Only for the brave!

Are you brave enough to love?

Do you have the heart and the skills to build?

Well, here is your chance to help, to build a house, to build friendship and to build a nation.

Join the 4th Gawad Kalinga GK1MB Bayani Challenge 2009: Only for the Brave!

The event to build houses will be held in far away Sulu, where recent kidnappings led to more military actions and excitement. But this is not about the adventure, according to Ricky Villanueva of GK Davao City. He says this is “challenging ourselves to go beyond our comfort zones so we can make a difference in the lives of others.”

Go get in touch with him at gkdavao@gmail.com or call +63823042009.

I cannot go myself but I am willing to help provide tools for those joining on April 13-17.

Now he is an expert on Mindanao!

Ha ha ha! This is interesting.

Former President Joseph Estrada revealed last Friday that Rodolfo Lozada Jr., the Senate’s star witness in the cancelled national broadband network (NBN) deal with ZTE Corp. of China, has sought his help as his relationship with the civil society group Black and White Movement (BWM) has turned sour.

Estrada, who visited The STAR office, said Lozada showed him a PowerPoint presentation of the controversial memorandum of agreement (MOA) on ancestral domain which the Supreme Court stopped from being signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front early this month.

“The Americans have a hand on the MOA on ancestral domain according to Lozada. He visited me with the sisters (nuns) last week,” Estrada said. – Estrada says Lozada sought his assistance (Philippine Star, August 31, 2008)

Ha ha ha! Akbayan Mindanao must be praising high heavens that its “hero” is now also – ha ha ha – an expert on the Mindanao peace process.

Ha ha ha! I say let’s nominate this guy to the London Olympics. We can enter him in at least two events – Finals of scene stealing and Finals of biting the hands that feed him (please see my post on New Olympic events for GRP). He can handily win the gold in the latter event with his vast track record.

To name a few: First, he enjoyed all the pomp and perks while he was in the corridors of power but made an instant u-turn when about to get caught. Second, he turned snitch on his co-conspirators in “moderating their greed” to save his own skin. To him the tongpats is ok kung hindi bubukol until the scandal became too hot to  handle. And now, he is severing ties with the civil society that paraded him before altars and campuses and made him a “hero.”

Ha ha ha!

After squandering public funds, taking advantage of “sanctuary funds,” and enjoying Senate “security funds,” now this guy is turning to the man thrown out of office for gambling “slush funds!”

Ha ha ha!

This guy is not only after fortune and fame. He wants to dip his fingers in Mindanao too! And goes to the president who waged a “total war” in Mindanao.

Ha ha ha! So, this is the “hero” of Akbayan Mindanao!

Incidentally, did I mention that I resigned from Akbayan last April due to this “fake hero?” Aw, but that’s another story.

Let me just state that I simply cannot stay a minute longer in an organization that prefers fake heroes and attacks persons like me for standing up for our overseas workers whom I described as our “genuine national heroes.”

Ha ha ha!

Let me please enjoy my last laugh. Ha ha ha!

6:41 a.m.

Tits for tat

Kosovo declared its independence early this year with the backing of the EU and the US to the objection and consternation of Serbia and Russia.

Yesterday, Russia supported the independence of not one but two breakaway regions of Georgia – Abkhazia and South Ossetia – to the objection and condemnation of the EU and US.

Russia had its tits for EU’s and US’s tat.

The conflict in Georgia has strained relations between Russia and the EU and the US to a point that a new cold war has begun. And it is getting hotter.

Kosovo is now recognized by 46 countries but is not yet a member of the United Nations. Russia is certain to veto its membership in the world body.

The same can be said of Abkhazia and South Ossentia. Even if more countries, particularly allied with Russia, would give it recognition, its membership at the UN would be blocked by EU states and the US.

Hhmmm. My mind is playing tricks on me due to this issue.

What if the Bangsama Moro nation declares its independence and Abhkazia and South Ossetia recognize it? What if Taiwan calls for the formation of the United Countries (UC) to rival the UN and invites Abkhazia, South Ossetia, the Bangsa Moro, and perhaps Kosovo as its charter members?

What if the likes of Iran and North Korea which are pestered by a UN atomic agency or Palestine which is fed up with UN Resolutions that Israel does not respect suddenly bolt the UN and join the UC?

What if liberation fronts all over the world seeking their own homelands are given observer status at the UC?

The possibilities playing tricks on me are endless. Thank God they are only in my mind.

Tit-for-tat, the cold war is indeed getting hotter!

5:20 a.m.

Heroes day

I just came from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier beside the City Council building where we held the commemoration of today’s National Heroes Day.

I represented Vice Mayor Sara Duterte and delivered the welcome remarks. Our guests include the consuls from Japan and Malaysia, government and police officials, war veterans and representatives from many civil society groups.

Our keynote speaker was my colleague 6-term city councilor Nilo Abellera. He paid tribute to our heroes and extolled their virtues that we should emulate like courage, patriotism and sacrifice.

As I sat beside the Malaysian consul-general Nik Mustafa Kamal Nik Ahmad, we had a quiet conversation while the flower offering was going on. We covered quite a lot in the short span of time. Foremost on my mind was the stalled peace process where Malaysia plays a crucial role as both a mediator and a member of the ceasefire monitoring group.

The consul expressed concern that their mandate of being in the monitoring body would lapse at the end of this month. He said both parties, the GRP and MILF, must come to terms asap with regards this international monitoring mechanism.

He thanked Mayor Rody Duterte for lending a voice of moderation in the on-going conflict in Mindanao. He was also elated that the Kadayawan festival last week went without a hitch.

We likewise touched on the current political situation in Malaysia where former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim is seeking a parliamentary seat in tomorrow’s by-elections in Penang. We talked about the wind of change sweeping Malaysia akin to the Obama mania in the US.

I also had the chance to congratulate the consul on Malaysia’s silver medal in badminton at the Beijing Olympics where our own local sports heroes brought home none.

My hero today is war veteran Sotero Palabyab who noticed the list of “distinguished national heroes” printed in the program. He remarked that most of those in the list were heroes of the Spanish era.

He said we should pay attention too to contemporary heroes. His suggestions: Manuel Quezon, father of the Wikang Pilipino and president during the Commonwealth period, who once said he would rather have a government run like hell by Filipinos than one run like heaven by the Americans; and Ninoy Aquino martyred for freedom and democracy 25 years ago who said the Filipino is worth dying for.

9:07 a.m.

US silent on MILF terrorism

US Ambassador Kristie Kenney is one of the most active enyoys in the Philippines and a favorite of the media. She openly expresses her ten-cents’ worth on almost all major issues in the country not just the bilateral relations between Washington and Manila.

In the on-going strife in Mindanao, she has a mouthful of things to say. Almost all major Manila papers carried her statements made yesterday.

Curiosly, none of it condemns the recent armed attacks of the MILF rebels in several provinces in Mindanao including killing of hapless civilians, burning houses and vehicles, toppling power lines, and taking hostages among them six Catholic priests.

From where I sit, these atrocities are no different from those committed by Russia in Georgia. And yet in the case of the conflict in the Caucasus, the US has a barrage of condemnation. Yesterday, the US State Department also “strongly condemned” terror attacks in Algeria.

Why the US is not condemning the MILF abuses and terrorist action is truly intriguing.

Incidentally, the MILF is not in the list of “terrorist organizations” of the US unlike these totally innocent Americans who are unfortunately on a terror watch list.

5:02 a.m.

Monday blues

My post on swimmer Michael Phelps was inadvertently deleted yesterday morning. Arrgghh! I really did not know what happened except that I was in a hurry to leave after posting and closed my laptop.

Anyway, I wrote about the greatest Olympian of our lifetime having more medals in two Olympics than the Philippines (population over 90 million) which has participated since the 1924 Games.

The Philippines is one of the major producers of gold in the world with mines stretching from Benguet in the north to Diwalwal in the south. It is unlucky, however, in the gold medal quest in the Summer Olympics. It has thus far produced only nine medals – 2 silvers and 7 bronzes. Michael Phelps on the other hand has 16 medals – 14 golds and 2 bronzes in the last two Olympics.

If he were a county, he would be at the top 50 in all time medal tally, better than more than 150 other nations.

– – – – –

I sat for more than six hours yesterday listening to the dialogue between the government peace panel and businessmen at the Marco Polo Hotel on the controversy over the ancestral domain issue.

While we were listening to the conversation, reports were filtering in from the field about rebel attacks in Sarangani and Lanao del Norte.

Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro noticeably changed his prepared remarks regarding the peace talks to strong assurances to the business community that the government would deal with the attacks more forcefully.

He was cheered by the participants unlike the other members of the peace panel who were jeered – at least in my table – over repeated answer that the peace agreement is still a work in progress.

– – – – –

After the dialogue, I rushed to the People’s Park for the opening of the Kadayawan festival.

At about 7 p.m., I excused myself after 3 hours through the elaborate ceremony. The program was simply too long. What was scheduled to be finished by 6 p.m. was still halfway by the time my stomach started to grumble.

6:41 a.m.

US hand in Mindanao

You might say I am stretching the issue of US involvement in Mindanao too far. But here are interesting views from respected columnists in Manila:

The untold realities of the MILF Pact by veteran media executive Billy Esposo; and

MILF proxy to international oil powers by nationalist economist Ding Lichauco.

And here are my previous posts:

A new kind of US military base – August 16, 2007;

GIs no fair game in Mindanao – September 2, 2007;

Defiant diplomat – February 22, 2008

The latter is about the visit of the US Ambassador Kristie Kenney to the “lion’s den” in the heartland of the Bangsamoro rebels in Mindanao in open defiance to the US State Department’s advisory against travel to troubled Mindanao. She was seen in Kuala Lumpur last Tuesday where the signing of the peace accord on ancestral domain was supposed to take place.

I received this email yesterday from a Davaoeno in Las Vegas – who is the US supporting in the Mindanao War? He was not actually asking me a question. He was emailing me a copy of a previous article written by Billy Esposo of the same title – Who is the US supporting in the Mindanao War?

A letter of MILF founder Hashim Salamat to President George W. Bush was featured in this column piece. Esposo asked particularly “promoters of all-out war in Mindanao” to read it and “see the hidden dimensions of the current conflict.”

6:15 a.m.