Sunday, December 4, 2011

Lured Back To Blogging

I bade blogging goodbye over a year ago. I  left for no clear reasons. Perhaps, it was not really something I wanted to do or maybe I was not fully convinced it was worth the time and effort it required of me. I remember too well the reason why I wanted to give it a try. I was fired by the idea of a cafe in the blogosphere. The idea of a place where people would feel free to drop by and engage each other in a conversation. Never mind what the conversation piece maybe. It may range from what other people may consider idiotic to something intelligent or something crazy to something sane. The idea is to get people together, Pinoys especially, to talk their hearts out in an open, accommodating, nonjudgemental and friendly atmosphere. That idea never took off. I guess I was really never fired enough to pursue it. But here I am again coming back. This time for one especial reason. To help get a petition launched and get going. You could see the sidebar for the petition and what it is all about. This one especial reason may just lead me to other reasons to keep me blogging. I am excited of that possibility. Till then. And yes! I would appreciate it very much if you could lend your help by signing the petition.  All the best.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


The Exaggerator has so kindly called our attention on an inaccuracy in a particular information in our Juan De La Cruz post. And I quote:
"Actually, "John Bull" is the symbolic personification of Great Britain; the Union Jack refers to the flag, which, in the several depictions of John Bull, is oft appropriated as a waistcoat."
That is John Bull's photo you see above.  
May I also clarify that Juan De La Cruz is neither a a symbolic representation of the Philippines nor the Filipino people but of the Filipino masses. 
I apologize for all the information errors. 
Thank you

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Spoliarium: Among the Best of Filipino Paintings

The Spoliarium  by Filipino artist icon, Juan Luna.  

Luna entered this painting to the Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes in 1884, where it won a gold medal. In the same exposition, Hidalgo won a silver medal for his "Virgenes Cristianas Expuestas al Populacho." (See photo below) Because of the twin victory of the two Filipino painters, Filipinos in Spain gathered to honor them. One of the Filipinos was Jose Rizal, who in boosting the two honorees also spoke for the first time of the conditions then prevailing in the Philippines which was then a colony of Spain

"Virgenes Cristianas Expuestas al Populacho."  
 A Filipino art critic spoke of Luna thus: "Vigor and realism characterize his art. In a single brush stroke, he paints a fair of emotions that fills the beholder with drama and tragedy of his theme. Luna was graver, more profound in his emotions than Hidalgo. The latter was more pure, more serene in his feelings."
Luna sought inspiration not from his contemporaries, the Impressionists, but from the Romantic Delacroix, Rembrandt and Daumier from whom he learned imparting power and mysticism to his works. All these influences were incorporated in a style that was Luna's own. 
Luna's fame spread far and wide; he was acclaimed both in Europe and at home, yet there were skeptical Spaniards who took his race against him. Rizal defended him by saying, "Genius has no country, genius burst forth everywhere, is like light and air - the patrimony of all; cosmopolitan as space, as life as God."
Spoliarium viewed in Barcelona
 Note:  The "Virgenes Cristianas Expuestas al Populacho" original was destroyed in a fire at the University of Valladolid Spain. The painting shown on the photo above is only a copy, currently on display at the Manila Metropolitan Museum.  For further information visit

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Juan De La Cruz

Juan dela Cruz is the generic name used to symbolically represent the common Filipino. Juan is depicted as a naïve-looking man wearing a camisa or Barong Tagalog, long trousers, native slippers (in Filipino: tsinelas) and his trademark gear, the salakot. This icon is the equivalent of America's “Uncle Sam,” and Britain's “Union Jack.”
The Scottish publisher R. McCulloch-Dick of The Philippine Free Press was the first to use the name Juan de la Cruz to refer to Filipinos in general when he noticed the name's ubiquity in court dockets and police blotters. Because of this, McCulloch-Dick wrote small verses about Juan dela Cruz in The Philippines' Free Press who was often depicted narrating the petty crimes he had committed. Slowly, McCulloch-Dick enlarged his conception of Juan until he settled on a fixed template – Juan dela Cruz as a typical Filipino who is friendly, humble, self-respecting and hardworking.
The image of Juan dela Cruz wearing a barong Tagalog, salakot, and chinelas, was first drawn in 1912 by Filipino artist Jorge Pineda. It was published in the Philippine Free Press.

Source: Wikipilipinas

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

100 Reasons Why I Love Being Pinoy

1. Merienda. Where else is it normal to eat five times a day?

2. Sawsawan. Assorted sauces that guarantee freedom of choice, enough room for experimentation and maximum tolerance for diverse tastes.

Favorites: toyo't calamansi, suka at sili, patis.

3. Kuwan, ano. At a loss for words? Try these and marvel at how Pinoys understand exactly what you want.

4. Pinoy humor and irreverence. If you're "api" and you know it, crack a joke. Nothing personal, really.

5. Tingi. Thank goodness for small entrepreneurs. Where else can we buy cigarettes, soap, condiments and life's essentials in small affordable amounts?

6. Spirituality. Even before the Spaniards came, ethnic tribes had their own anitos, bathalas and assorted deities, pointing to a strong relationship with the Creator, who or whatever it may be.

7. Po, opo, mano po. Speech suffixes that define courtesy, deference, filial respect --- a balm to the spirit in these aggressive times.

8. Pasalubong. Our way of sharing the vicarious thrills and delights of a trip, and a wonderful excuse to shop without the customary guilt.

9. Beaches! With 7000 plus islands, we have miles and miles of shoreline piled high with fine white sand, lapped by warm waters, and nibbled by exotic tropical fish. From the stormy seas of Batanes to the emerald isles of Palawan-over here, life is truly a beach.

10. Bagoong. Darkly mysterious, this smelly fish or shrimp paste typifies the underlying theme of most ethnic foods: disgustingly unhygienic, unbearably stinky and simply irresistible.

11. Bayanihan. Yes, the internationally-renowned dance company, but also this habit of pitching in still common in small communities. Just have that ice-cold San Miguel Beer and some pulutan ready for the troops.

12. The Balikbayan box. Another way of sharing life's bounty, no matter if it seems like we're fleeing Pol Pot everytime we head home from anywhere in the globe. The most wonderful part is that, more often than not, the contents are carted home to be distributed.

13. Pilipino komiks ("comics"). Not to mention "Hiwaga," "Aliwan,""Tagalog Classics," "Liwayway" and"Bulaklak" magazines. Pulpy publications that Gave us Darna, Facifica Falayfay, Lagalag, Kulafu, Kenkoy, Jesebel, Characters of a time both innocent and worldly.

14. Folk songs. They come unbidden and spring, full blown, like a second language, at the slightest nudge from the too-loud stereo of a passing jeepney or tricycle.

15. Fiesta. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow is just another day, shrugs the poor man who, once a year, honors a patron saint with this sumptuous, no-holds-barred spread. It's a Pinoy celebration at its pious and riotous best.

16. Aswang, manananggal, kapre. The whole underworld of Filipino lower mythology recalls our uniquely bizarre childhood, that is, before political correctness kicked in. Still, their rich adventures pepper our storytelling.

17. Jeepneys. Colorful, fast, reckless, a vehicle of postwar Pinoy ingenuity, this Everyman's communal cadillac makes for a cheap, interesting ride. If the driver's a daredevil (as they usually are), hang on to your seat.

18. Dinuguan. Blood stew, a bloodcurdling idea, until you try it with puto. Best when mined with jalapeno peppers. Messy but delicious.

19. Santacruzan. More than just a beauty contest, this one has religious overtones, a tableau of St. Helena's and Constantine's search for the Cross that seamlessly blends piety, pageantry and ritual. Plus, it's the perfect excuse to show off the prettiest ladies-and the most beautiful gowns.

20. Balut. Unhatched duck's embryo, another unspeakable ethnic food to outsiders, but oh, to indulge in guilty pleasures! Sprinkle some salt and suck out that soup, with gusto. 21. Pakidala. A personalized door-to-door remittance and delivery system for overseas Filipino workers who don't trust the banking system, and who expect a family update from the courier, as well.

22. Choc-nut. Crumbly peanut chocolate bars that defined childhood ecstasy before M & M's and Hersheys.

23. Kamayan style. To eat with one's hand and eschew spoon, fork and table manners-ah, heaven.

24. Chicharon. Pork, fish or chicken crackling. There is in the crunch a hint of the extravagant, the decadent and the pedestrian. Perfect with vinegar, sublime with San Miguel Beer.

25. Pinoy hospitality. Just about everyone gets a hearty "Kain tayo!" invitation to break bread with whoever has food to share, no matter how skimpy or austere it is.

26. Adobo, kare-kare, sinigang and other lutong bahay stuff.

27. Home-cooked meals that have the stamp of approval from several generations, who swear by closely-guarded cooking secrets and family recipes.

28. Lola Basyang. The voice one heard spinning tales over the radio, before movies and television curtailed imagination and defined grown-up tastes.

29. Pambahay. Home is where one can let it all hang out, where clothes do not make a man or woman but rather define their level of comfort.

30. Tricycle and trisikad, the poor Pinoy's taxicab that delivers you at your doorstep for as little as P3, with a complimentary dusting of polluted air.

31. Dirty ice cream. Very Pinoy flavors that make up for the risk: munggo, langka, ube, mais, keso, macapuno. Plus there's the colorful cart that recalls jeepney art.

32. Yayas. The trusted Filipino nanny who, ironically, has become a major Philippine export as overseas contract workers. A good one is almost like a surrogate parent --- if you don't mind the accent and the predilection for afternoon soap and movie stars.

33. Sarsi. Pinoy rootbeer, the enduring taste of childhood. Our grandfathers had them with an egg beaten in.

34. Pinoy fruits. Atis, guyabano, chesa, mabolo, lanzones, durian, langka, makopa, dalanghita, siniguelas, suha, chico, papaya, singkamas-the possibilities!

35. Filipino celebrities. Movie stars, broadcasters, beauty queens, public officials, all-around controversial figures:

Aurora Pijuan, Cardinal Sin, Carlos P. Romulo, Charito Solis, Cory Aquino, Emilio Aguinaldo, the Eraserheads, Fidel V. Ramos, Francis Magalona, Gloria Diaz, Manuel L. Quezon, Margie Moran, Melanie Marquez, Ninoy Aquino, Nora Aunor, Pitoy Moreno, Ramon Magsysay, Richard Gomez, San Lorenzo Ruiz, Sharon Cuneta, Gemma Cruz, Erap, Tiya Dely, Mel and Jay, Gary V. World class Pinoys who put us on the global map: Lea Salonga, Paeng Nepomuceno, Eugene Torre, Luisito Espinosa, Lydia de Vega-Mercado, Jocelyn Enriquez, Elma Muros, Onyok Velasco, Efren "Bata" Reyes, Lilia Calderon-Clemente, Loida Nicolas-Lewis, Josie Natori.

36. Pinoy tastes. A dietitian's nightmare: too sweet, too salty, too fatty, as in burong talangka, itlog na maalat, crab fat (aligue), bokayo, kutchinta, sapin-sapin, halo-halo, pastilyas, palitaw, pulburon, longganisa, tuyo, ensaymada, ube haleya, sweetened Macapuno and garbanzos. Remember, we're the guys who put sugar (horrors) in our spaghetti sauce. Yum!

37. The sights. Banaue Rice Terraces, Boracay, Bohol's Chocolate Hills, Corregidor Island, Fort Santiago, the Hundred Islands, the Las Pinas Bamboo Organ, Rizal Park, Mt. Banahaw, Mayon Volcano, Taal Volcano. A land of contrasts and ever-changing landscapes.

38. Gayuma, agimat and anting-anting. Love potions and amulets. How the socially-disadvantaged Pinoy copes.

39. Barangay Ginebra, Jaworski, PBA, MBA and basketball. How the verticaly-challenged Pinoy compensates, via a national sports obsession that reduces fans to tears and fistfights.

40. People Power at EDSA. When everyone became a hero and changed Philippine history overnight.

41. San Miguel Beer and pulutan. "Isa pa nga!" and the Philippines' most popular, world-renowned beer goes well with peanuts, corniks, tapa, chicharon, usa, barbecue, sisig, and all manner of spicy, crunchy and cholesterol-rich chasers.

42. Resiliency. We've survived 400 years of Spanish rule, the US bases, Marcos, the 1990 earthquake, lahar, lambada, Robin Padilla, Tamagochi and Erap. 43. Yoyo. Truly Filipino in origin, this hunting tool, weapon, toy and merchandising vehicle remains the best way to "walk the dog" and "rock the baby," using just a piece of string.

44. Pinoy games: Pabitin, palosebo, basagan ng palayok. A few basic rules make individual cunning and persistence a premium, and guarantee a good time for all.

45. Ninoy Aquino. For saying that "the Filipino is worth dying for," and proving it.

46. Balagtasan. The verbal joust that brings out rhyme, reason and passion on a public stage.

47. Tabo. All-powerful, ever-useful, hygienically-triumphant device to scoop water out of a bucket _ and help the true Pinoy answer nature's call. Helps maintain our famously stringent toilet habits.

48. Pandesal. Despite its shrinking size, still a good buy. Goes well with any filling, best when hot.

49. Jollibee. Truly Pinoy in taste and sensibility, and a corporate icon that we can be quite proud of. Do you know that it's invaded the Middle East and the US, as well?

50. The butanding, the dolphins and other creatures in our blessed waters. They're Pinoys, too, and they're here to stay. Now if some folks would just stop turning them into daing.

51. Pakikisama. It's what makes people stay longer at parties, have another drink, join pals in sickness and health. You can get dead drunk and still make it home.

52. Sing-a-long. Filipinos love to sing, and thank God a lot of us do it well!

53. Kayumanggi. Neither pale nor dark, our skin tone is beautifully healthy, the color of a rich earth or a mahogany tree growing towards the sun.

54. Handwoven cloth and native weaves. Colorful, environment-friendly alternatives to polyester that feature skillful workmanship and a rich indigenous culture behind every thread. From the pinukpok of the north to the malong of the south, it's the fiber of who we are.

55. Movies. Still the cheapest form of entertainment, especially if you watch the same movie several times.

56. Bahala na. We cope with uncertainty by embracing it, and are thus enabled to play life by ear.

57. Papaitan. An offal stew flavored with bile, admittedly an acquired taste, but pointing to our national ability to acquire a taste for almost anything.

58. English. Whether carabao or Arr-neoww-accented, it doubles our chances in the global marketplace.

59. The Press. Irresponsible, sensational, often inaccurate, but still the liveliest in Asia. Otherwise, we'd all be glued to TV.

60. Divisoria. Smelly, crowded, a pickpocket's paradise, but you can get anything here, often at rock-bottom prices. The sensory overload is a bonus.

61. Barong Tagalog. Enables men to look formal and dignified without having to strangle themselves with a necktie. Worn well, it makes any ordinary Juan look marvelously makisig.

62. Filipinas. They make the best friends, lovers, wives. Too bad they can't say the same for Filipinos.

63. Filipinos. So maybe they're bolero and macho with an occasional streak of generic infidelity; they do know how to make a woman feel like one.

64. Catholicism. What fun would sin be without guilt? Jesus Christ is firmly planted on Philippine soil.

65. Dolphy. Our favorite, ultra-durable comedian gives the beleaguered Pinoy everyman an odd dignity, even in drag.

66. Style. Something we often prefer over substance. But every Filipino claims it as a birthright.

67. Bad taste. Clear plastic covers on the vinyl-upholstered sofa, posters of poker-playing dogs masquerading as art, overaccessorized jeepneys and altars-the list is endless, and wealth only seems to magnify it.

68. Mangoes. Crisp and tart, or lusciously ripe, they evoke memories of family outings and endless sunshine in a heart-shaped package.

69. Unbridled optimism. Why we rank so low on the suicide scale.

70. Street food: Barbecue, lugaw, banana-cue, fishballs, IUD (chicken entrails), adidas (chicken feet), warm taho. Forget hepatitis; here's cheap, tasty food with gritty ambience.

71. The siesta. Snoozing in the middle of the day is smart, not lazy.

72. Honorifics and courteous titles: Kuya, ate, diko, ditse, ineng, totoy, Ingkong, Aling, Mang, etc. No exact English translation, but these words connote respect, deference and the value placed on kinship.

73. Heroes and people who stood up for truth and freedom. Lapu-lapu started it all, and other heroes and revolutionaries followed: Diego Silang, Macario Sakay, Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Apolinario Mabini, Melchora Aquino, Gregorio del Pilar, Gabriela Silang, Miguel Malvar, Francisco Balagtas, Juan Luna, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Panday Pira, Emilio Jacinto, Raha Suliman, Antonio Luna, Gomburza, Emilio Aguinaldo, the heroes of Bataan and Corregidor, Pepe Diokno, Satur Ocampo, Dean Armando Malay, Evelio Javier, Ninoy Aquino, Lola Rosa and other comfort women who spoke up, honest cabbie Emilio Advincula, Rona Mahilum, the women lawyers who didn't let Jalosjos get away with rape.

74. Flora and fauna. The sea cow (dugong), the tarsier, calamian deer, bearcat, Philippine eagle, sampaguita, ilang-ilang, camia, pandan, the creatures that make our archipelago unique.

75. Pilipino songs, OPM and composers:"Ama Namin," Lupang Hinirang," "Gaano Ko Ikaw Kamahal," "Ngayon at Kailanman," "Anak," "Handog,""Hindi Kita Malilimutan," "Ang Pasko ay Sumapit"; Ryan Cayabyab, George Canseco, Restie Umali, Levi Celerio, Manuel Francisco, Freddie Aguilar, and Florante-living examples of our musical gift.

76. Metro Aides. They started out as Imelda Marcos' groupies, but have gallantly proven their worth. Against all odds, they continuously prove that cleanliness is next to godliness- especially now that those darned candidates' posters have to be scraped off the face of Manila!

77. Sari-sari store. There's one in every corner, offering everything from bananas and floor wax to Band-Aid and bakya.

78. Philippine National Red Cross. PAWS. Caritas. Fund drives. They help us help each other.

79. Favorite TV shows through the years: "Tawag ng tanghalan,""John and Marsha," "Champoy," "Ryan, Ryan Musikahan," "Kuwarta o Kahon," "Public Forum/Lives," "Student Canteen," "Eat Bulaga." In the age of inane variety shows, they have redeemed Philippine television.

80. Quirks of language that can drive crazy any tourist listening in: "Bababa ba?" "Bababa!"

81. "Sayang!" "Naman!" "Kadiri!" "Ano ba!?" "pala." Expressions that defy translation but wring out feelings genuinely Pinoy.

82. Cockfighting. Filipino men love it more than their wives (sometimes)

83. Dr. Jose Rizal. A category in himself. Hero, medicine man, genius, athlete, sculptor, fictionist, poet, essayist, husband, lover, samaritan, martyr. Truly someone to emulate and be proud of, anytime, anywhere.

84. Nora Aunor. Short, dark and homely-looking, she redefined our rigid concept of how leading ladies should look.

85. Noranian or Vilmanian. Defines the friendly rivalry between Ate Guy Aunor and Ate Vi Santos and for many years, the only way to be for many Filipino fans.

86. Filipino Christmas. The world's longest holiday season. A perfect excuse to mix our love for feasting, gift-giving and music and wrap it up with a touch of religion.

87. Relatives and kababayan abroad. The best refuge against loneliness, discrimination and confusion in a foreign place. Distant relatives and fellow Pinoys readily roll out the welcome mat even on the basis of a phone introduction or referral.

88. Festivals: Sinulog, Ati-atihan, Moriones. Sounds, colors, pagan frenzy and Christian overtones.

89. Folk dances. Tinikling, pandanggo sa ilaw, karinosa, kuratsa, itik-itik, alitaptap, rigodon. All the right moves and a distinct rhythm.

90. Native wear and costumes. Baro't saya, tapis, terno, saya, salakot, bakya. Lovely form and ingenious function in the way we dress.

91. Sunday family gatherings. Or, close family ties that never get severed. You don't have to win the lotto or be a president to have 10,000 relatives. Everyone's family tree extends all over the archipelago, and it's at its best in times of crisis; notice how food, hostesses, money, and moral support materialize during a wake?

92. Calesa and karitela. The colorful and leisurely way to negotiate narrow streets when loaded down with a year's provisions.

93. Quality of life. Where else can an ordinary employee afford a stay-in helper, a yaya, unlimited movies, eat-all-you-can buffets, the latest fashion (Baclaran nga lang), even Viagra in the black market?

94. All Saints' Day. In honoring our dead, we also prove that we know how to live.

95. Handicrafts. Shellcraft, rattancraft, abaca novelties, woodcarvings, banig placemats and bags, bamboo windchimes, etc. Portable memories of home. Hindi lang pang-turista, pang-balikbayan pa!

96. Pinoy greens. Sitaw. Okra. Ampalaya. Gabi. Munggo. Dahon ng Sili. Kangkong. Luya. Talong. Sigarillas. Bataw. Patani. Lutong bahay will never be the same without them.

97. OCWs. The lengths (and miles) we'd go for a better life for our family, as proven by these modern-day heroes of the economy.

98. The Filipino artist. From Luna's magnificent "Spoliarium" and Amorsolo's sun-kissed ricefields, to Ang Kiukok's jarring abstractions and Borlongan's haunting ghosts, and everybody else in between. Hang a Filipino painting on your wall, and you're hanging one of Asia's best.

99. Tagalog soap operas. From "Gulong ng Palad" and "Flor de Luna" to today's incarnations like "Mula sa Puso"-they're the story of our lives, and we feel strongly for them, MariMar notwithstanding.

100. Midnight madness, weekends sales, bangketas and baratillos. It's retail therapy at its best, with Filipinos braving traffic, crowds, and human deluge to find a bargain.

(Note: This article of no established origin has been circulating among Filipino communities via e-mail. I have thought of editing it to get a few information updated but decided finally to post it as it is in deference to its author whoever he is.)

Marcos and After

Ferdinand E. Marcos, who succeeded to the presidency after defeating Macapagal in the 1965 elections, inherited the territorial dispute over Sabah; in 1968 he approved a congressional bill annexing Sabah to the Philippines. Malaysia suspended diplomatic relations (Sabah had joined the Federation of Malaysia in 1963), and the matter was referred to the United Nations. (The Philippines dropped its claim to Sabah in 1978.) The Philippines became one of the founding countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1967. The continuing need for land reform fostered a new Huk uprising in central Luzon, accompanied by mounting assassinations and acts of terror, and in 1969, Marcos began a major military campaign to subdue them. Civil war also threatened on Mindanao, where groups of Moros opposed Christian settlement. In Nov., 1969, Marcos won an unprecedented reelection, easily defeating Sergio Osmeña, Jr., but the election was accompanied by violence and charges of fraud, and Marcos’s second term began with increasing civil disorder.
In Jan., 1970, some 2,000 demonstrators tried to storm Malacañang Palace, the presidential residence; riots erupted against the U.S. embassy. When Pope Paul VI visited Manila in Nov., 1970, an attempt was made on his life. In 1971, at a Liberal party rally, hand grenades were thrown at the speakers’ platform, and several people were killed. President Marcos declared martial law in Sept., 1972, charging that a Communist rebellion threatened. The 1935 constitution was replaced (1973) by a new one that provided the president with direct powers. A plebiscite (July, 1973) gave Marcos the right to remain in office beyond the expiration (Dec., 1973) of his term. Meanwhile the fighting on Mindanao had spread to the Sulu Archipelago. By 1973 some 3,000 people had been killed and hundreds of villages burned. Throughout the 1970s poverty and governmental corruption increased, and Imelda Marcos, Ferdinand’s wife, became more influential.
Martial law remained in force until 1981, when Marcos was reelected, amid accusations of electoral fraud. On Aug. 21, 1983, opposition leader Benigno Aquino was assassinated at Manila airport, which incited a new, more powerful wave of anti-Marcos dissent. After the Feb., 1986, presidential election, both Marcos and his opponent, Corazon Aquino (the widow of Benigno), declared themselves the winner, and charges of massive fraud and violence were leveled against the Marcos faction. Marcos’s domestic and international support eroded, and he fled the country on Feb. 25, 1986, eventually obtaining asylum in the United States.
Aquino’s government faced mounting problems, including coup attempts, significant economic difficulties, and pressure to rid the Philippines of the U.S. military presence (the last U.S. bases were evacuated in 1992). In 1990, in response to the demands of the Moros, a partially autonomous Muslim region was created in the far south. In 1992, Aquino declined to run for reelection and was succeeded by her former army chief of staff Fidel Ramos. He immediately launched an economic revitalization plan premised on three policies: government deregulation, increased private investment, and political solutions to the continuing insurgencies within the country. His political program was somewhat successful, opening dialogues with the Marxist and Muslim guerillas. However, Muslim discontent with partial rule persisted, and unrest and violence continued throughout the 1990s. In 1999, Marxist rebels and Muslim separatists formed an alliance to fight the government.
Several natural disasters, including the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo on Luzon and a succession of severe typhoons, slowed the country’s economic progress. However, the Philippines escaped much of the economic turmoil seen in other East Asian nations in 1997 and 1998, in part by following a slower pace of development imposed by the International Monetary Fund. Joseph Marcelo Estrada, a former movie actor, was elected president in 1998, pledging to help the poor and develop the country’s agricultural sector. In 1999 he announced plans to amend the constitution in order to remove protectionist provisions and attract more foreign investment.
Late in 2000, Estrada’s presidency was buffeted by charges that he accepted millions of dollars in payoffs from illegal gambling operations. Although his support among the poor Filipino majority remained strong, many political, business, and church leaders called for him to resign. In Nov., 2000, Estrada was impeached by the house of representatives on charges of graft, but the senate, controlled by Estrada’s allies, provoked a crisis (Jan., 2001) when it rejected examining the president’s bank records. As demonstrations against Estrada mounted and members of his cabinet resigned, the supreme court stripped him of the presidency, and Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was sworn in as Estrada’s successor.
Macapagal-Arroyo was elected president in her own right in May, 2004, but the balloting was marred by violence and irregularities as well as a tedious vote-counting process that was completed six weeks after the election.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Republic of the Philippines

Manuel Roxas became the first president of the Republic of the Philippines when independence was granted, as scheduled, on July 4, 1946. In Mar., 1947, the Philippines and the United States signed a military assistance pact (since renewed) and the Philippines gave the United States a 99-year lease on designated military, naval, and air bases (a later agreement reduced the period to 25 years beginning 1967). The sudden death of President Roxas in Apr., 1948, elevated the vice president, Elpidio Quirino, to the presidency, and in a bitterly contested election in Nov., 1949, Quirino defeated José Laurel to win a four-year term of his own.
The enormous task of reconstructing the war-torn country was complicated by the activities in central Luzon of the Communist-dominated Hukbalahap guerrillas (Huks), who resorted to terror and violence in their efforts to achieve land reform and gain political power. They were finally brought under control (1954) after a vigorous attack launched by the minister of national defense, Ramón Magsaysay. By that time Magsaysay was president of the country, having defeated Quirino in Nov., 1953. He had promised sweeping economic changes, and he did make progress in land reform, opening new settlements outside crowded Luzon island. His death in an airplane crash in Mar., 1957, was a serious blow to national morale. Vice President Carlos P. García succeeded him and won a full term as president in the elections of Nov., 1957.
In foreign affairs, the Philippines maintained a firm anti-Communist policy and joined the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization in 1954. There were difficulties with the United States over American military installations in the islands, and, despite formal recognition (1956) of full Philippine sovereignty over these bases, tensions increased until some of the bases were dismantled (1959) and the 99-year lease period was reduced. The United States rejected Philippine financial claims and proposed trade revisions.
Philippine opposition to García on issues of government corruption and anti-Americanism led, in June, 1959, to the union of the Liberal and Progressive parties, led by Vice President Diosdado Macapagal, the Liberal party leader, who succeeded García as president in the 1961 elections. Macapagal’s administration was marked by efforts to combat the mounting inflation that had plagued the republic since its birth; by attempted alliances with neighboring countries; and by a territorial dispute with Britain over North Borneo (later Sabah), which Macapagal claimed had been leased and not sold to the British North Borneo Company in 1878.

Source: The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001-05.