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If, like me, you were a baby (or perhaps not of this world yet) when the first People Power (EDSA I) occurred and didn’t really know all that much about the late Corazon C. Aquino, then go no further and watch the videos below.

What you have just viewed was a historic speech given by President Aquino before a joint session of the United States Congress on September 18, 1986, about seven months after the People Power Revolution. (Full text of the speech can be found here.) It was a very well-delivered speech, and it essentially tells her story, the story of her slain husband Ninoy, and the story of the Filipino people as it rallied to peacefully oust President Marcos from power. I particularly liked this portion of the speech:

“Whenever I went in the campaign — slum area or impoverished village — they came to me with one cry: Democracy. Not food — although they clearly needed it — but Democracy. Not work — although they surely wanted it — but Democracy. Not money, for they gave what little they had to my campaign. They didn’t expect me to work a miracle that would instantly put food into their mouths, clothes on their back, education for their children and give them work that will put dignity in their lives. But I feel the pressing obligation to respond quickly as the leader of the people so deserving of all these things.”

This is all well and good, but I wonder how President Aquino was personally like. Fortunately I can rely on stories from my family to shed some light. An excerpt from a recent article my aunt wrote for Panorama Magazine:

“I remember my mother talking fondly about President Cory. They went to the same beauty salon. There, they would greet each other and exchange niceties. “She’s so simple and so human,” my mother gushed. And this is what made Corazon the heart of the nation – her humanity. It shone in the way she’d smile at people. It shone in how she stood up to every challenge and yet still knew that the world never owed her any favors. It revealed itself up to her last day on earth – thinking and asking about other people rather than looking inward in her own state of woe.”

“She was grace and courage personified.”

And for those in my generation/future generations, I feel that my cousin Kuya Carlo summed it up quite nicely in his recent blog post. An excerpt:

“President Aquino wasn’t your perfect leader. She didn’t know all the numbers. But she did one of the best things in the history of this country. She gave us back our freedom. I believe that it’s because of her that we’re all enjoying life so much these days. In fact, without Cory, I don’t think former Presidents Ramos, Estrada, and even Arroyo would be able to perform as they did in their terms.”

“The next time you go out and enjoy a night with your friends, or you’re surfing for videos on the internet, or even just watching your favorite TV program… pause a while. Remember President Aquino and just thank her for her sacrifice.”

And the people did and will continue to do so.

From my recent blog post “One year to God knows what”:

A brief two-sentence background: The 1987 Philippine Constitution limits the president to a single term of 6 years. Therefore, the current president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, cannot run in 2010 (unless they do something crazy like change up the constitution through Charter Change or something like that).

Well, after what happened today, that “something crazy” might actually happen. Excerpts from the full Inquirer article follow. Also check out my Kuya Carlo’s new media blog post re: some politicians micro-blogging their feelings on HR 1109 via Facebook.

House rams through Con-ass resolution

Nograles: Arroyo told allies to push HR 1109
By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr., Leila Salaverria, Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
Reporter
Philippine Daily Inquirer INQUIRER.net
Posted date: June 03, 2009

MANILA, Philippines—Using their massive numbers, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s allies in the House of Representatives Tuesday night crushed all objections and passed a resolution setting up a constituent assembly (Con-ass) amid opposition warnings it would allow Ms Arroyo to stay in power beyond 2010.
In a marathon session that dragged toward midnight, a former administration stalwart, ousted Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., lambasted the majority vote as “a charade.”

(…)

Approval of House Resolution No. 1109 empowered Congress to convene itself into a Con-ass in which members of the House and the Senate would vote jointly—not separately—to amend the 1987 Constitution.

Senators have said this would render the upper chamber inutile because the larger House membership could override any Senate objections to proposed amendments.

“This means that under 1109, we are opening the entire Constitution to amendments …. This is where Malacañang’s agenda to keep President Arroyo in power will come in,” Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro Casiño warned the chamber before the House leadership pushed through with the vote.

(…)

He said the members of the majority voted for HR 1109 on pain of losing their pork barrel.

He said one of the sponsors of the resolution had admitted on the floor that the “whereas clause” in the resolution that prohibits the term extension of the incumbent president and vice president, senators, congressmen, mayors and other elected officials whose term will expire in 2010, and that there would be elections in 2010 was “not binding.”

(…)

Gabriela party-list Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan called the proceedings a “night of ignominy” where the administration allies once again used their numbers to push their agenda.

“Tonight we witnessed a railroading,” Ilagan declared on the floor.

(…)

With the resolution’s passage, Nueva Ecija Rep. Eduardo Nonato Joson likened the country to a woman fighting off a rapist, saying “Huwag po kuya [Please don’t, sir].”

“Let us not gang rape our Constitution,” he said.

(…)

After an early afternoon caucus, the majority decided to tackle HR 1109 ahead of the other contentious measures pending on the floor, such as the bills on the right of reply and on the extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

Speaker Prospero Nograles then announced that the Tuesday plenary session would be devoted to HR 1109. As of 4:30 p.m., 211 lawmakers were present.

Critics have also warned that HR 1109 is a veiled attempt to stop the May 2010 elections and lift term limits on elected officials, including Ms Arroyo.

The original author of the measure, Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte, had withdrawn support for it. He said he expected the resolution to be challenged in the Supreme Court.

(…)

Arroyo’s tacit approval

The President herself gave tacit approval for Lakas-Kampi-CMD allies in the House to push for the passage of HR 1109, according to Nograles.

He said the decision to push for HR 1109 over his own HR 737—which seeks to lift constitutional limits on foreign investments through regular legislation, or the “fourth mode” of Charter change—was reached during the official merger on Thursday of the ruling parties Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats and Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi).

“The leaders of Lakas and Kampi decided in that meeting that this is one of the things that we will push for. I will not deny that she (the President) was present when we decided on that, but she did not say anything,” Nograles said in an interview.

(…)

‘That’s nothing’

Informed late Tuesday of the House plenary discussions on HR 1109, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile responded with a shrug.

“Wala yun (That’s nothing). How can they do it?” he told reporters.

Enrile reiterated the senators’ position that the House move to amend the Constitution without Senate participation was “an exercise in futility.”

“They need the Senate,” he said. “It’s impossible for them to accomplish that. Huwag ninyo nang pag-abalahan yan (Don’t bother with it).”

(…)

‘Easy’ resolution

(…)Asked if the constituent assembly would be convened after the approval of HR 1109, Nograles said he did not think so.

“Maybe after we come back [at the resumption of the session]. Maybe after the SONA (State of the Nation Address),” he said.

If HR 1109 is approved, Nograles will call for a leadership meeting to discuss the next steps.

“It would have to be implemented. How, I don’t know,” he said.

Interior Secretary Puno said the Philippines would “completely lose its credibility” before the international community if it flip-flopped on its assurance on the holding of elections next year.

(…)

A winner @ Cannes

(from Mark Hernandez, TP Class of 2006)

Love it or hate it, we have a Filipino winner at film festival of all film festivals.

At Cannes, director Brillante Mendoza was awarded best director for his dark dark movie, Kinatay.
Kinatay, which translates from Tagalog, into “butchered” is a severely graphic depiction delving into societal corruption.

Mendoza is no rookie to Cannes. Last year, he served us, Serbis, a ground-level look into a family run adult cinema house. That movie polarized audiences last year. It appears, Mendoza turned up a notch this year.

I have always had a greater interest in following the politics of the Philippines than the politics of the United States. Actually, the gap between the two was pretty big for me until the 2008 US presidential elections. Notwithstanding my past family involvement there, I’ve always thought that the drama, corruption, and unpredictability of Philippine politics was downright fascinating and depressing at the same time.

So if you aren’t in to it yet, I’ll be posting here throughout the year to make you aware of it (if it’s OK with TPTB, of course). Why, you ask?

Well, today, 5/11/09, we are exactly one year away from the 2010 Philippine presidential elections. And personally, I think you should always know at least a little bit of what’s currently going on in your motherland.

A brief two-sentence background: The 1987 Philippine Constitution limits the president to a single term of 6 years. Therefore, the current president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, cannot run in 2010 (unless they do something crazy like change up the constitution through Charter Change or something like that).

To mark the occasion of being one year away from God knows what, ANC (a cable news network operated by ABS-CBN) held a televised Leadership Forum at Ateneo de Manila University. They gathered a group of Philippine leaders for this panel discussion/one-on-one interviews (largely attended by Ateneo college students). These men pretty much all have presidential aspirations (though they don’t really have to make it official until later on in the process).

These people included:

Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero

Senator Richard “Dick” Gordon

Pampanga Governor Eddie “Among Ed” Panlilio

Senator Manuel “Mar” Araneta Roxas III

Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, Jr.

The following were invited but were unable to attend:

Vice President Noli de Castro

Senator Loren Legarda

Senator Manuel Villar

Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Bayani Fernando

A full recap on what happened in this forum can be found here. I’ll probably be doing profiles on some of these guys soon, but for the meantime, here are some clips on the forum itself (in Tagalog):

http://twitter.com/TP_Culture

I really wanted to insert the Flash interactive Twitter plugin, but I don’t think I can do that w/ my current blog setup.  So the text box will have to do.

So, please, go ahead and follow if you wish. I’m probably going to be updating that more frequently than the blog itself (unless I can get some help =P)

(Credit to the Twitter avatar photo goes to whoever made the TP Alumni Association t-shirt design from a couple years ago)