Fr. Chubby and Bulan- or Protect Bulan!


Well, what’s the next step??? File a case with the Ombudsmann? It’s now time to act so I appeal to all sane TagaBulans to take the next step now to stop this prohibited child labor, environmental crime and systematic looting of Bulan by these people. Organize yourselves and go to the streets and make known what you think and what you feel! Democracy is all about that, it’s your government, it’s rule of the people! So make it known to the entire Bulan that kleptocracy is not tolerated in our town! Move now before Bulan is damaged forever! We have written enough, we know enough, now it’s the time for action! In unity- as we all know- there is strength!

No, Fr. Chubby did not die in vain! For  now we have a true tagaBulan who will guide and inspire us in  our present fight against the destruction of Bulan. In  him we found  a true symbol for what Bulan really stands for-  moral integrity, loyalty, dedication to duty and bravery. It is just our bad luck that we ended up with people in the government who are there to pirate Bulan. For now , my kabungtos, all roads lead to Bulan, not to Rome. We have seen once again that Rome is not there for our cause, it’s not there for our Fr. Chubby, it’s not there for you and me. It’s there for those who can pay.

Protect the integrity of  Bulan- that is our responsibilty. Leave your comfort zones now and act as one, one people who fights for a noble cause- PROTECTION of democratic ideals, of children and environment.

Bulan deserves a bright future!

jun asuncion

Bulan Observer


By: Atty. Benji

Section 26 of Article II of the 1987 Constitution reads “the State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit “Political Dynasties” as maybe defined by Law”. Apparently, the enabling law that will define the parameters of the term “political dynasty” has been languishing in the archives of the House of Representatives for years, or even a decade now.

Can we expect the present members of the House of Representatives to seriously pass and approve a law that may compromise their political career in the future? Of course not! Because most, if not all, of the present congressmen and congresswomen must have came from family or families of seasoned politicians or political clans, or better still, “Trapos”, short for traditional politicians.

Dictionary has defined the term “dynasty” as succession of rulers from the same family or line; or a family or group that maintains power for several generations: a political dynasty controlling the state.

Political Analysts say the dominance of the clans has prevented the flowering of genuine democracy in the Philippines.

The only way to break up these political dynasties fast is to disqualify all present officeholders and their relatives, from mayor to president, from running for any office in the next elections. But that is not likely to happen, except under a revolutionary government.

For instance in the BICOL Region alone, political dynasties have been prevalent since time immemorial among the seasoned family of politicians or political clans, such as, the Andayas, Rocos, Villafuertes, Alfelors, Fuentebellas and Robredos of CAMARINES SUR. The Panoteses, Typocos, Timoners, Unicos and Padillas of CAMARINES NORTE. The Verceleses, Sanchezes, Alcantaras, Santiagos, Tatads of CATANDUANES. The Lagmans, Salcedas, Gonzaleses, Bicharas and Imperials of ALBAY. The Fernandezes, Espinosas, Butalids, Bacunawas and Khos of MASBATE, and last but not the least, the Gotladeras, de Castros, Gonzaleses, Encinases, Lees and the Escuderos of SORSOGON.

In the town of BULAN per se, political dynasties are also prevalent long time ago and up to the present time, we have the de Castro clan and the Gotladera-Gillego clan, (for the Gotladera-Gillego i.e, then ex-Mayors, Taleon and wife, Nena Gillego-Gotladera, and ex-Congressman Boning Gillego, a brother of Nena, and now, Olap, grandson of Taleon & Nena), and for the de Castro clan, i.e., then, Assemblywoman, Nene de Castro, ex-Mayors Luis de Castro, Vito de Castro and Guiming de Castro, and now, Rosa de Castro, wife of Guiming – all in the family affair, a family business and source of livelihood. And, I would assume that Vice President Kabayan Noli de Castro is not related to the de Castro clan of Bulan, neither Fidel Castro of Cuba too, he-he-he.

Atog ka, mapagalon rungkabon an “political dynasty” sa lado san local na politika, kay sira man lang baga an may mga (3Gs) Guns, Goons & Gold. Kaya pagnagbarakalan sin boto, permi na sira llamado sa eleksyon, kayang-kaya nira magbakal sin armas, o mag-hire sin daghan na mga bodyguards o mercenaries, etc…. Dahil sira an nasa poder, an panabot nira sira nalang an maykakayahan o karapatan magpugol san poder sa municipio o kapitolyo kaya hinihimo nira na hanap buhay an politika, habang nakaingkod sa poder, sulwak an mga kawarta, kaupod na duon an mga manglain-lain na pahanlas, porsiento, komisyun, kickback, jueteng payola, komisyun sa illegal drugs, illegal logging, o illegal fishing. Parasapasa lang sira san poder, pagkatapos san ama, sa asawa, sa mga bata, kamanghod, bayaw, belas, ugangan, hinablusan, singaki, sobrino, sobrina etc., balik gihapon sa pwesto an ama, baga lang san telibong, paikot- ikot lang.

Columnist Carlos H. Conde of the Herald Tribune, in one of his columns regarding Philippine political dynasty, wrote that ‘”For generations, political dynasties have dominated politics and governance in the Philippines. They are prominent and moneyed clans, like that of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whose father was also president and whose son is a congressman in Pampanga. Another son is also a congressman in Camarines Sur. (GMA brother-in-law, Egie boy Arroyo is also a Congressman in Negros. But, Senator Joker Arroyo is not related to her either by affinity or consanguinity.)

There are an estimated 250 political families nationwide, with at least one in every province, occupying positions in all levels of the bureaucracy, according to the Center for People Empowerment in Governance, a nonprofit group that advocates more grassroots participation in politics. Of the 265 members of Congress, 160 belong to these clans, the group says.

“These are the same families who belong to the country’s economic elite, some of them acting as rule makers or patrons of politicians who conspire together to amass greater economic power,” said Bobby Tuazon, Director of the center.

Analysts say members of the dynasties have developed a sense of entitlement regarding public positions, while many ordinary Filipinos accept the arrangement as inevitable, which makes it difficult to change the situation.

Political dynasties were an offshoot of the country’s colonial experience, in which the Filipino elite was nurtured by Spanish and American colonizers. Even after the country gained independence, in 1946, the largely feudal system persisted, as landed Filipino families sought to protect their interests by occupying public offices.

When he was president in the 1970s and 1980s, Ferdinand Marcos blamed the political dynasties for what was wrong with the country and promised to dismantle them. He did, but then replaced them with new ones that he controlled. These families persist to this day.

Because Filipinos tend not to vote according to class, ethnicity, religion or even ideology, the Filipino family has become “the most enduring political unit and the one into which, failing some wider principle of participation, all other units dissolve,” Brian Fegan, an American anthropologist and historian, wrote in the book “An Anarchy of Families: State and Family in the Philippines.”

“Continuing clan dominance is a product of the seemingly immutable and unequal socioeconomic structure, as well as the failure to develop a truly democratic electoral and party system,” said Julio Teehankee, a political science professor at De La Salle University in Manila.

The system is a vicious cycle, one that prevents the expansion of the base of aspirants and candidates for representation, Teehankee said. The result, he added, is a political system dominated by patronage, corruption, violence, and fraud.

Apart from violence, election fraud sparks the most concern during elections. According to the Center for People Empowerment in Governance, “fraud recycles the political dynasties and keeps them in power.”

“It breeds generations of cheaters and manipulators, corrupt politicians, mediocre executives, bribe takers, absenteeism in Congress,” the center said.

The Asia Foundation, which has been monitoring elections in the Philippines for decades, said in a report that “confusion, inefficiency, corruption and cheating damaged the credibility of elections and cast doubt on the democratic legitimacy of elected officials” in the Philippines.

Apart from contributing to corruption, the rule of political dynasties has other detrimental effects for Filipinos, according to several studies by watchdog groups, including the Center for People Empowerment in Governance.

For example, a family in power might not finance government projects in areas controlled by its rivals. In many cases, those in power would withhold government services, like health care, and offer them only during election periods. The repair of roads and bridges often takes place only during the election season, and a governing politician would make sure that voters know who was behind the repair.

Likewise, veteran political columnist Antonio C. Abaya wrote in one of his newspaper columns that “the Charter Change is being promoted as a cure-all for all the ills of this unfortunate country. It is not. Under the present circumstances, shifting to the parliamentary system, without first overhauling the political system and without first rewriting the rules of electoral engagement, will not result in any meaningful change.”

“Without first making these preliminary changes, the predatory “trapos” who now control the present presidential system will wind up controlling the future parliamentary system”, Abaya added.

Will the parliamentary system dismantle the political dynasties? Of course not. Why would the political dynasties, which have acquired their political clout and fabulous wealth under the presidential system, do anything to diminish that clout and reduce that wealth under a parliamentary system? It would be counterintuitive.

“As far as I know, the 1987 Constitution frowned on political dynasties, and there are or have been only-God-and-the-congressmen-know how many bills filed in Congress precisely to dismantle political dynasties, in support of the constitutional spirit. But none of these bills have ever prospered into law. They are all languishing in some dank and dusty congressional archive, never to see the light of day”, Abaya continued.

“Even under President Aquino, the principal inspiration of the Cory Constitution, the Cojuangco and Aquino dynasties flourished… So did the Estrada dynasty during and after the presidency of Erap, and the Arroyo and Macapagal dynasties under the present dispensation. Politics in the Philippines have become a lucrative family business and the fastest route to fabulous wealth”, said Abaya.

“The present presidential administration has had all the chances to pursue a serious anticorruption campaign at the highest level, involving the biggest fish. But it has chosen not to. It is inconceivable that it would suddenly do so under a parliamentary system,” Abaya said.

The more than 100 graft cases against the Marcos family have been pending for almost 20 years, and yet there has not been a single conviction. The plunder case against Joseph Estrada has been dragging on for more than four years, occasionally punctuated with offers of “reconciliation” if Erap would only accept exile abroad…… (Subsequently, Erap was given executive clemency of pardon by GMA, our government prosecutors were busy gathering evidence to prosecute Erap for plunder, then, less than a year after his conviction, GMA granted him pardon…, weird?)

Another political columnist Girlie Linao said during the last May 2007 elections that, per reports she received, in a southern Philippine province, a Muslim politician and his three wives are all running for public office in upcoming mid-term elections in May.

Up north, a husband and wife tandem are seeking re-election for mayor and vice mayor of a town in Nueva Ecija province, while the wife of the incumbent governor of the eastern province of Masbate is running to replace her husband.

All over the Philippines, husbands, wives, sons, daughters and close relatives are on the campaign trail in hopes of getting elected on May 14, when Filipinos vote for 12 senators, more than 200 congressional representatives and some 17,000 local officials.

In some areas, family members are facing off with each other for the same positions, while people from only one clan are running for every possible elective posts in their bailiwicks.

“Politics has become a family affair in this country – not in the wholesome sense, but in a way akin to the Cosa Nostra,’ newspaper columnist Ana Marie Pamintuan lamented, referring to the Sicilian mafia.

For decades, wealthy and famous families have dominated politics in the Philippines, concentrating power to the elite, promoting corruption and resulting in abuses.

While the Philippine constitution prohibits political dynasties, an enabling law that would implement the ban is still pending in Congress, and many of the country’s lawmakers oppose it because they too come from political clans.
Other long-entrenched political clans include the families of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and former president Corazon Aquino.

In the past decade, the country also saw the rise of new political dynasties, often challenging the traditional clans in their bailiwicks.

Senator Joker Arroyo, who was reelected last May election, said he does not see anything wrong with political dynasties, noting that families tend to take care of an area in order to retain their power in their turfs.

“I don’t particularly condemn it because it is practiced all over the world,” Arroyo, who is not related to the president and does not have any relative in public office, said.

He cited the case of the late US president John F Kennedy, whose relatives held public office even while he was still in the White House.

But columnist Ana Marie Pamintuan noted that while it was quite normal for children to want to follow the footsteps of their parents or for constituents to want good politicians to remain in power, some families need to temper their greed for power.

“Allowing a single clan to dominate the political scene in a particular area can weaken the checks and balances against the abuse of power,’ she said.

“In certain areas, long-entrenched dynasties also produce warlords who operate above the law, controlling jueteng (an illegal numbers game) and smuggling, and using murder to eliminate troublemakers,’ she added.

And, there you are, sociologist and columnist Randy David said the proliferation of political dynasties in the Philippines highlights “a bigger malaise” in the country, which he said is “the absence of any real political competition in society.”

“The problem…is our society’s lopsided structure of opportunities that allows a few to monopolize wealth and power, while consigning the vast majority of our people to a life of dependency and hopelessness,” he added.

Another columnist/reporter, Mio Cusi said that “political dynasties reflect an internal contradiction in any democratic institution. The Constitution explicitly prohibits their existence, since they preclude equal access to public service. Yet they continue to exert a pervasive influence on Philippine politics.”

“Political dynasties are expanding further rather than contracting. This is a direct contravention of the Constitution,” party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo of Bayan Muna said.

Ocampo added that while the fundamental law of the land requires the passage of a law to define the concept of “political dynasty” and disallow its abusive practice, legislators are not about to shoot their own foot.

“The Constitution passes on to the legislature the enactment of an enabling law to carry out that policy. The reality is that the dominant members of the House belong to political dynasties, which cannot be expected to legislate their own demise as a political entity,” he said.

Then Rep. Noynoy Aquino III of Tarlac, (now a Senator) however, viewed the issue on whether a member of a political family should continue in office or not, as a matter of public choice. “At the end of the day, people deserve the government they get,” he said.

Ocampo still maintains the view that no political family should exercise monopoly of leadership, especially if they have all the economic resources and political clout to do so. “The idea is to democratize, specifically, to give chance to ordinary people to elect their own,” he said.

Using a Marxist perspective, Ocampo explained that the emergence of the parties of the Left, Bayan Muna among others, is part of the struggle against political dynasties. “These developments are a direct challenge and response to the worsening situation.”

Ocampo referred to the party-list system as the “aperture” where the reactionary forces can enter and represent themselves. Twenty percent of the total number of House seats is reserved for party-list representation.

But despite the window of opportunity given by the Constitution, Ocampo believes that Congress made an enabling law that is “flawed.” It became a device to marginalize the representation for party-list since the ceiling limits the filling up of available seats, he said.

Although Ocampo explained the appearance of reactionary groups in Congress from the point of view of class struggle, he admitted that House members belonging to political dynasties have a function in the advocacy of the Left.

“We have been able to expand the number of House members belonging to traditional parties and political dynasties to support some of our advocacies,” Ocampo said. He described the support as “relatively consistent” from a minimum of 30 to a maximum of 60 congressmen.

Another political analyst and columnist Victor Montero in one of his commentaries last year said that “the defining character of the 2007 elections, says one observer, is the phenomenal rise of political dynasties. Congressmen, governors and mayors on their last term have fielded their spouses, children and siblings to succeed them. A number of senatorial candidates, meanwhile, have close relatives holding a variety of elective positions. And no less than President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has two sons and one brother-in-law running for congressman.” (as expected, they all won in the last elections)

Outrage over the situation has given rise to a new group in Philippine politics — the Citizens’ Anti-Dynasty Movement (CADM). Ironically, its creation was spurred by the choice of senatorial candidates of the ruling coalition and the Opposition.

Roger Olivares, co-founder of CAD said that “the group went to work, digging up data which showed that family dynasties control over 75 percent of local elective posts in almost all of major cities.

Indeed, in the May 2007 elections, 10 of 23 senatorial candidates belong to political dynasties.”

According to Olivares, the dynasties control elective positions not just in a vertical manner (like when a congressman passes on his post to a son or a daughter), but also horizontal where the dynasty controls several key positions within a city or a province.

For instance during the May 11, 2007 elections in the National Capital Region, in Makati, Mayor Jejomar Binay is seeking a third term, his daughter Abigail is running for congresswoman while his son Jejomar is aiming for a second term as councilor. In Manila, outgoing Mayor Lito Atienza has fielded his son Ali to take over his post. A son-in-law, Miles Roces, is seeking reelection as congressman in Manila. In Valenzuela City, four of businessman William Gatchalian’s sons are all in politics – one son is the incumbent mayor, the three others are seeking congressional posts in the city. In the provinces, Senator Edgardo Angara’s clan lords it over Aurora: the senator’s sister is the governor, his brother is mayor of capital town Baler, his son is congressman, and his nephew is running for vice governor. In Nueva Ecija, the Josons have appropriated unto themselves practically all major political positions in the province. There are towns where husbands and wives are battling it out for control of the municipio.

“This kind of control definitely breeds corruption and mediocrity,” says Olivares. “It chokes the ambitions of other potentially dedicated leaders. We have not had potentially dedicated local and national leaders of consequence the past two decades.”

Olivares admits there are politicians that had done well and who have the support of the people. But these are few and far between, he adds.
Olivares believes that completely eradicating political dynasties is not possible without violating their personal rights. “We do not want to do that. At best, control or limits to avoid excessive debilitating abuse is workable. That is up to the lawmakers to decide.”

In America, there are also family dynasties in politics. The Kennedys have dominated politics in at least one district in Massachussetts for decades. But the Kennedys, Olivares points out, have shown dedication in public service and had to earn or win their positions. The main difference, he says, is how public officials are elected in the US and in the Philippines.

In America, there is very little of what are called “command votes” or “patronage votes” which is the weapon of Philippine dynasties. “Because of education, fairly good income, and good communication, Americans can make up their minds individually although there is of course a bloc vote–but that bloc vote is because of beliefs and other persuasions, not because of feudal dependence,” says Olivares.

For Dan Olivares, brother of Roger and executive director of CADM, political dynasties cause stagnation. “The rise of new leaders is set back. I don’t think there is such a thing as a dynasty that is one hundred percent good.”

The 1987 Constitution contains an anti-dynasty provision, a reflection of the lessons from the Marcos regime where assorted relatives of the strongman were elected or appointed to public office. The Constitution termed dynasties as anti-democratic in character.

Dynastic clans, however, counter that the constitutional anti-dynasty provision has no enabling law. “That is their excuse,” says Dan. “They quote the Constitution for their own benefit.”

There may be as many reasons as there are dynasties to explain the situation. One factor could be the Filipino’s excessive penchant for utang na loob (debt of gratitude) which is part of a feudal mindset. They feel beholden to the politician for the many perks or favors given them. “Parang batang nabigyan ng kendi,” explains Dan.

Postcript: For further reference and information on political clans and dynasties in Philippine politics, attached hereunder are the leading personalities and political families, who dominated the local politics in their respective regions/provinces/cities/towns per researched released last year (2007) by the Citizens’ Anti-Dynasty Movement (CADM) chaired by Roger Olivarez. Obviously, seventy-five (75%) percent of provinces and regions, almost 100% of major cities are under dynasty families’ control.”, as follows:

AGUSAN DEL SUR, Plazas and Amantes; ALBAY, Salcedas, Gonzaleses, Bicharas, Imperials and Lagmans; BATAAN, Romans and Garcia; BATANES, Abads; BATANGAS, Rectos, Ermitas, Sanchezes, Laureles and Levistes; BILIRAN, Espinas; BULACAN, Alvarados, Oples, Pagdanganans and Mendozas; BUKIDNON, Acostas and Zubiri; CAGAYAN DE ORO, Emanos; CALOOCAN, Asistios and Echeverris; CAMARINES SUR, Robredos Villafuertes, Rocos, Fuentebellas and Alfelors; CAMIGUIN, Romualdos; CAVITE, Remullas, Revillas, Barzagas; CEBU, Osmenas, del Mars, Cuencos, Gullases, Garcias, Yaphas and Martinezes; COMPOSTELA VALLEY, Caballeros and Amatongs; DAVAO CITY, Dutertes and Lopezes; DAVAO DEL SUR, Libanans, Bautistas and Cagases; EASTERN SAMAR, Libanans; GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Antoninos; ILOCOS NORTE, Marcoses and Fariñases; ILOCOS SUR, Singsons and Baterinas; ILOILO, Defensors, Tupases, Suplicos, Garins, Birons and Gonzaleses; ISABELA, Dys and Albanos; LA UNION, Ortegas and Joaquins; LANAO DEL NORTE, Dimaporos; LANAO DEL SUR, Macarambons; LAS PINAS, Villar-Aguilars; LEYTE, Petillas, Velosos and Romualdezes; MAKATI, Binays; MANILA, Atienzas and Bagatsings; MARINDUQUE, Reyeses; MASBATE, Khos; MISAMIS ORIENTAL, Baculios; MUNTINLUPA, Fresnedis; NAVOTAS, Sandovals; NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, de la Cruzes, Marañons, Lacsons, Alvarezes, Zaycos and Lopezes; NEGROS ORIENTAL, Parases, Blancos, Limkaichongs, Dys, Yaps, Baldados, Villanuevas, Arnaizes, Montanos, Maciases and Teveses; NUEVA ECIJA, Josons, Umalis, Fajardos, Violagos, Vargases, Villareals and Esquivels; OLONGAPO CITY, Gordons; PALAWAN, Mitras; PAMPANGA, Macapagals, Lapids, Bondocs and Puyats; PANGASINAN, Agbayanis, de Venecias, Espinos, Lims, Ramoses; PASIG, Eusebios; QUEZON-AURORA, Angaras, Suarezes and Punsalans; SAN JUAN, Estrada-Ejercitos; SARANGGANI, Chongbians; SORSOGON, Lees and Escuderos; SIQUIJOR, Fuas; SULTAN KUDARAT, Mangudadatos; SURIGAO DEL NORTE, Barbers and Ecleos; SURIGAO DEL SUR, Falcons and Pichays; TAGUIG, Cayetanos; TARLAC, Aquinos, Sumulongs, Cojuangcos, Lapuzes and Yaps; VALENZUELA, Gatchalians; ZAMBALES, Magsaysays; ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE, Jalosjoses; (CADM researched not yet updated as of yet)…

They Need Someone, A Leader – by rudyb

to : jun a./atty. benji

before i proceed to compose and write this reply i have some lingering thoughts in my mind if i had to necessarily respond to your write ups as a rejoinder to my observation on the Future of Bulan. but i had to continue anyway as i felt you might have misinterpreted me or did not get my point on my opinion of today’s youth. i have no doubt that the future indeed lies upon the youth of today. you’re right in saying that they are the tangible present entity that connects us in the future. that’s why, every time i open this site i can’t help myself pause for a while and focus on the picture, scrutinize and analyze the faces of the children. first, i am very eager that i might be able to recognize thru their faces, looking for the smallest semblance that i would be able to recognize and guess who their respective parents are – hoping they are the siblings of one my friends or a relative. second, looking at their faces i do recall my early childhood years in our town. flashbacks rushes in my brain – my grade school era, remembering my teachers’ (mrs. del monte, mrs. golpeo, ms. gloriane, mrs. francisco, mr. gojar, mr. zuniga, mr. otilano, etc.) supreme sacrifice in molding our personality. my parents greatest love and guidance (i love you and terribly misses you so much wherever you are…) third, would contemplate what is the future of these children? do we have an emerging leader amongst them? would they succeed given their current environment? what values do they learn? from whom? carefully studying their faces i’m particularly engrossed by the girl in between the one with notebook and with the handkerchief. her face, in my opinion, is so strong, determined and focused. it seems she is challenged by the event (photo session) that someday she’ll be successful and triumphant beating all odds against her. and i agree with her if she will just be guided accordingly and appropriately. but do we have the right leaders today to make it happen?

going back to the PMA training camp, i will completely disagree with you that this is comparable with the Gulag type youth training camp. first, the institution is not totally isolated from the outside world, they are in constant contact with the corrupt military higher ups. second, their instructors are somewhat corrupt already and they’ll just pass on the legacy. third, the trainee/cadets themselves are the very example that i have mentioned – the aspiring police applicant (though some of them may be idealist). so what would you expect? let’s forget this thing, this is not an appropriate proposition.

youth of yesteryears, of the past, of the colonial era is totally very different from today’s youth – because they  have the passion, a cause that they are fighting worthy of dying for, so in their veins runs the blood of heroism, the valor, bravery, intrepidness and fearlessness – all the adjectives that would fit and describe their love for our country. Dr. JP Rizal if he is still alive today surely would be very disappointed and a very frustrated person as he expected too much from the youth to be the hope of the fatherland and the movers of the nation – but he is partly to be blamed (pardon me for the word) for the result of his failed idealist aspiration. no matter how genius he is, he lacks the foresight and planning, he fell short of anticipating and preparing for the third, fourth till the execution of the mating move. but we can not blame him totally, he’s no Nostradamus. however, if he had not concentrated on his bla-bla alone and had he just laid down the groundwork and the solid foundation for a well trained, informed, attentive, concerned and responsive youth – presumably there will be less youths that are delinquent, addicted to drugs, joining violent and criminal gangs, suffering from unwanted pregnancies and abortion, or giving up to smoking, drinking, gambling and other vices and in conflict with the law, uncared for, school dropouts, etc…. today.

the consequences of his failure continued to reverberate up to Pres. M. Quezon with his “I would rather see my county run like hell by the Filipinos”, so the hell is with us today – we are the one suffering, again for lack of foresight and planning. i would say that there was a revival of patriotism during our generation – the Martial Law era, i can still recall, this is my third and fourth high school years before the ML was declared, the happy go lucky and who cares attitude of the youth during that time. we’re not fully aware that the left is already slowly creeping up and preparing for a mass recruitment and resistance right in the heart of our very own town. i can still remember when our barkadas were invited by classmates Ka Pepe and the other guy i already forgot his name, for a mountain hiking/trekking in San Ramon (they’re from that place). they showed us the highest and a very strategic point where you can see the dam and all the vehicles going in and out of Bulan leading to the divided hill with a curved road. with a binocular you can identify a civilian from military vehicle. not knowing that these places would be the site of the most bloodiest encounters and ambushcades during the ML days. after the trekking, drinking spree followed and introduction to the leftist propaganda. so many of my 4th year classmates (almost half) joined and almost all of them perished. with today’s rice crisis, again it reminds me of the same crisis during those years, while we are waiting for the rice delivery trucks someone has shouted “yaadi na” and off we ran to the old municipal building to queue up only to find out it was not rice but truckloads of stacked lifeless NPA bodies and there lies one of my classmates – Norma Fruto with a gaping wound in her back. there are lucky “returnees” like Jun del Monte (my childhood playmate), Francis Burgos (a friend) who later became a doctor and others and those who continued, the most prominent of which is the lady from Iraya (forgot her name) who rose from the ranks to became the 3rd most powerful and only woman Politburo member of the CPP. she was later captured somewhere in CAMANAVA area (i think in Malabon). these youths has something in common with the revolutionary youths which is the belief that there’s something worthy fighting and dying for – maybe the love for the country. but today’s youth there’s none, and are only exposed to anomalies, corruption, bribery, dishonesty and so forth.

to go on, the blunder was later on solidified by the Aquino administration, she totally missed all the opportunities to start up with a clean slate governance. maybe not her but again her relatives did it all just like what Marcos did. with Baby Lopa and Mokong or Komong Rodriguez i should say and “baba” Cojuangco around, they plundered the wealth of the country. to top it all they messed up the economy and mismanaged the energy sector that plunged the country into one of our darkest times. so we can not blame Greg and his cohorts (most of whom are bicolanos) if they have launched several coup attempts. but what about if Greg has succeeded in his cause to overthrow her? i would like to believe that probably we would be more stable and progressive as i believe he would implement reforms as a namesake of his group – RAM. correspondingly Estrada did it and Arroyo did it also. that’s why we are all here in this pit right now.

so where do the youth’s role fits in – again same as you guys, i also believe they are our future but they need someone, a leader or a group of leaders who can and will guide them through, help them out and reinforce them with the good moral values, the right attitudes etc., challenge and motivate them to be the good leaders that we idealized them to become someday. the leaders must have the foresight, good planning skills and has to be worthy and respectable role model.

but we are different, so we will fly like the king eagle do.

so i’m through with this and will be just happy to read your respective responses if there will be and i’m sure there will be. habo na ako masurat pa, mapagalon mag-isip saka magsurat baga lalo na kun makurolog na an daliri (sorry forgot the bicol word). no more response from me.

so until then God bless and regards.

The Fight For Progress

To attybenji,

I like your fondness in going backward in time to ground your arguments to the themes that occupy us today as you draw lessons from history and pieces from written literaure. It’s very educational for all of us. We do hope we are reaching more and more tagaBulans-young and old- as we walk with them side by side in their fight for Progress. Again, a fight for progress because this helps us focus on the central themes in Bulan with a positive state of mind, as oppose to the fight for corruption which focuses more on “dirty” politics and  politicians and which is a fight that leads us to self-defeat and resignation for we seek the faults more in the ” powerful ” corrupt governmnent officials (“against whom we are helpless anyway…” so our  thinking) and corrupt political system that ever since made us believe we are chickens ( by repressing the proud eagle in us). The Fight For Progress brings us back to the ideals of Rizal and reactivates the forgotten proud and noble eagle in us  and “BREAK FREE FROM THE SHACKLES THAT BOUND THEIR HEARTS AND MINDS SO THAT THEY MAY SOAR TO THE HEAVENS AND ATTAIN THEIR ASPIRATIONS” according to Rizal as he addressed the Filipino Youth. ” Soar to the heavens…” it means no other but the eagle in us.

The fight for progress doesn’t count out the fight against graft and corruption, it is a part of it but we avoid as much as possible using this terminlogy  for reasons cited above and in other writings. We will continue with our objective as stated in About Bulan Observer. I believe however that the word progress must be given more attention today because it  develops and maximizes our remaining personal resources (self-reliance). In short it is built upon our strength, not on our weakness, and makes bigger our chance of winning. This reminds me of the small group of warriors – the Greek Spartans under King Leonidas who had achieved the seemimgly impossible task relative to their being small in number. I think it was that they focused on their strength that they were able to reach their objective. Otherwise they would had ended up as chickens had they gone to the front with the fear of losing.

We don’t want to send our young tagaBulans to the front with the fear of losing but with a big  prospect of winning. And take note that no sporadic government feeding program can ever  strengthen our young tagaBulans. What they need is positive motivation so that they will never give up  their fight for progress and would value again the meaning of labor.They become indolent when they are alienated from their own selves, from their inner eagles and when there is no greater frame that holds them together. With this frame I mean a strong society with which they can identify themselves- again, like a son to his father. This is the main damage that is overlooked when we talk about the havoc of corruption, i.e. that corrupt older generation practically kills their young ones by leaving them a broken society that cannot hold them together. Here the young ones cannot win but only lose. It’s not primarily the lost kaban ng bayan stolen by the adults that renders the youth hopeless and lifeless but it is the archetypal hero that is stolen from them that brings the greatest damage to the youth. A young one, no matters how it claims to already know everything, is still inwardly dependent to its parents. A sensitive mother and father know this and continue with their genuine, selfless love and acceptance for their young inspite of the hardships. It is therefore a crime against the youth for a politician to call on his or her  young constituents as “mga padaba ko” after degrading the town with bad practices.

In my article The New Filipino I attempted to sketch my ideas of social change. There I must have made some flaws in arguments. But my main idea there  is the bottom-up approach in bringing about a qualitative change in our society which begins with the individual, the family, the barangay,the municipal till the national level. As you can see, there are no shortcuts to this method.That’s why I have given up thinking about the national politics but started focusing on the place where we come from. Here we can only win if we begin to motivate our fellow tagaBulans. There are many practical problems that we cannot solve in Bulan like poverty, brain-drain. etc. But I truly believe that we are on the right track and all our efforts would someday bear its first fruits-the coming of proud and motivated young tagaBulans who would love to work together for a progressive town. A progressive town in turn holds its children together and keep them in place. Young people would no longer hate their town and leave  but would love to stay there. Bulan has since long been losing great brains that would have been avoided had the town been progressive before. But lost ist lost. The task now is to prevent this from happening again. This is the challenge to the young leaders of Bulan who would someday be town officials themselves.

This requires only a little bit more time and patience. Shortcuts like the Gulag-camps, PMA’s, murdering all corrupt officials, etc. in fighting corruption and producing a better society will never function. It happened in some societies even in our time but extreme methods will only produce extreme results, extreme results again producing extreme methods till the point that you  will be the victim yourself of the method you initiated. That’s not our fight for progress. We don’t want to be victims ourselves.

Someone  would accuse us now of oral-diarrheria, which means that it’s nothing but bla-bla. Here he  is missing the point. Rizal himself was a fine medical doctor. But it was his “bla-bla” (his writings) that moved the whole nation in his time. Until today we are still being moved by him, a long time already since he had given up his medical practice! Excuse me Dr. Jose Rizal for talking like this. For me you are still the master eagle and it was your pen, not your science of the eye, that has opened my eyes and made me see the illness of our society and the eagle that’s within me.

Thanks once again for your wrtings mr. attybenji and mr. rudyb. To attybenji, I have opened up a column for both of you to write your articles that are aligned with the objectives of Bulan Observer. I’m looking forward for more contributions to come from many tagaBulans for Bulan Observer  actually belongs to them.

jun asuncion

Bulan Observer




The Future Of Bulan

(This is my reponse to attybenji’s comment on Stop it now- or the strength of the Barangay)

 Thanks for your comment and for your updating me about the SK. With you Bulan has found another spokesman in its fight for progress. You know I’m beginning to dislike the word corruption for it seems to me that it  has been overused and “corrupted”  already and so  seems to be losing its semantic power. People have been desensitized already to it that it seems they don’t react to it anymore. The whole world is using this term and since there  are countless cultures and mentalities throughout the world, each with different history, religious beliefs and stage of development, the word itself  cannot  claim to have a universal meaning, for in practice, what is considered already as  a form of corruption in one country is viewed maybe in another country as a form of virtue. Corruption is defined in many ways : philosophical, legal, moral, political, etc. Theoretical definitions have in general one thing in common, i.e., a negative one. But it is in different cultural settings where the word loses it’s theoretical significance and gives way to local practices. Corruption is consciously or unconsciously linked with the moral concept of right and wrong, or of what is allowed or not allowed as in law. However, we know for instance that in one city or province, what is right or wrong, what is allowed or not allowed, may differ practically from another city or province even if the said cities or provinces belong to the same country. Even in Europe, things vary from country to country, or even from city to city within the same country. Federalism contributes also to plurality of legal definitions. And hyper-democratism has paved the way to cultural and moral relativism.

So let’s talk about the fight for progress. In this way we keep our positive mindset intact and maybe we can count more on the participation of many tagaBulans. The word progress is commonly understood as positive. You and me understand one thing when we hear for instance description like progressive person or town. Forget the philosophers, for if they would want it, they could transform this word into a negative one. What is important is that in practice, we all agree that is positive and that is universal in meaning. Check out all the dictionaries that you know and you’ll find no negative association to it. I like the simple definition of it as ” to advance, to move forward, to gain”. Even Physics I think would define it something like ” a motion in space from point a to point b”, in biology it means “growth”. When a school child progresses, this is  big news for the parents, a reason to celebrate! In human societies, progress means therefore positive development, an event that is in accordance with the universal human instinct of improving the quality of life by acting upon the given physical world and the society to where he belongs so that his needs for food, shelter, participation and protection are satisfied.

The lack of food, shelter, participation and protection is still a problem today, not only to the first homosapiens that inhabited the earth. This is a problem in our modern-day Bulan. For though technologies have advanced since human discovered how to produce fire to our modern internet technology, there are still tagaBulans who have nothing to eat and no protection, no shelter and no chance to participate ( to work or get employed). For many of our kabungtos these needs are not being satisfied. This is the reason why we turn back to the institution that is established to address to these needs- the government. The government is primarily there to work on how to improve the quality of life of its constituents, this is a social contract that we do during elections with the government that we elect. We entrust them the power to manage the resources for them to offer and coordinate solutions to the problems of the people. For a mayor therefore to run away with the kaban ng bayan ( public treasury) is a disgrace.

I understand that all our efforts that we exert now is focused on preventing the kaban ng bayan to be stolen again by a thief so that this could be used to the  last cent for the progress of Bulan. Would you consider the children to be happy when the father would come home with no more left for them by spending his money in a drinking-spree with barkadas (friends) after work, or a mother who spends the money for her beauty kits? Many tagaBulans are unhappy. Many kabataans (youth) are without life perspective .

Every tagaBulan should participate in bringing the town forward and do what is right. That’s the reason why I do not agree with Pimentel’s reasoning why he is for the abolishment of the SK. Do you still remember the saying “like father, like son”? To abolish the son, we should rather first aboilish the father. To put an end to SK due to “fund irregularities”  is to suggest that we put an end to all, if not many, municipal and city governments throughout the entire country, including the national government itself. For where in our country can you not find “fund irregularities”? Wherever transparency in politics is regularly avoided, common sense would make us  assume about fund irregularites- as the case maybe in Bulan. And to say ” due to the absence of serious efforts to prevent  (…fund irregularities ) ”  is already to accept for these “father” public officials that they are not serious enough and have failed themselves. For how can they blame the young ones when by  being crook themselves they cannot train their sons and daughters anymore, or  teach them what is wrong and what is right for they themselves do not know the distinctions of these simple categories anymore. To distrust the youth is to distrust the future. This is not in accordance with the concept of progress that we have talked about. To forget the youth is to forget tomorrow and to have no more faith in human society. I say it again that the survival of society depends on the visions of the youth and naturally on the good things they have learned from their elders. The survival of Bulan depends on the youth of Bulan of today. Remove the youth of today and you’ll have an empty place once called Bulan in a few years. Don’t train the youth of today, and you will have a government in the future that is the same as today’s government. Do you like to continue with this  poverty and ignorance and with this poor quality of governance in Bulan for the next fifty years? I still firmly believe that there is no other way than to train the youth for Bulan to progress, much like a father who trains his young son the trade of farming or fishing so that this son  would survive when he is no longer around.

The problem with the SK that Pimentel mentioned is the result of the ineffective political leadership in all levels of governance in our country.We don’t punish the young ones  for emulating the bad things we showed to them. We adults should rather behave well. In other words, it is the frame that must be changed, not the picture, for the frame is defective and doesn’t keep the picture solidly and securely in place. I know that to raise our voice against their plan to abolish the SK is almost like blowing in the wind. But since we love Bulan, we must continue with what we tagaBulans consider is right for our survival, and that is in the first place by not giving up our young tagaBulans,  but in continuing  in one form or another with their training and involvement in Bulan politics- with or without Pimentel.

jun asuncion

Bulan Observer

The Sound Of Silence

Yes, it would be a good topic –Positive Mindset and  Corruption in Politics. Hower, I suggest to do it on another occasion for what interests me now is this deafening sound of silence in  barangay Fabrica and Aquino. Well, what has happened to them? A sudden silence after all those noises ? Many would see it as  a sign of retreat and defeat. Or are they merely making use of their legal right to silence? Let’s be positive.

  •  In any case, silence is an interesting subject. Silence in between musical notes for instance is what makes music possible. Let’s practise positive mindset and guess that maybe they are just composing a New Symphony of Truth for the Barangay Aquino Symphony Orchestra under their famous First-gentle conductor. If so, then they rightly need such a creative period of silence. To compose an avantgardistic twelve-tone piece colored with rich dissonance and harmonic twists is no easy task, requires hours of concentrated work behind closed doors.
  • Or it could be that they are just reflecting on a sad event that occurred to them. In this way, we give them enough space and respect while they commemorate something in silence.We need not always to be stern to our own people, especially to our leaders.
  • TagaBulans are Christians and in Christianity silence like during meditative prayer is a common practice and is said to have a nourishing effect on our spirit, like during those holy retreats that we know where we islolate ouselves and do nothing but pray and  confess all our sins and transgressions and vow to ourselves a pious way of living thereafter.So let’s just assume that our dear leaders have chosen this moment of silence as they try to reach the divine in their innermost being in their quest for spiritual enlightenment so they may continue with their Christ-centered leadership and devotion to the poor in Bulan the day when they go back to work again. I ask you then dear town-mates to respect this sound of silence, do not disturb and avoid making unnecessary noise.  
  •  It’s indeed very beneficial to have a positive mindset for this help us to interpret things soundly, keeps our paranoia  away and prevents us from pathologising little things happening in Bulan. I for one love the silence that surrounds me when I write in late hours. In Bulan I loved those moments of silent full-moon nights when I used to sit outside   on a bench or on the wall of PTA Elementary school with the guitar in hand. Of course I can’t help but associate these moments with the great song of the great dou Simon and Garfunkel– the Sound Of Silence– the first stanza of which I now quote:

         “Hello darkness, my old friend,
           I’ve come to talk with you again,
          Because a vision softly creeping,
          Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
          And the vision that was planted in my brain
          Still remains
          Within the sound of silence.”

 Very fitting to our theme, isn’t it? I really enjoyed playing and improvising on this song during my high-school  years in Bulan. Thirty years had passed and my style of guitar playing has changed a lot since then. But this song has remained the same. Like you, the vision that is planted in my brain still remains- to see a brighter Bulan  (within the sound of silence?)

jun asuncion

 Bulan Observer

Stop It Now! – or the strength of the barangay

The word is derived from balangay, the name for the sailboats that originally brought settlers of Malay stock to the Philippines from Borneo, each boat carrying  a large family group, and the  datu  being the leader. As we know, it is the smallest local government in our country, the grassroots of our political organization, codified under the  Local Government Code 1991.

Throughout the country there exist about 42,000 barangays. Bulan alone is  composed of 63 barangays. Now what’s the importance of this little statistical data? Well, very big! Following our bottom-up approach in  realizing socio-political change in the Philippines (see The New Filipino ), the barangay is our point of departure in bringing about a realistic qualitative change in our politics, particulary Bulan politics. We always seem to ignore the fact that a barangay is a government unit in our country, in our town. It is the oldest political unit, it’s the base that supports and makes possible the municipal government. This is the key to change for each one has an easy access to it, to the punong barangay (barangay captain ) and to the seven barangay Kagawad (barangay councils) in comparison to the Municipal Government whose mayor  probably cannot be reached any time. But your barangay captain is accessible almost all the time, in fact, he may be your neighbor. A friendly gestalt who is willing to listen to your concerns as you walk with him by the fields or as you sweep your backyard in the afternoons. You cannot get this kind of intimacy with your mayor for one thing maybe he or she cannot walk around without a handful of bodyguards.

The barangay captain is a man next-door. We must forget for awhile the municipal mayor and concentrate on giving importance to the barangay officers, be ready to offer your help to them anytime. Give recognition to their work , give them your suggestions to the problems of the barangay. You may not realize it but in this setting it is almost direct democracy in action. Think of the small barrio meetings being held from time to time where people can voice out their opinions to matters that concern them and sometimes arriving at a speedy agreement or solution. The barangay should be strengthened nowadays  in Bulan if the people want a solid anchor to a government that  represents and serves them. If the barangays are united for the good of all, then you have a town that is strong and proud and is able to direct its course.You know, all these problems of corruption and abuses take place only when the government is not rooted in  people’s heart and soul and when the people are “broken-hearted” among themselves.

  Eleanor Roosevelt rightly remarked “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent” or as we used to say “It takes two to tango”. When you dance to a music you don’t like, this means you cannot say no. People of Bulan suffer then because they just dance along with the music which is not their music. How about if you would  gather your strength and say “Stop it, I want my music now!”? 

This is the moment we are all waiting for when all the barangays would come together and would say “Stop it now!“. This would herald a new chapter in Bulan’s history and usher the birth of a new Bulan that shines. Ideally, politicians should start from this grassroots level before they should become councillors or chief executive. But this is a process that requires more time for the people to fully understand and integrate in their political thinking and put into practice. For we have seen that a person that is just placed to the top by virtue of wealth and connections is not the solution to the problems of Bulan but rather an additional burden to the town. The hero should come from below, not from above, from Bulan and not from somewhere else.

We should not forget that it was the vision of the the prime author of this Local Government Code 1991-Senator Pimentel -to establish strong self-reliant barangays all over the country. According to him,the barangay officials are the front-liners of the Philippine Government, with the punong barangay as the “face” of the  Philippine Government as far as his constituents are concerned, and that the barangay is the key to national development. Behind this is his concept of decentralization of power  with the final aim of establishing a federal form of government for the Philippines. I also think that Federation holds the key to the progress of the whole nation for it activates self-reliance  and diminishes dependency to the national government which since ages operates on the system of political patronage which in turn hinders fair and equal distribution of national wealth and fosters corruption. 

At this point it is also of crucial importance to maintain the Kabataang Barangay for therein is the seed of  future local  government that is firmly rooted in the traditions of Bulan. Leaders who identify totally with the people think and act for the people and share respect and common visions with one another. There is trust, and trust is a vehicle for progress. In my case for example, I trust that our Justice Department is in good hands for the  incumbent Municipal judge also started with the Kabataang Barangay. The youth begins to perceive and appreciate their own town the moment they involve themselves in the Kabataang Barangay. Here they learn the rudiments of political interaction and begin developing their visions for their town. The survival of culture resides in the visions of the youth. It is of utmost importance then that we  have to motivate the Kabataan– the  Youth- from all corners of Bulan to participate in political process in order to put an end to the political passivity that lingers in Bulan and hinders progress. The German Literature Nobel laureate Heinrich Böll commented that the wealth of the society can be seen in the contents of their trash cans. I may remark also that the strength of the community is seen in the contents of the heads of the people, the grassroots, i.e., on how opinionated the people are. Go and ask anyone in  the market of what they think  about their mayor or about Bulan as a whole.  The strength of their arguments reflect the strength of Bulan.

jun asuncion

Bulan Observer

Protect Yourself

The Right of Self-Defense is as old as man himself, much older than the written laws ( positive law) which came  much later, and is the ultimate right  at his disposal when there is an immediate threat to life and limb. This right springs from our instinct of self-preservation. It is thus a natural, biologically-rooted right. Philippine jurisprudence  sanctioned  this natural right by incorporating it in our body of laws and codes specifically under Section 1, Article 11 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines.

Here’s the author  David Kopel for a little legal historical background: “According to  Giovanni da Legnano, fourteenth century Milanese ( Milan, Italy) scholar “self-defense proceeds from natural law, and not from positive law, civil or canon.” While positive law did sanction self-defense, self-defense was not an artificial creation of positive law, but rather was an inherent instinct. Although the fourteenth century world was strictly hierarchical, Legnano allowed for self-defense against one’s superior, or even against a judge, if it were clear that the defender was the victim of an unprovoked violent attack. Even a slave could defend his own life against a master, because the law did not allow masters to kill their slaves. Self-defense is lawful, wrote Legnano, not only in defense of life, but also in defense of lawfully possessed property, with deadly force if necessary.The principle of self-defense allows a person to come to the aid of a relative or friend whose person or property is being attacked. Aiding others is not compulsory, however, unless a person can do so safely. Notably, a victim is not required to use only the precise level of force that his assailant uses: “suppose a strong and vigorous man strikes me with his fist, and I am a poor fellow who cannot stand up to him with the fist. May I defend myself with a sword?” Legnano answered in the affirmative. ” So Legnano’s logic.

Here is what Article 11, paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines says about Self-Defense.

Art. 11. Justifying circumstances. � The following do not incur any criminal liability:

1. Anyone who acts in defense of his person or rights, provided  that the following circumstances concur:

First. Unlawful aggression;

Second. Reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel it.

Third. Lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending himself.

Here is the whole thing again:

Everybody wants to live in peace and avoids as much as possible any kind of aggression or violent situation. However, reality teaches us that there are people who cannot resist -for various reasons and motives-  to perpetrate evil actions ( unlawful aggression) against a non-provoking, innocent ( lack of sufficient provocation) third party. Under sudden  attack, any healthy person instinctively repels the attack to protect his own life. In this situation which normally happens unexpected and quick, you have mostly no time to plan your action. Your success is measured in the end by the fact that you are still alive by either causing the assailant to flee or by incapacitating him, worse, killing him. Hurting or killing the assailant in the end is by no means a free-wheeling affair. Now it’s the turn of the legal experts and the court to judge your reaction ( reasonable necessity of the means employed ) and result of such reaction to the said unlawful aggression. The burden of proof rests upon you now. But, first, this is the problem that comes after and doesn’t pose a direct threat to your life anymore and, second, this time you have a lawyer defending you.

Of course we do not wish that we would be in such a situation where we have to fight to defend our lives. However, If there are threats or intimidation happening to you or your family, then it is also your right to do something for your own safety and  to be alert, be careful and be observant and use the tools available. Nowadays there are many ways you can do for your protection aside from directly informing the authorities (Police, etc. if you feel being threatened or intimidated by a third party ) and undertaking those common safety measures that we all know as we go on with our daily life.

If there is a perceived threat, then it’s time to double your alertness and security measures. The following  course of actions may add to improve your personal security:

1. Use of your cellular phones

Create a sort of Tele-Alarm System among yourselves by calling and informing your friend directly about your security problem. This friend in turn calls the next one and so on until everybody on the list of your Tele-Alarm System has been reached and informed. You have to speak  among yourselves during your meetings the course of actions to be undertaken , everything of  course will depend on the nature and gravity of the situation.

In a place where politicians are corrupt, oftentimes you wouldn’t be able to trust even the law enforcers. Once the police have sold their loyalty and professionalism to a crook politician, then they have lost  their credibility and sympathy of the people and are therefore no longer in a position to demand respect. In fact they have reduced themselves to private goons, becoming like poor watchdogs for the selfish interest of  their boss and of themselves and they behave foolishly like licensed criminals.

In such a situation, to act as a group is much more effective than to keep your problem to yourself and to solo your security measures. Prepare  ready-made emergency sms (Text), store it in your cellular phones and just send it quick in situation where you can not call anymore or when silence and discretion is of high priority.

2. Use of your photo, video or cellular phone cameras.

 If correctly (no malice intention ) employed, this method is very effective in documenting your observations- and in exposing abuses , corrupt activities and other malevolent actions of criminal people, corrupt police officers and politicians. Once a domain of photo-reporters, journalists and secret agents, this method is now practically employed by everybody. If needed make use of gratis platforms like youtube to upload and post your materials. Always make a backup of your video materials for future use like court hearings, etc. Latest example of the positive use of video reporting taken by a farmer secretely is the exposure of the  brutal police treatment of the farmers defending their land and  properties after they were disowned by the state in the name of modernization boom (construction of highways, bridges, factories etc.) where the said farmers’ properties happen to stand on the way. The chinese government, repressive and denying as it is, were forced to publicly apologize to the world and to these farmers after the video material appeared in Internet.

 3. Link your group to other people and professionals (Lawyers, local Journalists, Local Radio Reporters, Barangay Captains, Head Teachers, Religious Leaders,  etc.) so that they may know the existence of your group and it’s purpose and so that they may also be encouraged to create one and also to assist you in legal matters and the like. If this would spread in the whole town, resulting in the formation of many such groups, then it would be high time to create, let us say, a  Citizen Self-Defense Network. This is one way to combat abuses and intimidation  from people who are supposed to protect you, yet due to corruption ended up protecting their own selfish interest using their office and ,worse, the weapons paid by you,- the tax payers.

You must always remember that the Philippines is a Constitutional State, it’s a rule of law ( not a rule of one man or woman), meaning our civil liberties and rights are provided for in the Constitution (see Bill Of Rights ),  and that you are not a criminal if you are aware of your rights and if you make use of them, defend or fight for them. And do not forget, Bulan is part of  Philippine jurisdiction, thus the Constitution also applies to Bulan, to every tagaBulan. As I have said before, Bulan is no longer an isolated town with timid population where elected government officials (and a few feudalistic people ) may just rule and abuse their office and people as they wish. Concerned tagaBulans all over the country, all over the globe are now watching Bulan and are ready to help prevent abuses and expose to the whole world  corrupt public servants by their names. In Bulan, sovereignty also resides in the people! It is populated now by people who are becoming conscious of their political culture, people with well-developed sense for justice and duty for the community, people who desire for progress and real change for the better. The tagaBulans are on their way to modernising their thinking yet remaining proud of  their noble  traditions.

Again, let us help one another in protecting the integrity of all tagaBulans.

jun asuncion

Bulan Observer

A Government Run Like Hell

  Thank you prodebate4 for sharing your thoughts and your battles in life. Our country is still in experimental stage, still searching for the best form of government and leadership, the so called search for identity after the historical traumas that twisted our perception and development, divided and wounded us deep and rendered weak our collective soul. Some neighboring asian countries seem to have already found the political and economic order that fit them, they are able to stand up after the fall, for they had also their share of traumas. This is individual psychology manifesting itself among nations. Some are strong and recover quick, some are weak and need more time to heal. Your fight against the Marcos rule was just the beginning, for though you won, the battle has just begun. This is now a fight on the educational level. Rebellion doesn’t solve the problem, as experience has shown us. We now canalize our political energies into a form of change that even the youngest in the family will comprehend and able to participate. No more rebellion and bloodshed for they bring only more wounds and sufferings, and on this level, the young ones and the weak can not participate, thus leaving us a lost and weak generation again after the fighters had grown old or disappeared. In this way, development is not possible. This is why we’ve remained stuck to Manuel Quezon’s  “a government run like hell by Filipinos” even up to this day.
  No more rebellion, but our fight against corruption and corrupt government officials continue as well as our fight in protecting the integrity of the people of Bulan. Bulan Observer contributes to this task by continuously observing our town
and commenting to the developments happening and spreading it around the globe. It is my goal to link Bulan Observer to national and international institutions already established and recognized worldwide like Transparency International, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, etc. so that we will be more effective in combating corruption and abuses. Bulan Observer has no other wish than to see – today and tomorrow- a municipal government of Bulan that is not run like hell by vicious and repressive people devoid of insights and visions, but by progressive, intelligent and dignified politicians and  public servants equipped not only with real visions for their constituents but with the courage to give far-ranging solutions to the problems of employment, health care, nutrition, housing, education, security and environmental protection , to name just a few.
Well, for our mission for life, I wish you a lifetime of patience. Without somebody sacrificing, no goal can ever be achieved.
jun asuncion

Bulan Observer

We Deserve Justice

by prodebate4
January 22, 2008 at 2:24 pm ·
Greetings to you Mr. Asuncion! This is good news– one of the nicest websites of Bulanenos–salamatonon tabi saimo!Ive read through the write ups here. You & Mr. Malajakan both shared very interesting insights and opinions, yet not new to my thinking. I was actually engaged, once–in both sides! I started as the plain-ideological rizalist–the peaceful-thinker and -writer of the campus, inspiring and indirectly influencing the intellectual, rebellious minds of the elite student organizations. Undoubtedly, the same strings of ideas and concepts of changes pulled me into realizing my writings into LIFE.In the end, i myself became the Bonifast(cio)! I became politically aggressive with innumerable factors: esp. of impatience and zero Tolerance capabilities to then Marcos dictatorial, unjust, corrupt regime!

I do understand the bitterness of Mr. Malajakan-for one, i hailed from a very poor family too. Where no opportunities seemed to be in sight-no matter how one tries. Where Hunger is urgent and couldnt wait another day or week.
Where the urgent need of medicines to an ailing brood or mother wouldnt be healed by my brilliant thoughts.
When i struggled for the scholarship, i fought for it. When i was maintaining the scholarship, i also fought for it. Before i graduated, i fought again to abolish dictatorship, long agonies of mass assemblies, vigils, per se joining demonstrations as a Symbol of consistent manifestation towards our Defiance or Resistance to the most degrading Suppression of all human rights!!! When i graduated, i fought again to secure a job against the children of the most influencial sons & daughters of manila`s elite. I was struggling both for my existence and for the freedom of my fellow-vigilant students arrested, disappeared. I was all the while fighting for the causes of my own principles..the democratic rights we all would want to enjoy and live for.

Alas! When Marcos escaped, we won half the battle! A complete Deliberance! Weve finally proven that IF WE ARE GOING TO FIGHT FOR A JUST CAUSE, SEALED ON TIGHT CONVICTION THAT WE DESERVE JUSTICE, NO TASK IS IMPOSSIBLE!


After this era, i should admit im still indirectly struggling with the remnants of the 20 years deep rooted corruption or evils in all sectors of our society. But–this is my country. It will take time to re-educate and create a new breed of disciplined, self-reliant, intelligent filipinos loving their own country and trusting their fellowmen.

The Bulan Municipality is maintained to look clean but it has obviously a powerful-secured- indoor Corruption Hall.

Let this website and other Tagabulans (Kabatas, Kaadman, etc) be the foundation for crushing this indoor corruption hall. Lets build together, with years of undying devotion towards a free-corrupt-justice hall soon!

Mabuhay kamo intero!

This Is Their Job

History tells us that merciless japanese soldiers schocked, molested and awed the Bulanenos during the II WW! That time, the Bulanenos had only bolos and ancient armories. Still, this did not stop the Guerillas to let them succeed. Nowadays, its even difficult to hide. We are equipped with censor locators, hohoha!Seriously, if anyone would harm you, we know who are the prime suspects. If anyone would harm leading Oppositionist of Bulan, there would be a leader accountable for Investigation. No one can escape forever covered with Golds!
Suppression and Fear is not our fight.
WE are crying out for a Democratic Government, reducing (rampant) Corruption forces, and for the governmentt officials to uphold these rights, to respect the souvereign will of the people.They are public officials elected by the people. They are accountable to us.Thus, they must fulfill their duties to come into terms with the opposing, investigative constituents.

How? Its also one of their governmental challenges. This is their job. Stop gaming..lets work seriously!

The Opposition

To oppose is to fulfill an important duty that is demanded in a democratic society; to offer an alternative view, argument or action to that which is proposed by the ruling party.This is what makes democracy an important tool in the people’s quest for progress for it gives space for creativity and intelligent ideas. In a room with ten people who are given a task to solve a problem, expect no good ideas to come out and fill up the room when nobody is allowed to talk, or when all other parameters like seniority, gender, beauty, social status and tradition, academic titles, etc. would rule other than sharp thinking and creative spontaneity. The outpouring of ideas can cause collisions among some of them ( hence democracy is loud from time to time). However, in such a group one can only show the best that one has  if given the chance to speak. This is the group dynamic inherent in a democratic society- it applies that healthy dosage of pressure to each allowing everybody in an atmosphere of freedom to function at his maximum.
This enhances growth as we can see in western countries that have already drawn huge benefits from democracy. Economy, Arts and Sciences flourish. Did the former Soviet Union, China or East Germany produce Nobel Laureates during the last two decades? Nobel Prizes in Sciences  practically went to the USA, West Germany, Switzerland, Japan. On the other side we have witnessed how totalitarian regimes literally deprived themselves of  progress as in the case of Eastern Germany after the annexation by Krutschev. The east Germans remained underdeveloped in many aspects in big contrast to their West German counterparts who benefited from socio-economic progress. ” I was practically switched-off growing up in such an atmosphere of control” said an (ex-east) German friend of mine, and  his colleague added, “I grew up in East Germany with only one thought in my head – to escape”.
 There is no progress when everybody thinks only of escape. Progress is there when people love to stay in their place, make the best out of what they have and continue working together in realizing their vision. One of the paradoxes of democracy is that it needs  opposition for it to survive, not just a friction-free working together where no critical thinking is allowed. There lies the beauty of the system. Like chess, the credit of the match does not go only to the winner but also  to the loser for he equally worked hard in opposing the moves of the latter thus co-producing in the end the beauty of the whole match. This is how I define political opposition. It is  a series of intelligent moves that force the ruling party to be careful and watch their actions and give out their best, whether they like it or not.
 Therefore, to oppose is to offer alternatives, not only criticize and offer nothing concrete. When the government falls to corruption, it also means that the opposition did not do their job well , for either they were not united among themselves or they also became corrupted. Here we are talking about opposition as a political party which performs  partly the check and balances function in a democracy. Hence, a good government owes a lot of its beauty and  good performance to an able opposition, just like our chess winner. Without opposition, a government is ugly, unsure of itself,  lacks a genuine legitimacy and that necessary pressure from the other side, thus it mostly retrogrades to tyranny and corruption.
Vladimir Kramnik used to be a student and chess training partner of the former world champion Kasparov. Later on he even defeated Kasparov himself and became world champion. The same is true with a good opposition, it may be the next government. Interestingly Kasparov has joined the Russian politics after he left the world of chess and is now in the opposition, no longer fighting against Vladimir Kramnik but against Vladimir Putin. It keeps me wondering if he is really several moves ahead of Putin.Would it come to a mate or a draw? In any case, to oppose means to be intelligent and offer good, if not, better alternatives if one  really wants to capture the king someday.
 No doubt, we have in Bulan very good chess players. But I doubt if there is a good opposition in the government, for if there were one, the present government administration have been a lot better. On the other hand, if the administration had systematically repressed the opposition, then it had voluntarily deprived itself of the positive use of a mirror, so no  wonder why this administration cannot see the scars on its face.
jun asuncion
Bulan Observer

The New Filipino- or never give up

This is a mail from a stranger who is also fighting for the same cause like you do. I just discovered your site and I’m really impressed by your courage in saying what you think. Our difference is that I have given up lately our national politics and started focusing on the local politics of Bulan, a town in Sorsogon province, my little town. This may sound funny to you but I think we can solve the national political problems if we start from below, “from the bottom to the top” so to speak – beginning from the individual, the family, the neighborhood, the barangay and then the town. My logic is simple: If the people of Bulan would become morally strong and politically conscious then they would start electing good leaders, too. The town would become proud and progressive. And let us say if the rest of the 1, 529 towns (or municipalities) of the country would do the same, then we would end up having 1,530 morally upright and serious town mayors in all corners of the Philippines. Indeed, already a solid foundation for better provinces and cities. Following the equation we would end up with around 81 equally good governors, again already a good figure to start talking about national government and national political maturity.
Don’t accuse me of wishful thinking for it is not if we start from the bottom, from me and you and so on. It is more wishful thinking to attempt to change the national politics as it is now the way it was. No chance. Even if by a good chance an intelligent, educated, noble and morally upright person would become president for the next eight years, the Philippine society would never an inch be better because the foundation is still the same- weak and corrupted. After his term it would be mess again. A friend told me that the dream- of you and me- about a better, progressive Philippines would remain nothing but a dream and that we need to kill all the Filipinos first and start fresh ( innocent, pure, not corrupted ) all over again. I may add to his comment that indeed it’s a dream, but one that leads to a nightmare the moment you wake up! Anyway, I reflected upon his idea and said to myself, if I would take him literally, then my question would be : Who would start when there’s no one left? And soon I saw in my mind an empty Philippines, except for the flora and fauna left on their own and and the empty towns and cities and other infrastructures. Then I playfully thought, let the Japanese, Vietnamese, Germans or the Swiss occupy the empty land and let us see how it would go. Let’s take for instance the Swiss or the Germans for I know these people more. The Swiss when transplanted into the Philippines (without their money, start from a scratch, just their human resources), using the existing infrastructures of the Philippines would need about 20-30 years to build and transform the country into a first-world country, well managed and well-developed one, taking into consideration the time they would need to adjust to a changed environment and climate, to multiply themselves and fill up the land slowly (for they are roughly only 7 million in numbers) and the marine economy and its  mangement experience they must first make ( for they don’t have oceans or seas ). And they would need time learning how to manage the abundant natural resources they now have and coordinate all these sources of production. In Switzerland you only have water as the most abundant natural resource, otherwise you just have the massive alps and a few acres left for the crop. But it’s in the human resources where their wealth reside. However, one thing is for sure: That within a year they would already have organized among themselves a stable and functioning government that’s there for the people and by the people in the truest sense of the word and- a year more or so- a functioning economy with an intricate banking system, watch and pharmaceutical industries, educational system, health care, insurances, etc. If applied to the Philippines, these 20-30 years would mean nothing but more miseries in all levels assuming people wouldn’t wake up and act and work together right now.
 From this mental experiment going back to reality ( grim reality of Philippine society) to change the society from the bottom up will require generations, hence a lot of time, until we come up with a New Filipino, after all his poisoned mind and spirit had gone through layers of filtering and cleansing, equipping him at the end with a good moral make up, ready to apply what he learns, seriousness towards duty and responsibility, proud and conscious of himself. I wittingly excluded intelligence for we already have this resource from the beginning, only that our mind was and is easily corruptible due to lack of knowledge, self-esteem and self-respect. There are also Swiss or German people who have these deficiencies and Switzerland and Germany are far from being a perfect society , but they have these personal qualities that we badly need in the Philippines for us to be politically, socially and economically progressive. Don’t be impatient if this would require a lot of time, our dream becoming a reality only then by the emergence of that New Filipino we talked about. He would be “lucky” indeed but in him lies also the responsibility to retain what his ancestors had worked for. Not lucky was the New Society of Marcos in the 1970’s, for out of a corrupt intent he forgot his intelligence and behaved like a moron and came up with such an idiotic concept of changing the society forcefully from above and down to you and me. Clearly it did not function if seen from our honest intent for our country.But if by his concept of a New Society was based on himself as the New Filipino, the model of a corrupt politician and greedy New Filipino, then he had succeeded fully in changing the society from top to bottom, for after him it went downhill in everything about Filipino, a succession of corrupt presidents and corruptible population in the entire archipelago. Indeed, viewed from this angle he was very, very successful!
Back to our approach of changing also from the top to the bottom, I think it would require eternity, hence a dream that would never come true. We might as well shift our attention to what we as individuals can do to educate myself and yourself morally and politically and share our ideas with others. Forget Mrs. Arroyo’s monkey politics and the equally corrupt monkeys around her for awhile for it is a hopeless case. And let the Filipino suffer the consequences of their own corruptible character, ignorance and stupid choice. After all it’s them who sold their votes and placed her above themselves. Therefore, I think we are on the right side if we take the bottom-up -approach. There is no need to be discouraged even if it needs a lot of time and commitment and sacrifices of many , but do what is left for us, namely to continue working for this dream by thinking globally (nationally?) yet acting locally.
So keep going, and never give up.
jun asuncion
Bulan Observer

A sign of defeat?

All over the world it is known how corrupt our president and her administration is. The killing of journalists , political and student leaders critical to her regime, the “hello, garci tape”, the cancelled broadband deal with China are all stinking trash so pungent and obnoxious that no typhoon that devastated the archipelago until now has ever made it to   neutralize this stench. Our president is small in  stature yet her doings are monstrous in the true sense of the word. She has a large appetite and, together with her equally voracious husband, surely has the capacity to devour the entire Philippine provisions within a few feeding sessions. This is the image of the national government from the outside, the  number one export article of the Philippines: Greediness. And these  are the socio-political associations that come to mind among expatriates and non-Filipinos alike the moment they hear the word Philippines: poor, sick-man (or woman?) of Asia, corrupt, greedy and primitive politicians, underdeveloped. If the person is of different nationality, he might add to it the beautiful landscape, the beautiful people, nice hotels , etc. just to inject in you an antidote to your reddening face. But as you know, these beautiful landscapes are not our own making. You will sense the difference  though through his or her facial expression when you talk about Taiwan, Vietnam – or Japan for that matter. The eyes inflate out of fascination and respect. This time you may not feel embarrassment but depression, your eyes dropping to the floor as you wonder again- why are  we like this? A Filipino carries with him the whole Philippines unwittingly the moment he embarks on a journey in search of a place that would nurture his  dreams, that would justly compensate his  skills and  get respected. With him are the memories of entire life , the recent farewell hugs and kisses from his  dear ones at the airport. But with him  travels also the entire burden of a country’s scams and failures that would increasingly confront his expatriate’s Dasein sooner or later. And he is not alone, but they are by the thousands who  leave the country for this common purpose. And thousands, if not, millions, are being indignated, embarrassed or depressed the moment  a scandal caused by  a vicious few in the Philippines dominates the news media again. For then all these known cliches are endorsed once again. No matter how  the expatriate considers his relationship with his old country, his  reflex to “cover up” his country against malevolent ( yet true) remarks from others is omnipresent. Adan Silangan hit the truth when he wrote that it’s the expatriates who suffer the most  from these scandals. To be outside is to be vulnerable, like being at the front line. Interestingly, the government keeps sending many to the front and proclaim them as Ambassadors of Goodwill and – to make the irony perfect- reward them with the scams they export.Truly, this is unfair towards this group of people who help keep the economy run by sending millions, if not billions of pesos every year. This is a public display of  egregious ingratitude on the part of the government.

Now with the Internet connections becoming more accessible everywhere, new more political burdens are added to the life of an expatriate- for now he is receiving not only the national but also the newest developments from  his local town or barangay! In the case of Bulan, it is interesting to observe how the national government is mirrored in  our present  administration, perhaps just differing in scale- a big fish vs. small fish ? Be that as it may. But they have one thing in common, namely their voracious appetite and their export business. In Manila you have the First Gentle Mike, in Fabrica the First Gentle Geming, with their respective little wives  but with appetites far  bigger than themselves. So Bulan is now also an exporting town, but not fish,- for fish are suspiciously disappearing in Bulan-, but  the trash of corruption and moral decay. Not all expatriates suffer this time, but the taga Bulans expatriates  everywhere who are still connected with their town and who someday will be coming back home.

So, is leaving home and being an expatriate a sign of defeat? Categorically, I think not. On the contrary, it is heroism, for now you stand at the front line, and  far from that comfort of being  home  and yet carries that home with you in your  daily life and the burdens you are getting from home and the often times offending remarks you’re getting from people in your chosen home. Did  you get it right?

jun asuncion

Bulan Observer

All or Nothing

Ginoong galvesmalajakan, pahintulutan mo ding sagutin kita sa Ingles para maintindihan din ng mga ibang nagmamasid ng ating nayong  Bulan. Maraming salamat sa pagsagot mo sa sinulat ko dito sa Bulan Observer. Mabuhay ka rin!

Yes, revolutions have in some cases catalysed social and political change in many societies like America, Germany, the early Soviet Union, etc. Even our very own country, the Philippines, has also experienced revolutions. Think about those battles fought against the Spaniards, the Americans and the Japanese. These had changed the course of our nation. The Edsa revolution also ended Marcos’ dictatorship.We fought against these invaders because we valued freedom. The fight for freedom is in my opinion the best fight one can do. This fight defines your strength and your identity, your convictions and values and shape your future. But revolutions do not necessarily improve people’s life thereafter. Russia, China and the rests of the communist  block at that time suffered even more from poverty and isolation.The fight against poverty and social injustice is a fight that happens in another level, for this can not be resolved by bombs and bloodshed alone. This fight must occur in times of peace when enemies have fled and fallen comrades long buried.

Now, our fight in Bulan is a fight not against a foreign invader but against our very own leaders people voted for who promised to serve yet neglected the poor and misused the town in the end. I don’t see a need for a big scale revolution to dislodge these people there. Corrupt leaders come and go anyway as long as the whole society is not acting as one in defining its identity and safeguarding its democratic ideals. As I have written somewhere else, it’s you and me who shape the future, it’s you and me who decide whom to put  up there to lead the town, and it’s you and me who decide to remove him again when he begins to be corrupt and abusive. This would be easy if the people were  serious and conscious enough of their rights and responsibilities. This is the fight I am now engage in- a fight to motivate people to reconsider their position, to question their attitudes toward our politics, to reflect on the power of democracy and to participate actively and conscientiously in protecting the town, each according to his or her own experience and perception. This is a long term task, as opposed to just eliminating anybody by force, which maybe sensational but only has the effect of removing the symptom than the illness itself. I do not suggest that the Bulan society is ill. I only think that it’s not as a whole conscious yet of its identity as a group of people which still has all the potentials for social, political and economic growth. A conscious society is strong in fighting its internal enemies, is not easily intimidated by the goons and display of power by the vicious few. In Germany, they say that somebody must die in order for the rest to survive. How you understand this, I leave it to you. Situations will change in Bulan when people would want it. The chain of events and circumstances over which we have no direct influence is naturally ever present in any society that grows and develops. However, I emphasize and stay by  my method of effecting  change according to the definitions I have laid down in my previous writings.

I understand your feelings and emotions especially if you are experiencing poverty happening right inside you and social injustice right between your eyes. I can only tell you that in Bulan you’re not alone, there are many who are in this situation. It’s hard, indeed. This is a good reason to stay together, be creative in order to survive and  continue the fight for a just cause, for in fighting we grow together and learn a lot.

jun asuncion

Bulan Observer

Adonis Asuncion

 by jun asuncion (written Dec. 3, 2007 to the reader prodebate4 in sorsogonnews’s weblog)

Prodebate4, yes I am one of Adonis’ grandsons, and I am very proud of him for as a mayor he placed the people of Bulan first before himsef. That was wartime so the people of Bulan were deprived of many basic things in life but they were not deprived of a leader who loved them during those difficult times. Even in his last years, suffering from dementia, he used to make his late afternoon-rondas with his baston and flashlight in the streets of Canipaan “to make sure that everything is ok in his town”, so to speak. His memory failed him, but not his memory about his duty and reponsibilty to his people. People in Bulan knew him and they would usually help him back home. You see this honesty in his heart that’s why he was also loved by the people of Bulan.
It is important that we look back to our past,- to those leaders who put the interest of the people first, who sacrificed many things in their lives, even in some cases their very own families for the sake of Bulan,- to ground our political views at present. Our town stands on a solid foundation laid down by many noble and dignified leaders of the past. Now it’s your turn to give tribute to them by being guided by their very own ideals as you go on with your daily political affairs in Bulan. In this way there is this spirit of continuity, thus protecting the town from some people who are there just driven by their selfish intentions. Such people are not rooted in Bulan’s history, dissipated and vicious people, and therefore do not deserve to lead a beautiful town like Bulan. Bulan deserves a bright future.
Jun A. /Zürich

Swiss Democracy- or the small difference

by jun asuncion, zürich (written last Dec.12,2007)Today the Swiss parliament elected their seven federal councillors. A woman politician won a seat unexpectedly in favor of a much  controversial candidate from her own political party- the Schweizerische Volkspartei ( Swiss People’s Party) SVP . She was  at this very moment not in Bundeshaus, Federal Building, but on a train heading to Bern, the country’s capital and seat of the federal government. The other six councillors were in the meantime already sworn-in into office. Arriving at the parliament she asked for an 18-hour-break for her to decide tomorrow if she would accept or not accept the office vested upon her! This is what the German-speaking fondly says der kleine Unterschied, the small difference. In other parts of the world, including America and the Philippines, politicians assume office even if not elected at all by resorting to all kinds of cheats and tricks -and worse, they continue  declaring their government democratic. Any other politician outside Switzerland would gladly trade places with her, or would pay huge amount, or even kill, just to have this position. Irrespective of the circumstances that made her decide this way, it is for outside observers like you and me clear enough to see that Swiss democracy is functioning. The magic word is  concordance, consensus, among the major political parties to share power. It’s considered unschweizerisch, a derogatory term meaning not typical Swiss to aim to concentrate power in ones person and office. Here rules Primus Inter Pares, first among equals. This is the reason that led to not-reelection of the prime candidate of the Schweizerische Volkspartei SVP. He became untragbar, not tolerable anymore, in the federal council. So it’s not so much who you are  but it’s your attitude that counts in the end. Here the system is still above any person, unlike in other places, and attitude above intelligence. For what is intelligence if it can not control your impulses? What are academic degrees worth for if your conduct has remained primitive? What is intelligence and experience if you have no knowledge about respect? The swiss logic is plain and simple.This tells us that if you have intelligence and refined manners then you are fit for the swiss federal government. And if you respect the unwritten law of Kollegialität, collegiality, a political instrument already practiced by the Romans over 2000 years ago, which the Swiss adopted and is viewed as the foundation of the Swiss federalism, then you are one among them. These unwritten democratic rules are sacred, whether you like it or not.To trespass them is like to hang your own self, selber schuld, your own fault. This was the mistake of Mr. Blocher, this SVP man,-he hanged himself and divided his SVP. He tried to break this sacred rule believing that his good performance and popularity would justify his actions and that people would tolerate him for that and expected to receive eine Sonderbehandlung, a special treatment. But he erred. Farmers and construction workers are treated with respect in Switzerland but once in the government you better leave your tractors and hammers behind and begin to polish your language and gestures and observe the rules. Otherwise you’ll suffer the same fate as this SVP man. No special treatment. Selber  schuld.

You are the Town

  The idea is not to make a 1:1 comparison between past and present leaders of Bulan, nor overrate the past for there were also corrupt leaders before, but rather to remind us always (Remember, “Those who do not remember… are condemned to repeat it” Santayana. ) and for us to focus on the legacy of the good ones for Bulan to move forward. Moving forward requires in the first place a functioning government and leadership embedded in democratic principles.The system of governance and the sovereignty of the people is above any elected leader ( not the other way around ) and the people are conscious of their rights and take seriously their responsibilities. It takes these two elements- Good Government and the People’s constructive participation to achieve the Foundation for that progress that we have been dreaming since ages for Bulan.

 The way to Progress itself is long and requires time, sacrifices, attitudinal change in every one, creativity, tenacity and endurance, loyalty, industry, the will to change for the better, seriousness and courage. This is a Software-pack we don’t need to import from China , it’s in us- and for free! If each one of us realizes this and begins to direct his/her daily life according to it then we may start talking about progress.

Progress begins in the mind. If the collective mind of Bulan has arrived in this level of strength and consciousness, material progress will follow. Real progress can not be measured in some cemented roads and bridges built but in the strength of the society to pursue its visions and to define and maintain its identity at all costs. All other things will follow.

Easier said than done? Pure rhetoric? No.We need each other to build up the foundation first. The way that we exchange ideas now, give and receive critics, encourage one another, etc. is already doing something for that foundation we want to strengthen, each in his own way and experience.Something positive is going on among us, something positive is happening in our town- for we are the town.

jun asuncion
Bulan Observer

The Fight – for the morning rose

 by jun asuncion (a response to mr. nonong guyala of sorsogonnews’s weblog)
In a democratic place there is an ample room for fighting, for we fight not for our own selves but for the people. Each one must exercise his rights, reclaim and/or reactivate these rights if ever  once forced to believe by some people he didn’t have them , and use them when needed. To fight against injustice and corruption I think is the noblest fight one can engage into. Each  one of us should  use the means in whatever form he has at his disposal. However, the first thing we must try to achieve in any fight is to establish a dialogue with the other party and use all the legal  means available to arrive at a fairly acceptable result. We are not enemies in a democratic system, but players with different tactics and perceptions of the game, so to speak. We try to entertain the people and play as much as possible according to their expectations  and for the good and satisfaction of all- or at least of the majority.Fouls are not tolerable and will be met with  punishment accordingly.What I saying till now is not new. Our problem with our politics is that we emotionalized and personalized everything. It’s clear that emotions are automatically involved in any human transaction. But for a society to really make a big step towards progress is to transcend these personal emotions and for all  political parties involved to be aware of the very reason why we are doing all these things: It’s for the Common Good ( For the Good of Bulan). Again this is not new. To put them now into practice is new. This will involve a big change in attitude of each one of us, an overcoming of old habits ( and it’s known that old habits are not easy to  discard). Politically-motivated killing  in any society indicates that people still personalize politics and therefore not ready yet for the progress they are all talking about. Democratic maturity requires a great deal of sacrifice to every one. Without this maturity, progress in the intellectual and material level is not possible. Throw a glance to countries like Austria, Switzerland, Germany , to name just a few. They already are in this stage. Progressive.No more political killings and intimidation. Without intimidation, and worse, killing, democracy will blossom like a morning rose- fresh and beautiful each day for everyone to behold, and to protect  if he wants to see it the next day again.
 So we must strive first for dialogue. This is the fight I want to engage into, a constructive fight that puts Bulan forward, remind and stop those  who obstruct (therefore hindering maturity) and help put to justice people who enjoy breaking the rules and thereby injuring the Common Good.

Self-Reliance- or go and wash your dishes

by jun asuncion
The problem in Bulan  (and in the Philippines as a whole) is the figureoriented politics. This system  does not guarantee the much needed continuity of development for it’s always dependent on who is seating now in power. Furthermore, the people is  deprived of the chance to develp self-reliance. For centuries, they have been made dependent (reliant) and nailed  to an infantile stage. But not without their own doings ( People of Bulan had always been  a part the totality of events but seemed to have always missed the train).They argue for example, that if he or she had become the mayor and not this or  that person, then maybe Bulan would have been  a progressive town since then. But for how long progressive? For the next 4 or 8 years (assuming re-elected) ? Afterwards back to the same old state of poverty and stagnancy in case the next one elected has other views or priorities and an ”enemy” of the former. People will start complaining again about poverty, snail-pace development, poor basic services, etc., the usual fare. Now their leader is gone and people is left with no orientation, they don’t know anymore what to do to survive, like a small child, helpless, when the mother is away.They blame everything to the circumstances that led to their misery and the list of misfortune  is long. It is not surprising to hear lamentations like “yeah, the town is now dirty since the good mayor is gone”. But, what has the mayor something to do with my house-front that’s  full with litters, when the beaches are swimming in garbage, when my stall in the market is dirty? When you hear such things, the diagnosis is simple: dependency, underdevelopment and absence of self-reliance. In short, immaturity. The collective mind is still in its infancy. Lamenting  about a catastrophe doesn’t help an inch, but if you take up your shovel and start to work then you have done already a big thing to yourself and to you neighbor. We don’t need to fill up our government with Lamas (nothing against Lama, a daughter of his was a dear classmate of mine in the former CIC)  and self-relying Japanese stragglers ( are there still some of them out there in Sta. Remedios?) in order to function. A self-reliant society doesn’t necessarily need these figures to tell them how they should live. In most  do-it-yourself-societies (self-reliant) , people elect their leaders mainly to do the “secretarial” and “representational” works for them and they can practically function without a mayor or a president ( This explains why in some places people don’t even know their own president,  much-less the  whole world.)  Everyone is self-sufficient, disciplined and responsible, skilled and  maximizer. A maximizer turns any situation or function to its highest possibility-or in some cases, to a work of art ; a small balcony becomes a flower and tomato garden, every inch of a small piece of land behind the house is used to produce, an old piece of wood becomes a nice piece of ornament. So things really get going. Self-reliance leads to creativity and deep reflections. A dependent being is weak and crippled, devoid of creativity, helpless. Such is a society which has not learned to do -it-herself. A helpless being is vulnerable to manipulation and slavery. Such is the destiny of a society, it will  perinially  have to do with dictators and corrupt government officials. In most cases, it’s the people who place them in power and the same people can not bring them out again the moment things get wild in the mayor’s office. That’s the destiny the society will always be facing as long it is not yet mature,- or refuses to be responsible. It doesn’t want commitment and hasn’t got the courage to take up the matter in its own hand. I consider somebody already ripe when he begins to  perceive his  responsibility. When  after eating he washes his dishes, then he is ripe, – self reliant, irrespective of age. When a child does his homework without being told, then he is self-reliant ( For this means his parents trained him to be one ). These little things we do (or do not do) in our daily life reflect the nature of the whole  society back to us right between our eyes. One good thing is that maturity is a decision matter, a question of definition. When  I decide I am now responsible then I will begin to pattern my action accordingly. On a personal level, it is  possible to happen just like that- in a wink of an eye. For the whole society to wake up one morning and decide ” now I’m mature and responsible”- this is wishful-thinking. It would require maybe a gigantic bolt of lightning to strike Bulan one night so that when it wakes up the next morning it will decide this way and begins to pattern it’s actions as such. This would mean: Freedom from corruption and corrupt public officials, guaranteed rights, justice,  better living standard, entrepreneurship, adequate basic services, functioning economy, peace,  independence, self-respect and pride. The list of good things would be  long this time. Back to reality, that will not happen that way and it’s far from my wish that this kind of lightning should strike my town Bulan. This is a long process, and if we had missed the course for countless of years, then let’s say we will start right now becoming responsible, at least among us  readers of this blog. Stand up, be strong and responsible, show it to others, but  above all to yourself. It’s only in united action that we can effect a better change in the place we all treasure- our town Bulan. Before you click out, did you wash your dishes today?