Sunday, June 27, 2010


My barber was quite emphatic in his observation, “This seems to be the season of Recycles: TV shows like “Hawaii Five-O”; Movies like “The Karate Kid”; and Philippine Political Dynasties like the Aquino and the Marcos families.”

Then he thought with my tacit agreement that for the benefit of the new generation of Filipino voters, he should also recycle the jokes that he used to tell and hear in his barbershop during the Martial Law years.


My barber heard this story in the barbershop years ago. He thinks it was untrue but it spread all over the Philippines anyway.
“After coming back from schooling in London, Bongbong Marcos wanted to to open his own business. So, he looked around and noticed that FLORO FOTO, a photography business owned by Floro, was doing quite well. Since he was always interested in photography anyway, he decided to open one. It was named FOTO BONGBONG. When Imelda heard about it, she was envious and insisted on opening one herself. She didn’t know what she would call it, so asked for suggestions. One of the suggested names was FOTO NG INA NI BONGBONG.”


“Doctor,” said the patient, “do you remember you told me to go out with Imelda’s Jet Set girls so I could get away from business?”
“Yes, I do,” the doc replied.
“Well,” said the patient, “now will you help me get back my business?”


How do you describe a Filipino politician?
My barber: “He is a guy who shakes your hand before an election and your confidence afterward.”


My barber says that life in the Philippines is so terrible that people have to borrow continuously to feed themselves. His friend made this comment: “Running into debt isn’t so bad – it’s running into creditors that hurt.”


“Time separates the best of friends,” said one Imelda Blue Lady to another.
“How true,” replied the other. “Twenty years ago we were both fifteen, now I’m thirty-five and you’re twenty-nine!”


According to my barber, Marcos always consults his soothsayer. He says that Marcos called his soothsayer once to find out when he is going to die. The soothsayer said that it's going to be on a Muslim holiday.
"Which one?" Marcos asked.
"I do not know," the soothsayer said.
"You must know," shouted Marcos angrily. "I insist upon the truth."
"I do not know," persisted the soothsayer, "because any day you die will be a Muslim holiday in the Philippines."

Sunday, June 20, 2010


In all my life, I have never written anything about my father. I only wrote messages on his birthday, during Christmas and on some other occasions. And yet, his lessons and thoughts permeated my whole being that I can’t help remembering them.

Our first child’s name is Antonia nicknamed Tanya. She was named after my father Antonio. Like the latter, Tanya as a child was what we call in Spanish “adelantada” or advanced. She knew her numbers and her ABC’s at age 1 and blew her birthday candle also at age1. Fortunately, my father witnessed these and was very proud before he passed away. Of course, I am sure he would have been as proud if he witnessed how “adelantado” our other two children, Traci and Raul who were born in the United States were.

The son of a “kutsero” or one who drives or pilots a horse-driven carriage named “karitela”, my father was born poor and grew up poor. Shy, always smiling, humble, and very handsome, he was an exceptional child. Endowed with an almost photographic memory, brilliant in Math and proficient in English, he finished elementary school in 5 instead of 6 years and secondary school in 3 instead of 4 years.

Like most of our relatives, the chosen profession of my father was teaching. Having to commute from our town of Rosales to Lingayen (Pangasinan) which is about 40 kilometers away, using a “karitela” or “kariton” or carabao-driven carriage as a means of transportation, time was always of the essence. Due to this long daily commute, he decided to complete his Education degree in 3 years instead of the regular 4.

“My Dear Aunt Sally” was the first lesson I could remember my father teaching me. Letter-writing or English composition, right? Wrong. It was about numbers: MDAS meaning Multiplication, Division, Addition and Subtraction. Most people learned it in school. I first learned it at home. He used to tell me, life is all about numbers. Everything is always measured in numbers. So I might as well learn to love numbers. It would make it easier to learn math instead of hating it as most students did.

My father taught me shortcuts to solving math problems that made learning math fun and enjoyable. I used these shortcuts to impress my classmates and later taught them on to my children, nieces and nephews.

Compute mentally without pencil and paper:


65 x 65=
75 x 85=
55 x 75=

My father was a religious man. The only vice he enjoyed was playing the slot machine. He was also the only slot player I know who closes his eyes and prays prior to pulling the handle. He was an active member of the Holy Name Society and the Knights of Columbus in our hometown Catholic parish. A member of the former is called, “Holy Namer” and a member of the latter is called a “Knight”. In one of my visits, he was telling me the story of an active member of the two organizations who was accused of some sexual misbehavior. He jokingly said the man is “Holy No More” and “Columbus of the Night”.

Lesson 2 from my father was the use of wit and humor. When writing or speaking he always said to include wit or humor to get the audience’s attention, keep them interested, and focused on your message.

“Who can I turn to?
My heart wants to know and so I must go where destiny leads me.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll get what I am after
I’ll throw off my sorrow, beg steal or borrow my own share of laughter.” – From an old hit song my father liked.

Lesson 3 was the use of the lyrics of a hit song of a given era. Be it written or oral. Be it prepared, extemporaneous or impromptu. According to my father, quoting the lyrics of a hit song in a given period is actually reflecting the noblest emotions of the generation that made it a hit. Choosing the right music with the right lyrics for the right audience is, of course, a skill that needs developing.

“Some people see things as they are, and say why?
I dream of things that never were, and say why not?” George Bernard Shaw but popularly quoted by the late Robert F. Kennedy

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt

“Hitch your wagon to a star” – Ralph Waldo Emerson quoted by F. Sionel Jose

“Those who have less in life must have more in law.” – Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay, Sr.

Lesson 4 was quoting famous people in your speeches and / or your articles for certain topics. My father said, it gives more credibility and authority to what you are writing or talking about.

These are just a few lessons from my father. As a student and as a professional, they came in handy and resulted in significant successes and achievements for me. But nothing more important and of greater significance is the lesson learned by way of his example. He remains humble in the advent of his own successes as a teacher, school Principal and eventually as a school District Supervisor. But what I remember most was his unselfish love and devotion to my mother, his absolute commitment to their marriage, and both their limitless and selfless dedication to their children’s welfare and bright future. These qualities moved not only my human mind but also my human heart.

Over the years, I was lucky to have been exposed to some intellectual giants both in the United States and in the Philippines. I enjoyed and gained from the exposure but no other intellectual giant could ever compare to my father’s approach to knowledge transfer and management. To me, he did it with wit, wisdom, will and with much love.

On this Father’s Day, I miss him dearly!

Thursday, June 17, 2010


YES. President Benigno Aquino III already decided it earlier. The Filipino people knew it, liked it, reinforced it, and approved it. My barber and his friends support it. I am taking it from my barber!

Everybody read the offer of Noynoy Aquino to Binay. The former wanted the latter to be Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government once he becomes President. He is now President. He made the offer when Binay was just a City Mayor- no national constituency but with notable achievements in local governance. He wanted Binay to assist him in the general supervision over local government units, in overseeing and monitoring the implementation of the Local Government Code, and also to enhance the capabilities of the LGUs for self governance, correspondingly improving their ability to implement programs on local autonomy.

He also envisioned Rambotito Abogado Binay to help him enforce laws and regulations, prevent, suppress, and solve crimes, assist in the prosecution of cases. He expects “macho” Binay to go after the terrorists, crime lords, “jueteng” lords, gambling lords, war lords, kidnappers, corrupt local government officials, bribers, smugglers, rebels turned terrorists, and all enemies of our democratic government.

Noynoy made the offer because he believed Binay could deliver. He did not have to be Vice President. He could be elected Senator to have a national constituency but he would still want him to be Secretary of DILG.

But he is now Vice President. Twelve of the fifteen regions wanted him to help Noynoy take care of them. The Autonomous regions gave him an overwhelming mandate. The Coryistas wanted him. Even the Kamaganaks preferred him. Only the Liberal party and Roxas’ understandably do not want him to occupy any position in DILG or any that could be a stepping stone.

Should Noynoy change his view because Binay got elected Vice President? Binay’s mandate should reinforce it, not change it. Presidential ambition? Binay gave up his presidential aspirations when he saw the clamor for Noynoy. Roxas, Escudero, and Pangilinan did the same thing. The fact is, Noynoy should encourage every Cabinet member to aim for the Presidency so that each could be motivated to work harder and perform better.

President Ramos’ Presidency brought the country to almost Tiger status. He encouraged all his Cabinet Secretaries to perform well and motivated them to run for President if their performances would merit it. That is why, we saw NEDA Secretary Habito, Finance Secretary Bobby de Ocampo, and Defense Secretary Renato de Villa running for President and hoping to get Ramos’ endorsement.

For Noynoy to change his view would relegate him to trapo status. He would be perceived as succumbing to the pressure exerted by Roxas and the Liberal Party whose future his candidacy actually saved.

He should follow his original instincts and welcome the services of an original Coryista as DILG Secretary. It would be several times better to have Binay under his Command and Control retaining the option to fire or to assign him other tasks if he proved to be ineffective or non-performing.

In managing his Cabinet, he is expected to set some measurable and doable performance standards against which the Secretaries would be appraised. He will provide some timeline to perform specific goals. Binay and DILG would be no exception.

Noynoy can even include quantitative standards like:

1. Reduction of Crime Rates from X to Y. (Can be specific as to which crimes such as violent, sex, against property, kidnapping, etc.);
2. Identifying and disarming of War Lords within 100 days;
3. Dismantling of “Jueteng” operations in identified provinces and cities within 100 days;
4. Reduction of smuggling by X percentage within a certain period;
5. Develop with him and the local government units a detailed and localized Program of Action to prevent terrorism and other violent crimes within a certain timeline;
6. etc.

There will always be criticisms and objections to his appointment as DILG Secretary especially now that he is Vice President. Cory took a risk when she appointed him Mayor of Makati. He in turn risked his life to defend her against coup plotters.

What is Noynoy’s risk in appointing Binay? That he might perform well? A good performance by any Cabinet member would be good for Noynoy. That he might not perform as expected? His performance record and successful achievements as a local executive and head of several organizations seem to minimize such a risk.

An efficient and effective control system which includes regular monitoring and timely measurement of agreed standards would substantially reduce any risk. Furthermore, Noynoy’s prerogative to replace Binay if necessary would still be there. Add that to the President’s almost unlimited resources and power over all executive officials should prevent Binay from undermining Aquino’s administration.

“Consecrate myself to the service of the nation”. This part of the Presidential Oath should inspire President Benigno Aquino III to focus on serving the Filipino people and free himself from partisan and personal pressure. “Loyalty to party, friends and relatives end when loyalty to the nation begins.”

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Manong Manoling and Valentin are actually first cousins of mine but I have considered them more as brothers. This week is both their death anniversary having died within a couple of days of each other.


MANONG MANOLING is the eldest boy in the family of my favorite late uncle Venancio, older brother of my late father, Antonio. Having an older brother who was almost the same age as me and who entered the seminary starting high school, I looked up to Manong Manoling as the eldest boy in our family.

The first Filipinos who came to America were seamen who jumped ship from the Galleon while on its way to Acapulco, Mexico. They followed the Louisiana trail ending up in New Orleans where they established the old Manila Village. They also transferred the first Philippine technology to the United States which is the “Shrimping technology” which served the Shrimping industry in the Gulf of Mexico for centuries. The BP oil spill has now threatened the survival of the industry that sustained the lives of the first Filipinos for 8-9 generations.

The first Maynigo in our immediate family also came to America via the sea route. Manong Manoling joined the US Navy during turbulent times in the US, in the Philippines, and in fact, in the world. The battle for supremacy between Capitalist Democracy and Communist Socialism was raging and a substitute war was about to explode in Southeast Asia’s Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. In the Philippines, the communist movement was growing and had organized its own army to battle the government military. The fear of communist domination in the world and the defense of freedom and democracy inspired the recruitment of Filipinos who had proven their courage and bravery during the 2nd World War and the Korean War. Manong Manoling who was completing his college degree in Commerce decided to answer the call and hero he became. Risking his life in the battles on behalf of the American people and for democratic ideals, we were indeed proud to have had one in the family the likes of Manong Manoling In the Philippine context, as an Overseas Filipino Worker, he was a hero. In US terms, as a Navy man, he was definitely a fighting hero.

In my Senior year in high school, I was lucky to have received the American Field Service International Scholarship which brought me to the United States of America., Manong Manoling, who was already married to Manang Teresing, his hometown sweetheart, was residing in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. At the end of the school year all the AFS scholars were brought to the Capital for a brief meeting with then Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy whose brother, JFK, died only a few months earlier. My trip to Washington, D.C. was more significant and most meaningful due to the fact that I would also be meeting the “Trailblazer” in our family- tall and handsome Manong Manoling and his most charming and attractive wife, Manang Teresing.

I have always appreciated the way he gave importance to our family relationship. He set-aside time to show it and exerted efforts to manifest it. The last time I saw him was when my father-in-law, Raul Manglapus died. He joined me and my wife, Tina in grief not only during the wake and funeral but in fact, stayed with me up to the cremation.

Manong Manoling and Manang Teresing raised only one child named Rochelle. She is what I call the best tribute that could ever be given to the former. A medical doctor and a nurse, married to another nurse, Rochelle also raised two children named Raven and Venice. Raven is such a fantastic singer, I am convinced that an American Idol would come from our family someday. I am attaching a video of Raven singing “IKAW” as an additional tribute to Manong Manoling on his death anniversary and on Father’s Day.

“Ang lahat ng aking galaw
Ang sanhi ay ikaw
Kung may bukas mang tinatanaw
Dahil may isang ikaw”


VALENTIN was like a younger brother. He was actually the youngest among 7 children who all finished college: 3 Teachers; 2 Accountants; 1 Priest; and 1 US Navy man, born to Uncle Venancio,(Asiong), a brilliant school District Supervisor and Auntie Rosario (Chayong), a full-time housewife managing the little farms they had. I remember Auntie Chayong being a very religious woman, going to Church everyday.

Being the youngest, he was showered with gifts and assistance from the older siblings that he was almost a “spoiled” kid. Like most of his male cousins excluding me, he was sent to the seminary putting a structure and a direction to his life following a trail established by a nephew and an older brother who were called and chosen. Dark, tall and handsome, added to a seemingly unlimited emotional, financial, and intellectual support from very stable older siblings, the earthly temptations to choose an alternative calling was too strong. Never chosen to be called “Father Val”, he eventually became a great father to great children.

I was the closest day to day older “brother”. As such, I was lucky to have shared the benefits of the bounty provided by his siblings and parents. On the other hand, he became the beneficiary of an older brother who made sure that he was always gainfully employed. When I became Vice President and Comptroller of the largest taxicab company in the Philippines, he was one of the first people I hired. I made him an inspector roaming around making sure that taxi drivers do not cheat the company and the customers.

When I left the taxicab company, I joined GUEVENT, a Philippine conglomerate that owned Volkswagen, Toshiba, Radiowealth, and 14 other companies, as its Corporate Director of Personnel. I was also asked to be the Executive Vice-President and COO of Magna Services Corporation, a sister company which became the most profitable during my term providing profit-sharing plans to employees. As Personnel Director, I got my smart and hard-working MBA classmate hired as the Chief Accountant of the largest VW dealer. Immediately after, I asked him to hire Val as one of the accountants which he obligingly and willingly did. I understand that Val worked there until his migration to the United States a few years later.

When I learned that Val was diagnosed with incurable lung cancer and given a few months to live, I scheduled a special trip to visit him at his home in California. Beside him was his devoted, beautiful, and charming wife, Cora. We were joined later by their beautiful daughter, JoAnn, and good-looking son Joel. I remember giving him an eBookMan device – the predecessor of the now famous Amazon’s Kindle. It was assembled by my company and was proud for him to experience a device that was an MP3 player, eBook reader, Audio book player, organizer, game player, and many more at the same time.

Sadly, and unfortunately, Cora died even ahead of Val while she was caring for him. I was told that a massive heart attack was the immediate cause. A couple of days later, Val desiring to join his eternal love in eternity also passed away. Manong Manoling, also followed his youngest brother. This week is the death anniversary of the three.

Val and Cora raised great children. JoAnn and Joel- well-educated, and hard-working, married to great spouses and parents to great children, are the best tribute that could be offered to their parents.

In the Maynigo family, “amazing things happen”. I look forward to the planned “Monumental Maynigo-Gal-lang Reunion to be held in the Bay Area, California sometime next year. Within the family, a new generation of amazing kids raised by a new generation of great parents will be attending. It will be a greater and more lasting tribute to our forefathers!

Monday, June 7, 2010

PERCEPTION VS. REALITY: The Numbers Tell the Story

In Politics, perception is reality. Politics is a numbers game. Politics is about obtaining governmental power. The perception, the numbers, and the attainment of power in a democracy like the Philippines are all based on facts and figures.

I learned in Philosophy years ago that "Argumentum contra factum non valet illatio” Arguing against facts is an invalid inference.

In Philippine politics, what are the facts relating to the Presidential Campaigns in the United States?


According to the US State Department, there are now about 4 million Filipinos in the United States. Of the 4 million, it is estimated that there are about 3.2 million or 80% who are American citizens. Perceptively, we are talking here of a substantial number of potential dual citizens and future registered voters to draw from when you want to be competitive in a Philippine Presidential or any National campaign.

With that perception, the Filipinos in the United States became a target market for votes in order to have a winnable chance of obtaining a substantial number of votes and correspondingly gaining the desired governmental power.

It is also reported that in 2009, the amount of $17.348 billion was sent to the Philippines by Overseas Filipinos. Of this amount, at least $10.5 billion or more than 60% actually came from the United States. Furthermore, based on a 2004 data, Filipinos had a Median Household Income of $65,700 compared to the US Population whose average was $44,684.

US Pinoys value and give importance to education. Statistics in 2004 cited that the High School Graduation rate was 90.8 % while the College Graduation rate was 47.9%. The US Population rate was lower with 83.9 % and 27% respectively. In fact, the number of professionals especially Nurses, Doctors, Dentists, Physical Therapists, CPAs and even Teachers are quite impressive.

So, perceptively, the potential amount of financial contributions coming from an already top remitting population would make Presidential hopefuls target the United States for sourcing their campaign funding. Even under-funded but smart, “galing at talino” candidates could hope and expect greater support from a more educated, enlightened and discerning group of voters and campaigners.

Politics also being a numbers game, with figures supporting the perception as analyzed above, it is indeed not surprising that the United States became the breeding ground for campaign operators and perceived leaders commissioned to convert perception into reality, or changing the potential to the actual.



Let us look at the resulting facts and the unfortunate and sad reality. Out of 3.2 million potential dual citizens in addition to other Filipinos remaining as such as target markets for the registration of voters, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs reported that the total number of registered voters for the 2010 Presidential elections in the United States was about 12000. That’s pathetic and unbelievably low. My small hometown of Rosales, Pangasinan with about 32000 registered voters had almost 3 times more. What is even worse is that in 2007 the registered voters numbered about 14000. Despite the involvement of several self-proclaimed Filipino leaders using national organizations and networks in the United States as a base, the number even decreased rather than dramatically increased as predicted.

In California, the home of at least one million Filipinos and the residence of many of the active leaders of the Noy-Mar and Villar-Legarda Campaigns, you would expect a high number of registered voters, right? WRONG. They only had 4630 registered voters statewide, compared to 5507 in 2007.

In Hawaii where there are more Filipinos than Hawaiians and where they compose about 23% of the Hawaii state population, the number of registered voters is only 130. It even decreased from 158 in 2007.

One of the nation’s largest settlements of Filipino Americans in the Northeast is in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and other states served by the New York Consulate. There are about 200,000 Filipinos in the area. This is also home to several Filipino national leaders running some perceived national organizations. The number of registered voters here is 1580, also down from 1914 in 2007.


As officially reported in the canvassing, the total number of votes canvassed coming from the United States is 11825. Of these votes, Noynoy Aquino obtained over 6000 while Mar Roxas got a little less. Noynoy and Mar obtained more votes in one small town in Guimaras, Philippines than the entire United States.


Remember, the expectation is to draw financial contributions from about 3 million people, quite educated, with an average household income of about $66000 annually, totally remitting over $10 billion yearly.

According to my contacts in the campaigns in Manila, the total amount of financial contributions generated from the groups in the United States is insignificant. A figure was mentioned but not for public consumption unless the contributors themselves would want to reveal them. To be fair, some contributions could have been given directly to the candidates themselves. But admittedly, the US Pinoys’ contributions although helpful were a very small part of the multi-billion peso Presidential campaign funding.

Politics is also an expectations game. On the registration of voters, on the numbers who actually voted and on the financial contributions, the numbers tell the story. The perception has been negated by reality and the facts and figures now support the stunning reality that US Filipino leaders failed to live up to expectations.

When I received an invitation to attend the inauguration of President Noynoy Aquino and other festivities which included a dinner in Malacanang, I asked my friend who decided to go, if we could also invite our local friends and relatives to attend. My rationale was that it was our friends and relatives in the Philippines who actually delivered the votes. My friend said that it was exclusively for US Pinoys .Who is paying for the dinner in Malacanang? Is the people’s money going to be used to host US Pinoys exclusively?

The only perception that is closer to reality and that could be supported by facts is, US Pinoys influenced their friends and relatives in the Philippines to vote for their choices and that they complied and delivered. This convergence of perception and reality could have been or could still be reinforced if the US Pinoys and their friends and relatives would celebrate the victory together with President Noynoy Aquino either in Malacanang or some other inexpensive place. Dinner does not have to be served!

The US Pinoys who campaigned hard for the Noynoy Aquino-Mar Roxas ticket are entitled to celebrate at least Noynoy’s victory. Being a supporter, I did celebrate and continue to do so with great hopes for our country. The email I received from Marge Juico attaching the Thank You Letter from Noynoy more than compensate for all our time and efforts. Just remaining true to the hopes and aspirations of the Filipino people as envisioned by his parents, is all we ask from Noynoy. Providing honesty, hope, honor and humility in governance would be sufficient to merit our continued support of his Presidency.

As I told my friend who is joining the celebration in the Philippines, we elected a humble President born to a humble mother and Revolutionary President. We US Pinoys, while entitled to claim some credit for his victory, should also be humble enough to admit our failure to deliver what was expected of us. THE NUMBERS TELL THE STORY!