Saturday, January 29, 2011

Smoke in Manila

 "A temporary elevator at a building construction site in the Philippines capital plunged 25 floors today, killing 10 workers," Associated Press reported recently. Quoting a spokesman for the Eton Properties, "the workers took the platform to go up the 39-storey building instead of taking the stairs."

Up or down, do we have to remind this guy why the elevator was invented, and by the way, these people are dead as a door nail? 

My crystal ball tells me that this case will disappear in the humid and acrid air of Manila as fast as the real Maya birds did. The second richest man in the country, with $2.1 billion,  Lucio Tan a.k.a Eton Properties got "anting-anting" courtesy of his powerful business empire, with roots planted deep below the grounds of our government.

He reminds me of a man that my father once encountered when he was a "double-o-seven" of the National Bureau of Investigation. A Time magazine article titled The Philippines: Smoke in Manila, written in August of 1962, told the story of an American soldier who, like Lucio Tan, became a tobacco baron before branching out to other industries, and then bribed his way to unimaginable wealth after World War II in our country. "A blunt, beefy Chicagoan who changed his name from Steinberg in 1942 because 'German names at that time weren't very popular,' Stonehill built up a $50 million business empire in the Philippines."

Let me remind you that our country was doing well then, better off than China and Japan after having been organized by the Americans after the war.  However, have you heard what the wise men said about pouring new wine into old wine skin?

Senator Jose Diokno ordered Stonehill arrested.  However, it was alleged that instead of making him face charges in court, President Diosdado Macapagal had him deported to avoid a scandal in his presidency.  It was believed that Stonehill had his hands on some members of his Cabinet. Talk about pulling the first lint off the fabric of our conscience as a nation.

Now, about conscience, a Christian preacher on TV described it very well. He said that it is like a triangular wheel inside our hearts. Whenever we do something wrong, the wheel turns and hits the corners of our hearts. If we keep on doing it, after a while, there would be no more corners to hurt.

We are as guilty as the Lucio Tans or Macapagals wrong doers of this world for not doing anything to stop them. But then again, nothing that can't be fixed like the gondolas of the buildings in Manila. Don't you think so?

Note: Photo is from Reuters UK

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Her Green Card To Heaven

The notice from the U.S. Embassy in Manila finally arrived one day.  It should have been a welcome note to her, or to anybody in the world for that matter.  Instead, it turned out to be a difficult decision that she had to make.

First of all, her daughter in the U.S. needed a way to that elusive green card. However, how could she leave her husband alone in his uphill battle against corruption in our government?  Most of all, how can she give up on her life long work in her community?

"The United States indeed has been our friend all these years. I have nothing but respect and gratitude to your country for having helped our people in so many ways.  For one, we owe it to the Thomasites whom your government sent to our country to set up our system of public education. In fact, my father played tennis with them when he worked as a school superintendent in the Northern Region of Luzon. So it is with my deepest regret that I have to turn down your invitation."

She mailed her letter to the U.S. Embassy, and never said a word about it again.

Then, one Saturday morning she wrote on her diary before going to a meeting with her friends at Soroptimist, an international organization of women that she led as president of the Philippine Chapter.  "The Lord has truly resurrected in my heart, in more ways than one....I shall see my parents, brother and sister...more so be part of God's kingdom."

After her meeting, she came home very happy.  She learned that the money she lobbied for the first safe house for battered women and children in Paranaque came through. She entered the bathroom to get ready for dinner.  Then quietly, she left us.

Somehow she knew that her "green card" to heaven had finally arrived.

Our mother was born on January 24, 1925.  A few years after her death, our family with the help of our friends set up the Lilia Santos-Villa Memorial Endowment.

Happy birthday, Mom. We miss you.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Round Goes the Lazy Susan

"To write only of the pleasures of eating would be pornography,"  an anonymous author wrote. Well, let me tell you. I might as well be writing one had my mother let us be. You see, there were seven of us whom she had to feed.  However, she was not without help. Us.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Race Against Time

According to a 2008 U.S. Census Bureau study, Hispanics now account for about 15 percent of the U.S. population. By 2050, one in three U.S. residents will be Latino.  This sent some State lawmakers scrambling for legislation to change the course of evolution.

A Reuters news article reported that "lawmakers from Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Georgia and Arizona unveiled at a press conference a legal model they said would be pushed by state legislators in up to 40 states to deny birthright citizenship to children of illegal immigrants -- a right anchored in the 14th amendment to the Constitution." They say their reason is that they do not want to reward a wrong behavior.