SPECIAL DOUBLE ISSUE: Ping Lacson, TG Guingona, Wayne Dyer, Malcolm Gladwell, Meryl Streep and More!

Issue for: December 10 to 16
& December 17 to 23
Special Profiles and Videos: Panfilo Lacson and TG Guingona
Stories & Videos: Meryl Streep. Wayne Dyer. Malcolm Gladwell. The Secret. The Lord Of The Rings. Huggybear’s Strange Trip
Videos: Rudy Fernandez. Teofisto Guingona Jr. Marcos' Martial Law. Mindanao War. Ondoy.  The Iron Lady. George Michael. The Godfather. Hercules. Guy Sebastian. The Beatles.

Panfilo Lacson: Controversy-Magnet Supercop

This story originally appeared December 11, 2011 in the Sunday Times Magazine of The Manila Times

The air was electric with tension as the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee probes how 2 second-hand Robinson helicopters were sold to the Philippine National Police (PNP) as brand new. On the witness stand was Rowena Del Rosario, the book keeper of Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo, the congressman of Negros Occidental and brother of former First Gentleman Miguel “Mike” Arroyo. “If you insist on fooling this committee and or become very evasive,” reminded Senator Panfilo Lacson, “we can at any time cite you in contempt and hold you indefinitely.”

            It all started when Lacson recently disclosed that Mike Arroyo, who was supposed to be the original owner of 5 Robinson Raven light helicopters, allegedly forced the sale of 2 of them to the PNP as brand new worth P105 million in 2009. Then a businessman named Archibald Po, president of LionAir Inc., had testified that be bought those 5 choppers from U.S. manufacturer Robinson Inc., for Arroyo for the 2004 elections. Po said Arroyo later told him to sell them “on the high side.” Po sold 2 to Manila Aerospace Products Trading Corp. (MAPTRA), which in turn, sold them to the PNP. MAPTRA president Hilario De Vera said Po told him to sell them as brand new allegedly on Arroyo’s order.

         Enter Iggy. He said that the choppers were just “leased” by their family-owned Lourdes T. Arroyo (LTA Inc., from LionAir, and that his brother Mike was not part of LTA. Mike has denied the charges and both brothers had refused to appear in the Senate investigation.

            So now Del Rosario is taking the heat for her boss. Lacson had already given a point-by-point analysis why the lease agreements was allegedly a falsified document. Del Rosario said she can’t remember whether or not she made the wire transfer of $500,000 to LionAir, supposedly as advance payment for the purchase of the 5 choppers.

            It was at this point that Lacson warned her she can be held in contempt for being evasive. Then Del Rosario said she wired the money to Robinson as down payment for renting them. Lacson then exploded and said the deal was between LTA and LionAir, not Robinson – and he ordered Del Rosario to be taken in custody for contempt.

            Lacson’s iron will is unquestioned. “You think we’re all crazy here?” he has asked her. Then a burst of quirky humor showed how much he was in control. “Yung iba, pero hindi lahat (Some of us, but not all)!”

            Panfilo Lacson is an enigma. He’s a crusader against crime or a criminal, it depends who you ask. His achievements as a police officer have been lauded by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, even his exploits were made into a movie. Behind all the legal controversies, political intrigues and whispered innuendoes, who is the real Ping Lacson? Let’s take a look at one of the most fascinating political figures in our generation.

Sterling Reputation

Panfilo Morena Lacson was born on June 1, 1948 in Imus, Cavite. A graduate of the Philippine Military Academy Class 1971 and Cavalier Awardee, “Ping,” as everybody calls him, earned his Master’s Degree on Government Management from the Pamantasan Ng Lungsod Ng Maynila in 1996.

            In the first year of the Cory Aquino administration in 1986, in the aftermath of the Edsa People Power Revolution, Lacson was appointed to lead the Anti-Carnapping Task Force of the PC-INP, the precursor of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
            Lacson earned a sterling reputation as an incorruptible police officer throughout his various posts: as provincial commander of Isabela, provincial director of Laguna, and commanding officer of Cebu Metrodiscom, where he was hailed as an adopted son of Cebu in 1991.
Crime Wave
The nation was on the verge of mass panic by the mid-1990s because of the Kuratong Baleleng, the bank robbery gang notorious for killing innocent civilians during their heists. In the first year of the Ramos administration in 1992, in an effort to to curb the escalating crime wave, formed the Presidential Anti-Crime Commission (PACC) under then then Vic e President Joseph Estrada.

            Specifically targeting the Baleleng gang, the PACC created a team under the command of C/Supt. Jewel Canson. The composite team was made up of 4 units: Task Force Habagat led by Lacson, the Traffic Management Command led by P/Sr. Supt. Fernando Zubia, CIS led by C/Supt. Romeo Acop, and PNP-NCR led by Canson.

            On the night of May 18, 1995, the members of the Baleleng gang were gunned down during an ecounter with the PACC team. Then witnesses materialized out of nowhere, claiming it was a shoot-out and not a “rub-out,” castigating the police for neutralizing criminals.

            The witnesses would later admit they were never at the scene. The Baleleng rub-out case was investigated and dismissed by the Office of the Ombudsman on Oct. 20, 1995. On March 29, 1999, it was tried and dismissed by Branch 88 of the Regional Trial Court. On Aug. 24, 2001, the decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. Finally, the Supreme Court, on May 28, 2002, affirmed the CA ruling in a unanimous 13-0 vote.

            But an inexplicable thing happened. On April 1, 2003, the Supreme Court, by a vote of 10-4, reversed itself and, like a necromancer, summoned the case from the grave. The Kuratong Baleleng case has become a nightmare – an dead issue that refuses to die like a zombie and continues to haunt like a malevolent ghost.

Uncompromising Leadership

In the first year of the Estrada administration in 1998, Lacson was appointed chief of the Presidential Anti Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF). He was honored as one of the Ten Outstanding Policemen for that year by the Philippine Jaycees.

Lacson, in the twilight of the last millennium on Nov. 16, 1999, became the chief of the PNP. Virtually overhauled under his disciplined and uncompromising leadership, the PNP entered a new era where bribery and extortion became taboo, achieving its highest public approval rating in history.

The war against war being one of his personal crusades, Lacson was instrumental in improving the police communication network throughout Asia to paralyze the transshipment of illegal drugs in the region.
The adventures of Panfilo went to the movies. Ping Lacson: Supercop stars no less that the late action superstar Rudy Fernandez. This 2000 Toto Natividad film also stars award-winning actress Lorna Tolentino, Fernandez’s real-life wife, as Lacson’s wife, Alice.

Series of Exposes

The year 2001 was one of the most tumultuous in recent memory. It was the first year of the Arroyo administration when the then VP Gloria Arroyo assumed the country’s top post after Estrada stepped down at the height of Edsa 2.

Panfilo Lacson was elected Senator and the public was enthralled by his consistent series of exposes of high-level corruption in the Arroyo government. He has spearheaded investigations on IMPSA, textbook scam, congressional bribery in the railroaded impeachment bid against Arroyo, Quedancor, the diversion of social security pension funds, among others, in rapid order.

Price To Pay

Lacson stood up in his September 2009 “Prosecution or Persecution” speech in the Senate floor to show all these controversies from a larger perspective:

“Jose Pidal. Hello Garci. The NBN-ZTE Broadband Deal. The Fertilizer Scam. Jueteng Anomaly. The C5 Extension Road Project Double Appropriation. The Pork Barrel Anomalies. Plus many others... I did not have to seek out most of these anomalies. They came to me. The easiest and most convenient thing to do was to ignore them. Wala akong magiging kaaway, tahimik pa sana ang aking buhay (I won’t have any enemies and my life would have been peaceful).” 

But that, he said,  “would be betraying my oath to the Filipino people as an elected Senator of the Republic.”

He went on: “Perhaps no incumbent senator has had the multiple displeasure of being vilified, his reputation assailed repeatedly than this humble representation. If this is the price to pay for fearlessly contributing my share in the fight against graft and corruption in government, then so be it. If by exposing people in high places and those in the corridors of power would mean creating bitter enemies or losing friends thus making my life miserable, I am willing to pay that price.”

Array of Accusations

Lacson was relentlessly hounded by one controversy after another. Mary “Rosebud” Ong was a business woman who leads a double life as a narcotics undercover agent. She slammed Lacson on a series on press conferences. The media had a field day with Rosebud’s stunning array of accusations. One spectacular headline-grabber was how a shipment of 2,000 kilograms of metamphetamine hydrochloride worth $ 1.8 billion, according to her, was confiscated and kept by Lacson. The police authorities of Hong Kong, its supposed country or origin, offcially refuted the existence of such shipment.

            Then there’s Angelo “Ador” Mawanay, a self-proclaimed civilian asset of PAOCTF. Mawanay’s allegations are even more electrifying. He came out in public, he told the media, to let the whole world know that Lacson has a mind-boggling, whopping $700 million in various banks abroad. Rosebud and Mawanay were backed up  by Col. Victor Corpus, who was then head of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP).

Corpus  first gained national prominence  in the 1970s when he publicly denounced the democratic way of life and joined the communist rebels. He has since returned to the fold and like Lacson, his story was made into a film starring Rudy Fernandez. Reminiscent of the Joseph McCarthy communist witch-hunts of the 1950s, Corpus raised the specter of the $ 5 billion narco-politics scenario, with politicians led by Lacson on the payroll of drug kingpins running the government – proving his accusations with Ador Mawanay’s testimony of Lacson’s $700 million.

Grand Scheme

Ping Lacson’s gut instinct, sharpened by years of surviving life-and-death situations, convinces him that all these accusations and their rehashed versions are part of a grand scheme to destroy him because of his consistent exposes of high-level corruption in the government.

            Vindication came on March 24, 2003. Ador Mawanay officially recanted his earlier statements and publicly confessed that his $700 million story was a hoax meant to discredit Lacson. In his affidavit of perpuity, Mawanay identified First Gentlmen Mike Arroyo as the mastermind behind the campaign against Lacson.

Murder Charges

Lacson was also implicated in the The Dacer-Corbito double murder case. On November 24, 2000, publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver, Manuel Corbito, while on the way to Manila Hotel, were abducted, tortured, strangled to death and their bodies were burned. Lacson was tagged as the mastermind by former P/Sr. Supt. Cezar Mancao in his affidavit signed Feb. 14, 2009. Lacson slammed Mancao’s statements, citing inconsistencies and contradictions. He also showed Mancao’s pending application to be discharged as a suspect to become a state witness. 

Lacson was out of the country when murder charges were filed against him. An arrest warrant was issued by the RTC on Feb. 5, 2010; a week later, an international notice came from Interpol. It effectively means  he can be arrested even in countries without an extradition treaties with the Philippines.

The supercop has become a fugitive.

“Fabricated Testimony”

            Vindication came once again on Feb. 3, 2011. The Court of Appeals junked the case against Lacson in an 80-page unanimous ruling by CA Justice Ramon Bato Jr. the last vestiges of Lacson’s alleged involvement has been shattered by the testimony of former Sr/Supt. Glenn Dumlao, who declared in open court that Lacson had no personal knowledge about the hit against Dacer. “The fact of the matter is,” says Lacson, “the court testimony of Glenn Dumlao has effectively demolished Mancao’s fabricated testimony against me.”

Lacson returned, after more than a year, on March 26, 2001, arriving in Mactan International Airport in Cebu City at 11:42 a.m. aboard a Cathay Pacific Flight CX 921 from Hong Kong. 

            “From the very start, it is easy to comprehend that Mancao is conveniently fabricating these lies to benefit himself,” Alex Avisado Jr.,  Lacson’s lawyer, told the media. “He implicated Senator Lacson so he can get out of prison in the U.S. and go back to the Philippines – all expenses paid at that; and now, he is accusing our camp of trying to bribe him into recanting a testimony which was already shattered in court.”

Instinctive Compass

“For thirteen months, I was a fugitive...from injustice,” Lacson says in his statement upon his homecoming. “I have been subjected to the vitriol of arrogance and hatred by my old and new detractors. I have been humiliated, unfairly eviscerated of my dignity and personal honor, even as I am humbled by an experience so surreal I never imagined could happen. Every single day that I was underground, the crucible stare each time I opened my eyes.”

During his self-exile, Lacson “lived the life of a prisoner outside a prison cell. The only difference from one who suffers in confinement is that, I could on my own will, navigate my movements using the best of my instinctive compass." He has struggled in life since childhood. “But the life struggle that I had for the past year was the most challenging. The worst pain of all is that I didn't know who my true and real friends were. I still thank God I found a few of them.”

Every crime, he says, “demands justice. But justice means truth and action. Without action to bring out the truth, justice will never be served.”

Armed with more than a quarter-century experience in law enforcement, says Lacson, “I dedicated myself in helping tens of thousands of victims of crimes without fear or favor. I risked my life hundreds of times rescuing kidnap for ransom victims, battling criminal groups, busting crime syndicates and disciplining the rouges in our country's police force for various offenses...fully aware that I was creating bitter enemies out of armed and trained malefactors.”

He says his sympathies are with the families of crime victims, “But I am likewise all-out against the hecklers and their cheerleaders who want to make me a cannon fodder by strutting their stuff for reasons they themselves may not even understand.”

Lacson was man enough to admit that “evading arrest may be legally difficult to justify, if not hardly defensible. True, going underground is politically incorrect. And, I must admit that I was constantly balancing the bigger picture with the issues of the moment. But at the end of my daily debate with my own wits, I decided not to place myself under the jurisdiction of a court whose judicial determination of probable cause and the subsequent issuance of a warrant of arrest I was questioning before a higher court of the land.”

“The unvarnished truth is,” he says, “I was made to suffer for a crime I did not commit.”

Just In Time

With his nuanced grasp of the zeitgest, Lacson knows that the people see pork barrel funds as the source of graft. So he refused to accept his allocation, hoping other legislators would follow suit to change the public mindset.

Panfilo Lacson ran for President in 2004, pushing strong leadership to eradicate crime and corruption as his main platform. It was Gloria Arroyo who was proclaimed winner in that (still) hotly-contested political slugfest. Still, Senator Lacson’s performance of his public duties easily won him re-election in 2007.

His term as Senator ends in 2013 – just in time for the 2016 presidential election.

TG Guingona: The Son Also Rises

This story originally appeared October 9, 2011 in the Sunday Times Magazine of The Manila Times

Ninteen-year old TG Guingona has always been socially aware even at a young age. The year was 1978. It was the height of Martial Law and the entire government has been overhauled into a unicameral parliamentary system with absolute powers vested in one person – President Ferdinand Marcos.

            Those who opposed the strongman, however, never waived and their numbers kept growing as new generations come of age. All around the country, demonstration rallies flared to protest the massive cheating for the Interim Batasang Pambansa elections. The opposition LABAN ticket was being led by the charismatic Benigno  “Ninoy” Aquino Jr – from his cell. The Senator has been incarcerated for over half a decade, mostly in solitary confinement.

            This was the milieu that gave birth to TG’s baptism of fire in raw politics. He learned firsthand the harrowing experience of being arrested and jailed. Even though he came from the elite Ateneo, far from the social unrest ferment of the University of the Philippines, he was an activist. He and entire student government of the Ateneo were rounded up during a rally on España Avenue in Manila.

            While incarcerated, he was in enviable company – a Who’s Who of  freedom fighters – Lorenzo Tañada, Soc Rodrigo, Nene Pimentel, Joker Arroyo, and his own father.

            Fast forward to the present: Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona is a strong advocate not only of human rights but also of transparency and accountability – the cornerstones of good governance. So much so he was hailed as a Champion by Kaya Natin!, a national movement pushing for ethical leadership founded by Fr. Ed Panlilio and Ramon Magsaysay Awardees Grace Padaca and Jesse Robredo – the internationally acclaimed former Naga City Mayor and now the Secretary of the Interior and Local Government.
Living Legend

Teofisto “TG” De Lara Guingona was born on April 19, 1959. He is the son of the nationalist and former Vice President Teofisto “Tito” Guingona Jr. TG’s mother, Ruth De Lara is the Mayor of Gingoog City in Misamis Oriental, where she was also former Governor. TG, the third generation of the family’s public service tradition, is the grandson of Teofisto Guingona Sr., Governor of the entire Mindanao region during the Commonwealth era in the 1930s under President Manuel L. Quezon.

            A living legend, the Elder Statesman Tito Guingona has headed the departments of Justice and Foreign Affairs, was Executive Secretary to the late President Cory Aquino, and one of the Senators who voted to expel the U.S. military bases in Clark and Subic in 1991. The media dubbed them as the “Magnificant 12” and those who disgreed called them “The Dirty Dozen.”

            Just last Sept. 16, a reunion lunch was held at the Club Filipino, Tito was there with incumbent Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, former President Joseph Estrada, together with Ernesto Maceda, Wigberto Tañada, Agapito Aquino, Victor Ziga, Rene Saguisag and Orlando Mercado. Former Senate Presidents Jovito Salonga and Aquilino Pimentel Jr. were absent. The 12th member is the late Senator Sotero Laurel who on Sept. 16, 2009 – the 18th anniversary of the historic vote.

            Tito declared that their struggle for foreign influence remains relentless. “Twenty years later,” he said, “having grown wiser and better, I think, faced with the same challenge, they will again rally and fight as vigorously as 20 years.”

Fearless Defiance

            TG earned degress in Law and Economics at the Ateneo, and represented the second district of Bukidnon in Congress from 2004 to 2010 as a stalwart member of the opposition, Deputy Minority Floor Leader and the Minority representative to the Joint Congressional Power Commission (POWERCON) which deals with energy and electricity.

            Guingona threw his support for the impeachment of then President Gloria Arroyo on charges of corruption. The impeachment bid failed amidst public outrage about widespread talks of congressional bribery. In another fearless defiance of the Powers That Be, Guingona exposed the excessive costs of Arroyo’s overseas travel.

            Another impeachment Guingona supported was against then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, this time for allegedly sitting on cases and entering into a plea-bargaining agreement with the now-jailed former military comptroller Gen. Carlos Garcia, who was charged with plunder. The Office of the Ombudsman is a Constitutional body mandated to prosecute erring goverment  officials. The Ombudsmans is appointed by the Presidsent and cannot be forcibly removed except through impeachment by Congress. Gutierrez later resigned when Arroyo’s term ended.

            At the height of the P728 Billion fertilizer fund scandal – where former Agricuture Undersecretary Joc-Joc Bolante was alleged to have diverted the funds to the campaign war chests of Arroyo and her allies in the 2004 elections – Guingona exposed  during the House Committee Investigation how his district was given P1.83 Billion in just one week under the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) program of the Dept. Of Agriculture. A true servant of the people, let it be said, should have nothing to hide.

Greatest Resource

            The core of Guingona’s legislative agenda is budget reform. In essence, it is focusing the  government’s finances to health and education. A country is only as good as its citizens. Nation building is about developing its greatest resource – the people. Aside from universal health care and education, this also entails creating an environment that is conducive to quality life. It means that even the marginalized sectors will have a shot at improving their lives and become productive members of society.

            Spreading the iomportance of the people’s awareness of  how the government utilizes its financial resources, Guingona initiated the National Expenditure Forum 2011.

            “We enter into constructive engagement to ensure the practice of good governance in the government budgeting process,” according to the position paper The Declaration of Constructive Engagement for Open Budget Partnership. “The goal of the Partnership is to promote transparency, accountability and public participation, authorization, execution and monitoring of the national budget, within the limits allowed by law.”

            Showing their solidarity by signing the manifesto are Guingona as the lead convener, Budget Secretary Butch Abad, Senate Committee on Finance chairperson Senator Franklin Drilon, House Committee On Appropriations chairperson Rep. Emilio Abaya and House Deputy Majority Leader Rep. Jorge Banal, from the government.

From the civil society are Director Alan Davis of the Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project; Alternative Budget Initiative convenor Leonor Briones; INCITEGov trustee Nieves Osorio; and representatives of Procurement Watch, Kaakbay Citizens Initiatives Inc., Kaisa Para Sa Kaunlaran, Philippine Association of Government Budget Administrators, Management Association of the Philippines, Mindanao Bloggers, Mindanao Development Council, North Luzon Coalition for Good Governnance, CO Mutiveristy, Teachers Inc. Education Netweok, Kaya Natin! And the Earth Savers’ Movement.

“Access to budget information must be coupled with understandiung to achive meaningful participation,” said Guingona in his opening remarks. “It is only through the combination of access and understanding the whole budget process when the citizens would have their say in th government budget.”

Armed Conflict

Lolita Carbon of the iconic folk band Asin grew up in Mindanao, witness to the almost daily armed confrontations between government soldiers and rebel forces. She wrote a song, Cotabato, an ode to peace which became the unofficial anthem of those seeking the end of the armed conflict in Mindanao.

“Ako'y nananawagan, humihingi ng tulong n'yo; Kapayapaa'y bigyan ng daan, kapayapaan sa bayan ko; Bakit kailangan pang maglaban, magkapatid kayo sa dugo Kailan kayo magkakasundo, kapayapaa'y kailan matatamo ng bayan ko? ( I’m calling out, asking for your help; give peace a chance, peace for my country; why do we have to fight, we are blood brothers; when can we get along, when will my country achieve peace?)”

Tragically, the situation has, since the song was written in the 1970s, worsened today. Communism, the greatest evil that mankind has perpetrated upon itself, is dead – even the founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, Jose Ma. Sison, is now a bourgeoisie exile in Holland. But their armed wing, the New Peoples’ Army, has metastasized into  a high-powered criminal syndicate, destroying the livelihood of those who refuse to be victimized by their extortion activities. Just recently the entire fleet of a bus liner company has been burned to the ground because the owner defied the NPA’s extortion.

Further complicating matters is the terrorists group Abu Sayyaf allied with Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah. And then there’s the secessionist groups Moro National Liberation Front and Moro Islamic Liberation Front and their Hydra-like breakaway factions.

Advocating and spurring the development of Mindanao, Guingiona co-authored Republic Act 9996, the landamark Mindanao Development (MinDA) Act of 2010. Guingona believes that “peace can be achieved once we make serious investments in building the human and social capital in Mindanao. If more resources were directed in making Mindanaoans healthier and better educated, then they would be able to see a brighter future for themselves and end the cycle of violence that has afflicted them for a long time.”

Risk Reduction

We live in a time when we witness events halfway around the world as they happen in real time, like the victories of Manny Pacquiao and Shamcey Supsup. That is the power and miracle of today’s technology. The catch is the modern-day phenomenon called information overload. But an event with a strong emotional connection will stand out in our memory.

Who can forget Ondoy? It wasn’t even a typhoon, just a tropical depression – but  it was the first time in our generation that the entire Metro Manila sank in raging floods. We all have Ondoy stories. And that same modern technology allowed us to see those overwhelming scenes of people being swept away in merciless currents.

Marking the second anniversary of Ondoy last Sept. 26, is the fury of super typhoon Pedring, followed almost simultaneosly followed by Qiuel. A large expanse of Luzon were  inundated with floods and destroyed crops – a chilling deja vu.

The question, then as now, remains: just how ready are we for disasters?

Disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) is one of the cornerstones of TG’s advocacies. The active participation of every citizen is crucial for this mission that led to the passage of  Republic Act 10121. TG also rallied support from the international community. Representing the country of the Thematic Debate On Disaster Risk Reduction at the U.N. General Assembly last Feb. 10, he presented the three critical points for effective DRRM

“I would like to call for support on the cooperation in developing internationally accepted standards in monitoring and evaluation of DRRM initiatives, enhancing resources on DRR through the establishment of community-owned catastrophe insurance funds pools and international support on the localization of DRRM with the strong participation of civil society organizations,” he said.

When it comes to disasters, we are all stakeholders. It calls to mind the immortal words of John Donne: “No man is an island...Every man’s death diminishes me...ask not for whom the bells tolls – it tolls for thee.”


It's An (Ehem) Artist Thing

I love the feeling in the air after a rainfall. Feels like a blessing. One afternoon under a low-pressure area on November 2011, I was in the open doorway watching my wet garden and the glistening pavement outside my gate. Then I remembered a Reader's Digest article on Meryl Streep. Yup, she has that undefinable spark in her incandescent performances. She also loves the way the senses are heightened after the rain, how everything feels more alive.
 A Person’s True Measure
I have always believed that the only true measure of a person’s worth is his character. His achievements should be lauded, but everything in his resume is external . If a person is inherently good, like Frodo Baggins, then he will overcome the temptations of his baser instincts. “But to look beyond the glory is the hardest part, for a hero’s strength is measured by his heart…”

Which Is Good and Which Is Bad?
Some things are good by itself, like respect for elders. Some things are inherently bad, like child abuse. But most things in life are in the gray area in between. There is no clear dividing line. So we all play the Line Drawing Game, says Wayne Dyer, author of Your Erroneous Zones, the book that changed my life for the better forever. Example: The Godfather Don Vito Corleone rackets gambling and prostitution but draws the line on illegal drugs. This is part of human nature. That’s why some people donate to charity but cheat on their wives, why some politicians condemn birth control but steal taxpayers’ money. “People, you can never change the way they feel, better let them do just what they will, for they will…”

 Thank God For No Ghosts!
On the night of November 14, 2011, I was in my worktable in the living room writing an article while listening to The Bizarre Bar, the paranormal radio show by Johnny Midnight. It was raining Garfields and Goofys. I suddenly felt a splash of drizzle. A ghost! I found out that the skyshower was entering through the mezzanine windows.I was happy because there's no damage to the roof. Then I realized that happiness comes from gratitude, and it becomes second nature if you consciously develop that mindset. Good things happen to those who know how give thanks for the blessings they receive. That is (Rhonda Byrne's) The Secret. I'm also happy and grateful that I didn't have to call the Ghostbusters!

The Huggybear General Trias Magical Mystery Tour

I have a house in General Trias in Cavite, about 30 kilometers south of Manila. I went to the Bro. Andrew Gonzalez Hall in La Salle Taft on November 21 by commute. Going home that night, the last bus trip to Tanza left without me. So I took the bus to Dasmariñas and got down in SM Bacoor. Then took a BB bus, those colorful minibuses found only in Cavite, as it began to drizzle. The BB bus went through Binakayan, Kawit, Noveleta and Rosario towns. I super enjoyed that unexpected midnight tour; even a brief change of scenery refreshes my spirit. "This travelin' boy is only passing through..." (I love Paul Williams). In Tanza, I got on the last jeep trip to Trias, then caught the last tricycle trip to the subdivision. Got home safe before the overnight rain began. Thank God! Angels brought me here!

How Much Effort Is Enough?
I got a lot of insights from Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, the super-smart pop culture philosopher and New York Times bestselling author of The Tipping Point. The book reveals the deeper reasons why some people achieve an unprecedented level of excellence. Even before The Beatles rose to phenomenal stardom and immortality, they were already seasoned performers in various clubs in Europe. They had clocked more than 10,000 hours perfecting their craft. That 10,000 hours, Gladwell says, is what it takes to reach that degree of expertise. So everytime I feel I'm not getting the results I want, I ask myself: How much effort have put into it? Success, after all is said and done, can only be possible with perseverance and hard work. "The movement you need is on your shoulders..."

Artists of The Week: Salute to the 90s



Wayne Dyer: Chucking It http://chuckingit.com/tag/creativity/

Ping Lacson: Asian Correspondent: http://asiancorrespondent.com/tag/panfilo-lacson/

TG Guingona: The Professional Heckler: http://professionalheckler.wordpress.com/2010/02/12/winners-and-losers/

Meryl Streep: Jokeroo Blog: http://blog.jokeroo.com/

Elijah Wood: Daemon’s Movies: http://www.daemonsmovies.com/2011/01/11/elijah-wood-will-reprise-frodo-for-the-hobbit/

Godfather: Tumblr: http://finestrasulcortile.tumblr.com/post/5223242952/marlon-brando-and-al-pacino-in-the-godfather

Writing boy: Learning Works For Kids: http://learningworksforkids.com/m2/parents/m2p_academics_writing.html

Hippie bus: http://www.popartdiva.com/ProductPages/AllAboardTheMagicBus.html

Beatles: Test Driving Life: http://testdrivinglife.blogspot.com/2011/08/beatles-live-on-forever-in-their-music.html

Beverly Hills 90210:: FanPop http://www.fanpop.com/spots/the-90s/images/6330929/title/90s-fashion-photo
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