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DR. JOSE V. ABUEVA & THE PHILIPPINE CONSTITUTION IN CALIFORNIA ~ AN APPEAL TO THE POWER ELITE IN THE PHILIPPINES

By CESAR TORRES
June 10, 2006


Arriving at the San Francisco International Airport on April 17 aboard PAL. From left Dr. Abueva, Dr. Isagani Sarmiento, San Francisco Consulate Protocol Officer Benedict Guttierrez, Consul Anthony Achilles Mandap, Mrs. Coring Abueva and her bosom friend Ms. Celia Cloma.

 

For almost half a month from April 17 to May 3, 2006, Dr. Jose V. Abueva, past President of the University of the Philippines System and Chairman of the Constitutional Commission was in California at the instance of the alumni of the University of the Philippines and their friends.

This is an account of how that visit was effected. We are not going into the details of what Dr. Abueva shared with us concerning his preferred system of government and how it might be instituted in the Philippines which he admits is “iffy” considering the many hurdles along the way. This account will not delve into the advantages and disadvantages of the forms, structures and processes of a presidential, parliamentary, unitary, theocratic, dictatorial, federal, military junta, transitional revolutionary, monarchical, benevolent dictatorships, narco or jueteng republics, etc. I think we all know about them.

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We wanted to impart to Dr. Abueva our firm belief – nay, even implore him and his group, and other members of the Philippine ruling class, especially those who exercise the “monopoly of legitimate force” – that the 8 million Filipinos in Diaspora and those of us who are in North America should be considered by the power elite in the homeland in the formulation of fundamental decisions, such as amending the Philippine Constitution.


Socializing before the start of the Forum, Mrs. Coring Abueva, right, exchanging pleasantries with a fellow Surigaonon, UP Medical Alumni Society of America (UP-MASA) whirlwind, Dr. Libby Asis Sevandal whose mother was from Samar and father from Leyte. Doctor Libby was the first one to provide her support to the Organizing Group to invite Dr. Abueva to California for a dialogue with the Filam community on the Philippine Constitution. In dark glasses is Gonz Laspinas emphasizing a point with Atty. Victor Salting, back to camera.

 


Dr. Jose Abueva and Mrs. Cora Abueva at the world famous Monterey Aquarium. From left to right: Ben Tudtud, the host at Monterey who paid the fees to the aquarium, Ted Aquino, President of the UP Alumni Association of America, Mrs. Abueva, Dr. Abueva, and Dr. Manuel "Pogs" Gaspay, President of the UP Alumni Association of San Francisco. Not shown is Dr. Melchizedeck Solis, host of the visit.

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After all, we reasoned out, the 8 million Filipinos outside of the homeland have been propping up the Philippine economy and society by their remittances. In 2005, it was estimated that some $12 billion was remitted. Of this, it seems 60% was accounted for by the 3 million Filipinos in America.

Even considering the fact that as of April 10, 2006 there were only some 44,323 Overseas Filipinos who have registered as voters out of the 8 million Filipinos in Diaspora with the super-efficient San Francisco Consulate headed by Consul General Maria Rowena Mendoza Sanchez leading the list at 1,737, Toronto at 1,224, Milan in Italy at 1,048, Hongkong at 1,032,  London at 771, Kuala Lumpur, 724, and New York with that famous Consul General at 140, Washington, D.C. 135, Honolulu, 7 and Los Angeles and Southern California where we have so many eloquent and erudite Filipino leaders, writers, and nationalists, with the mind-boggling number of 24 Overseas Absentee Voters, we still believe that we deserve a bit of consideration. The power elite and the Trapos are not isolated from the rest of the world.  We are all linked to each other whether we are being brutalized in some Middle Eastern country, Hongkong, Tokyo or Singapore, Kota Kinabalu or dreading being blown to bits in Iraq and you are in your ornate offices in Malacañang or the awesome halls of Congress.

Our voting record and potential may not be impressive when compared with voter turnout in the homeland where even the dead can vote, and numbers can change shapes and sizes like a rubber band. But we could still make a difference. We admit, many of us are light years away from outstanding alumnus of the UP College of Law, for instance, Loida Nicolas Lewis, who can invest in the “Communist” People’s Republic of China, instead of in her native Sorsogon where the New People’s Army, the Filipino Communists who are inspired by the Chinese Communist Revolutionary, Mao Zedong, and the Government Soldiers, the vanguard of Capitalism, are killing each other. Many of us cannot afford to borrow from our credit cards and send thousands of dollars to our favorite Trapos or become hermanos and hermanas in our fiestas. But in most cases, the $100 that we send in response to the frantic appeals of our relatives, friends, and starving nieces who are studying and who might be on the verge of prostituting themselves can make a difference. It depends on our commitment, our network, and credibility. And we maintain that many Filipinos in Diaspora are very serious with respect to our commitment to the homeland. They have their respective networks and in general, their credibility are beyond question.

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We invited Dr. Abueva to share his thoughts with us especially on the Philippine Constitution, a subject that seems to be at the center of the national attention at the moment because of the possibility that the 1987 Constitution will be replaced with a new one. Due to a combination of factors, this issue is literally tearing Philippine society apart. It is so contentious and so divisive. And among those who are at the core of this national and international debate is Dr. Abueva.

As a former President of the once-respected University of the Philippines, we also invited Dr. Abueva to provide moral support, even if many of us do not necessarily agree with him on fundamental issues concerning Philippine society and systems of government. I imagine him, and many others like him who have very strong, intense, and sincere ideas on Philippine issues as unwilling puppets dancing to a discordant, deadly cacophony played by an orchestra in a macabre “Symphony of Hatred” under the batón of incompetence, greed, intolerance, envy, pervasive moral corruption, and exploitation incarnate.

When we invited Dr. Abueva, we had to be sure that there would be enough of us who could contribute to defray his expenses – plane fares, hotel stay, transportation, etc. Since we feel very proud and our sentiments are focused on the millions of Filipinos whose lives are almost subhuman, we did not want Dr. Abueva to come to California by availing of some funds from the Philippine Government. We thought that any government money that might be used for Dr. Abueva’s trip to California should be used instead to help the “poorest of the poor” among our people. Neither did we entertain the possibility that he could go to some super rich Filipinos and organizations to shoulder his travel expenses.


Posing for posterity before the Forum on April 22 at the Social Hall of the San Francisco Consulate. From left seated: Jose Galang Caedo III who is President of the Filam Democratic Empowerment Council of San Francisco; Counselor Mayann Teodoro and her friend, Counselor Lourdes Santos-Tancinco. Standing from left to right: Counselor Rey Tancinco, Senior Partner of the Tancinco Law Offices, the biggest Filipino law office in America staffed by UP alumni; future Ambassador John Jiao who worked so hard to coordinate Dr. Abueva's visit to California; his boss, Vice Consul Fred Santos.

 


Courtesy call on the Office of the San Francisco Consul General, Maria Rowena Mendoza Sanchez (left), then Mrs. Abueva, Dr. Abueva, Ted Aquino, President of the UP Alumni Association of America, Dr. Isagani Sarmiento. It is interesting to note that among all the Consular posts of the Department of Foreign Affairs all over the world, the San Francisco Consulate General stands out in having the greatest number of Overseas Absentee Voters all over the world.

Apparently, I was not the only one who felt very strongly about the need to interact with Dr. Abueva on the Philippine Constitution.  We felt that even if they are not connected to the Internet, many of us 8 million Filipinos in Diaspora would be interested also. The initial consultations with a close circle of friends and leaders of the UP alumni in California and America proved me right – Biochemist Maria Luisa Andrada-Yee, UP MASA pillar Dr. Libby Asis Sevandal, Nurse Andette Lorenzo-Laspinas, Engr. Morgan Benedicto, Esquire-to-be Richie Dira, ex UP Business Ad Professor Jose Aliling IV, ex UP Alumni Association of Berkeley President Ceny Alfonso-Duldulao, Romi Beza, incumbent President of the Berkeley Alumni Association and all past presidents of this multi-awardee UP alumni association; Ted Aquino, President of the UPAA of America and San Francisco and his Executive Vice President, Manuel “Pogs” Gaspay. They all gave their thumbs up. So it was “Padayon!” to invite Dr. Abueva.

Even our three consuls in the San Francisco Consulate who are alumni of the UP and their young colleague contributed to our fund. Inasmuch as their salaries are paid by our not-so-rich Philippine Government, Consuls Anthony Achilles Mandap, Raffey Hermoso, Arvic Arevalo and possibly the IT genius of the entire Philippine foreign service, John Jiao, each contributed one-fourth of what many of us contributed.

This time, that oft-quoted aphorism of our “Friends”, i.e., “From each according to his ability…” seemed very appropriate when our moral and financial commitments were “juxtaposed” with the kind-heartedness of UP Outstanding Alumnus, Dr. Isagani Sarmiento, CEO of Crumbs Engineering and founder of the Fish for Peace Foundation. Gani and Dora, bless their kind hearts, picked up the round trip transpacific fare of Dr. Abueva, and more.

In addition, two very dear friends contributed to our fund also – former University of California in Berkeley Staffer and our Pride of Samar, Quintin Lambino Doroquez and the new chair of the Save-a-Tahanan Foundation, the first chair of Pamana-United Way, Ms. Marisa Robles of Chevron Corporation. Others extended their much-needed moral support also. And by doing so, they inspired us greatly: Jose Galang Caedo III our icon in the Filipino Internet world, Counselor Mayann Teodoro and her “Chung” buddy, Counselor Lourdes Santos-Tancinco, Salinas-Monterey icons in the Filam Community, Dr. Melchizedek Solis and Ben Tudtud. And of course, the tireless advocate for the recognition of the importance of the Filipinos in Diaspora to be included in the electoral processes in the Philippines, Mr. Victor Barrios of Global Filipinos, supported us.

In the San Francisco Consulate, the staff members of this example of what Dr. Abueva, the scholar of public and development administration in the Philippines would refer to as “efficient, effective, and responsive” public administrative system, especially Ruby Balanban, Wilma Bautista, Elaine Diza, Medel Cantoria, Jerry Vicidor, and Lito Lucido, under the inspiration of the Honorable Deputy Consul General, Fred Santos, may not be addressed as “Sir” or “Ma’am”. But they are a joy to behold in their cheerfulness and efficiency.

Dr. Abueva very graciously accepted our invitation on March 3, 2006.

So the two Consulate Protocol officers, Consul Anthony Achilles Mandap and Consul-to-Be Benedict Gutierrez and yours truly checked in Dr. and Mrs. Abueva to a hotel in what used to be a seedy area in San Francisco, the haunt of the “Flower Children” during the Vietnam War and which became the favorite place of the dregs of San Francisco, the most beautiful city on earth. The area has been rehabilitated. One reason advanced is the influx of Asian immigrants to the area. We requested the Filipino staff members of the hotel to take care of our guests. Of course, they were proud to have such distinguished guests. But they could not do anything about the collapse of the telephone system in the hotel for several days. Dr. Abueva’s mobile phone which was state of the art in the Philippines, was not state of the art in San Francisco. So Dr. Abueva was incommunicado while in the hotel.

The UP alumni were admirable in their graciousness and sense of duty to Dr. and Mrs. Abueva.  We have already shared with the Internet how MC Canlas, a former UP history instructor and now the cultural-anthropological historian of the Filipino community in Northern California arrived at the San Francisco Consulate shaking with anger and frustration. His wallet was picked while trying to fulfill his duty as the tourist guide of the Abuevas. The Consul General had to rub his back to calm him down.

And Ted Aquino, President of the UP Alumni Association of America drove Dr. Abueva and Mrs. Abueva from San Francisco to Monterey and back. Ted drove from 6:00 AM to midnight. The trip to Monterey and back was not boring.  Far from it. Stanford Ph.D. Manuel “Pogs” Gaspay regaled our guests, non-stop while I napped, with tales of wonder and shared some secrets about some prominent Filipinos. In Monterey, we were received by Dr. Melchizedek Solis and Ben Tudtud, two Datus Alimaong, who paid for our tickets to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. In that historic part of the Central Coast of California, Salinas-Monterey, where many Manongs suffered greatly as the first immigrants and trailblazers of the Filipinos in America when it was fashionable for the American ruling class to warn that “No Dogs and Filipinos Allowed!”, you don’t need to meet with other Filipinos if Dr. Solis and Ben Tudtud are your hosts.


Dr. Abueva at the World Affairs Council on April 20, 2006. To his left is Mr. Rodriguez, Moderator after the presentation. Some 50 guests from all over San Francisco attended the presentation. Dr. Abueva expressed his gratitude for being invited to this prestigious center whose guests were famous statesmen and thinkers from all over the world.

 


Dr. Abueva responding to the questions presented to him. To his left is Mr. Victor Barrios of Global Filipinos who has been very active in pushing for Filipinos abroad to register and vote in Philippine elections and in disseminating information on Charter Change.

In the world-famous Monterey Aquarium, Dr. Abueva and Mrs. Abueva finally felt the “jet lag” catching up with them. They were sleepy. Fortunately, they found a small theatre inside the aquarium complex, a movie house, showing the denizens of the oceans of the California Coast. It was dark inside. I saw them holding hands. They must have recalled those days in their undergraduate UP days when they would skip classes to go to some movie houses in Quiapo or Escolta.

Wistfully, considering that we have 7,107 islands and our coastline is longer than that of the United States, I inquired of Dr. Abueva if there is an aquarium that our people, especially the young ones, can visit so that they can appreciate our marine flora and fauna and the importance of our coral reefs, and our seas. He answered “No.” But there are plans to construct an aquarium in Subic. I was thinking of the former pre-eminence of the UP Marine and Fisheries complex in Miag-ao, Iloilo.

Then there was the presentation at the World Affairs Council in the afternoon of April 20. I was the first one at the center since it is just a few blocks from my office. It was a full house. One thing I remember that Dr. Abueva said about the Philippines during his presentation was that politics is a matter of leadership. (I would use the Ancient Greek concept of politics as the search for the good life.) And that the Philippine political system is “weak”. It is manifested in the inability of the government and Philippine society to address the basic and primordial concerns of the Filipino people. For instance, he said, that about 40% of the residents of the once-beautiful Quezon City, are squatters. The information we get is that many of our people reside in shanties, some made of cardboard boxes, making babies in their pushcarts, sleeping among the dead in the graveyards and under the bridges. They come to the Metro Manila Metropolis from the impoverished countrysides which are in turmoil.

Then there was that tour conducted by the UP Alumni Association of Berkeley headed by Romi Beza. They went to Napa Valley, the vineyard of America. Since I prefer Bahalina from Samar and Leyte and Lambanog from Quezon, I am not really enthusiastic about going to Napa Valley.

But after getting tipsy on the free wine in Napa Valley, Romi Beza and Ceny Duldulao of Goldilocks brought Dr. and Mrs. Abueva to the residence of Vangie Poe Quesada. Yes. She is the sister of the late Fernando Poe, Jr. who was the political opponent of Gloria.

The Poes are not like some political trapostic families in the Philippines who are at others throats. They are united. Frankly I was skittish that there might be some “tampuhan” or worse, fireworks, during the reception. But Romi Beza assured us that it would not happen. When the hosts learned that it was the birthday of Mrs. Abueva, they had a birthday cake and she blew some candles. And they sang “Happy Birthday”. I could imagine Dr. Abueva singing that famous Cebuano song, “Usahay”. Indeed, if there is any event that makes Dr. Abueva’s visit to California something to remember, it would be this event.

What we have been dreaming for, some kind of reconciliation among the prime movers in the Philippines occurred up to a point, in the San Francisco Bay Area on April 21, 2006 during the party in honor of Dr. and Mrs. Abueva, tendered by the UP alumni in the home of Vangie Poe Quesada.

Then the main event, the forum at the San Francisco Consulate on April 22, Saturday. I arrived early. But many people had been there ahead of me. Some of the guests were the movers and shakers of the Filipino community in the San Francisco Bay Area. Frank Batara, Mayor of Hercules, was there. There was Regor Aquilar, a famous name in the Talsik Yahoo e-group, a discussion list whose members are mostly composed of people who do not see any redeeming feature in President Gloria at all. Rodel Rodis was in coat and tie. Two Filipino academics, Dr. Joaquin Gonzalez III of Golden Gate University and the University of San Francisco and Dr. Leo Paz of the City College of San Francisco were there. Greg Makabenta of Filipinas Magazine was impatient. He questioned the methodology of the open forum which he said smacks of censorship. The forum was covered by the media of course – Christi Morales of ABS-CBN, Lito Gutierrez of The Philippine News, the Fortalezas, and others.


Leyteno Greg Makabenta, Vice President of the National Association Federation of Filipino Associations in America, publisher of Filipinas Magazine, and a columnist for Business Day, raising an issue with Dr. Abueva during the open forum. Others in photo are from l to r: Andette Laspinas, Ceny Duldulao, Aida Barrios, Ted Aquino, and a Filam Veteran, Mr. Sales who brought lots of pancit to the Forum. It was his birthday on that day

.

 


After the Forum, shown from left to right: Consul Anthony Achilles Mandap who moderated the Forum, Romi Beza President of the UP Alumni Association of Berkeley, Ted Aquino President of the UP Alumni Association of America, Counselor Mayann Teodoro one of the Panelists, Vice Consul Alfredo Santos, Dr. Abueva, Mr. Victor Barrios of Global Filipinos, Panelist Counselor Ted Laquatan, Dr. Isagani Sarmiento CEO of Crumbs Engineering and Fish for Peace Foundation who picked up the plane fare of Dr. Abueva (he was also a panelist), Cesar Torres, Andette Laspinas, a member of the Organizing Group who handed the gift of another member of the Organizing Group, Ms. Maria Luisa Andrada-Yee.

Our Filam Forum members who are in the San Francisco Bay Area were there: Morgan Benedicto, Nat Dueñas, the ever-elegant Chit Applegate, Dr. Libby Asis Sevandal escorted by the San Beda LLB, Victor Salting, Professor-President Jose Aliling IV, Nestor Duldulao who was concentrating intensely because his eyes were closed while Dr. Abueva was making his presentation and Ceny Duldulao, Andette and Gonz Laspiñas, Mark and Josie Alegre, Nerissa Fernandez of ABS-CBN, Celly Carbonell, University of San Francisco Professor Jun Jun Villegas, Judge Michael Nisperos, Richie Dira, Ester Chavez, point person of The Inquirer in America, even René Pascual of the Filipino Integrated Bar Association of California, and later on, Dennis Normandy of the San Francisco-Manila Sister City Commission, and of course, Jacquie Lingad-Ricci, CEO of HeartBridge International Foundation and Commissioner of the City of San Francisco, who also wanted to interview Dr. Abueva for her radio program,  and many others more.

A Filipino veteran who is a frequent attendee in the Consulate forums, Mr. Leo Sales, arrived with Mrs. Sales. They had lots of pancit and other goodies. It was his birthday.

Jay Caedo arrived early. He declined to be a panelist. But he had a very nice time chatting with my former student, the impetuous and brilliant, Counselor Mayann Teodoro who was one of the panelists.  The others were bar topnotcher and UP Law Salutatorian, Rey Tancinco, UP Public Administration Outstanding Alumnus Counselor Teddy Laguatan, and Dr. Isagani Sarmiento. Mr. Victor Barrios was one of the panelists too. The moderator was UP lawyer who is in charge of the Overseas Absentee Voting Project in the San Francisco Consulate, Consul Anthony Achilles Mandap.

Dr. Abueva’s Power Point Presentation was very cerebral. It lasted for more than two hours. I could feel the impatience of many people. They wanted to ask questions of Dr. Abueva. Of the “Panel of Experts”, all the UP panelists expressed their unhappiness at the massive corruption in the Philippines and what they perceive as the very low quality of the political and government leadership there. They did not even inquire about the details of Dr. Abueva’s proposed system of government.

Then there was that luncheon organized by the UP alumni in that upscale Chinese Restaurant in Chinatown. And surprise. Senator Magsaysay peeped in on us. He announced to the group his gratitude that Dr. Abueva had written the biography of his father, President Ramon Magsaysay. Then there was picture picture!  In all the excitement, Mrs. Abueva lost her glasses. Academic ladies man, University of San Francisco professor Jun Jun Villegas became a guest of this UP luncheon. I think he was invited by the lovely UP Mass Communication coloratura, Estela Mendieta.

We saw off Dr. Jose Abueva and Ate Coring Abueva at the San Francisco International Airport in the morning of April 23. They were bound for Los Angeles for another forum, organized by the UP Alumni Association of Greater Los Angeles with the assistance of the Los Angeles Consulate which has only 24 Overseas Absentee Voters registered which is of course an error. The Protocol Officer who was with us was Consul-to-Be Benedict Gutierrez again.

In the Philippines, I only met Dr. Abueva once. He was the bright boy of the UP at that time, the Assistant Dean of a college now referred to grandiosely as the National College of Public Administration and Governance. While watching him share some jokes with the humble Filipino baggage handlers at the airport, I was thinking to myself that he is not the snobbish and matapobre UP academician at all.

We were driven to the airport and back by Lito in a Consulate van whose door cannot be opened or closed by just anyone. It needs the touch of its master who has to make some weird signs with his hand while murmuring some incomprehensible incantations. Only then will the door of the Consulate van open.

How about the finances? Excluding the extraordinary donation of Dr. Isagani Sarmiento, and perhaps that of Mr. Victor Barrios’ Global Filipinos and Ms. Celia Cloma, we received and had pledges of $810. We spent $838.76. This does not include the expenses of UP Alumni Association of America President, Ted Aquino, and those of the UP Alumni Association of Berkeley headed by Romi Beza and the gift of the biochemist, Ma. Luisa Andrada-Yee.

What did we accomplish in all of these?

Quite simply, perhaps just this: Groups, organizations, communities can achieve so much if there are no hidden agenda among their leaders and if their leaders, including those who do not claim leadership, are intelligent enough, please allow me to repeat intelligent enough, (emphasis supplied), to understand that the public or greater good should be paramount in all collaborative undertakings, especially in affairs of government. This was dramatically manifested by the two UP alumni association leaders, Ted Aquino and Romi Beza. And more so by the team of the San Francisco Consul General, Ma. Rowena Mendoza Sanchez.


Dr. Abueva, second from left, with prominent Filipino leaders in Northern California: from left, Romi Beza, President of the UP Alumni Association of Berkeley, City of San Francisco Commissioner and Youth Commission Vice President Jacquie Lingad-Ricci, doing an impromptu interview for her radio program while trying to look pretty. Jacquie, as CEO of Heart Bridge International Foundation, has generated massive assistance for the Guinsaugon calamity victims. To her left is Greg Makabenta, then Atty. Rodel Rodis, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the City College of San Francisco, a popular leader among the Filipinos and columnist of The Philippine News, the oldest and most widely circulated Filam periodical in America. Deputy Consul General Fred Santos is at the extreme right.

 


Luncheon tendered by the UP alumni after the Forum. From left to right: Andette Laspinas, Pinole Mayor Frank Batara, one of the two Filipino Mayors in Northern California, Gonz Laspinas, Romi Beza, Ted Aquino, Senator Ramon Magsayay, Jr. who expressed his gratitude to Dr. Abueva for writing the biography of his father, Pressident Ramon Magsaysay, Celly Carbonell, Dr. Abueva, Cesar Torres, Estela Mendieta, University of San Francisco Professor Jun Jun Villegas. Seated from right to left: Mrs. Cora Abueva, Ms. Celia Cloma whose father claimed "Freedomland" in the Spratleys, Ms. Ceny Duldulao ex-President of the UP Alumni Association of Berkeley, Ms. Henrietta Fajardo, former student of Dr. Abueva in the UP, and Counselor Mayann Teodoro.

On my part, from April 17 up to April 23, I never asked Dr. Abueva about the Philippine Constitution and parliamentary systems of government. I think I am still familiar with structures and processes of effective political systems. As far as the Philippine situation is concerned, the materials available to me are more than sufficient. So pardon my hubris, I may not need to bother Dr. Abueva, Congressman Jaraula, ex President General Fidel Ramos, my favorite Senator Nene Pimentel, Professor Clarita Carlos or Dr. Segundo E. Romero, Speaker de Venecia, and Samar’s Pride, Eddie Nachura, to lecture me on effective political systems. Assuming that they would humor people like me, in the first place.

But I believe that the most important message that we wanted to impart to Dr. Abueva has been delivered. Our message is a desperate plea:

“Please share with your group and the power elite in the Philippines our prayer to consider us when you are modifying the basic foundations of Philippine society, especially when you are crafting systems of government in the homeland. There might be just 44,323 of us who are registered to vote with just a paltry and hilarious number of 24 registered with the Los Angeles Consulate General – a number which is definitely wrong considering the number of Filipino leaders and the intensity of their opinions regarding the Philippines – and 1,727 in San Francisco as of April 10, 2006. But there are 8 million of us all over the world. And we remitted an estimated $12 billion to the homeland in 2005. Most of us share the same fears and anxieties about our homeland and the future of the 80 million Filipinos. We agonize on the killing there whether it will continue till Endtimes or we become a ‘Failed State’ like Somalia or Rwanda. But despite our anguish, many of us never lose our hope that through a confluence of events, the Philippines will eventually achieve that not-so-grandiose dream of just becoming a respectable country that all of us will be proud of, for which our heroes and thousands of our people have sacrificed their lives.”

Finally, all these things would have not been possible without the hard work and extreme dedication of, among others, Messrs. John Jiao, Romi Beza, Ted Aquino, Ruby Balanban, Wilma Bautista, and Elaine Diza and Deputy Consul Fred Santos. God knows, there are so many of them that I cannot cite all of them here. But we all know who we are.

And we are not forgetting, of course, the graciousness and humility of Ms. Vangie Poe Quesada and the untiring Ms. Ceny Alfonso Duldulao and the incomparable kindness of Dr. Isagani Sarmiento.

If ever, how about Dr. Jose V. Abueva – a Filipino patriot, a liberal democrat par excellence, a scholar, a UP professor of political science and public administration – as Interim Prime Minister while the loathsome Trapos or dish rags are trying to situate themselves in a possible new system of government?

Naaaaah...  That was a figment of my imagination.

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