Wednesday, March 28, 2007


These are photographs taken by Jonathan Best on March 23 and 26 going to Baguio taking the North Expressway and Kennon Road.

All the billboards on North Expressway are now deemed violations by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). They have cited the billboard owners warning them that if they don’t have them taken down, they will be removed. They are considered a menace to the safety of travelers and are also an eyesore. The errant companies on the expressway have been recorded by Maribel Ongpin and will be published for your information.

The graffiti on the rocks of Kennon Road and the political posters on trees are against Commission on Election (COMELEC) laws and there are fines, disqualification from public office and jail terms for breaking these laws.

In effect, corporations advertising on these billboards, billboard owners, and politicians are currently not in compliance with the laws of the land.

Please check my previous blogs to help you call or e-mail both DPWH and COMELEC to prod them to make sure the laws of the land are followed.

All of us must do our share so please do your civic duty by alerting DPWH and COMELEC. Meanwhile environmental organizations and the Catholic Church has asked the public not to vote for candidates who violate COMELEC rules on illegal posting. As for errant corporations, we as consumers can boycott their products until they comply with the law.



Monday, March 19, 2007


It’s over a month into the campaign season and the major thoroughfares of Manila still haven’t been plastered with campaign material. This is really a major change from the last election.

Unfortunately, having come from Zamboanga and Jolo just a week ago, campaign material are stuck everywhere totally disregarding COMELEC laws. The worst offenders in those parts are Senators Ralph Recto and Ping Lacson. Party list groups including Bayan Muna are guilty as well.

I got this disturbing photo from Bencab. Stupid names of politicians painted on rocks and walls of Kennon Road.

Some campaign stickers are beginning to crop up on side streets and as elections near, compliance with the law may go out the window. So, if we want a clean city and be vigilant with these politicians we need to all pitch in and do our share.

Several weeks ago, a huge Team Unity billboard was nailed to our subdivision. The very next day, they got a letter from me and two days later, the billboards were removed on MIA Rd. It helped that I wrote directly to the offending Senators and sent a picture of their billboard to Philippine Inquirer which promptly published it.

Citizens fighting back works. So I did my homework and found addresses and e-mails of parties you need to reach if you see illegal campaign posters and stickers. You need to e-mail the offending parties and you need to report it to COMELEC and sending them photos. Documentation helps and prodding can get results.

So here are the clickable sites:

This is the Philippine Senate website. Go there and click on Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s face and tell him about his stickers

Report illegal campaign billboards to:
Department of Public Works & Highways

Bonifacio Drive, Port Area

Office of the Chairman
Chairman Bayani F. Fernando
Tel. (632) 882-4151 to 77 loc 205; 882-1805; 882-0871; 882-0893

And of course, there’s the Comelec and here’s all their addresses, phone numbers and e-mail 

Commission on Elections
Comelec Building
Postigo Street, Intramuros
Manila NCR 1002 
+63 (2) 527 6111

Contact Information

Hon. Benjamin S.. Abalos, Sr.
Comelec Building
Postigo Street, Intramuros
Manila 1002 
Voice:+63 (2) 527-5412
Fax:+63 (2) 527 8929

Hon. Luzviminda G. Tangcangco
Comelec Building
Postigo Street, Intramuros
Manila 1002 
Voice:+63 (2) 527-2772
Fax:+63 (2) 527 5587

Hon. Ralph C. Lantion
Comelec Building
Postigo Street, Intramuros
Manila 1002 
Voice:+63 (2) 527 0842
Fax:+63 (2) 527 0840

Hon. Rufino S B. Javier
Comelec Building
Postigo Street, Intramuros
Manila 1002 
Voice:+63 (2) 527 2983
Fax:+63 (2) 527 0824

Hon. Mejol K. Sadain
Comelec Building
Postigo Street, Intramuros
Manila 1002 
Voice:+63 (2) 527-0825
Fax:+63 (2) 527 3001

Hon. Resureccion Z. Borra
Comelec Building
Postigo Street, Intramuros
Manila 1002 
Voice:+63 (2) 527-0834
Fax:+63 (2) 527 0841

Hon. Florentino A. Tuason, Jr.
Comelec Building
Postigo Street, Intramuros
Manila 1002 
Voice:+63 (2) 527-5576
Fax:+63 (2) 527- 0841

Hon. Mamasapunod M. Aguam
Executive Director
Comelec Building
Postigo Street, Intramuros
Manila 1002 
Voice:+63 (2) 527-2990
Fax:+63 (2) 527 2990

Hon. Estrella P. de Mesa
Deputy Executive Commissioner
COMELEC Bldg., Postigo St.,
Manila 1002 
Voice:+63 (2) 527-5760

Hon. Pio Jose S. Sison
Deputy Executive Director
COMELEC Bldg., Postigo St.,
Manila 1002 
Voice:+63 (2) 527-2988

We will have a clean, poster free country if we all do our share. There clearly has been less campaign garbage because of citizen awareness and the good efforts of MMDA and DPWH. So let them know that we want them to continue enforcing the law.


Sunday, March 04, 2007


John L. Silva
(Unpublished, written April 2005)

Recently, the Office of the Solicitor General filed before the Supreme Court a 37-page memorandum arguing that the Philippine Government was correct in denying assistance to “comfort women” the term used for the tens of thousands of Filipina women who were forced into sex slavery by the Japanese Imperial Government in World War II.

Citing two treaties the Philippines has signed with Japan which supposedly waives all claims for compensation, the Philippine Government has become a party to Japan’s long-standing refusal to officially apologize and compensate comfort women in this country as well as other formerly colonized countries in Asia.

The Solicitor General will be enlightened if he makes a visit to the National Museum’s current temporary exhibition entitled Figurations of Art. Along with other artifacts and paintings on display are three very profound paintings that will remind him and this government that we were once at war with Japan, had resisted bravely, suffered three years of occupation and subjected to a debauchery of violence upon their retreat.

The most disturbing and largest of the paintings is Diosdado Lorenzo’s Rape and Massacre in Ermita. The former head of the University of Santo Tomas Fine Arts Department painted it in 1947 at a time when the country was still reeling from the shock of the over 100,000 men women, and children slaughtered, bayoneted, and senselessly butchered in Manila in February 1945. The pain was so intense that many, to survive psychically, buried these events in the deepest recesses of their minds for many years. My generation had parents who were teenagers during the war and whenever they were asked about those times, spoke little and with much reluctance.

Lorenzo’s painting portraying two Japanese soldiers raping and killing family members in an Ermita home depicted a common horror not just in Manila neighborhoods but throughout many parts of the country. A young girl in the foreground is already dead from stab wounds, while another young girl with long hair in the background is naked and wounded. The husband has just been bayoneted. The wife struggling with a Japanese soldier clutching a knife, her breasts exposed, is about to be raped and murdered. A crying baby in a crib is a foreboding sign. There were countless stories by World War II survivors who saw Japanese soldiers flinging babies into the air and thrusting them with bayonets as they fell to earth. An altar with dangling rosaries is set on one side, mute and helpless. A tropical foliage seen from an open window vainly hides the fire and terror occurring outside.

Dominador Castaneda’s work, entitled Doomed Family is of a different intensity but harrowing as well. Done in 1945, this oil on canvas has the feel of a silent scream. A mother lays dead; her long hair on the floor simulates blood. A lifeless father is bound in rope, his bloodied back mercilessly whipped. A child, still alive and tied, has her mouth open emitting perhaps a frightened helpless wail. One cannot tell if they are depicted in a home or in a cell. Their doom in the dark is the only certainty.

A third painting related to World War II is entitled Capas by Demetrio Diego, a distinguished painter and former chief artist for the Sunday Times Magazine. It depicts the slow and agonizing death of Filipino prisoners-of-war in a Tarlac internment camp. The prisoner in the center seems to check on his companion’s condition beside him. The act is noble but futile. A man seated at the foot of the bamboo bed is malnourished and ready to die.

Exhibition curator Patrick Flores’ choice of these three paintings was a conscious and apt decision on the museum’s part as a 60th anniversary remembrance of the liberation of the Philippines. They loudly echo, in the midst of national silence, the vigorous protests in China and Korea over the Japanese Government’s decision in April of this year to distribute Junior high-school textbooks revising Japanese military history in World War II. One of many revisions in the textbooks is the total deletion of the sufferings of comfort women hired by the Japanese Imperial Army in Asia to sexually service its troops during the war.

The Chinese and Korean Governments have also protested the continued visits of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and members of Parliament to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo where the 2.5 million military dead are revered as gods in the Shinto religion. This includes Class-A war criminals who ordered the rape and killing of civilians For many years, out of deference to the war, the former and current Japanese Emperor as well as a string of prime ministers did not set foot on Yasukuni Shrine. Prime Minister Koizumi and his rightist legislators have revived the practice and have seriously jeopardized relations between Japan and the Korean and Chinese Governments.

The Yasukuni Shrine has a museum recasting World War II as the Greater East Asian War, with Japan at the lead liberating the colonies of Asia and fighting western imperialism. The Philippines is included in their “liberation gallery” and Filipino personalities such as Artemio Ricarte, Benigno Ramos, and Presidents Emilio Aguinaldo and Jose P. Laurel are extolled as “…cooperating with the Japanese Military.” As expected, there is no mention of Filipino guerrilla resistance, the cowardly murder of Filipino and American prisoners of war, the countless civilian deaths and the sufferings of the comfort women.

The revising of Japanese military history and the forgetting of past brutalities are pathetically being spawned in this country by Filipinos themselves. A statue of a Kamikaze pilot almost identical to the one at the entrance of the Yasukuni museum has been erected, with the town mayor’s consent, in Mabalacat, Pampanga to commemorate, with ahistorical insouciance, the founding of a Kamikaze airfield there. In the last elections, markers and shrines in tribute to Bataan Death Marchers were pasted over with the campaign posters of Vice-Presidential Candidate Noli De Castro. Just the sight of thousands of Japanese male tourists today arm-in-arm with Filipino prostitutes and the continued export of “entertainers” to Japan, it’s hardly surprising that the comfort woman issue gets no support from a government whose president purports to be a “feminist” and a pious Catholic.

The remembering of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Philippines has gotten its share of re-enactments, bronze plaques, long-winded speeches and hollow celebrations from this government, the United States, and even that of Japan. But it is the personal recountings, painted on canvas, written on paper, or orally told, that evokes the deepest sentiments of recoil, recollection, and understanding. The most meaningful way to appreciate our yearly celebration of sovereignty is to remember those who suffered - like the comfort woman - for our country, and maintain our collective umbrage until they receive the compensation and official apology long due them.