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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Terror Plot - What Could Have Caused It?

"Call it a subdued confidence. Complacency brought to shame. A weakness laid bare. Or an enemy's unbroken resolve?"

When you are the president of the most powerful nation on the planet - brimming with sharp rhetorics that your administration engages in a no-nonsense war against terrorism, and a vexing call just spoiled your Christmas vacation, informing you that another terrorist plot has just been prevented on Christmas day in an American territory, what would have been your reaction firsthand?

As Barack Obama's administration scrambles to dispel accusations that his Homeland Security people have failed to carry out their duties, air travellers in the US have started to doubt over their safety yet again. This quirky scenario arose from the fact that an Al Qaeda agent has just penetrated US airspace that could have inflicted deaths on innocent Americans.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23 year-old UK student from Nigeria is the suspect in this foiled terrorist attack. Aboard Northwest Airlines for Detroit from Amsterdam, he travelled under already suspicious circumstances. According to reports, he purchased his one-way ticket in cash for almost US$3,000. He also did not check any luggage save for a small bag, in a scheduled 2-week US visit.

Reports would further support that, this young man still carries a valid US visa, inspite of his inclusion in the UK's watch list for suspicion of radicalism. In a more surprising twist, his father had earlier warned the US embassy in Nigeria, in November 2009, about his son's leanings toward extremism that could potentially pose a threat to American interests.

But despite all this, anti-terrorism agents made no effort to take his case seriously. All necessary tools were at their disposal to at least apprehend this walking time bomb, but failed to take heed of the warnings. When the suspect's father himself waved the red flag of the imminent threat, and only a cold shoulder he could get as a response, there must be an air of complacency within their ranks - which is very contradictory to Obama's stance on war against terrorism.

Not wanting to be accused of incompetence, both the Dutch and American authorities started to play the blame game. American authorities alleged that the Dutch did not use body scanners, that could have detected explosives worn by Umar. But their Dutch counterparts were quick to refute, saying those were not allowed by the US to be used, of which the Americans insisted that either way, the suspect should have not gotten through.

The prevention of this botched terror plot however, should be credited to the brave and quick-thinking passengers of the plane, who subdued the suspect and did not blink a bit, to prevent another would have been 9/11 disaster. The suspect did manage to ignite the explosives, but not in a manner he would have wanted. Reports would later indicate, that the young man from Nigeria had received training in Yemen, sometime in Ramadan this year.

An estimated 76 grams of the PETN explosive was concealed in Umar's body, and a syringe with a chemical catalyst, carefully concealed in a pouch sewn into his underwear. This was a potentially strong explosives that had it been successfully detonated, enough to break the plane's fuselage that could have killed all on board.

This latest incident could be a precursor to another imminent terror attack on US soil. The Al Qaeda group - a sworn enemy of the US has famously declared war against America, and this determined enemy is just getting more ruthless and dangerous. In seven years since America unilaterally declared war against Al Qaeda, it has not inflicted heavy dent on the terrorist group, instead they are just getting more pervasive and sophisticated.

As news of this daring plot has permeated media all over the world, a substantial and more stringent security measures have been implemented right away in ports of the US and Canada. Aviation authorities all over the world are expected to follow suit, which is the natural thing to do. This new unfolding of events does not bode well to an already shaky aviation business, as post 9/11 statistics show that most passengers are becoming wary of air travel.

Though this incident would certainly be a challenge to rectify lapses in airport security, no matter how highly-sophisticated are the West's technology to prevent future attacks, the sworn enemy will always find its way and make its presence felt. The future cannot be foretold, whether how many lives will be lost due to hatred. Reports say that willing suicide bombers in a hundreds are undergoing training in Yemen, and it will only be a matter of time before they can carry out their "martyrdom".

Whether we agree or disagree in unison, the reason why all these nonsense happen - is because of religion. It is indeed a nonsense for any upright-thinking human being, but for a radical mind, full of hatred and wrath - this is what they call martyrdom. They were made to believe, that God delights in the shedding of the blood of the innocent, and that their actions merit rewards and special places in heaven. These twisted views reinforce their belief, that the enemy of their religion is also the enemy of God. And the enemy of God deserves to die. How false and sad. For as long as hatred pervades in their system, there will be no scarcity of haters, and consequently, no dearth of suicide bombers.

As we all know, the root of all these problems dates back in the Old Testament time. The enmity between peoples who refuse to live in harmony - one refuses to accept the existence of another, in the same hallowed ground. It is where the cause originated, and as has been prophesied - on that same hallowed ground, its cause will be settled and come to an end.

There is an unending quest for answers to a question left unsolved since the beginning of time, and this calls for wisdom. Generations of leaders from both sides have endeavored peaceful means to achieve peace. But peace will not be attained. They will never find that peace, instead hatred towards each other will consume their being. And the cycle continues - until the prophecy is fulfilled.

I may not be an authority to tackle issues like this, or if I may say I'm getting out of bounds, but indeed the truth cannot be denied. Each one of us may be having some slight disagreements, and or different insights on the issue, or perhaps I just went too far on a deeper perspective, but my conviction is that - unless we open our senses and start to believe that all these happen to give way for that divine prophecy, we may not be able to comprehend things laid out before our eyes. We may be highly-intelligent in a worldly standard, yet we are doomed to perish because of our lack of understanding. For we have been warned to know the truth because the truth will set us free.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Philippine Sea Tragedies: Who's The Real Culprit?

"It's a shame, when a government that can shamelessly afford a million-peso dinner cannot afford to pay minimum wage for personnel supposedly tasked to secure the safety of its people."

They say Christmas is for children. If so, this is a cruel Christmas for some children who perished in the recent tragedies at sea. Back to back sea tragedies in Philippine waters this Christmas is no Christmas at all for the victims and those who lost their loved ones. When passengers were gearing up for their memorable Christmas vacation, disasters struck.

As of posting time, many bodies are still unaccounted for. Search and retrieval operation is still ongoing. Relatives of the missing still await news from the authorities. Those who survived are considered fortunate, and those who perished their destiny already sealed.

The Philippines is known to be one of the world's largest archipelagos. It is comprised of 7,107 islands, mostly inhabited. Its maritime history is as old as human civilization. And it is no surprise that it also boasts of maritime disasters, its record no other country would dare challenge.

This year alone, an incredibly-dizzying record of 11 disasters had already occurred in Philippine seas. Hundreds of lives were already lost and survivors have yet to move on with their lives. To a country that boasts of world-class seafarers, the rationale that these disasters are attributed to incompetence is just absurd. But what makes this phenomenon seemingly unavoidable?

From the words itself of the Marina Administrator, she unhesitatingly admitted that the government lacks iron will to implement laws on maritime safety. She further stressed that they lack personnel to conduct ocular check on sea-worthiness of all passenger vessels. This is the painful truth, all patrons of this so called roros (roll-on roll-off) have to live with.

In provinces outside of mainland Luzon, the traveling public have no other choice, but to patronize this kind of transportation. Apart from its being affordable, it also allows passengers to carry loads of cargoes necessary for their day to day subsistence. So in essence, it is their only mode of transportation.

The usual causes of these disasters arise from over-loading, over-crowding (actual passengers are higher than what is being declared in the manifesto), and dilapidated vessels that are actually third or fourth hand bought at a cheap price - which make them unfit for sailing, but are hugely tolerated to operate.

As expected, authorities are quick to blame the owners of these ill-fated vessels citing irresponsibility and greed. Fingerpointing becomes the norm in these cases and the usual culprit would be the ruthless yet defenseless Mother Nature. What a good riddance of culpability from our government officials!

If our government within its power cannot ensure the safety of our sea travellers, what the hell on earth these Marina and Coast Guard people are doing? What makes these agencies beneficial to our people? That would also be preposterous to abolish their existence! But why is it everytime disasters happen, they just sheepishly admit they lack manpower to execute their duties? How many more vessels are considered to be sea-unworthy, yet continuously proliferate our ports?

This is my take on this. If you happen to be a citizen of a third world archipelagic countries like Indonesia, Bangladesh and the Philippines, and you don't have any other choice of transportation, but to avail of the services of these doomed floating cemeteries; start to think that this is your government's inexplicit way of curtailing population growth. Why not? Despite the Philippines being the country with the worst record in maritime disasters, it is yet to learn from its blunders!

When we talk about safety and hundreds of lives are at stake, whatever it takes to ensure lives are preserved, we ought to do everything within our power and capacity. But who cares? "These are only poor people with less impact to our existence! Why bother to increase the budget of Marina or Coast Guard when there is not much left from government coffers?" Sad to say, these are the obvious monologues from our corrupt officials, who until now refuse to realize they are being derelict and grossly irresponsible.

The Marina administrator herself, in her capacity admits that, their lack of personnel is the reason why not all vessels are being thoroughly inspected for sea-worthiness. It was reported that a crew who did not survive the incident, even managed to text her family saying there was a big hole in the ship and that she was scared it might capsize. Unfortunately for her, she lost her life in the first week of her first job.

How many more lives await their end in the cruel seas of our archipelago? While the poor and helpless citizens drown in the seas, so are our unscrupulous and corrupt government officials who drown in the bounty of their plunders. It's a shame, when a government that can shamelessly afford a million-peso dinner, cannot afford to pay minimum wage for personnel supposedly tasked to secure the safety of its people.

No matter who is willing to take the blame, be it the greedy shipowners or the derelict Marina officials, or the ever-furious Mother Nature, or the lazy and sleep-deprived legislators, who would just attend the sessions and yawn, it all comes down to one - a corrupt government that is unable to protect its citizens by virtue of greed and slothfulness - is the one culpable and should be put to shame.

A school of thought readily supports and concludes that - in a third world country like ours, a citizen's longevity does depend on leaders who have powers to prolong or curtail his or her existence. This theory is very self-explanatory. Then our dilemma starts from the question of how and when to get rid of them and who to replace them. As election nears, everyone sounds and looks like angels, that you would get confused whom to believe. The problems in our country today are the very same problems already written in history. Leaders have come and gone. But the change that everyone invokes remains a dream.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas! myspace graphic comments
Myspace Religious Chistmas Graphics

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Another Lonely Christmas

"He has provided for us a mighty Saviour, a descendant of his servant David". -Luke 1:69.

For most of us OFWs in the Middle East, Christmas season comes and goes with less significance--although it is always a much anticipated time of the year.

In a country like Saudi Arabia, where Christmas celebration is strongly discouraged, you don't always get to see Christians especially Filipinos, gather in a festive mode. Christmas parties are normally held behind closed doors. But the good thing is, we Filipinos always find ways to gather to experience its spirit -- albeit in a quieter mode.

This time though, no invitations yet. Probably the problem is the venue. And some old friends have also moved to other parts of the kingdom. Some were on vacation, while others just disappeared.

Strange as it seemed, I received a call yesterday from one of our store managers a Yemeni, greeting me Merry Christmas (in English)! I replied to him jokingly, "I think you only wanted to be invited for a party and get drunk!" And true enough, he also wanted to experience the famous Filipino-style alcoholic indulgence, which I don't really approve of.

What I'm gonna do this Christmas by the way? The 24th and 25th fall on Thursday and Friday. And we naturally take offdays on weekends. Maybe will be shopping for some ingredients for spaghetti or pancit, just for the feel of Nochebuena. I am not really a big fan of carbs, so I guess I may not devour much of them.

But even while I write this post, I already lost my usual zest to write. I feel bored, my eyes fixated on ASAP 09. My mind doesn't cooperate. I just miss Christmas in my hometown. All my siblings will be holding a reunion. Not impossible though, they all live in one island.

The picture above was taken last year, when we were still excited to decorate our living room for Christmas. Those were recycled decors courtesy of our Ramadan window displays. Ironic, right?

And to all my friends and critics, (I'm getting more each day), I wish you all a blessed Christmas! Although we people, tend to forget who is the central figure of Christmas, He who authored the real essence of Christmas never forgets us.

We may find John 3:16 boring and old, but this beautiful verse is timeless, and the very same message that reminds us of God's great gift of salvation, through His son Jesus. We don't have to labor for it nor pay for it, we just accept it because it's a gift, and a gift is free. Ephesians 2:8-9 says," For it is by Grace that you have been saved, not from your own works, so that no man should boast."

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Governor Grace Padaca -- You're An Inspiration

"She pioneered honesty in her government. She is a good leader exemplified. She brought herself closer to the people. Her achievements speak volumes."

Whatever happens to the embattled Gov. Grace Padaca's political career -- she is unarguably one of the most successful stories in Philippine politics.

An accountant by training, has serendipitously found her niche in radio broadcasting, a gargantuan figure on the airwaves, and best known as "Bombo Grace" to her ardent listeners.

I admire her a lot. Her sense of fortitude is incredible. Her visions unparalleled. She is a true warrior in every sense. Nothwithstanding her physical defficiencies, she defied all odds, made the invincibles realize, they're not eternally enthroned.

If the Philippines had Cory Aquino, Isabela province in the north has Grace Padaca. She is as a true icon of democracy as her more illustrious idol. Her quixotic quest for governorship of the province of Isabela in 2004, and her subsequent victory made headlines all over the country.

Barely five months before her second term as governor ends, the 2008 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Government Service was ordered by the Comelec to vacate her post as governor. This came as a surprise considering that it is election period again. The Comelec had earlier ruled that it was her opponent Benjamin Dy who won the 2007 elections by a margin of 1,051 votes.

The Dy family has been the ruling political dynasty in Isabela for decades. They control almost everything in the province. Prior to Governor Padaca's venture into politics, the Dy clan has had the stranglehold of politics in the province. Thus her slogan "Free Isabela", struck chords with voters in the province and compelled an army of volunteers to her cause.

Grace Padaca first ran as congresswoman in 2001 but lost by a margin of 48 votes, despite countless ballots being invalidated that should have gone to her. The 48 vote-difference as margin of victory by Faustino Dy, was all they could muster inspite of widespread fraud involving 812 ballot boxes, wherein genuine ballots were removed and replaced with spurious ones with Dy's name written on them.

A whole hosts of evil forces would then play their roles, in upending Grace's quest for restoration of democracy in her province. The House Electoral Tribunal ruled that the ballots with name 'Grace' written on them, were deemed invalid, and therefore should not count in her favor. The Tribunal contended, that she filed her candidacy under the name of Maria Gracia Cielo Padaca, with her nickname as 'Bombo Grace'. So anything less than what she wrote on her certificate of candidacy will not be honored. So the poor Grace lost by technicality.

As much as I would like to give credit to Grace's courageous attempt to free Isabela, I would also like to give credit to those people who were victorious, in their diabolical plot to rob Isabela of their deserved freedom. And the honor goes to the stinky idiots of that House Tribunal namely, Associate Justices Leonardo Quisumbing and Angelina Gutierrez, Representatives Douglas Cagat and Zenaida Ducut, Enrico Echiverri and Joaquin Chipeco.

It's a shame that these creatures who evolved into human species, and who would naturally devour books on Logics, are themselves devoid of simple logical thinking attributable even to Cromagnons and Neanderthals. Yes, this is democracy at its best, only in the Philippines. Democracy is such a sweet word, but a complete overhaul of minds and disrobing of infinite morons in the system, will even be much sweeter.

Finally, in 2004 Grace Padaca became the governor of the province of Isabela. She won 55% of the total votes. This was very surprising considering that she had no money and machineries, as opposed to her seemingly indomitable powerful opponent. Her unlikely victory was dubbed as David's butcher of the towering Goliath.

Now, into her last few months as a second-term governor, Grace Padaca's legacy of good governance is a testament to her selfless quest for a better Isabela. The changes she introduced as governor are beyond reproach. She pioneered honesty in her government. She is a good leader exemplified. She brought herself closer to the people. Her achievements speak volumes.

She is such a popular figure that her story becomes a conspicuous staple in media and around circles. She is a recipient of numerous awards for her extraordinary public service records. She is also the Magsaysay Awardee for Government Service in 2008. And she is the complete opposite of the one who now sits on the throne of abomination.

As the world is governed by principalities and evils, so is the Malacañan and Comelec. These institutions who have the power to "Ampatuanize" so to speak, the very foundation of democracy by virtue of their self-serving agenda. Righting the wrong and falsifying the truth is where they excel most. So Grace Padaca, by virtue of her more than 17,000 votes margin of victory, lost the election in 2007!

My sympathy goes to the powerful and influential Dys of Isabela, whose 30-year grip in power was interrupted by the 'fraud' polio-victim Padaca. The powerful dynasty and a multi-millionaire was defrauded by the poor penniless Padaca in the election! Yes, that is their lame contention. And what about the 17,000 vote-advantage by Padaca? How did they overturn it? That is what we call magic. The magic only a so-called 'lucky bitch', and the 'wicked witch of the east' is capable of doing.

It is a public knowledge that Governor Grace Padaca had aligned herself with Senator Noynoy Aquino. Pampanga Governor Ed Panlilio and Bulacan Governor Joselito Mendoza are also among those who threw their support for Noynoy, and are in the process of suffering the same fate as Padaca. The Bulacan governor was even first to be ordered to step down from office. All the alleged winners in those provinces are friends and allies of the administration. There we get it!

Whatever happens to the motion for reconsideration filed by Grace Padaca, the notion that justice is only a superficial thing in our judicial system, remains a grim reality.

Our parasite-infested government institutions, are but tangible manifestations of a government rotten to the core. Once seated, they appear like symbols of righteousness with impeccable integrity, that with a stroke of their pen, they could decide everyone else's survival.

As the Scriptures would comfort the believers in Romans 8:31 that says, " If God is for us, who can be against us?" Then the cunningly shrewd and foxy resident evil of Malacañan, would also comfort her disciples with the same mantra, " If Gloria is for us, who can be against us?" And so, all who dares to spoil her party, better take heed!

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

To My Dear President Gloria

"For you were once privileged to be steward of your people, and you're bound to uphold their well-being, but you chose to indulge in the bounty of your plunder ."
You've reached the pinnacle of your political career. You've been president for a decade. You held the highest office in the land, longer than any other president apart from Marcos. You have had ten long years to prove that you're committed to serve the Filipino nation.

Ten years as president is deemed long to effect change in your government. We waited for a decade for that change you vowed to deliver for us. We the poor who felt betrayed by the one who came before you. And also ten years that you repeatedly failed us.

You would have not become president had you not cheated. Your cowardice to face rejection from the Filipino people made you brave to commit the unthinkable. Your tremendous resolve to hold on to your powerful domain even made you believe, that the presidency is what you are made for. You dreaded to think that you've been repudiated at the polls. For the Filipino electorate had their voice affirmed yet the truth stolen from them.

The genius in Garci was something that you should boast of --the inconceivable number of votes he was able to secure for you. The astonishing margin of victory you gained in Maguindanao warranted record worthy of Guinness entry -- delivered by the equally trusted and righteous ally in the Ampatuans. But as the proverbial adage would forewarn -- " there is a time for everything and a season for everything".

And then the time has come for your evil scheme to be revealed; and your harvest came at the right season. You reaped the scorn of the Filipino nation -- a reward for your audacious attempt to rob democracy from us. Notwithstanding the indignation you reaped, you still succeeded and prevailed. And the only consolation we got -- when you said 'sorry' on national television -- with your face looking stupid.

Scandals after scandals have plagued your administration. Graft and corruption prevailed under your leadership. ABN-ZTE and Fertilizer Scams are but few of your monumental exploits. Promises were made to stamp out corruption in your government. But to vindicate oneself from blame is one thing, and punishing the culprit is another. How you can reign in the evil elements in your government when it is your family that wields that three-pronged power?

When you took oath as president in 2001, to assume the place of the humongous corrupt Joseph Estrada, you were awed at the prospect of sitting at the summit of national leadership. You captured every Filipino's imagination of a strong and corrupt-free governance. Every Filipino's hope that you will be a redemption from the plunderer, became a testimony to the magnitude of support you obtained from opposite ends of the political spectrum. Rich, poor, the academe, the sidewalk vendors, even snatchers-- all put their trust in you -- in your capability to heal the ' terminally sick man of Asia', as you did boastfully flaunt in your credentials. But it is also the same hope that was shattered, when you put yourself and your family above the collective whole's interest.

Allegations of bribery, rampant graft and corruption and evidences of nepotism, thrive unabatedly in an arrogant fashion. You took pains in combating those accusations, shielding your husband from appearing in the Senate hearing, as what his favorite doctors would have advised -- but his jet setting to Las Vegas for every Pacquiao's fight is entirely what his doctors would have prescribed. And more impressively were your successes at shaking off several attempts to impeach you from office. You are really one astute president.

Your astronomical feats did not end there. Your government did not hold back from engaging in wholesale corruption. Day after day, new revelation of inexplicable assets acquired by your family surfaces. Details of assets acquired by your oldest son were invariably concealed from public. And you Madame President wanting not to be outdone, your assets increased by more than 1000 per cent in the course of your glorious presidency. Don't you feel the urgency to substantiate the acquisition of this breathtaking wealth?

You had also been delusional to cling to power beyond your term. You explored all legal means just to advance your own personal agenda. Pork barrels, special favours, privileges to travel abroad, and cold cash in the bags have been your leverages for winning the perpetual support of your equally crooked worshippers in Congress. But thanks to the collective social awareness of every Filipino -- your fabled ten-year fairy tale will certainly end half a year from now.

In what a seemingly blissful elections ahead, the prospect of a brand new president gives a glimmer of hope to every Filipino like myself. The thought of a new beginning revives our hope of a better Philippines. As the saying goes, 'new is always nice'. But new position in the government for our beloved future former president, is a square pill hard to swallow! Have you had not enough?

Every Filipino gets his appeasement from the fact that you will certainly step down. You might have not succeeded in your grand scheme of a Charter Change, (to pave way for your premiership), but your obvious intentions remain clear, that your eyes had been set on the same. And one easiest way is to get to the halls of Congress. This has been expected of you Madame President as your deafening silence on this question was apparent.

When you braved controversies and gleefully filled up your certificate of candidacy for Congresswoman, you have already accomplished your first step forward. Then, it's only a matter of time before we see a probable Speaker of the House and if fortunate as you have always been -- a new Prime Minister. And the fairy tale its end revised, and another long chapter reemerges.

I have only two questions to raise my dear President. Do the collective sentiments of the Filipino people matter to you? Don't you hear their clamor for change? The change every Filipino screams that could get you banished! As time goes, the wounds heal. We Filipinos can easily forgive, as ingrained in our virtues. But forgiveness for the unremorseful is one divine virtue unexpected of any man, much less a weary Filipino.

Leaders be good or not are still leaders. We are obligated to obey them. And how many leaders had been privileged to serve this great nation? This sounds very fulfilling, but only few lived to its essence to be servants of the people, and not masters of them. Leaders who not only enriched themselves and their kins, but also squandered the residue meant for the poor and the needy. Leaders who salivated at the sight of fame and fortune that beckons them at their throne. Machiavellian leaders who could make their subjects tremble and annihilate foes at a swagger of their hand.

Madame President, the Philippines is a bastion of democracy. Communism thrived for a time and so did Socialism. But there is nothing like democracy. And in democracy, there is no place for dynasty. Apart from five of you in the family, whom pundits would announce as the modern-day dynasty, who else remain in diaspora awaiting ordainment?

The shame that this repulsive government has gifted to the Filipino nation is beyond redemption. How many more days, weeks or months, should we be holding the scepter passed on to us as the most dangerous country for journalists? Is this latest coronation something that a Filipino like me should be proud of? It is a shame that a Pacquiao and a Penaflorida feat would pale in comparison to this worldwide recognition.

And what has your government been doing to punish the criminals of the grisliest massacre in recent memory? Would you be brave enough to accept part of the blame and therefore admit a failed leadership? You know and the Filipino people know, who created the monsters in Maguindanao. You might have exonerated yourself from the shame of election 2004, but the repercussion of your cheating is here to haunt you. The election result that paved the way for the resurrection of the cloned monster -- the Frankenstein that gobbled up the bloods of the innocent victims of Maguindanao massacre. Its design and perfection all happened under your watch, and may I say your pampering hand.

In conclusion, I would like to thank you Madame President for being an instrument for a new wave of self-sacrifice, selflessness and social consciousness, being felt around every dimension of society. This average citizen is no longer indifferent to every issue he is entangled into. He is no longer oblivious to the fact that his future and his children's future is in jeopardy. He now acts forthrightly and with a sense of urgency. And the lessons he learned became his powerful tool to rectify his mistakes.

For no government on earth is without reproach, but certainly and collectively we can triumph over the bondage of greed in our government -- this curse that no one dared resist. For you were once privileged to be steward of your people, and you're bound to uphold their well-being, but you chose to indulge in the bounty of your plunder . As the adage goes, "for where the carcass is, the vultures abound."

Thank you Madame President for stirring up in me, the resolve to muster my unusual self to put my thoughts down in writing, as I would not be able to speak them. Thank you for compelling me to do the right thing and be a voice to the reserved few.

From an OFW

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Silay City, Negros Occidental, The Philippines

Some of the photos above courtesy of Arnaldo Arnáiz Díaz

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