1998 Postscripts

December 1998

THE Philippines is reputed to have the longest Yule season in the world, officially starting on Dec. 16 with the nine-day novena of dawn Masses leading to Christmas and ending with the feast of the Three Kings on the first Sunday of January. [ Read More ]

FERVENT wishes from us folks back home for a Maligayang Pasko to all readers of Filipino Reporter!

This being the season of grace, the time of year when we pause and ponder on the Child and the King, I wrote this short story to help carry the joyful message of Christmas. [ Read More ]

IMPEACHMENT as being played out by the US Congress in the case of President Bill Clinton; has been reduced to an unfortunate game of political numbers. [ Read More ]

WILL some readers with a knack for figures please help us visualize how big a pile that some 4,000 tons of gold make? [ Read More ]

THE business and circulation rivalry between the broadsheets Manila Bulletin and Philippine Daily Inquirer has spilled over to the front page of the latter. [ Read More ]

November 1998

EVER wondered how Fabian Ver, the trusted bodyguard of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, was chosen as armed forces chief of staff in 1981 over other qualified contenders? [ Read More ]

US Vice President Al Gore was obviously fascinated by the disarming transparency of President Estrada who was with him at the recent sixth Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit at Kuala Lumpur. [ Read More ]

THE start of the traditional simbang gabi, that novena of nine dawn Masses ushering in Christmas, is still a month away, but we’re already getting advance notice that we may not need warm clothing when we venture into the December air. [ Read More ]

WANT to watch how Pinoys play patintero on the high seas? Follow the brinkmanship that the Estrada administration is playing in its latest quarrel with China over Mischief Reef some 120 nautical miles off Palawan. [ Read More ]

HOW much is refined cane sugar in New York? It’s now P40 a kilo in Manila. Just last month the price was half of that. [ Read More ]

October 1998

ONLY in Manila, they say, is cigarette sold by the stick by vendors deftly scurrying around vehicles caught in traffic jams. [ Read More ]

THERE was no need for President Estrada to formally report to the nation on the first 100 days of his administration. But he did last Thursday. [ Read More ]

EXPECT a scramble among Filipinos for H1B (professional workers) visas.

The American embassy in Manila is being swamped with queries about news reports that the US computer industry will need close to 300,000 programmers from the Philippines and elsewhere in the next three years. [ Read More ]

September 1998

AT midnight last Wednesday, Philippine Airlines folded the Filipino flag that it has carried proudly the past 57 years. The last planes out have taxied reluctantly to their hangars, while teary-eyed staffers lingered for a last glimpse of the work places where they had served PAL’s loyal passengers. [Read More ]

BEFORE the year ends, President Estrada would have traveled abroad three times, all in the neighboring ASEAN region. Shades of Ramos Globetrotting? Not really, since Mr. Estrada’s trips are official commitments expected of anybody who sits as president. [Read More ]

THE peso has been trading lately at P43:$1 at money shops while the regional pressures that had pulled it down are still very much around. Will the battered peso drop further to P45:$1? [Read More ]

August 1998

THE Philippine Constitution mandates that “civilian authority is, at all times, supreme over the military.” (Section 3, Article II — Declaration of Principles and State Policies). [ Read More ]

HOW sweet it is to do nothing and to rest afterwards.

This is a Spanish old proverb that could well be the new motto of Congress. The legislature will recess soon for a 24-day vacation (Sept. 4-27) after doing practically nothing for 39 days (July 27-Sept. 3). [ Read More ]

HAS the Philippine Daily Inquirer finally shot down the Estrada administration even before it could take off?

The six-week-old administration appears in disarray amid the daily barrage of critical reports from the Inquirer, whose 220,000 daily circulation is the biggest among the more than 30 Manila-based newspapers serving a population of more than 70 million. [ Read More ]

NATIONALISTS, genuine and bogus, are again frothing in the mouth, screaming in the streets and in media against the Visiting Forces Agreement signed recently between the Philippines and the United States and submitted to the Senate for ratification. [ Read More ]

July 1998

THE Philippine government is bankrupt, President Estrada declared last July 27 in his much-awaited state of the nation address before Congress. [ Read More ]

KIDNAPPERS and robbers seem to be taunting President Estrada, the crime-buster in presidential barong. There has been a rash of kidnapping, with victims usually moneyed Chinoys, and even daring ambushes of bank armored cars. [ Read More ]

THEN President Ramos had that rather unpresidential habit of combing his hair in public. For his part, President Estrada frequently fishes out a hanky and mops his sweating forehead while everybody watches. [ Read More ]

“SI Erap ba’y para sa mahihirap o para sa magnanakaw?” (“Is Erap really for the poor or for thieves?”)

Thus asked a placard in a picket protesting Marcos crony Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco’s grabbing back control of food and beverage giant San Miguel Corp. with the help of the Estrada administration. [ Read More ]

THAT was a stirring inaugural address that President Joseph Ejercito Estrada delivered June 30 at the Luneta before a mammoth crowd of Filipinos massed in front of the Quirino grandstand and countless others before their TV and radio sets at home. [ Read More ]

June 1998

A RATHER worn-out joke says that Joseph “Erap” Estrada smiles whenever lightning flashes in the sky because he thinks somebody is taking his picture. [Read More ]

MOVIE star Joseph “Erap” Estrada has not formally gone up the stage as president, yet he is already being roundly booed for his decision to bury the frozen cadaver of Ferdinand Marcos in the hallowed grounds of the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Fort Bonifacio. [Read More ]

HOW would you feel if you were the Philippine Airlines captain whose forced retirement by management is the central issue of the week-old PAL pilots’ strike that may yet force the hemorrhaging owners to declare bankruptcy? [Read More ]

AS it is not all black and white in the world of politics, it would be naïve to expect President-elect Joseph “Erap” Estrada to insist, much less succeed, in scrapping altogether the pork barrel from the national budget. [Read More ]

May 1998

THE rains have come in earnest to this thirsty city, washing away the grime clinging to everything like a death mask, like the fetid presence of politicians refusing to accept the fact of their rejection at the polls. [ Read More ]

EXCEPT for the sore losers who still cannot accept reality, everybody in this freewheeling country has gone back to normal mode, with the successful May 11 national elections quietly tucked away into history. [ Read More ]

ADMINISTRATION Lakas leaders are warning the public against jumping into conclusions based on the early, partial and unofficial election results being reported by radio, TV, newspapers and other private counts. [ Read More ]

BY the time you read this, the votes would have been cast. The nation awaits the official verdict: Will Erap Estrada enter Malacañang on June 30 borne on the wings of popularity? Or will the party machine carry Joe de Venecia to take the place of his patron in the Palace? [ Read More ]

April 1998

LIKE a thunderbolt from a clear sky, the peso-dollar rate suddenly dropped Tuesday to a scary P40 to $1. That was after several weeks of the peso settling more or less at P38 to the US dollar. [ Read More ]

SUDDENLY, it’s just three weeks to the May 11 presidential elections. Who is likely to win?

Everything considered, I’d say Speaker Jose de Venecia would win. Not that JdV is the most popular among the frontrunners; it is Vice President Joseph “Erap” Estrada who is. Erap is immensely popular with the masa all right, topping the last polls at 28 percent vs. the 14 percent of the second placers Mayor Alfredo Lim and De Venecia. [ Read More ]

BY the time you read this, President Ramos may be winging his way back to Manila from a Holy Week pilgrimage to Washington, DC.

Mr. Ramos set out to do a number of things during his weeklong visit, but I see it more as his farewell call on his opposite number at the White House. The gesture is appropriate considering that the United States is the most important ally of the former American colony marking this year the centennial of its declaration of independence. [ Read More ]

“WHAT are we in power for?” then Senate President Jose Avelino was quoted in the newspapers as having said when a tight circle of party leaders and he were defending a controversial deal. (The term “scam” was not yet in use in the Manila press of the 50s). The quote was followed by the rapid downfall of this powerful politician. [ Read More ]

March 1998

HULING hirit. This will be the fifth and, most likely, last trip of Fidel V. Ramos to the US of A before he turns over the presidency and its perks to the next Malacañang tenant. Mark your calendars: the visit is scheduled April 6-10. [ Read More ]

A NUMBER of spirited habitues of the National Press Club bar are now having second thoughts about ever running for president — not NPC president, but president of the Republic of the Philippines. [ Read More ]

THE rumor percolating last month in Manila coffee shops was that the wife of a top public relations consultant of Vice President Joseph Estrada had run off with the campaign chest of the leading opposition presidential candidate. [ Read More ]

UY! There’s a new “love team” blooming on the presidential campaign trail!

Don’t laugh, but in most places where she stumps, the staid and proper Cory Aquino is asked anxiously by followers if it’s true about her and Manila Mayor Fred Lim. [ Read More ]

February 1998

GOD the Father descended last Tuesday on the Commission on Elections. He did not overturn the desks in the noisy, jampacked hearing hall of the Comelec nor drive out the charlatans and power brokers. Garbed in a white robe and with a gold-colored braided band holding his long hair, presidential candidate Mario Nebrida Legaspi looked benign enough with his beard and aluminum rod. [ Read More ]

FOR the past four years, the utility giant Manila Electric Company (Meralco) has been gouging millions of captive electricity consumers, in the process amassing some P11 billion from bloated billings. [ Read More ]

THE peso continues to bounce back. It is P39 to the US dollar today (Feb. 10) and may yet appreciate further. But if your folks back home are, like most people lining up at the moneychanger, carrying not more than $200, the fluctuations are not significant. [ Read More ]

IF the presidential elections were held tomorrow, the runaway winner would be Vice President Joseph Estrada of the opposition. The rest of the field, including Speaker Jose de Venecia riding the Lakas mammoth machine, is trailing Estrada by a mile in the latest surveys. [ Read More ]

January 1998

AS the problem of Hillary Rodham Clinton is transformed, rather unfairly, into a (the) problem of the American people, a similar scandal has hit the gossipy Manila press like a juicy durian whetting one’s sexual appetite. [ Read More ]

FACED with a field of presidential aspirants dominated by Speaker Jose de Venecia, Vice President Joseph Estrada and Mayor Alfredo Lim, some dismayed voters want the ballot for the May elections to include an option for NOTA. That’s None Of The Above. [ Read More ]

THE Philippines’ megalotto jackpot has continued to elude this impoverished nation’s four million bettors. Last Wednesday’s draw again failed to produce a player who guessed the six-number combination (2-30-32-40-41-44) that cornered the P114-million jackpot. [ Read More ]

SOMETIMES I wish I were writing this column in Pilipino, just so our American neighbors will not be able to read it and thereby witness our sordid self-flagellation. [ Read More ]

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