(First published in The Philippine Star issue of April 21, 2013)

EGO MASSAGE: President Noynoy Aquino has been listed byTime magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential leaders.


That is nice to hear, especially when one thrust by necro-events into a position of power is fumbling in the dark. But we wish the magazine at least said who President Aquino has influenced in a significant way during his on-the-job-training of a little over two years.


That American public relations effort at ego massage is too obvious. One begins to wonder what Uncle Sam wants of him that they have to resort to flattery and a little hypnosis.


A few things are already out in the open. Americans want more access to the Philippine market and natural resources, plus a deeper military presence. They also want a client sub-state carved out of Mindanao


If the US is able to hypnotize President Aquino into believing he could do it, he might just attempt to do it. After all, he is among the world’s most influential leaders.


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MORAL MORASS: A moment comes in the life of a nation when, having suffered abuse for too long, it must eventually fall on its knees and pray – to be able to rise resolutely and rescue itself.


Only we can save ourselves. This May 13, Election Day, is that moment for prayer and salvation.


Poverty is so widespread that one suspects the ruling elite has programmed the exploited masses to remain poor (and ignorant) – and that the main problem of this nation is economic.


Actually, our basic problem is moral.


The killer disease gnawing at the nation’s viscera is not hunger but moral decay at all levels. We have to recognize this fact so we can exert a massive national effort – like voting together intelligently on May 13 – to start saving ourselves.


We cannot afford to fall again into the same cycle of trial and error voting – only to realize that we have allowed again this fair country to be run by liars, nincompoops, clowns and corrupt operators.


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PASTORAL MESSAGE: There is a claim that a big number of Catholics do not go to church regularly, if at all. Or that many of those who go to Mass do not listen to the homily nor linger to read the parish bulletins.



We do not know the statistical basis of the claimed poor attendance and attention. Still, let us look for ways to deliver the bulletins to those still willing to read or listen in the comfort of their homes or offices, in the bustle of the marketplace or wherever they happen to be.



Having found themselves to have erred in electing the usual attractive candidates who turned out to be rapacious officials, people are still willing to listen to sound advice before they cast their vote on May 13.


Hence, we are sharing here a timely pastoral message of Pangasinan Archbishop Socrates Villegas on the upcoming election.


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TIMELY, PERTINENT: Villegas is in charge of only his archdiocese, yet his message to his flock is just as pertinent to the more than 50 million voters in the rest of the country.


His 10-point counsel is couched in the negative (no, not, never), but I agree with its positive ends. He tells us NOT to vote for a candidate:


1. Who cannot declare a categorical and clear “No” to divorce, euthanasia, abortion, total birth control and homosexual marriages, or D.E.A.T.H issues. Pro choice is anti life, he said.


2. Who has been linked to the drugs trade, drug possession or drug use or receives money from illegal gambling or has done nothing to stop illegal gambling especiallyjueteng. Silence is consent.


3. Who has been convicted for a criminal offense. Government officials must be honorable.


4. Who supports black sand mining or tolerates irresponsible quarrying or illegal fish pens. Nature is our mother; if you can rape your own mother, what else will you not do?


5. Who has not done anything until now to uplift the plight of the poor. Performance is better than promises.


6. Who is giving money or distributing goods to voters during the campaign period.Vote buying is prostitution.


7. Who has been involved or linked to terrorism or the use of goons for self-protection within or outside the campaign period. Peace is the only way to peace.


8. Who shows off religiosity only during the campaign period or is antagonistic to church teachings and practices. Corruption and hypocrisy are twins.


9. Who is unfaithful to his or her spouse and children. Corruption begins at home.


10. Who has other members of the immediate family in government positions already.Promoting family welfare and promoting the common good cannot mix.


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SURVEY RACKET: A big politician told us last week how his party had talked to one of the poll survey firms making hay during the current election campaign.


The party needed a somewhat favorable rating in the surveys and wanted to know how much. The politico was told P1.7 million would be reasonable. He haggled for P1 million, but the survey firm said no dice.


In the next survey, the politico’s party candidates fell in the ratings.


In theory, the money is not in payment for a good rating. The client or customer is just paying for the insertion of a rider question in the survey that the client wants asked for any reason.



The payment, however, is expected to influence what we have come to call a “table survey.” The one drawing it up spreads a piece of paper on his desk, decides what summary totals to report, works downwards assigning numbers to the various classifications or groups of supposed respondents to justify the pre-conceived totals.



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