyon ang mga biktima ng Martial Law; ang pagkakaloob ng makatarungang pasahod at benepisyo para sa mga kasambahay; at ang pagpapatupad ng isang mas maayos na sistema ng pensyon para sa mga kawal. Sinusuportahan din natin ang pagpapalawak ng sakop ng scholarship na ipinagkakaloob ng DOST sa mahuhusay ngunit kapuspalad na mag-aaral; ang pagtataguyod ng pinaigting na pangkalahatang kalusugan; at ang pangangalaga sa ating kalikasan at sa mga pasilidad na titiyak sa kaligtasan ng mga mamamayan sa oras ng sakuna.

Kabilang din po sa ating agenda ang pagpapalakas ng BuCor, ng NBI, ng NEA, at ng PTV 4, upang sa halip na mapag-iwanan ng kaalaman at panahon, mas maayos nilang magagampanan ang kanilang pagbibigay-serbisyo sa publiko.

Hindi ko po nailagay ang lahat ng gustong magpasali ng kanilang adbokasiya dito sa SONA. Pero kumpleto po ang detalye sa budget at budget message. Sa mga interesado po, pakibasa na lang.

May mga nagsasabing pinepersonal ko raw ang paghahabol sa mga tiwali. Totoo po: Personal talaga sa akin ang paggawa ng tama, at ang pagpapanagot sa mga gumagawa ng mali—sino man sila. At hindi lamang dapat ako ang namemersonal sa usaping ito. Personal dapat ito sa ating lahat, dahil bawat Pilipino ay biktima nito.

Ang mali—gaano katagal man ito nanatili—ay mali pa rin. Hindi puwedeng “Oks lang, wala lang iyan.” Kapag kinalimutan natin ang mga ito, mangyayari lang ulit ang mga kamalian ng nakaraan. Kung hindi magbabayad ang mga nagkasala, parang tayo na rin mismo ang nag-imbita sa mga nagbabalak gumawa ng masama na umulit muli.

Ang totoo nga po, marami pang kalokohan ang nahalungkat natin. Halimbawa, sa PAGCOR: kape. Isang bilyong piso po ang ginastos ng dating pamunuan ng ahensya para sa kape; sa isandaang piso na lang po kada tasa, lalabas na nakakonsumo sila ng sampung milyong tasa. Baka po kahit ngayong iba na ang pamunuan ng PAGCOR ay dilat na dilat pa rin ang mata ng mga uminom ng kapeng ito. Hanapin nga po natin sila, at matanong: nakakatulog pa po ba kayo?

Pagpasok ng bagong Ombudsman na si dating Supreme Court Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, magkakaroon tayo ng tanod-bayan na hindi magiging tanod-bayad ng mga nagwawang-wang sa pamahalaan.  Inaasahan ko nga po na sa taon na ito, masasampahan na ng kaso ang lahat ng nagkuntsabahan sa katiwalian, at naging sanhi ng situwasyong ating inabutan. Tapos na rin po ang panahon kung kailan nagsasampa ang gobyerno ng malalabnaw na kaso. Kapag tayo ang nagsampa, matibay ang ebidensya, malinaw ang testimonya, at siguradong walang lusot ang salarin.

Tutok tayo na ang pagkakamit ng ganap na katarungan ay hindi natatapos sa pagsasakdal kundi sa pagkukulong ng maysala. Buo ang kumpiyansa ko na tinutupad ng DOJ ang malaki nilang bahagi upang maipiit ang mga salarin, lalo na sa mga kaso ukol sa tax evasion, drug trafficking, human trafficking, smuggling, graft and corruption, at extrajudicial killings.

Wala pong tsamba: ang tapat at mabuting pamamahala ay nanganganak ng mabuti ring resulta. Isipin po ninyo: naipatupad natin ang mga ipinangakong serbisyo ng gobyerno, at nakapaglaan pa ng sapat na pondo para sa mga proyekto nang hindi kinailangang magtaas ng buwis.

Iyan naman po talaga ang plano: siguruhin na patas ang laban; itigil ang panlalamang ng mga makapangyarihan; at tiyakin na ang dating sistema kung saan nakikinabang ang iilan ay magiging bukal ng oportunidad para sa lahat.

Tinutuldukan na po natin ang wang-wang: sa kalsada, sa gobyerno, sa kalakhang lipunan. Ito po ang manganganak ng kumpiyansa na magdadala ng negosyo; ito rin ang sisiguro na ang pondo ng taumbayan ay mapupunta sa dapat nitong kalagyan: Imprastruktura na titiyak sa tuluyang pag-angat ng ekonomiya at pagmumulan ng trabaho, at serbisyong panlipunan na sisigurong walang mapag-iiwanan. Bubukas ang marami pang pintuang pangkabuhayan sa pamamagitan ng turismo; sisiguruhing hindi magugutom ang Pilipino sa pagpapalakas ng agrikultura. Ang mga dating kinakaligtaan, bibigyang-puhunan ang kinabukasan.

Magbubunsod ito ng siklo kung saan tiyak na may pupuno sa mga nalilikhang trabaho, at may mga konsumer na lalong magpapalago sa mga negosyo.

Batid ko po na hanggang ngayon ay may kakaunti pang nagrereklamo sa ating estilo ng pamamahala. Nakita po ninyo ang aming estilo, at ang kaakibat nitong resulta. Nakita po ninyo ang estilo nila, at kung saan tayo nito dinala. Sa mga taong bukas ang mata, maliwanag kung saan ang tama.

Ngayong tayo na ang nagtitimon sa gobyerno, malinaw ang direksyong tinatahak ng ating bayan. Isang bansa kung saan ang pagkakataon ay abot-kamay; kung saan ang mga nangangailangan ay sinasaklolohan; kung saan may saysay ang bawat patak ng pawis, bawat sandali ng pagtitiis, at bawat butil ng hinagpis na dinaanan natin. Kung may gawin kang mabuti, may babalik sa iyong mabuti. At kung may gawin kang masama, tiyak na mananagot ka.

Naaalala ko nga po ang isang ginang na lumapit sa akin noong kampanya; ang babala niya, “Noy, mag-iingat ka, marami kang kinakabangga.”

Tama po ang sabi niya: Tao po akong may agam-agam din. Pero wala po akong alinlangang tumahak sa tuwid na daan: Buo ang loob ko dahil alam kong nasa likod ko kayo.

Salamat po sa mga pari at obispo na masinsinang nakikipagdiyalogo sa atin, katulad nina Cardinal Rosales at Vidal. Di naman po kami ganoong kalapit ni Cardinal Rosales, pero naniniwala akong ibinuhos niya ang lahat para mabawasan ang hindi pinagkakaunawaan ng gobyerno at simbahan. Sa paghahalal kay Archbishop Palma, tagapagtanggol ng karapatang pantao at kalikasan, lalo pong tumibay ang aking kumpiyansang ugnayan, at hindi bangayan, ang mabubuo sa pagitan ng estado at simbahan.

Salamat din po sa ating Gabinete, na walang kinikilalang panahon ng tulog o pahinga, maipatupad lang ang pambansang agenda. Special mention po ang PAGASA, na tunay na ngayong nagbibigay ng maaasahang babala.

At sa mga nasasagasaan po natin sa landas ng katapatan at integridad sa pamamahala, ito naman po ang aking masasabi: Pinili ninyo ang landas kung saan naaapi ang sambayanan. Pinili naman namin ang landas na ipagtanggol ang taumbayan. Nasa tama po kami; nasa mali kayo. Sa inyong magbabalik ng pang-aapi sa sambayan, hindi kayo magtatagumpay.

Sa lahat ng mga kasama natin sa tuwid na daan: Kayo ang lumikha ng pagkakataong baguhin ang dinatnan, at gawing mas maganda ang ipapamana natin sa susunod na salinlahi ng mga Pilipino. Kayo pong mga tsuper na pumapasada pa rin; kayong mga guro at estudyanteng pauwi pa lang mula sa klase; kayong patuloy ang paglikha ng mga obrang nagpapaalab sa apoy ng ating pagka-Pilipino; kayong mga pulis, sundalo, kaminero at bumbero; kayong mga marangal na nagtatrabaho, sa Pilipinas man, sa gitnang dagat, o sa ibang bansa; kayong mga tapat na kasama natin sa gobyerno, anumang probinsya o partido; kayong mga Pilipinong nakikinig sa akin ngayon—kayo po ang lumikha ng pagkakataong ito.

Lumikha po kayo ng gobyernong tunay na nagtatrabaho para sa inyo. May limang taon pa tayo para siguruhing hindi na tayo babalik sa dating kalagayan. Hindi tayo magpapadiskaril ngayong napakaganda na ng resulta ng ating sinimulan.

Kapag may nakita tayong butas sa sistema, huwag na po tayo magtangkang lumusot. Huwag na nating daanin sa pakiusap ang madadaan sa pagsisikap. Tama na ang unahan, tama na ang tulakan, tama na ang lamangan, dahil lahat naman po tayo ay makakarating sa minimithi nating kinabukasan.

Tapusin na po natin ang kultura ng negatibismo; iangat natin ang kapwa-Pilipino sa bawat pagkakataon. Bakit po ang iba, ang hilig maghanap ng kung anu-anong pangit sa ating bayan? At napakahirap—parang kasalanan—na magsabi ng maganda? Naalala pa po ba natin noong huling beses tayong pumuri sa kapwa Pilipino?

Itigil na po natin ang paghihilahan pababa. Ang dating industriya ng pintasan na hindi natin maitakwil, iwaksi na po natin. Tuldukan na po natin ang pagiging utak-alimango; puwede bang iangat naman natin ang magaganda nating nagawa?

Kung may nakita kang mabuti, huwag kang magdalawang-isip na purihin ito. Kapag nakita mo ang pulis sa kanto, nagtatrapik nang walang kapote sa ilalim ng ulan, lapitan mo siya at sabihing, “Salamat po.”

Kung magkasakit ka at makita mo ang nars na nag-aruga sa iyo, sa halip na magserbisyo sa dayuhan kapalit ng mas malaking suweldo, sabihin mo, “Salamat po.”

Bago ka umuwi galing eskuwela, lapitan mo ang guro mong piniling mamuhunan sa iyong kinabukasan kaysa unahin ang sariling ginhawa; sabihin mo, “Salamat po.” Sa aking guro, Salamat po Ginang Escasa.

Kung makasalubong mo ang iyong kinatawan sa kalsadang dati ay lubak-lubak, at ngayon ay puwede nang daanan nang maaliwalas, lapitan mo siya at sabihing: “Salamat po.”

Kaya po, sa sambayanang Pilipino, ang aking Boss na nagtimon sa atin tungo sa araw na ito: maraming, maraming salamat po sa pagbabagong tinatamasa natin ngayon.

Buhay na buhay na ang Pilipinas at ang Pilipino.

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It’s another busy Sunday today. Son and I left the house at around 5am to do the weekly marketing. Since hubby is not around to drive me to the wet market, I have to wait for my son’s free day to do the weekly marketing.  At around 11am,  we went grocery shopping and had to forego lunch, just snacking on Henlin’s siomai. We were in a hurry to pick up Nissa’s CD on the prenuptial pictorial they did the last week.  When we reached the place, it rained cats and dogs so we had to wait for it to subside a little before going home. Even then, we passed some flooded areas.

Nice pictures if you ask me with some done in infrared shots. Nissa and I were laughing when mom casually remarked and asked why there were so many pictures when the wedding is still almost two months away.  They would use some of the shots for their guest book.  Photography has definitely evolved. I love the sample shots the studio had taken of various  weddings.  Did you ever wonder why all brides are radiant on their wedding day? I love looking at the pictures of couples who are so much in love and anticipating the big day in their lives. It’s a start of a new chapter, right? Pictures really tell stories not just in a thousand words but in a number of ways and  they also create lovely memories. Hmm, just feeling romantic for a change.

We had to attend late mass at 6:30pm.  That ends my busy day. I wish I could share with you the official prenup pictorial of my daughter.

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Are you a people watcher? Let’s just say, are you aware enough of what some people do in public while you are watching? It was one of those rare times that I have to take a commute going to UST to meet a friend last week.  That was Thursday and our old car ends in 7 so there’s no way I could reach the place on time if I don’t take the bus going to Quiapo. So commute I did.

I didn’t want to be late so I hopped in a tricycle with two passengers waiting. Imagine my consternation when the driver turned out to be the one my kids and I always avoid  when we take a trike ride.  It only takes all of 5 minutes to reach Ortigas Extension from our subdivision but it took me double time to reach it. The driver was wearing  eye glasses and he was so old to be driving such, he can barely see the road ahead, with almost half-closed eyes and so slow, oh so slow drive. I was praying hard while I was inside the tricycle. And it was unfortunate that my co-passenger was wearing a sando, that kind of sleeveless shirt guys are better off wearing inside the bedroom.  Yucks, I hate it when your arms touch bare sweating arms in a public conveyance.  What a bizarre way to dress up in public. There are two things that I think people like that want to project – either their fashion sense has left them or they want people to see those bulging muscles in their arms.

And this is more funny. Or maybe you think it is gross. I caught a bus ten minutes later  with plenty of time to spare for my 10am appointment. Seated a few rows from me was this lady in uniform.  Imagine my surprise when I saw her comb her hair then put on those hair curlers right in front of everyone – five curlers in all. I was fascinated and slightly annoyed but was so curious what she’ll do next because she might not have realized yet that she was in a public place. “Wow”,  I said to myself, “ang lawak naman ng bedroom niya.”  She put on her make-up with lipstick to match then fixed her hair before alighting in front of Robinson’s Galleria.  Maybe, you could get away with that when you are in a private car with tinted windows and you won’t be seen by many but in a public bus?

This morning, I accompanied Nissa to our brand new Parish to file the marriage bann for her upcoming wedding. On our way home, I asked her to wait a minute because I wanted to go to the comfort room. There were three doors in all (squeaky clean from the outside), one for Men, another for Women and for Disabled. I was about to enter the Women’s CR when a guy came out of it. I almost screamed but just said in a subdued tone, “Di  ba pambabae po yan?” He answered, “Pambabae ba?” Wow, this man must surely come from Mars. Wasn’t he aware that there were no male urinals  inside? “Yuck”, Nissa exclaimed.

How one acts in public speaks so much of one’s personality. Do you agree?

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It rained last night, the kind that created deep puddles  on the streets and drenching the carabao grass.  We’ve had sunny weather the past two weeks and the heat was getting kind of oppressive. I woke up seeing the silver hues of rain droplets atop the big leaves of our canna,  and the colocasia planted at the back of the house. How nice to see nature showing its lovely face again.

Just watched Kris TV, a new talk show by Kris Aquino. Some people are so negative when it comes to Kris’ private life  and all but we could not ignore the fact that she is the best talk show host in this side of town. I don’t often watch her but I love her Friday features – homes of artists, actors and actresses like Toni Gonzaga, Kim Chiu, Lucy Torres, etc. I wonder if there is a video of the Lucy feature since I was not able to watch it. I sometimes forget to switch the TV on because I am not a regular TV watcher. I’d rather listen to news on the radio while attending to daily chores at home. And this  reminds me, about a month ago, I chanced upon a program my son and I used to listen to when he was still in grade school and I was still working at BPI. It’ s called The Sounds of the Soul by Fr. Larry Faraon, OP. After all these years, it’s still on air. It’s a fifteen-minute daily reflections on the Gospel of the day.  Years ago, before we left the house, we listened to him and while walking going to the tricycle terminal in our village, we have shared lessons and reflected on them.  How nice!  I have this big smile on my face every time I discover something like this, a nice surprise that gives that wonderful feeling inside.

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