Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Filipinos Welcome Estrada Pardon, Maintain Reservations About Arroyo

Majority of Filipinos welcomed the long-awaited release of ex-President Joseph Estrada following the clemency extended to the former leader accused of politically motivated trumped-up charges. Estrada was convicted of Plunder and racketing charges by a 'kangaroo' court division of an Anti-Graft body specially created to try the former President following the conspiracy-led uprising unseated him in 2001.



The pardon was given by current President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo nearly after the six-year trial ended in a guilty verdict during a heavily-censored promulgation in September 2007. During the media coverage of the promulgation, the authorities made sure that the public would not see the dramatic moment when Estrada, who remains heavily popular with the Filipinos masses, received the "guilty" verdict.

Never Guilty

Earlier, a nationwide survey showed that an overwhelming majority of Filipinos believe Estrada is innocent of the Plunder charges and that they expected him to be released. The same survey conducted by the Social Weather Station (SWS) also revealed the sentiment of the Filipinos that in case he be declared guilty, Estrada should be pardoned. According to the survey 62% of Filipinos do not believe "Erap" Estrada enriched himself nor committed corruption while he was President; a total of 84% think he should be pardoned if convicted. The SWS, the most active social survey institute in the country, conducted the survey just before the promulgation of the Sandiganbayan decision declaring Estrada guilty of the charges.

Supporters of the former Philippine leader are delighted to see him free again but have reservations about the nature of the pardon and the administration of Arroyo. Estrada and the opposition have long maintained the illegitimacy of Arroyo's administration after the constitutionally questionable decision by the Supreme Court that declared the position of President vacant and Arroyo as the successor. In 2004, Macapagal-Arroyo 'won' in the presidential elections heavily tainted with allegations of electoral fraud. In legal terms, Estrada's acceptance of the executive clemency connotes recognition of the authority of Arroyo. According to Estrada's followers, they want him free but still consider Arroyo's administration as illegitimate.

Filipinos generally believe that Estrada, a former actor who rose from being a mayor, senator and Vice-President before becoming President with the highest plurality vote in Philippine history, is not guilty of any of the charges. Before his arrest and detention, Estrada declined two offers made by the administration of Macapagal-Arroyo for him to live in voluntary exile in exchange for waiving criminal prosecution.

Estrada won as the Philippine's 13th President by a landslide election in 1998 but was unable to finish term after a corrupt governor accused him of pocketing jueteng kickbacks. The accusations mothballed into the so-called EDSA II rebellion backed by the Army's chief-of-staff. Majority of Filipinos believe that Estrada's predecessor, Fidel Ramos and then Vice-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, led the conspiracy that used the kickback issue as a propaganda ploy to bring Estrada into public disfavor.

Objective political analysts suspect that Ramos sought to depose Estrada to avoid prosecution for the scandalous deals his administration entered into. Ramos was named in several multi-million dollar corruption exposes during his term, including the infamous Clark Centennial Exposition project and the PEA-AMARI Manila Bay Reclamation deal, dubbed to be the "grandmother of all scams." Estrada, who assumed office with bankrupt national treasury funds, had threatened to investigate Ramos' complicity in the scams.

The 2001 EDSA II rebellion against the defamed former President acquired the backing of certain business leaders who were disadvantaged by Estrada's pro-poor policies. The Catholic Church led by the powerful Jaime Cardinal Sin also played a part in Estrada's unseating. The politically meddling Cardinal Sin saw a Catholic ally in the successor, Macapagal Arroyo. Despite numerous and persistent allegations of corruption and electoral fraud against the new administration, the Catholic Church continued to support Arroyo, who indeed proved to be a faithful supporter of the Church's positions on various social issues including family planning and the death penalty.

Link to the SWS survey September 2-5, 2007 Social Weather Survey: Majority expected Erap to be acquitted: http://www.sws.org.ph/pr070912.htm.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Laughable Philippine SC Decision on "Live Coverage" of Erap Verdict

SEPTEMBER 12, 2007 marked a black-letter day for the real state of justice and democracy in the Philippines. The media coverage of the promulgation on the Plunder case of former Philippine President Joseph “Erap” Estrada was effectively disallowed by the Supreme Court ruling that ridiculously limited the view of the TV camera to the bench proceedings and ensured that no view of the defendant was shown to the public

The much-awaited verdict on the Plunder case of Estrada was read in the office of the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan amidst tight security and practically nil "live" media coverage. Ruling on an appeal, the Supreme Court of the Philippines had earlier granted the request of the media organization Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas (KBP) under ridiculously restrictive conditions. In a decision that plays lip service to "freedom of the press," the highest court in the land—the same body that defended the biased presence of its chief justice in the EDSA 2 revolution, which toppled President Estrada in 2001, as akin to attending a "party"—ruled that the coverage of the Erap verdict be restricted to the bench reading of the judgment and that the sole television camera be operated by the court's media office.



The ruling was a hopelessly and undemocratically ridiculous instance of the suppression of the freedom of the press and information of the Filipinos. The coverage of the court proceedings without a shot of the former Philippine President's countenance during the passing of the verdict practically meant no coverage at all. Ano naman ang pakialam ng mga Pilipino sa mga mukha ng kangaroong mahistrado at sa tagabasa ng desisyon? Bakit tila inutil o nabubusalan ang media kapag ang panig o karapatan na ni Erap at oposisyon ang dapat marinig?

With this brazenly censoring decision, the Supreme Court ruled to deny the Filipino people the right to witness, via telecast, the unfolding of a most important moment in the country's history. Why the Joseph Estrada impeachment and the ensuing mutinous EDSA 2 were covered in sensational full detail, while the stark opposite applied to the Estrada Plunder case smacked of a devious political machination by current President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.



The unmistakable inference to draw from this is that an ingloriously beholden Philippine Supreme Court connived with the administration in order to preclude the anticipated public unfolding of a dramatic "guilty" verdict scenario, and thus, try to prevent a congruence of sympathies for Estrada. As if indeed a piece in a grand scheme, the anti-graft court actually passed a “guilty” verdict on Estrada for the count of Plunder. Not surprisingly, the former President’s family already expected the decision, saying a few hours beforehand that they feared for a “political decision” of conviction for Estrada.

Sober-thinking, patriotic Filipinos can only sigh in frustration, and hope for the time when all the injustice, charade of presidential "legitimacy" amidst national electoral fraud, degenerate leadership, unparalleled corruption and unprecedented national economic woes will ever end. Until the time the Filipinos muster its strengths, uphold its virtues and assert political sanity in order to take the necessary step of rectifying the grievous blunder of Edsa 2-cum-Arrobo usurpation of Malacanang, the pathetic nation called the Philippines is unlikely to see the good end of a hellish rule for some time.

Ahhhh, isn't the Philippines doomed??? If only the Filipinos can invoke the spirit of the late father of Arroyo, the righteous former President Diosdado Macapagal, and implore him to now take his petite daughter along and share with her the eternal peace of life on the other side....

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Friday, May 04, 2007

State of the Philippines under Arroyo Six Years Later

The Sorry State of the Philippines under the EDSA 2 President

If you wish to get an objective and accurate picture of the state of the Philippines under Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo, get yourself independent data that are untwisted or unmanipulated by the propaganda machinations of the administration and, to a very limited extent, of the opposition. Survey data and other statistics from independent and established local and international polling firms and watchdog institutions will prove reliable. Facts and figures from the Social Weather Station (SWS) and Pulse Asia survey groups and Transparency International (TI), Political and Economic Risk Consultancy, and Amnesty International (AI) should together provide the most accurate and unprejudiced picture of how better off or how worse off the Philippines currently is from the time Arroyo grabbed power in 2001.

Hunger in the Philippines

The level of hunger and poverty experienced by the Filipino masses under the Arroyo administration is reflected in the yearly survey of SWS on "self-rated poverty and hunger". As of November 2006, record high levels of "overall hunger" and "severe hunger" were recorded by the SWS survey for the quarter. The 19.0% Total Hunger and 15.1% Moderate Hunger represent unprecedented levels that far exceed the highest levels recorded during Joseph Estrada's administration--14.5% and 9.2% levels, respectively. The highest level of Severe Hunger was also recorded during Arroyo's administration, in March 2001.

SWS Degree of Hunger in Households: July 1998 to November 2006


Worsening Personal and National Quality of Life

A similar survey conducted by Pulse Asia a year earlier confirms the present difficulties faced by Filipinos. The July 2005 survey shows a majority--a total of 67% of Filipinos--believe " the circumstances of their families as of the survey period [to be] worse than their circumstances a year earlier." The 2005 survey, timed with Arroyo's Ulat ng Bayan, also reveals how a resounding majority of 80% of Filipinos believe that "the national quality of life now is worse than in the previous year and expect it to be even worse in the year ahead."

Pulse Asia’s July 2005 Ulat ng Bayan
Media Release on Concerns, Coping Strategies & Perceptions of the Poor



Dissatisfaction with Gloria Arroyo

Judging from the Social Weather Station's periodic survey on the satisfaction ratings of Presidents, it is clearly shown that only during Arroyo's presidency is the level of public confidence ever at a negative and consistent low. While the satisfaction ratings for the past presidents including Joseph Estrada easily exceeded the 60 percent levels during their peaks, Arroyo's confidence level barely reached the 30 percent level at its highest. From 2004 until the last survey in November 2006, the net satisfaction ratings of President Arroyo were at a consistent negative. The eight-year-long SWS survey data shows that never before since the end of Martial law has the Philippines been served by a President unaccepted by the general population.

SWS Net Satisfaction Ratings of Presidents, May 1986 to November 2006


The SWS survey on the negative perception of Arroyo is corroborated by the earlier Pulse Asia nationwide survey on " Alternative Political Scenarios and Best and Worst Persons to Lead the Country Now." Conducted in mid 2005, the survey study results show that as of July 2005, only a mere total of 26% of Filipinos favor Arroyo's continued stay in power until the end of her term, while a decisive total of some 73% think it would be "most beneficial" for the country if she either "resigns or is impeached" ; "resigns and she is replaced by a [junta], or "removed from office using any means."

2005 Pulse Asia Most Beneficial/Constructive Political Scenarios Table 1


Corruption in the Philippines

Certain apologists or supporters of the Arroyo administration could argue that the local SWS and Pulse Asia are biased survey research firms. However, even independent international watchdog and survey firms portray a bleak picture of the obtaining situation in the country. To start with, the 2006 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) tool of Transparency International gives the Philippines a very low score of 2.5 (out of the best possible 10), based on the "perceived levels of corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys." The 2006 CPI score represents a significant worsening of corruption in the country compared with the 2.8 score in 2000 during Joseph Estrada's term. When viewed in the context of the use of the corruption issue to rationalize the constitutionally suspect unseating of President Estrada back in January 2001, the CPI score comparison becomes all the more telling.

Transparency International CPI Report 2006
Transparency International CPI Report 2000


Even in terms of the holistic National Integrity System (NIS) Study of Transparency International, the Philippines is shown today to be a "country with institutionalized corruption" that is plagued by "the lack of will power to stamp out corruption, the nagging problem of morality in leadership and the absence of respect for the rule of law." The 2006 Philippines report show a big gap persists "between catching ‘small fry’ and ‘big fish’; between rhetoric and reality, and promise and performance."

Transparency International NIS Philippines 2006 Study Report


Perception of the Government's Efforts on Corruption

How Filipinos really view the much-touted anti-corruption campaign of the Arroyo administration is revealed by the Global Corruption Barometer 2006 tools of Transparency International. Survey data on how ordinary citizens "assess their government's fight against corruption" show that an overwhelming majority of Filipinos negatively view the administration's efforts. A mere 21% positively rate Arroyo's anti-corruption campaign, as opposed to a total of 78% of respondents who believe otherwise: 23% think the Philippine government "does not fight at all," 31% think the campaign is "not effective," while 24% hold that the administration "does not fight but actually encourages" corruption.

Transparency International Global Corruption Barometer 2006 - Report


Even the latest corruption survey of the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy lends support to the perception of severe corruption in the country. The 2007 survey of expatriate businessmen in Asia lists the Philippines as currently the "most corrupt" among 13 countries and territories surveyed in the continent. The story that appeared in the International Herald Tribune quotes from the survey report that "People are just growing tired of the inaction and insincerity of leading officials when they promise to fight corruption." Part of the survey shows that the respondents even gave the judicial system a nearly appallingly perfect 9.06 out of 10 score, with 10 as being "ineffective."

International Herald Tribune story "Philippines most corrupt, survey says"


State of Human Rights in the Philippines 2006

The extent and severity of obtaining human rights violation in the country under the Arroyo administration is most objectively seen through the holistic study of the renowned international human rights group Amnesty International (AI). While the military and police may dismiss human rights reports as Karapatan and other local groups as having been produced by entities infiltrated by or sympathetic with the CPP-NPA or perhaps, Muslim terrorist groups, the AI 2006 report represent a study independent of political ideology or affiliation. The following are excerpts from the Amnesty International Report 2006 for the Philippines:


"Scores of leftist activists were killed by unidentified assailants, often reportedly linked to the armed forces. Peace talks between the government and armed groups – Muslim separatists in Mindanao and communist rebels – made limited or no progress. Arbitrary arrests, unlawful killings, torture and “disappearances” were reported in the context of military counter-insurgency operations. Armed groups were responsible for abuses including hostage-taking. Complaints procedures, investigations and criminal prosecutions of suspected perpetrators of human rights violations were often ineffective. Criminal suspects in custody, including women and children, were at risk of torture or ill-treatment by police. Death sentences were imposed but no executions were carried out."

AI Report 2006, Asia-Pacific: Philippines

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Whom to Vote for in the May 2007 Elections

Are you at a loss on whom to vote for during the coming May 2007 Philippine Polls? For the senatorial slots, I suggest we should only vote on the basis of Principle and Performance exhibited overtime.

1. Edgardo Angara www.edangara.com/
2. Noynoy Aquino www.noynoy.ph/
3. Nikki Coseteng www.nikkisasenado.com/
4. Alan Cayetano http://j102.wikidot.com/alan-peter
5. Chiz Escudero www.chizescudero.com/
6. Richard Gomez http://j102.wikidot.com/goma
7. Gringo Honasan http://j102.wikidot.com/gringo
8. Loren Legarda www.lorenlegarda.com.ph/
9. Tessie Aquino-Oreta www.tessiesasenado.com/index.html
10. John Sonny Osmena www.tatakosmena.net/podcast/inq_podcast3
11. Koko Pimentel www.pimentel2007.org/
12. Antonio Trillanes www.trillanesmovement.org/

I will vote for ....

- Ed Angara because of his longstanding wisdom both as a legislator and as a Filipino politician. He has authored/supported genuinely landmark bills on education (Free High School), elderly (Senior Citizen's), agriculture, etc. Through four Presidents, he has proved his mind and heart for the masses sans being confrontational.

- Antonio Trillanes because of a keen mind and a debater's articulacy combined with the true courage of a principled soldier. Together, his traits are the make up of a potentially great leader. You should see how he trounced Sen. Joker Arroyo during the Oakwood Mutiny hearings. That should also explain why Joker adamantly refuses to take on Trillanes' challenge for a debate.

- Nikki Coseteng on the basis of her sensible, laudable work as Congresswoman and later, as Senator in the 9th and 10th Congress. As politician, she was a champion of nationalist and humanitarian ideals: she pushed for a cap on our foreign debt payment, the minimized influence of the IMF-WB and closer-to-equal rights for women.

- Richard Gomez on three counts: his pro-masa advocacies long before his intention to run for elective position (for one, he was anti-drug Kabataan czar as KIDS chairman); his penchant for excelling in almost all meaningful endeavours--as an actor/host, national sportsman (gold/silver/bronze in rowing and fencing in 1995/1997/2001/2003 Southeast Asian Games)--and his personal principles as exemplified by his signing of the pre-nuptial agreement with Lucy. Also, my extra vote is the least he can get for being deprived of the victory for his Mamamayan Ayaw sa Droga (MAD) party list seat in 2001.

- John Osmena simply because he has proved, and will probably continue, to be a valuable asset to the Senate's lawmaking and investigative functions. The Philippines is indebted to his host of exposes on anomalous government deals and his role in opposing President Fidel Ramos' bid to extend his term through the 1990's foiled Charter Change.

- Tessie Aquino-Oreta not because she apologized for her "dancing" in the Senate, but precisely because she "danced". Sorry, but I really think those who walked out of the Estrada Impeachment proceedings deserved it. The orchestrated walk-out led to Edsa 2, that in turn paved the way for the current hell in this part of the globe.

-Koko Pimentel, for being a chip of the old honorable block. He is of course a bar topnotcher who I expect to follow in the principled fight and advocacies of his father. As a top-caliber lawyer of moral fiber, he should be indispensable to the Philipppine Senate.

- Noynoy Aquino because of, well, the tradition of the principled stance of Ninoy, our hero, and former President Cory. While he and his mother erred by being instrumental in the 2001 power grab against a majority President that was Erap Estrada, they've been trying to make up for some time now. Of course, I'm not one to forget the Hacienta Luisita incident but then again, it was a corporation and I'm honestly unsure of whose responsibility the killings fall on.

- Alan Cayetano because he represents the youthful spirit of a peaceful legislative solution to a recidivist problem that is Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo: this, in the light of his dedicated support to the two Arroyo impeachment cases and his exposes on the First Gentleman. He is also the embodiment of a clear, fluid conscience that's thicker than the blood of the father. Alan's turning oppositionist to protest the 2004 Presidential Polls cheating is wonderfully surprising, given the elder Rene Cayetano's virulently critical role in deposing Estrada and installing Arroyo.

-Loren Legarda because of her Senate record of efficiency and consistently honorable stance on environmental, human rights, feminist, nationalist and other issues and her courage to stand up for the poor and the underdog. Besides, a Senate seat in the incoming Congress is the very least she deserves after her tandem with Fernando Poe Jr. got the dishonorable and despicable "Hello Garci" treatment.

-- Chiz Escudero because he is the epitome of congenial eloquence, down-to-earth sensibility and principled legislation rolled in one bundle. His very articulate perceptions and analysis of the unpleasant national circumstances obtaining under Arroyo in his trademark stinging-but-congenial fashion has been simply admirable and even addictive.




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Will the Filipino bishops undo an Arroyo wrong?

(Archived Article: August 2006)

When the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) announced its position not to endorse the new impeachment charges filed against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo last July, it opened the floodgate of speculations as to the nature and extent of the Church's relationship with the administration. Arroyo has relied on the Catholic leadership to back her hold on power and to counter a string of corruption, scandals and persistent allegations that she cheated her victory in the 2004 elections. Back in early 2001, the Catholic Church was instrumental in the constitutionally anomalous ouster of Joseph Estrada and in Arroyo's succeeding as President. In turn, she practically adopted Church teachings on population planning and even gave in to Church pressures against the death penalty. Despite the backing of the Church however, Arroyo's presidency has been shown in periodic surveys as the most distrusted and disliked, with double figure negative trust ratings and with more than half of the population, the masses in particular, wanting her to either resign or be removed.

In spite of a wickedly efficient propaganda machinery, her administration is perceived as the worst ever. Gloria Arroyo, who took up Economics as undergraduate course in Harvard University, has largely mismanaged the economy and public resources. Never before has a large percentage of Filipinos felt so hungry since, perhaps, dictator Ferdinand Marcos' time. Data from a top independent survey firm show an alarming trend of double-digit incidence of hunger in over straight years. Corruption in government ballooned to unprecedented levels such that since Arroyo's ascent to power, Transparency International has consistently rated the Philippines with having endemic corruption. Violations of human rights are back to, or worse than Martial Law levels, 25 years ago. The gory deaths of two university coeds add to the hundreds of extra judicial killings recorded in only five years. Amid all these crises, the Filipinos have been waiting for the Church leaders to beckon them to a moral but decisive course of action.

The least the bishops should really do now is to collectively declare support for the impeachment in order to boost its chances of passing through the administration-controlled Congress. The more ideal move, though, would be for the Catholic Church to join in the clamor for Arroyo to step down, as it so loudly and boldly did against then President Joseph Estrada. But as the CBCP, the official organization of Catholic episcopacy, chose to remain lame and tolerant towards a publicly pious regime but which runs the country like hell, any sensible Catholic can't help but question and suspect.

It is perplexing how the wise fathers can continue to believe Arroyo's virtual reality of good governance and moral leadership. Is it that in the Church's calling to influence state policies affecting morals, they have elected to regard the stifling of basic political freedoms as necessary collateral damage? Or is the CBCP simply afraid to admit that the EDSA II Revolt, which deposed her predecessor, was a debacle of grim national proportions? Or are the bishops perhaps amiss with the spirit of humility such that they refuse to atone and undo their Arroyo wrong?

Not since the Spanish colonial era has the Catholic Church in the Philippines enjoyed the kind of influence it wields under Mrs. Arroyo's reign. Is it not enough that the devoutly religious Filipinos have tolerated the blurring of the divide separating the Church and the State? Only a month prior to the impeachment issues, the Church lauded the repeal of the death penalty in an unusually hasty action by Congress. When its leader Rev. Angel Lagdameo restated a few days later that the CBCP will not stand to support another impeachment nor will ask Arroyo to resign, the bishops have invited seemingly valid suspicions that the Church is as power hungry as the President it helped install. It is either that or in the crusade to save the unborn and the capital offenders, the Church in the Philippines blindly refuses to break its pact with the devil.

ISRAEL, PALESTINE & the WORLD


TO any non-Middle Eastern, the 2006 conflict in the Middle East bordered on the insane and wickedly fanatic. While both sides claimed righteousness of cause, Israeli air strike bombs and Hezbollah artillery rockets targeted each other’s civilian areas killing hundreds of civilians, maiming and injuring thousands and displacing nearly a million Lebanese and Israelis. Triggered by the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers, the conflict is but the eighth major Israeli-Arab war over the central, single issue of Palestinian-Israeli claim to a land no more than 10,000 square miles wide. An attempt to make sense of the carnage by studying the history of the conflict would show an unending inertia of aggression and disputes extending long before the creation of the Israeli state.

Middle East tensions have almost always involved the Palestinian-Israeli issue, with the Arab countries somehow ganging up on Damascus, and with Israel “protecting itself” with border incursions using United States-supplied military arsenal. But predating the 1948 partition is an incomprehensible timeline of incessant colonization, aggression and conflicts 3,000 years in the making. The Hebrews or ancient Jews, engaged in constant warfare with neighboring tribes that included the Hittites and Philistines. Ancient and medieval imperialism by the Assyrians, Babylonians, Macedonians, Roman, Byzantine, Arab and Ottoman empires effected cycles of expulsions and attempts at return or immigration. Even the Christian Crusaders tried to claim a piece of the land during the short-live Kingdom of Jerusalem. London’s partiality towards the Arabs during the British Mandate and the World War II Holocaust fostered the modern-day tension over the land variously called in history as Palestine or Israel. It appears that the momentum of history has predisposed the land along the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River to perennial wars and tensions and its peoples, to persisting displacements and clashes of religions and traditions. Even the origin of the name Palestine—Syria Palestina, named after the Philistine tribes, which was used by the Roman Emperor Hadrian to rename Judea (Israel) as an insult to the then conquered Jews—assured the region of resonating discord and hostilities.

If indeed the Middle East is the birthplace of civilization and the past provides us a clue into the future, then the continuity of human existence may largely depend on forging lasting peace in the region. Excluding divine intervention (whether the Jewish, Islam or Christian God), only sincere intent and resolute global efforts can resolve the Palestine issue once and for all. The United Nations (UN) some 60 years ago worked to give a “promise land” to the stateless Jewish people. In the latest conflict, the UN successfully brokered a ceasefire that led to the formal cessation of the war within two months after it began. It is time the world body take the next step, which is to define the boundary of a Palestinian state and thus lay down the foundation for lasting peace and settlement in the region. It sure would be a tall order and much will depend on the UN Security Council members and on the Mid-East players themselves. In any such scenario, the world can only hope that the God of Reason and Sanity work a miracle of compassionate coexistence among the Israelites and the Muslim Arabs.


THE LURE OF SPORTS TEAMS

What is it about sports teams that draw spectator crowds, make diehard fans of us, or even drive us to play their sports? We strain our vocal chords and hearts out cheering and routing for chosen teams. Our kids go wild in fervent full support for the Princeton Tigers, the Portland State Vikings, the UCLA Bruins or the Florida Gators. In fact, the popularity of college sports team activities somehow correlate with the well-being and satisfaction of college students in regard their collegiate experience. A study revealed that the active presence of sports team activities is common to a number of the top 10 American colleges based on the quality of student life and most number of happiest students.

We are all quite aware of the obvious benefits of team sports. They inculcate team sportsmanship, contribute to good health, develop physical and overall confidence, help improve one's problem-solving abilities and sharpen the mind. Engaging in team sports helps drive our kids to be achievers as it teaches our kids to set goals and to strive to achieve them. Despite carrying some inherent physical dangers, team sports are a great way to boost our physical, mental and social skills.

But what drives us to support these sports teams by rendering not only our physical, cheering presence but also our commercial loyalty when we take heed and oblige to their players' various product endorsements. Why, professional players have been made doubly millionaires by the staggering marketing success of products they endorse to their fans.

Flags, miniature or otherwise, are zealously raised and waived by fans of the opposing sides at crucial or do-or-die events. Do the symbols of team flags inherently charge us with devotedly passionate emotions? Is there indeed psychology in sports team colors that make loyal following of its spectators?

Or is it a case of the magic of mass media working together with the influential corporate patrons to somehow manipulate our psyche to becoming loud and fanatical supporters of sports teams? Or maybe it's mass hysteria at work in great sports events. We can only stand aghast at incidents of platforms and stadiums giving way and harming or killing thousands of highly charged and animated international football fans.

Whether it be in college basketball or football, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, Minor League Baseball, or even in the World Series, we all sometimes ask ourselves what makes us indefatigable and loyal followers of sports teams.

But whatever factor or factors contribute to our love for team sports, the popularity trend of sports teams seems here to stay for a long while. Patronizing our favorite sports teams provides an exciting and social avenue for rest and recreation. Meanwhile, sales of admission tickets and World Cup memorabilia never seem to drop.

A REFLECTION ON FORGING A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHERS THROUGH SELF-LOVE

A romantic relationship provides women and men the best opportunity for spiritual growth. Every romantic relationship is an adventure in emotional and spiritual growth and as well, a shared expedition into human intimacy. A relationship does not aim--and cannot possibly—fix us. It has almost become a trite idea, but the fact that a relationship beautifully requires us to grow is just about the only thing constant in a healthy relationship.

A relationship will always entail work from each participant's end. With the effort will come excitement and challenge. At times, a relationship will offer pain and frustration, which will in turn provide ample opportunities to make us understand our hurt, wounds and generally, more about our inner self.

The road to a healthier relationship in romance and intimacy begins with a solid inner foundation right inside ourselves. Anyone who seeks a healthy relationship should be prepared for one—he or she should be able to accept his/her oneself, as well as the other person. A healthy relationship begins long before the onset of a relationship with another person. A healthy intimacy or romance actually begins with our relationship with ourselves. Unless we are able to progress to a state of recovery during the period of emotional healing, we will have no chance of forging a healthy relationship. Let me emphasize though that recovery is not a yes or no, black or white process. We should not aim for a perfectly healthy relationship but instead, strive and hope to gradually become healthier in our relationship interactions. Perfection in this life is not possible; progress or improvement, however, very much is.

Let me also note that there is nothing shameful or bad about being in a relationship that fails to meet the criteria discussed in this series. Progress in recovery means we are able to love ourselves by gradually doing away with the needless tendency to judge ourselves and feel ashamed. We should realize that each and every one of us needs to decide the path we will take and what works for us. No one really has the right to tell someone what is the better path to take; for that matter, no one should judge the correctness or propriety of someone else's path.

For instance, you could be in a relationship that works for you on a certain level—say, financial security. You should be the best person to decide if the payoff you get is worth whatever price you are paying for. It is no doubt your call and choice because it is you who will have to live with the consequences of your decision. You will be responsible for yourself and you will live with your choices so it is best to learn to have peace with yourself. Bear in mind that living your life according to the value system of another person is acutely dysfunctional.

If you aim to be in a healthy relationship, you need to start with loving yourself. Love of one's self is said to be the greatest of all because unless one is able to love, respect and honor one's self, a person will never be truly happy and at genuine peace. No amount of love and respect from the other person could fill in the inner void borne out of lack of internal self-love.

We also need to be emotionally honest with ourselves because otherwise, we cannot have the capacity to be truly honest with the other person. Emotionally honesty leads one to learn to process such issues as old wounds without feeling like a victim. Unless one is able to see oneself honesty and clearly, he or she cannot possibly see the other one clearly as well.

It is also important to anchor your romance based on realistic expectations and to hold a perspective that empowers the participants in a relationship. We need to put some energy into redefining romantic relationship different from the ideas and expectations we picked up in childhood so that we do not react defensively and personalize the behavior of the other person.

For all of us, the primary commitment should lay in one's self. Our primary responsibility should be ourselves because we need to be able to manage our own selves before we can help others. We are each responsible for our own lives and if we permit ourselves to give away the power over our selves, then we are giving away the power over our lives. We could then become the victim of our co-dependency such that we could end up feeling like other people's victim. We need to empower ourselves by perceiving reality as it is and from there, make the best of the available choices. By empowering ourselves, we would be able to improve the quality of our lives.

If we decide to enter into an interdependent partnership or relationship with another person who is equally open to growth—then our commitment to self will serve the relationship. As long as our commitment to be and become all we can be is served by a relationship, then it is very important to be committed to working through the issues that arise. To sacrifice your higher good in the name of commitment to a relationship is co-dependent and an act of dishonesty to, and disrespect for, one's self. Commitment to a person is important—but in a healthy relationship, it comes second to the commitment to self.

To summarize, in a healthy relationship, the other person serves as a teacher, as one is for the other. Seeing a relationship as a joint adventure in growing and learning to love is the key to forging healthy intimacy with another person. It sure will not be easy because it will take some effort, energy and the proper perspective. Nonetheless, it can be the most wonderful, incredible adventure of your life.


RANDOM FORUM POSTS

On Arroyo's Failure as President and Economic Leader:
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For expediency's sake, Arrobo should either step down or be removed.
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She won't do the former, for sure. She's been holding on to power like a big leech. What should people expect, anyway? She co-conspired in the unseating of a hugely popular and majority-elected Erap so she could take his place.

But for the Philippines' goodness' sake, we need to see a Malacanang without her un-rightful occupancy. For the expediency of genuine democracy, genuine good governance, rule by mandate from the people and yes, economic well being.
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You keep harping that the reason you oppose an opposition victory in the May 14 elections is the supposed lack of sustainable economic development plan. Again, the Senate has limited role in the economy of the Philippines. The coming polls involve a fight for half of the Senate and doesn't include a race for the presidency. For want of better arguments, you keep raising a largely irrelevant point.
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Arrobo has been up there for six years--by virtue of a virtual coup--and the general economy has only worsened under her mismanagement. With or without recognition of the need for economic reforms, she has dismally flopped in improving our economic state. Arroyo must be the problem.

By electing to continue supporting a fraud and a flop and dismissing the other great minds of Philippine politics, you are gravely underestimating the capacity and intelligence of the Filipino race.
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The stark reality of the Philippines shows that she has failed in leading the country. Her drum-eaters keep portraying her as an intelligent leader, an economist of Harvard origins. However, her undergraduate course in that supposedly prestigious institution did little to make her improve our lot.
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The way I see it, her level of economic expertise is not enough to make her succeed in combining Presidential greed, First Family's corruption and governance of the country.
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Madam Arrobo is a tall, tall disgrace to the name and legacy of her father, former President Diosdado Macapagal.

Posted May 13, 2007 in CHIZESCUDERO.COM "Latest SWS Survey" forum

On PGMA as the Opium of the Blind:

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I can't believe there are still those who opt to remain blind and continue to believe in the propaganda lies of Arrobo.
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They say religion is the opium of the masses. I say Arrobo is the opium of the pathetic few who keep their minds close to the glaring, obtaining truth in this land.


Posted in Sat May 12, 2007 3:17 pm in CHIZESCUDERO.COM "Latest SWS Survey Forum

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