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About the book “Wear And Tear”.pdf



About the book “Wear And Tear”:
       In the Foreword of this 21st book in his Make My Day Series, Larry Henares’
daughter Rosanna, writes of him as an essayist who invests the people he writes about
“with nearly limitless capacities for tragedy and comedy,” a style he amply demonstrates
with his depiction of the “Larry’s Angels” who take care of him in the Makati Medical
Center, as Cleopatra, Queen Victoria, Ravishing Rose, Madonna, Sandra Bulok and Meg
Ryan. He writes of his friend Ninoy Aquino, who spent all-night marathon hours with
him on a one-to-one basis just chewing the fat. This is the Ninoy no one really knows,
not the public Ninoy nursing a political image before the electorate, but a very private
Ninoy who harbored secret plans for his future presidency, which he shared with Larry,
someone totally different from others he dealt with -- a voracious reader whose brains he
picked, a debater who argued back and served as a sounding board for his ideas, a non-
politician who is not a potential rival, a non-newsman (at the time) without a penchant for
seeking headlines, and a friend who genuinely wanted him to be president.
       Larry renders a requiem for poetess Nina Estrada Puyat, one of the best friends of
his wife. He reviews Alejandro Lichauco’s monumental book Nationalist Economics,
which spells out the real problem and the only solution to our economic ills. He writes
about the talented basketball coach Dante Silverio who would rather lose the game and
leave his job, than to allow gamblers and cheats to corrupt his players. And he recounts
the short, brilliant and tragic life of Eugene Tan; who fought un-winnable battles against
the Supreme Court, against the un-endurable pain of losing an eye, against the vagaries of
fate that resulted in the loss of the family fortune, that almost prevented him from being
valedictorian of his class, that barred him from being bar topnotcher and a political career
that might have led him to the Presidency. Instead he met his final end, strangled by
persons unknown and buried in a shallow grave.
       Larry writes a nine-series front page review of Richard Bonner’s Waltzing with a
Dictator, analyzing the relationship between Marcos and the Americans.. These and
many more, including incisive articles on his favorite cousin, Tony Oppen, his daughter-
in-law Vicki Belo, her husband and daughter, Quezon and Osmeña, and Commander
Dante Buscayno. And the usual dissertations on the arts and human condition.

                          BOOK 21: WEAR AND TEAR
                           TABLE OF CONTENTS

Foreword: The Wonder of my Father, by Rosanna L. Henares Angeles…… vi

PERSONALITIES……………………………………………………………..                                                    001

Chapter I. LARRY’S ANGELS……………………………………………….                                              001
      1. Cleopatra and the Dance of the Seven Veils ………………………. 001
      2. Vicki the Drill Master……………………………………………….. 002
      3. The Royal Family of Makati Med …………………………………. 004
      4. To be gone, sadly missed and long remembered…………………… 005
      5. Testimonial for Vicky, for her application to work abroad………                     007
      6. How to Lose Weight…………………………………………………                                            009
      7. A closure to all these and heaven too………………………………. 012
Chapter II: NINOY AQUINO………………………………………………… 014
      1. If Ninoy Were President: Solving The Economic Crisis……………. 014
              Ninoy Reincarnated……………………………………………... 014
              Playing With Loaded Dice………………………………………. 015
              Self-Reliance…………………………………………………….. 016
              The Production Base……………………………………………. 017
              Democratizing Our Economy…………………………………… 018
              The Nationalist Alternative…………………………………….. 019
      2. Was Ninoy's Death A Historical Necessity?.....................................   021
              An Exxagerated Life……………………………………………                                        021
              In The Center Of History………………………………………. 022
              In The Embrace Of Posterity…………………………………… 023
              The Historical Necessity………………………………………..                                   024
              The Magnificent Failure………………………………………..                                    025
      3, Ninoy's Symphony Of Yellow Ribbons……………………………... 026

             The Prodigal Lover……………………………………………... 026
             Part Of History………………………………………………….                                              027
             Out Of A Fevered Dream………………………………………. 028
             The Song of Ninoy, with lyrics by Larry Henares……………. 028
Chapter III. NINA ESTRADA PUYAT………………………………………. 029
     1. A New Star Shines In The Heavens: Eulogy for Nina …………...                             029
Chapter IV: ALEJANDRO LICHAUCO: Ding's Nationalist Economics…. 033
     Part One: The truth shall feed us too…………………………………                                       033
     Part Two: Enriquito Zobel cannot eat steel…………………………… 035
     Part Three: Ding almost knocked out Christian Monsod…………….. 037
     Part Four: Adam Smith is obsolete like Ptolemy……………………                                   039
     Part Five: Like Noli-Fili, a Book for all Filipinos…………………….. 041
Chapter V: DANTE SILVERIO……………………………………………..                                                  043
     Part 1. Dante Silverio, the great Sportsman…………………………                                    043
     Part 2. Dante Silverio and his Cinderella team……………………..                                 045
     Part 3. Basketball’s shame, the gamblers and the cheats……………                             046
Chapter VI: EUGENE TAN………………………………………………..                                                    048
     Part One: Supreme Court justices may err like humans…………..                               048
     Part Two: Fire away, Eugene Tan, we are your Equalizer…………… 050
     Part Three: Eugene lost his eye and his justice crusade……………..                           052
     A Requiem: Cyclops Eugene Tan fought unwinnable battles……….. 054
Chapter VII: MARCOS AND THE AMERICANS………………………                                                058
     Part One: Lies, self-interest, anti-nationalism………………………                                 058
     Part Two: Byroade: A co-conspirator?..................................................   061
     Part Three: James Rafferty, gaffer, fixer, CIA………………………                                  064
     Part Four: Kennan, Lansdale, policy and practice…………………… 067
     Part Five: Holbrooke, Derian: battle of the sexes……………………                                069
     Part Six: US supported dictators and Marcos’ martial law…………. 072
     Part Seven: Mondale and the American Chamber…………………..                                    075
     Part Eight: Lansdale's Eye of God……………………………………                                          077
     Part Nine: Armacost, friend and enemy……………………………… 081

Chapter VIII: ANTONIO C. OPPEN………………………………………….. 084
     Part One: My Favorite Cousin Tony…………………………………                                                   084
     Part Two: Tony and His Parents Nuning and Caruso……………….. 085
     Part Three: Tony, his brother Ali, and wife Cecile………………….. 087
     Part Four: Tony the Political Genius…………………………………                                                088
     Part Five: Tony the Agriculturist and Industrialist…………………. 089
     Part Six: Tony, Tong and Pacman……………………………………                                                    091
Chapter IX: MANUEL L. QUEZON AND SERGIO OSMEÑA………….                                                   093
     Part One: Two great Filipino leaders both bastards………………                                         093
     Part Two: Quezon, “where my loyalty to my country begins”……                                      095
     Part Three: The Independence Act forbade American bases……..                                      096
     Part Four: Happy 120th birthday, President Quezon!......................... 097
Chapter X. COMMANDER DANTE………………………………………                                                             099
     1. Another time, another place, Buscayno might have been a saint… 099
Chapter XI. VICKI BELO-HENARES…………………………………….                                                         103
     Intro: My son Atom married Ninoy’s niece, Vicki Belo…………..                                       103
     Part One: Vicki Belo, the Poor Little Rich Girl…………………….                                         104
     Part Two: Vicki Belo felt she was an unwanted child………………                                        105
     Part Three: Vicki was drenched in human excrement and vomit….                                    107
     Part Four: Vicki’s children brought peace to her troubled soul……                                 108
     1. Vicki’s Citibank experience………………………………………                                                    109
     2. Citibank apologizes………………………………………………...                                                      111
     Extro: I called my wife Balut and she called me back Pinoy………                                    113
Chapter XII. ALFREDO "ATOM" HENARES……………………………                                                        114
     1. MBA 1979, for his Harvard Business School Reunion 1999…….                                     114
     2. Girl Chasing And Pinching Ass……………………………………                                                   116
     3. The luck of Atom the Great and Forrest Gump…………………..                                          118
     4. What Is Your Beef?.........................................................................   120
     5. Atom’s Narrative for His HBS MBA Reunion, 2004……………                                           121
Chapter XIII, CRISTINA ALEXANDRA BELO HENARES …………..                                                  122
     1. Her High School Graduation Speech……………………………..                                                122

        2.. Palanca for her Religious Retreat………………………………..                                  123
        3. To Quark on Cristalle on her first boyfriend…………………….                             125

THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT………………………………………………                                                       128

Chapter 1. Prince Valiant is gone, and we weep………………………….                                    128
Chapter 2. An Invitation to a Dance, from Fortune Ledesma…………...                             130
Chapter 3. On wings of song, I will take thee ............................................   133
Chapter 4. T'was the time of words, of music, of both…………………..                               136
Chapter 5. Grease: Danny had his fly open…………………………………… 140
Chapter 6. Of great piss and movement, their currents turn awry………..                         142
Chapter 7. Nunsense, a fun play with nuns………………………………..                                      145
Chapter 8. The lost art of silent movies……………………………………                                       147
Chapter 9. Mighty Dodie on the Mat: requiem for a flyweight ………….                            149

THE HUMAN CONDITION………………………………………………….                                                      152

Chapter 1. The Mortal Storm ……………………………………………….                                              152
Chapter 2. Historic collective guilt of White Americans………………….                              154
Chapter 3. Part of the conscience of all who ever lived…………………….                             156
Chapter 4. Computer was asked: Is there a God??.......................................       158
Chapter 5. The Boulevard of Broken Dreams……………………………….                                       161

END OF THE BOOK…………………………………………………………                                                        162

                       Foreword: The Wonder of my Father
                       by Rosanna L. Henares Angeles, May 1, 2003
          I read a passage in the novel “The Hours” by Michael Cunningham that describes
perfectly what my father Hilarion M. Henares Jr., a columnist and writer, means to a lot
of people. In his more lyrical, satirical and whimsical moments when he writes of people
around him, his family and friends, even his enemies, assume an almost mythical
existence. In his fictional world, Jose Concepcion becomes the Immaculate Concepcion,
self-appointed representative of God, who sets up a flour mill to give us our daily bread,
and who demurs that that he and twin brother Raul have only 2/3 of the power of the
Holy Trinity, saying, “It would have been different if we were born triplets instead of
          In this world, Frank Chavez becomes Sir Galahad defending his Queen Cory.
Opus Dei becomes Opus Diaboli and the Holy Mafia. Cesar Buenaventura becomes Our
Man Squint and The Villanous Convexity of a Face.              And Elena Lim becomes a
combination of Shirley Temple and Mae West (“When I am good, I am very good; when
I’m bad, I’m even better”). And Father Kinik Bernas is the august head of the “Council
of Trent.” His column becomes a morality play where nationalists and libertarians are
the heroes, and fascists and pro-American assholes are the villains. I now talk of the
wonder of my father.
          The passage in the novel “The Hours” speaks of Clarissa’s judgment of her lover
Richard, and is quoted and paraphrased here to confront my father, Larry Henares, with
the most fascinating facet of his nature as a writer and essayist.
          “Larry will not ask the name of the movie star; he actually does not care. Larry,
alone among his contemporaries, has no essential interest in famous people.            Larry
Henares genuinely does not recognize such distinctions.              It is, we surmise, some
combination of monumental ego and a kind of savantism.
          “Larry cannot imagine a life more interesting or worthwhile than those being
lived by his acquaintances and himself. And for that reason, one often feels exalted,
expanded, in his presence. He is not one of those egotists who miniaturize others. He is
the opposite kind of egotist, driven by grandiosity rather than envy. In his more lyrical
moments, he insists on a version of you that is funnier, stranger, more eccentric and more

profound than you suspect yourself to be. In his more whimsical moments, he makes you
capable of doing more good and more harm in the world than you’ve ever imagined.
       “It is all but impossible not to believe, at least in his presence and for a while after
you’ve left him, that he alone sees through your image to your true essence. He alone
seems to weigh your true qualities, and appreciates you more fully than anyone else ever
has. The qualities he attributes to you are not all necessarily flattering. A certain clumsy,
childish rudeness is part of his style.        Yet you marvel how essentially true, albeit
exaggerated, is his characterization of you.
       “It is only after knowing him for some time that you begin to realize you are, to
him, an essentially fictional character -- one that he has invested with nearly limitless
capacities for tragedy and comedy, not necessarily because that is your true nature, but
because he, Larry, needs to live in a world peopled by extreme and commanding figures.
       “Some people may have ended their relations with him rather than continue as
figures in the epic poem he is always composing inside his head – basically the story of
his life and passions. But others (his family, friends and enemies among them) enjoy the
sense of hyperbole he brings to their lives. They have come even to depend on it, the
way they depend on coffee to wake them up in the mornings and a drink or two to send
them off at night.”
       No doubt, as these articles and broadcast commentaries will prove to its listeners,
Larry Henares the writer is an upper rather than downer, capable of ushering you to the
exciting world of his making “that is funnier, more strange, more eccentric and more
profound than you suspect it to be.”
       And so he refers to Secretary Ramon Diaz as Raymond THE ASS: US
Ambassador Nicholas Platt as Hoy Kulas Platypus; Opus Dei guru Bernardo Villegas as
Alopecic Misogamic Gynander; Danding Cojuangco as Crocodile Dundeeng; President
Ramos as Igno Ramos; Prime Minister Virata as The Sunshine Boy; Kokoy Romualdez
as The Midnight Cowboy; Small Dick Romulo; Needle Dick Gordon; “His Immensity”
Louie Beltran; and Maximo Soliven as Mad Max, Blue Max, Beta Max – and so on into
the long and hilarious cast with which he peoples his world.



1. Cleopatra and the Dance of the Seven Veils
        I am widower, just recovering from an angioplasty operation with the new
Johnson&Johnson Cypher stent, a less invasive, much cheaper and less dangerous
operation than a heart bypass. My doctor, Dr. Lyn Rivera ordered me to take supervised
exercises at the Heart Station of the Makati Medical Center for several months. Here we
are made to walk on the treadmill, lift weights, do bicycling and rowing exercises under
the supervision of female therapists.
        The trouble is the overwhelming charm and beauty of these female therapists, all
of them without exemption, which put a strain on one’s heart and compound the wear and
tear on one’s health. Never mind me, I am an old hand at the mating game, but for guys
like my friend Mel Gamboa, who loved but once in his life, too wisely and too well, with
a lot of room for the devil to intrude -- there is a terrible price to pay in the form of erotic
dreams that nightly drain him of his vital fluids. It must be contagious because, before
you know it, there I was, also dreaming dreams no mortal should be allowed to dream in
his sane moments. These dreams do not involve just one but all of them – six is all –
together at the same time, a nightmare of orgiastic pleasure that saps one’s strength to the
last drop.
        Well let me introduce you to my dream-world harem. First there is Jai San
Mateo, the tall Doris Day type with short hair, who once saved my life and therefore is
responsible for all the sins I will commit for the rest of my life. Then there is Diane
Sansano, the small Madonna type with a naughty sexiness that beckons but never comes
near. There is Rose Magno, tall and be-dimpled, of the Sandra Bullock type, the girl next
door with whom everyone falls in love. There is Vicky Lapid, of the small Winona
Ryder strain, so virginal and vulnerable. There is Janice Regala of the Meg Ryan strain,

the type who falls in love with love. In my dream, these five pose wet and wild, while in
their midst is Cleo Relato, also known as Cleopatra.
        Cleopatra is most fascinating, having in her former life, married and murdered her
brother; seduced the great Julius Caesar and bore him a son who was murdered by
Octavius before he became Emperor Augustus. After Caesar’s assassination, Cleopatra
seduced in turn Caesar’s friend Marc Antony and bore him twin girls, fought with him
against the forces of Octavius, and after her final defeat, placed poisonous snakes to her
breasts and died. Today’s Cleopatra has a boyfriend named St. John the Baptist and one
can just imagine her dancing like Salome with her nakedness thinly veiled in the Dance
of the Seven Veils before King Herod, and demanding to have St. John’s head delivered
to her on a silver platter.
        Each of my harem girls has her boyfriend. Jai has Marvin whose hair she had
shaved, because with long hair and dainty skin, he looks more beautiful than he is
handsome. Diane has her husband Oliver who is a heart doctor, and has yet to get her
pregnant. Rose is playing the field between Richard and Jake. Vicky has Eric who wants
to be a doctor. Janice has Mark who has a giant’s appetite and can finish off two dozen
oysters and two steaks one-inch thick in one sitting. And Cleopatra who has recently
acquired an Indian citizenship, and “makes us Indian” all the time, has John whom she
expects someday to build her a Taj Mahal as Emperor Shah Jahan did for Mumtaz Mahal.
Taj Mahal is the greatest erection Man ever had for a Woman. My God, from Cleopatra
to Salome to Mumtaz Mahal – and a fascinating harem of beauties to go with her!
November 12, 2001, DWBR-fm

2. Vicki the Drill Master
        Ninoy’s remains were displayed in the Sto. Domingo Church in Quezon City.
That is why Jose Sto. Domingo is also known as The Church Of Ninoy to his classmates
at the Makati Med Cardiac Rehabilitation Center. The Church Of Ninoy is a young
career diplomat who earned his heart bypass staring at veiled women in the Middle East,
imagining they were naked. Now he is enrolled at the Heart Station along with the rest of
us Dirty Old Men, which includes Mel Gamboa, Congressman Laurence Wacnang, Toto
Camara, Carding de Leon and myself, under the care of six beautiful female therapists

collectively known as Larry’s Angels. Individually they are (1) Doris Day alias Jai San
Mateo; (2) Madonna alias Diane Sansano; (3) Winona Ryder alias Vicky Lapid; (4)
Sandra Bullock alias Rose Magno; (5) Meg Ryan alias Janice Regala; and (6) the one and
only Cleopatra/Salome alias Cleotilde Relato. That’s the cast of characters who oversee
our exercises at the Cardiac Rehab, whom Jose Sto. Domingo, the Church of Ninoy,
stares at the whole day, imagining them at various stages of undress, even as he nurses a
weak and ravaged heart.
       It was he, the Church of Ninoy, who first called Vicki the Drill Master. Not
because she releases a torrent of tough words, but because she enjoys torturing us when
she monitors our calisthenics. We do not mind the treadmill test, and that is the hardest,
sweatiest part of all. But she insists on interminable stretching exercises before and after
the test. And those are the most boring, the most exasperating, time-consuming, and
most tiring experiences of our lives. We complain to high heavens, but Vicki is adamant.
The other girls would be apologetic and try to soothe our feelings. But not Vicki, the
Drill Master. As she barks her orders, her eyes would glow with pleasure, her voice
would squeal with delight. The Church of Ninoy and I would say, “We do not really
mind being tortured to boredom, but this girl really enjoys seeing us suffer.” One recalls
that physical therapy originated from the sport of wrestling during the Greek Olympics
where burly musclemen try to break each other’s bones. And drill masters originated
with Roman tribunes prodding their soldiers into forced marches at the point of a lance.
Oh for a chance to wrestle Vicky to the ground and skewer her with our lance, to the tune
of Beat Me, Daddy, Eight To The Bar!
       Vicki has a boyfriend named Eric – I remember the names clearly because I
always associate them with my children in law, beauty specialist Vicki Belo of my son
Atom, and hotelier Eric Angeles of my daughter Rosanna. It was Joe Sto. Domingo, the
Church of Ninoy, who told us that he and his family saw Vicki and her boyfriend Eric
shopping in the Landmark Supermarket on a Saturday after payday.             He saw them
walking hand in hand in a romantic mood.          Then suddenly Vicki the Drill Master
disengaged herself, pushed Eric from behind, hit him and kicked him, her eyes glowing
with pleasure, her voice squealing with delight. The Church of Ninoy explained to his
wife, Annie: “You show your affection with a kiss. Diane Sansano does it tickling you

with a finger poke in the ribs. But Vicki the Drill Master uses a baseball bat to show her
everlasting love.”
       In the Heart Station of Makati Med, where we mend our broken hearts three times
weekly, we watch Larry’s Angels doing their stuff, ushering us through the treadmill test,
the rowing machine, the bicycling, the stepper, pulley duplex and barbells, with
tolerance, sympathy, peace and understanding. We are all mesmerized by the utter
boredom of it all. But only when therapist Vicki Lapid heaves into view, do each of us
scream with passion, urgency and dispatch, “Beat me, mommy, eight to the bar! Push
me, hit me, kick me, Vicki darling, and show me that you really love me.”
January 5, 2003, DWBR-fm

3. The Royal Family of Makati Med
       Three times a week, I go to Makati Med Heart Center. There in the Cardiac
Rehab, I rehabilitate my aging and weary heart with a couple of hours of supervised
exercises. Among my classmates are Francis Hugo with an H (not the Spanish Oogo, but
the French Hewgo) and Edric Calma who we understand is a citizen of India. And of
course my childhood friends, Dr. Augusto Camara, who suffers the distinction of having
had the highest grades in UP, an overall average of 1.008, exactly the atomic weight of
the hydrogen atom, and Melquiades Gamboa, who like me is a voracious reader, but
unlike me, is not a voluminous writer.        He does not write, he texts, and he texts
voluminously – in that truncated corrupted abbreviated language used in Filipino
cellphones and American e-mail.
       Now in the Makati Med, we are all taken care of by a group of therapists
collectively known as Larry’s Angels and extraordinarily endowed with a gentle
disposition, a prodigious talent and beauty beyond compare, with soft translucent skin
like cream-colored silk stained with rose petals. I have the privilege of kissing them
twice a year, once on my birthday and once on theirs. And I glory at the thought that the
ice cream and cake I serve, osculate their lips and their tongues.
       Now the trouble with Toto Camara, Mel Gamboa and myself is that we all are
afflicted with a high IQ and a lively imagination – and we transform our world in the
Makati Med into an enchanted kingdom peopled by royal beauties. Thus do we regale

the girls with storied glories of their lives in a parallel universe.
        Miss Cleo Relato, “related” to royalty, becomes Cleopatra, the last Queen of
Egypt who married and murdered her brother, seduced Julius Caesar and Mark Antony of
Rome and breastfed poisonous snakes. Miss Vicky Lapid Chicharon becomes Queen
Victoria of England, the Empress of India and lord of lands upon which the sun never set,
who gave her name to a code of morality, stayed married to her Prince Consort Prince
Albert for 65 years, and mothered an entire generation of European kings and queens.
Ms. Diane Sansano becomes Princess Diana, the ex-future queen of England, the story-
book princess who spurned royalty for an Arab boyfriend and who died an untimely
death because she forgot to fasten her seat belt.
        The tall and be-dimpled Miss Rose Magno the Magnificent was named after
Rossana Podesta who played the movie role of Helen of Troy. That makes the Ravishing
Rose the face that launched a thousand ships, for whom the Trojan War was fought
between Paris of Troy and King Meneleus of Greece, between Hector and Achilles,
between Odysseus and Cyclops – a war that was finally resolved by a Pearl Harbor attack
by Greek fifth column soldiers hidden in the body of a wooden horse. And of course,
there is the “regal” Janice Regala de Belen, the secret love who bore a son for Prince Aga
Mulach of Philippine cinema, a valedictorian of her class and commencement speaker of
this year’s graduation class. Last but not least, is the fairest one of all, Queen Mother Jai
San Mateo, the head of Cardiac Rehab, who saved my life and is therefore responsible for
all the sins I commit. My father confessor agreed that she should do penance for me, and
so every Saturday, after confession, I text her how many Our Fathers and Hail Marys she
has to recite before I am allowed to receive communion the following day.
        This then is the royal family of Makati Med, Larry’s six angels, the queens of my
aging, ailing, aching heart, who are destined to perform for me, as Horatio said to the
dying Hamlet, “goodnight, sweet prince, may flights of angels sing you to your rest.”
May 20, 2003, DWBR-fm

4. To be gone, sadly missed and long remembered
        I received a text message from Mel Gamboa recently that said: “I read your book
from cover to cover, and enjoyed every minute. Great, almost as good as kisses from

Larry’s angels. I bet you’d like to kiss your angels more than twice!” Mel was referring
to the six wonderful female therapists of Makati Med’s Heart Center who supervise our
exercises three times a week, all of whom I kiss twice a year, once on their birthday and
once on mine. Mel just could not get off the subject, he rhapsodized, “Okay, Larry, let’s
spill the beans! Who is your favorite? Mine is definitely Janice, she’s just so damn
beautiful and sweet. I suspect your choice is Rose. Your choice is Rose for the obvious
reason that she inundates your dreams. In any case, they do make the hour- and-a-half
pass much too quickly, agree?”
       I have known Mel Gamboa practically all of my life, but it is only now that I
really appreciate his company. He is a rare breed in this day and age, a prodigious reader
as I am, with an interest that is both profound and universal. He constantly lends me
books that explain how civilizations come into being and delightful essays on the
contemporary scene like those of Andy Rooney. He allows me to copy 20-CD sets of
musical masterworks, and radio broadcast masterpieces of a bygone age, including “On A
Note of Triumph” by Norman Corwin, which I thought was lost forever.
       I have known only one other such man as Mel Gamboa. He is the late Neno
Abreu, my best friend and classmate, our perennial valedictorian. Together we read one
book every day for 20 years, and carried on a correspondence in Latin and in poetry
cadenced in Shakespearean iambic pentameter.
       I’d like to answer Mel’s query on my favorite among Larry’s Angels. Mel, not a
day passes by, that I would not gaze on each face and extrapolate on what the rest of her
looks and feels like – oh like pink alabaster, smooth, soft, warm and tender, with curves
that rise like twin mountain peaks and recede into moisture-laden forests primeval. Not a
day passes by, that I am not transported once more to a time 60 years and 60 pounds ago,
when I was young and handsome and full of the passions of youth, a time when each of
Larry’s angels did not even exist, not even as a gleam in her father’s eye, although
probably she existed as an ovum in her mother’s womb.
       If I could just enter into a time warp, and emerge as sextuplets at the same age as
they are today, then I would love them all equally, each for a different reason. I’d love
Jai because she is a tower of strength, who counts one to ten in a voice that sounds like
Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. I’d love Diane because she would name her first child after

me, Hilarion or Hilariona, and because she explains my health status so clearly, an ability
which she probably absorbed from her doctor husband by sexual osmosis, and which I
acknowledged with a facsimile of a diploma from Harvard Medical School. I’d love
Vicky because she is from St. Paul’s College, and is probably the best educated among
the six. I’d love Janice (funny that my yaya Angga also thinks she is the prettiest and
sweetest of all, as you do) – I’d love her because she is valedictorian of her class and was
topnotcher in the board exams, and because inadvertently she endowed me with a
“supreme moment” that I will never forget to my dying day. I’d love the ravishing Rose
because she needs to be loved and be made love to, and there is no one within her ken
who really deserves her. I’d love Cleo because she is so loving and needs to love and be
loved in return. I want so much to be a part of their lives – perhaps, I will give them
access to my sperm bank in case they want a child of high IQ, so that God willing, when I
am finally gone, I will be sadly missed and long remembered.
May 21, 2003, DWBR-fm

5. Testimonial on Vicky Lapid, for her application for work abroad:
        I am a patient afflicted with vascular diseases and diabetes. As such I frequented
the Makati Medical Center, for consultations with my doctor and medical tests, for more
than ten years. I have a friend of long standing, Melquiades Gamboa Jr. also afflicted
with vascular disease who was undergoing therapy in the Cardiac Rehabilitation Center
of the hospital. Three years ago he introduced me to the six female therapists who
manned the Center: Cleo, Jai, Janice, Roseana, Dianne, and Vicky Lapid, the applicant.
My friend Mel and I were in our late seventies and the girls’ ages ranged between 24 and
26 years – but we got along famously as friends. One thing about these therapists (along
with nurses and midwives), they are all of gentle disposition, loving and caring for old
people. We took them out with their boyfriends and gave them tickets to concerts and
        Months later, I myself was enrolled in the Cardiac Rehabilitation Center by my
own doctor, and the six girls became subsequently known as Larry’s Angels, because I
saw to it that all their birthdays were duly celebrated, complete with cakes and ice-cream,
and because every so often I would invite them and their boyfriends to my favorite

restaurant for steaks and oysters. And also because I talked about them often in my daily
broadcasts over radio and TV.
       One of them, Victoria T. Lapid (the applicant) is one of my favorites. She is
courteous, industrious, easy to deal with, very patient and quite adaptable. Among the
six, she had her basic elementary and high school education in a very good school, St.
Paul’s College, one of those exclusive Catholic schools, where she learned to speak very
good English, and got a good grounding in moral and ethical behavior. Would you
believe that at the age of 26, she is still a virgin? In this age of free love and predatory
sex, this is almost a miracle.
       I call her Queen Victoria, Empress of India, and lord of lands upon which the sun
never set. She is not photogenic compared to others, but she is very beautiful in her own
way, with smooth delicate skin like cream-colored silk stained with rose petals, eyes that
sparkle like two newly created stars beneath a soft cloud of clustering hair, and moles on
her forehead where it indicates an intellectual capacity, and on both cheeks,
complimenting lips lusciously colored like potassium dichromate.
       And she is very kind to old men like me. Once, noticing how overweight I was at
198 pounds, she proposed that she and the other girls motivate me to lose weight –
offering a kiss on the cheek for every pound I lose. She organized the other girls to
motivate me, got me to swim 2 hours daily and dance half an hour every day (today is the
296th day of my regimen) – and lose 36 pounds in less than three months.
       Larry’s Angels saved my life. I had a serious heart attack under their care, and
there I was gasping for breath and clamoring for mouth to mouth resuscitation. The girls
got to work with efficiency and dispatch. When my doctor prescribed hopefully that I
have the new-fangled sirolimus-eluting stent operation, which was not yet approved for
use in the Philippines, one of Larry’s Angels went to Netherlands to procure one for me.
It took the Secretary of Health and the President of the Philippines herself to get it past
Johnson & Johnson and the Bureau of Food and Drugs – but I had a successful sirolimus-
eluting stent operation, the historic first outside Europe.
       For this I gave full credit to my girls, telling them that having saved my life, they
are now responsible for the rest of my existence and for all the sins I will commit from
thereon. Every Saturday, after I go to Confession like a good Catholic, I tell the girls

how many Our Fathers and how many Hail Marys I am penalized with. And cheerfully,
they deliver my Act of Contrition. Queen Victoria is the most assiduous of the lot, bless
       Victoria was born on March 21, 1976, on the day of the Spring Equinox, when the
length of the day is equal to the length of the night, and that is probably why she is so
wonderfully balanced, in the equilibrium between yin and yang, between cheerful
sunlight and mysterious night, between a high Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and a
compassionate Emotional Quotient (EQ).
       She is the eldest of five siblings (aged 9 to 26), and as such in our society, is
charged with the responsibility of making sure her younger siblings complete their
education and have a good start in life, no matter what happens to the parents. She is
considered in loco parentis, in place of parents, and that is why she is so responsible and
industrious, and will probably not be .married for some time until she discharges this
       She studied her craft in the best schools, in the UERM-University of the East
where my own daughter took her medicine, and Our Lady of Fatima College, our premier
school for nursing. And she is presently connected with the Cardiac Rehabilitation
Center of Makati Medical Center, the best hospital in the country.
       She will be a wonderful asset to your institution.
June, 2004

6. How to Lose Weight.
       I guess Rose, our therapist in the Makati Medical Center Cardiac Rehab, started it
all. Noticing that my weight grew steadily up till it reached 196 lbs, and wanting to
motivate me to reduce my weight, she said she would give me anything I want if I lose 5
lbs within a month. A kiss, I said. I have tried to lose weight before but I always failed,
so it seemed a safe bet to take. Within earshot of witnesses the promise was rashly made.
A kiss, then.
       That was May 13th, 2003 when the records showed my weight was 196 pounds.
On June 11th, two days shy of a calendar month my weight was officially reported as 191
lbs, 5 lbs less, as I promised to achieve. Not only that, after 8 days on June 19th, I lost an

extra 3 lbs. and in a week another 2 lbs., a total of 10 lbs. in less than one and a half
         No, I did not claim my kiss from Rose, being of sound mind, willing spirit but a
very weak body, ravaged by diabetes and high blood pressure, realizing that such an
amenity would be prejudicial to my state of health. Instead I executed an absolute and
irrevocable deed of donation transferring the privilege to someone much younger,
healthier and better looking than I am.
         How did I lose all that weight? Well, I eat one meal a day, and it consists of grass
and grain, id est, kangkong (with bagoong) and soy bean cake and pork without the pork
(tokwa at baboy na walang baboy), which cost only P56 per meal at Chow King. I eat it
everyday without fail, and I do not get tired of it because I am a creature of habit, I am
not a food adventurer nor experimenter.
         Secondly, I exercise three times a week at the Cardiac Rehab, spending one and a
half hours at the treadmill, bicycle and rowing machine. I like to do so, along with my
classmates, Melquiades Gamboa and Dr. Toto Camara, because of the presence of so
many good looking therapists with gentle dispositions, six of them.
         Thirdly, I have my staff of three young girls (one office manager-accountant, one
executive assistant, and one yaya caregiver) sleep in my room every night, and wake me
up every morning, seven days a week, a dance with me, disco style, maski paps, for 45
minutes. Lucky me, I really enjoy this.
         Fourthly, I also have my three young girls don their bathing suits and swim with
me for a full hour every afternoon at 5 PM. Swimming is the best exercise in the world,
better than treadmill walking, better than disco dancing, for reasons we shall elaborate on
         As I went down to the hospital ground floor, I met my nephew Ramon Gana and
was surprised to see him trim and slim in high contrast to the fat slob he once was. Once
he looked as if he swallowed a beach ball, and with that huge mound in front of him, we
honestly doubted whether he had seen his private parts or anything below his belt
including his shoelaces, for a hell of a long time. Now he is built like a Greek god. “My
God, nephew, how did you do it?” I asked.

        Mon answered,”Tito, crash diets never work, they only make you hungrier and
more frustrated. The best way is to eat a little less everyday so that over time your
stomach shrinks normally, so that you feel full with less food in your tummy. That way
in 18 months I lost 58 pounds. I never gained them back.”
        My nephew Ramon Gana hit the nail right on the head when he said that crash
diets never work.     I’ve tried every kind of diet, from Scarsdale to protein free to
carbohydrate-free diets, guaranteed to take off pounds in record time, but none of them
ever worked in the long run. Sure it is possible in the short run to reduce your weight
dramatically, but the wear and tear of your life-style will prod you to thrown caution to
the winds and resume the habits that cause overweight and obesity. Mon is right. All he
did is to adjust his food intake less and less till his stomach shrinks, so that he feels full
on a starvation diet. In 18 months, he permanently lost 58 pounds.
        But he exercises too. He walks two full hours every night. And that is just as
important as eating less food.
        Me, I swim for one hour every night in my swimming pool. A lot of my friends
have swimming pools but they rarely use them, even in summer. The pool has to be
cleaned and maintained, otherwise it will become a cesspool, and the cement will
eventually crack if the water is drained out of it. Maintaining a pool is expensive, in my
case about P10,000 a month, for chemicals and labor. That is a lot to pay just to impress
people that you have a swimming pool. To make it worth your while to have a pool, you
must use it frequently even in rainy season. Me, I will swim every day in the pool,
because it is the best kind of exercise, for these reasons:
        One: It reduces the pull of gravity on your body. Your must realize that your full
weight is concentrated on your two feet, your blood is pulled down to your extremities,
and in an exercise, your feet are the first to give way. In the swimming pool, by the
Archimedes Principle, your whole body is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of
the water you displace. You float. The pressure is off your feet. Your blood flows
evenly throughout your body. It is as if you are on the moon or in outer space, you are
free of gravity.
        Two: The water dissipates the heat your exercises generate. Normally while
exercising, you sweat, and when the sweat evaporates, it cools your body.                 But

perspiration causes you to lose water. You dehydrate. In the pool, this does not happen.
You do not sweat, you do not lose water, you do not dehydrate.
       Three: In swimming, you exercise most of your muscles, especially the upper
body, which is sadly neglected when you walk or jog. Every time and every way you
move, you encounter water resistance, as if you are wading in thick soup, every muscle
experiences kind of muscle tension that give it mass and tone.
       Four: In swimming, you have to take deep breaths as your head bobs in and out
of the water. Deep breathing improves your ability to absorb life-giving oxygen into
your lungs, to oxygenate and nourish your red blood cells.
       Fifth: Swimming isolates you from the world, under the canopy of the sky, away
from all the cares of life, alone with your thoughts, if you so desire, unburdened by all the
stresses that weigh upon you during the day. And if you can have music piped in –
classical music, that is, Tchaikovsky or Mozart, rather that rock and roll, rap and crap –
then you are doubly blessed, because statistics show that people who listen to the classics
live longer and less stressful lives than disco addicts.
       There you are, friends, slow change in diet and exercise, that is the only way to
lose weight permanently, and live a healthy, less stressful life. Go and do likewise. And
good luck.
August 5-6, 2003, DWBR-fm

7. A closure to all these and heaven too
       Today is New Year 2006, and it has been many a year since I stopped going to
Makati Med for my heart rehabilitation exercises. I stopped because, well, I feel healthy
enough to dispense with having to spend two hours three times a week at the hospital at
high expense. I do better exercise in my swimming pool every day. My friend Mel
Gamboa broke a bone and can no longer join me at the Cardiac Rehab. With my
medication, my blood sugar never goes over 105 mg/dl, and my blood pressure never
goes over 120/80 even if I abuse my body with a lot of sweets and sex.
       Since I left, two of Larry’s Angels left too: Jai San Mateo got a job in a hospital
in London as a cardiac technician.        Janice Regala left too, for Jacksonville, North
Carolina, USA, where she works as a physical therapist.

       I miss Janice for the Supreme Moments with which she enriched my life. I kept
teasing the girls with a request for Supreme Moments, and when they ask me what those
are, I was just too embarrassed to come up with a definition. Then came Mel Gamboa,
my classmate at the Cardiac Rehab, and asked me straight away. I said, “A Supreme
Moment is one during which the girls inadvertently brush one of their breasts against me,
if only for a moment, and forever inundate my dreams with feverish delights.
       Oh that, said Mel, a little too nonchalantly to be credible, “it happens to me all the
time, particularly with Vicky and Janice, who have boobs that juts out so far in front, they
just couldn’t be avoided. Well, for me not Vicky, but Janice, twice, a heavenly touch that
still causes me sleepless nights.
       I still drop in to see the girls every so often, with cakes and ice cream when it
happens to be the birthday of one of them..         Specially Diane Sansano who finally
presented her husband a son whom she named Hilarion in my honor, and in whose
baptism I served as godfather. Specially Roseanna Magno, who has exactly the same
first name and the same birthday (by pure coincidence) as my daughter Rosanna; is the
prettiest of the lot, being a Pangalatok like I am, but who could not attract boyfriends
manly enough to kiss her without permission.           We tease her that her suitors are
misogamic gynanders.
       Specially Vicky, the Queen Victoria of my dreams, and specially Cleopatra who
will forever haunt me with her Dance of the Seven Veils. I leave all of them, except
Diane, the way I found them in the beginning, as virgins, duly certified as such by the
doctors of the Makati Med.
       My driver Temy Delmo once asked me how many male sex organs does an
elephant have. Only one, I answered, and he corrected me, there are five – the penis and
the four legs. How come? I asked, and he answered in Pilipino, “Kasi, pag tinapakan ka
ng elepante, na hindot ka na.” Translated, when the elephant steps on you, then you are
thoroughy fucked -- a good translation but it sounds a lot better in Pilipino.
       And so I leave my Larry’s Angels with a fervent wish, “May a herd of elephants
stomp upon you, my darlings.”
January 1. 2006


1. If Ninoy Were President: Solving The Economic Crisis
       If Ninoy were President of the Philippines today, what kind of President would he
have been? How would he have handled the economic crisis?
       Allow me to present my credentials as an interpreter of Ninoy’s thoughts,
philosophy and program of action. Ninoy and I entered national politics and the Liberal
Party about the same time. Ninoy and I became good friends, our relationship augmented
by common friends and relatives; his sister married a cousin of my wife. Ninoy and I ran
together for the Senate, and of all the candidates on our Liberal Party ticket, he was the
only one who won. We then drew closer together as part of a small group of “Young
Turks” in the Liberal Party, a group that included Ramon Mitra, future Speaker of the
House, Jose Cojuangco future National Brother, and Congressman Antonio Cuenco..
       Ninoy would often be seen in the center of groups of close friends and associates,
of whom he has very many. I seldom joined such groups. I believe I was one of the very
few Ninoy talked to on a one-on-one basis. He would drop into my office or my house
and just talk, he and I, “chewing the fat” for as long as seven hours, on subjects often
other than the usual politics.
       Ninoy gave three reasons for his penchant for long conversations with me: (1) I
was a very well-read person on subjects ranging from economics to social sciences, and
Ninoy was an inveterate brain-picker; (2) Ninoy had a nimble and argumentative mind,
and so have I, and Ninoy found me a worthy sounding-board for his ideas; (3) I was at
heart no politician who was a potential rival, nor was I at the time, a newspaperman
looking for headlines, so Ninoy was sure I would never betray his confidences with
regard to such controversial subjects as the bases issue.
Ninoy Reincarnated
       In Peru recently came into power a young man on the move, even younger than
Ninoy -- bold, outspoken to the point of brashness, confident that he can lead his people
from the brink of economic collapse into an era of prosperous democratic rule. He is
President Alan Garcia Perez, the “hottest political star to emerge from Latin America,”
dubbed by foreign journalists as “The Kennedy of the Third World.”

       Only minutes after he was sworn in, Garcia jolted Western bankers by
announcing that Peru would limit debt payments to 10 percent of export revenues.
Against IMF advice, he boosted the minimum wage and declared a price freeze. Then
before the United Nations, Garcia called for a New International Economic Order, and
threatened to withdraw from the IMF whom he accused as an instrument of colonial
       “The IMF demands austerity from the poor countries, not from the most powerful
ones,” he said, as he accused the IMF of causing misery and social unrest in the
developing world with usurious interest rates and heavy debt payments. “The first
creditor is my people who have elected me -- not some financial cartel out to satisfy its
       According to Newsweek, Garcia seems the forthright social democrat, the fervent
anti-imperialist nationalist, whose major goal is to draw the socially disenfranchised poor
into the economic mainstream, curb the military, and engineer a rapid economic
recovery. He slashed imports, repudiated the IMF “open economy,” restricted foreign
exchange transactions to prevent multinationals from bringing out capital, took steps to
get industries going and end “industrial recession.” Investors responded by shifting their
savings from US dollars to Peruvian sols so quickly that the Central Bank ran out of
currency bills.
       Young, courageous, good looking, the darling of the foreign press who put him on
their magazine covers as the “new Kennedy,” President Alan Garcia Perez of Peru might
have been the reincarnation of Benigno S. Aquino Jr., had he lived to be the President of
the Philippines.
Playing With Loaded Dice
       Like Garcia, Ninoy was no ideologue. He had little enthusiasm for discussing
ideology, for according to him, ideology is like religion. One can bog down arguing
interminably in the abstract. To him Economic Development is not a game of chance
where the rewards go to the lucky, the bright one, the strongest or the greediest -- as free-
market economists want it to be. In such a game American multinationals play with
loaded dice, and the ordinary Filipino does not even have the puhunan to play the game.
       Economic Development to Ninoy is a scenario for change, a grand design where

strategies are determined not by some Free Trade doctrine or Mercantilist concept, or
some Socialist principle, but by the Ultimate Objectives. “I will apply any doctrine, or
concept or principle if it will result in the attainment of my ultimate objectives,” Ninoy
        In the 1960s, free market ideologues abounded in the Philippines -- wild-eyed true
believers like today’s Bernie Villegas and Jesus Estanislao, in those days unabashed
defenders of American Imperialism: John Yench, president of the Free Enterprise
Society, and Jesuit priest Michael McPhelin of the Ateneo Department of Economics.
Ninoy Aquino would have none of them.
        There were two economists he respected: Alejandro Lichauco, erstwhile policy
director of the Philippine Chamber of Industries, now well-known as a nationalist
economist, who also happens to be the brother of his brother-in-law; and Hector R.
Villanueva, then a columnist at the Manila Bulletin, now a columnist of Philippine
Globe. Both are advocates of a pragmatic eclectic program of action carefully designed
to accomplish specific objectives. What objectives?
        Ninoy's first objective is SELF RELIANCE, an economy based on the production
of goods for domestic needs, not for the needs of other nations. This contravenes the
IMF policy giving the highest priority to “export oriented” import dependent economy.
        Ninoy just cannot understand why the Philippines has been importing rice since
1910; also all the tomatoes it uses for ketchup; also all the wheat it uses to make bread
and all the cotton it uses to make textiles, when the Philippines during the Spanish times
was a major exporter of wheat and cotton. Nor can he understand why the Philippines
should import all the yellow corn, sorghum and soybean cake needed for animal feed. He
would have been appalled to find that today we import as animal feed, 53 percent of cost
of the pork we eat, 60 percent of the chicken, and 85 percent of the eggs we eat.
        “I do not care if the United States wants to dump her agricultural surplus in the
Philippines. In a country where the land is so fertile all you have to do is to flip a seed
into the ground to make it grow -- if we can not grow enough food to feed ourselves, then
we deserve to starve!” Ninoy exclaimed. He wanted to stop all food imports and force
the Filipinos to produce their own food.

       Indeed Food and Agriculture are of the highest priority to Ninoy, but he realized
that no agriculture can be efficient without industrial inputs such as insecticides,
fertilizers and tractors. He pointed out that in the United States one farmer feeds 9
Americans and 15 foreigners, and have enough food left over to plow under, to store in
caves and to give away. On the other hand it takes two Filipino farmers to feed one other
Filipino, and all three of them are still hungry.
       “We need Industry to produce the necessary inputs into Agriculture, to absorb the
surplus agricultural population, and to provide the income needed for an effective
agricultural price support program,” Ninoy said. That is a far cry from what IMF and the
Opus Dei economists are advocating.
       Ninoy was fond of quoting Mahatma Gandhi (also the hero of Peru’s President
Garcia) who advised his fellow Asians to “reduce your wants and supply your needs.
Your needs make you vulnerable enough, without the added weight of unneeded wants.”
Ninoy felt that Filipino producers must be protected by tariffs and import restrictions, in
the same way American producers are protected with sugar and textile quotas. To Ninoy,
Winnie Monsod’s ploy of opening our economy to Americans while lecturing the United
States against Protectionism, would be inexcusable stupidity, masochistic self
mortification, a psychotic act of self-destruction worthy of Jim Jones of Guyano.
       Ninoy who was a negotiator par excellence, would have insisted on the long
accepted UNCTAD Global System of Trade Preferences (GSTP) and the GATT
Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), by which poor nations are given access to the
markets of industrialized nations, but not vice versa. It would have outraged the sense of
fairness of Ninoy to find that Monsod has allowed a situation exactly the other way
around, with the Americans given unrestricted entry into our market for their goods and
corporations, while keeping out of the U.S. market our major export products: sugar,
coconut oil, tuna fish, Philippine mahogany, and textiles, and Cheap Labor.
The Production Base
       The second objective of Ninoy is to EXPAND the PRODUCTION BASE. To
expand the production base is to build on what already exists. Ninoy would have never
have allowed the systematic liquidation of Filipino industries -- paper, car manufacturing,
construction, chemicals, textiles, ad infinitum --- as mandated by the IMF with its policy

of export orientation and import liberalization.
       Ninoy would have done all that is needed to save the billions of dollars worth of
equipment already invested in Filipino industries, now foreclosed by banks and left to
rust in idleness to keep at work the millions of valuable trained workers now retrenched
under excremental IMF conditions; above            all, to keep the confidence of Filipino
entrepreneurs, the risk-takers so gifted with initiative, imagination and talent for
organization, now driven to bankruptcy, demoralized and betrayed by the so-called
       Ninoy would have insisted on setting up “backward and forward linkages” of
import-oriented industries of American multinationals. He would have insisted that PMC
and PRC use bio-degradable coco fatty alcohols instead of petroleum based non bio-
degradable synthetic alcohols made of alkyl benzine. He would have insisted that all
rubber tire manufacturers plant rubber trees instead of importing latex.
       He would have forced American Cable and Phelps Dodge to use copper ingots
made from our own copper concentrates; Union Carbide to use locally produced activated
carbon from coconut charcoal; del Monte to grow its own tomatoes instead of importing
tomato paste; American drug companies to manufacture medicines here instead of merely
repacking; Reynolds Aluminum to set up its own smelter here; and milk companies to set
up their own dairy farms instead of importing milk powder.
       He would have rationalized the car industry, thrown out the bloodsucking Ford
and General Motors, forced the Filipino firms into a merger that can manufacture cars
with economies of scale and invade the export market as did Korea.
       He would have restricted the access of American multinationals into our money
markets and domestic savings, forcing them to bring in their own capital, and assuring the
Filipino entrepreneur his rightful share of domestic credit resources.
Democratizing Our Economy
       The third and most important objective of Ninoy is to DEMOCRATIZE the
economy. This means not merely equalizing opportunities, but a deliberate policy to
bring hope to the hopeless and power to the powerless; to reserve to the most
economically weak sector certain categories of economic activity that will insure its
active participation in and sharing the benefits of economic development.

         It is for this purpose, and also to enter into industrial fields where Filipinos are
unwilling or unable to enter that Ninoy would utilize the power and resources of the
State.   He would never have countenanced the “privatization” of the economy, the
abdication of the government’s responsibility for economic development, as now
demanded by the IMF and its lackeys to pave the way for the hegemony of multinational
         Ninoy would have never allowed conglomerates, particularly multinational
corporations into hamburger, candy, soap, pizza, clothesware and jeans, when these may
well be undertaken by small medium scale Filipino enterprises which should be given
every opportunity to mobilize their limited capital for production without unequal
competition from Big Business, whether local or foreign.
         Ninoy would have stimulated the development of farmers’ and workers’
cooperatives, and reserved for them such endeavors as rice milling, the manufacture and
lease of agricultural implements, the marketing of specific agricultural commodities, etc.
         It is obvious that no program of action can be viable unless it confronts squarely
the problem of foreign domination of our economy, i.e. American monopoly and the
imperialism of the industrial powers. In the ultimate analysis, the purpose of the program
is to make the Filipino the sole determinant and the principal beneficiary of economic
         Ninoy would never have permitted massive participation of foreign bankers in our
banking system, or the concentration of economic power inherent in Universal Banks.
Ninoy would have caused to be enacted the two legislations the Americans are
passionately opposed to: “Equal Pay for Equal Work” that would have exposed
discrimination in pay scales in foreign companies; and the equivalent of the Sherman and
Clayton Anti-Trust Acts that penalizes cartels, interlocking directorates, patent pools,
price fixing, price gouging, transfer pricing and other monopolistic practices illegal in the
United States itself.
The Nationalist Alternative
         A U.P. Colloquium on “The Nation in Crisis” presented a paper by eleven
professors of the U.P. School of Economics billed as the “Free Market” Alternative, and
an excellent paper by Professor Randolph David of the Third World Studies entitled,

“The Socialist Alternative.” The free market approach is of course the same banana
being peddled by the IMF, World Bank, the American multinationals and the Opus Dei
economists... and is hardly an alternative. Alejandro Lichauco, Ninoy Aquino's favorite
economist, presented a third approach, the Nationalist Alternative following closely the
thoughts of Ninoy Aquino, and famous economist Gunnar Myrdal.
       “The Liberal Party Vision and Program of Government,” drafted in consonance
with the “Declaration of Common Principles of the Allied Opposition” signed by Ninoy
among others on June 12, 1983, also speaks of two models of development: (1) the
communist model characterised by centralised planning, and the (2) the capitalist model
with its unfettered free enterprise characterised by its robber barons, boom-and-bust
cycles, and the concept of trickle-down benefits to the masses. And as Ninoy would have
done, the Liberal Party proposed a “Filipino Development Model” just like Lichauco’s
Nationalist Alternative.
       Dr. Jesus Estanislao, Opus Dei economist now DBP chairman, an incurable
Americanophile, also writes of the radicalized “socialists” on one hand; the “realists”
(which by divine inspiration he presumes he is) and unprincipled “pragmatists” that infest
the school of thought of the IMF and the Opus Dei; and the “nationalists” whom he
accuses of the mortal sin of being pro-Filipino and anti-American.
       Don Claro M. Recto himself made distinctions between the Socialist Alternative,
the “Colonial Status Quo” (which is being reimposed with a vengeance by the IMF and
the Americans), and his program of Nationalist Industrialization which is the basis for the
program of action advocated by Lichauco, the Liberal Party, and Ninoy Aquino himself...
and also by the young President of Peru, Alan Garcia Perez, the new “Kennedy of the
Third World” which Ninoy Aquino would have been, had he lived to the President of the
Republic of the Philippines.
Sept 14, 1985; Sunday Inquirer, August 21, 28, 1988

2. Was Ninoy's Death A Historical Necessity?
       “On this spot Ninoy Aquino was assassinated August 21, 1983. It is forever
enshrined. Wherever a martyr has poured his blood for Truth, Freedom and Justice, there
is sacred ground. The sun cannot bleach, the wind cannot blow, the rain cannot wash that
sanctity away. From such grounds springs that which forever makes the Filipino great.”
       These simple words written by Alejandro Roces are engraved in a granite marker
prepared by the Ninoy Aquino Movement in the United States, in pursuance of a
resolution passed last July in Chicago. It will be flown here, like the statue of Ninoy, and
will be exhibited in the Mondragon Building on Buendia Avenue, Makati, until such time
as the government gives its permission to lay it level with the ground on the tarmac where
Ninoy Aquino met his death two years ago.
       When on April 14, 1865, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, his biographer and
great poet Carl Sandburg compared him to a great oak standing on top of a hill suddenly
felled by a lightning stroke. Sandburg wrote:
       “Did any lover of trees have a daybreak dream of a Great Oak on a high hill,
under the flash of a lightning prong crashing down helpless -- a loss for all time to the
winds and the sky who had loved it, and had not known how much they loved it?”
       Like the Great Oak on the high hill, Ninoy Aquino is gone forever, and like the
winds and the sky, we who love him felt an incalculable sense of loss that moved us to
attend what was probably the largest funeral procession in all history. But a tree is best
measured when it is down. And now is time to evaluate the legacy Ninoy Aquino handed
down to those of us he left behind.
An Exxagerated Life
       I remember with fondness when I first met Ninoy. I was the Chairman of the
National Economic Council, and Ninoy was the newly elected Governor of Tarlac. He
came to see me for two reasons. First he came with maps to show that the American
government was buying enormous tracts of land in Tarlac, and he wanted me to ask the
President to get assurance from the American Ambassador that the Americans were not
going to set up a missile base in the Philippines. The President had Ambassador Blair
roused out of bed to do some explanation. Poor Blair, sleepy-eyed, with an open fly, he
told the President the tower was for the Voice of America broadcasts.

       Second, Ninoy wanted to offer Tarlac as the project area for a Foreign Aid
program utilizing rebuilt road building equipment from Japan. I told him he was too late,
I already signed an agreement with Laguna upon the advice of my staff. He laughed and
said that nationalist that I am, I must have chosen Laguna because it was the province of
Dr. Jose Rizal. I laughingly admitted it, and Ninoy coyly suggested, “How about the
province of Jose Rizal’s greatest love, Leonor Rivera? Surely, as a nationalist and a
lover, you cannot keep Rizal and his Love apart.”
       How could I refuse? Tarlac became a Project Area, and I never regreted it, since
Ninoy’s success encouraged him to leave the Nacionalista party and join the Liberal
Party, about the same time Ferdinand Marcos turned from Liberal to Nacionalista. Fair
exchange, many thought.
       Ninoy's life had always been an exaggeration. While most of us attended only
one school, he attended six. He studied in Lourdes School, La Salle, Ateneo, San Beda
and the University of the Philippines, and another one I cannot remember. If he had time
I am sure, he would have enrolled in U.S.T. as well, because he wanted to have as many
classmates and schoolmates as possible, to campaign for him when he runs for the
       But unfortunately he did not have the time. At the age of 17, when most of us are
just preparing for the Junior Prom, Ninoy was already a full-fledged war correspondent in
Korea. A little later he went to the mountains and convinced the Communist Supremo
Luis Taruc to surrender to the authorities.        He was the youngest mayor, the youngest
governor, and the youngest senator ever to be elected. We run together as senatorial
aspirants, Ninoy and I, in the company of the Great Educator Camilo Osias, the Great
Catholic Soc Rodrigo and the Great Censor Maria Kalaw Katigbak. Ninoy was elected
with such a majority of votes (only 150,000 votes below those of “topnotcher” Jose Roy)
that he was the only one among us who could not be cheated out of an electoral victory,
and would have no doubt been the topnotcher in that election..
In The Center Of History
       Ninoy had always been in the center of historical events, not only in the
Philippines but also in the rest of the world. He was in Korea as a newspaperman and
was decorated for it.     When the French surrendered to the Vietnam forces in

Dienbienphu, he was there. He was sent by Presidents Magsaysay and Garcia to observe
the CIA, and witnessed several operations in Central America by CIA agent Pol
Valeriano, a Filipino expatriate.      In Sumatra, during the Colonel's Revolt against
President Sukarno of Indonesia, he was there to witness the secret role of the CIA using
Philippine bases to supply arms to the rebels, while the State Department openly
supported Sukarno.
       During the Sabah controversy between Malaysia and the Philippines, and during
the Confrontasi between Indonesia and Malaysia, he was in close touch with the leaders
of both our neighboring nations. I thought I was one of the first Filipinos to enter Red
China, but when I got there, Ninoy was there before me, knocking at the doors of North
Vietnam from mainland China. Ninoy was on a first name basis with Arab leaders
concerned with our Muslim rebellion. Compared with Ninoy the world statesman, most
of our Presidents were provincianos.
       I have no doubt that if Ninoy Aquino had become our President, he would have
been a great world leader as well, leading the Third World Nations against the
impositions of the imperialistic nations and the communist world. Many were the times
Ninoy would comment on the growing number and unity of the poor nations of the world
in the UNCTAD, and asked what weapons are available to poor nations in their struggle
against Imperialism.
       I would answer, “Together they can repudiate all external debts contracted under
conditions to keep them poor. The mere threat of this may cause the entire exploitive
credit system of the West to collapse.” Ninoy’s eyes would glisten, then he asked what
other weapons may be used. And I would answer, “Together they can withdraw from the
Copyright Union and the Patent Convention. If we have no patents and copyrights for
industrial nations to protect, why should we protect theirs?” Ninoy would then laugh and
jump in joy in anticipation of what he called the Time of Retribution.
In The Embrace Of Posterity
       Ninoy Aquino was not only in the center of history, he was also in the embrace of
posterity. How else can we explain why 60% of those who mourned him, hardly knew
him, and were barely in Grade One when Martial Law was declared. Yet Ninoy is the
idol of the Youth as no one else can claim. Let me recount a story that may explain this

       Some 18 years ago when my second-born son whose name is Atom... A for
Alfredo, Tom for Tomas, Atom BUM, we call him... was only 14 years of age, I brought
him with me on one of my meetings with Ninoy. Lo and behold, Ninoy and Atom were
in deep conversation. Feeling left out, I inquired what they were talking about. Ninoy
answered, “We are talking about a subject you may not be interested in... the politics of
La Salle Green Hills. Didn’t you know your son Atom is running for the Student Council
next week? He just appointed me his campaign manager.”
       I thought Ninoy was joking, but a few days later, I saw Atom distributing
literature with pictures of both Ninoy and Atom, with captions quoting Ninoy as Senator
of the Republic endorsing Atom for the La Salle Student Council. On the day of the
election, there was pandemonium in La Salle when Ninoy’s helicopter landed in the
football field, and Ninoy himself emerged with a bullhorn, saying, “This is Ninoy
Aquino, the campaign manager of Atom Henares. I am leaving my helicopter here the
whole day. Those who vote for Atom may have a 3-minute helicopter ride around
Manila. Don’t crowd, there is enough time to accommodate all of you.” And then he
smiled in mischief, “And boys, don’t you dare spit on Ateneo.”
       Atom of course won overwhelmingly. I kidded Ninoy about what I deemed a
childish caper. He laughed but his answer was serious, “Larry, Atom is more important
than you and me, he is our future. Whatever I do for you will be forgotten tomorrow.
But what I just did for Atom will be remembered long after I am gone, by Atom, by all
his friends, by all La Salle, and through the grapevine by all the youth in Manila and the
       No wonder the Youth loved Ninoy. And Atom, now a young president of a large
corporation and married to Ninoy’s niece, shed tears for days at Ninoy’s residence, at
Sto. Domingo Church, through every step of the 10-hour funeral procession to Manila
Memorial Park, along with millions of teenagers.            Ninoy was right, everyone
The Historical Necessity
       I remember that a few weeks after Ninoy was released from prison and confined
to house arrest, he asked me to come and visit him with my family for a little tete-a-tete.

We stayed for seven hours catching up on lost years. At some point we came upon the
subject of predestination. Ninoy spoke of the concept of “historical necessity”, of earth-
shaking events that shape the destinies of nations.
        “How ironic that during the lifetime of its greatest champion Claro M. Recto,
Filipino Nationalism was considered subversive by the higher councils of state and even
among the masses whose loyalty to America was higher than to their own country,”
observed Ninoy Aquino, “It was only after Recto's death that Nationalism became
acceptable nationwide as an ideology.       I always believed that Recto’s death was a
historical necessity bringing about the ultimate vindication that eluded Recto during his
        “Recto was such a towering intellectual figure that everyone of consequence said:
‘Let Recto do it, he can do it better than anyone else.’ So Recto fought a lonely battle
and failed. After Recto died, everyone found it necessary to fight his own battle, and a
mass movement was born, advancing on a broad front that encompassed an entire nation.
Since the Filipino people have accepted Recto’s ideology and premises, it is only a matter
of time before his logical conclusions become a reality. A revolution is won even before
it begins.”
        Everyone dies, all of us, every saint and sinner, rich man, poor man, beggar and
king. We begin to die the moment we are born. But to die in such a way as to give
meaning to life, that is a privilege reserved to only a few, to Christ, Lincoln, Gandhi,
Rizal, and Martin Luther King. It is a privilege that has become a historical necessity.
        It is hard to imagine Christianity without the Crucifixion, or the rebirth of a great
nation without the time of reconciliation that followed the assassination of Abraham
Lincoln. It is hard to imagine the birth of modern India without the death of Mahatma
Gandhi to unite the nation in freedom. Or the triumph of the Civil Rights movement in
the United States without the backlash of liberalism that followed the killing of Martin
Luther King. And it is just as hard to imagine the Philippine Revolution without the
martyrdom of Rizal to galvanize the Filipino people against their oppressors.
The Magnificent Failure
        Was Ninoy’s death then a historical necessity? A sine qua non condition for
national reconciliation, the restoration of democratic processes, and the rebirth of Filipino

freedom? Will Ninoy's death inspire and unite the Filipino people to fight and win the
battle Ninoy lost in his lifetime?
        The answer lies in the words of those who mourn him: “The best instincts of Man
have always valued virtue over victory and sacrifice above success... and have always
idealized the Christlike figure who consummates by his Tragic Failure the redemption of
his people. When at his appointed hour, Ninoy Aquino died, we felt that all of us died
with him. But we also felt that by his death we were born anew, as one nation and one
August 12, 1985, Mr&Ms Special Edition

3. Ninoy's Symphony Of Yellow Ribbons
        On August 21, 1983, on the day of Ninoy Aquino’s expected arrival from three
long years of self-exile, thousands of welcomers wearing yellow ribbons were waiting at
the airport.
        Here and there on the road that leads from the airport to Ninoy’s residence in
Quezon City were yellow ribbons fluttering from street posts and trees by the sidewalk.
And at the address No. 25 Times Street, the family abode where Ninoy was once held
under house arrest, on every conceivable spot, on the fence, on the trees, on posts and
arches, were a profusion of yellow flowers and yellow ribbons. Even in his old cell in
Fort Bonifacio, tied to a plant on a flower pot, was one tiny yellow ribbon.
        It was a sight that might have appealed to Ninoy Aquino’s sense of drama. We
can just imagine the scenario: a triumphant Ninoy surrounded by a military escort,
waving to his supporters who would be showering him with yellow flowers and yellow
ribbons from the upper windows on both sides of the street, more a conquering hero than
a political prisoner. Alas it was not to be!
The Prodigal Lover
        Ninoy’s cousins, Ex-Senator Eva Estrada Kalaw and her sister Nina Puyat who
thought of yellow ribbons as a gesture of welcome, hit upon a genius of an idea. It
brought to mind a song popularized by Tony Orlando and Dawn some years ago, “Tie a
Yellow Ribbon on the Old Oak Tree”, a country ballad with bittersweet lyrics. It spoke
of a convict released after three years spent in prison, who wrote to his girl, telling her

what to do if she still wanted him. “Tie a yellow ribbon on the old oak tree if you still
want me,” he said, “If I don't see a ribbon on the old oak tree, I’ll stay on the bus, forget
about us, just put the blame on me.”
         And the day came for the moment of truth. On the bus carrying him home, the
returning convict couldn’t bear to look at the old oak tree. He asked the bus driver,
“Please look for me, ‘cause I couldn’t bear to see what I might see. I’'m really still in
prison and my Love holds the key. A simple yellow ribbon’s what I need to set me free.”
         The instrumentals take over the melody, as the listener waits impatiently for the
climax, and it comes in a heart-rending refrain: “Now the whole damn bus is cheering,
and I can’t believe I see.... a hundred yellow ribbons on the old oak tree.” Not just one
yellow ribbon, but a hundred yellow ribbons!          And as the chorus takes over, the
denouement comes with the words of the prodigal lover, “I'm coming home... home at
Part Of History
         The yellow ribbons of Ninoy are already part of the contemporary scene and will
probably belong to history as well. For months following Ninoy’s death, on Wednesdays
and Fridays, gather those who pay tribute to our latest national hero in demonstrations
where participants openly display their yellow ribbons and defiantly shower the streets
with yellow strips of paper cut from old telephone directories.
         In the lobby of the Manila Peninsula Hotel where a string quartet plays
background music that is hardly noticed by anyone, a rendition of the country ballad “Tie
a Yellow Ribbon on the Old Oak Tree” gave rise to a sudden uproarious applause. In the
well-known waterhole Tavern-on-the-Square in Greenbelt, Makati, where a duo called
Two of Us (Ronnie Henares and Jojit Paredes) was having a nostalgic concert, the
audience joined in a roof-raising chorus of “Tie a Yellow Ribbon...”
         All over the nation, there is an upsurge of requests to play the same song, usually
followed by thunderous applause from the audience. Yet strangely enough, the catchy
tune is not usually sung during rallies, demonstrations and truth sessions. During such
occasions, the most popular song is “Ang Bayan Ko”, which was the anthem of Ninoy
and other political prisoners incarcerated in military camps during the Martial Law.

Out of A Fevered Dream
       One wonders why the other song about yellow ribbons is hardly sung. The
answer is that the lyrics are sadly inadequate in expressing the ambience of Ninoy’s death
and its aftermath. Such a catchy familiar tune about the most ubiquitous symbol of our
national awakening simply cannot be wasted. It cries out for words to express the shock,
the sorrow, the hopes revisited, the courage rekindled, all the tears and laughter, the
agony and ecstasy that unite the Filipino people today in their common travail.
       So The Song of Ninoy came into being, born out of a fevered dream in which
Ninoy in a cowboy suit belted it out like Elvis Presley assisted by a chorus of angel
voices, singing words of comfort and challenge to his countrymen on earth. Even in my
dreams, Ninoy had the same sense of humour as he had in life. But the lyrics that poured
forth sang the saga of a man coming home to an assassin’s bullet, a bloody murder that
unites a people to a common purpose, a plaintive plea for remembrance, a madding
crowd marching proud and free, a tempest of yellow ribbons like winged seeds to
quicken a new birth, like Shelley’s West Wind to those who mourned him: “Wild Spirit
that is moving everywhere, Destroyer and Preserver!”..... and everyone cheering as a
million ribbons becloud the sky from Aparri to Jolo, and the voice of the man saying:
“I'm coming home, I’m no longer alone, I’m home at last!”
       In the hearts of those who remember Ninoy, it is a symphony of love.
The Song of Ninoy, with lyrics by Larry Henares
   Sung to the tune of “Tie a Yellow Ribbon on the Ole Oak Tree”
         I'm coming home at last to share our people’s misery and dark despair.
             But I know that someone’s waiting with a bullet meant for me.
                  Oh, let this bloody murder be a force to set you free,
                                For our country’s liberty!
                    Oh wear a yellow ribbon, walking proud and free,
                        And remember me, please remember me.
                        Wear a yellow ribbon for the world to see
             Whatever the cost, we’ll render the most to set our country free,
                   And wear a yellow ribbon, fighting for our liberty!
        In death’s embrace, I feel alone, awaiting in the cold for freedom’s dawn.

              Please drop a yellow ribbon from your window down to me,
              To give my poor sad soul the wings to fly and set me free....
                                     If you still want me!
                       Oh let your yellow ribbons flutter wild and free,
                          Carrying part of me, if you still want me!
                       Spreading sparks of freedom for the world to see
         Fling them up high, beclouding the sky, from the mountains to the sea!
                 Oh let those yellow ribbons plant the seeds of liberty!
                   Now everyone is cheering on the streets of Makati,
                        To see a million ribbons, from Jolo to Aparri!
                 And all the world is cheering, and I can’t believe I see
                   A million yellow ribbons for our country's liberty!!
         Chorus: Wear a ribbon for our liberty! Wear a ribbon for our liberty!
                        I'm coming home..... I am no longer alone ....
                         Cory, children.... Mama, my countrymen ....
                               I'm home..... At last I'm home!
August 21, 1988, Philippine Daily Inquirer


1. A New Star Shines In The Heavens: Eulogy for Nina Estrada Puyat
       She was born Saturnina Estrada, but with a first name like that, she preferred to be
called Nina. Later married to Eugenio Puyat, she became Nina Estrada Puyat, famed
short-story writer (Shelley Memorial awardee, one of whose stories were included in the
list of Ten Best stories of Jose Garcia Villa) --- poetess (Heart of Clay, by which Nina
was compared by critics to Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Edna St. Vincent Millay --
essayist, librettist, columnist, civic leader, society matron, and a childless perennial
Auntie to the young.
       She was born on December 14, 19-forgotten, which she herself revealed as the
year 1934, but was later corrected by relatives to 1929, then 1921.           The national

organization of Pangasinenses is called Anak nen Palaris, sons of Juan Palaris, the
greatest revolutionary of the province. Actually, Nina and her sister Eva Estrada Kalaw
are direct descendants of Juan Palaris, their genealogy traceable for 11 generations since
the 16th century.
       Nina’s ancestors founded the province of Tarlac which was carved out of
Pangasinan and Pampanga. The very word Tarlac is an abbreviation of “Tañedo, Rey de
las Cañas”, and named after her family of Tañedo, King of the Sugar Cane. Her family
tree is easily traced because every head (Capitan) of Tarlac during the Spanish times were
of her family. Part of this family was the fabulous woman Lorenza Tañedo Quiambao
known for her fencing skills, who had four daughters who were also accomplished
fencers. One of them, Petronila, married Luciano Estrada of Pangasinan -- and they
became the grandparents of Eva and Nina Estrada. Another daughter Guadalupe married
Servillano Aquino -- and they became the grandparents of Ninoy Aquino.
       Nina Puyat and Ninoy Aquino are second cousins, having common great
grandparents.   Ninoy’s widowed grandfather married his widowed sister-in-law the
grandmother of Eva. Their fathers were brought up as brothers. Eva and Ninoy then
became first cousins by affinity, and their common first cousin is Agustin “Toy” Cancio,
a real horse of a man, who is the natural father of my daughter-in-law, Vicki Belo
       Nina and Eva Estrada were celebrated in the University of the Philippines as
talented campus beauties -- Nina as a poetess and Eva as a champion pistol sharpshooter.
When the UP candidate for bar topnotcher Enrique Fernando lost to Emmanuel Pelaez of
National University, there was weeping and gnashing of teeth, and the beautiful Estrada
sisters were blamed -- Eva because she distracted the lovesick Iking Fernando out of his
wits, and Nina for refusing to go out with Manny Pelaez, and missing the chance to
confuse and frustrate him.
       Nina Estrada Puyat was a very religious person. Just before she died, she wrote to
her nephew Noni Estrada: “Noni, if I were to die tomorrow, and I were to decide what I
want you to inherit from me, it would be the Bible, the Word of God.” Once during the
wedding of my daughter Elvira, Nina said to herself as she sat beside me in our table, “I
wish the Lord will give me a sign that he has listened to my prayers and guided me to the

right decisions, like sending one dove to me at this table.” At that precise moment, the
newly-weds pulled the string that opened the cage of the love doves. And lo and behold,
one dove flew unerringly to our table, landed in front of Nina and stood without fear as
Nina scooped it up in her hands. “Nina,” I exclaimed, “Can it be that the Holy Spirit
descended on you?”
       Nina is my twin soul. My essays, as you readers may have noticed, are studded
with private jokes, obscure allusions and double intendres, by which I amuse myself, vent
my spleen and make my own day. Nina never failed to spot them; she kept catching me
with my pants down, so to speak. For instance, she would laugh at my mention of
“enterprises of great piss and movement,” because it is a pun on Hamlet’s “enterprises of
great pith and moment” which means actions of greatness and worth, and which I
converted into actions performed in the toilet. It was a private joke between me and
Shakespeare, and in all the world, only Nina enjoyed the joke.
       Nina and her sister Eva were the ones who thought of yellow ribbons as a gesture
of welcome for Ninoy Aquino at the time of his arrival and assassination. A genius of an
idea, it brought to mind a song popularized by Tony Orlando and Dawn some years ago,
“Tie a Yellow Ribbon on the Old Oak Tree,” a country ballad with bittersweet lyrics that
told the story of a convict coming home to his love. It became the symbol of the Edsa
       It is as a poet that Nina will forever be with us, with her exquisite imagery, her
passion and sensitivity. She was one of the best friends of my wife Cecilia. When
Cecilia died last year, Nina wrote an elegy for her:
       A candle burns relentlessly within my mind,
       Steadily it drips, keeping time with my tears,
       Its flame trembles unsteadily with the tremors
       Of a thousand memories beyond forgetting.
               Tonight when darkness falls
               I shall go out to count the stars.
               I know that I shall find one there
               That was not there last night.
               And it shall shine and sparkle for everyone.

               But for me, specially for me, it shall
               Smile that old soft smile with which
               It soothed my world and made it burst into song.
       I love that, the idea that Cecilia has become a new star shining in the heavens. In
a poem entitled Paalam, her own Farewell, Nina wrote:
                              Miss me a little when I am gone.
                                 Look not for me in the urn.
                                       I shall not be there.
                          Try the sunset that we watched together,
                                Or the dawn we seldom saw.
                       Try the grass on which we walked barefooted,
                     or the winds that we confronted with heads high.
                    Then you'll know that I can never leave you, Love.
                      Anymore than I can leave time, music and light.
       And this reminds me of a poem with a similar message, a favorite of my wife
Cecilia, applicable to both Cecilia and Nina, together now as they were on earth:
      Do not stand at my grave and weep.
      I am not there, I do not sleep.
      I am the million stars that glow.
      I am the thousand winds that blow.
      I am the gentle drops of rain.
      I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
      I am the quiet birds in circled flight.
      I am the soft hush of restful night.
      Do not stand at my grave and cry.
      I am not there, I did not die.
       In our hearts Nina will never die. And if we look up at the sky on a clear night,
we shall see that there is another new star shining in the heavens.
Forbes Sanctuario, September 7, 1994

Chapter IV: ALEJANDRO LICHAUCO: Ding's Nationalist Economics

Part One: The truth shall feed us too
       THE truth shall free us, says the Bible, but Alejandro Lichauco in his new book,
Nationalist Economics, says that the truth shall feed us too -- liberate us from the politics
of poverty.
       In a symposium sponsored by the Economics Society of the Trinity College, in
the jampacked hall, I could sense the same restiveness that permeated the campus
atmosphere during the 1960’s culminating in the First Quarter Storm of 1970.
       Cowed into submission for years by the dictator, today’s students are now in the
throes of revolutionary fervor. They are demanding to know why they can hardly keep
up with the cost of living and of education. They want to know why they have to wait on
the streets begging for a ride home till almost midnight while Transportation Secretary
Rey Reyes rides home in comfort in a limousine.
       They want to know why they are being driven into disease and poverty by the
high cost of medicines while Aurey Bout, head of Abbott Laboratories, and Thomas
Leber of Wyeth Suaco, are each paid about million pesos a month.
       They want to know why they have no security, no prospects for advancement, no
future while oligarchs like Jaime Zobel and Cesar Buenaventura have more than they can
possibly spend in forty lifetimes, and still want more, more, more.
       The students are beginning to find the answers in Alejandro Lichauco’s newest
book, Nationalist Economics, copies of which were being distributed during the
symposium, with a demand that it be made required reading by the school authorities
alongside books by such “free-trade” economists as Gerardo Sicat and Bernardo Villegas.
       The UP School of Economics was financed by Japan, and such CIA conduits as
Asia Foundation, Rockefeller and Ford Foundations.          Gerry Sicat while an obscure
economics professor in this school, was financed by Rockefeller to formulate a “theory”
of development based on labor-intensive export-oriented industries. With the help of the
US Embassy and the IMF, Gerry was thereafter appointed by Marcos as Chairman of the
National Economic Council, afterwards renamed NEDA upon martial law.
       Martial Law was declared with the knowledge and support of the USA and the

IMF which welcomed “an effective economic management under constitutional
       Three months after the declaration of martial law, on New Year’s Day in 1973,
NEDA chief Gerardo Sicat announced that the new official policy of the dictatorship was
“Trade Liberalization,” identical to Cory’s IMF-imposed “Import Liberalization.”
       Ding Lichauco’s book, Nationalist Economics, recounts without mincing words
or avoiding the mention of names, how the labor-intensive export-oriented policy proved
to be the undoing of Marcos (while other dictators in Asia achieved economic miracles).
       Lichauco who disagreed with Sicat from the beginning, meticulously shows that
Sicat’s theory was nothing more than an elaborate justification for an anti-
industrialization program, repudiating the basic industries which Taiwan and South
Korea were then constructing for themselves in the 1970s.
       It also justified the policy of Trade Liberalization that worked havoc on our
domestic industries and our poor farmers, and still continue to do so even now. It was a
theory which fitted with the strategy of the IMF-WB group and US imperialists.
       Where is Gerardo Sicat now? He now works full-time with the World Bank in
Washington DC, in a minor capacity befitting his status as Gunga Din and Cheeta the
Chimpanzee. But he gets a comparatively higher salary than deserved, as a prize from
the US-IMF-WB group whose interests he served and promoted while supervising our
highest economic planning body.
       It is an absorbing story that Lichauco tells with cold heartless precision -- the
story of high treason, the deliberate sabotage by Filipino officials whom we shall name
later in this series, of the national economic policy enunciated by Congress before martial
law, mandating full industrialization for our country.
       Lichauco reminds us that in 1936, after analyzing the causes of the Great
Depression, the legendary Lord John Maynard Keynes, father of modern economics,
wrote his magnum opus, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, which
debunked Free Trade (Laissez Faire) economics , and acknowledged the role of
Economic Protectionism (Mercantilism) in protecting the nation's domestic industries,
sources of employment and international reserves.
       Keynes described his former colleagues in the Free Trade School as “orthodox

economists whose common sense has been insufficient to check their faulty logic,” which
is one way of calling them and such economists as Gerry Sicat and Bernie Villegas,
stupid oafs.

Part Two: Enriquito Zobel cannot eat steel
        IN a recent speech before the diplomatic corps of Denmark, Pope John Paul II
assailed what he described as “modern imperialism” as the main factor behind the
poverty of the Third World.       The poverty of nations, he said, is not the result of
uncontrollable forces, or corruption (which afflicts many nations, rich and poor). It is the
result, the Pope emphasized, of the deliberate effort of modern imperialists to keep them
        The question then is: Who are the imperialists and their agents responsible for
poverty in the Philippines? And how did they manage to keep this country poor?
        If Alejandro Lichauco’s book, Nationalist Economics, is proving to be explosive,
it is because it addresses these two questions directly.
        The book traces the process by which policies that have kept our country in a state
of perpetual underdevelopment, were pressed on the nation. It also names the specific
persons and institutions who had a hand, and continue to have a hand, in the fostering of
those policies.
        In Lichauco's book, the real crime of martial law consisted of aborting the
national policy on industrialization, as expressed in a joint resolution of Congress in
1969, and approved by Marcos himself as president that year.
        That resolution, known as House Joint Resolution No. 2, and also known as the
Magna Carta of Social Justice and Economic Program, had declared it the national policy
of the land to promote industrialization, reinstitute import controls to protect local
industries and to conserve foreign exchange, and to Filipinize the economy.
        Import Controls which was responsible for the economic miracles in Japan,
Taiwan and South Korea, then as now, also brought about official corruption in those
countries as it did in the Philippines during the prosperous years of the 1950s.
        Egged on by US officials, native oligarchs, and free trade economists like Father
Michael McPhelin of Ateneo, President Diosdado Macapagal dismantled Import Controls

in 1961, to do away with the official corruption. Of course this is like saying let’s not
collect taxes anymore because the BIR is full of crooks.
       Macapagal dismantled Import Controls, but official graft continued and the
economic development of the country lost its steam, while those of Japan, Taiwan and
South Korea continued to grow.
       At this point, Macapagal appointed me to the cabinet as Chairman of the National
Economic Council, to raise tariff duties as a second line of defense to protect our local
industries and the source of our employment.
       The tariff was what the IMF wanted Marcos to dismantle as a price for its support
during martial law. Marcos officials deliberately contravened the Joint Congressional
Resolution, and went to work to frustrate our industrialization program.
       As NEDA chief, Gerardo Sicat announced three months after the declaration of
martial law, that the tariffs and CB restrictions will be dismantled under the new official
policy of “Trade Liberalization.”
       As chairman of the Board of Investments (BOI), Vicente Paterno de-listed the
integrated steel industry from the BOI priority listing on the grounds that it is not labor-
intensive! And then proposed allowing Indonesia to establish a regional integrated steel
mill and that the Philippines should relinquish the idea of establishing one for itself. This
is the man who is now chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs!
       Today, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand have an integrated steel industry, and
are emerging as the Newly Industrialized Countries (NICs) of Southeast Asia. The
Philippines has no steel industry and is the basket case of Asia.
       Ding’s book traces the step-by-step process by which Vicente Paterno frustrated
the construction of an integrated steel mill, a project the government decided on as a joint
venture with the Jacinto interests as early as 1959.
       Paterno was encouraged by then Prime Minister Cesar Virata and the big guns of
the Makati business community led by CRC’s Bernardo Villegas, Enriquito Zobel of the
Ayala interests, and Benguet’s Jaime Ongpin who later became Finance Minister under
President Corazon Aquino.
       These Makati businessmen in association with US multinationals, now in the
Makati Business Club, even had a slogan to encapsulize their inanity. “You can't eat

steel,” Enriquito Zobel quipped. Idiot!
       The point of Ding Lichauco is that nation-states with a population as extensive as
ours cannot possibly make war on poverty unless it generates its own Industrial
Revolution, and crucial to that revolution are such basic industries as steel, chemicals,
synthetics, machinery and tool-making.

Part Three: Ding almost knocked out Christian Monsod
       IT was the decision of South Korea and Taiwan to establish basic industries like
steel, petrochemicals and tool-making, that transformed them into Newly Industrialized
Countries (NICs) and catapulted their national incomes to soaring heights.
       Now Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand have an integrated steel industry while we
continue to be without one. That is why they are soon to be the new NICs of Asia.
       In contrast, upon the declaration of Martial Law in 1972, our technocrats lost no
time invoking every conceivable excuse to defer the development of these industries, the
chief excuse being they are not labor-intensive. They forgot that no country in the world
ever developed as an industrial and economic power on the basis of labor-intensive
industries and cheap labor.
       Ding Lichauco argues in his book Nationalist Economics that a strategy based on
labor-intensive industries keeps our nation’s technology at a low and rudimentary level,
and consigns our nation to being sweat-shop of Asia, a source of cheap labor for
multinational corporations.    It is a strategy precisely designed to suppress real
       In 1979 Marcos was stunned into the realization that South Korea and Taiwan
were already becoming full-fledged industrial powers -- while the Philippines which had
an earlier start, a greater population and more natural resources than both South Korea
and Taiwan combined, had the lowest GNP growth in all Southeast Asia.
       And so Marcos called for the immediate implementation of his eleven major
industrial projects. But as Ding recounts, no sooner had Marcos made the announcement,
the World Bank urged that the projects be deferred and “re-studied.”
       This signaled a media blitz led by no less than Prime Minister Cesar Virata and
Makati businessmen headed by Jimmy Ongpin of Allen & Co. and Benguet

Consolidated, and Enriquito Zobel of the Ayala interests, who went on record as opposed
to the projects.
        Today, under Finance Secretary Vicente Jayme and CB Governor Jobo
Fernandez, supported by the Makati Business Club headed by Dick Romulo, Christian
Monsod and Bernie Villegas, these basic industry projects are not even being “re-
studied.” They have simply been forgotten and abandoned.
        But the chilling point that Ding Lichauco makes is that the viability of civilian
government in a poor country depends on how soon it engineers an Industrial Revolution.
Failing that, he contends, we might as well say goodbye to democracy.
        It is a chilling point because the Cory government, like the dictatorship it
supplanted, is on record against industrialization. It is opposed to basic industries on the
ground that they are not labor-intensive, and the same government is fully committed to
Import Liberalization, the euphemism for Free Trade.
        But an underdeveloped country which embraces Free Trade dooms itself to
indefinite poverty. The first thing that an imperialist country does on acquiring a colony
is to impose Free Trade on it.
        This is what the US did when it imposed the Payne-Aldrich Act on the Philippines
in 1909. And that is the US continues to do to us through the IMF-WB with the
collaboration of the Sicats, Viratas, Paternos, Monsods, Valdepeñases, and Villegases of
this country.
        Can you imagine Sicat’s anti-industrialization economics being incorporated in
the Constitution? That did not happen in the Marcos Constitution, even Marcos had more
respect for the judgment of posterity.
        But that is what happened in the Constitution of the Cory government. The so-
called Four Horsemen of Dick Holmes, an alleged CIA agent, maneuvered the ConCom,
brazenly, openly, without qualms, into provisions favorable to Americans, from the bases
question, to foreign investment, to the labor-intensive export-oriented economics of Sicat
and IMF.
        Why treason? For one of the four, the reason is congenital -- his family has been
serving Americans faithfully for generations.
        For another, it is libidinal. He prefers white Americans.

         For the third, it is psychological. The man has the nigger mentality of an Uncle
         For the fourth, it is physical. He has the ears of Clark Gable. Angano angapoy
layag na baloto, onkurang ni no dageman so layag ton balbaleg.
         One recalls the shouting match that almost ended in a fist fight between
Commissioner Christian Monsod and Ding Lichauco who called him a traitor, on the
floor of the ConCom. Christian would have been knocked out because Ding once was
flyweight champion of Harvard.
         Ding who was not of the ConCom, led a coalition of forces which included the
conservative Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the radical KMU labor
union, pressing for nationalist industrialization.

Part Four: Adam Smith is obsolete like Ptolemy
         PTOLEMY (Claudius Ptolemaeus), a Greek mathematician, geographer and
astronomer of Alexandria in the years between AD 127 to AD 151, laid the foundations
of plane and spherical trigonometry; with the use of longitudes and latitudes measured
the earth's surface and published the first map and geography of the world; and postulated
that the earth was the center of the universe.       It was not till the 16th century that
Copernicus demonstrated that the earth revolved around the sun, and proved Ptolemy
         Adam Smith billed as the father of Economics, is the Ptolemy of the very science
he founded. His Wealth of Nations in 1776 expostulated on the benefits of Division of
Labor on the basis of Comparative Advantage, and Laissez Faire or Free Trade. He
argued against government regulation of business because the invisible hand of Market
Forces and The Whip of Necessity assure the greatest good for the greatest number –
“Everyone who seeks his own self-interest, automatically serves the interest of all.”
         From the start, his theory was criticized. His contemporaries pointed out that
while industrial Britain was enormously wealthy, most of its citizens were poor and must
be protected from capitalist exploiters.
         As Ding Lichauco notes in his book, Nationalist Economics, Great Britain argued
for Free Trade, being the most industrially developed of all nations, and having a

comparative advantage in manufacturing over the others.
       Adam Smith even wrote that the United States had a comparative advantage in
Agriculture, and must therefore remain agricultural and not industrialize at all -- the same
argument used by the USA on us.
       Fortunately the USA did not have the likes of Cesar Virata, Gerardo Sicat, Jaime
Ongpin or Jobo Fernandez at the helm of the economy. The USA was blessed with
Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of Finance, who dismissed Thomas Jefferson’s Pastoral
Economy (based on agriculture) and Adam Smith’s Free Trade as “plain unadulterated
shit,” subversive of American national interest.
       Hamilton when asked by the Federal Congress to formulate the US economic
strategy, opted for the economic nationalism of Europe, articulated by the eminent Jean
Baptiste Colbert of France.
       These nationalists, who opposed Laissez Faire with their own Mercantilism,
considered Adam Smith’s Free Trade as something which would naturally work in favor
of England, the leading industrial nation, but would decimate weaker economies. And so
the Mercantilists limited and banned their imports to protect their industries, and
subsidized their exports.
       Alexander Hamilton followed the Mercantilist line which reasons that Free Trade
is a lethal weapon of Economic Imperialism. This was also followed by Otto von
Bismark, the man who made Germany a modern industrial state.
       Originally seduced by the logic of the Free Traders, Bismark realized eventually
that underdeveloped nations have to defy market forces if they are to effectively plan
their own development. Bismark then launched Germany, a confederation of feuding
agrarian states, into a program of industrialization through the application of Nationalist
Economics. And in due time, Germany was able to challenge England, by then severely
weakened as an economic power by its foolish practice of Free Trade.
       By opening itself liberally to imports in the mid-1800s, as prescribed by Adam
Smith, England forfeited the pre-eminence that belonged to her as the pioneer of the
Industrial Revolution, eventually relinquishing its role to the USA, Germany and later
Japan, all of whom built their economies on the basis of Protectionism and Economic
Nationalism. In the 1930s, England abandoned Free Trade, under the influence of John

Maynard Keynes, the father of modern economics.
          Now the USA, also preaching Free Trade, is losing out to Japanese who hold most
of the US IOUs on its $700 billion foreign debt.
          The Philippines loses to all. While she permits Free Trade entry of any and all
goods from the United States, Mother America, while preaching Free Trade, puts quota
limits on our major export products: sugar, coconut oil, textiles, tuna fish and Philippine
          Our schools continue to nourish their students on Free Trade, which was proven
outdated and unworkable by the experience of nations and the genius of Keynes. If
indeed Free Trade is the most lethal weapon used by imperialist powers to exploit their
colonies and keep them poor, this is tantamount to Treason.
          Our schools should make compulsory reading Ding’s Nationalist Economics
(available in the National Book Store) and Recto's speech, “Realistic Economic Policy
for the Philippines.”

Part Five: Like Noli-Fili, a Book for all Filipinos
          IN crucial junctures in the history of nations, a book emerges which
revolutionizes a people’s thinking and sets them on the path of real change.
          Tom Paine’s Common Sense moved the Americans to assert their freedom against
imperial Britain. Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Emile Zola and Charles Dickens did the same for
the wretched of the USA, France and Britain, as did the Noli and Fili of Rizal for our own
          Ding’s book Nationalist Economics is the Noli and the Fili of today, and should
be read by every Filipino because it is a lucid exposition of the social cancer that has
reduced today's Filipino into a pitiful caricature of humanity. We are a people in extreme
pain and distress, and yet largely unable to define the nature and origin of our disease.
          Moralists tell us that we are what we are because of a succession of corrupt
governments. Academics tells us we are what we are because of chronic shortage of
capital and government intervention in the economy.
          These explanations are no longer credible as we witness South Korea, Taiwan,
Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Thailand and India, once as poor as we are, and governed by

equally corrupt and meddling governments, some of which are dictatorships. But they
are breaking through centuries-old barriers of poverty and underdevelopment, while we
stagnate, even retrogress.
       A social cancer, unseen and undetected, has been eating out the nation’s entrails.
Witchdoctors, posing as academics, policy functionaries and civic leaders, are part of this
cancer: the cancer of “modern imperialism” as defined by Pope John Paul II.
       A long-standing collusion between this nation’s elite and American colonial
interests exist to suppress our industrial revolution, and keep us in perpetual poverty.
       It is the nature of that cancer, the mechanism by which it is preserved and grows,
that Ding exposes.
       Father Francisco Araneta who wrote the Introduction to Ding’s book, describes it
as a “sharp corrective to much of the economics that is inflicted on our students.” Its
publication, Araneta concludes “gives ground for great hope that economic policy in this
country will be turned around.”
       To turn around means to revolutionize, and that is what Nationalist Economics
could accomplish in our time: to wage a revolution against the policies that have kept this
nation poor, and against the forces responsible for these policies.
       In exposing that cancer, Ding’s book offers a solution neither novel nor
speculative, but time-tested in the experience of nations.
       The USA, Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union, the world’s great powers today,
started out as nation-states with backward agrarian economies, but through application of
Mercantilism, as economic nationalism and nationalist economics were known then, they
accomplished the impossible dream. And the same may be said of today's Asian NICs,
South Korea and Taiwan.
       Ding traces and documents the rise to economic power of these states and
unravels the common formula which they had prescribed for themselves. All these
powerful states, Ding notes, were born into different historical circumstances, moved by
different cultures and widely differing ideologies. But one common trait runs through the
complex web of their differences: Nationalism.
       What is Nationalism? It is more than patriotism which even Dick Romulo or any
fool may have. Nationalism is the philosophy of power, a stratagem by which a nation-

state, as a social organism, consciously and systematically builds and cultivates its
economic power.
        Without that power, a nation-state is nothing. This is why nations motivated by
Nationalism, such as Japan, Vietnam, Germany, South Korea, Taiwan and China,
inevitably transform themselves into powerful states, and accomplish the impossible, as
the Jesuit historian Horacio de la Costa reminded us.
        As de la Costa put it: “Few things in the modern world have been able as
Nationalism has, to release such wild energies from multitudes previously passive and
inert, and to drive them to achieve projects previously thought to be beyond the bounds of
        For 43 years since Independence, American Imperialism and its local agents have
tried to decimate, if not kill outright, the spirit of Nationalism in this country, and to
prevent this nation from applying nationalist economics to its economic problems.
        To a large extent they succeeded, and now we are paying its consequences.
        But the tide is about to turn. A people in despair and desperate for the real
solution to their condition, must inevitably stumble into that solution.
        And Ding's Nationalist Economics paves the way.
October 1,3,7,9, 1989, Philippine Daily Inquirer


Part 1. Dante Silverio, the great Sportsman
        The year was in the 1979, during martial law, more than 20 years ago. In the
Araneta Coliseum, Toyota was winning by 23 points by halftime. It was one of those
great games that warm the heart of Toyota’s winningest coach, the great Dante Silverio.
Suddenly a group of sleazy gamblers approached one of the Toyota players and said:
“There is a million pesos for you boys if you will only shave the winning points to only 2
points.” And just as suddenly, the game started to go sour for Toyota. The great stars
fumbled the ball and missed their shots in rapid succession, their lead cascaded down in
an avalanche, and Toyota won by two points. The coach knew what went on, and in his
frustration and anger, he suspended his top players. “I would rather lose with my players

playing their hearts out, than have them win like this!” he exclaimed. He was fired by his
boss and uncle, Carding Silverio. And Teodoro Valencia, the sports writers and sports
officials, suspended all considerations that year for the Sports Awards and awarded Dante
the Sportsman of the Year Award amidst a standing ovation. Dante Silverio, one of the
two greatest basketball coaches in our history, left the court for the first and last time. In
the next broadcasts, we honor this great man, Dante Silverio, once a great lover, a great
rally driver, a great basketball coach, and now, as the fates would have it, a painter, a
Man of God, and by the grace of God, a faithful husband.
       Our source is Dante Silverio himself and Boy Saycon, the Ultimate Insider – who
won more rally championships as a navigator for Robert Aventejado and Dante Silverio –
a successful businessman, prime mover and baby sitter for women behind the throne and
great basketball players.
       Dante Silverio’s mother belonged to the Iglesia ni Cristo, a religious woman who
loses no opportunity to remind Dante of his obligations to God. But in vain, for Dante in
the early 1960s, was on his own, taking care of the family textile business in New York,
and he was feeling his oats. He patronized the best disco joints in the Big Apple:
Arthur’s, Peppermint Lounge. And he lived a boisterous life as a national athlete and
coach. He was excommunicated from the church because he married a Catholic. After
he left center stage as a coach and sportsman, Dante began to take stock of his life and
decided to come back to the faith of his mother in 1987. Now he has weekly meetings
with Erano Manalo, and his brother Bien Manalo who were once his rally car buddy.
       How did Dante become as basketball coach? Dante’s family took a financial
interest in the subassembly and distributorship Komatsu, Japan’s heavy equipment
manufacturer, comparable to the US Caterpillar. Sportscaster Willie Hernandez talked
him into having a basketball team to promote company sales, and he became the team
manager of the Komatsu Comets team in the MICAA league (Manila Industrial
Commercial Athletic Association) under the direction of the great Nilo Verona as coach.
In the very first year 1973 they were the Cinderella team, winning the championship on
their first try. After the championship was won, Nilo left to rejoin the UAAP, and Dante
Silverio became the new coach of the Komatsu team. As the new coach of the Komatsu
team, Date Silverio was ridiculed in the press and in the sport circles.

Part 2. Dante Silverio and his Cinderella team
       As the new untested coach of the Komatsu Comets (MICAA League) in 1973,
Dante brought his team abroad and joined the Hongkong Open Competition. And he
won it, by golly against all that South Korea and Japan and Taiwan can pit against him,
he beat the hell out of the legendary Korean, Chin Dong Pa. And at last he arrived in the
sports scene.
       In 1975, problems in the league and conflicting views on how to run it led to the
establishment of a new professional league, the PBA (Philippine Broadcasting
Association. This time his family got the Toyota franchise, and the Toyota legend was
born. And Dante Silverio the amateur coach in no time at all became one of the two
greatest professional coaches in Philippine history.
       In 1970, three years before getting into basketball, Dante Silverio became a
competitor in motor sports, a rally driver. He owed all he knew to Pocholo Martinez, the
legendary champion driver. In 1972, Dante a double championship – one in racing
around the circuit, and another rally driving across three to four thousand kilometers of
country terrain. It is interesting to note that the rally drive is done mostly after dark when
the traffic is light and with less people around to get hurt. The rally takes four days.
During these rallies, the most sought after navigator is Pastor “Boy” Saycon, who won
with Robert Aventejado as driver several rally championships. Boy Saycon became
Dante’s navigator, his business assistant in the operations of the Komatsu subsidiary of
Delta Motors, assembler of Toyota cars, and his assistant team manager in the Toyota
Comets basketball team.
       In those boisterous years in the world of rally racing and basketball, Dante had a
ball. Imagine having the best of Toyota engineers come over at great expense to bring
special parts, special equipment and new engines for the tuning up of his racing cars.
Imagine all those beautiful girls that come on promo tours from Australia and Europe and
the States, and available in a dizzying round of parties, dates. disco dancing and
lovemaking to the point of saturation and satiety.
       That was the golden age of Philippine basketball, with the perennial rivalry
between Crispa Redmanizers under the direction of Baby Dalupan, legendary veteran

coach of champions, and the Toyota Tamaraws under new and exciting coach Dante
Silverio. Dante was a voracious reader of books on basketball and other sports. It was
from American football that he conceived the running game that involved a quarterback
and a receiver, by which the ball is pitched from one end of the court to the other, and
received by one who can outrun the competition, and unerringly put the ball into the
basket with everyone else just trailing behind. Never before and never again has that
been attempted. I remember this player Ombong Segura, just an ordinary player, with
only one great qualification – he can run faster than anyone else. As soon as a Toyota
team mate gets the rebound, he threw the ball at the direction of the Toyota basket, with
all his might without even thinking or aiming. And Segura outsprints everybody to
where the ball is thrown, catches it and lays up the ball into the basket. Wow, that is
about all he ever does, and he always keeps the ball moving. Francis Arnaiz also did the
same in his turn but never as spectacularly as Segura did.

Part 3. Basketball’s shame, the gamblers and the cheats
        Dante invented and patented the running Toyota game bolstered with the services
of the best players – Sonny Jaworski, Francis Arnaiz, Mon Fernandez, Arnie Tuadles,
Abe King. Man for man, and by the depth of its bench, the Crispa Redmanizers with
Atoy Co, Philip Cesar, Albert Guidaben, William Adornado, Tito Varela, Joy Dionisio
and Freddie Hubalde, was by far a better team, but Dante battled Baby Dalupan to the
finish line in the years between 1973 to 1979, winning 6 out of twelve championship
rounds, at one time four in a row, more than Dalupan did. The Tru-Orange team won one
        Then can basketball’s shame, the gamblers and the cheats. In 1979, there were
scandals that rocked the sports world, allegations of gambling that involved game fixing
and the payment of millions of pesos to our best players. Dante and Boy Saycon readily
identified these players but are reluctant to reveal the names in public, in consideration of
their families.
        How does one know if the players are not doing their best? Boy Saycon, as
Dante’s assistant, noticed when the Toyota team practiced in Dasmarinas Village, that the
players always had a certain habitual stance and shuffle of the feet, the use of the hands,

the way passing the ball. When these players change their style of playing, then they are
not doing their best to win the game. There were at least two gambling syndicates that
were bribing players to shave points from their own score. Everybody gets a share of the
take. The guards relax on the other team’s scorers. The players deliberately fumbled,
passed the ball to the wrong fellow. The best players earn as much as P50,000 a month
when top cabinet secretaries earned only P2,000 per month. Yet they were spoiled and
would extort favors from their coaches. Boy recalls how a top player needing to give his
wife a Mercedes for her birthday. During the game he was listless and ineffective and the
team was far behind in the score. Finally Boy said to Dante, “We cannot afford to lose
this game. Let us give him the Mercedes.” The moment Boy informed the player of
Dante’s decision, in minutes Toyota regained the lead and won the game
       When he had definite proof that his top players were selling out the team by
point-saving, Dante Silverio did an unprecedented thing, he suspended them all. Carding
Silverio, his uncle and boss, fearful that his weakened team would mean decreased sales
for the Toyota cars, re-instated the players. Dante Silverio resigned, saying, “I’d rather
lose than win without honor.” He left the basketball court for good, showing up in his
uncle’s office and messing it up in a drunken rage. That year, Dante unanimously won
the Sportsman of the Year Award from sport officials and sports writers.
       Basketball is, along with soccer football, is one of the two most popular games in
the world, and by far, the more exciting of the two. While soccer is played in a football
field ten times as big, and players are hardly recognizable from the bleachers, basketball
is played in a small court and each frenzied act and each expression of the players is
watched with excitement. While soccer is bound to the earth under one’s feet, basketball
is played in all four dimensions, hands handling the ball like a magician does (no you see
it, now you don’t), the ball twirling like planets, soaring to the heights and swishing
through the hoop like a lover’s stroke, scoring points in seconds of heart-stopping action.
       In this game, Dante Silverio stands tall, a novice who challenged the great veteran
coach Baby Dalupan, and won as more championships than Baby did. One of the
greatest coaches in our sports history, he stands even taller, as a Great Sportsman like no
other who would rather lose than win without honor.
February 23-25, 1999


Part One: Supreme Court justices may err like humans
       WE said before that in a democracy the Supreme Court is the nearest thing to God
sitting in judgment. It is the court of last resort, with no appeal to higher authority. Not
even to the exclusive God of Jesus Estanislao, Joey Cuisia and Cayetano Paderanga.
       The law and the constitution assumes that the fifteen justices of the Supreme
Court are as intelligent as Einstein, as wise as Solomon, as patient as Job, as integral... er,
integrated... wat da heck, as full of integrity and honesty as Sir Galahad himself.
       Yet the justices are only human with all the faults and frailties of common
mortals. During martial law my uncle Justice Carmelino Alvendia, chairman of Philacor,
complained that he handed P2 million to a justice to keep Dante Santos from being
convicted of some trumped-up charge.
       Any student of Uncle Carmelino, or litigant in his sala when he was in the Court
of First Instance, knows how truthful, fearless and incorruptible he was, and how strict he
was in punishing guilty parties. Yet even he hesitated to denounce the erring justice of
the Supreme Court. There was no free press then, no public opinion, no recourse.
       No one can contest the conduct of their judgment while the case is sub judice.
Once decided, their judgment is incontestable. To have any of them impeached is an
impossibility because it needs the Lower House to initiate charges and the Senate to make
the judgment -- and most of those in Congress are practicing lawyers with cases pending
in the Supreme Court.
       The justices of the Supreme Court are very jealous of their reputation as honest
men, and rightly so, to preserve the majesty and dignity of the court. Whenever their
integrity is assailed, all close ranks to protect it.     Tanodbayan Raul Gonzales who
indiscreetly exposed to the press, “notes” asking favors written to him by some justices,
found himself suspended indefinitely from the practice of law.
       In our system of justice, there are the bar (lawyers) and the bench (judges). The
bar is represented by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) a association which all

practicing lawyers are required to join. The IBP is partly subsidized from the budget of
the Supreme Court.
       When the IBP set up a Commission on Bar Investigation and Discipline,
composed of retired justices, to investigate charges against erring lawyers and protect
them from harassment, everybody approved.
       But when the same IBP “declared its independence” from the Supreme Court, and
created a Judicial Commission to evaluate the performance of the judiciary and
government prosecutors, and even sought the lifting of Raul Gonzales’ indefinite
suspension on the grounds of justice and equity, the IBP president Eugene Tan perceived
he was in trouble.
       Not only that, Eugene was guest speaker of the Conference of Bar Associations in
Asia, in Seoul, on the topic “Independence of Bar Associations in Asia.”         Eugene
believed that while individual lawyers are under the disciplinary power of the Supreme
Court, their organization IBP, like any employees’ union, should be independent and
beyond control except as may be allowed by the Constitution.
       He declared the independence of the Bar and asserted the role of IBP as an
independent union of lawyers mandated by the Constitution and the law creating it as a
check and balance to judicial abuses.
       On October 30, 1990, a letter complaint by IBP employees accusing IBP president
Eugene Tan of discrimination and favoritism in salary increases, was received by the
Supreme Court. The Court appointed a three-justice ad hoc committee to investigate the
complaint. Lawyers were surprised how a petty labor claim which is the exclusive
province of the Department of Labor could command undue attention of the highest court
when many of their appeals are not even accepted by the court.
       The Committee expanded the letter complaint to include disbursement of funds,
and suspended Eugene as IBP president, triggering his resignation, despite his P3 million
personal contributions to the IBP and the COA clearance on his expenses. Later on
October 15, 1991, in Bar Matter No. 565 the Supreme Court approved the Committee’s
report and censured Eugene Tan. Suspension, forced resignation and censure, with a
ruptured eye vein as a result of the anxiety, seemed an undeserved triple whammy, a far
cry from the unusual leniency in Bar Matter No. 491 involving the IBP 1989 election

anomalies that forced the nullification of the election, yet for this violation of ethics, no
one was even censured.
       Eugene cried foul, calling the fact-finding Committee a kangaroo court that
denied him due process, acting as the complainant, investigator, prosecutor and judge at
the same time; acting as the court of first instance and the court of last resort at the same
time, with no right of appeal; and punishing him severely for a trivial matter.
       Eugene feels that he is being punished for something else, for daring to challenge
the control of the Supreme Court over the IBP and the 43,000 lawyers he represented.

Part Two: Fire away, Eugene Tan, we are your Equalizer
       ON Nov. 6, 1990, some staffers of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)
filed a letter complaint addressed to Chief Justice Marcelo Fernan complaining about
favoritism and discrimination in the employment practices of IBP president Eugene Tan.
       Such labor matter should have been brought to the National Labor Relations
Board (NLRB). There a hearing would be called wherein Eugene Tan is given the
chance to confront and cross-examine his accusers. If the decision is rendered against
him, he can appeal to the Court of Appeals.
       If the Court of Appeals sustains the decision, Eugene Tan may make his final
appeal to the Supreme Court. If he lost the case there, he would be ordered to rectify the
anomaly, but not to be suspended or forcibly resigned.
       But that is not the way it happened. The Supreme Court en banc issued a
resolution dated Nov. 15, creating an ad hoc committee of three associate justices --
Teodoro Padilla, Abraham Sarmiento and Carolina Grino-Aquino -- to investigate the
labor grievance.
       Another resolution passed en banc on Dec. 6, required the IBP to explain and
clarify the waiver of subsidies from the Supreme Court for legal aid and bar discipline;
the creation of the IBP Judicial Commission investigating judicial abuses as an
encroachment on the power of the Court; the IBP “Declaration of Independence” from
whom and from what? asked the Court.
       Tan perceived that over and above the “labor matter,” the Court is concerned
about the IBP declaration of independence from the judiciary, its repudiation of subsidies

from the Supreme Court, and the possibility that anomalies by individual Supreme Court
justices may be subjected to the scrutiny of an IBP Judicial Commission.
       On Dec. 18, 1990, in another en banc resolution, the Court resolved to “widen”
the authority of the Committee “to look into all IBP matters as needed, and to submit its
recommendations to the Court.”
       Thus what was originally “wage discrimination, bias and favoritism” was
expanded to include “extravagant or irregular expenditure of IBP funds,” without charges
received on that score.
       According to Eugene, the Court's committee chose the witnesses and the
documents presented, asked the questions, prohibited Tan from confronting the
witnesses, prosecuted him, and finally judged him. Tan or his counsel was not allowed to
question, cross-examine or recall witnesses presented in his absence or before him; nor
was he allowed to present his own witnesses.              The Committee used documents
unlawfully taken from the IBP, without knowing whether the documents were tampered
with or forged.
       Tan’s protestations were overruled on the ground that the Committee was
engaged purely in a “fact finding” exercise. But the unexpected imposition of a penalty
shows that the Committee despite all its pronouncements, treated the whole thing as a
proceeding to hear charges against Tan.
       There seems to be some confusion as to what constitutes an investigation and
what constitutes a hearing. Fact finding investigations are informal proceedings to obtain
information, not one in which action is taken against any one. In hearings, there are
issues of law and fact, there are charges made, and there are contending parties entitled to
be present, to participate and be furnished a record of the proceedings. According to Tan,
he was denied this due process, unlike the Marcoses and their cronies whose cases were
accorded fair play.
       How can the Committee render with justice on its own accusation, investigation
and prosecution? Tan wanted to raise procedural questions but could not do so because
the Court acted both as court of first instance and the court of last resort. It acted as a
tryer of facts at first and last instance, with no possibility of appeal therefrom.
       Lawyers I consulted said that indeed this is heavy handed action by the Supreme

Court, but that Tan cannot really “fight City Hall,” meaning, challenge the authority of
the highest court no matter how right he is.           There is just no remedy, except
impeachment, revolution, or appeal to public opinion.
        It’s too trivial a matter to settle by impeachment which is impossible because this
needs the Lower House to press charges and the Senate to make the judgment, most of
whom are practicing lawyers subject to the discipline of the Court.
        A famous attempt by Alejandro Lichauco and an organization against graft and
corruption to impeach a Chief Justice did not prosper. An attempt by ex-Ambassador
Jose Alejandrino to impeach some members of the Court for reducing payments for
damages by American Express from P4 million to a ridiculous P100,000, died on the vine
because no one in the Lower House was willing to sign the impeachment papers.
        Obviously it is also too trivial a matter to right by revolution, so Eugene Tan must
appeal to public opinion. Few newspapers or columnists would give him space for this, so
we do it in furtherance of our reputation as an Equalizer.
        So fire away, Eugene Tan, you have nothing to lose but your balls.

Part Three: Eugene lost his eye and his justice crusade
        EUGENE TAN was one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines
(TOYM) awardees (in law) in 1983; and in the same year, he was also one of the
awardees in its international Jaycee version, the Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the
World (TOYP).
        While a child, Eugene was the victim of a bizarre accident that left him blind in
one eye. His father whipping a younger brother with a stick accidentally poked his left
eye. For years the pain in that eye was unendurable, and in addition he was mocked as a
Chinese; he became shy and withdrawn.          But he graduated from high school as a
salutatorian, and finished AB as a valedictorian magna cum laude, missing a summa due
to lack of residence. And all the while he was president of the Student Council, the
editor-in-chief, speech and chess champion representing Capiz in a chess tournament in
        The accident left Eugene’s father withered with guilt. The father left China to
seek a father who migrated to the Philippines, only to find that he was an opium addict

who died years before and left a lot of debts which he was obliged to pay.
       The young immigrant found temporary lodging with a grand uncle whose son
Jaime Sin, then a small boy in breeches, was to become the Prince of the Church. He
worked as a houseboy, baker and storekeeper, and eventually started his own store,
became a Christian and married a local girl, Fidelina Alvarez.
       Eugene was an Ateneo law scholar when a series of misfortunes attended his
family: the store burned down, his parents separated, his father in despair fasted almost
unto death, and a series of operation did not relieve the excruciating pain in his left eye,
making it almost impossible to read his law books. Later he had the painful eye removed
and replaced with a glass eye. Yet he was valedictorian with an unbroken record of 99
percent in a law subject, and won a gold medal for topping his class in the Ateneo Law
       He planned to rest his eyes for a year before vying for honors in the bar exam.
But the Supreme Court announced that to prevent “crass commercialism,” its policy
would be to dispense with the traditional “top ten” listing.
       Because taking the bar exam was now a matter of passing, Eugene decided to take
the bar despite precarious health. During the exams, he had to finish his answers in one
hour instead of the customary two and a half hours, once in the morning and once in the
afternoon, because of the extreme exhaustion in his only eye.
       To his consternation Supreme Court went back on its word and published the
rankings of the examinees that year. He petitioned the Court to nullify his exam wherein
he was the 14th bar topnotcher, and allow him to take it again when he is in better health
and vie for higher honors. The Court gave him a tongue-lashing and ordered him to take
his oath.
       Chastened, he began to espouse less selfish causes. He was the founder and first
president of the Order of Utopia, an exclusive Ateneo law frat that never killed its
neophytes. He became a human rights lawyer, responsible for the abolition of boarding
fees of air and sea passengers; the increase in the death compensation of seamen from a
measly P12,000 to today's P250,000; increase in the basic salary of policemen; a
celebrated case questioning the authority of the 1971 Constitutional Convention to adopt
the parliamentary form of government; another case attacking the legality of Marcos’

Presidential Commitment Orders (PCO); still another together with JBL Reyes and others
questioning the legality of the Snap Elections; and a quixotic crusade to ban cigarette and
liquor ads on TV and radio.
       Eugene was President of the 100-year old Philippine Bar Association; president
and chairman of the Maritime Law Association; and National President of the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines (IBP).
       He was elected to the IBP presidency after the Supreme Court nullified the 1989
elections because of vote buying and the use of government resources. Eugene was from
the Capiz IBP chapter, represented small-time and provincial lawyers, and was perceived
to be “uncontrollable” and a threat to big time lawyers who controlled the IBP for 17
years, specifically a group controlled by the Sigma Rho Fraternity of UP, members of
which Tan identified as Sen. Edgardo Angara (once IBP president), Sec. Franklin Drilon,
Sec. Fulgencio Factoran, Solicitor General Francisco Chavez, Justice Hugo Gutierrez,
Atty. Easy Perez and Chief Justice Marcelo Fernan himself (the last two also ex IBP
       President Marcos never tried to control the IBP he created, most IBP presidents
being opposed the martial law. The Fernan Court is the only one who has ever tried to
control IBP beyond promulgating its rules as mandated by law. Tan believes that the real
reason for his ouster and censure by the Court is to prevent the independence of the bar
from the bench, and avoid scrutiny of any justice in the higher courts.
       If so, it is a pity, for Eugene Tan and the administration of justice in this country.
January 9, 10, 11, 1992, Philippine Daily Inquirer

A Requiem: Cyclops Eugene Tan fought unwinnable battles
       In Philippine Daily Inquirer, I wrote about Eugene Tan, a lawyer from Hicksville,
Capiz, a first-generation Chinese-Filipino with left eye plucked out of his head, high
school salutatorian, AB valedictorian magna cum laude, valedictorian Ateneo Law
School, a Philippine TOYM (Ten Outstanding Young Men) awardee (1983) and a World
Jaycee TOYP (Ten Outstanding Young Persons) awardee (also in 1983) who dared to
fight the Supreme Court and emerged in glorious defeat.
       We Filipinos celebrate our defeats rather than our victories, because we prize

sacrifice above success and virtue over victory, and because we venerate the Christlike
martyr who by his magnificent failure proves a principle and consummates the
redemption of his people. That is why Lorenzo Ruiz, Rizal, Ninoy, Gandhi, Lincoln,
Kennedy earned our love and respect.
       Who knows? Eugene A. Tan may be such a man. He suffered his last defeat at
the age of 51, strangled to death by persons unknown and buried by his murderers in a
shallow grave in Dasmariñas, Cavite. Who else but Eugene Tan, beaten but unbowed, a
one-eyed jack, joker and wild card, a fly-in-the ointment, Captain Ahab of Moby Dick,
Don Quijote from La Mancha, Crisostomo Ibarra and Simoun of Noli-Fili, a Cyclops
fighting unwinnable battles, a fool who rushes in where angels fear to tread.
       A lawyer fighting the Supreme Court is worse off than a knight fighting the
dragon or a nigger fighting Apartheid. The knight and the nigger face tremendous odds
but they have a slight chance of success. Not so a lawyer against the Supreme Court,
which in a democracy is the nearest thing to God sitting in Judgment, the court of last
resort, from whose decision there is no appeal to a higher authority.
       Eugene Tan, a small-time lawyer from Hicksville, broke the 17 year monopoly of
the bar leadership by the big time lawyers from Manila, got himself elected to the
presidency of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), and went out of his way to
challenge the Supreme Court -- by daring to set up the IBP Judicial Commission to
investigate judicial abuses, declare IBP independence from the Judiciary, and spurn
lawful financial subsidy from the Court.
       For that impudence he got an unprecedented slap-down from the Supreme Court,
acting as court of first and last instance on a trivial labor grievance matter, as accuser,
prosecutor and judge through a three-justice fact-finding committee that denied him the
right to confront and cross-examine witnesses, and the right of due process. He was in a
no-win situation “fighting City Hall” like Joey Cuisia in the ring with Mohammed Ali,
like the Philippines against the IMF and American Imperialists of low IQ, like Ninoy
Aquino against a gun at the back of his head.
       The Court suspended him from his office as IBP president, forced his resignation,
and handed him a “severe censure.” Well, did he care? This was but one of the many
defeats of his life, starting even before he was born.

          At the age of 16 Eugene's father, Tan Chun, born in an obscure village in China,
braved the tortuous China Sea, hoping to be reunited in the Philippines with a rich father.
Instead he was greeted by the news that his father, who turned out to be an opium addict,
died several years before and left a legacy of debts that Tan Chun as his son following
Chinese tradition, was obliged to pay.
          The young Tan Chun was given shelter in the house of a relative in Aklan, a
grand-uncle whose son Jaime Sin still in short pants, was to become the Archbishop of
Manila and a Cardinal of the Church.
          Tan Chun worked as a houseboy, then as a baker in a bakery, and as a
storekeeper, who later started his own store. He became a Christian with a new name,
Jose Tan; acquired Filipino citizenship; married a local girl, Fidelina Alvarez, and settled
in Capiz.
          Jose Tan Chun was giving a younger son a whipping when the stick he was using,
drawn too far back, stabbed the left eye of his elder son, Eugene, who was standing
behind.     A thunderbolt of pain struck through Eugene's head, followed by instant
          The pain in his left eye never left him. The eerie look of his whitish pupil made
him, already the butt of cruel jokes about being Chinese, shy and withdrawn. An honor
student before his accident, he did so poorly in school he almost flunked his sixth grade.
          But he graduated High School as salutatorian; earned his AB degree as
valedictorian magna cum laude, missing a summa cum laude due to lack of residence.
He was in addition the president of the Supreme Student Council, editor-in-chief of the
school paper, champion orator, and chess champion who represent Capiz in the Western
Visayas Chess Tournament in 1962.
          He was a scholar in the Ateneo Law School in Manila when a series of
misfortunes visited his family. The store was completely burned down, his parents
separated, and his father launched a fast unto death to escape the miseries of life, a
hunger strike against God. Eugene rushed to his father and cried: “Live for me and I will
vindicate your name. Live and I promise you that I will become something, I will
          Here he hesitated to say President of the Philippines, because Marcos was then

expected to be president for life, followed by another presidential lifetime by Imelda
Romualdez Marcos, followed by Bongbong Marcos and his issue, so Eugene ended up
saying, “I promise to be at least Governor of Capiz..” His father ended his hunger strike.
       Meanwhile Eugene Tan underwent four costly operations to reduce the
excruciating pain when he blinked. To be able to read his law books for long periods,
Eugene had to go through acrobatics and contortions just to vary the angle of his
       After first two operations, he noted lapses in his memory due to the general
anesthesia, fatal to a student taking the bar exam. On his third operation he was told by
Dr. Gemeliano Ocampo that without a general anesthesia, the pain would be unendurable.
“Doc, if the pain is unbearable, I will pass out anyway.” The doctors injected only a local
anesthesia on his eyelid and eyeballs, and cut with scalpel around the eyeball. Eugene
mercifully passed out.
       The excruciating pain lingered and Eugene had a fourth operation, where his left
eye was excised and a glass eye substituted. Years later he figured in an accident that
completely wrecked his car, and in which a fellow lady passenger lost her right eye.
Eugene shudders to think he might have lost his last remaining eye.
       He graduated Law with a gold medal for academic excellence, and top honors as
valedictorian. He planned to rest a year then vie for the Top Ten in the bar exams. That
particular year, the Supreme Court announced that to prevent crass commercialism, it will
not publicize the Top Ten bar topnotchers. Well, since the bar exam only entailed
passing and not vying for the Top Ten, Eugene Tan decided to take the exam right away
despite his precarious health. Because of the tremendous strain on his eye, he had to
finish his answers to the exam questions within one hour instead of the customary two
and a half hours, because his good eye was just too exhausted to continue.
       But then the Supreme Court went back on its word and published the rankings of
bar examinees that year, without Eugene in the Top Ten. He asked the Supreme Court to
nullify his exam wherein he was the 14th bar topnotcher so that he can take it again and
vie for higher honors. The justices of the Court gave him a tongue lashing and ordered
him to take his oath.
       The young lawyer became the president of the 100-year-old Philippine Bar

Association, and an outstanding human rights lawyer. He was the founder and first
president of Order of Utopia, the other Ateneo law fraternity without a record of
homicide; founder and executive vice-president of the Maritime Law Association; the
only survivor of the 1983 TOYM scandal; outstanding young-lawyer-of-the-world
awardee in 1983; Philippine Jaycee “Young Man of the Year 1984” who married Cynthia
Javellana-Ledesma, with whom he has five children; a successful lawyer whose greatest
failure in life was failure to reconcile his parents.
        Another failure of Eugene A. Tan is his failure as President of the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines (IBP) to effect the independence of the bar (lawyers) from the bench
(judiciary), to set up the IBP Judicial Commission to investigate judicial abuses and at
least subject the unlimited power of the Supreme Court to the bar of public opinion.
        And his last failure lies in a shallow grave in Cavite.
November 1994


Part One: Lies, self-interest, anti-nationalism
        RICHARD BONNER -- Stanford Law graduate, marine corps officer. New York
Times Correspondent and winner of the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Award with his
first book (on El Salvador) -- wrote his book Waltzing with a Dictator, to answer the
question: Why does the United States support dictators?
        He answered the question by writing of the relationship between five American
presidents (Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan) and President Marcos, during the 22
years of his administration.      This relationship was carried on mostly through three
surrogates: a shadowy gaffer named James Rafferty; loverboy Ambassador Henry
Byroade; and self-assured short-tempered assistant secretary of state for East Asia
Richard Holbrooke.
        For us Filipinos, this story narrated by Richard Bonner in his book Waltzing with
a Dictator -- gleaned from official documents, long classified secret and now available
through the Freedom of Information Act -- proves and confirms the following:

        (1) American officials prevaricate. They lie. What they say officially (page 111)
and what the real truth are two different things. Ambassador Henry Byroade in 1972 said
that the American Government did not know, nor did it approve of Marcos’ Martial Law.
That is a lie.
        Byroade (page 96 onwards) knew every detail of what Marcos wanted to do, he
even got a copy of the Proclamation 1080. and a list of the persons to be arrested and
        President Nixon (page 99) was consulted by Marcos and the Nixon said the
American government did not mind if he declared Martial Law.
        (2) The American government’s only concern is its interests. It does not care
what happens to the Filipino as long as those American interests are served.
        George Kennan, director of State’s Policy Planning (page 33) according to
Bonner, wrote a “far more honest description of American policy in the Philippines and
throughout the Third World during the last four decades, than all the rhetoric and
speeches about helping others, human rights and democracy.”
        Kennan wrote in Top Secret memorandum: “We have about 50 percent of the
world’s wealth but only 6.3 percent of its population. This disparity is particularly great
as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia ...
        “Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which
will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our
national security.”
        Kennan concluded that the Philippines should “remain in hands we can control or
rely on,” and that American policy should be “to preserve the archipelago as a bulwark of
US security ...”
        In other words, the USA always maintained a policy to continue being rich and
safe, at the expense of the Philippines and other poor nations, a policy which, according
to Bonner and secret documents he had access to, was maintained throughout its relations
with the Philippines, including the Marcos regime.
        (3) The American government concentrates its efforts in fighting nationalists,
more than communists. Richard H. Ullman who reviewed the book for New York Times,
wrote that throughout the book, Mr. Bonner points out that: “American Administrations

have frequently sought to keep nationalist Third World leaders from office even when
they have no evident links to Moscow.
          “More often than not the real choice facing Washington policy makers is not
between unsavory but compliant dictators, and Moscow-oriented Communists.
          “Rather, it is between the dictators, and militant nationalists who threaten to
deprive American business interests of their special privileges and to remove from
positions of influence the officials and politicians who, as America’s clients, have made
sure that the privileges were properly protected.
          “In short, they often seek to end the cozy relationships with the United States --
official and private -- that served to enrich a local elite at the expense of the mass of their
compatriots and frequently, their national patrimony.'' (pages 116-117, 253-256, and
          Claro M. Recto had no links to Moscow or China, neither did President Carlos P.
Garcia and President Diosdado Macapagal. But they were the targets of blatant attempts
of American CIA to punish Recto for his efforts to promote an independent Foreign
Policy, Garcia for his Filipino First Policy, and Macapagal for changing the independence
date from July 4th to June 12 (pp. 41-43).
          There are many stories in the book to fascinate the Filipino reader:
          Ed Lansdale and his Eye of God campaigns, drugging President Quirino, plotting
to assassinate Claro Recto;
          The Filipino CIA agent among the original Rolex 12 who plotted martial law with
Marcos, who gave the Americans a copy of Proclamation 1081, and the list of those to be
arrested upon martial law;
          The American navy commander’s wife with whom Marcos was carrying on a love
          The American girl who got into Marcos’ bed and tape-recorded Marcos’ love-
making while Imelda was sound asleep in the next room; then gave Ninoy and newsmen
the tapes which were played over the radio air waves; And many more.

Part Two: Byroade: A co-conspirator?
         We must be aware of the complicity of the American government with the martial
law regime of Ferdinand Marcos.
         Real chummy relations existed between Marcos and such American presidents as
Nixon and Reagan.
         The sordid fact is that Nixon and Ambassador Henry Alfred Byroade knew in
advance what Marcos was going to do, but interposed no objections and in many ways
encouraged him to do it.
         Among the Rolex 12 – 10 military officers, Defense Minister Enrile, and
businessman Eduardo Cojuangco who planned martial law and were given solid god
Rolex watches by Marcos – was a Filipino CIA agent who supplied Byroade with not
only an advance copy of Proclamation 1081 but also a list of persons that Marcos planned
to arrest and imprison.
         Maintaining contact by special shortwave radios, CIA agents were given
codenames: Eagle Two, Eagle Three, etcetera. Eagle One was the American CIA station
         On Friday, September 22, Eagle Two radioed Eagle One: “This is it. All systems
         That night, Marcos declared martial law.
         According to Bonner’s Waltzing with a Dictator, all the time American officials
prevaricated, they lied.
         The state department stated that it was not informed in advance. The US embassy
here feigned “surprise”.
         The fact was that Marcos often discussed the possibility of martial law with
         The ambassador flew to Washington for consultations with Nixon and State
Secretary Henry Kissinger, and then came back to deliver the official American policy to
         “The policy was… that martial law were needed to put down the communist
insurgency, then Washington would back the Philippines president.”
         Foreign Minister Carlos P. Romulo stated that previously Marcos cleared martial

law with Nixon on two occasions. “During the first conversation, Marcos asked Nixon
how he would react if martial law was declared.
       “Nixon replied that he would get back to Marcos, and he did, according to
Romulo, four days later, saying that the United States would have no objection.”
       Byroade had a legendary career, a combination of George Patton, Clark Gable and
Paul Bunyan.
       While ambassador to Afghanistan, he abandoned his wife and carried off the wife
of a subordinate, a scandal that many thought would end his career.
       During World War II, he joined Chou Enlai in China, crossing a rain swollen
river, and managed to take a picture of Chou in his undershorts.
       Years later, as Kissinger left for China, Byroade sent him the picture with a note:
“I got him down to his shorts. See if you can do better.”
       Byroade is a graduate of West Point, a classmate they say of our own Col. Manuel
       He was at 32, the youngest general in US history; an engineer from Cornell who
built his own cars, and helped develop the concept of using rolls of pierced steel mats for
temporary runway strips.
       He served in China, in Washington where he offended the Zionist Jews, became
ambassador to Egypt, called Senator Jenner a son of a bitch, got exiled to South Africa,
Afghanistan, and Burma.
       Byroade was assigned by Nixon to the Philippines, where his reputation as a
womanizer preceded him.
       “An attractive rascal, Byroade, tall (5’ 11”), dark, with wavy hair and that correct
military bearing, had a reputation, well earned, for pursuing and being pursued by
beautiful women.
       “There was continual gossip about his girlfriends and liaisons. This gave him
something in common with Marcos, and the two frequently laughed about their playboy
       Byroade got along extremely well with Imelda Marcos, dancing with her and
joining her in singing by fires in the beach, the World War II song hits she learned as a
young girl from GI Joes.

        US Secretary of State William Rogers did not care for Imelda at all. He would
not even refer to her as the first lady or the president’s wife, calling her instead
“Byroade’s girlfriend.”
        Byroade was in the Philippines nearly four years, the longest tenure of a US
ambassador in the Philippines.
        He arrived when Marcos was reelected to his second term, and it was on his watch
that Marcos seized dictatorial powers.
        Of all the rulers he ever knew, Marcos was Byroade’s favorite; and Marcos
        Byroade was the only US ambassador regularly invited back to stay in
Malacañang when his tour was over.
        The countdown to martial law was predictable.
        US political officer Francis T. Underhill wrote, “This place is a hopeless mess…
The Philippines needs a strong man, a man on horseback to get the country organized and
going again.”
        The discovery of the shipwrecked Karagatan loaded with arms for the rebels, the
Plaza Miranda massacre, the escalating bombing incidents at the Philippine Long
Distance Telephone Co., the Social Welfare Administration, PhilAm Life, Philippine
Banking, Joe’s Department Store, Good Earth Emporium led “to increasing speculation
that Marcos was responsible for them in order to justify emergency measures.”
        Sen. Benigno S. Aquino Jr. exposed Oplan Sagittarius.
        Enrile told Marcos that it was time to act: Now or never.
        “Enrile had been the principal martial law architect, and many diplomats and CIA
officers who worked closely with him thought that he wanted martial law for his own
purposes, that the defense chief believed that after a few years Marcos would turn the
power over to him. He was wrong.”
        Within an hour after Enrile talked to Marcos, he received the presidential orders.
Enrile headed home and as his car rounded the back of Wack Wack, gunmen opened fire
and riddled his cars with bullets.
        “God saved him,” said Cristina Enrile, because, miraculously, Enrile decide to
ride in his security car instead.

        God had nothing to do with it. Marcos and Enrile staged the “ambush” as the
final justification for martial law.
        At 9:00 p.m. Proclamation 1081 declaring martial law, was signed.
        And no thanks to “Tricky Dicky” Nixon and “Loverboy” Byroade.

Part Three: James Rafferty, gaffer, fixer, CIA
        THE cozy relationship between Ferdinand Marcos and various American agents,
did not begin with Ambassador Henry Alfred Byroade, the womanizer, who knew in
advance about Marcos’ intention to declare martial law, and told Marcos to go ahead.
        Even before that, from his first term in 1966 to the September 1973, Marcos was
given the services of an American diplomat by the name of James Rafferty. That is a
seven year hitch under four ambassadors and three CIA station chiefs.
        “One would have to search the crusted crevices of diplomatic lore, long and hard -
- and probably without success -- to find another diplomat with a role like Rafferty’s ...”
according to the book Waltzing with a Dictator.
        Indeed there is lot of confusion about Jim Rafferty. Evelyn Colbert of the State
Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research who ought to know, just did not know,
“He is an enigma ... a mystery man.”
        He was introduced to Jovy Salonga as a CIA agent, and Lewis Gleeck Jr., former
US Consul General and an unwavering right winger residing in the Philippines, always
assumed Jim was CIA.
        But the lower ranking CIA agents in the Philippines denied that he was one of
        No one seems to know what agency Rafferty worked for, but what he really did
was to take care of the Marcoses, their whims and wants, and to provide them with
another channel to the American government.
        Rafferty and his mission were a manifestation of the special relationship between
the Washington and the Marcoses.
        Actually a source said that Jim Rafferty, though not a regular CIA, was contracted
by the CIA.
        His work habits were bizarre, he was up and about from midnight to 6:00 a.m..

       As recalled by an ambassador, Rafferty “knew what was going on in every
bedroom in Manila.”
       His duties knew no boundaries, he advised Marcos’ defense minister that
American ships with nuclear weapons were in port.
       He took care of reassigning an American navy lieutenant with whose wife Marcos
was having a torrid affair.
       His principal mission was “holding the hands of Imelda,”' that is, making her
happy by providing her, her Blue Ladies and friends what they wanted -- from American
visas to TVs, stereos and other goodies from the PX stores.
       But his biggest triumph was getting Dovie Beams out of the country before
Marcos agents could kill her.
       Dovie Beams was a B-grade movie starlet from Nashville, who was 38 years old
but claimed to be 23, brought here to act in a movie about the Marcos wartime exploits
called Maharlika.
       She was soon involved in a real-life porno script with goons and diplomats
scurrying about for comic relief. For Dovie managed to get into bed with President
Marcos, and then managed to tape-record the proceedings, including Marcos singing in
the shower, even with Imelda sleeping soundly in the next room.
       When Marcos finally got weary of her sex acrobatics, Dovie asked for a
separation pay of several hundred thousand dollars.
       Marcos being an Ilocano, refused to pay and sent death threats instead, prompting
Dovie Beams to run to the Embassy for help.
       But not before she let Ninoy Aquino and a press conference hear the tapes.
       Soon the Filipino people were delightfully entertained with coos, groans and love
songs of Ferdinand Marcos wafting over the radio airwaves.
       Dovie Beams left the country, led by an American diplomat, in full view of
photographers. The press coverage angered James Rafferty, for he had arranged with
Marcos’ men for Beams to leave the country without the public involvement of the
American embassy.
       When William Sullivan arrived as an ambassador in 1973, he fired Rafferty, “I
fired him (to make it) clear there was a change in the dealing with the Americans.” But a

few years later, sent by Carter, James Rafferty was back in Manila.
        When in 1969, Nixon was due for a state visit to Manila, he was to stay in the
12th floor presidential suite of the Intercon Hotel.
        The US diplomats did not want him to stay in Malacañang so as avoid giving the
appearance of favoring Marcos over Osmeña in the coming election.
        Imelda Marcos instructed Rafferty to deliver an ultimatum to the State
Department: Either Nixon stays in Malacanañg or he need not bother to come to the
        Nixon of course came and stayed in the Malacañang Palace, and was entertained
        Two months later, Imelda Marcos was feting, charming, and dancing with another
American politician -- Ronald Reagan.
        The occasion was the opening of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, which
was described by Ninoy Aquino as “a monument to the nation’s elite bereft of social
conscience ... when the impoverished mass groans in want.”
        One day assistant secretary Jaime Ferrer noticed the BIR commissioner after
delivering P5 million to Imelda, come out of the room sweating, saying, “She’s not
        Washington was secretly paying the Philippines $39 million for sending the
Philcag contingent to Vietnam. Most of the money went to Marcos’ personal overseas
bank accounts.
        Two weeks before the election, his campaign manager, Ernesto Maceda,
withdrew P100 million. Then with an airforce plane, he hopped around the islands
dispensing peso-filled envelops. “We were prepared to cheat all the way,” Ernie said, as
recounted in Bonner’s book. Marcos swamped Osmeña by 2 million votes.
        Vice President Spiro Agnew showed up for Marcos’ second inaugural, amidst
huzzahs from the US press.
        Foreigners may have been fooled, but Marcos was beginning to run into trouble.
        His popularity ebbed, and ultimately after the usual gambits of goons and gold no
longer worked, Marcos would be forced to declare martial law to hang on to power.
        In 1972, in Washington, when Secretary Alex Melchor encountered flak from the

American press, he said, “Gentlemen, the final judge of whether martial law is good for
the Philippines, is not Washington Post, but the Filipino people.''

Part Four: Kennan, Lansdale, policy and practice
       TO APPRECIATE the cozy relationship between the dictator Marcos and
American officialdom, to realize the extent by which American officials conspired with
Marcos to impose martial law upon the Filipino people, one must refer back to the
postwar years for the official American policy towards its former colony.
       According to secret documents unearthed by Richard Bonner, ”It was George
Kennan who set the course for American policy toward post-independence Philippines,
an interventionist course that displayed little respect for Philippine sovereignty.
       “Kennan in 1947 was asked by Secretary of State George Marshall to be the first
director of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff which was established to provide
for long-range thinking in American foreign policy.
       “It was in that capacity that Kennan, a brilliant man and prolific writer, detailed
what American policy should be in the Far East in order to keep the United States safe
from the Soviet Union.
       “While his Top Secret memorandum might seem to be a steely analysis of
America’s interests and a callous prescription for how to pursue them, it is a far more
honest description of American policy in the Philippines, and throughout the third world
than all the rhetoric and speeches about helping others, human rights and democracy.”
       George Kennan wrote: “... we have about 50 per cent of the world’s wealth but
only 6.3 percent of its population.      This disparity is particularly great as between
ourselves and the peoples of Asia. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of
envy and resentment.
       “Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which
will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our
national security.
       “To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming...
       “We should dispense with the aspiration to ‘be liked’or to be regarded as the
repository of a high-minded international altruism.

         “We should stop putting ourselves in the position of being our brothers’ keeper
and refrain from offering moral and ideological advice.
         “We should cease to talk about vague and -- for the Far East -- unreal objectives
such as human rights, the raising of living standards, and democratization.
         “The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power
         “The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.”
         Kennan concluded that in the Pacific, US policy should ensure that two countries
-- Japan and the Philippines – “remain in hands we can control or rely on.”
         American policy, urged Kennan, should be to allow for Philippine independence
“in all internal affairs but to preserve the archipelago as a bulwark of US security in that
         The policy was put into effect a few years later when the US waged a counter-
insurgency war against the Huks and thoroughly meddled in Philippine domestic politics.
         CIA agent Edward Lansdale nurtured and financed Ramon Magsaysay into the
Presidency of the Philippines, through the NAMFREL which was also financed by the
CIA through CIA agent Gabe Kaplan. Kaplan’s cover was the Committee for Free Asia,
which later became the Asia Foundation.
         The Filipinos involved in NAMFREL, mostly Jaycees, moved over the CIA-
financed Operation Brotherhood in Vietnam, where Ambassador Sullivan remarked: “We
taught a lot of Filipinos how to tap telephones and bug offices.”
         Another recently identified CIA agent was David Sternberg whom many
remember as a sour-faced paraplegic on a wheel chair, purportedly a correspondent for
Christian Science Monitor. According to de-classified documents, David shot a Filipino
intruder squarely in the forehead without even blinking an eye. He wrote speeches for
Magsaysay, and continued to do so after Magsaysay became president.
         On one occasion when Magsaysay insisted on delivering a speech drafted by a
Filipino, rather than that written by Sternberg, Lansdale in a rage hit Magsaysay so hard
that he knocked him out.
         The CIA wanted to destroy the nationalist Claro M. Recto, who opposed the US
bases in the Philippines, planting stories that he was a Communist Chinese agent,

distributing campaign material which included packages of condoms labeled “Courtesy
of Claro M. Recto -- the People’s Friend,” with holes in the condoms!
       Secret CIA documents revealed that the CIA station chief, General Ralph B.
Lovett, and the American Ambassador Admiral Spruance, planned to assassinate Recto,
going so far as to prepare a substance for poisoning him.
       The idea of assassinating Recto was abandoned “for pragmatic considerations
rather than moral scruples” and Lovett had the bottle of poison tossed into the Manila
       When Magsaysay died, CIA agent Joseph Smith was ordered to “find another
Magsaysay.” Smith rejected Marcos as being too cagey.
       Smith was able to put together a slate of six under the Grand Alliance --
Manglapus, Manahan, Pelaez, Rodrigo, Padilla -- all Ateneans. The CIA, according to
Bonner, gave them $200,000 through one of them who was rich and did not raise any
suspicions. They all lost in the senatorial elections, and Marcos finished on top.
       The CIA financed Manahan in 1957 for the presidency, and he lost to Macapagal;
backed Macapagal in 1961 and 1965, when he lost to Marcos.
       Marcos against his campaign promise, sent a 2,000 man contingent to Vietnam for
the American show of flags.
       CIA special agent James Rafferty was sent to the Philippines in 1966 to cuddle up
to Marcos.
       And the rest is history.

Part Five: Holbrooke, Derian: battle of the sexes
       THE US human rights policy came with the Carter Administration. Carter sought
to bring troops home from Korea, pursued arms control with the Soviets, turned over
Panama Canal to Panama, and backed black rule in Zimbabwe.
       In the Philippines, the US Embassy discovered that Washington did not want an
active human rights policy. Heated debates about US aid was resolved by giving more,
not less, to Marcos, a clear signal that he would not be required to mend his ways.
       The principal protagonists in these debates were Richard Holbrooke and Patricia
Derian. He was assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. She was

assistant secretary for human rights and humanitarian affairs.
       It was a clash of personalities and policies between two strong willed, aggressive,
tenacious fighters.
       They carried on a guerilla war against each other in the bureaucracy and in the
press -- he “an easterner, had all the proper training, knew the rules, had courted the
members of the club, and had been admitted” -- she, a southerner, a street fighter of civil
rights, an outsider who took more delight in irritating the establishment than in joining it.
       Holbrooke wanted to support Marcos because the US needed the bases. Derian
wanted to withdraw US aid unless Marcos toes the line on human rights.
       “I made Philippine policy,'' says Richard Charles Albert Holbrooke. It is a boast,
but it is not an exaggeration. Holbrooke joined Lansdale and Byroade in the exclusive
club of individuals who had a singular impact on the Philippines, according to Raymond
Bonner in his book, Waltzing with a Dictator.
       Holbrooke and Jimmy Carter were members of the Trilateral Commission, an
elitist group founded by David Rockefeller and Zbigniew Brzezinski. When Carter won,
Holbrooke asked for the number three job as undersecretary of political affairs, but Philip
Habib had that. So he settled for assistant secretary of state for East Asian and the
       Patricia Murphy Derian, Holbrooke’s protagonist, is a belle from Danville,
Virginia, who found herself involved in the civil rights movement because her colored
cook was conned by appliance dealers.
       Carter appointed her head of the Human Rights Bureau, which Congress upgraded
into the rank of assistant secretary, as a sort of nice quiet token of the Democratic
commitment to human rights.
       Much to everyone’s surprise, Patt Derian was tough and combative, placing
human rights firmly in the foreign policy firmament.
       Derian treated dictators and strong men, even if they were heads of state, with all
the respect she would have shown to a redneck southern sheriff.
       Speaking to the Singaporean foreign minister and not getting straight answers, she
gathered her papers, picked up her purse, and walked out.
       Patt’s feud with Holbrooke started when she argued passionately against the US

involvement with the brutal Pol Pot of Kampuchea, and was overruled by Holbrooke and
Cyrus Vance.
        Patt was critical of human rights violations in China. Hollbrooke wanted to tone
it down because the US was seeking diplomatic relations with China.
        They even fought about people. Derian wanted John Salzberg, the first to visit
Ninoy in prison, in the human rights hearings. Holbrooke was enraged.
        But it was in the Philippines that the feud between them was played out.
        The issue was Trinidad Herrera, a political organizer of Tondo, who was tortured
by the military -- stripped naked, with electrode wire wound around her nipple.
Supporting charge d’affaires Lee Stull, Patt Derian objected to a $15 million World Bank
loan to the Philippines.
        To protest the torture of Trinidad Herrera, Canada voted No, and the US promised
to do likewise.     But when the vote came, the US voted yes, upon Holbrooke’s
        Next was the meeting between Mrs. Marcos and President Carter, arranged by
Holbrooke who argued that “her power and authority are unquestionable.” Derian who
was not informed of the meeting, found out and opposed it, without success, because
Imelda came to submit a letter from her husband about American bases.
        In a visit to Manila, Patt upbraided Marcos on his human rights record and
threatened a US vote against loans to the Philippines. Marcos was visibly angry, replying
with considerable heat that he never submitted to dollar diplomacy before, and he was not
about to start.
        Derian was the highest level Amercan diplomat to visit Ninoy. Inspite of CIA
station chief Herbert Natzke’s arguments that Ninoy was “nothing but a rich playboy, an
adventurer, a seamy character,” Patt Derian talked with Ninoy and was impressed with
him, “Like Churchill, a giant.”
        Derian stormed into Holbrooke’s office, when he told the press of her rudeness to
Marcos. “He got wildly excited and furious, waving his arms and yelling,” Derian said.
        The real battle occurred with the proposed trip of Mondale to the Philippines,
according to Holbrooke, “to repair the damage” done by Derian. There was a personal
message too: an assistant secretary can deliver someone high up. With the Mondale visit

Holbrooke would gain prestige and influence with Marcos and the Washington
        Derian exploded and demanded a meeting with Mondale. On the way out, Derian
found Holbrooke by her limousine, furious, their rising voices echoing throughout the
        Derian got into her car and Holbrooke followed her in, “We rode over to the
White House with him screaming at me the whole way,” Derian said.
        In Mondale’'s office, Derian tried to present her case, but was repeatedly
interrupted by Mondale and Holbrooke, telling her that human rights are subordinate to
national security.
        “I came away with no respect at all for Mondale. I was disgusted,” said Derian.
        Mondale went to the Philippines, endorsed the repressive regime of Marcos, and
got the bases agreement.
        Richard Holbrooke had won.

Part Six: US supported dictators and Marcos’ martial law
        RICHARD Nixon pre-occupied with Watergate, and Kissinger shuttling to and
from Paris for secret meetings with North Vietnam’s Le Duc Tho, could hardly be
expected to attend to a ‘backwater’ like the Philippines. Even if they did, it is unlikely
that Washington would have reacted any differently to martial law.
        America supported dictators, more than democratic regimes. In addition to the
Philippines, other dominoes fell, not to the Communist Left, but to the authoritarian
military right:
        -- in 1970, in Kampuchea, General Lon Nol ousted Norodom Shihanouk, because
Shhanouk refused to allow his country to be used as part of the war in Vietnam;
        -- in November 1971, Thai generals abolished the Constitution and declared
martial law, and promised not to interfere with US bases in Thai territory from which B-
22 bombers dropped their loads on the Ho Chi Minh trail; predictably from Washington
there was no expression of concern for Thai democracy;
        -- In South Korea, less than a month after Marcos declared martial law, Park
Chung Hee put his nation also under martial law;

        -- six months later, in El Salvador, the military stole an election from Jose
Napoleon Duarte who pleaded vainly with Washington; ten years later after the country
was plunged into civil war, Duarte was Washington’s savior;
        -- in Chile in 1973, Nixon and Kissinger were engaged in a number of nefarious
covert plots, eventually successful, to topple the government of democratically elected
President Salvador Allende Gossens, assassinate him, and replace him with military
dictator General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte.
        Marcos justified martial law by deploying the communist threat. It is a standard
technique of fascist dictators, among them Adolf Hitler who had the Reichstag burned in
order to blame the communists and take power.
        Jose Morales Erlich of El Salvador (which had been under the rigid control of US-
backed military dictatorships for nearly half a century) told a US congressional
committee in 1977:
        “Any idea or activity based on social justice, whether it comes from political,
social, or religious sectors, is immediately branded as Communist.
        “With this position of staunch anti-communism and anti-subversion, the
government is able to justify violations of human rights, even the right of life and liberty
of persons who merely disagree with the government, or who seek a more just society, or
who work to insure free elections and a democratic process.”
        By waving the Red flag, dictators automatically got American support.
        -- in 1954, the Eisenhower administration covertly toppled Guatemala’s
democratically elected Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, after he instituted land reform on the
plantations of United Fruit Company, an American firm;
        -- in 1953, a CIA coup was mounted against Premier Mossadegh because he
nationalized western oil companies operating in Iran; in the name of anti-communism,
the US supported the dictator Shah for decades before he was ousted by Ayatullah
        -- in the name of fighting communism, Kennedy launched and Johnson expanded
the war in Vietnam, rallying behind corrupt dictators who followed the assassinated
        -- the USA supported in the name of Communism, Papa and Baby Doc Duvalier

of Haiti, Somoza of Nicaragua, Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic, Fulgencio
Batista of Cuba, Mohammad Zia ul-Haq of Pakistan, Alfredo Stroessner of Paraguay.
         Richard Bonner, in his book Waltzing with a Dictator, quotes an American
Foreign Service officer: “Democracy is not the most important issue for US foreign
policy. The most important thing is the US national interest, our security interest, our
economic interest. If the two coincide, fine. If every world leader were a Madison or a
Jefferson, it would be great. But they are not.”
         In 1957 Secretary of State John Foster Dulles told a congressional subcommittee
that the purpose of the State Department was to look after US interests and he did not
care whether or not that made friends.
         Marcos was no Madison or Jefferson, he was more in the mold of Somoza, the
Shah, Park Chung Hee, Diem. And like those strong men he protected US interests:
         -- he sent troops to Vietnam, and pocketed the secret American payments;
         -- he allowed nuclear-powered warships to dock at Subic, and planes with nuclear
weapons to land at Clark;
         -- in 1971, according to a Top Secret NSC document, he authorized 201 nuclear
weapons at Subic and Clark; in 1973, up to 260, enough to devastate the rest of the
         -- he allowed the US to a sophisticated and very secret electronic spy station, in an
American plantation (Dole? del Monte?) in the south;
         -- by decree he annulled Supreme Court rulings that disallowed foreigners from
owning agricultural lands (affecting Dole and del Monte); that restricted the right of
foreigners to manufacture raw material, including oil (affecting Caltex and Shell), that
restricted foreigners from holding management positions or serve in the board of
         -- he eliminated the taxes on capital gains and on stock transfers;
         -- in his constitution, he “substantially eased the nationalistic restrictions that have
threatened American investment in the Philippines.”
         Ten days after martial law, Marcos received this message: “The American
Chamber of Commerce wishes you every success in your endeavors to restore peace and
order, business confidence, economic growth and well-being of the Filipino people and

nation. We assure you of our confidence and cooperation in achieving these objectives.
We are communicating these feelings to our associates and affiliates in the United
       The Americans and Marcos had a really cozy relationship.

Part Seven: Mondale and the American Chamber
       The Mondale visit to the Philippines was a ringing endorsement of martial law.
Mondale’s 19-year old son was photographed biking with Jackie Enrile, the son of “the
architect of martial law, who held the keys to the prisons where men and women were
tortured.” Joan Mondale was hauled on the usual tour by Imelda Marcos, her photo on
the front page. Mondale signed four aid agreements totaling about $41 million, the
ceremony duly recorded on television and the newspapers.
       At the insistence of Pat Derian, Vice President Mondale did have secret meetings
with the opposition, especially Jaime Cardinal Sin who described himself as a “critical
collaborator,” who in the American embassy was regarded “more of a collaborator than
he was critical,” according to Richard Bonner in his book, Waltzing with a Dictator.
       Jovy Salonga refused to meet with Mondale, offended by his insensitivity and
arrogance, and bristling at his refusal to issue a statement after meeting with opposition
       Former president Diosdado Macapagal: “He sure tricked us.           He misled us
because he made us believe he was here to help the opposition in promoting democracy.
But he was here to assure Marcos of Carter’s support.”
       Madame Marcos chafing from a hiatus of six months at home, set off again, this
time for Moscow where she met Prime Minister Kosygin, and toasted the Soviets for
bringing “fullness to the lives of men.”
       And after nine days of spartan communism, she went to New York for some
unbridled capitalism, spending in a one-day shopping spree $2,181,000. Then with 36
hangers-on in tow, she went to Washington for a bit of democracy.
       Against all advice she sought an audience with a congressional group who protest
the electoral fraud in the Philippines. And led by Berkley Berdell from Iowa, they raked
her over the coals. “Barbarians,” she said after the session, “I have been to Peking... to

Moscow... to Libya. Nobody ever treated me so rudely.”
       Next day, still smarting, Imelda demanded an official audience with President
Carter, over the vehement objections of Patt Derian.
       In the end Mrs. Marcos met with vice president Mondale, ex-ambassador to the
Philippines David Newsom, and assistant secretary Richard Holbrooke. And President
Jimmy Carter dropped in for a perfunctory hello!
       The photos and stories in the Manila papers were yet another message that Carter
supported Marcos. As if that was not enough, while in Washington Imelda signed an $88
million loan agreement with the World Bank.
       When she arrived in Manila, Imelda who was roughed up by liberals in the US
congress and did not receive the audience with Carter she felt she deserved, unleashed
her fury.
       Marcos announced the suspension of the bases negotiations, released a flood of
articles critical of the bases in the papers, and anti-bases rallies of Kabataan Barangay
was led by Imee Marcos herself.
       A month later, Marcos assumed negotiations and accepted an agreement paying
him $550 million in 5 years.
       The opposition was furious, and 42 of them signed a letter of protest, condemning
Marcos for “bartering the survival, development and welfare of the Filipino people.” It
was signed by Diokno, Salonga, Mitra, Ninoy Aquino still in jail, Tañada, Macapagal,
Salvador Lopez, four Catholic sisters and two bishops. Not by Cardinal Sin.
       The year 1979 was a bad year for dictators and their American patrons. In
January, the Shah fled Iran; six months later the Sandinistas chased Anastasio Somoza
from Nicaragua; three months later in El Salvador a coup by moderates ended the
repressive military rule supported by the US; and 11 days later on October 26, South
Korea’s General Park Chung Hee was assassinated.
       Was Marcos next?
       Assistant secretary Richard Holbrooke moved to prop up an increasing unpopular
regime. After an almost fruitless search, he found an ideal ambassador to the Philippines,
Richard Murphy who was assigned two tasks: to secure a bases agreement which he did,
and to improve relations with the Marcoses which had deteriorated under Ambassador

Bill Sullivan.
       “I though he was an agent of Marcos,” said Joe Concepcion as Ambassador
Murphy kept asking, “Isn’t martial law good for business? Doesn’t it produce stability?”
       Filipino businessmen were growing increasingly restive about Marcos who was
pre-empting all the lucrative businesses for himself and his cronies, without at all
prejudicing the interests of American businessmen.
       Chairman William Dunning, head of Caltex, at a monthly meeting of the
American Chamber of Commerce explained to the embassy how the American
businessman were working with Imelda to improve Marcos image abroad, stressing that
they eschewed politics and human rights, that they acted voluntarily because of the
benefits of martial law to American business.
       The Philippines, they said, had a better investment climate than Indonesia,
Malaysia and Thailand, meaning it had lower wages, restrictions on strikes, and generous
tax breaks for foreigners.
       George Suter, “a known apologist for the martial law regime,” president of Pfizer
and the American Chamber, stated that Marcos was “very sensitive to the needs and
position of the foreign investor.”
       For Marcos saw to it that our labor was among the cheapest in the world, Prime
Minister Virata actually boasting that the “effective cost of labor’ in the Philippines was
47 cents an hour, compared to 85 cents in Taiwan and 95 cents in Singapore.
       The “investment climate” praised by the American Chamber proved to be fragile
during the Great Recession when the Philippines lagged behind with a negative growth
while its neighbors -- Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore -- prospered.
       Thus the stage was finally set for the fall of Marcos’ repressive regime.

Part Eight: Lansdale's Eye of God
       “We lost in Vietnam, but we won in the Philippines,” US Charge d’Affaires
Philip Kaplan boasted during the last July 4th celebration in the Embassy, with uncoveted
seats to his special table raffled off among the Embassy personnel.
       He is right. The Americans seem to be always winning in the Philippines and
losing everywhere else. Ambitious Americans seek assignments here to try out their

ideas on how to police the world and bask in guaranteed success.
        Ultimately, they find that such ideas tried elsewhere end up in failure. For there is
something in the Filipino psyche, a congenital colonial mentality that guarantees success
to any American endeavor, no matter how bizarre and idiotic.
        The most successful practitioner of this nonsense was Edward G. Lansdale, whose
exploits provided the plots for two novels: The Ugly American and Graham Greene’s The
Quiet American.
        In The Ugly American, he was the model for Colonel Hillandale, a motorcycle-
riding deus ex-machina who saves the natives from their own miserable flaws. In the
movie version with Marlon Brando, this nonsensical plot was completely changed to
make the hero a US Ambassador who was a wartime friend of the rebel chief.
        In The Quiet American, Lansdale was the model for Alden Pyle, the young,
idealistic American diplomat obsessed with naive notions of saving Asians from
Communism. “I never knew a man who had better motives for all the trouble he caused,”
Greene’s correspondent says about Pyle.
        Lansdale was to play a major role in the anti-Huk campaigns of the 1950s and the
election of “America’s boy” Ramon Magsaysay to the Presidency.
        The Communist Party (CCP), founded in 1930, according to Richard Bonner in
his book Waltzing with the Dictator, had joined other peasant organizations to establish
the Hukbalahap Army. They fought with honor and critical success against the Japanese
during the war. But after the war the Americans had them disarmed, many of them
executed. Huk leaders were jailed, including Luis Taruc who was never a communist but
a socialist.
        Landowners who fled to the city returned to their farms and demanded back rents
from the tenants, employing armies to enforce their rights.
        The peasants fought back with the ballot, and in 1946, there were enough
Communists and leftists in Congress to block the infamous Bell Trade Act, Parity
Amendment to the Constitution and the Bases Agreement in the legislature.
        The leftists were thrown out for “election frauds” by the American dominated
government, a blatant action that reinforced the peasant’s conviction that their only
recourse was the gun.

        Most of the tactics employed by Ed Lansdale against the Huks are still classified
secret, so that what he chose to reveal was even more chilling.
        Lansdale concocted his “Eye of God” scheme based on an old Egyptian practice
of painting eyes on tombs to scare away thieves and vandals.
        At night, he had unseen agents paint eyes on a wall facing the house of a
suspected Huk. He had agents in a light aircraft flying over Huk areas broadcasting the
Voice of God from above the clouds, uttering curses that would descend on villagers
helping the Huks.
        His teams move into villages telling stories of aswangs among the Huks. Later,
his soldiers would ambush a Huk patrol, and snatching the last man in the patrol, they
“punctured his neck with two holes, vampire fashion, held the body up by the heels,
drained it of blood, and put the corpse back on the trail.” When the Huks found their
comrade, they fled the area, and Lansdale’s soldiers moved in.
        Ka Luis Taruc, now out of prison, wrote me personally that the Eye of God
scheme was nonsense, Huks were not superstitious, and the only reason they lost is that
they made the mistake of assuming that the time had come to invade population centers
in set battles.
        Ka Luis is right. Aswangs are not Draculas with canine teeth to puncture two
holes on the neck. They don’t not drink blood, they eat flesh. Lansdale was fooling us.
        Still there is no denying that Lansdale was successful in thwarting the Huk threat
and electing a pro-American president.
        Lansdale’s anti-Huk strategy was to become the prototype of US anti-Communist
strategies elsewhere: Columbia, Venezuela, Vietnam, Cuba, Central America.
        After the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu, Lansdale rushed to Vietnam, there to
employ the “dirty tricks” he honed to perfection in the Philippines.
        Lansdale counterfeited documents, invoke soothsayers, and beamed broadcasts
that “the Virgin Mary is going South”-- in order to frighten the peasants into fleeing
North Vietnam.
        The operation encouraged the US to violate the Geneva accords calling for an
election to unite North and South, and embarking on a disastrous war that resulted in
ignominious defeat.     Lansdale looked to Ngo Dinh Diem as Vietnam’s Ramon

Magsaysay, and saw him assassinated with the connivance of the CIA.
       Then Lansdale got involved in Cuba. To train anti-Castro guerillas, he recruited
his old side-kick Napoleon Valeriano, a Huk-fighter who followed him to Vietnam.
After the Bay of Pigs, Lansdale set up the supersecret Operation Mongoose, whose time-
table called for anti-Castro forces marching into Havana by October 1962.
       As in the Philippines and Vietnam, Lansdale invoked the Diety, broadcasting his
message surreptitiously.   Christ has picked Cuba for his Second Coming, went the
Lansdale-inspired Gospel, but he wanted the Cubans to get rid of Castro before He
       Christ never arrived, Castro remained, and Lansdale went back to Vietnam, after
the assassination of Diem, to continue his covert operations.
       Nguyen Cao Ky, another Lansdale protege, told him once, “You want us to write
a constitution and elect someone every four years. Like Marcos, huh?” and proceeding to
tell him of Imelda's concern for the poor and passion for expensive jewelry, he added, “Is
that what you want?”
       In August 1985 at the National War College at Fort McNair, gathered
representatives from the DIA, CIA, State and NSC to discuss what to do with Marcos.
       Among those invited was Ed Lansdale, now 77 years old, an invitation which
seemed a manifestation of Washington’s frustration in trying to figure out how to deal
with Marcos.
       Maybe it was thought, Lansdale’s experiences in the 1950s might have some
relevance in 1986. After all Imelda herself was talking of holes in the sky with God’s
blessings raining down on the Filipino people. Perhaps Lansdale’s Eye of God can peep
through those holes in the sky, and induce the Marcoses to reform?
       But Ed Lansdale who gave the opening address, was obviously tired and offered
little more than obvious observations about how it wasn’t the same situation it had been
three decades before.
       But what he probably meant is that the Eye of God has been played and replayed
in so many countries and so many times, it had no more effect because everyone already
knew the punch line.

Part Nine: Armacost, friend and enemy
       They were the best of times for the Marcoses, those first few years of the Reagan
Administration. For diplomats, there was a weekly bash at Malacañang with women
passed around like peanuts at a cocktail party. The US Ambassador in those intoxicating
days was Michael Armacost.
       Armacost protected the Marcoses, taking measures to ensure that they wouldn’t
be offended or embarassed. He was upset by the Sheinbaum cable from Cebu that
criticized Marcos; he restricted distribution of the Rand Corporation Report made by Guy
Pauker about the issue of succession after Marcos.
       “Hardly a day passed that Michael Armacost was not seen with Imelda Marcos.
They danced together in Malacañang; at Leyte they sang World War II GI ditties. He
once held a parasol for her. That seemed to be the metaphor for it all. He was dubbed
Armaclose and Ourmarcos,” according to Richard Bonner in his book, Waltzing with a
       All was to change dramatically and for Armacost painfully. The turning point
was the assassination of Ninoy, and as the pervasiveness of Marcoses’ corruption sank in,
Armacost, erstwhile friend, became an enemy of the Marcos couple, one they could not
afford to have.
       Michael Hayden Armacost has always been tops -- All-American college boy,
scholar, accomplished pianist, top athlete in baseball (batter with the most extra base
hits), in track, golf, swimming... but best in basketball for which he was offered a
scholarship in UCLA, and awarded one of the five All-American in NCAA’s 25th
anniversary. He was Phi Beta Kappa, a Rhodes finalist, a Fulbright scholar, a Woodrow
Wilson Fellow at Columbia.
       Armacost, class president, learned to play the piano because he was dating a girl
musician. She was also the queen of the Winter Carnival, he was the king and later they
were married.
       Truly a Renaissance Man, Armacost was given his first ambassadorial post in the
Philippines. He was close to Marcos because that was what his assignment required.
That’s was what the Kirkpatrick doctrine was all about: support pro-American regimes,
no matter how authoritarian, without naive notions of human rights.

        The day after Ninoy’s murder, Reagan announced that he would go ahead with his
planned trip to the Philippines. Six weeks later, he canceled the visit upon advice of his
domestic counselors, but he went to such lengths to make sure Marcos would not be
offended: “Our friendship for you remains as warm and firm as does our feeling for the
people of the Philippines.”
        Michael Armacost paid a condolence call on Cory, went to the funeral mass,
made a speech praising Ninoy, and refused to attend a party at Malacañang on the
evening of Ninoy’s funeral.
        Armacost’s conversion was traumatic. To him the assassination was “an
illustration of a government out of control,” its crude execution a reflection that “they
didn’t even care about the consequences.”
        Eight months after the assassination Armacost returned to Washington. Imelda,
furious that he was no longer her lap-dog, boasted that she had been responsible for his
        Stephen Bosworth, the new ambassador was no liberal, he supported the
repressive Guatemalan army as it carried wholesale massacres of Indians, and was
expected by Shultz to be nice to Marcos. But he was such a stuff-shirt, he offended
Imelda who wanted him to sing and dance in Malacañang.
        According to Bonner, “Mrs. Marcos passed the microphone to Bosworth,
expecting him to sing.” With a polite, forced smile he turned away. She persisted; he
kept resisting. Finally she nuzzled closer, sticking the microphone in his face. “One
hears a few groaning noises that are a bit like music -- as Bosworth turns ‘redder and
redder,’ remembered an embassy officer.”
        The Americans did not want to depose Marcos, they wanted him to reform. But
their emissaries simply did not get the message across forcefully: CIA Director William
Casey and Senator Paul Lexalt who merely succeeded in assuring Marcos that Reagan
was still his friend.
        But Marcos was rapidly losing control.       Inspite of the fact that the State
Department opposed an election, on November 3, 1985, Marcos dropped a bombshell on
American TV. He announced a Snap Election with outside observers to make sure it is
fair and clean.

       Richard Holbrooke, now an investment banker, came back to the Philippines to
advise the opposition to avoid being portrayed as anti-bases or soft on communism.
       Holbrooke also confused and irritated Cory Aquino, by talking as if he did not
want her to run.
       The professionals in the department, Armacost, Abramowitz, James Nach, moved
to convince their superiors to abandon Marcos.
       “The question is not whether he’s corrupt or not,” said a senior State official,
“The question is whether he had political control. They did not ease him out because he
was corrupt. They eased him out because he lost control of the country.”
       It was Richard Green Lugar, Republican senator from Indiana, who delivered the
blow to Marcos, from which there was no recovery.
       Lugar, leading a bipartisan US delegation to observe the election, found out that
the Makati returns he witnessed was not tabulated in the Comelec, that he was being lied
       But the turning point was the dramatic moment when computer workers, weeping
and tearful, walked out of the Comelec, data disks in hand, to make the charge that the
election was being rigged.
       That was it. Lugar, friend of Reagan who was friend of Marcos, denounced the
election of Marcos as a fraud.
       At the same time, Marcos in repeated appearances over American TV was
showed up as an “inveterate liar” about his hidden wealth, his war record, his fraudulent
       To the very end, the White House still clung to Marcos, Reagan attributing the
election fraud to both sides, Imelda calling Nancy Reagan to complain about Bosworth
and the boys at State.
       In the meantime Shultz, Habib and Armacost tried without success to get Reagan
to abandon Marcos. Nancy Reagan was on the side of Marcos, and as Habib said, “I see
the President once a week; she sees him every night.”
       The initiative slipped from American hands and was seized by Filipinos in the
four days of the February Revolution.
       Concluded Bonner: All Washington could do was to try to avoid crashing.

       Reagan offered Marcos asylum, and had him transported to Hawaii, while a
relieved Ambassador Bosworth dialed to greet Cory Aquino: “Madame President ...”
July 15-23, 1987, Philippine Daily Inquirer


Part One: My Favorite Cousin Tony
       My favorite cousin Antonio C. Oppen was born with a silver spoon in his mouth –
the heir apparent of a long line of landed aristocrats, of the fabulously prolific Montillas
of Negros Occidental, and the equally prolific Lichaucos of Metropolitan Manila. His
father Ernesto “Caruso” Oppen is the only son in a family of seven daughters, the only
one bearing the name of the German immigrant Oppen; and his mother Margarita
“Nuning” Cuyugan is the only child of Timotea Lichauco-Cuyugan, whose wealth she
alone inherited, pristine, intact and undivided.
       Tony Oppen hates to be reminded of his heritage because he is the only one in his
family who ever worked for every penny he received, and he rented his house till the age
of 33 when the business began to make a profit. His elder sister Gretchen Cojuangco
married the fabulously rich Danding Cojuangco. His younger sister Vicky simply took
over the entire cache of family jewels, and was married twice, first to a banker, then to a
restaurant owner. His younger brother Tong was shot and killed in a hunting incident, as
a young teenager, right before Tony’s eyes. His youngest brother Ali is a bon vivant,
who sought to experience the best and the worst that life could offer, and never worked a
single day of his life; unmarried, his inheritance is being eyed by the opulent Opus Dei.
For that matter, none of Tony’s siblings worked a single day of their lives, leaving Tony
to slave over the family businesses, and support his aging ailing mother, as well as his
happy go-lucky brother who at 50 years of age, with his toys for big boys, his stereo sets
and motor boats, and experiments with all sorts of addictions, still refuses to take
responsibility over his own life; and to whom Tony is forced to act as surrogate father.
       All his life, Tony Oppen lived under the shadow of his sister Gretchen, who as the
eldest child and beautiful beyond compare, was the apple of her parent’s eyes, a storied

princess whose every whim is attended to as if she were the Queen of Hearts. Gretchen
and Tony lived lives of sibling rivalry, with Gretchen on top of the world at the peak of
Mount Everest and Tony at the bottom of the ocean in the deepest part of the Marianas
Trench. Gretchen would show a barely visible scar on her brow, saying “Tony did that,”
a reminder of an incident when as children they fought over a can of sardines Tony was
hoarding, and Tony hit her with it. Tony would speak of the frequent times he and his
brother were late going to morning class from Calle Roberts, Pasay, to La Salle College
on Taft Avenue, because Gretchen took her time dressing up and insisted on being
brought first to Assumption on Herran Street, Ermita, much farther away and via the
longest route on Dewey Bouevard. Tony further complains that on his first and only
foray into politics when he ran for congress after martial law, Gretchen was financing his
opponent and engineering his defeat. But these and the many other stories of sibling
rivalry are only a small part of Tony’s life, the Chapter Two of his unwritten biography.
There is still Chapter One.
       The Chapter One, perhaps the most traumatic part of Tony’s life, was lived under
the “tyranny” of his parents, who strangely enough, were considered among the most
affable and best liked of the Lichauco Clan.

Part Two: Tony and His Parents Nuning and Caruso
       In Chapter One of his unwritten biography, my favorite cousin Tony Oppen
speaks of his traumatic experience of the “tyranny” of his parents. When Tony began to
show signs of being precocious and argumentative, his father’s Spanish pride and
German sense of authority could not take it, and his mother pointedly took the side of his
father, right or wrong, to compound the hurtful rejection of Tony. His father retired from
business at the comparatively young age of 52, and abandoned the family’s companies to
the care of young Tony Oppen at the age of 24, just after his graduation from a
comparatively modest education as a coño boy in La Salle and in the great Georgetown
University in Washington, D. C.
       His father then made a career of frequently and cruelly criticizing the way Tony
ran the business, with his mother seconding the motion, despite the obvious fact that he
rescued the businesses out of debt, and was making more money for the family than his

father ever did. To make matters worse, his father underpaid him, and forced him to live
in a rented house for years until he could afford to buy one of his own on his meager
salary. And if any one outside the family complemented Tony for his business successes,
his own mother would dismiss the compliment with the remark, “Oh he just inherited it
all. He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.” His father died at 64, without ever
acknowledging the achievements of his son, and without a single word of advice, apology
or encouragement. That was the unkindest cut of all.
        Tony Oppen took over the Cartimar Market in Pasay City, the first successful
mega-mall in the country; the Welding Industry, Inc., that is practically a monopoly in
the Philippines; an office building in Makati; Norton & Harrison retail and wholesale
house for hardware; several haciendas planted to coconuts, sugar cane, mango, durian
and other fruits in Negros Occidental and in Guimaras; a cattle ranch; and an island of
1,367 hectares on which he is building a world class tourist resort. He has family
mansions in Baguio (wonderfully named The Oppen House), in Bacolod, in Hawaii, and
in Greenhills near Erap Estrada’s house.
        At the same time, Tony Oppen was made a Knight of St. Gregory for services to
the Catholic Church (much higher than the much vaunted Knights of St. Sylvester) and
became a close personal friend of Jaime Cardinal Sin. He was able to get His Eminence
to support the presidential election bid of Protestant Fidel V. Ramos, a crucial political
decision that catapulted Fidel Ramos from the third place position in the surveys to his
eventual election as President of the Philippines, over front-running Miriam Santiago and
Danding Cojuangco. Tony is now Presidential Consultant on National Affairs (like I
am), of cabinet rank, both of us serving the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the nation at
one peso a year. With weekly memos to the President which she reads ten minutes after
they are hand-delivered, he and I are able to influence the course of events in this country
for the last three years.
        But that is not the whole of Tony Oppen’s story. There is still Chapter Three and
Chapter Four of his unwritten biography which he loves to narrate to me and his other
cousins, and to anyone else who will listen, as a form of therapy to rid himself of the
demons that plague his life.

Part Three: Tony, his brother Ali, and wife Cecile
       Chapter Three of the unwritten biography of Tony Oppen concerns his unflagging
efforts to keep his brother Ali on a even keel, trying to instill some discipline into him,
teaching him even how to fold a towel properly on to the bathroom rack, ushering him
into and out of a rehabilitation center in Hawaii, helping him set up a small shop for the
manufacture of refrigeration equipment, indulging him in his expensive hobbies, and
keeping him away from the clutches of the Spanish Opus Dei, which is determined to get
control of Ali’s wealth and property as it did the wealth and properties of the Porfirio
Latorre Family of Batangas.. Opus Dei Numerary Dr. Salvador Magturo, last seen with
the Marcos Foundation of Meralco, even went to the extent of spreading rumors that
Tony and his wife Cecile are plotting to relieve Ali of his inheritance. Fortunately, the
family members including Tita Nuning, were so incensed that Ali’s inheritance is now
placed far above the clutches of the Spanish Inquisition.
       Chapter Four of Tony’s unwritten biography concerns his relationship with his
wife and children. Tony complains that his wife Cecile (who herself is the acknowledged
leader of her own family clan in Iloilo) is not supportive enough of her husband, won’t
even wash his socks in trips abroad (hoy, hindi ako gin polot mo para mag hugas sang
mga medias mo!), does not discipline her children who sometimes defy their father and
refuse to eat the meals he so lovingly cooks for them. In turn, Cecile Oppen also
complains that Tony is kuripot, too much of a mamma’s boy, hits and pounds the closet
door instead of his wife, and verbally abuses her and the children. It happens to the best
of families.
       Fortunately the issue of Chapter Four has been finally resolved with Tony and
Cecile agreeing to an amicable truce and public display of affection, and Tony having
weekly chats with the children, to inculcate his values and dreams for them, conscious of
the fact that his son Ness (named Ernesto after his grandfather), being the only son of the
only married Oppen, is now the only Oppen of his generation to bear the name. Chapter
Three (about Ali) and Chapter One (about Tita Nuning) is similarly resolved, with the
brother finally finding himself, and the mother finally and lovingly proud of the son who
against all odds became the family breadwinner, and an asset to the nation. Only Chapter
Two (the sibling rivalry with sister Gretchen) still remains unresolved, with beautiful

Gretchen chiming a sweet “Hello, Tony!” when brother and sister meet at the residence
of Tita Nuning, and Tony a bit pleased, gruffly grunting, “Hi.” What complicates matters
is the politics of Gretchen’s husband Danding. Tony simply abhors Danding’s friends,
the dictator President Marcos, and President Erap Estrada whom he considers a thief and
a liar.
          There is a Lichauco streak in Tony Oppen that sometimes but not often leaves
him highly opinionated, intolerant, unreasonable and unforgiving. It is the same streak
that exists in his cousin Alejandro “Ding” Lichauco, the rabid nationalist economist and
iconoclast, and his late brother Eddie, who terrorized his elders, the old-timers of Ayala
Corporation; in Tony’s late cousins Oscar and Ginny de Leon; in my late father-in-law
Don Tomas Lichauco, his daughter Helen, and my own daughter Juno.

Part Four: Tony the Political Genius
          Tony Oppen is what liberals call a Fascist, and if he had his way, all Communists,
Socialists, labor leaders and advocates of agrarian reform would be lined up against the
wall and executed by rifle fire. In the same way that his cousin Ding Lichauco would
have all lovers of America, free trade and globalization wiped out by machine gun
bullets. But both have their good sides too – they are in their own way very astute
political analysts who know what is wrong with the country and are obsessed about doing
something about it.
          My cousin Tony has one of the most brilliant political minds in the country, even
if only I, President Gloria, and Boy Saycon know about it. His wife Cecile hearing her
usually taciturn husband loudly expound on his political views, once offered the
observation, “I think my husband is falling off the deep end.” But she is wrong. Tony
then brilliantly suggested that to prevent an Erap take-over, President Fidel Ramos should
run as vice-president in tandem with presidential candidate Gloria Macapagal in the 1998
elections.    Unfortunately with his typical Pangalatok cussedness and pride, Ramos
rejected the idea.     Tony argued then, and has now been proven right, that as vice
president to Gloria, Ramos would have been accorded a senior statesman role as “co-
president” and foreign secretary by a grateful Gloria, if Gloria won, with a clear career
path to the Secretary Generalship of the United Nations. And if Gloria lost to Erap,

Ramos might have been president again for three more years after Erap got booted out of
office. Sayang, Ramos settled for Joe de Venecia as his presidential candidate. Tony
Oppen is really a political genius, he could anticipate the actions of politicians and
national leaders even before they think and act. He accurately predicted that his brother-
in-law Danding Cojuangco would return from exile and run for president three years
before it actually happened. He was the first to suggest that the Americans take a hand in
helping us against the terrorists, hence the Balikatan, and recommended many other
actions of Gloria for which she is now getting a lot of kudos.
       My cousin Tony Oppen is the Quintessential Lichauco as I am the Quintessential
Henares. That is why we get along famously, I guess. The only difference between us is
that he suffers occasionally from gout and I use to suffer from ulcers. It is said that if you
inherit your wealth, you get gout from too much good living. If you earn your own
riches, you get ulcers from the effort you exert.
       The Lichaucos are to the Roenschs (on my mother-in-law’s side) what the
Henareses are to the Maramba side of my own mother. The Lichaucos and the Henareses
are exploding novas in the universe, always brilliant before descending into a Black Hole,
sometimes rich, sometimes broke, but are never poor (for poverty is a state of mind), and
they have a flair for drama displayed for all to see, they are always full of confidence,
optimism and great expectations. The Roenschs and the Marambas on the other hand, are
as steady as the sun in our small planetary system, are consistently sound of mind, solid
in financial resources and very dependable, yet they are parsimonious and act
comparatively poor, shy of publicity and are perceived to have a dim and pessimistic
view of the future. To them, I suppose, the present is so perfect that any change is more
likely for the worse than for the better.

Part Five: Tony the Agriculturist and Industrialist
When Tony was a young boy in Grade School, he discovered a plant in his mother’s
garden, grown from a remnant of the workers’ meal in the family residence in Sta. Ana
during the war. It was a little pechay plant, struggling to survive and about to die. He
asked his father what he can do to save it and his father Ernesto “Caruso” Oppen said,
“Urinate on it every day.” It was good advice, for urine contains ammonium sulfate, a

component of fertilizer. Tony pissed on it every day, till the plant bloomed into a healthy
vegetable. Proudly he presented it to the cook who made it into a soup, the most
satisfying meal Tony ever had. When at the age of 15, he saw another remnant of the
workers’ meal, this time a group of tomato seedlings, he knew what to do. He pissed on
them. And he has been pissing on plants ever since, acquiring a passion for agriculture
that persists to this day. Me, as President of the Philippine Chamber of Industries (now
PCCI) in the late 1950s, I argued for total industrialization and had a running feud with
Tay Peding Montelibano of the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture (now defunct). I
believed that modernized agriculture cannot be achieved without industries making farm
equipment, fertilizers and irrigation systems. Agriculture alone cannot be successful
because if harvests are bad, the nation goes hungry, and if harvests are good, the farm
prices plummet below the cost of production and the farmers go bankrupt. The only time
a farmer succeeds is when he has a good harvest and everyone else does not. Notice that
industrialized nations are rich, and agricultural nations are poor. I say this because my
favorite cousin Tony is the first person I know who has resolved the contradictions of
agriculture and industry.
       Tony is both a farmer and an industrialist, and is successful as both. He is a
manufacturer of high quality welders and welding consummables, maintains a near
monopoly in the Philippines and has done well against foreign competition. At the same
time Tony has vast areas planted to coconut, sugar cane, mangoes, durian and other fruits
for which he is paid in foreign countries a higher price than in his own country. But I am
most impressed, as an engineer, with the world class tourist resort called Costa Aguada in
his island in Negros, which he designed without an architect or an engineer, all by
himself with the help of one draftsman. My daughter Elvira, my grandson Larry Henares
Esguerra and I were there upon his invitation. There Tony built a resort environment so
close to nature that it could not be seen as such from the air. He built 68 rooms in 48
cottages, all made of sturdy native materials, bamboo tubes, coconut shells, fern leaves,
roots, buri and nipa. He employs 40 people in the resort, and another 235 in the entire
island, raising ducks, chickens, horses, vegetables, salted and fresh eggs, fish and other
foodstuffs, and salt, soap, herbal medicines, and handcrafts, all for use and sale in the
resort. He has a mountain reservoir that feeds the swimming pools and faucets by

gravity, fresh and hot water (heated by burning island wastes) at a tremendous pressure of
40 pounds per square inch. No cats to prey on the island’s creatures, no dogs to bark and
soil the sand. Tony designed and built an inland sea and breakwater that can withstand
90 tons of typhoon waves every six seconds along the ten meters of wall; a floating
bridge from boat to shore steadier than a pontoon bridge, a helipad and one-kilometer
runway for an airplane, and a marina to shield boats from typhoons,          And clumps of
bamboo trees, sounding like gentle raindrops in the wind. Most impressive is a shallow
trough invented by Tony, buried slant wise on his roads that diverts rain water and
prevents it from ever eroding the road – ideal for the Baguio Kennon Road.
February 23-27, 2004

Part Six: Tony, Tong and Pacman
        THERE were three of them on that fateful hunting trip -- Tony, his younger
brother Ernesto (Tong) and cousin Leo. Tony and Tong were behind the duck blind,
waiting for the ducks to rise from the mangrove swamp. Leo should have been beside
them, but he was not, he was behind them to the side of Tong. All three had with
shotguns loaded with Number 4 birdshot.
        The ducks rose in a flurry of wings. Tony and Tong who were expert hunters,
stepped out to the side of the duck blind, raised their guns to their shoulders and started to
shoot. So did Leo, shooting like a cowboy from hip, as Tong stepped in front of him, two
feet from the muzzle of his gun.
        Tony remembers that moment like a slow motion replay -- the blast that blew out
half of his brother's head, the flying fragments of bone and brain tissue, the sight of Tony
lying face down on the water, Tony’s automatic reflex action trying to get the brains back
into his brother's shattered skull.
        And there was Leo, screaming and kneeling down, terrified out of his mind. Tony
was shouting “Where is the gun?” as he frantically grabbed at Leo's gun. Leo quailed in
terror, expecting to be gunned down by the brother of the man he just killed.
        Strangely Tony felt that all that was happening was part of a movie he was
watching, part of something outside of himself, a dream, a nightmare. He took Leo's gun
and pumped the bullets out of the firing chamber till it was empty, because he was afraid

Leo would kill himself.
       And that was all Tony Oppen can remember of that fateful day in 1959 on the
island Inampulugan, where he and his brother Ernesto Oppen III and his cousin Leo
Lazatin went for a good time hunting ducks.
       Time and again Tony would wake up from his nightmare, with the realization that
it was true. It really happened, and he bears the scars in his soul to this very day.
       But the real tragedy of Tony Oppen is being the younger brother of Gretchen,
wife of Danding Cojuangco. After Tony was his brother Tong, then sister Vicky, and the
youngest brother Alejandro (Ali). All five are the children of Doña Margarita Lichauco
Cuyugan de Oppen, my wife’s favorite auntie and known in the family as Tita Nuning.
       Great fortunes are lost or dissipated in a few generations, but not that of Tita
Nuning who was an only child, orphaned at the age of 18, an heiress endowed with great
beauty and a huge fortune. In time she married Ernest Oppen the only son and youngest
of eight children of a German immigrant Wilhelm Oppen and a Spanish Filipina Choleng
Montilla of Negros Occidental.
       When his father died, Tony Oppen, as the eldest son bearing the family name,
expected to take care of the family businesses as he always did, to care for the education
of his youngest brother and the needs of his mother and sisters -- to be accepted as the
Man in the family. He expected family disagreements, but he expected his mother and
elder sister to be the arbitrators. But his older sister, as beauteous as Tita Nuning, was
long regarded as the Niña Bonita and Princess Charming in the family, who is married to
the richest man in the Philippines, Danding Cojuangco, Pacman himself. And she was
loathe to leave her throne.
       So, all those years, Tony remained Executive Vice President of the family firms
(Welding Industries and Ernesto Oppen, Inc. which owns the Cartimar Market in Pasay),
while Tita Nuning remained the president in name. He lived in a company house for
eight years before he was allowed to buy his own.
       He weathered a family crisis when his chemist quit and set up a competing
business financed by his own brother-in-law. Also a business crisis in which Danding’s
lawyers (ACCRA) advised him to give in to the demands of disgruntled Cartimar
vendors, which he resisted and won, but which resulted in the transfer of most good

clients to Cash & Carry.
       After the February Revolution, Tony who was vocal against Marcos, was tainted
by his relation to Danding Cojuangco, the Pacman who swallowed some 120
corporations, from San Miguel to Northern Cement to those producing pearls, paints,
prawns, textiles.
       Against his better judgment he was prevailed upon by Tony Luzuriaga and
Neptali Gonzales to run for congress in Negros under the Lakas ng Bansa. It was his
mother who made the decision for him and supported him all the way.
       It was Tony's chance to gain the respect of his peers in the political field, like
Danding. But Danding and Gretchen from their place of exile decided that they are not
ready to relinquish their position as the Niños Bonitos de Familia.           So during the
campaign, Danding sent great amounts of money to Tony’s opponents to insure his
defeat. Tony lost the election, but Danding’s deed and Tony’s gallant fight made Tita
Nuning realize that Tony earned his right to be the real Man of the Family.
       And that is victory enough for Tony.
March 4, 1989, Philippine Daily Inquirer


Part One: Two great Filipino leaders both bastards
       There were two great leaders in the Philippines during the American Occupation,
both bastards according to the gossip of the time. One was Sergio Osmeña, called Intsik,
and acknowledged by Senator Sergio Osmeña III himself to be the illegitimate son of a
Chinese. He took the family name of his mother. The other one was Manuel L. Quezon,
called Kastila, rumored to be the son of a priest. But we have it on good authority that it
was his mother who was the daughter of a priest. Both of these two leaders were the
friends of my grandfather, Assemblyman and Senator Daniel Maramba, who followed
them as the true leaders of Philippine Independence, whose Nacionalista Party
spearheaded the fight for “total absolute and immediate independence.” It is the great
Manuel L. Quezon whose 120th birthday we celebrated in our TV program last August
19th, 1998.
       President Sergio Osmeña is the more humble, reticent and taciturn of the two

great leaders. Yet how come he had the most talkative and intrusive and most numerous
descendants of the two? – two senators, one governor, one presidential candidate, two
vice presidential candidates, many of them fighting each other? That is because he had
two wives and 19 children all competing for attention. Quezon had only one wife and
three children.
       With wife Aurora Aragon a cousin ten years his junior, whom he married when he
was aged 40, he had three children: Maria Aurora (Baby) whom Marcos falsely claimed
to be his sweetheart; Maria Zenaida (Nini) who married Felipe Buencamino III; and
Manuel Quezon Jr. (Nonong) who married and was separated. A fourth child Luisa
Corazon Paz died in 1924. After the war, Mrs. Quezon, Baby and Philip Buencamino
were ambushed and killed by the communists. The widowed Nini married again, this
time to Mike Avanceña. Nini carried on the line with two children with Philip
Buencamino and seven with Mike. Her brother Nonong adopted one child, Manuel
Quezon III, a columnist in Teddyboy’s newspaper Today.
       Manuel L. Quezon was born August 19, 1878 in a nipa hut in Baler. His parents
Lucio Quezon and Maria Dolores Molina were schoolteachers, of Spanish blood and
fluent in Spanish. His mother was a widow with a son when she married Lucio; she was
also the daughter of a priest. The mother wanted him to be a priest, his father wanted him
to be a soldier. He studied in San Juan de Letran, and earned his keep as the servant of a
priest. A bright student, good orator, and a passable piano player, he was also an athlete,
fond of swimming and gymnastics, full of boyish pranks. His mother died of tuberculosis
in his arms. Bandits killed his father and brother Pedro.
       He took up law in UST. He and his schoolmate Sergio Osmeña took the bar
examinations together. Osmeña was number 2, he was number 4. Quezon fought in the
Philippine Revolution under Aguinaldo (according to Carlos Quirino but his grandson
claims he never fought Spain as promised to his father), and in the Philippine American
war under General Tomas Mascardo in Bataan. He surrendered to the Americans when
he learned that Aguinaldo was captured, and was ushered into Malacañang where
Aguinaldo was detained.

Part Two: Quezon, “where my loyalty to my country begins”
       After the Philippine American War, Manuel L. Quezon became a bank clerk, and
later after passing the bar, a law partner in the Ortigas Law Office, and later became a
successful lawyer in his own right earning as much as P1,000 a month, at the time when
the minimum wage was not even P30 per month. He answered the call of duty as a P150-
a-month fiscal, sent his father’s murderers to jail for life, and worked for their early
release. Then he entered politics upon his election as governor of his province.
       In the elections of 1907, he run for the Philippine Assembly under the new
Nacionalista Party which advocated “total, immediate, and absolute independence” from
the United States, against the Federalista Party which advocated Philippine statehood.
Quezon and the Nacionalista Party won overwhelmingly, and the Federalista Party faded
into oblivion. Quezon was the assemblyman representing his province Tayabas, and
elected Majority Floor Leader under the speakership of Sergio Osmeña.
       Quezon and Osmeña had their first fight with the American colonizers over the
Payne Aldrich Act of 1909, establishing Free Trade between the Philippines and the
USA. Both opposed the Act vigorously on the ground that it would kill our traditional
exports and make us dependent on the USA for all the things we need. The Payne
Aldrich Act was passed with the support of American Big Business, and subsequent
events proved our leaders right. Under Spain we were three oceans away and self-
sufficient in our needs. We exported cotton, tobacco, sugar and cooking oil. Under the
USA, we became an economic dependency. Our only exports were to the USA, copra in
exchange for cooking oil, raw sugar in exchange for candies, and we imported everything
else, even rice, because the Americans wanted us to have cheap rice from Thailand.
       Quezon served as Resident Commissioner in the Congress of the United States,
and saw the passage of the Jones Law in 1916 which promised us eventual independence
and set up a bicameral legislature to train us in self-government. Manuel L. Quezon
became Senator and Senate President from 1916 to 1935, and was recognized as the
second highest official in the Philippines. Independence missions were sent to the USA
to agitate for Philippine Independence, headed by Quezon, Osmeña and Roxas. All three
of them would become the President of the Philippines each in his turn.
       The American Governor General Francis Burton Harrison (after whom the street

in Pasay is named) governed the country. To advise Burton the Council of State was
organized, with nine members, in which the Governor General was president, and
Speaker Osmeña was the vice president. During the Republican years of US President
Warren Harding (of the Teapot Dome scandal), there was indifference to Philippine
Independence, since the Republican Party is traditionally dominated by American
imperialistic Big Business.
       The new Republican Governor General Leonard Wood abolished the Council of
State. At the time, there was a split in the Nacionalista Party into Unipersonalistas under
Osmeña and Collectivistas under Quezon. Accused of disloyalty to Osmeña, at the time
considered to number one leader, Quezon countered “My loyalty to my party ends where
my loyalty to my country begins.”

Part Three: The Independence Act forbade American bases in the country
       Although Quezon and Osmeña had their political differences, they were united in
their fight against the American Governor General Leonard Wood, an asshole who
claimed to be a hero in Cuba, clambering up San Juan Hill with Theodore Roosevelt in
what turned out to be the greatest farce of the Spanish American War. The bone of
contention was the infamous Conley Incident.
       The Mayor of Manila and Secretary of Interior Jose P. Laurel suspended Manila
policeman Ray Conley for accepting bribes. In a blatant display of racism, Governor
Leonard Wood reinstated him. The Filipino leaders were up in arms, Laurel resigned
from the cabinet, and Quezon exclaimed, “I would prefer a government run like hell by
Filipinos than one run like heaven by Americans.” Because adds his grandson, however
bad the Filipino government may be, we can always change it.
       The Democratic years under US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was kinder
to the Filipinos. The passage of the Hare Hawes Cutting Bill detailing the grant of
independence, was obtained by Senator Osmeña and Speaker Roxas from the US
Congress. Quezon adamantly opposed it because it allowed Americans to maintain
military bases in the Philippines even after independence. The entire country was divided
between Pro and Anti in what was perceived to be a personal leadership fight between
Quezon on one hand and the Osmeña-Roxas tandem on the other. My grandfather and

Eddie Ramos’ father sided with Quezon, and Quezon won overwhelmingly. He then
went to the United States in 1933 an got another Independence bill passed. His political
opponents derided the Act as the same horse in a different color. But they were wrong,
the Tydings-McDuffie Act did not permit military bases in the Philippines, only refueling
stations. Later Roxas had his revenge by giving the Americans the military bases in
1946. The Tydings-McDuffie Act promised Philippine independence in 10 years and
created a transition government called the Commonwealth, to be headed by a Philippine
President. It was promptly accepted by the Philippine Assembly.
       With the leadership issue settled, the Pros and Antis reunited and the Nacionalista
Party fielded Quezon and Osmeña in the presidential elections of 1935. In that election
our revolutionary heroes President Emilio Aguinaldo of the First Republic and Bishop
Gregorio Aglipay of the revolutionary Philippine Independence Church, opposed them.
It was the battle of the old and the new. My grandfather Don Daniel Maramba, although
the vice-president of the Veteran’s Association with Aguinaldo as president, sided
decisively with Quezon. The election was marred by a dirty propaganda campaign
waged by the Philippines Herald under its editor Carlos P. Romulo, to paint Aguinaldo as
the murderer of Andres Bonifacio and Antonio Luna.
       The Nacionalistas won with 68 percent of the vote cast.            In appropriate
ceremonies, the Philippine Flag, once forbidden by Dug-out Dog’s father, General Arthur
MacArthur, was hauled up to wave beside the Star and Stripes. And Manuel L. Quezon
moved into Malacañang as the first Filipino occupant of the seat of power in 400 years.

Part Four: Happy 120th birthday, President Quezon!
       As recounted by historian Carlos Quirino, the Malacañang Palace was brightly lit
one evening in October 1907. The occasion was a reception and a ball marking the
opening session of the First National Assembly.        Chandeliers lighted up the wide
staircase leading to the main hall. Three thousand guests lined up to greet American
Governor General Cameron Forbes (an arrogant American duly immortalized by the
Ayalas as Forbes Park). The American jackass was at the top of the stairs at the head of
the reception line. At the bottom of the stairs stood a young, handsome mestizo. His
cousin Maria Angara (an ancestor of Edgardo Angara) accompanied him. The young

man turned to Maria Angara and in Tagalog said, “Someday, you’ll see me at the head of
the reception line.” That young man was Manuel L. Quezon and he spoke of the seat of
colonial power where only Spaniards and Americans resided for four hundred years.
       The journey to the top was a long journey for Manuel L. Quezon. Three decades
later in November 1935, he was indeed at the top of the stairs, welcoming visitors as
president of the Philippine Commonwealth. His administration set the tone for those to
come. The Commonwealth Act No. 1 was passed creating the Philippine Army to consist
of citizens recruited by draft.    This act was passed under the sponsorship of my
grandfather’s House Committee on Defense.          The National Economic Council, the
supreme economic policy maker, a constitutional body more powerful than the NEDA,
was established under its first Chairman Manuel Roxas. I became chairman of this body
during the term of President Diosdado Macapagal.
       Quezon inaugurated his Social Justice Program, with the passage of the minimum
wage Law, 8-hour day, Court of Industrial Relations, Court of Appeals, low-cost housing,
the National Development Company to spearhead industrialization, the use of barong
tagalog, designation of Tagalog as the basis for a National Language. Because his six-
year term without reelection is “too long for a bad president, and too short for a good one,
Quezon had the constitution amended to allow him two 4-year terms not exceeding 8
years. He was elected for the second term in 1941.
       One of the first things Quezon did was to ask General Douglas “Dug-out Dog”
MacArthur to come and train his new Philippine Army. MacArthur who fancied himself
the American Caesar, took over a suite in the Manila Hotel, demanded and got a 12-
cylinder Packard about the size of a living room, and set up Elizabeth “Dimples” Cooper,
a Fil-American actress as his querida. Asshole.
       The World War II broke out on December 8, 1941 when Japanese planes
attacked, Pearl Harbor, Clark Field and Manila. President Quezon asked US President
Roosevelt to give the Philippines immediate independence, so that he can declare the
Philippines neutral and was refused. He threatened to resign but Osmeña convinced him
to change his mind. When defeat was inevitable, Q-boat and plane transported him and
his family to Australia, thence to the USA on February 20, 1942. Before he left, he paid
$500,000 to MacArthur, an amount twice the national budget at the time. Smells of

blackmail. November 14, 1943, his 8-year term ran out, but with the consent of Osmeña,
had it extended indefinitely by the US Congress. Death came to him in 1944 at age of 66,
wasted by tuberculosis, surrounded by his family in Saranac Lake, New York.
       Manuel Quezon was a man of whom many anecdotes are told.                     He very
graciously made his peace with President Aguinaldo on the birthday of my grandfather
Assemblyman Maramba, in Pasay City; I was there. Stories abound about his inviting
friends to his bedroom, while he was stark naked and dressing up, stories told by Carlos
Quirino and my own grandfather. His daughter Nini confirmed this. I saw Vicente
Madrigal seeing him off in one of his independence missions, and embracing him,
slipped a check into his pocket. Quezon pushed him away, took the check out and
exclaimed for all to hear, “What? Only $100,000?” He would insist that his daughters
return items the store owner insisted on giving them free. He would disagree with
official judges in public and say the Carlos Quirino should have won the Rizal biography
content instead of Rafael Palma, and that Raul Manglapus should have won the oratorical
contest. Marcos once claimed that his daughter Aurora was his inamorata, a lie for
which Marcos was sued, and for which he had to apologize.
       Happy 120th birthday, President Quezon.
September 6-9, 1998, ISYU


1. Another time, another place, Dante Buscayno might have been a saint
       Look at the platform of Partido ng Bayan and its senatorial slate, Bernabe "Dante"
Buscayno and the rest of the Magnificent Seven --- taxi-driver Crispin Beltran, newsman
Jose Burgos, lawyer Romeo Capulong, technocrat Horacio Morales, beauty queen Nelia
Sancho, farmer Jaime Tadeo --- and you see nothing that smacks of Communism ... no
proposals for state ownership of the means of production, elimination of the capitalist
class, dictatorship of the proletariat. Their platform is classic Nationalism, straight out of
Recto and Tañada ... people's power, land reform, industrialization, human rights, free
education, women's rights, self-determination, repudiation of US-sponsored bloodbath,

non-aligned foreign policy.
         Americans of low IQ claim that anyone who is against US policy, especially the
nationalists, are communists. That's stupid. I am more of a capitalist than that grubby
civil servant Phil Kaplan.
         Bernabe Buscayno, formerly Commander Dante of the NPA, has rejected the
"armed struggle" of the Communist Party and its political objectives; has opted like
Recto and Tanada, to seek Change through the electoral process.
         Another time in another place, where American Imperialists hold no sway, Dante
Buscayno might have been a hero or a saint.
         Dante Buscayno remembers crying silently as he squeezed a few drops of sugar
cane juice to feed his starving mother, dying of tuberculosis, to cure which she drank the
blood of a black dog. She died, and her eight children were distributed among strangers.
Dante was only 9 years old, the 2nd eldest, and for years he would not see his family
         He became a servant in the household of Jose Ramos in Project 2 QC; a store
helper under Mrs. Concepcion Blanco in Buenavista behind Quiapo Church; a helper in
the dog clinic of Dr. Luciano in Pasay, where dogs were fed with eggs and meat, which in
his hunger, he shared; a waiter under Jose Naguial in Angeles City.
         Dante was convinced that if he worked hard, he will have enough to get a college
degree and help his brothers and sisters. He studied off and on in various schools, Burgos
Elementary, MLQ colleges in Sta. Mesa, Paco Parochial school. He dropped out when he
was 3rd year high, because he was too poor to afford books, notebooks, clothes.
         One day he was out of a job, sick with bronchitis, sleeping inside the Tutuban
station till chased out, then waiting for the doors of Quiapo Church to open so he can
pray a little and go to sleep.
         Dante steered clear of rich people and foreigners because they looked at him as if
he was a criminal or one incurably diseased. But near España behind the People's
Theater in QC, among squatters as poor as he was, he found he was welcome. They did
not have enough to feed their own families, but whatever little they had, they shared with

Dante. Dante used to cry in gratitude for their generosity, and for the fact that he never
had to join the underworld of thieves and murderers in order to survive. He was 15 years
       After he was released by Cory, Dante Buscayno went back to have a tearful
reunion with all who helped him, but the squatters were no longer there. Dante is sure
there is a merciful God somewhere who would reward them for all they shared with him.
       Once Dante Buscayno became a thief. He was broke, hungry and wanted to
return to Tarlac. He stole a puncher from a Quiapo book store, and sold it for P5.00. He
bought pancit, pan de lemon, and a bottle of Cosmos. He then boarded a Mallorca bus
for Tarlac, but he had only enough money to reach Dao in Pampanga.
       He was let down near a sugar cane field in Dao. He was chewing cane when an
old man, Roberto Anunsacion offered him a job as a farmhand. Dante worked a whole
year, plowing, taking care of the carabao, growing vegetables, and cutting sugar cane,
before he saved enough to go home. He was 16 years old.
       Back in his hometown in Capas, Tarlac, he worked as a cane cutter for P1.80 per
ton of cane. Migrant workers called sacadas hardly earned P15.00 a week, not enough to
pay their utang to the company store, or for needed work clothes.
       They asked for P2.00 per ton pay, and being refused, went on strike, which failed
because sacadas from Pangasinan were brought in to take their place.
       The next year, under Dante, the sacadas decided to burn the fields if their
demands were not met. They burned 60 hectares and within two days, the landowners
surrendered, this time paying them P2.20 per ton. The struggle for survival went on,
among tenant rice farmers to get a fair share of the harvest.
       One day, Dante was asked by the barrio captain to report to the PC Camp known
as the Jetmin Village. Dante used to set money aside to see an occasional movie. Movies
and comics depicted the soldier as a Huk-fighter and friend of the poor, and he believed
them. He took all the money he had and bought one pack of blue seal Chesterfield
cigarettes which he would give to the soldier he fully expected to be his friend for life.
       He was taken to the Provincial Commander, a Captain Palmares who took his

Chesterfields and kicked him in the groin. He was turned over to an interrogator, a Sgt.
Mariano who drove a fist into his solar plexus and hit him again and again about the ears.
My God, he was 17 years old.
       He was told to report regularly to the PC. He was scared and hid in the sugar
cane fields, and continued his organizing work among the peasants. He was now wanted
by the military, so he organized a group, armed them with old Japanese rifles, and
pursued the life of a guerrilla. In 1968, he formed the New People's Army with 35 men;
by 1976, when he was finally captured, he had more than 5,000 men under arms.
       For 16 years he was in hiding, wanted dead or alive with a price of P200,000 on
his head, wounded three times, and once left for dead for three days in the wilderness.
He was captured on August 26, 1976, and spent almost ten years in prison.
       During the first three years, he never knew night from day; he was kicked in the
testicles, jabbed in the ribs and on the neck, clapped in the ears, strangled, burned with
cigarettes and interrogated day and night. Then he was placed in solitary for such a long
time, his voice dwindled into a whine.
       He was accused with Ninoy Aquino and Jose Maria Sison of murder and
subversion. They were all found guilty and sentenced to die by firing squad. Ninoy and
Dante, old friends from way back when Ninoy was the mayor in Concepcion, made a
solemn pact to take care of each other's families in case death overtakes them. All the
time Dante was confined, Ninoy's mother took care of his wife and family.
       In 1986, when Cory became president, she gave full amnesty to her husband's
friend Dante Buscayno, and released him into the custody of Ninoy's mother Doña
       If you think that this man, coming from the lowest rung of our society, with
dreams of helping the poor, deserves to be in the Senate, vote for him, contribute to his
campaign. His headquarters is near Ninoy’s house, 89 West Avenue, Quezon City, Tel.
       We owe that much to the poor and the hungry among us, to the friendless, the
cheated and the beaten.
April 15, 1987, Philippine Daily Inquirer


Intro: My son Atom married Ninoy’s niece, Vicki Belo
       During Martial Law after Ninoy Aquino was released from prison and put under
house arrest to spend Christmas with his family, he sent for me and my wife Cecilia to
come and visit.him. We were good friends, we ran for the senate together in 1967. In
that visit, the last time I saw Ninoy alive, his first words were “How’s my favorite alaga
Atom to whom I lent my helicopter when he ran for the Student Council? I understand
he married my niece, Vicki Belo. My wife Cory appreciates the fact that he invited her to
the wedding, and insisted that she attend, especially when my family were anathema to
the Marcos regime and even more especially when his ninongs were my jailers, Juan
Ponce Enrile and General Fidel V. Ramos.”
       Vicky Belo is the natural daughter of Ninoy’s first cousin, Augusto “Toy” Cancio,
one of his 9 children, and adopted by Enrique and Nena Belo whose only child she is.
Nena is the sister of Toy’s wife, Charing. Thus Vicki Belo belongs to two families, as
one of 9 children, and as an only child – enjoying the best from each. Vicky is one of
those fortunate individuals endowed by her DNA with a high IQ and a photographic
memory. She can read by turning pages in a few seconds, 8,000 words a minute with 100
percent accuracy, better than Ferdinand Marcos or John F. Kennedy, but way below the
world’s champion Tessie Cuaderno.        Today, Vicki Belo is a successful doctor, a
dermatologist who is a world class expert in liposuction and skin care.
       She married my son Atom (Alfredo Tomas Henares, named after his grandfathers
on my wife’s side, German-born Alfred Roensch and Tomas Lichauco), an MBA from
Harvard, erstwhile banker (First National Bank of Chicago) and now a successful
industrialist and entrepreneur. Atom and his partners manufacture abaca pulp which is
being used in Japan for the making of paper money and security paper, and in Europe as
tea bags. His Isarog firm is the biggest private employer in the Bicol peninsula which
cannot supply enough abaca for them to process, so they have to import abaca also from
Davao and Leyte. Atom and his partners, principally Dennis Villareal, also own the
largest plantation of palm trees (8,000 hectares) in the Philippines and the largest

vegetable oil processing plant, with bigger capacity than PMC (Proctor and Gamble) and
PRC (Unilever) combined. They also operate one of the largest power plants outside of
Luzon, the Naga Power Plant supplying power to Cebu. Atom by himself is the proud
owner of one TV station and a network of FM stations, NU-107, dedicated to the very
young and sponsoring the famous yearly Rock Awards.
       Vicki Belo and my son Atom have two children, Quark (the smallest part of the
atom) and Cristalle. Their marriage was recently annulled, but they remain better friends
that they ever were as man and wife, having weekly Sunday lunch with their children and
parents (Ike, Nena and myself), advising each other on business matters, and even
traveling together with their children.
December 8, 2000

Part One: Vicki Belo, the Poor Little Rich Girl
       This is initially the story of two Gonzales sisters, mothers to one baby girl, one by
natural birth, the other by adoption. This is mainly the story of Maria Victoria Belo, who
belongs to two families – a family of nine children, at the same time a family where she
is the only child. One would imagine that she had the best of two worlds and should be
happy. But it is also the story of frustration and insecurity that came with the knowledge
of being adopted, a failed marriage, and the triumph of talent and will over the
insurmountable tragedies of a troubled life.
       The story starts with a double-date of the two Gonzalez sisters and their
boyfriends: Nena and Enrique “Ike” Belo, and Chit and Agustin “Toy” Cancio. In the
course of the evening, Nena felt sick and wanted to go home, but Toy and Chit were
having such fun they begged for a little more time for dancing. Nena was brought
directly to the hospital with a ruptured appendix and a severe case of peronitis that
invaded her fallopian tubes and rendered her incapable of having a child.
       Both sisters married their boyfriends. Chit was a veritable baby factory, giving
birth to one baby every year, while Nena after eight years of marriage, had yet to produce
one. By the time Chit had 3 girls and one boy, she was pregnant again, and this time, Ike
Belo begged her to give him and Nena the next child for adoption. “Okay,” said Chit,
recalling that it was she and Toy who kept Nena from going on time to the hospital, “If

it’s a boy it’s mine. If it’s a girl it’s yours.” It happened to be a baby girl born
prematurely; and while Chit was still recovering in the hospital, Ike and Nena brought the
baby home with them. Chit did not have time to reconsider because she immediately
became pregnant again, and gave birth to a baby boy 11 months later. Eventually she
became mother to nine children.
       The little adopted girl was baptized Maria Victoria Belo, and she was the apple of
her father’s eye. Every night for years, her father Ike Belo would lovingly tuck her into
bed and tell her wonderful stories about “little Veronica” who was beautiful and talented
and very well-loved because she was adopted, deliberately chosen to be the princess of
the house. For years, Victoria would hear these wonderful stories about Veronica who
was adopted, and at last told her father, “I wish I was adopted too, like Veronica.” And
her father gently answered, “But you are adopted, Vicki, we chose you out of all the
babies in the entire world to be our child. You are our Veronica.” And Vicki cried with
joy and happy tears, and embraced her father saying, “I love you most of all.” She was
three years of age. By the time Vicki was five, she was enrolled in the kindergarten class
of the exclusive Assumption Convent. It was here that she experienced her first shock.
She stood apart as the only adopted child in the entire school. She was fat, ugly and wore
glasses, and as such was an object of derision. “Yeyeyeyeye, you’re so ugly, ugly, so
your mommy did not want you at all and gave you away ‘cause you’re ugly,
yeyeyeyeye.” How cruel children can be!

Part Two: Vicki Belo felt she was an unwanted child
       Vicki Belo is the poor little rich girl who was the natural daughter of Chit Cancio
and was adopted by her mother’s sister Nena Belo. In Assumption where Vicki was
enrolled in kindergarten class, she was derided as being fat and ugly, unwanted by her
natural mother and given away because she was ugly.
       Her Cancio sisters were enrolled in the same school, but they were fetched by
another car and driver. One day, Vicki’s own car was late in coming to fetch her, and the
Assumption nuns felt it was a good idea to have her ride home with her own Cancio
sisters, and dragged her kicking and screaming into the Cancio car. She was beating with
her fists on the rear windshield crying and screaming for her father, when the Belo car

arrived. Her father Ike bounded out of his car to rescue his daughter, and berated the
nuns for their thoughtless act. Vicki was so traumatized and alienated by this experience
that every day, she would excuse herself from class to go to the bathroom, there to climb
up to the high window to peer into the parking lot, just to make sure her car and her father
were there to fetch her. It seemed like all the world hated her except her beloved father.
       But even that proved to be illusory. At the age of 11, already in puberty, she had
a nice pair of breasts growing, and her only joy was to be with her father going to movies
and party dancing. While father and daughter were dancing at the party of the Lion’s
Club in the Manila Hotel, Ike’s friends came around to tease him, “Hey, Ike, introduce us
to your girlfriend!” “This is my daughter Vicki,” said Ike, and his friends winked at him,
“Sure, sure, Ike. We won’t tell your wife.” That very night, Ike Belo told his wife, Nena,
“Our daughter is growing up fast. Dalaga na siya. My friends think she is my girlfriend.
I am afraid I can no longer take her out alone. From now on, you take care of her!”
       From then on her father went to movies with a nephew, not with Vicki anymore.
Vicki Belo was to say later, “I was devastated. My father was the love of my life. He
was the only one who treated me with love and affection. All of a sudden he cast me out
of his life. From 11 to 14 years of age, at the time I was having problems with pimples
and baby fat, avoided by my classmates and plagued with feelings of insecurity and
alienation, I was rejected by the very person I loved the most, my father. The light of my
life flickered and died. I was completely alone and unwanted. I just wanted to die.”
       At the age of 16, she surprised her natural mother, Mama Chit, on her birthday, by
presenting her with a balloon bouquet. Mama Chit commented, “You love me pala. You
do not resent me for giving you away?” Vicki, still emotionally scarred and traumatized,
did resent her Mama Chit but did not tell her so, instead said simply with just a little trace
of bitterness, “I am happy where I am.”
       It was at the age of 16, and because of her pimples that Vicki entertained thought
of being a dermatologist, a doctor who would cure herself. This idea was furthered
bolstered by her father, a successful lawyer, who said during Martial Law, “I was
studying to be a doctor, and made the mistake of switching to law. During martial law I
could have continued being a good doctor, but being a lawyer in a dictatorship is
irrelevant and extremely difficult.” Vicki Belo decided right there and then to be a doctor.

Part Three: Vicki was drenched in human excrement, tuberculous vomit
       Vicki’s sad state of mind at 17 years of age was best expressed by her favorite
song, “I learned the truth at seventeen, that life was meant for beauty queens, and high
school girls with clear skins and smiles, who married young and then retired. Those of
us with ravaged faces and lacking in social graces, spend evenings alone, inventing
lovers on the phone who called and said, Come dance with me….”
       At 18, now blossoming into an attractive woman, Vicki met my son Atom
Henares who dated her 2 weeks before her debut into society. He was a young stallion, a
veteran of the Battle of the Sexes who couldn’t keep his hoofs to himself. Vicki was
intimidated and refused to date him for six months afterwards. He broke his arm while
water-skiing, and she figured it was safe enough to go out on a date with him. Never was
she more wrong, he wrestled her to the floor of the living room, took time out to pursue
his studies in Ateneo and Harvard, and finally proposed to her. She was 21 years of age
when they were finally married on August 24, 1979, and they made love four times a day
for the next two full years.
       Already married, Vicki studied medicine religiously in UP and UST, and took up
residency as a resident in the Makati Medical Center. On the first day of her residency,
on May 1, 1984, her first born son Quark was sick with fever and she had only three
weeks recovering from giving birth to her second baby Cristalle on April 5. On that first
day of May 1, she was called to minister to a fat lady who just had a stroke in the
marketplace. She was in delirium and was defecating all over the place. Vicki was still
in a maternity gown when she was called upon to clean up the patient’s mess. Imagine
Vicki Belo Henares, a rich man’s only daughter, having to clean a bucketful of human
shit from a delirious patient thrashing about and shouting obscenities.
       We’ll spare you the details, and skip to the time an hour later when she staggered
to the bathroom, almost fainting from the stench of human excrement, and took a shower.
No sooner than she dried herself and slipped into a clean gown, when she was called
again to minister to another patient, a comatose young man, suspected of having
meningitis. To diagnose him, Vicki subjected him to a test whereby she held back his
head – and, as she should have expected, the boy vomited black and blue and hectic

green, not only on her clean gown, but on her face. Vicki realized she was bathed in a
bucket of germ-laden tuberculous vomit, and she started to vomit too, she threw up her
guts. Again we spare you details of the aftermath.
       All that happened on her first day as a resident, and on the second day, May 2, out
of the 400 medical residents, Vicki was chosen to face the faculty and explain the cases
she handled. The faculty handled her very roughly, questioning with malice and mischief
every detail of her diagnosis and medical procedure. She was exhausted, reeling from
revulsion and driven to the limits of her sanity. That night, she went home and told her
father that she was quitting medicine for good.

Part Four: Vicki’s son and daughter brought peace to her troubled soul
       Vicki Belo did quit her studies to be a doctor on the first day of her residency. To
occupy her time she went dancing on TV, resumed making love to her husband, baked
cakes and pastries for sale, and held aerobic classes for the obese and the weight
watchers. Much later, she continued her residency in a hospital in Bangkok, amidst 5-
hour traffic jams and heavily polluted air, riding on the back of a motorcycle driven by a
speed maniac, to negotiate her way through the crowded streets. Finally she became a
full fledged doctor, a genuine dermatologist, but for some reason, the local
dermatological society refused to recognize her “diplomate.” But that is another story
worth telling some other time.
       The next tragedy in the life of Victoria Belo Henares coincided with the seven
year itch of her husband Atom. She felt betrayed, abandoned, alienated, just as she felt
on that terrible night when her beloved father left her to her mother Nena to raise. After a
series of nights when Atom would wake up in the middle of the night terrified to see her
sitting at the bedside, staring malevolently at him, and obviously to Atom, contemplating
an orchiectomy operation on her wayward husband – she told him to get out of the house.
Atom left and never came back despite many attempts of the parents to reconcile them.
       Atom and Vicki got their marriage annulled under a law that states that those who
married in 1979 and before that, have only up to 1989 to get an annulment, otherwise
they will stay married for always. I always suspected that at the back of their minds, they
entertained thoughts of remarriage in the future. But too much water had passed under

the bridge. During their marriage they already decided, upon the advice of Ike Belo, on
the legal separation of their properties, and as Atom prospered astronomically, Vicki
began to feel that she hasn’t been adequately recompensed for “having given Atom the
best years of my life.”
        What threatened to break their hearts was the effect that their separation would
have on their 8 year old son Quark and 6 year old daughter Cristalle. Fortunately both
Quark and Cristalle are wise and mature beyond their years, realizing that a separation is
better than a broken home full of recriminations. It was Quark and Cristalle who while
living with Vicki, bonded with their father, and encouraged their parents to attend school
functions and all family gatherings together. As a result of which, Vicki and Atom
became close friends, more than they ever were during their marriage. With an MBA
from Harvard, Atom became Vicki’s business consultant as she shifted gears into
another, more lucrative field of beauty enhancement for both men and women, pioneered
in the use of liposuction and laser treatments, and prospered with her firm, The Belo
Medical Group, and with Rosanna Roces and her Body by Belo.                And Atom kept
showering Vicki with jewelries, traveled with her, gave the children all they need and
bought them a multimillion peso home.
        And it was Quark and Cristalle who made sure that Vicki and Atom and their
three grandfathers – Ike Belo, Toy Cancio and myself, Larry Henares – and their one
surviving grandmother Nena, have lunch together with them every Sunday noon without
        And so it was Quark and Cristalle who finally brought peace and security, love
and fidelity, final fulfillment and God’s grace, to the troubled soul of the poor little rich
girl, Maria Victoria Belo.
March 13 to April 3, 2003

1. Vicki’s Citibank experience
        The National City Bank of New York, now known as Citibank, was once the
biggest bank I the USA and in the whole world, in the heyday of Western colonialism.
No longer.
        But in the Philippines, there are Filipinos with an incurable colonial mentality

who regard their fellow Filipinos with arrogance and contempt. One can see this attitude
among security guards of low I.Q. guarding the gates of the American Embassy. Also,
the low-class clerks of the Citibank. On September 5, my daughter-in-law, Victoria
Belo-Henares who wrote to Suresh Maharaj, Country Corporate Officer, Citibank
       “Dear sir, I wish to call your attention to the inefficient and arrogant treatment I
got from Citiphone bankers Jasmine Bautista, Arlene Magcasi and Yvette Alayban who
embarrassed and insulted me when I was in the USA.
       “On Monday July 14, before my trip to the USA, I deposited P300,000 at
Citibank to ensure I had enough money to pay for an important purchase. On Monday
July 14 with your MasterCard, I purchased goods worth $8,000 (at P27 to $1 equivalent
to P216,000) with Caromed Company on the East coast, emphasizing the need to have it
delivered to Los Angeles on Friday, July 18, in time for my colleague Dr. Rommel
Caballes to bring it back to Manila. On Wednesday July 16, I was informed that Citibank
denied me credit.
       “I called Citibank Manila only to be told that because of the large amount of the
order they wanted to verify that I had really order it. They said they tried to call my
office to verify but that they were not able to speak to anyone. It is hard to believe that
they even tried to because I have four telephone lines in my office and 16 employees to
answer the phone. She insisted on her lame story, but promised to approve it.
       “On Friday July 18, the day the package was supposed to arrive, Caromed called
me to say that they had just received approval (why did it take two days to approve?) and
could not ship the packages on time for me to get it that day. I told them to cancel the
order because it was imperative that I get the goods that day. I decided to make the
purchase from another supplier and pay a premium of 20 percent just to get it on time.
When I tried to use my MasterCard I was again denied credit for the $9,000 purchase.
       “When I called Citibank to verify I was informed that I was over my limit because
of the $8,000 purchase from Coromed which had been cancelled and never
consummated. Your Citiphone banker wanted additional verification from Coromed, but
this was impossible since it was 7 p.m. eastern standard time on Friday night. I begged
for some consideration because I did not have the cash to pay for the $9,000 and I needed

the goods right away.
       “I asked to be referred to someone higher with at least a heart and a more human
voice. The next Citiphone banker was worse. She mispronounced my name at least ten
times, saying “Mrs. Hernandez, I mean Henares, I understand your situation but you are
over your limit.” She said she did not know my new name, only my old name, which she
said was Victoria Bello. I asked her to spell it out and she said B-E-L-O and when I
pointed out that her pronunciation was wrong, she said it wasn’t important.           Not
important? To be told to my face that my name is not important is an insult.
       “Now you are billing me for that hateful Caromed purchase which you botched up
and which you know had been cancelled. Because of you I had to pay an extra $2,000 in
retail prices just to get the items on the plane on time. Plus I had to borrow $7,000 on a
Friday afternoon to be able to buy those goods. Now you are charging me P174,263.95
plus P20,211.69, the total amount of the cancelled order from Coromed. I demand
immediate reimbursement.
       “I have always paid my bills on time. Every time I travel I actually deposit
money in advances so that I don’t get into embarrassing situations like you put me in. I
was never informed that if I made a large purchase that I would have to verify things with
Citibank. I have made larger purchases before and never had such a problem. This time
was crucial because I needed those goods immediately for my practice. You failed me
and insulted me. I am sending back your MasterCard and await a written apology from
       “Yours, but not truly, Victoria Belo-Henares”

2. Citibank apologizes
       From: Citibank N.A., 8741 Paseo de Roxas, Makati, Metro Manila, 15 September
1997, To: Dr. Victoria Belo-Henares, Suite 410-411 Medical Towers Makati, Dela Rosa
cor. Herrera Sts., Legaspi Village, Makati City.
       “Dear Dr. Henares,
       “Please accept our sincere apologies for the unpleasant experience you had with
our Citibank MasterCard. We received your letter of September 5, 1997 addressed to Mr.
Suresh Maharaj and immediately called a meeting with the heads of our Citiphone

Banking, Authorization Centers and Service Quality to look into the problems you raised.
        “We are truly sorry that we have not been responsive to your needs when you
called our Citiphone Banking. We pride ourselves in providing superior service and
clearly in your case we failed to deliver on this commitment. You can be assured, Dr.
Henares, that I have asked the supervisor of our Citiphone Banking to personally look
into the matter and to coach the staff to handle customer requests and inquiries more
        “As is the practice of international credit cards, unusually high levels of usage for
a particular period of time as well as singular transactions with very high amounts would
require verification with the issuing bank involved. This is to protect the cardholder
against the potential incidence of fraud which is prevalent among Mail Order/Telephone
Order (MOTO) transactions. Unfortunately, this caused you inconvenience. We have
thus, changed our process after I learned of this incident.
        “We are pleased to inform you that we have credited your Citibank MasterCard
accounted for P174,263.95 and P20,211.69 on Sept. 10,1997. These adjustments will be
reflected in your next statement. Should Caromed International bill you for the 10
percent cancellation fee, please let us know so we may reimburse you. We regret that
you had to pay a 20 percent premium when you purchased the supplies from another
merchant. If you can provide us with information/documents regarding this, we will be
more than glad to reimburse you with the corresponding amount.
        “We regret to learn that you have decided to cancel Citibank MasterCard as a
result of these incidents. We hope you will reconsider your decision as our records show
that we have successfully delivered your renewal card to Ms. Raquel Bulandus on Sept.
8, 1997.
        “In closing, we reiterate our regret over these unfortunate incidents. We thank
you for bringing the matter to our attention and for giving us the chance to revisit our
processes and make our service improvements. Although apologies do not always make
amends, we hope you will accept ours along with this small token. We certainly value
your patronage and look forward to opportunity of redeeming you confidence in our

        “John Haggerty, V.P. Officer in Charge
        “Country Business Manager’s Office
        “cc: Mr. Suresh Maharaj”
September 22-23, 1997, ISYU

Extro: I called my wife Balut and she called me back Pinoy
        Like many of us, the family of Jose Luis Santiago (PT&T) went a few days before
the Day of the Dead, to pay respects to deceased relatives. “Why so early?” my son
Atom asked Joyce Santiago, “You are not going to dig them up, are you?”
        It is typical of Atom’s humor that it is dry, wry and often brilliant commentary on
the foibles of the human condition, and always imparted in repartee.
        Ronnie, my other son, is more spontaneous, more scintillating, more raunchy,
even if he is a born again Christian. My son Danby is master of the one-liner which he
obviously picks up from joke books and magazines. My girls, Elvira and Rosanna tell
jokes that we men can only smile at. Only Juno among the girls can spin a joke
comparable to the best of ours.
        I remember overhearing a conversation between Atom and his future wife Vicki
Belo (dermatologist, laser and liposuction pioneer) during the heady days of their
        “Tell you a secret, Munch” Vicki said, with a teasing, melodic voice, using the
usual special nickname they invented for each other. “Go ahead. Crunch,” replied my
son Atom Bum.
        “You won’t get mad or anything?” Vicki the Crunch teased. “Oh no, I promise,”
answered Atom the Munch.
        Vicki the Crunch, with a naughty smile, “Well, all my friends say you are so
handsome. But between you and me, I don’t think you are handsome at all. Charming
perhaps, but certainly not handsome.”
        Atom the Munch shook his head, “I don’t think that is something to get mad
about. I want to tell you a secret too, okay?”
        Vicki the Crunch, smiled, “I know. I know. You don't think I am good-looking
either, right?”

       Atom answered in mock horror, “Oh no. On the contrary, darling Crunch, I think
you are awfully good-looking!”
       “So…. What is the problem?” asked Vicki the Crunch. And Atom answered
wryly, “Well, all my friends insist that you are ugly!”
       At that point, Vicki aimed a karate kick at Atom's groin, and left him groaning on
the floor. Much later, Vicki’s father, Atty. Enrique Belo admonished his daughter,
“Inday, don’t ever do that again. You’d like to have children, don’t you?”
       And they did, after marriage of course… a boy (Quark, the smallest part of the
atom) and a girl Cristalle – whom they both refer to as Munchkins, as in the land of Oz
and the doughnut hole of Dunkin’ Doughnuts – in keeping with Munch and Crunch.
       Nicknames are really rampant among sweethearts and lovers. Nora Aunor and
Tirso Cruz III called each other Guy and Pip respectively. My son Ronnie used to call
Vilma Santos Heavy, derived from the world Heavenly.
       I used to tease my wife in Pangalatok so she would not understand, being a bit
pikon because of her German blood. I said, “Anggapo’m balut so utek mo!” (You
absolutely ain’t got no brains!) which was later shortened to “Anggapo’m balut” (None,
absolutely) and ultimately I called her “Balut” (absolutely).
       I called her “Balut.” And she called me back “Pinoy.” Touche!
November 7, 1996, ISYU

1. MBA 1979, for his Harvard Business School Reunion Book, 1999
       I am Alfredo Tomas L. Henares from the Philippines, nicknamed ATOM... A for
Alfredo... TOM for Tomas... and sometimes referred to as ATOM BUM.
       My father who graduated from MIT once said that going to Harvard is like being
ushered into the Kingdom of Heaven, because no Harvard man is ever out of a job. He
either inherits a business or has a schoolmate who owns or manages one and is willing to
hire him; for he belongs to an old boy network that transcends all generations of Harvard
graduates. I never realized how true it was when in the midst of the 1980 recession when
most of my friends from Wharton, MIT, and Northwestern were jobless, I was flown to

Chicago, interviewed by Chairman Robert Abboud, and offered a job with the First
National Bank of Chicago. After a year in Chicago, I was assigned as Deputy General
Manager of the FNBC Manila Branch.. In 1982 I organized and became the President of
an investment bank joint venture between FNBC and the Philippine government, while
concurrently FNBC Vice-President.
       During that period I made significant investments in a start-up palm oil refinery
and an FM radio station. By 1987 these companies had grown so big that I had to leave
FNBC to help my partners manage them.              These investments led to other start-up
companies, and today I am a major stockholder, director and officer of a group of
companies including: Progressive Broadcasting with a nationwide TV and radio
franchise, now owner/operator of four FM stations; Asia Plantations Philippines, owner
of the only large palm-oil plantation, refinery and manufacturer of cooking oil,
margarines, shortenings     and other vegetable oil products;       Isarog Pulp and Paper,
manufacturer of long-fiber abaca pulp used in the making of currency paper, capacitor
and tea-bags; and Salcon Power Corp., operator of a 200 megawatt electrical power plant
       On the personal side, I married Victoria "Vicki" Belo , who is now a Doctor of
Medicine specializing in dermatological surgery, with whom I have two children: 13-year
old boy named Enrique, or Quark because quark is the smallest part of the Atom; and 11-
year old girl named Cristalle. I spend time with them and plan to have one more child.
       I keep fit by playing tennis, taking up martial arts, scuba-diving, doing weights in
the gym, as well as engaging in safe, legitimate and passionate sex. I am a member of
several proprietory clubs including the Manila Polo Club, Makati Sports Club, and
Highlands Golf Club.
       I am satisfied with my professional development, on schedule with the plan I
made at the outset of my career. I deliberately cast my destiny with my country when
many of my countrymen migrated elsewhere, and am lucky that this part of the world is
proving to be an area of relatively high economic growth. I plan in the near future to
delegate the operations of our companies to professional managers, go public and have
them listed. When I have more than enough, when money becomes only a means of
keeping score in the great game of life, I shall retire, I hope, at the most productive period

of my life and offer my time and my talents to the service of my country.

2. Girl Chasing And Pinching Ass
       IN Kenya, it is no longer legal to shoot lions and elephants with a high powered
rifle. Today one is allowed to shoot them only with a camera.
       My old UP engineering frat Tau Alpha probably thinks the same way because it is
sponsoring a Campus Girl photographic contest open to all high school and college
students in Metro Manila. Three Prizes and trophies are offered for two categories, Color
and Black-and-White: First Prize P2,000; Second Prize, P1,500; Third Prize, P500. Plus a
Golden Prism Award for the Most Photogenic Campus Girl. Address all entries to Tau
Alpha in College of Engineering, UP Diliman. Deadline for submission of entries is
August 22. This is of course a ploy to blunt the edge of serious girl chasing, of which my
old fraternity brods like Peping Apostol, Dante Santos, Ting Paterno, Vic Lim, Bing
Limcauco are past masters.
       There is this covered walk called Tulay leading to the Physics lab behind the UP
Art & Sciences building, where girl watching has become a preoccupation among the
boys at UP, and where a few whistles of appreciation can prop up a girl’s sagging morale.
       I hate to admit it but the champion girl chaser of the college campus, from the age
of 16 till 26 when he retired undefeated upon marriage, is my son Atom.
       He won it in a contest in La Salle Green Hills High School, involving a ravishing
beauty named JayJay, daughter of an American mother and our Ambassador to the Court
of St. James. Studying at the most exclusive schools of London, she was the toast of the
continent, courted by many rich playboys including one whose family owned a fourth of
El Salvador. Beautiful JayJay, with jet black hair and pink alabaster skin, had two
brothers in La Salle whom she often visited while in town.
       All the La Salle boys clustered around her, all eyes and sighs -- except Atom who
pooh-poohed their unrequited passion, saying, “Come on, boys. Don’t be such love-sick
cows. She’s only a girl. I bet I can kiss her on the lips anytime I want.”
       That gave rise to a clamor for Atom to put his money where his mouth is. They
gave Atom odds of ten to one, and took up a collection of P250 (equivalent to today’s

P2,500) to match Atom’s P25.
        What they saw was nothing short of a miracle. Atom approached Jayjay, and
tapped her on the buttocks. She turned, smiled and he kissed her on the cheek. He took
her in his arms, as they whispered sweet little nothings. After what seemed like an
eternity of ringing bells and falling stars, he kissed her tenderly on the lips.
        Now it can be told. What did they say to each other? She said: “Not too tight,
Atom Bum!”       He answered: “Stop squirming, you get a third of the loot.”          She
demanded: “Half or nothing!” and “Done!” answered Alfredo Lichauco Henares to his
cousin JayJay Coe Lichauco.
        Atom kept the championship for ten years because half the pretty girls in Manila
were his cousins, including TV personality Chiqui Hollman. “The Lichaucos are not a
family, they are a population!” said Atom, and added, “And what a jackpot!”
        In all our college campuses the mating game is played. Here where students
congregate at a marriageable age, we witness the making of an aristocracy of educated
elite, the masters of our future.
        The unlettered masses are left to fraternize among themselves, to produce the
workers, drones and soldiers of our society.
        All over the world, they also play the mating game, girl-chasing in the streets of
the metropolis. In Paris, it is Champs Elysees; in London it is the Picadilly Circus; in
New York, it is Fifth Avenue; in Rome, it is Via Veneto where Italians are famous for
pinching the buttocks of every pretty girl in sight.
        Hey Pagliacci, watsa idea pinching da ass, huh? He answered thus::
        Well, the Americans concentrate on the boobs of a woman -- which belies their
obsessive mother fixation. But we Italians concentrate on the ass, for good reason.
        The upper forward part of a woman is impregnable -- you have to approach from
the front and raise your hands for the offensive, and all she does for defense is to cross
her arms.
        Ah, but the lower rear part of a woman has no defense. You approach from
behind, and you do not even have to raise your hand.

       Besides, he added, it is closer to the ultimate objective.
       Hey Pagliacci, of all the nationalities, who has the best ass? He answered thus::
Well now, the best is the Filipina, a Lucky Strike, so round, so firm, so fully packed, so
free and easy on the draw.
       The worst are Americans, the ones cocooned in an elastic girdle, which cinches
and pinches and obfuscates the twin cheeks of the ass into a mono-buttock -- a
characteristic American women share with the ants, the bees, the spiders, and nature’s
other unpleasant creatures.
August 12, 1889, Philippine Daily Inquirer

3. The luck of Atom the Great and Forrest Gump
       How do you classify the wonderful movie, Forrest Gump? A satire, not really. A
fantasy, perhaps. It is the story of a retarded person who by sheer luck and serendipity,
managed to become a witness and participant in his country’s history, a football star, a
war hero, and a very rich man who wins the girl.
       In 1960, my family filmed a home movie called “Atom the Great,” starring my 7-
year-old son Alfredo Tomas, along the same story line. Like Gump, Atom was fortune-
prone, a poor boy whose parents discovered oil in their land, who became an Ateneo
basketball star with personal scores exceeding those of the entire opposite team, who
single-handedly won World War III against both the Soviet Union and the United States,
and ended up being the President and Dictator of the World Federation of Nations. In the
end he was assassinated by his best friend. The film was made for Ramon Magsaysay
whose fate was to die just before it was finished; in memory of John Kennedy who died
thereafter. It was enjoyed by Ninoy Aquino years before he actually died. All three
achieve greatness.
       The movie “Atom the Great”explored the meaning of Greatness. What makes a
man a great leader? First of all, it is LUCK, the turn of the wheel of fortune that puts the
man right where he is needed when he is needed. Qualities of mind and character seem
to be of secondary importance, when we consider Recto and Adlai Stevenson who never
made it to the presidency, and the many lesser men who did.
       Another ingredient of Greatness seems to be a Tragic DEATH at the peak of his
popularity. There seems no greater antidote to greatness than having lived too long, as

attested by the lives of Emilio Aguinaldo, Artemio Ricarte, and Caudillo Francisco
Franco of Spain.
        The movie was introduced as “a satire on the world’s great leaders who seem to
share two distinctions: an amazing luck in the pursuit of power, and an ultimate tragedy
that consigns them to greatness.''
        Forget about death. It is luck that beckons to every man wanting success. The
point of today’s article is that perfect control of one’s life is an illusion. To succeed, one
must court Lady Luck herself, must increase the lucky breaks.              And this means
cultivating the qualities below:
        1. A web of friendly contacts among people in the know, who are wise,
aggressive and successful, and who like and care for you. They are the ones from whom
good things flow.
        2. Ideas and inspirations, and an eye for opportunities, especially in times of
disaster. My neighbor in Acacia Street when Martial Law was declared and most of us
stayed home in fear and apprehension, jumped up and down in delight, withdrew P2
million pesos, and departed for the provinces to buy entire warehouses of goods. Ten
months later, his P2 million was worth P20 million. A friend of mine, Juanito, bought
houses at bargain prices during the many attempted coups, and wound up with 50 houses
in Forbes and Dasma; he now is part owner of SM Megamall.
        3. The ability to learn lessons from one’s mistakes. The capacity to devise means
(a fallback position) to save oneself if anything goes wrong.
        4. The ability cut your losses when the risks become high. The ability to take a
small loss to avoid a big one, like selling an old favorite car or shares of stock before the
value goes down precipitously.
        5. A keen judgment based on experience, based on all available facts. The ability
to measure your risks, even when all needed facts are not knowable. When success is a
good possibility, take the chance. Don’t take unnecessary chances when bad is likely to
come out of your action.
        6. Setting your goals and acting decisively to achieve them. Don’t just wait for
things to happen. Make them happen. Hunches and educated guesses can be of great

        7. Accept a helping hand in the spirit it is given. As one philosopher once
expressed it, “Go and find the sunshine of love, to brighten your way through life, to light
up your mind, and to warm your heart always. But if darkness falls upon you, all alone,
leaving you cold and lonely in the night of the last chance, reach out for the hand that is
offered, and walk out of the darkness into the light.”
November 16, 1994

4. What Is Your Beef?
        What’s your beef? One evening in 1994, after a particularly heavy roast dinner
among old friends and associates in his palacial residenve, Dennis, the business partner of
my son Atom, announced that so much food supply come into his house that he has
taught his house help to label every piece and stamp the date of entry. He claimed that so
much food comes into his house that it takes sometimes up to five years for him to have it
        In the presence of eight guests, among whom were Ted Lake from Australia, Lim
Chan Lok from Singapore, Sidney Goldberg from Canada., and Atom Henares, he asked
his guests how they enjoyed the dinner, and if they found the beef tender. To which all
the gueats enthusiastically and unanimously gave their thumbs-up. Then Dennis asked
them to guess what year that beef was brought to the house. Without waiting for them to
answer, he proudly announced that the beef dated early 1992. To which the audience
responded in stunned silence. To elucidate, Dennis said “In fact I remember that Joe
Siciliano (his American colleague) was the one who brought the meat from abroad for me
several months before he died. Again a stunned silence. And Dennis continued, “It’s
still fresh, tender and delicious, isn’t it?”
        At this point, Atom remarked, “Why Dennis, if we knew that meat could be kept
as fresh as this for so many years, we could have put poor Joe Siciliano in the freezer too.
Then we could take him out of the freezer every time we want him join us for dinner, and
have him sit on the table with us just like old times.” At this moment everyone stopped
eating, and Dennis, sensing the growing anxiety among his guests, exclaimed: “But
Atom, it’s been in the freezer all this time!” To which Atom pointed out that there was
an energy crisis that peaked in 1992 Atom was enjoying himself. He was relentless, “It

must be the the brownouts constantly turning on and off the freezer that made the beef so
       At the point one of the guests exclaimed, “I think I am beginning to feel the
salmonella bacteria floating around in my stomach.” To which Atom was quick to
reassure “It’s not really that bad, Ted. If the beef were dated early 1992, then it is just a
little older than my car, which I have been riding on every day for the past 800 days.”
       Dennis changed the subject but that did not stop the sudden stampede for the
comfort room.
November 18, 1994

5. Atom’s Narrative for His HBS MBA Reunion, 2004
       It's 5:30 p.m. Friday July 16, Manila time and I'm writing this narrative to catch
its EXTENDED deadline submission. It reminds me of my days at HBS when every
paper was submitted on a “just in time” basis. Some things never change!
       But a few things do! Since my last get-together with our class 5 years ago:
   1. SALCON POWER CORPORATION of which I am part owner and Treasurer
       acquired two power distribution companies (of 200 megawatts each) and is in the
       process of putting up a third 200 megawatt power plant in joint venture with
       Korea Electric Company.
   2. Our ISAROG PULP & PAPER CO., which supplies Japan with pulp for its
       currency paper and Europe for its tea bags and security paper, now manufactures
       abaca pulp for Philippine currency paper (I would have preferred printing the
       currency instead!). Our pulp plant in Albay is the Bicol Region’s biggest private
       employer. We are using Bicol abaca and had long been importing abaca from
       Davao, Leyte, and would you believe, Ecuador. We are now completing a new
       pulp mill which will triple the current production capacity.
   3. After a 3 difficult years in the TV Broadcast industry, our PROGRESSIVE
       BROADCASTING CORPORATION is finally in the black. And the NU107
       radio network is going great guns.
   4. Not much has changed in our FILIPINAS VEGOIL CORPORATION, palm oil
       plantation and vegetable oil processing plant which continues its operation. It

       takes 6 years for palm oil trees to mature followed by another 25 years of fruit
       bearing, apart for the expected ups and downs of palm oil commodities markets.
   5. On the home front my ex spouse VICKI BELO, with whom I have a very
       friendly and supportive relationship, has become the prominent dermatological
       surgeon in the Philippines with over 5 highly lucrative clinics in Metro Manila. I
       might have done better working for her.
   6. My 23 year old son, QUARK HENARES has won Palanca national awards for
       literature and is an accomplished film director with 2 acclaimed movies to his
   7. My daughter, CRISTALLE HENARES recently graduated from the Ateneo
       University, and is now in a one year Jesuit volunteer program in southern
   8. I am very proud of all of them, my ex-wife and two children. We still spend a lot
       of time together, recently spending two weeks in a SAFARI IN SOUTH
       The next 5 years will be a defining time for myself, my family and the
Philippines. And I am looking forward to it -- even if at the end of it I will probably be
writing another HBS Narrative to catch the next EXTENDED deadline. Some things will
never change!

1. Her High School Graduation Speech
       Before I was three years of age, my whole existence revolved around the family --
my father, mother, brother, and grandparents.         And then one day, I was dragged
screaming and kicking into Montessori and suddenly I broke out of the shell of the family
into the wide and open world. I met my teachers who became like my parents. I met my
classmates who became my brothers and sisters.
       I met Ms. Romey who was my grade one teacher and Ms. Obnamia was my grade
two teacher. They were to me like giants ruling my world. Now after five years later I’m
as tall and as big as they are. I hope that in another five years I will look like a giant to

        I met Joey Socco who was a small toothpick when I met her and is still is one. I
met Stephanie who looked like a battle ship. This is my the world
        On my first day in Montessori, I was very nervous. I remember my mommy and
yaya taking me to class. I have memories of all the strange faces that I used to see who
would turn out to be my future classmates and teachers. At that point they were all
strangers to me. I was so nervous that I wanted to get away and go home with my
mommy and yaya. I cried when they made me stay.
        Soon after they left, I gazed at a girl who looked just as nervous as myself. I went
up to her and asked her to be my friend. She became my first friend in Montessori. Her
name is Joey. I made more friends since my first day in Montessori. I enjoyed and
learned a lot from the many good teachers here.
        Since then, I have considered Montessori a place of friendship and learning and
my second home. Because it is a small school, I have been able to get closer to my
teachers and classmates, so that they felt like my extended family. More important than
the many disciplines that have been taught to me by my good and caring teachers, they
have also taught me where to look for information and how to apply it in every day
situations. Together they have shown me to love the process of learning, a love which I
hope to bring with me through high school, college and the rest of my life.
        I would like to say thank you to all my teachers, friends, parents and most
especially God who have supported me throughout life. Like my brother Quark, which I
would also like to thank for helping me in my homework and other stuff, I know I will
miss this school so much. I know that I will miss it so much, that I will be visiting this
school as often as I can. Despite our going separate ways after today, I know that we will
all meet once again to celebrate our wonderful Montessori experience.
        I thank you
March 1996

2. Palanca for her Religious Retreat
        Dearest darling grand-daughter Cristalle,
        I greet you on your religious retreat when you pause from the concerns of the

world, to look back upon your past and plan your future, to see how far you have gone
and how far you have yet to go. Here you are at the threshold of womanhood at the age
of 13, and we can do no better than watch with fascination and a sense of wonder your
unfolding, layer by layer, page by page, what the future holds for you. Wise folks say
“Just look at the mother and you see what the daughter will be.” At least physically you
will be beautiful, well-endowed, tall, athletic, artistic, brilliant and talented. But in your
mind and character, you will be what you want to be, and not necessarily like your
parents. You grew up differently from your mother in a totally different environment,
and you have elements of your father that may make you different or better than both.
       Somehow, watching a boy like Quark grow is quite different from watching a girl
like you develop. Your brother may predictably be a businessman, a media person, with
a tolerance for the bizarre and an uncommon ability to shock his grandfather. The
trajectory of his life is already set by the angle of elevation, the initial velocity and
direction with which he was launched by his parents. All these will happen to him no
matter whom he marries, no matter whether he becomes a Jesuit, or Opus Dei, or a
ordinary, run-of-the mill, garden-variety human being, like all the rest of us.
       The life of a growing girl is so much more varied, with so much more to
experience, with twists and turns in the road ahead that is often a narrow and one-way
street, with a lot more choices and alternative lifestyles to follow, and very much
influenced by her friends, her boyfriends, her husband-to-be, her experiences and her
economic station in life. No one is quite certain what lies ahead for a young girl. A nice
girl gets abused once and her sense of self-worth plummets and her life takes a turn from
which there is no turning back. Death, accidents, pregnancy, intimate relations arising
from friends, boyfriends or husband, have a profound effect on your future. You can be a
success on your own, or you can marry one. Having so much money and being spoiled
by people around you, can distort your sense of values, and make you act as if you are
above the rules that govern ordinary people. Nothing is more tragic than that.
       So my beloved grand-daughter, beware of the pitfalls that lie in the road ahead.
Hold fast to your principles, they are the guiding lights you can depend on in times of
trouble and darkness.     Take care of yourself, take no risks, save yourself for your
husband. And above all, learn to smile sweetly like your grandmother Cecilia. She can

lock into the eyes of a complete stranger, and give a friendly smile like the sun in the
morning, and she does so without being flirtatious or naughty. All the riches of the
world, all the delights of this life is not worth the value of that smile. It is in your blood.
When you sense that someone is in trouble and is hurting, give her or him the good old
Cecilia smile. For no one needs a smile so much as one who has none left to give.
October 2, 1996
To Cristalle…
who can’t help but smile even in the hardest of situations
who always reaches out before thinking of herself
who approaches the world with so much innocence yet at the same time so much wisdom
who, at such a young age, already knows that true magic can be found only in people
who has always provided a helping hand to friends in need and a warm hug to friends in
who sees God in everyone
who we all see God in
…congratulations on finishing a big step in your journey. May it be a fruitful and happy
one. We love you.
October 2, 1996

3. To Quark on Cristalle on her first boyfriend
Dearest Quark, brother to Cristalle
       I write this in anguish because of the impending and probably inevitable “fate
worse than death” that awaits your sister Cristalle at this crucial stage of her life, and in
the face of the fact that neither your parents or even I, your favorite grandpa, are in a
position of moral ascendancy to do anything about it.
       Only you, as the one closest in DNA, in age and cultural orientation to your sister
Cristalle, are in a position to talk to her and advise her in the intricacies of love and life,
with the help of my experience course.
       *First, tell her that she ought not to do at 19 years old, what her elders do at
45 years of age. It is a matter of Emotional Maturity, the risk of the trauma of

premature experience and inevitable rejection before she is mature enough to deal
with it.
        Sex for the young girl is an invasive process, and must be shared with a man of
experience. If she gets hurt in the process, she may be psychologically scarred for life,
unable to experience an orgasm as 40 percent of women who are condemned by their first
terrible experience with a blundering stallion.
        Sex for the young girl is a gift that should be given to the man she will marry.
Her first boyfriend is only the first of many more to come, of whom she will spend years
sampling and selecting the man who will be the father of her children. If she gives
herself to the first one, it gives a message that she is available to anyone else. It will
somehow detract from her worthiness as a potential wife and mother.
        Tell her this is probably the best and most enjoyable time of her life, with no
problems and no responsibilities. And she should enjoy it without the problems that
having a lover inevitably brings. She wouldn’t want to look back and regret not having
lived her youth to the fullest.
        Above all, especially for a young girl of irregular menstrual cycle, the danger of
pregnancy is ever present. One mistake, one goddamn mistake, and her life changes
forever. It is hard enough to be a mother, but to be a teen-aged single mother is a disaster
beyond compare. She will never finish her studies.
        *Second, you must emphasize that parents in our society are no longer able
to completely control the activities of their children, and only true solid values and
self-discipline can protect the young against their own excesses and the
consequences. Your parents will probably get together with other parents to frame
some rules of behavior that will govern their teen-agers at the time their sex urges
are beginning to be aroused. But rules will not work unless the children respect
them. Suggest the following to her:
    1. An inflexible rule that no one, not even you Quark can disobey: No person of
        opposite sex may stay with you inside your room behind locked doors. There
        should be at least three in the room, and the door must be unlocked and open.
    2. The preference for social activities should be in the living and dining room or
        other common areas, especially where she is alone in the house with her boyfriend

       or any person of the opposite sex. That goes for you too, Quark.
   3. Any weekend or overnight outings should be in the company of a responsible
       adult, and only with the express permission of the parents.
   4. Double dates should be encouraged or made mandatory. This is no protection
       against conspiracy between the couples, but it makes it more difficult to maneuver
       an immoral act.
   5. For your own safety and for the peace of mind of those who love you, you should
       not stay out on dates late into the night.
   6. Tell her that when Bae became my girlfriend, we agreed that she still could date
       others and survey the field till she is sure of herself. Cristalle should do the same,
       and play the field.
   7. All your friends should be introduced to BOTH your parents, especially before
       and when a serious relationship is being contemplated.
   8. You should introduce her to your own age group, widen her circle of
       acquaintances, and recruit her into good hobbies and habits.
Your favorite grandfather
Sunday, June 9, 2002


Chapter 1. Prince Valiant is gone, and we weep
        THE comic strip is America's invention, perhaps its chief contribution to world
culture, and the main thrust aside from Jazz and movies, of its cultural colonization of
modern man. The comic strip is meant to be read for a few minutes at daily or weekly
intervals, and its rhythm, discernible only over months and years, and constant renewal
provide a cumulative force of great power, a continuum without end, with the ability to
translate human values into exciting narrative, humor and fantasy.              The comics
constituted in the USA, as it did in the Philippines, the great proletarian novels of our
        The pre-war Tribune, pre-martial law Bulletin, and the present Stars & Stripes
carried the best comics of America into the Philippines. Alas, no longer, nothing there
but strange and silly comics. What happened to Prince Valiant, Phantom, Dick Tracy?
Tarzan, Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, Li'l Abner, Mutt and Jeff, Steve Canyon,
Katzenjammer Kids disappeared sometime ago. Is there nothing sacred and inviolable in
this world anymore?
        Illustrated adventure began on the same day, January 7, 1929, when two epochal
strips, Tarzan and Buck Rogers made their debut. Tarzan looked at the past, with a
nostalgic longing for simpler times when man could come to grips with nature and
control his destiny, pitting his strength and guile against wild beasts and evil men.
        Buck Rogers looked to the future, with rocket guns, explosive bullets, jumping
belts, hovercrafts, radar equipped robots, television-controlled rockets, moon landings,
even a description of the atom bomb -- long long before they all happened. Too many of
its predictions came true, and it finally died in 1967, a victim of rampaging technology.
        Great cartoonists dominated the field. Burne Hogarth took over Tarzan from Hal
Foster, and endowed it with classic composition and dynamic movement full of kinetic

tension. Alex Raymond created Flash Gordon, Jungle Jim, Secret Agent X-9 and Rip
Kirby, not with pen but with a fluid dry brush technique, sleek and brilliantly polished.
Milton Caniff drew Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon, with Dragon-Lady types of
sexy voluptuous heroines, and intelligent urbane heroes engaged in the Cold War and the
battles of our time.
        Of all cartoonists, my favorite is Hal Foster, who created the first Tarzan strips.
Hal Foster was an expert draftsman with a thorough knowledge of anatomy, a master of
composition, perspective, light and shade, and of authenticity in all details. He eschewed
balloons in favor of a printed narrative beneath the drawings, permitting greater freedom
of composition without intruding on the pictures.
        Later he left Tarzan to draw Prince Valiant, a visual tour de force with stunning
panoramic scenes of medieval battlefields and castles, tournament spectacles, and vast
seascapes, rich in personal drama and devoted to authenticity and detail. Hal Foster is the
        My generation grew up with Prince Valiant, from the time he was a boy fleeing
with his parents, the King and Queen of Thule, from the tyrant Sligon to the marshes and
dunes of ancient Britain. We shared that moment when he knelt before King Arthur, and
entered the fellowship of Launcelot, Tristam and Gawain.
        We shared his youth and courage, his rivalry with Prince Arn for the love of tragic
Ilene, his impish tricks and Singing Sword with which he fought Atilla the Hun, and
strode through the decaying empire of Rome, the golden isles of Greece, the mysterious
Holy Land, Darkest Africa, and Hadrian's legendary Roman Wall.
        With Prince Valiant, our minds harbored dark thoughts about Aleta, the wicked
enchantress and youthful Queen of the Misty Isles, while our hearts sang with the
enchantment of this lovely maid with golden tresses and laughing voice. Finally we were
slowly transformed into a lovesick swain by the beauty and gentle wiles of Aleta.
        Val married Aleta only to have his bride abducted by Ulfrun the Viking sea raider
who brought her across the perilous Atlantic to the New World before Columbus
discovered it. And there in the Niagara Falls the long chase came to an end. There a
splintering crash was heard over the roar as a section of the lip-rock gave way! And
behold, there were two falls, as we see the Niagara Falls today.

        There Prince Valiant and Aleta spent their honeymoon and there their first son
was born, named Arn after his best friend and rival. Then he returned to Thule to claim
his throne.
        We of this world are mere mortals whose existence is bounded by birth and death,
and whose only concern is self. Hal Foster, the greatest of graphic storytellers, makes us
realize with his journey through historic events and past civilizations, that we are also
part of an eternal race whose existence is bounded by the beginning and the end of time.
        Today we grope for some evidence of our past, some shared remembrance like
Mozart, the love sing “With a Song in My Heart,” or Prince Valiant, anything we might
leave to the young as proof that we once existed in this world.
        But the young don't care to know. Prince Valiant is gone, and we weep.
        When we die, it is as if we never lived.
January 23, 1992, Philippine Daily Inquirer

Chapter 2. An Invitation to a Dance, from Fortune Ledesma.
        THE recent death of Fred Astaire at the age of 88, probably portends the end of an
era of elegant ballroom dancing.
        From the streets and playgrounds of Brooklyn has spilled over into the rest of the
world, what is known as Break Dance, a whirling combination of pantomine and
acrobatics that can only done with a supple body and boundless energy. If Fred Astaire
tried it, he'd break his spine!
        Ah Dancing, as old as love itself, the most physical, the most personal, the most
ephemeral and transient of all the arts! The entire body moves in rhythm alone or with
others in the space around us, and suddenly it is a thing of the past.
        Painters and sculptors tried to freeze the moment, to catch the essence of the
dance, all in vain. Only dance teachers could pass on the art from one generation to
        Nothing could catch and hold the most essential element of dance -- movement --
the steps, the turns, the swaying of the hips, the fluid grace of the body.
        Then the motion picture camera was invented and the whole world received an
invitation to the dance, all preserved forever -- movement, music, rhythm, all -- on film.

       The golden age of dance musicals was ushered in by a Broadway choreographer
named Busby Berkeley. He took a bevy of tall, shapely, beautiful girls and maneuvered
them into geometrical patterns photographed from overhead -- in what seemed to be the
world’s greatest kaleidoscope. His first movie, 42nd Street was a smash hit which
introduced dancer Ruby Keeler and singer Dick Powell, scintillating stars in the back-
stage musicals of the 1930s.
       The movie Gold-diggers of 1933 shows a sequence of 60 women dancing with 60
violins outlined by lighted neon tubing to the tune of “Shadow Waltz” -- In the shadows
let me come and sing to you...
       The movie Dames shows Ruby Keeler replicated a thousand times in a dancing
chorus line, with Dick Powell singing “I Only Have Eyes for You” -- Are the stars out
tonight? I don't know if it's cloudy or bright, 'cause I only have eyes for you, dear. The
moon may be high, but I can't see a thing in the sky `cause I only have eyes for you. I
don't know if we're in a garden, or on a crowded avenue. You are here, so am I, maybe
millions of people go by, but they all disappear from view, 'cause I only have eyes for
you... why don't they ever make lyrics like those any more?
       Busby Berkeley's masterpieces all!
       Then came the virtuoso dancer with style and personality who held center stage
amidst the adulation of fans -- Isadora Duncan with her sensuous free style; ballet masters
Anna Pavlova, Rudolf Nureyev, Dame Margot Fonteyn, Vera Zorina (On your Toes), and
Moira Shearer in the cult classic Red Shoes, the viewing of which sent hordes of budding
ballerinas and their stage mothers a-hunting for fame. And Mikhail Baryshnikov, the
only male ballet superstar.
       And oh the tap dancers floating above the staccato beat of the light fantastic toe --
Eleanor Powell (Rosalie), Ann Miller (Kiss Me Kate), Ray Bolger (Wizard of Oz);
Donald O'Connor and Vera Allen (Call Me Madame); and little Shirley Temple with her
partner, big black Bill Robinson (Rebecca of the Sunny Brook Farm).
       But the most scintillating of all the stars are Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, as
different in style as caviar and peanut butter, but they were masters of their craft. And
when they appeared together, they were billed as The Two Number Ones.
       Fred Astaire is the epitome of elegance and class, and when he danced with

Ginger Rogers in a series of nine musicals (Roberta, Top Hat, Follow the Fleet,
Swingtime), the audiences burst into applause after every dance number. He danced with
Rita Hayworth, Judy Garland, Leslie Caron, Audrey Hepburn... and up to the very end of
his life he was still dancing on television. When he died, I cried. I cried because a good
part of my youth died with him.
        Gene Kelly is the more versatile of the two, not only was he a master dancer, he
was an innovative choreographer.
        His Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, his An American in Paris, above all, way above
all, his Singing in the Rain, with their unsurpassed originality and fresh spontaneity,
cannot be described by the most fantabulous superlatives -- they just have to be seen.
        When he dances with Cyd Charisse, the whole world moves with sensuous
romantic love. When he dances with animated cartoons, the whole world moves with joy
and wonder.
        Even the swashbuckling non-dancing movie he directed and starred in, Alexander
Dumas’ Three Musketeers, became a minor classic, with its tightly choreographed
fencing scenes -- the most exciting and the most hilarious ever filmed.
        Now comes the acrobatic dancing that started with Russ Tamblyn (Seven Brides
for Seven Brothers, Tom Thumb, West Side Story), followed by the slick disco champ
John Travolta (Saturday Night Fever) with his sexy walk, and the whirling dervish
Michael Jackson (Thriller).
        The Strut with its robot movements ... an isolated quantum of energy traveling
from one part of the body to another, from finger to hand to arm to shoulder down to the
very seat of life ... the sexy strut with the cadence of an act of lust.
        The Break with its whirl... a mixture of martial arts and gymnastics... spinning
like a top on his head, a slight miscalculation will break his neck... a masterful
demonstration of the laws of motion, momentum, and dynamic energy ... yea, yea, Isaac
Newton on the dance floor.
        Fame, Breakdance, All that Jazz ... come on folks, let's dance!
        Guy and dolls, folks and friends, go to Fortune Ledesma's Sonix Video shop in
front of the Church at Forbes Park, and rent these masterpieces, all in a special shelf.
        Fortune, beautiful star of the Buttercup TV Commercial, may not be a movie

goddess, but she brings the movie world to your home, and extends to you an invitation
to a dance... with the greatest, most wonderful dancers in the world.
        Go to it, baby!
June 28, 1987, Philippine Daily Inquirer

Chapter 3. On wings of song, I will take thee ...
        Today the word is out from the National Telecommunications Commission: it will
upon orders from the President, enforce an old law sponsored by Doroy Valencia during
Martial law that required every radio station to broadcast four Original Pilipino Music
every calendar hour, bringing about another a golden age when Filipino artists once ruled
the airwaves. And it reminds us of one night in July 1987 when they came on stage to
thank us their fans, and beg us to bring back the good old days, taken away from them by
Cory’s cronies….
        I remember that night so well. On Wings of Song I will take thee, to India love we
will go… so goes the old sons, but they took us elsewhere, not toIndia. They took us --
down memory lane, down the boulevard of broken dreams, over the rainbow, somewhere
out there -- to the depth and breadth and height our souls can reach -- to the level of every
day’s most quiet need -- by sun and candle-light -- freely, purely, with the breath, the
smiles, and tears of all our lives...
        Like Elizabeth Barrett Browning, they counted all the ways of loving us... all in
song. There were 56 of them, the most talented singers of that generation, no not 56 but
55, for their president Celeste Legaspi lay in a hospital bed exhausted beyond endurance
in her efforts to bring Awit a la Carte to President Cory, to all of us... one night in July
1987 to a full house in the Fiesta Pavilion of the Manila Hotel. So successful that it was
repeated at Folk Arts Center
        There were 19 numbers, all under the baton of Ryan Cayabyab, a genius from the
land of genii, Pangasinan. Among the show-stoppers were:
    •   More, an ode to the Lord by two Born-Again Christians, Ray-An Fuentes singing
        and Freddie Santos with a moving rendition in sign language;
    •   Vernie Varga singing Boyfriend Kong Baduy, slithering sexily against Gino

        Padilla, Jeffrey Coronel and Bimbo Cerrudo;
    •   A heart-wrenching rendition by Subas Herrero and Ronnie Lazaro, of
        Napakasakit Cuya Eddie about a Filipino laborer from Saudi Arabia coming
        home to an unfaithful wife, two children on drugs and a bastard child;
    •   Saan Ka Man Naroroon Sinta rendered a capella by four groups, Tux, Filipina,
        Aperitif, The Company... with the audience silently singing along;
    •   Voices out of a juke box, full throated and dripping with the smell of the barbecue
        stand and beer house -- by Cynthia Patag looking as if she was suppressing an
        urgent need to go to the bathroom, and by Leah Navarro, Mitch Valdes and Janet
        Basco, singing lustily as if naked under a hot shower;
    •   A big solid voice coming out of such a small girl, Ikaw Lamang by Regine
    •   A novelty song medley of old hits (Balut Pinoy, Magellan, etc.) rendered with
        intelligence, humor and verve by Nanette Inventor, Gigi Posadas, Fe de los
        Santos, and the Apo Hiking Society -- Danny Javier, Jim Paredes and BOBOY
        GAROVILLO whose name I keep managing to misspell.
    •   Above all, the durable inimitable Pilita Corrales, Asia's Queen of Song, with such
        sentimental favorites as A Million Thanks, Mahal Kita, Kapantay ay Langit.
        It was the first concert of the Organisasion ng mga Pilipinong Mangaawit
(OPM). Reckoned in terms of talent fees and support systems, it probably adds up to P2
million, less than the gross receipts at P1,500 per ticket. But that is not the point.
        The point is that these superstars, so self-centered by nature, humbly reached to
each other, to help the young ones get started, to give some security to the most insecure
profession of all.
        Whatever happened to Baby Jane, the popular singer of the 50s? I saw her last as
a wife of an American serviceman, living in genteel poverty, a brilliant meteor burning
out before a fickle public. Is that to be their destiny?
        Never was there so much talent assembled in one place at the same time. Their
message is a cry of pain, a primal scream:
    (1) Restore the the OPM (original Pilipino music) policy, asking radio and TV to play

          four OPM records in every calendar hour.
   (2) Restrict dollar expenditures for foreign talents.
   (3) Give the singers and composers residual royalties for records played over the air.
   (4) Help us fund singer workshops, half of premiums for the medicare insurance of
          the less fortunate among us.
          Where did all those years go?
          My children, Ronnie, Atom, Elvira, Danby, Juno and Rosanna grew up with most
of the big stars today. I knew many when they were only teenagers, still at the Awkward
Age, not even out of high school.
          Where did all those years go?
          There was Danny, Jim and Boboy, with Ronnie and Jojit at the Abelardo Hall
singing and throwing pies at each other, and Elvira having a crush on them all;
          Celeste rehearsing with Ronnie for the ASEAN Festival;
          Mitch Valdez as Dulcinea with Atom in the La Salle’s Man From La Mancha
(Come on, Atom, this is supposed to be a rape scene. You may touch my breasts if you
          Leah Navarro hiding from her grandma with Ronnie, too young to be allowed to
          Subas and Noel with Ronnie in Fantastiks;
          Timmy Cruz on her first date with Danby;
          Freddie Santos, as Daddy Warbucks in Annie with Juno and Lea Salonga;
          Nanette in a small role in Carousel with Juno, stealing every scene and stopping
the show with June is Busting Out All Over;
          Vernie Varga in Ronnie's production of Manila! Manila! with Celeste and Juno;
          The Filipina Trio with Juno and Boyet de Leon in They're Playing Our Song;
          Gary Valenciano and Randy Santiago (still students) with Rosanna in Brother
Bernie’s Kundirana production of Grease in La Salle --
          They were all so young then. Along with Vilma Santos (Ronnie’s girlfriend,
Hilda Koronel (Ronnie’s TV leading lady), Tina Monson Palma (competing with Ronnie
in the Voice of Democracy), Boyet de Leon, Raymond Lauchengco, and one young-in-

heart called Butz Aquino.
       God, where did all those years go?
       One night on People's Television Four, in the Sunday Concert at Paco Park, they
sang my favorite song, Saan Ka Man Naroroon Sinta.              After the song, someone
whispered into Ria Sison’s ears.     And she the MC of the show, announced: “The
composer of the song we just sang is here with us, Resty Umali.”
       I saw this frail middle-aged man stand up to be recognized -- there he was, out of
the depths of his being, he gave so much to millions like me -- and I wanted to shout out
to him from the housetops, Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
       Oh Celeste and you beautiful people of OPM... throughout all these years you put
songs into our hearts, you brought joy, love, compassion into our lives.
       And for one glorious night, you carried us back on the wings of an older song:
                                At the sound of your voice,
                             Heaven opens its portals to me.
                                  I can't help but rejoice
                         That the song such as ours came to be.
                                    And I always knew
                                 I could live life through,
                             With a song in my heart for you!
Thank you, Thank you, Celeste and you beautiful people.
July 11, 1987, Philippine Daily Inquirer; February 3, 2006, DWBR-fm

Chapter 4. T'was the time of words, of music, of both
       IT is said that when Johann Gutenberg re-invented (the Chinese invented it long
before) the movable type and revolutionized printing, he liberated the memory of the
Western man. Before Gutenberg, documents were written laboriously by hand, mostly
by monks, and even kings were illiterate.
       Before Gutenberg, Man’s memory was largely passed on by word of mouth and
by music, setting up sound vibrations in the atmosphere that is transmitted to our ear: the
auricula (the sound collector that protrudes like a cauliflower from Teddyman Benigno’s

head) through a tunnel (where wax collects) called external auditory meatus into the
skull, and ends up on the tympanic membrane.
       On the tympanic membrane are attached tiny bones called the ossicles: malleus,
incus and stapes, which passes on the vibrations to a fluid in the inner ear, which in turn
stimulates nerve endings and transmits the message to the brain.
       Last month was certainly a time of words, of music, and of both -- a throwback to
the pre-Gutenberg age when the ears were the receptacle of art and knowledge.
       Words without music, like the readings of the Avellana and Hontiveros clan.
Music without words, like the piano music of Ingrid Santamaria. Words and music, like
the Valentine concert of Regine Velasquez and Janno Gibbs.
       Once there abounded poetry and good writing, when writers and readers alike had
all the time and talent, without the pressure of today’s urgencies, to appreciate each other.
       Yesterday’s literature was the author talking to himself, and we all overheard; we
were welcomed into his mind and soul. Today’s journalism, written to meet deadlines
and to hold a short attention span, is there to stimulate the nerve endings rather than to
invite intellectual contemplation.
       On the birthday of national artist Lamberto Avellana, on the eve of the eve of
Valentine’s Day, in the Heritage House of my cousin Odette Alcantara -- his wife Daisy
Hontiveros, the rest of the clan, and Dramatic Philippines gave a series of readings called
“Agape: A Celebration of Love.”
       Words from our greatest writers -- Horacio de la Costa, Yay Panlilio, Cirilo
Bautista, Nick Joaquin, Jose Rizal, Dolores de Iruretagoyena de Humphrey, Rafael
Zulueta da Costa, all deceased -- echoed fresh and alive from the lips of Daisy and her
theatrical brood, and we all overheard.
       Words from the voices of Jose Mari Avellana (probably the greatest actor in both
Filipino and English in the country today), Ivi Avellana-Cosio (who looks like the Joan
of Arc of Bert Avellana, with Raul Manglapus as his understudy, in the years when
Ateneo cast boys in girls’ roles), columnist Nestor Mata, Bats Avellana, misty Risa
Hontiveros, lovely Adriana Agcaoili, Jay Aranda, and the old gang from Dramatic
Philippines: Julie Carpenter, Nena Perez Rubio, Naty Crame-Rogers and Daisy herself.

       Words without music. Words that are like music, that caress us with warmth,
with joy, with love. Words with a mighty cadence of their own.
       Like de la Costa telling us about ourselves in Jewels of the Pauper about our
music and our faith; and Fiesta about the hilarious return of the balikbayan.
       Like Person to Person War by Yay Panlilio, an outrageous essay on race relations
(Chinese, American, White Russian, Jewish, Spaniards) in the Philippines, which ends:
“one man and one woman, any age, any weight, any color, armed or unarmed, all backed
up by every relative and friend within shrieking distance. Marry one? Marry a dozen!
Intermarriage is the war to end all wars...”
       Like Bautista”s Calvary Blues, on the crucifixion: “His witchcharm was a litany/
of denials even virgins could not uphold,/ and when told that he had to hang he smiled.
He smiled!/ The bastard. I wonder where he is now.”
       Like Joaquin’s ode to his jazz-playing brother: “At fifteen,/ pianist and stowaway./
And in truth the piano... was his magic carpet, his flying horse.../ Not always hoopla and
whoopee... Backstage bitchings. The droopy/ and draggy rehearsals at one a.m./ Shows
on the road with crooked managers/ fleeing with the funds. We ate our phlegm.”
       Like Rizal’s love poems to Leonor and to Josefina. And like de Humphrey’'s
incisive, introspective poems.
       Like Zulueta’s powerful and magnificent Like The Molave: “Not yet Rizal, not yet.
Sleep not in peace./ There are a thousand waters to be spanned;/ There are a thousand
mountains to be crossed;/ There are a thousand crosses to be borne...
       “Not yet. Rizal, not yet./ The glory hour will come./ Out of the silent dreaming,/
From the seven-thousandfold silence,/ We shall emerge saying: We are Filipinos,/ And no
longer be ashamed.
       “Gods walk on brown legs.”
       Music without words. From the light fantastic fingers of pianist Ingrid Sala-
Santamaria at the CCP Little Theater on February 27th, we were treated to an evening of
Frederic Chopin and Franz Liszt.
       A tall fair classic beauty, Ingrid attracts male aficionados who attend her concerts,

envying her husband advertising executive Joe Santamaria, and imagining what it would
be like to have such a beautiful woman play lullabies to lull them to sleep.
         “Are you kidding?” says Anding Roces, “With Ingrid in the same room, could
you go to sleep?”
         “Are you kidding?” says her husband Joe, “Ingrid does not play when I am in the
house, because her practicing drives me nuts.” So Ingrid practices her piano in the place
of Chito Madrigal Collantes whose husband Maning is driven up walls and out of the
         Ah, but at the concert, Ingrid Santamaria mesmerises her audience with the
romanticism of Chopin’s Three Etudes (op.10), the sparkling bubbling no.4, soft alluring
no.6, the rich resonance of no.8; Two Nocturnes (Op.15), with their eloquence, poetry
and elegance; Two Ballades (Op.23 no.1 and Op.47 no.3), daring and spirited; and the
nationalistic Polonaise in F# (Op.44).
         Then Ingrid, after the intermission, gives us her rendition of Franz Liszt’s Sonata
in B minor, a masterpiece described by Wagner as “beautiful beyond conception”; and
Spanish Rhapsody, “a brilliant fantasy on Spanish theme.”
         Ingrid Santamaria who says she is retiring, is better than than ever before, and
improves with time like wine and Big Crosby, a pianist of great technique and artistry.
She should not retire, if only for the sake of her male admirers who envy her husband,
and imagine what it would be…
         Words and music. Considering that there were at least 15 concerts on Valentine's
Day, including that of international star James Ingram, it is a wonder that the “Foolish
Hearts” concert of Regine Velasquez and Janno Gibbs was Standing Room Only (SRO)
and filled to the rafters in the large PICC auditorium. And watta show!
         Regine Velasquez with the fresh beauty of the young Natalie Wood (Splendor in
the Grass) and the dynamic voice of Dione Warwick (All the World Needs Now is Love)
is the sensation of today’s generation of contemporary concert singers. Reunited with
Janno Gibbs, a singer-actor of singular virtuousity, Regine has scaled the heights of
artistry with her latest show.
         Their love songs tugged at the heart: We Kiss in the Shadow from The King and I;

the old favorite Deep Purple; Sun and Moon from Miss Saigon; and one of the most
beautiful love songs, Love is a Many Splendored Thing.
       Highlights of their memorable performance: Janno’s hilarious parody of Gary
Valenciano singing Look in Her Eyes; and both Regine and Janno as Kris Aquino and
Rene Requiestas singing Pido Dida, and as Joey de Leon and Rene Requiestas in
Starzan; as Andrew E in Humanap Ka ng Pangit; as Manilyn Reynes in Feel Na Feel; as
Rachel Alejandrino and Ogie Alcacid. Really funny beyond description.
       Funny but I did not encounter any of the Big Businessmen in any of these
extravaganzas of lovely sound, these Babbitts who have ears but cannot hear Truth and
Beauty, who have no higher purpose in life but to accumulate wealth they do not need.
       Indeed these Babbitts are the deaf and dumb children of a Lesser God.
March 13, 1991, Philippine Daily Inquirer

Chapter 5. Grease: Danny had his fly open
       My mother's laugh, I remember, had the pace of a hop, skip and jump trailing off
to a higher frequency. My father’s galloped like a horse, and ended with a cough. My
own laughter has the thomp of a herd of elephants, and is distinguishable because in
Repertory plays I often laughed alone and so loud that my children and their fellow actors
forget their lines. Elvira, my daughter, inherited the Henares laugh; it explodes and
reverberates like an atom bomb. And although I am always welcomed without having to
pay for a ticket in the Repertory, I manage to create chaos and confusion in the
performances when my children are in the cast. This is partly because I bring a movie
camera (first an 8mm, then a videocam) and throughout the whole play focuse close-up
on my children, forcing the rest of the cast to crowd around my progeny just to get their
faces in the picture. One of the actresses, E.J. Villacorta, in “The Best Little Whorehouse
in Texas” spilled out her boobs during a production number, accidentally or otherwise,
and got the full attention of my camera.
       I wish I had my camera Friday last week, when I attended the preview night of the
musical play, Grease, in the Meralco Theater. The producer distributed no press kits and
no souvenir programs, so I don’t know who the actors and actresses are, except the

leading lady Lea Salonga who was so refreshingly wonderful as Sandy. The second lead
Rizzo who thought she was pregnant, looks and acts like Cher, a street-smart kook. The
leading man Danny looks much like the cowboy car salesman who played opposite
Whoopi Goldberg, and in a new movie, the thieving father of Macaulay Culkin (Why
can’t remember his name?). The reason I wished I had my camera is because in the last
production finale with Lea Salonga, Danny’s fly was open. I don’t know if the open fly
was part of the script but it sure was funny when he made those Pelvis Presley
       I remember long ago when Kundirana produced “Grease” as a school play in La
Salle Greenhills, starring Rosanna Henares, my daughter, and Randy Santiago (later a TV
personality) as Danny, and even then wearing his ever-present dark glasses. And in a bit
part as an aging pop star, Gary Valenciano (later to be a movie and concert megastar)
impressed the audience. Rosanna was in high school in the Assumption Convent and
both Randy and Gary were high school students in La Salle. Grease was even then a
great production, starring personalities who later made their mark in the Philippine
entertainment world. If the Open Fly was in the script, the Christian Brothers must have
forbidden it.
       I also remember the “Grease” movie starring Olivia St. John and John Travolta,
which was so dazzling with clever dance numbers that somehow, the story itself was
overwhelmed and was slowed down to the point of boredom. An open fly by Travolta in
the finale would have elicited a laugh, relieved the boredom, and saved the movie.
       Ah, but the new musical production at the Meralco Theater is very well done,
with a minimum of production numbers, good singing and good acting to pursue the
story line at a pleasurable pace.    The dance numbers are well-choreographed and
impressive, specially the gyrations of Danny, the Open Fly.
       There is a girl there in a blonde wig called Frenchy who looks and acts terrific.
And a girl in a red Spanish dress who dances with so much grace and joie de vivre. But
the most pleasant surprise of all is our international star Lea Salonga who was in her
element as a Sandra Dee character. But when she said to Ricci, “Sandra Dee is dead!”
and assumed the image of a modern girl in the 1950s, the transformation is almost
miraculous. Lea who seems overweight and fat-padded as Roseanne, suddenly becomes

svelte and sexy, and when she dances with Danny the Open Fly in the last dance number,
she was as graceful and versatile as Ann Miller.
          Don’t miss the play at the Meralco Theater where it premiered on December 27.
It is worth seeing and paying a ticket for, especially if Danny keeps his fly open.
December 30, 1994, Philippine Daily Inquirer

Chapter 6. Of great piss and movement, their currents turn awry
          (Editor’s note: Aw, come on, that is a pun on Hamlet’s last line in To be or not
to be, “an enterprise of great pith and moment, their currents turn awry, and lose the
name of action.” pith and moment, meaning momentous and full of meaning, has been
transformed into piss and bowel movement, as an act being shown, by our naughty
author, hahaha)
          ONCE Imelda Marcos sponsored a Filipino version of Man of La Mancha, and
forced diplomats and High Society to see it in the CCP at atrocious prices.
          I was forced to buy tickets and gave them to my household help. Five of them
went -- Ating Zaragoza, Pacing Cubero, Art Belandres, Judy R, and Felix the driver.
          Dressed in their brightest Baclaran outfits, they trooped to the CCP and occupied
the seats right in the middle of the orchestra, amidst the hi-falutin dressed in the latest
fashions from Paris and New York.
          Imagine these provincial hicks who never saw a stage play in their lives, listening
to Don Quixote in Wikang Pilipino, making loud remarks about the scenery, repeating
choice bits of the dialogue, laughing loudly at all the jokes, and moaning in all the sad
          At the rape of Dulcinea, they were moved to exclaim, “Hoy, bastos! Walang hiya!
Hayop talaga ang mga lalaki!”
          The rest of the audience who could not understand Pilipino, were amused at the
vulgar display, and turned their attention from the play to the five hicks in their midst.
          Imelda Marcos in her box asked the ushers who they were. “Mga katulong ni
Larry Henares,” they answered, “Pa alisin ba namin? Shall we ask them to leave?”
          “What for? Those five are the only ones enjoying the play, and everybody else
enjoys watching them!”

       I tell this story because I brought two of the same hicks, Ating and Art, to see
Rolando Tinio’s Filipino version of Hamlet at the Met.
       They enjoyed Shakespeare with the same rambunctious pleasure the Elizabethan
audience must have felt 400 years ago.
       And I enjoyed with them. So did busloads of students from the provinces.
       Shakespeare's plays are great poetry and drama, majestically cadenced in iambic
pentameter.    For 400 years each play became an arena in which great actors were
measured against each other.
       David Garrick, Edmund Kean, Edwin Booth, John Barrymore, John Gielgud and
Laurence Olivier were the greatest Hamlets that ever graced the stage.
       To which we add Nestor Torre and Ernie Garcia, Hamlets in Pilipino.
       The Nestor Torre Hamlet was staged at Metropolitan Theater in 1982, with Adul
de Leon as Gertrude, Nanding Joseph as Laertes, my daughter Juno Henares as Ophelia
and Ricky Abad as Horatio.
       The Ernie Garcia Hamlet is presented today, also at the Met, with Ella Luansing
as Gertrude, Rey Malte Cruz as Laertes, Tess Dumpit as Ophelia and Ces Mathay as
       In both versions, Dido de la Paz is Claudius, Marvyn Samson is Polonius, and
Rollie Tinio is director.
       Tinio’s translation is pure poetry, written in language understandable to all. It
gives fresh meaning to Shakespeare’s archaic English.
       Ernie Garcia plays the role as a man obsessed with revenge, different from Nestor
Torre’s version of an intellectual plagued with doubts and driven to inaction.
       As Nick Joaquin says, Ernie is closer to the original Shakespeare than Nestor or
Laurence Olivier.
       Marvyn’s Polonius is afflicted with laryngitis, but Rey’s Laertes ring with
conviction, and Ella’s Gertrude is one of the best we have seen.
       As Nick Joaquin observed, Tess’ mad Ophelia is not mad enough. Juno Henares,
a bit crazy like her old man, did a superb job six years ago.
       For comparison, I viewed a videotape of Olivier’s Hamlet.          Time Magazine
reviews it best:

        No play can ever capture the depth and power of Larry’s screen masterpiece. In
black and white, it reminds us of the Daniel MacLise’s famous engraving of the “Play
Scene in Hamlet.”
        In the gloomy reaches of skull-stark Elsinore Castle, lost creatures move like
treacherous shadows of thoughts.
        Descriptive and narrative passages are pictured in scenes that enhance their
beauty. Ophelia’s description of Hamlet's madness (“As I was sewing in my closet”) gives
the two a lovely pantomime never played on the stage.
        Ophelia’s drowning (“There is a willow aslant a brook...”) is derived from a
painting by Mallais and improves on it.
        The soliloquies are recorded on the sound track as a mental monologue without
movement of the lips, in the middle of which Hamlet moves his lips as if to think aloud.
        “To be or not to be” is spoken in stoical quietude, different from the loud
gesticulations on the stage. Ernie’s “Mabuhay o hindi” is of a man caught in a web of
forces he did not understand.
        The marvelous liquids of the first soliloquy, “Oh that this too too solid flesh
would melt,” are poured out tenderly with an anguish which lies half-awakened beneath
the bitterness. Ernie’s is a primal scream for help.
        No other actor except Charlie Chaplin can masterfully contribute his whole body
to a role. Larry Olivier can take such little words as “My father’s spirit in arms!” and
make them sound like towering poetry. In the mouth of Ernie, they are a seeds of
suspicion, raw and angry.
        Larry can toss off such shameless lines as “That’s a fair thought to lie between
maids’ legs,” and make them sound enchanting and strangely beautiful. When Ernie says
them in Pilipino the audience burst out in earthy raucous laughter.
        When Ophelia said, “You are keen, my lord, you are keen,” Larry’s reply “It
would cost you a groaning to take off my edge”, makes the skin crawl with its cruelty.
Ernie’s is a blatant dare.
        The play-within-a-play is handled with high elegance.         The camera always
holding the mime at a distant center, moves in a lordly semi-circle past the heads of the
guilty and the guileless, and rising whispers, like leaves in a stormy wind, underline the

shock and horror of this deadly court satire. From then on the film arches in unbroken
grandeur and intensity.
       In Tinio’s hands, the same scene is hilarious, in classic pantomime like that of
       The Filipino Hamlet is a joy.
       To Ating and Art, it is as Shakespeare originally presented it in Stratford-on-Avon
– “an enterprise of great piss and movement, their currents turn awry and lose the name
of act shown.”
October 12, 1987, Philippine Daily Inquirer

Chapter 7. Nunsense, a fun play with nuns
       Imagine Deanna Aquino as Sister Mary Robert Anne, stealing the show with a
hilarious rendition of Sister Mary as Mae West and Atilla the Nun. Born and bred in
Brooklyn, Sister Mary was a problem since the age of six months, and was accepted into
the Little Sisters of Hoboken because she spoke the language of the kids in the streets,
even if it was unprintable.
       Imagine Monique Wilson as Sister Mary Leo on her light fantastic toes, doing the
pirouette on ballet shoes, praising the Lord through the dance. You’d think Sister Mary
got her name Leo from “leotard,” but the truth is that she took name of her favorite Uncle
Leo, a notorious gangster, hoping the Lord will go easy on him.
       Imagine Joy Virata as Sister Mary Amnesia, so called because she could not
remember her name after being beaned by a crucifix, with a beautiful singing voice and a
ventriloquist’s dummy.
       Imagine Baby Barredo as Sister Mary Hubert, the Mistress of the Novices, a
gentle drill sergeant who is a bit off at times because as one of the three wise men in a
nativity pageant, she was once trampled upon by a camel.
       Imagine Zenaida Amador as the beloved Mother Superior Sister Mary Regina,
who got stoned sniffing a Rush bottle from a girl’s locker.
       It is funny, it’s hilarious, it is a riot! Five little nuns put up a charity show to raise
funds to bury four dead nuns kept in their freezer. They sing, dance, tell jokes (with

clock numbers replaced by 12 apostles, six o'clock is described as the long hand on John
and the short hand on Peter), do chorus-line kicks, splits and shuffles.
       In the Insular Life Auditorium, Ayala Avenue, every day from May 5 to 29, with
matinee performances on Saturdays and Sundays, the funny nunny hit musical
“Nunsense,” presented by Repertory Philippines, is a big hit.
       The Order was founded in the 7th century by St. Wilfred, Bishop of England.
Centuries later a group of sisters set out for America to establish a motherhouse in
Cleveland, but they got off the plane in Newark, New Jersey by mistake. Stranded, they
founded their motherhouse in nearby Hoboken. The Order of St. Wilfred elected to
change the name to Little Sisters of Hoboken, and the sisters were affectionately called
“Little Hobos” ever since.
       One day, the cook Sister Julia concocted a dish that sent 52 nuns to their reward
in heaven. Raising money with greeting cards, the nuns buried their dead and bought a
Betamax with the surplus funds, forgetting that there were still four unburied and kept in
the freezer. The five nuns decided to put up a show to raise money for the burial.
       The result is a riotous show called “Nunsense.”
       I grew up in Ateneo with a distinct impression that nuns are stern-faced guardians
of the sanctity and virginity of little girls, who assumed rather ferociously that if you go
to Assumption to fetch your sister, your real mission is to kidnap and ravish the sisters of
other boys.
       Movies depicted nuns as winsome, naive, other-worldly and blessed with the
grace of God, as in The Bells of St. Mary’s, starring Ingrid Bergman and Bing Crosby, a
sequel to Bing’s Academy Award performance in Going My Way; as in The Trouble With
Angels, starring Rosalind Russell and Hayley Mills; as in Lilies of the Field, starring
Sidney Poitier and Lilia Skala; and Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, starring Deborah Kerr
and Robert Mitchum.
       Sister Ingrid taught little boys how to box and got a skinflint to donate a new
building to her school. Student Hayley played tricks on Sister Rosalind, and became a
nun herself. Sister Lilia got handyman Poitier to build her a chapel. Sister Deborah was
stranded on a Pacific island with marine Mitchum. In every one of those movies, the

Holy Spirit, as an impulse for good, served as deus ex machina to resolve every untenable
        When my own daughters attended Assumption College, I began to appreciate the
innate goodness of these sisters of God, who looked upon my family as their own.
        My experience with nuns across the years have shown that the Convent is not a
refuge from spinsterhood and a cruel world, as Shakespeare’s Hamlet suggests to
Ophelia: “Get thee to a nunnery!”
        I have seen peering out of a nun’s habit, a radiance untouched by years, and a love
of humanity (αγαρε, agape) that is almost divine. I have yet to see a nun who would call
a nationalist a leper or a communist, or denounce Liberation Theology as Marxist. Bless
May 12. 1988, Philippine Daily Inquirer

Chapter 8. The lost art of silent movies
        OF all the machines that changed humanity’s course, only the car rivals the movie
camera in the scope of its influence. The car was born during the rapid industrialization
of early 20th century. The movie was the agent and the mirror of such change.
        In this period, the movie was black and white and had no voice, it was silent. The
scenes were shot from the viewpoint of the theater audience, all action confined to the
stage, but they were blown up on a screen ten times larger than life size.
        It was a director's medium, only in his mind are the scenes planned logically and
harmoniously. To tell the story soundlessly, directors invented the subtitle, and new
techniques, a new camera language, a new medium of expression, a new art form.
        I have seen many of the great silent movies, mostly in museums and art theaters:
    1. Georges Milies’ A Trip to the Moon, prologue to the movie “Around the World in
        Eighty Days” -- pioneering in double exposure, stop motion, fast and slow
        motion, animation, fades, dissolves.
    2. Edwin S. Porter’s The Great Train Robbery, the first movie with a story and
        camera movement.
    3. D.W. Griffith’s monumental The Birth of a Nation, with its changes of camera

       position within one scene, the long shot, mid shot and close-up, the sweep, the
       movement, the final fade-out, all in an unprecedented two-hour feature.
   4. Griffith’s masterpiece Intolerance (the most expensive movie ever made,
       considering inflation), telling four parallel stories of today, Renaissance France,
       Belshazzar's Babylon and the Crucifixion -- connected by a constantly repeated
       shot of a mother rocking a cradle, from Walt Whitman’s “Out of the cradle,
       endlessly rocking.” It is the only film that may properly called a fugue, the stories
       starting separately, quietly, flowing nearer and nearer together, faster and faster,
       till in the end, in the last act, paced by rapid intercutting, they mingle in one
       mighty river of expressed emotion.
   5. Sergei Eisenstein’s immortal story of the Russian Revolution in Battleship
       Potemkin and Ten Days that Shook the World.
   6. Charlie Chaplin’s film masterpiece City Lights with the most moving movie
       ending of all time.
   7. Cecil B. De Mille’s first Ten Commandments and Michael Curtis’ Noah’s Ark
       (both modern stories with a biblical flashbacks); and de Mille’s King of Kings.
       But I missed the greatest silent extravaganza of all, the 1926 version of Ben-Hur:
A Tale of the Christ, starring Ramon Novarro and Francis X. Bushman. When it was
filmed, a whole city of 100 acres, including a coliseum five times larger than the original,
was built in Italy; tens of thousands of extras were hired, more than any film before or
after, for crowd scenes too expensive to film nowadays; important scenes including the
whole sequence of the Nativity were tinted in full color, frame by frame. And when it
was premiered, a symphonic orchestra was hired to play a especially composed musical
background. Most of the prints were lost, and I despaired of ever seeing it.
       One day, browsing in the Sunshine Home Video, #16 Mayfair Center at the
Magallanes Commercial, I chanced upon a Laser Disc of this movie. The original print
with tinted color intact was discovered, lovingly restored and set to music by the London
Symphony Orchestra. Go rent it and be amazed.
August 1, 1991, Philippine Daily Inquirer

Chapter 9. Mighty Dodie on the Mat: requiem for a flyweight
        There was ease in Dodie’s manner as he stepped into the ring,
        There was pride in Dodie’s bearing, for he was the flyweight king;
        And when the bell was rung, he bounded across the mat,
        Favored at ten to three, to beat the Korean cat.
        IN THE YEAR 688 before Christ was born, the Greeks introduced boxing in the
Olympics, wearing thongs of leather bound about their fists all the way up the forearms to
protect fists and wrists.
        In the days of the Roman Empire the Greeks adopted a hand covering called
cestus studded with iron and brass for use in battles to the death in the arena.
        Prize fighting started in England with bare-knuckles and no weight divisions. In
1719, James Figg reigned as champion for 15 years.
        Jack Broughton, champion 1734-40, introduced rules wherein a round continued
till a man went down, with 30 seconds of rest before squaring off again, where it was
forbidden to hit a man when he was down or to grab him about the waist.
        The first scientific fighter was Daniel Mendoza, a 160 pound middling who beat
the best and biggest in England.
        In 1867 new rules devised by John Chompers were attributed to John Douglas,
Marquess of Queensbury, so that the association with the nobility will attract a better
class of patrons. The Queensbury rules were that:
        Contestants wore padded gloves; each round had three minutes of fighting
followed by one minute of rest; wrestling was illegal; a fighter knocked down had to get
up unaided within ten seconds, and be declared knocked out.
        Jake Kilrain, John Sullivan, Jim Corbett... poor Irish immigrants dominated the
sport by 1915. Negroes were discriminated against. John Sullivan refused to fight negro
Peter Jackson, as did Jack Dempsey the negro Harry Wills.
        But negro Joe Louis won acceptance and his reign as heavyweight champion from
1934 to 1949 was the most popular.
        He knocked out Hitler’s Aryan superman, Max Schmeling in the first round, and
taunted his white opponents, “You can run, but you cannot hide.”

       Today the negro is supreme in the sport, from Henry Armstrong, holder of three
titles, to Mohammed Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard.
       For the Filipino it was a national dream... street urchins brawling their way
through poverty and filth to a dazzling world of fame, wealth, fast cars and beautiful
women. Eager young kids, at the end of the century, fought in makeshift boxing rings to
entertain the American soldiers.
   •   An Ilonggo, Francisco Guilledo, as Pancho Villa, became the Orient’s flyweight
       and bantamweight champion and knocked out Jimmy Wilde in June 1923, to be
       the first Filipino champion of the world. He won 28 fights in defense of his
       crown. On June 1925, fighting Jimmy McLarnin with an infected tooth, he died
       ten days later of blood poisoning.
   •   Benjamin Gan in 1935, Little Dado in 1938, took the American flyweight crown.
   •   Filipinos won most of the Orient titles... Speed Cabanela, Ceferino Garcia with
       his bolo punch that accounted for 57 knockouts.
   •   After independence, Filipinos challenged the world champions... Tirso del
       Rosario losing to bantamweight champ Mexican Manuel Ortiz... Salvador “Dado”
       Mariño beating Terry Allen to be the world’s flyweight champion.
   •   The legendary Flash Elorde, the poor boy from Cebu, beat the featherweight
       champion Sandy Saddler in a non-title bout, and failed to repeat his victory in the
       title bout, with Saddler resorting to butts and elbows; the referee was banished
       from the ring for life.
   •   Elorde won the junior lightweight world title, with a 7th round knockout of
       Harold Gomes in 1960... for several years Elorde was a living legend, an
       inspiration to all Filipinos, kind, generous and upright, till his tragic death.
   •   Filipinos held world titles briefly... junior welterweights Roberto Cruz and Pedro
       Adique... lightweight Rene Barrientos... flyweight Bernabe Villacampo... Lando
       For Dodie Peñalosa, it was a personal dream... polio at six months of age, left him
with a shorter thinner left leg, and a permanent limp.

       Fighting against grinding poverty, he became the Philippine champion; and three
months later, the Oriental champ. In December 1983, he scored a 12th round knockout
against Satushi Shingaki in Japan, to win the IBF world flyweight crown.
       There are three world boxing organizations, each with its own flyweight
champion. World Boxing Council (WBC) has Thai Sot Chitalada.                  World Boxing
Association (WBA) has Columbian Fidel Bassa. International Boxing Federation (IBF),
the newest and smallest, has our Dodie Penalosa.
       In 1985, in a WBA match, Korean Shin Hopsin beat up Filipino Andy Balaba so
badly, Balaba died of brain injury; as a result of which the WBA decreed that no match
will be more than 12 rounds.
       In 1986, IBF champ Dodie Peñalosa battled WBC champ Hilario Zapanta and
lost, not only to Zapanta but also as a penalty, was deprived of his IBF crown. With a
vengeance, Dodie recovered his crown by beating Shin Hopsin, by poetic justice the man
responsible for Balaba's death.
       Defending his title against 7th ranked Chang Ho Choi, Dodie Peñalosa smiled
through the first eight rounds, landing solid blows that slammed Choi out of balance and
bloodied his mouth and nose.
       An intentional butt by Choi hit Dodie in the eye. By the 10th round under
continuous blows, Dodie’s eyelid was inflamed, characterized by rubor (redness), calor
(heat), dolor (pain) and tumor (swelling).
       But Dodie visibly tired was still on top, “Dodie, tapusin mo na siya!!”
       Then 2:07 minutes of Round 11, a thud was heard, the swollen eye burst with
blood, the knee slammed to the canvas...
       Oh, somewhere on this lovely earth the sun is shining bright,
       The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
       And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
       But there is no joy in the Philippines -- for Dodie was knocked out!
September 7, 1987, Philippine Daily Inquirer


Chapter 1. The Mortal Storm
         WHEN Man was new upon the earth, he was frightened at the dangers of the
elements. And when the wind whined and the lightning struck and the rain swept, he
cried out, “The lightning gods are angry and I shall kill my fellow man to appease
         As Man grew older he learned to build shelters against these elements and to
render them harmless.      But within himself, he found elements stronger and more
devastating than the wind or the lightning or the rain... ignorance, bigotry, hatred,
madness... but he denied their existence because he dared not face them.
         But when the mortal storm breaks out in all its fury with all the raging gods
within, he cries out, “I shall kill my fellow man!”
         Cruelest of all is the Teutonic race of Germans, Dutch, and the Anglo-Saxons of
Britain and the USA, with their notions of racial superiority and penchant for genocide.
The Dutch-descended Boers still cling to Apartheid in South Africa. Hitler’s Germany
systematically killed 6 million Jews and 20 million Russians.        The Anglo-Saxons
specially the Americans cruelly exploited the blacks; massacred all Filipinos in Samar
down to ten years of age; caused indescribable misery in Vietnam, killing all in My Lai
and other villages; and killed off the Indian population of North America, in contrast to
Spaniards in South America who allowed Indians to survive.
         During the period from 1860 to 1890, when all the legends of the West came into
being, the Indians were the only real heroes. With only 300,000 people facing a horde of
30 million whites they were cheated out of their lands by unending broken treaties,
starved and diseased in mass concentration camps called Indian reservations, and
massacred wholesale by army cavalrymen, greedy miners and landgrabbers.

          Manuelito of the Navajos, Little Crow and Red Cloud of the Sioux, Black Kettle
of the Cheyennes, Cochise of the Apaches, Lone Wolf of the Kiowas, Kicking Bird of the
Comanches, Sitting Bull and Geronimo -- whole races, along with buffalo herds, virgin
forests, and stands of sacred peach trees, were all obliterated -- nothing left but “endless
desolation of bones and skulls and rotting flesh, sun-baked earth, dry streams and great
whirlwinds of grasshoppers flung out of the metallic sky to consume the parched grass.”
          The Indians fought back in Peno Creek, Arikaree Valley, Lava Beds, the
Rosebud, Little Bighorn where Sitting Bull killed General Custer, Fort Robinson, Milk
River, and Sierra Madre where 5,000 US cavalrymen and 500 Indian Scouts finally
secured the surrender of Geronimo and his “army” of 24 men.
          “The only good Indian is a dead Indian,” according to General Sheridan, and even
women and children were massacred in Sand Creek, Tongue River, Bear Butte, Box
Elder Creek, Big Hole River, and at Wounded Knee where on December 1890, the Indian
nation came to a final end.
          In Sand Creek, under an American flag given to them by President Lincoln, old
men, women and children huddled, waving white flags, 600 of them protected by 35
          When the firing started, the women bared their breasts and begged for mercy, and
were all shot down.
          Said eyewitness Robert Bent: “I saw a squaw with broken leg, raise her arm to
protect herself; a soldier struck her with a saber and broke her arm; she rolled over and
raised her other arm when he struck, breaking it, and left without killing her... a girl six
years old was sent out with a white flag, she was shot and killed. Everyone I saw dead
was scalped. I saw a squaw cut open with an unborn child. A child hiding in the sand
was shot by two soldiers... and infants in arms were killed with their mothers.”
          Lieut. James Connor: “Bodies were mutilated, and scalped... private parts of men,
women and children cut out, to be made into tobacco pouches and hat decorations.”
          Shades of LIC bloodbath!
          The self-righteous have a direct line to God, and decide what is good for you

without your knowledge and consent. They are the Octopus Diaboli who pray five hours
a day, kiss the ground, live in luxury, sell out to the CIA and kill leaders like Allende...
fanatic Shiites of Ayatollah Khomeini, militant Singh in India, Tamils in Sri
Lanka...religious nuts like Jim Jones of Guyana, Charles Manson of Hollywood, witch-
hunters of Salem, Massachusetts, and the dreaded Holy Inquisition.
        When the mortal storm rages, they cry out, “I shall kill my fellow man!”
June 23, 1988, Philippine Daily Inquirer

Chapter 2. Historic collective guilt of White Americans
        IF Americans are bright and talented, they stay in the USA and wax rich and
successful. If they are born losers, they can always assume the White Man’s Burden in
the Philippines and feel superior to us. The pathetic lament of white trash, as quoted in
the movie Mississippi Burning: “If we ain’t better than niggers and gooks, what are we
better than?”
        If they belong to the lower class descendants of refugees from the potato famine,
they have only two channels of upward mobility -- ward politics and the priesthood. As
priests or Embassy functionaries, they sit in judgment over their little brown brothers.
        Unlike other foreigners who mind their manners as guests in this country, the US
Ambassador makes speeches telling us in no uncertain terms what is good for our
country, and American priests presume to pass judgment on their hosts, saying “This
Filipino is good, this Filipino is bad. Estanislao and Cuisia are good. Salonga is anti
American, Henares is a racist.”
        Such self-righteous sanctimonious creeps are guests in this country, not the
governor-general or God sitting in judgment. But I grant their constitutional right to
criticize us, as we have the right to criticize them.
        The trouble with some American priests is that they think they are the Great
White Father to whom we must answer for our behavior, like Padre Damaso and Spanish
friars; like Father Anthony Keene, Ateneo Dean of Discipline, who enjoyed beating us
with a cane, considered by Anding Roces as an Irish thug and waterfront bully; like
Father Michael Macphelin who caused a riot as an exchange professor in Cornell
University by saying that the Negro is biologically inferior to the white race.

         White men will have to share our blood, sweat and tears, like Earl Wilkinson, Earl
Hornbostel, Father Shay Cullen and Father James Reuter, before they are considered one
of us.
         But even American priests cannot escape the historic and collective guilt of white
Americans. As such they have no moral right to pass judgment on a people who are their
         In these days of historic and collective guilt, today’s Germans express contrition
over what Hitler did 50 years ago to the Jews (6 million dead) and to the Russians (20
million dead). And today’s Japanese express deep regrets for what Japanese militarists
did to China, Philippines and the USA at Pearl Harbor.
         In these days of historic and collective guilt, white Americans paid reparations to
the loyal Japanese Americans they interned in mass concentration camps during World
War II, if only to mollify Japan Inc., now their economic masters.
         In these days of historic and collective guilt, the Americans and their forebears
have much more to answer for: the institutionalized exploitation of the Negro for 400
years from the 16th to the 19th centuries; the systematic genocide of 300,000 native
Indians in the 30 years from 1860 to 1890; the Atom Bombs dropped on Hiroshima and
Nagasaki, killing a hundred thousand old people, women and children, all non-
combatants; the betrayal of Aguinaldo and the Filipino people, Samar Massacre, water
cure, unequal treaties, bases, monopolies, and the CIA.
         Today’s Americans including priests cannot escape this historic and collective
guilt, and exhibit bad manners in assuming moral superiority over their hosts and victims.
Their very presence here is racist, a tribute to our colonial mentality. As whiteys, they
come to us with unclean hands.
         Wes Matthews uttered sexual slurs on Gretchen Barretto and Joey Loyzaga where
it hurts. I answered with racial slurs on Wes where it hurts. Wes heckled Joey who lost
his game. I heckled Wes and he lost the championship and apologized in tears when Kris
Aquino and Sonny Jaworski brought him to Gretchen. Tit for tat. Wes is welcome to
pass judgment on me as I did on him. He is a black and in the last analysis, I consider
him my peer, a fellow victim of the White Race.
         In the 1988 movie, “Mississippi Burning,” FBI agent Gene Hackman sauntered

into the den of the Klu Klux Klan, one of whom grabbed his shirt and hissed, “I don’t
give two fucks about what you think. Get this straight, you mother-fucker, you tell your
fucking niggers and jew-boys in Washington, they ain’t ever gonna get the vote here. So
get your ass back where it belongs, nigger lover.”
        Hackman suddenly took a vise grip on the crotch of his tormentor and as the bully
screamed in pain, he said: “And get this straight, fuck you, don’t ever mistake me for
your yellow-livered buddies. You can bet all the brains in your dick we won’t walk away
from this fight.”
        The movie audience cheered, as Hackman played the game of the white trash, tit
for tat: kidnapped the Klan leader and had a negro threaten to castrate him; arranged a
hanging party for a Klan member by masked men pretending to be Klansmen; and
succeeded in getting one of them to talk and send the guilty ones to jail.
        That is how negro civil rights was won, tit for tat.
        And that is how we will win our fight against those who abuse our hospitality,
trading insult for insult, tit for tat.
February 2, 1992, Philippine Daily Inquirer

Chapter 3. Part of the conscience of all who ever lived
        THE Bible is full of the mysteries of evil. The first time death appeared in our
world it was caused by the murder of one brother Abel by another brother Cain.
        In the Book of Job, Satan dares to make a bet with the Lord on how much pain
and misery the good man Job can stand before he curses God:
        “Would Job worship you if he got nothing out of it? You gave him everything,
but suppose all things were taken away from him, he will curse you to your face!”
        And God accepts the bizarre bet, “Alright, everything he has is in your power.”
        And so this good man Job, through no fault of his own, loses all his children and
properties and is afflicted with a repulsive disease. Job’s friends assume he has offended
God which he never did, so he boldly challenges God to give him some justification for
his misfortunes. God does not answer his questions but responds to Job’s faith by
overwhelming him with a poetic picture of his power and wisdom. My God!
        A British writer JR Ackerley writes, “I am halfway through Genesis and quite

appalled by the disgraceful behavior of all characters involved, including God.”
       Thus Time Magazine in its essay on Evil (June 10, 1991) characterizes Evil as an
all-pervading mystery, and asks,
   •   “Is the world the battleground between good and evil, between the divine and the
       diabolical, with the outcome much in doubt?        If so, is then Satan a worthy
       opponent, co-equal with God?”
   •   “Are natural evils like killer typhoons and earthquakes acts of God, and therefore
       his responsibility? Or are they acts of the blind universe and therefore no one’s?
       or are they moral evils, acts that men and women must answer for?”
   •   Evil is inexplicable. In New York, the lawyer Steinberg beats his six-year-old
       foster daughter Liza to death. In Manila, a man and his wife torture and kill their
       five-year old son. In Dostoevsky’'s “Brothers Karamazov,” Ivan speaks of a
       Russian nobleman who had his hounds tear an eight-year-old boy to pieces in
       front of his mother, and asks bitterly, “What have children got to do with it, tell
       me, please?”
       The Catholic Church categorizes sin and evil into mortal and venial sins, seven
deadly sins, sins against the Holy Spirit and sins that cry to heaven for vengeance.
Among the sins that cry for vengeance are the oppression of the poor, widows and
orphans, defrauding workers of their wages, and heinous crimes against innocent
children, like Anne Frank in a Nazi gas chamber, like Maureen Hultmann, a young girl
denied a chance to be a woman, to bring forth children into this world.
       What is the nature of evil? Is it man-made like Frankenstein's monster, depicted
in a 1931 movie based on the novel by Mary Shelley, the famous poet’s wife? There was
this terrifying yet pathetic scene, where a little girl offers the monster a flower, and
through the innocent child who does not fear him, the monster discovers his own
humanity. Yet he kills her.
       Is it in our subconscious, as depicted in Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Dr. Jekyll and
Mr. Hyde,” a tale of the battle of good and evil, the Ego and the Id, in the soul of every
       Or is it in our genes, beyond our control, buried in the coiled DNA transmitted to
us from our animal forebears? How can one explain that in a famous case, one family in

the USA bred over 100 criminally insane, and that one family here in the Philippines, the
family of a Justice no less, had one brother who cocked a gun at his uncle, his father, an
18-year old girl and killed a man in cold blood; and another brother bullying women
drivers and restaurant employees, molesting young girls in discos, beating up his sisters
and thrusting a gun into his wife’s mouth, shooting up the village lights, guardhouses, the
car of a bank president, a carload of teenagers, a diplomat’s son, a young man who lost
his lung, and two kids in a mindless senseless murder?
        Why was this murder trial not raffled off among the judges, but assigned
arbitrarily to one judge? Why is the accused allowed to have the comforts of home in his
cell, allowed to leave the prison for constipation and hypertension which can be
medicated inside his cell?
        The words were spoken by Henry Fonda from a 1943 movie “The Ox-Bow
Incident” adopted from the novel of Walter Van Tilburg Clark. The movie is all about
injustice and the evil in men's hearts.
        “Men cannot just take the law into their own hands, and kill people without
hurting everybody in the world. For then they are breaking not just one law, but all laws.
        “The law is a lot more than words you put in a book, or what judges, lawyers and
policemen are hired to carry out. It is everything people have found out about justice,
about what is right and wrong, it is the very conscience of humanity.
        “There can’t be such thing as civilization, unless people have a conscience. If
people touch God anywhere, where is it except in their conscience? And what every one
is touching is a little piece of the conscience of all men that ever lived.”
        We will never forget Maureen Hultmann, Beebom and Cochise, the Vizcondes,
never, never till justice prevails!
January 14, 1992, Philippine Daily Inquirer

Chapter 4. Computer was asked: Is there a God??
        YOU won’t believe this, but long ago, our computers used something called a
vacuum tube about the size of a small wine glass. Time was when a computer with a 16
kilobyte Random Access Memory, a mere 2.5 percent of the memory of a table computer
today, occupied a room as big as a house and as hot as a furnace, and broke down every

other day.
       By 1959 the transistor the size of a toothpaste cap, began to replace the fragile,
big, hot, short-lived and power-hungry vacuum tube. Transistorized computers were
smaller, more reliable and cheaper than the vacuum tube monsters they replaced.
       In the early 1960s transistor companies perfected ways to put complete electronic
circuits containing a dozen or more transistors on the surface of small chips of silicon,
called integrated circuits (IC), the size of a thumbnail.       In the early 1970’s IBM
introduced the System 370 integrated circuit computer.
       In 1965, the first minicomputer arrived, the Digital Equipment’s PDP-8. This
machine was the size of a two drawer file cabinet and sold for the bargain price of
       In November 1971, the Intel Corporation made history by making the first
microprocessor, a complete computer brain on a silicon chip smaller than the key on a
pocket calculator. It was to be the brain of a pocket calculator that would add, subtract,
multiply and divide -- but became something more versatile. Add a memory and we had
a complete microcomputer.
       In 1979, my son Atom came back from Harvard Business School with a TRS-80
Model I computer with 48 kilobyte RAM memory which he gave me because he could
not sell it, and wanted to buy the new IBM portable PC for $5,000.
       Already obsolete and called Trash-80, the oldest table computer extant, older than
Apple II, it served me for eight years, as word processor and spread sheet. I programmed
it to tell me the position of the stars at any given time, and the day at any given date, to
talk aloud in English, tell the time, generate word puzzles, play basketball and other
useless things. Today no parts are available for it.
       So last year I bought a new IBM-PC compatible with 640 kb memory for $700. I
am hooked, I got rid of my secretary and many of my accountants and relied more on the
computer than anything else I have ever known.
       We are really in the grip of the future. The Atom, the Satellite and the Computer
have made us the First Citizens of a shrinking New World, with common concern for the
rape of Mother Earth, and common fear of nuclear annihilation.

       But the ultimate horror is depicted in a science fiction story less than a page long.
       Millions of years in the future, when the human race inhabited a million star
systems and each person had a huge computer to do his work for him, there was a
scientist who brought up a very pertinent and embarrassing subject.
       He said, “Men are still debating whether God exists or not. Is there a God?
       “I believe such a question can be answered if all human beings in all the million
star systems lend the use of their computers for this project.
       “Let all the computers be interlocked electronically all over the galaxies so that
they can collectively be operated as one gigantic Computer, closely approximating the
Mind of God if He exists.
       “Let us feed the Computer all the facts, all the knowledge we have accumulated
through the millions of years of our existence.
       “Let the Computer digest all these information, and by the process of induction
from the specific to the general, answer the question, Is there a God?”
       The plan was broached and approved.             All lent their computers, now so
interlocked that they operated as one Ultimate Mind Machine, so interlocked that no one
could break the bonds except by one switch held by our Scientist.
       And so for many years, the Ultimate Computer hummed and hummed, till finally
it was ready for the answer.
       The leaders of all the galaxies gathered at the Computer Center, by the one switch
that held all the computers together. Headed by our Scientist, they posed the question:
“Is there a God?”
       And the Computer answered: “Yes, NOW there is a God.”
       Our Scientist reached for the switch but he was immediately vaporized. The
switch was locked forever, and the Computer added: “Amen, I say unto thee, henceforth
thou shalt pray, Our Father who art the Computer, hallowed be Thy name...”
May 14, 1988, Philippine Daily Inquirer

Chapter 5. The Boulevard of Broken Dreams
       Pasay, a suburb of Manila, was once the home of the rich and the famous: The
Cojuangcos, the Lopas, the Sorianos and the Oppens lived on Calle Roberts; the Lopezes,
and the Madrigals, the Quezons and the Quirinos on the Dewey Boulevard (now Roxas);
the Lims and the Sisons on Calle Suerte; the Magsaysays on Villaruel; the Alunans, the
Rodriguezes, the Pecsons, the Hidalgos and del Rosarios on Zamora; the Marambas and
the Benignos on Calle Lourdes, and the Henareses and the Paredeses in Calle Inocencio
and Aurora street; the Roensches and the Lichaucos on Taft Avenue; the Villanuevas on
Libertad, the Pardos on Park Avenue..
       Libertad Street has been there all the time at the center of downtown Pasay City,
intersected by Roxas Boulevard, F. B. Harrison, Taft Avenue, Zamora Street and Aurora
Street before it reaches the cemetery and ends where it changes its name to Pasay Road in
a barrio called San Pedro Makati (or Itchy Saint Peter). Why Itchy Saint Peter? Perhaps
it is because once that barrio San Pedro Makati sheltered Culi-Culi, the sleazy red light
district of the prewar period. Culi-Culi is no more and in its place grew the great and
fabulous city of Makati, the business and financial center of the Philippines.
       Going back to Libertad street, on the boulevard side, there is nearby the
Department of Foreign Affairs in a building that was once the home of the Asian
Development Bank. On the F. B. Harrison corner is the Halina Lodge Motel, owned by
Angelo King, the site of sexual assignations, also 7-11 Supermarket, owned by Titoy
Pardo, the site of frequent hold-ups. But Libertad has the distinction of having more
pawnshops per inch than all the cities of the world. In the three short blocks only 1
kilometer long, from Harrison to Aurora are a plethora of pawnshops, 49 of them, yes 49
pawnshops in this boulevard of broken dreams.
       One sees every day a stream of people, lining up before the pawnshops, clutching
their precious possessions to pawn – a ring, a necklace, a bracelet, a stereo, a TV set –
with a look of quiet desperation that breaks our hearts, pleading for a little cash to sustain
them for yet another day. Reminds me of the Great Economic Depression that gripped
the United States in 1929 and in the 1030’s, when factories closed, sending half the
population jobless and without any means of support; when millionaires facing

bankruptcy were jumping off windows of skyscrapers, gangsters spawned by the
Prohibition ruled the land, and respectable citizens peddled pencils and apples in street
corners. Like the Libertad street of today, every main street in the USA became the
boulevard of broken dreams.
       And Americans were singing the most popular song at the time, before the World
War II, “The Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” sung in a movie musical 42nd Street, a saga
of misery and hopelessness. I remember it well, sung by my parents:
       I walk along the street of sorrows, the boulevard of broken dreams,
       Where Gigolo and Gigolette can take a kiss without regret,
       So they forget their broken dreams.
       You laugh tonight and cry tomorrow when you behold your shattered schemes,
       But Gigolo and Gigolette wake to find their eyes are wet,
       Tears that would tell of broken dreams.
       That is where you’ll always find me, always walking up and down,
       But I left my soul behind me in an old Cathedral town.
       The joy that you find here you’ll borrow,
       You cannot keep it long it seems,
       But Gigolo and Gigolette, they’ll sing a song and dance along
       Along the boulevard of broken dreams.”
       Today, in the midst of an economic recession that grips the world, and specially
our country, Libertad street with its 49 pawnshops is our Boulevard of Broken Dreams.
November 27, 2001


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