The Best Philippine President since 1946
By Mariano “Anong” Santos
Gawad Kalinga Founder Antonio Meloto (last row, standing middle in blue shirt) joins GK volunteers and advocates at Little Quiapo Restaurant in one of the gatherings he attended during his visit in Chicago July 7-8. (PINOY Photo by Edna Pavel)
Is the Philippines a nation of sado-masochists? Turn on your TFC or go online and get the latest news back home and one would think that conditions have gone from bad to worse. The third impeachment was filed against President Noynoy Aquino. His poll rating has plummeted to a near all-time low.
Yet the president of the World Bank who just visited the country profusely praised the economic achievements of the Philippines and boldly predicted that it is moving to be the top Asian tiger in terms of economic growth. Jim Yong Kim also happily noted the success of the Aquino Administration's fight against corruption.
Are Kim's high marks reliable? Of course, they are and they are objectively important. They come from an unbiased outsider-- untarnished perspective of one who is not enmeshed in local affairs. Who dared before to impeach a corrupt Chief Justice of the Supreme Court? Or get rid of the wily Juan Ponce Enrile?
Now, JPE along with his cohorts, Senators Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada, is clamped in jail for his complicity in the pork barrel scandal. Noynoy wisely appointed courageous women to his cabinet to help him make true his promise to the electorate that he will eliminate corruption. And they deliver.
How about his leadership to weaken the feudal stranglehold of the conservative bishops on the suffering Catholics who need to be empowered to liberate them from poverty? We are speaking here of the passage of the long-delayed Reproductive Health Law. Past presidents trembled on the idea of bucking these pre-reformation clerics who had shackled the poor with outmoded church doctrines. Not Noynoy. A much needed RH Law is now in place.
Furthermore, given available funds in the government, he risked criticism and went ahead and uses them in a timely way to stimulate the sluggish economy. Did he pocket the money? No one so far can prove that he did—because he did not. But the proof of economic growth is measured and declared good for the country by no other than the head of the World Bank. (A reprise of what was said by an International Monetary Fund (IMF) official two years ago!)
P-Noy is being hauled to court or being subjected to impeachment complaints. He is being called weak and stupid. This president is finally moving the country in the same direction that Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Taiwan are moving--to be with allies who are to check the imperialist design of a resurgent China.
The Philippines must prosper on its own to build its national defense and create a strong buffer to police internal strife and shore up the corrosive effects of massive corruption. It must properly educate its people so they will value nationalism and be able to intelligently elect honest and efficient leaders.
President Aquino has made headways on these affairs of the state like no other president of the Philippines before. P-Noy is overly underestimated and unfairly savaged. But a close look of what this president has done so far points on the making of the best president the Filipinos ever elected since 1946. I am not shy about saying that.
Gawad Kalinga Founder, Antonio Meloto in Chicago
My assessment of President Aquino is shared by Antonio Meloto who was in Chicago early July. Brod Tony believes that hope in the bright future of the Philippines is upon us and President Aquino has a lot to do with that optimism.
Brod Tony in a survey made by Readers Digest a few years back was voted the most trusted Filipino with P-Noy running close second. These two leaders have a deep respect for each other. President Aquino like his mother, Cory and his sister Kris are supporters of Gawad Kalinga since its inception almost 15 years ago.
Although Gawad Kalinga is on the forefront of the crusade to wipe out poverty in the Philippines as manifested in its 2000 GK Villages and its swift responses to natural disasters that regularly hit our homeland, GK does not stand still in coming up new ways to drum up bayanihan among the Filipinos.
"It is not about charity...but about building a nation free from poverty and corruption," Brod Tony reiterated recently before several gatherings of GK advocates and volunteers. His idea of deploying young people to engage in social entrepreneurship is touching the right chords.
Being an economist, he believes that taking over the businesses and industries from foreign domination would generate good paying jobs that would inspire a new generation to stay put in the Philippines.
His new project at the "Enchanted farm" in Angat, Bulacan is a business model that attracts favorable world-wide support and attention. Brod Tony's vision is to replicate this project in strategic places back home to help trained more budding entrepreneurs.
Building decent houses for the poor is still a mission but GK is now diversified. There are more opportunities for all us to be part of the dream to build a better Philippines.
Typhoon Glenda's Casualty
The good news about Typhoon Glenda is that Albay has no casualty despite the fact that Bicol area was not spared from the wrath of this recent tropical storm.
The bad news is that the guest speaker of the Bikol National Associations of America, Camarines Norte Congressperson Maria L. "Leni" Robredo cancelled her speaking engagement before the group on the last weekend of July due to her need to be with her constituents affected by Glenda. Host group, Bikol USA of the Midwest, Evelyn Toledo is more than happy to have Camarines Norte Gov. Edgardo Tallado, Albay Vice Gov. Harold Imperial and Masbate Vice Gov. Homer Revil in their big event at the Hilton hotel in Rosemont.
Rep. Leni will surely be missed but another good news is that the confab might be graced with the presence of Illinois senior U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and his rival in the November polls, Bruce Rainer are also invited. That certainly adds spice to the Bikol fare.
Correction & Amplification: PIWC July Supplement
In our July special PIWC pictorial supplement, it reported that the St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church choir participated in the June 22 picnic. Lauren Pahati was the only soloist who gave a special number accompanied on the piano by Aurora Cortez. Thanks Gina for the clarification!
The photos for Ati-Atihan and "Sinulog" Cultural Groups were switched. Photos above show the correct attributions. DJ master Ed Cabayanan is the coordinator of the first group while the Iligan-Lanao Association takes care of the "Sinulog." Their historic participation in the PIWC Picnic-parade was well received.
The PIWC volunteers seated with treasurer Paul Angeles at the June7 Gala Night registration table were Karen Songco and Susan Angeles.
The photo showing PIWC official photographer Edna Pavel also pictured Divine Pineda, Leilani Magana and Evelyn Toledo. Edna will receive her plaque of appreciation for her volunteerism in the various PIWC activities.
Photo showing the ceremonial fan dance was EIGHT newly crowned beauty queens NOT seven as mentioned in the caption. The June 12 cultural show emcee was Christina Madridejos-Mantini. Her married last name was spelled incorrectly as Mancini in the "Pinoy Insider" column.
Photo showing two of the Philippine Tourism personnel in Chicago should include the names of Jonalyn Nenolerao and Shein Lacerna—the duo is so reliable in spreading the good word about the beauty of our homeland.
Meet YOLY O. ZOLETA, 2014 PIWC Mrs. Philippines
Yoly O. Zoleta is a Licensed Insurance Broker. After being asked to become this year's Philippine Independence Week Beauty Queen, she said, "I felt "humbled and honored" and "that the big honor is helping the charitable mission behind the Crown." Yoly owns Chicago Elite Home Care, Inc. She and her husband Ben Zoleta, have two sons—Bryan Gregory and Mark Anthony. She earned her degree in Business Administration from Polytechnic University of the Philippines. She and her husband are members of the Chicago Filipino American Lions Club. (PINOY Photo by Edna Pavel)