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EDITORIALS & OPINIONS OF THE WEEK:
(Mini Reads followed by Full news commentary)

FROM PHILSTAR

EDITORIAL GOVT PROJECTS: TRACKING PROBLEMS


DECEMBER 24 -As in previous years, Congress passed the General Appropriations Act for 2016 before the current year ended. President Aquino signed the GAA into law the other day, correctly pointing out that the annual appropriation has always been passed on time under his watch. In the previous administration, Congress was notorious for failing to pass the national budget on time. This meant the automatic reenactment of the old GAA, which opened numerous opportunities for fund juggling and misuse of public funds. It also wreaked havoc on the budget process, wasting the efforts of government agencies in preparing their proposed funding appropriations. Combined with the pork barrel and numerous discretionary funds, the GAA offered wide opportunities for corruption. The Supreme Court has since struck down as unconstitutional the congressional pork barrel or Priority Development Assistance Fund and its cousin that was developed under the Aquino administration – the Disbursement Acceleration Program. But significant reforms have also been introduced in the budget process in the past years. Apart from the timely enactment of the GAA under President Aquino, government agencies are now required to upload online their budgets and expenditures for public scrutiny. There’s one serious problem, however, which must be remedied by any administration that is sincere in its campaign for good governance and the judicious use of people’s money.READ MORE...

ALSO: By Carmen Pedrosa - Breaking ground with Rody Duterte


DECEMBER 26 -By Carmen N. Pedrosa
Rody Duterte is not perfect. He is as flawed as any of us. But given the situation in the country today of unpunished crime and rampant graft running amok, he is the right man to put the country back on the right path. Unlike Binay, he did not enrich himself in office. Unlike Roxas who is of the oligarchy, he is from humble lower middle class. He knows what it means to be poor. He knows what it means to be desperate when you are a victim and the law is not able to protect you. All this makes him a target of virulent attacks on his person. The criminals have both political and financial support. The trouble with him is he wants to end heinous crime and is prepared to confront it. More importantly, he is not just making promises or dishing out platitudes. He has a track record – what he did in Davao.. But more importantly, he alone among the candidates has promised to change the social and political structure of the country to put marginalized sectors in the mainstream. Poverty causes despair to the family man without a job and makes him vulnerable to drugs. The presidential system has favored a few but offers no relief to the many. That is the outcome of being “little brown brothers” to the Americans. We have been talking endlessly of “revolution” to change the system year after year, government after government but all and every time when we come close to this “revolution.” All kinds of subterfuges are used in this conflict between the few and the many. Even as a child in the 40s I heard “revolution” – that it will come, it will come because the many can only take so much. We are now in the 21st century and that revolution has not come. It is deplorable that such a gifted people should be among the poorest in the region. It has become so bad that Filipino has become synonymous with menial jobs abroad to support their families because there are none in their own country. His style of leadership has already begun by the way he campaigns. He has many offers of funding from taipans and other oligarchs but he has turned them down because he wants the many to own the new government that he will lead. That style has gone viral in social media because Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte means what he says and says what he means. The video was taken from an exclusive interview with dzRJ radio – media partner of The STAR calling on the people to fund his campaign. According to reports Duterte is asking housewives and the youth to make campaign T-shirts for him and carpenters to make billboards out of wood scraps. “Kayong mga kabataan at housewives na lang ang gumawa ng mga posters ko. Kayo na lang ang magtahi ng mga T-shirts ko para sa kampanya natin, kayong mga karpentero na lang ang mag-tayo ng billboards ko, kahit na galing sa mga scrap na lang,” he said. How long that style of campaign will last is the question. But being Duterte he is willing to try, to break new ground in Philippine politics. For that alone, he earns my respect even if he says p.i. There are too many artificially respectable politicians aping oligarchs so they can be counted among them. That is not governance. That is social climbing. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Ernesto Maceda - A bittersweet year


DECEMBER 26 -By Ernesto M. Maceda
As the year ends, it’s been a bad year for the Aquino administration. Starting with the Mamasapano massacre, the Metro Manila traffic problem, the congestion at the airport which also suffered a ‘tanim-bala’ problem, the license problem at the Land Transportation Operation (LTO), the damage caused by typhoons Lando and Nona, the surveys showed a dip in the President’s rating to +32 percent. The visit of Pope Francis and the two-day Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in November were the only bright spots as the Congress failed to pass the Basic Bangsamoro Law (BBL). Also, not enacted was the tax reform bill and the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill. The Commission on Audit (COA) reported many cases of irregularities in the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Department of Agriculture (DA) and the misuse of the Priority Development and Assistance Fund (PDAF). Poverty remained high with 59 percent rating themselves as poor. Unemployment and underemployment also remained high. * * * Binay is No.1 Despite the relentless attacks against him, Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay surged to the number one choice of voters in the latest surveys of Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations (SWS) conducted December 4-12, 2015. Political analysts, including University of the Philippines Prof. Ramon Casiple and University of Santo Tomas Prof. Dennis Coronacion, were not surprised by this recent poll survey results, saying people do not have any final choice yet since there is still disqualification cases against Senator Grace Poe and the squabbling between administration standard-bearer Manuel Roxas and PDP-Laban presidential bet Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. Binay received a 33 percent vote in the Pulse Asia survey, up from 19 percent in September. Duterte was a far second at 23 percent while Poe was a far third with only 21 percent, down from 26 percent. Roxas was a farther fourth choice with only 17 percent. In the SWS survey, Binay and Poe were tied for first time place with 26 percent conducted on December 12-14. Roxas was placed second with 22 percent while Duterte was third with 20 percent. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Franz Jessen - Greetings of peace this Yuletide season


DECEMBER 24 -Franz Jessen Ambassador, Head of Delegation in the Philippines International Affairs Arriving in Manila early September this year to assume my post as the Ambassador of the European Union to the Philippines brought back many heart-warming memories. I first visited the Philippines in the early ’90s, as the EU desk officer for ASEAN, and have followed developments in the Philippines since then. Now I have returned with my wife and son to make the Philippines our home for the next four years, and we are looking forward to get to know the country and its people even more. And what better way to start a posting? Already in September, I saw the first Christmas decorations being displayed, and with them the Yuletide spirit started to come alive, in Makati where my office is, in the rest of Metro Manila and all over the country. Coming from Northern Europe, where Christmas is in the middle of the darkest period of the year, and where everyone is wishing for snow during the Christmas period it is wonderful to see how it is also one of the most looked-forward-to-holidays here, and the celebrations in the Philippines convey warm feelings in a country where the family is at the heart of society. Christmas is also a message of peace. Peace is a core value for the European Union. Building peace is in fact at the heart of the European Union. Coming out of the Second World War, Europe lay in ruins. Vowing never to have a war ravage Europe again, leaders put all their energy into building peace. These initiatives have evolved into the European Union we see today, with 28 of the nations in Europe being members, and with others seeking to join. It began as a peace project, and it has successfully maintained peace in Europe. It shows how lasting peace can be achieved. The EU has, therefore, set itself the goal of promoting peace in other parts of the world. As a global actor, the EU supports peace and prosperity as ways to overcome conflicts around the world. The EU is able to employ its wide array of external assistance instruments in support of conflict prevention and peace building, as we do also here in the Philippines. For many years we concentrated our development cooperation with the Philippines on poverty alleviation in Mindanao. More recently, the EU started to make a political contribution to the peace process by joining the International Monitoring Team, and by funding a number of other elements of the peace process. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Ana Marie Pamintuan - Beauty queens


DECEMBER 23 -By Ana Marie Pamintuan
The leftists think she could have said something more nationalistic. Feminist activists, for their part, dismiss beauty contests as little more than glorified cattle shows. But the prevailing national sentiment, of course, is euphoria over the fact that after 42 years, another Filipina has been named the most beautiful woman in the universe. “Ang Pinakamagandang Hayop sa Balat ng Lupa” – literally, the most beautiful animal on the surface of the Earth – was a movie released in 1974 that launched the show biz career of Gloria Diaz, the first Filipina to win the Miss Universe crown in 1969. The movie was released in the second year of martial law, when the Marcos dictatorship kept sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll locked up in a closet. But “Pinakamagandang Hayop” got away with what at the time was classified as a “bold” movie that showcased the curves of the first Filipina Miss U. Pinoys were titillated by stories that Gloria Diaz shunned underwear and padded around naked at home. By the time Diaz entered the movies, Pinoys were cheering for the country’s second Miss Universe, Margie Moran, who was crowned in 1973. Much was made of the fact that both Pinay Miss Us had an overbite. Gloria and Margie must have spelled bad business for Filipino orthodontists for several years. Even after more than a decade, when Pinoys waited in vain for the Miss Universe crown to go to another compatriot, talk persisted that an overbite works like a charm and our pageant candidates must have one if the country wants the title again. Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, the Filipino-German model who was crowned the other day as this year’s Miss Universe, does not have an overbite, but she shares the exotic looks of Gloria Diaz. Pia’s victory is another reflection of evolving concepts of beauty, which are often related to power, social status and attitudes toward sex. * * * I grew up with Caucasian beauties dominating Philippine cinema, whose stars symbolize the average Pinoy’s concepts of feminine pulchritude. Back in the day our local stars looked like Elizabeth Taylor or Audrey Hepburn, with large, expressive eyes, thin lips, aquiline nose and fair skin. Voluptuous bodies were preferred; Twiggy types played supporting roles. Between the movie stars and the images of Jesus Christ with the pantheon of Catholic saints – almost all of them white except for the Black Nazarene – a Pinoy kid with kayumanggi or brown skin and button nose can develop an inferiority complex about her looks when in the company of Caucasians. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

EDITORIAL - Tracking problem

MANILA, DECEMBER 28, 2015 (PHILSTAR) Updated December 24, 2015 - As in previous years, Congress passed the General Appropriations Act for 2016 before the current year ended. President Aquino signed the GAA into law the other day, correctly pointing out that the annual appropriation has always been passed on time under his watch.

In the previous administration, Congress was notorious for failing to pass the national budget on time. This meant the automatic reenactment of the old GAA, which opened numerous opportunities for fund juggling and misuse of public funds. It also wreaked havoc on the budget process, wasting the efforts of government agencies in preparing their proposed funding appropriations. Combined with the pork barrel and numerous discretionary funds, the GAA offered wide opportunities for corruption.

The Supreme Court has since struck down as unconstitutional the congressional pork barrel or Priority Development Assistance Fund and its cousin that was developed under the Aquino administration – the Disbursement Acceleration Program.

But significant reforms have also been introduced in the budget process in the past years. Apart from the timely enactment of the GAA under President Aquino, government agencies are now required to upload online their budgets and expenditures for public scrutiny.

There’s one serious problem, however, which must be remedied by any administration that is sincere in its campaign for good governance and the judicious use of people’s money.

READ MORE...

Donor governments and organizations have noted that it is nearly impossible to accurately monitor the implementation of state-funded projects and programs in this country, including those that utilize official development assistance. Project codes that are needed for tracking implementation are changed from agency to agency. There is no unique ID for a project or program.

Certain members of the donor community have remarked that the situation gives credence to the observation of former senator Panfilo Lacson that much of the GAA is in fact one big pork barrel, with officials of implementing agencies enjoying wide discretion in fund utilization.

Addressing the problem does not require a constitutional amendment. President Aquino, with his avowed commitment to the straight path, has several months left to remedy this problem.


By Carmen Pedrosa: Breaking ground with Rody Duterte FROM A DISTANCE By Carmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 26, 2015 - 12:00am 10 1461 googleplus0 5


 By Carmen N. Pedrosa

Rody Duterte is not perfect. He is as flawed as any of us. But given the situation in the country today of unpunished crime and rampant graft running amok, he is the right man to put the country back on the right path.

Unlike Binay, he did not enrich himself in office. Unlike Roxas who is of the oligarchy, he is from humble lower middle class.

He knows what it means to be poor. He knows what it means to be desperate when you are a victim and the law is not able to protect you.

All this makes him a target of virulent attacks on his person. The criminals have both political and financial support. The trouble with him is he wants to end heinous crime and is prepared to confront it.

More importantly, he is not just making promises or dishing out platitudes. He has a track record – what he did in Davao..

But more importantly, he alone among the candidates has promised to change the social and political structure of the country to put marginalized sectors in the mainstream.

Poverty causes despair to the family man without a job and makes him vulnerable to drugs. The presidential system has favored a few but offers no relief to the many. That is the outcome of being “little brown brothers” to the Americans.

We have been talking endlessly of “revolution” to change the system year after year, government after government but all and every time when we come close to this “revolution.” All kinds of subterfuges are used in this conflict between the few and the many. Even as a child in the 40s I heard “revolution” – that it will come, it will come because the many can only take so much. We are now in the 21st century and that revolution has not come. It is deplorable that such a gifted people should be among the poorest in the region. It has become so bad that Filipino has become synonymous with menial jobs abroad to support their families because there are none in their own country.

His style of leadership has already begun by the way he campaigns. He has many offers of funding from taipans and other oligarchs but he has turned them down because he wants the many to own the new government that he will lead.

That style has gone viral in social media because Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte means what he says and says what he means. The video was taken from an exclusive interview with dzRJ radio – media partner of The STAR calling on the people to fund his campaign.

According to reports Duterte is asking housewives and the youth to make campaign T-shirts for him and carpenters to make billboards out of wood scraps.

“Kayong mga kabataan at housewives na lang ang gumawa ng mga posters ko. Kayo na lang ang magtahi ng mga T-shirts ko para sa kampanya natin, kayong mga karpentero na lang ang mag-tayo ng billboards ko, kahit na galing sa mga scrap na lang,” he said.

How long that style of campaign will last is the question. But being Duterte he is willing to try, to break new ground in Philippine politics. For that alone, he earns my respect even if he says p.i. There are too many artificially respectable politicians aping oligarchs so they can be counted among them. That is not governance. That is social climbing.

READ MORE...

No wonder Duterte topped the recent Metro Manila survey on presidential candidates despite the fact that he has no machinery. The people are his machinery. He empowers them by encouraging them to empower themselves. If the people have become victims instead of beneficiaries it is this penchant for the trivial that is being made the center of their lives.

Duterte explained that he is running for president because the people have become victims instead of beneficiaries of the government in the past six years.

He is breaking new ground.

I hope that he stays that way even when he becomes President with the perks of power. He will need to change the system immediately to keep the momentum of the resolve for new politics in the country.

“Yes, I’m running. It is my duty to do something even if it means leaving the comfort of my home and my beloved Davao. I cannot stand to see the ordinary Filipino neglected by the very structures and institutions of the government that were created to protect the people,” he said.

* * *

Social media has become a force.

I hope Mark Zuckenberg realizes how important it has become. What started me into crowdsourcing was Malcolm Caldwell’s “Can a Revolution be Twitted?” This is the Philippines, Mr. Caldwell. Anything and everything can be done once they set their mind to it.

Duterte’s video, which was uploaded on the Facebook page of The Philippine STAR, has reached over two million Facebook users, has 500,000 views, over 2,000 comments, more than 65,000 likes and more than 39,000 shares as presstime. My FB post on Duterte’s charisma received the highest likes and shares than anything I have ever written. In the Philippines 1/3 of the population are internet users. They should be told they hold a weapon as powerful as mainstream media.

Duterte’s last three words in the video: “upakan na natin (let’s beat it).”

“As president, I will enforce the law and I will have to instill discipline and that is the only way we can go forward in this country,” he added.

Duterte, standard-bearer of the Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), said that all his projects could only be realized if the Filipino people support him.

Happy Birthday to my friend and mentor former Speaker Jose de Venecia, fondly called as JDV. He continues his legislative career internationally. It was during his stint that the necessary laws to Ramos government were passed, He isn’t a Duterte but he was the exemplary parliamentarian.

As founding chairman and chairman of standing committee of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) he recently delivered speeches in Beijing, at the Great Hall of the People, with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades on China’s revival of the ancient overland and maritime Silk Roads; and at the ICAPP Special Conference on the Silk Road, hosted by the Communist Party of China (CPC).

At least the Philippines will be known not only as where Miss Universe comes from.


By Ernesto Maceda: A bittersweet year SEARCH FOR TRUTH By Ernesto M. Maceda (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 26, 2015 - 12:00am 1 4 googleplus0 0


By Ernesto M. Maceda

As the year ends, it’s been a bad year for the Aquino administration.

Starting with the Mamasapano massacre, the Metro Manila traffic problem, the congestion at the airport which also suffered a ‘tanim-bala’ problem, the license problem at the Land Transportation Operation (LTO), the damage caused by typhoons Lando and Nona, the surveys showed a dip in the President’s rating to +32 percent.

The visit of Pope Francis and the two-day Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in November were the only bright spots as the Congress failed to pass the Basic Bangsamoro Law (BBL). Also, not enacted was the tax reform bill and the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill.

The Commission on Audit (COA) reported many cases of irregularities in the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Department of Agriculture (DA) and the misuse of the Priority Development and Assistance Fund (PDAF).

Poverty remained high with 59 percent rating themselves as poor. Unemployment and underemployment also remained high.

* * *

Binay is No.1

Despite the relentless attacks against him, Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay surged to the number one choice of voters in the latest surveys of Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations (SWS) conducted December 4-12, 2015.

Political analysts, including University of the Philippines Prof. Ramon Casiple and University of Santo Tomas Prof. Dennis Coronacion, were not surprised by this recent poll survey results, saying people do not have any final choice yet since there is still disqualification cases against Senator Grace Poe and the squabbling between administration standard-bearer Manuel Roxas and PDP-Laban presidential bet Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

Binay received a 33 percent vote in the Pulse Asia survey, up from 19 percent in September. Duterte was a far second at 23 percent while Poe was a far third with only 21 percent, down from 26 percent. Roxas was a farther fourth choice with only 17 percent.

In the SWS survey, Binay and Poe were tied for first time place with 26 percent conducted on December 12-14. Roxas was placed second with 22 percent while Duterte was third with 20 percent.

READ MORE...

In the Pulse Asia survey, Binay topped all regions, except Mindanao where he placed a close second to Duterte.

Starting with the 2010 campaign and with the last five years as Vice President, Binay is on his fourth round of visits to the provinces.

Binay received the sympathy vote after one year of attacks by Senator Antonio Trillanes and former Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado making him an underdog. A common remark was “kawawa naman si Binay.”

In the vice-presidentiable race, Senator Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero kept his lead over Senator Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. and Senator Alan Peter Cayetano.

As usual, Vice President Binay was the first national official to visit typhoon-ravaged Northern Samar.

* * *

No holiday for crime: Susan Tan Uy, 63, was shot dead by two men riding-in-tandem at the busy corner of Ortigas and Wilson Street in San Juan City.

Thirty-two-year-old Chinese Filipino, Alem Lu was shot dead in an ambush in Sta. Cruz, Manila. His pregnant wife Ou Yang Mee Qui was wounded.

Businessman Ariel Enriquez, 47, was shot dead in front of his house in Jones, Isabela.

Businessman Amelito Rodney Valencia was shot dead as he was walking home in San Juan, Ilocos Sur.

As part of their jihad or holy war, 11 people died in a shooting by Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) rebels in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

One died and three soldiers were wounded in an ambush by New People’s Army (NPA) in Las Navas, Northern Samar.

Tidbits

Antipolo Mayor Jun Ynares endorsed Vice President Jejomar Binay in a public rally in Antipolo.

The Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) announced that it does not have a party stance on the BBL. NPC spokesman Mark Enverga said each party member is free to support or oppose the BBL bill.

Senator Tito Sotto topped the list of senatorial candidates in both Pulse Asia and SWS surveys. Rep. Manny Pacquiao is in eight place while Vice Mayor Isko Moreno is in 11th place.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of Dengvaxia, an anti-dengue vaccine.

The Department of Education (DoE) and Department of Agriculture (DA) has signed a memorandum of understanding to boost agri-fishery educations in 136 schools.

The DoE has teamed up with Kalibrr, an online job matching platform for job seekers and companies, to further enhance its recruitment process and attract the best available applicants nationwide.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) was penalized P23.7 million in commitment fees, for squandering P43.9 billion allocation for infrastructure projects in 2014.

Marvin Taguibao, a Filipino OFW who allegedly raped his 15-year-old niece, was arrested by the Korea Interpol and turned over to the National Bureau of Investigation upon his arrival at the NAIA airport.

The collection fee of P450, for Land Transportation Office (LTO)’s new standardized plate, upon renewal of registration will be temporarily suspended until the issue of disallowance by COA is resolved, according to Transportation Secretary Emilio Abaya.

Condolence to the family of Inquirer editor Letty Jimenez Magsanoc who passed away this week.


By Franz Jessen: Greetings of peace this Yuletide season NOTES FROM THE EU DELEGATION By Franz Jessen (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 24, 2015 - 12:00am 1 0 googleplus0 0


Franz Jessen Ambassador, Head of Delegation in the Philippines International Affairs

Arriving in Manila early September this year to assume my post as the Ambassador of the European Union to the Philippines brought back many heart-warming memories. I first visited the Philippines in the early ’90s, as the EU desk officer for ASEAN, and have followed developments in the Philippines since then. Now I have returned with my wife and son to make the Philippines our home for the next four years, and we are looking forward to get to know the country and its people even more.

And what better way to start a posting? Already in September, I saw the first Christmas decorations being displayed, and with them the Yuletide spirit started to come alive, in Makati where my office is, in the rest of Metro Manila and all over the country.

Coming from Northern Europe, where Christmas is in the middle of the darkest period of the year, and where everyone is wishing for snow during the Christmas period it is wonderful to see how it is also one of the most looked-forward-to-holidays here, and the celebrations in the Philippines convey warm feelings in a country where the family is at the heart of society. Christmas is also a message of peace. Peace is a core value for the European Union. Building peace is in fact at the heart of the European Union.

Coming out of the Second World War, Europe lay in ruins. Vowing never to have a war ravage Europe again, leaders put all their energy into building peace. These initiatives have evolved into the European Union we see today, with 28 of the nations in Europe being members, and with others seeking to join. It began as a peace project, and it has successfully maintained peace in Europe. It shows how lasting peace can be achieved. The EU has, therefore, set itself the goal of promoting peace in other parts of the world.

As a global actor, the EU supports peace and prosperity as ways to overcome conflicts around the world. The EU is able to employ its wide array of external assistance instruments in support of conflict prevention and peace building, as we do also here in the Philippines.


European Union Ambassador Franz Jessen vows a continuing support to the Mindanao peace process in a press conference in the European Union Delegation at the Philippines office in Makati City office.GETTY

For many years we concentrated our development cooperation with the Philippines on poverty alleviation in Mindanao.

More recently, the EU started to make a political contribution to the peace process by joining the International Monitoring Team, and by funding a number of other elements of the peace process.

READ MORE...

On 9 December I gave my first press conference in Manila. There I was happy to elaborate on a new programme, launched in August, in support of the peace process in Mindanao.

The EU will provide P261 million worth of assistance over the coming 18 months to allow for a smooth transition in order to create conditions for the establishment of the Autonomous Region of the Bangsamoro and the election of its government.

The assistance will have two components: contribution to the peace building and conflict mitigation through monitoring the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro and the strengthening of local institutions and establishment of political processes.

At this stage we will soon know whether the Bangsamoro Basic Law will be adopted within this year or not. Whatever the outcome, I am inspired and much impressed by the fact that all parties concerned are so dedicated to a continued peace process. I have met government representatives here in Manila who confirm their dedication to a peaceful settlement, and in talks I had last week in Cotabato on Mindanao, representatives from MILF assured me of the same conviction.

There is no other way in winning the hearts of people other than peace.

With this, let me and my family wish you all a Festive and Peaceful Holiday Season that will bring good prospects to us all.


By Ana Marie Pamintuan: Beauty queens SKETCHES By Ana Marie Pamintuan (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 23, 2015 - 12:00am 1 11 googleplus0 0


By Ana Marie Pamintuan

The leftists think she could have said something more nationalistic. Feminist activists, for their part, dismiss beauty contests as little more than glorified cattle shows.

But the prevailing national sentiment, of course, is euphoria over the fact that after 42 years, another Filipina has been named the most beautiful woman in the universe.

“Ang Pinakamagandang Hayop sa Balat ng Lupa” – literally, the most beautiful animal on the surface of the Earth – was a movie released in 1974 that launched the show biz career of Gloria Diaz, the first Filipina to win the Miss Universe crown in 1969.

The movie was released in the second year of martial law, when the Marcos dictatorship kept sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll locked up in a closet. But “Pinakamagandang Hayop” got away with what at the time was classified as a “bold” movie that showcased the curves of the first Filipina Miss U. Pinoys were titillated by stories that Gloria Diaz shunned underwear and padded around naked at home.

By the time Diaz entered the movies, Pinoys were cheering for the country’s second Miss Universe, Margie Moran, who was crowned in 1973.


Miss Universe 1969 – Gloria Diaz (Philippines)

Much was made of the fact that both Pinay Miss Us had an overbite. Gloria and Margie must have spelled bad business for Filipino orthodontists for several years. Even after more than a decade, when Pinoys waited in vain for the Miss Universe crown to go to another compatriot, talk persisted that an overbite works like a charm and our pageant candidates must have one if the country wants the title again.

Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, the Filipino-German model who was crowned the other day as this year’s Miss Universe, does not have an overbite, but she shares the exotic looks of Gloria Diaz.

Pia’s victory is another reflection of evolving concepts of beauty, which are often related to power, social status and attitudes toward sex.

* * *

I grew up with Caucasian beauties dominating Philippine cinema, whose stars symbolize the average Pinoy’s concepts of feminine pulchritude. Back in the day our local stars looked like Elizabeth Taylor or Audrey Hepburn, with large, expressive eyes, thin lips, aquiline nose and fair skin. Voluptuous bodies were preferred; Twiggy types played supporting roles.

Between the movie stars and the images of Jesus Christ with the pantheon of Catholic saints – almost all of them white except for the Black Nazarene – a Pinoy kid with kayumanggi or brown skin and button nose can develop an inferiority complex about her looks when in the company of Caucasians.

READ MORE...

It did not help that the country was colonized by white Europeans for 400 years and then by Americans. If colonizers, movie stars and even God look white, children might suspect that people with brown skin (or yellow with slant eyes, like the Tsinoys) belong to an inferior race. In our country, a dark complexion also denoted working in the fields or other forms of menial toil and was associated with low social status.

So it was a big deal when Nora Aunor – with her slight build, Malay face and kayumanggi skin burned darker by the Bicol sun – won Pinoy hearts with her “golden voice” and became a show biz superstar.

“Guy and Pip” – Nora and Tirso Cruz III – were our first AlDub. Nora’s challenger was Vilma Santos, who is fair-skinned but no Caucasian. If you look at her photos from when she was a teenager with a snub nose, you would believe stories that Ate Vi had a nose job.

That was the society that was stunned by the victory of morena beauty Gloria Diaz as Miss Universe.

* * *

These days, if we go by the proliferation of whitening creams and soaps, it looks like fair skin is still coveted by Filipinas. But Asian beauties (in K-pop and Korean telenovelas) have joined Caucasians as paragons of beauty.

In my youth we were told that the ideal vital physical statistics was a 24-inch waist combined with 36-inch hips and 36-inch upper body circumference, preferably with cup-C breasts.

Today, thanks to models like Kate Moss and Hollywood stars like Keira Knightley, overwhelmingly endowed is out except perhaps in porn sites. Thin lips have been replaced with the full lips of Angelina Jolie. Her large, expressive eyes, like those of Knightley, remain desirable, if we go by the popularity of cosmetic surgeries for eyelifts and lid jobs among Asians with monolids.

We’ve gone from the voluptuous, well-fed look of Marilyn Monroe to the other extreme: the reed-thin body of supermodels. For the ordinary Pinay, that kind of thin is often as impossible to achieve as the curves of Pamela Anderson.

Pia Wurtzbach has a combination of both: slim with no excess fat anywhere, and voluptuous where it matters. She got her mother’s skin but she also has European features. Like Gloria Diaz, Pia looks like a Filipina.

I’m a firm believer in the saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I’m also aware that girls’ self-esteem can be affected by concepts of beauty in their society.

When young girls look at crowned beauty queens, it helps to see the winner looking like the kids’ reflection in the mirror.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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