Tuesday, May 27, 2014

MILA MAYNIGO DENTON GOLDBERG: Amazing Woman with “Structured Dreams”


It was supposed to be a nice, relaxing Memorial Day weekend for Tina and me.  But the news about the Brain Aneurysm of my youngest sister Mila turned it into the most depressing and stressful couple of days of my life.

The unusual increase of my blood pressure, inability to do my daily chores that include browsing and reacting to updates on Facebook and responding to emails virtually made me “inutile”, unproductive, and helpless.

Thanks to Tina who calmed me down, and who handled all the communications with Christina (our niece) and Claudia (Mila’s daughter) regarding Mila’s situation. 

We learned that while happily enjoying the company of Claudia’s mother-in-law over lunch, Mila suddenly collapsed. She was transported by helicopter to Denver University hospital where surgery was performed to stop the hemorrhaging.

Dr. Art Goldberg (Mila’s husband), and Eugene (Mila’s son) joined Claudia and Greg in the hospital. Our older sister, Manang Nelly Rabara who got the news from Tina, and Dean Torres, our nephew (Manang Perla’s son and Christina’s husband)) also decided to fly to Denver and give company to Mila’s immediate family.

There was never any doubt that Mila was surrounded by and with LOVE not only physically but also virtually.  I was very heartened by the fact that her nieces and nephews in the group messaging with Claudia and Eugene, not only offered prayers and expressions of love but also actually sent their texts, audio, and video messages to their Auntie Mila.  Claudia, Eugene, and Dean made sure that Mila heard all of them while on Life Support. Included in the list, I was able to read the running messages of all the cousins.

If Love, Faith, and Courage were great companions to a Life Support, Mila certainly had it.

LOVE was best reflected in Claudia’s words, “ I love you incredibly, mom.”

Also Alice Duran Bryant’s, “Auntie Mila will know we love her very much and will find peace on her journey.” As well as another niece, Lillian Espanola’s, “She will know how beloved she is to us all! “ Nephew Carlo Maynigo Bernabe’s words was also as clear, “Auntie Mila is well loved, cherished and will be missed in our hearts.”

FAITH was reaffirmed in the words of Eugene (Mila’s son), “Tonight my mom peacefully made her way to heaven. Though her illness was sudden, it comforts me to know this is part of God's plan. I surrender to Him.”
Mila dancing with Eugene and Claudia 
COURAGE was reiterated by another nephew, Homer Rabara, “Auntie Mila is a fighter, she won't give up...” and niece, Tanya Maynigo Loucks, “she’s a fighter, Yes!”

Mila and I were the youngest of eight children. We grew up together fighting each other’s battles unconcerned and unafraid of the odds. I still have the scars in my right arm caused by a barbed wire trying to save her balloon that was stuck in a tree.  Seeing her cry propelled me to hurry up climbing the tree. I fell!

We went to the same high school. Inspired and motivated by our parents and siblings to achieve, I graduated as Valedictorian while Mila did as Salutatorian in different Class Years, of course.  We both duplicated the achievements earlier of our two older sisters – Manang Loreto who graduated Valedictorian, and Manang Nelly also as Salutatorian.  The latter is now my only surviving sibling. Our nephew Joey Maynigo who now resides in San Diego also graduated as Valedictorian in the same school.

Both of us went to the two private schools in Mendiola, Manila: she in the College of the Holy Spirit finishing an accounting degree, and I in San Beda College obtaining AB and Law degrees. 

She was a brilliant CPA who became the Chief Accountant of the Philippine General Hospital. I was always supportive of her endeavors as she was in mine either as students or eventually as professionals.

When she immigrated to the U.S. she met and eventually married Claude Denton, an Electronic Communications Engineer. My father-in-law, former Senator and Foreign Affairs Secretary Raul S. Manglapus was one of the wedding sponsors.

Claude and Mila were loving and devoted parents to two children, Eugene and Claudia who were raised to become great professionals who are following equally great career paths. Eugene is now a scientist while Claudia is a U.S. Air Force Major who had been stationed twice in Iraq.

Mila became a CPA in California and later on joined the accounting department of the San Diego County government. She was continuously promoted to higher positions and remained in the County until her retirement.  She also obtained an MBA while active in her profession, as a county employee, and in community organizations.  She eventually became President or Officer of the organizations that she joined.

When Tina, Tanya (our eldest daughter) and I escaped from the Marcos dictatorship, we eventually landed in the United States. Though living in different coasts, Mila and I collaborated again.  In Wasington, DC I was an active leader of the Movement for a Free Philippines fighting against Marcos and so was she in San Diego, California. When I became Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce (APACC), she and friend Cristina Figueredo formed the most active chapter of the chamber.  In fact, when the San Diego Chapter hosted our national convention, it was the most successful event APACC ever had.  It generated a large financial surplus unequaled by any other chapter.

Mila participated in all our APACC national conventions – be they in Washington, DC, Honolulu, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and other cities.

She joined me in the Cory Aquino Movement and supported Manglapus in his successful run for the Philippine Senate.  She also became an informal adviser to the latter when he became Secretary of Foreign Affairs.  Mrs. Pacita Manglapus used to say, “Mila always has Manglapus’ ears.” In fact, some think that she had better access to Manglapus than I did.

When Mrs. Manglapus died, Mila flew all the way to Manila to attend all the services and the funeral. Tina, the Manglapus family, and I were very appreciative.

As she was supportive of Manglapus and me in the successful presidential campaign of Fidel Ramos, she was as helpful in the losing presidential campaign of my fellow Bedan Raul Roco.  She even sponsored a $1000 a plate dinner for Raul Roco in San Diego.

As I have said earlier, my battles were her battles, and hers were mine. Her adversaries became mine as I helped her devise ways to turn them into allies. I have never seen anybody so focused in all her undertakings.

Mila was always a dreamer.  God Almighty blessed her with the tools to fulfill her dreams.  I called them “Structured Dreams”.  Left with real properties due to the death of her late first husband, Claude, she converted most of them into beautiful structures that became several times more valuable.

In fact, one property in Alpine, California was converted into a villa and she called it “Villa Milagrosa”.  The villa and the other properties are being rented out. 

While she was lucky in wealth, she was as lucky in love.  She met, fell in love with, and eventually married Dr. Art Goldberg – a great man who also loved her dearly.

Mila’s children, nieces, and nephews have expressed their love for her.  I am sure that many of them have correspondingly experienced in some way her generosity. I will let them express it. I know because she did it to my two daughters during their weddings. Mila was a sponsor in both events.

Let me quote my daughter Traci, “Rest in peace, Auntie Mila. Your sudden passing yesterday came as we celebrated our one-year wedding anniversary. I share pictures of you now at our wedding. We were so honored to have you and Art there as our godparents. The world has lost an amazing woman, known most of all for her energy and generosity. You will be missed.”

One “Structured Dream” that we once shared involved a property that she acquired via auction in Claude’s birthplace in Ringgold, Georgia.  It is a 50-acre land already surrounded by developed areas and located along the Georgia Highway and about 15 minutes from Chattanooga, Tennessee.  I have visited the area.  Across it is another property that she inherited from Claude.

The dream involved both properties.  Mila had asked me to contact my developer friends in Atlanta for a possible Joint Venture or financing to realize this dream.  I did but the financial collapse in 2007 stopped all plans.

Seen in the picture is a drawing of the proposed project.

An "Structured Dream"
Of interest to her nieces and nephews was her desire for some of their generation or the next to procure a townhouse/condo at the village at a heavily discounted price – thus locating some members of the Gal-lang – Maynigo Clan in one site.  The Club House would be a family reunion place.

A day or two before she left for New Mexico and Colorado, she called me about some things. One was for me to edit a letter to the Ringgold City Council objecting to the conversion from the current Commercial Zone to Industrial Zone as petitioned by a local developer.  I had drafted a similar letter for her years ago and successfully stopped the change for environmental and other reasons.  I edited her letter and sent it back to her with the comment, “You did well.” I meant she had already acquired a legal mind.

She is an amazing woman of energy and generosity, a dreamer, a fighter, loved by many, an achiever, and now a follower of God’s Plan. 

She is MILAGROS MAYNIGO DENTON GOLDBERG – my loving little sister! Our prayers go with you as you enter the Gates of Heaven!

My deep condolences to my brother-in-law Art, nephew Eugene, niece Claudia and her husband Greg!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


In Greek Mythology, we learned about the so-called “The Three Furies”.  They were the Greek Goddesses of Justice who were called upon to prosecute crimes such as disrespect, injustice, perjury, arrogance and murder.

In the Philippines, many of our public officials unjustly and arrogantly appropriated for themselves public funds at the expense of the people that they were meant to serve.  Under the law, these disrespectful acts are called plunder, graft and corruption.

Dutifully and fearlessly prosecuting these crimes are three brilliant women lawyers aptly described by PNoy’s Press Secretary Edwin Lacierda as the country’s “Three Furies”. They are Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, and Commission on Audit (COA) Chair Grace Polido Tan.


In this digital age, in order to reach our destination, we get directions from our GPS > Global Positioning System.

GPS > Guiding Path is Straight

When PNoy got elected as our President, he was committed to lead us to our chosen destiny.  Defined as his GPS is > Guiding Path is Straight, which to most Filipinos is Matuwid Na Daan.  The direction is very simple – go straight and you get there.  Follow a crooked path and you would be considered a crook! So a straight shooter you must be - think straight, get the facts straight, and follow the straight arrow.

GPS > Grand Prosecution of the Sleazy.

The Furies in following the path, also use a GPS > Grand Prosecution of the Sleazy.  They are as committed in prosecuting the plunderers and the corrupt.  They are fighting injustice with justice, arrogance with humility, disrespect with respect for the rule of law and due process, perjury with truth and evidentiary facts!

GPS > Gathering of Proofs for Support. 

The legal process is also straightforward – a GPS > Gathering of Proofs for Support.  In order to efficiently and effectively prosecute the case, the Three Furies made sure of gathering sufficient evidence to prove their allegations.  In the first batch of charges that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales is filing before the Sandiganbayan, the supporting set of evidences include the “sworn statements of Benhur Luy and co-whistleblowers Marina Sula and Merlina Suñas who detailed the sequence of events; the 2007 – 2009 Commission on Audit (COA) Report; the documenting results of the special audit undertaken on PDAF disbursements and the reports on the field verification which secured sworn statements of local government officials and the purported beneficiaries of the supposed projects which turned out to be inexistent; and pieces of evidence that either remained uncontroverted by mere denials or dovetailed with the affidavits of some respondents.” 

The affidavits of the latest whistleblowers like Ruby Tuazon, Dennis Cunanan, and even Janet Napoles, especially the narration of facts that corroborate the evidence that the Ombudsman already has, will most likely be added.

The cooperation between and among DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima, COA Chair Grace Polido Tan, and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales is indeed a key to a successful investigation, gathering of evidence and prosecution.

The DOJ and its investigating arm, the NBI – National Bureau of Investigation, had filed charges before the Ombudsman a second batch of accused public and private individuals. A third batch is forthcoming.

Upon verification, authentication, validation, and consolidation of all the supporting set of evidences, the Ombudsman will most likely file more plunder and corruption charges before the Sandiganbayan.

In the digital files that Benhur Luy stored, he entered in the course of business, records that are admissible as evidence.  Per instructions from his boss - Janet Napoles, he also had entries narrating facts and events occurring at or close to the time they were happening.

Among these records are: bank documents, bank fund transfers, cash and check disbursements, money transfers, bank deposits, bank placements, and of course, financial transactions.  The bank account numbers of JLN Corp, and all the fake NGOs/foundations are also entered and stored. They are all traceable.

Special allocation release orders (SARO) numbers totaling 500 plus for more than 100 lawmakers, letters of endorsements, and many more documents form part of the business records that could support the filing of charges.

Details narrated include sources of the funds namely: PDAF, Malampaya, other Public Funds, Calamity Funds, Road Projects, Budget Insertions and other allocations for hard projects.

Uses of funds include: Kickbacks, rebates or commissions, purchase of properties, funding the lifestyle of Napoles’ daughter abroad.  Payments were made through bank transfers, checks, and cash either picked up or delivered in some designated places.

The title of the cases will most likely be “People of the Philippines vs. Enrile, Estrada, Revilla, et al.”  A usual move used by one with a weak defense is to confuse the enemy.  Hence, confuse the people with a variety of lists that include both guilty and innocent.

The only list that will count is the list of people charged by the Ombudsman before the Sandiganbayan. The first list already came out.  If we let the Furies be Furies, more of these corrupt will be included in the list.

GPS > Gigantic Prison Site 

A public statement made by Ombudsman Morales said, “the ultimate goal is to put all the corrupt in jail.”  Hence, another direction comes into play, GPS > Gigantic Prison Site.  I understand that the government is now building a prison site big enough to house all these public officials who betrayed the public trust.

GPS > Government of, by, and for the People Society.

In my younger days, I was one of those who believed in a “just and humane society – based on human dignity, built on justice, and dedicated to progress, where every man may develop and fulfill himself according to his ability and in the service of his fellowmen.” (CSM Credo).  Naturally embedded was also a GPS > Government of, by, and for the People Society.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sorting Out The Pork Scam Lists

My barber asked for my take on the so-called “Napoles’ pork scam list.”

I told him that we start by “listing” the different lists that are out there:

1.    The list that Sandra Cam claims to possess;
2.    The list that former Senator Lacson received from Janet Napoles’ husband;
3.    The list that PNoy received from a source known only to him;
4.    The list given to DOJ Secretary de Lima by Janet Napoles; and
5.    The list that can be gleaned from the records of head whistleblower Benhur Luy.

On Sandra Cam’s list:

I give this list the least or no evidentiary value. We do not know whether Cam’s source is credible or not. We do not know why the source decided to give it to Cam. 

On Ping Lacson’s list:

I consider this list to be of higher value than that of Cam’s. First, it came from the husband of Janet Napoles.  Second, it was given to a co-military officer. Third, Senator Lacson is part of the PNoy administration and known as one of only two Senators who rejected the use of pork barrel allocations. But the list is attached only to a draft affidavit, which means that the list is also considered just a draft. It also has no evidentiary value.

On the list given to PNoy:

Depending on the source, this list is only given importance because it even reached PNoy and that the latter used it for comparison to the other lists. Its value is limited to that.

On the list possessed by DOJ Secretary de Lima:

This list is attached to an affidavit or a sworn statement signed by Janet Napoles herself.  The NBI and the Department of Justice are still evaluating and validating the list.  Depending on the evidence supporting the inclusion of anybody in the list as provided by Napoles, this one is definitely more valuable than the first three lists mentioned above.

On the list from Benhur Luy and other whistleblowers:

This list is the most valuable. It is accompanied by the supporting evidence coming from Luy and the other whistleblowers who correspondingly signed sworn statements; proofs gathered by the combined investigations of the NBI and the DOJ, and cross-checked with the COA audit reports. 

In fact, it is these findings with the assistance of the whistleblowers that led to the charges first, by the NBI and DOJ and now the Office of the Ombudsman taking the lead in prosecuting before the Sandiganbayan.

Benhur Luy took charge of storing all records containing the list and the corresponding transactions involving those in the list.  He administered these records kept in a hard drive.

This is the source of Janet Napoles’ list and the basis of her sworn statement. Since Benhur made backup files of the hard drive contents, administered the storing and retrieval systems, and actually participated in the implementation of the pork scam, he also used the same files to support his sworn statements. So did the other whistleblowers.

The Inquirer, which also obtained a copy of the backup files from Benhur Luy’s relatives, “discovered that close to 200 people, including lawmakers, department heads, a former Supreme Court justice, popular media personalities, heads of government-owned and -controlled corporations, government employees of various agencies, local government officials, lawyers, military officials, show-biz personalities, employees of the Senate and the House of Representatives, and private individuals received money from Napoles based on the records of Benhur.”

According to the Inquirer, based on Benhur’s records, “there were legislators who repeatedly funneled huge funds to Napoles organizations and personally received kickbacks from her. And there were legislators who allocated a minimal amount of their pork barrel funds through agents and representatives.”

The paper further reported, “Kickbacks were handed out using various methods—through bank fund transfers, checks, cash delivered to their houses or picked up at the JLN office in Discovery Center in Ortigas, Pasig City. Other places indicated as venues for deliveries of kickbacks were hotels, restaurants and coffee shops.”

Some legislators reportedly received kickbacks in foreign currency, the files showed.

The Inquirer also found in the computer files “records of financial transactions, bank documents, bank transfers, cash and check disbursements, letters of endorsements, memorandums of agreement, acceptance letters, list of properties, money transfers, auditor’s reports, private letters, insurance policies, prayers, photographs, project proposals, check disbursements, bank placements, bank deposits, drafts of various communications, special allocation release order numbers, guests lists and payrolls of JLN employees, including Benhur’s.”

It is possible that Napoles personally and separately transacted with some public officials and therefore, not recorded by Benhur or the computer.  This could explain why Napoles may have added more to the list that Benhur compiled.  Napoles is the only person who can explain that. After all, she would be under oath when she testifies.

As far as I know, only the list derived from Benhur and his records as well as that of Napoles as verified, and validated by DOJ have evidentiary value.  Both are attached to the sworn affidavits of witnesses.  The Ombudsman will mostly check which ones corroborate the existing evidence already in her possession.

I told my barber that my own list is as valuable if not more than that of the lists obtained by Sandra Cam, former Senator Ping Lacson, and PNoy. At least in my case, I derived it from reliable sources such as COA, and public records that could support my conclusion to any inclusion.