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Watch to See if Apple Fell Near Tree

June 3, 2022
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

With the results of the Philippine elections certified, and our candidate of choice, Leni, having lost and founded a non-governmental organization (NGO) to lead, instead of a nation of seven thousand islands, we will watch and see if incoming president Bongbong relapses the country into an autocracy that echoes the dictatorship his father Ferdinand Marcos presided over.

Bongbong and Sara Duterte take office this month as President and Vice President of the Philippines (Marcos won with 31.63 million votes, representing nearly 59% of the votes cast in this year’s elections. Duterte, won with 32.21 million votes.) and already there are signs of trouble. At the president-elect’s first “press conference” only a trio of journalists, from organizations that had been supportive of his run, were invited to participate.

Not invited were any reporters from Rappler, one of our favorite Philippine news sources, who are now reporting on the challenges in the Philippine Supreme Court to Marcos’ election.

Watch and see, defines what Filipinos globally, Philippine opposition politicians, governments around the world, and UN human rights watchdog groups, may well be doing for the next six years, to evaluate whether the sun is setting on the nation’s vibrant democracy.

The wait and see approach is evident from official U.S. State Department responses, links to which are here as backup to the following extensive citations from two press releases, one from U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken:

“On behalf of the United States, I congratulate President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on his election as the Philippines’ next president. We look forward to working with President-elect Marcos to strengthen the enduring alliance between the United States and the Philippines. Our special partnership is rooted in a long and deeply interwoven history, shared values and interests, and strong people-to-people ties. As friends, partners, and allies, we will continue to collaborate closely with the Philippines to promote respect for human rights and to advance a free and open, connected, prosperous, secure, and resilient Indo-Pacific region. We commend the millions of Filipino voters who cast their ballots in this election, and we look forward to the official conclusion of the electoral process for the many offices in the national elections.”

We close with a citation regarding the watch and see approach from a press briefing at the U.S. State Department, during which a reporter asked a number of excellent questions of the department’s press spokesperson. Ned Price:

REPORTER: I wanted to come to the Philippines. You said yesterday it was too early to comment, so wanted to kind of ask again specific – I guess particularly because the ASEAN Summit is happening this week, and part of the focus of that is obviously – is obviously towards China or showing your prioritization of the region in the light of your broader China policy, I guess, or Indo-Pacific policy. But specifically, do you have any concerns that the new president-elect, Marcos Jr., represents a challenge to U.S. policy in the region, specifically with his comments, I believe during the campaign, talking about the 2016 ruling on – the UNCLOS ruling that he said this is not effective, and he said he’s going to seek a bilateral agreement with China to resolve their dispute in the South China Sea. How does that square with what the U.S. wants to do with this region?

MR PRICE: Simon, this applies to the Philippines, it applies to everywhere around the world: We will judge and we will operate within the confines of our bilateral relationship based on what happens once an individual or a party is in office. And when it comes to Ferdinand Marcos Jr., you heard from the Secretary earlier today that we congratulated him, we congratulated the people of the Philippines on their successful election. We look forward to working with the president-elect to strengthen the enduring alliance between our two countries. It’s a special partnership that is rooted in a long and deeply interwoven history of shared values, shared interests, and strong people-to-people ties. We’ll continue to collaborate closely with the Philippines to promote respect for human rights and to advance a free, open, connected, prosperous, secure, and resilient Indo-Pacific.

That will be at the top of our agenda. We look forward to seeing Foreign Minister Locsin when he is here at the ASEAN Summit later this week, and I suspect that we will be able to engage with the incoming Marcos government in the near term.

REPORTER: And specifically on the 2016 ruling, is that – does the U.S. still see that as relevant to resolving the South China Sea disputes?

MR PRICE: We still stand by that ruling. We issued a statement not all that long ago underscoring that the South China Sea, as we know, contains some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, trillions of dollars in merchant shipping transit annually. We have to remain vigilant to any effort to unlawfully restrict navigational rights and freedoms in this vital waterway. It serves as a lifeline to so many economies. And we reaffirm our statement of July of last year regarding the maritime claims in the South China Sea, and we stand by that.

REPORTER: Ned, I must admit that I don’t expect a whole lot of an answer from this, but given the history here, the United States and the Philippines and the fact that the United States played such a pivotal role in the ouster of Bongbong Marcos’s father, do you have any concerns about the return of the family?

MR PRICE: Matt, as I just said to Simon, we look forward to working with the incoming government —

REPORTER: So in other words, no?

MR PRICE: We have – we know that we have an enduring, shared values and shared interests. It is at the top of our agenda, and we expect at the top – it’s at the top of the agenda of the incoming administration in Manila to work to advance this.

REPORTER: So the – so you’re prepared to, like, start on a fresh page?

MR PRICE: We —

REPORTER: And the history doesn’t matter?

MR PRICE: Our bilateral relationships are contoured by what happens when individuals, parties come to office.

Photo by Rifqi Ramadhan on Pexels.com

We’re With Her

April 23, 2022

Will Autocracy Win the May in the Philippines?
May 9th Elections Are Decisive Test

Commentary by Editors of FilipinaTravels.com

Only one woman is now running for President of the Philippines. We’re with her. We wholeheartedly endorse, Leni Robredo, who is currently serving as the 14th vice president of the Philippines, for president. She is the most qualified person for the job. She rose from life as an attorney defending the rights of the poor to serve a distinguished tenure in government that includes her work in her present role.

Here is an interview with Leni Robredo by Maria Ressa, Nobel laureate editor of Rappler.

Hollywood offers Dirty Harry-like vigilante entertainment to eager audiences globally. To recap why Leni’s election is so important for those just engaging with the nation’s political affairs, current Philippine leader, President Rodrigo Duterte’s time as mayor of Davao, important port city on the south side on the large southern Philippine Island of Mindanao, was dirty, in the way Clint Eastwood’s Harry was.

The more the mayor flaunted his motorcycle-riding, gun-slinging vigilantism, the more it brought him fame of a flavor, infamy. Thereafter, his campaign for the presidency of the island-blessed nation was dirty. It took place during the days Donald Trump was on the rise, who Duterte said was “just like me”. Vigilante statements became a Duterte campaign staple.

After Duterte arrived in the Philippine presidency, he was still dirty. He and his minions thwarted investigations into his Davao death squad’s shootings. And Duterte began a war on drugs that continues, with citizens being shoot in night raids by masked men on motorcycles for allegedly being drug dealers, with each person’s death an ultimate denial of their constitutional right to due process of law, their right to be presumed innocent until convicted in a court of law for a crime they are accused of, their right to face and to cross-examine those who accuse them.

Here is a link to the US State Department Human Rights report about the Philippines security forces committing numerous abuses by and on behalf of Duterte. “The national police’s institutional deficiencies and the public perception that corruption in the police was endemic continued,” the US report noted. “The Philippine National Police’s Internal Affairs Service remained largely ineffective.” Amnesty International agrees, noting that the lack of accountability among perpetrators provided the breeding ground for extrajudicial killings and human rights violations by President Duterte. The United Nations has reported extensively on this every year of the Duterte presidency.

Duterte is almost done with his single six-year time in the office of Philippine president, the time allotted him by the nation’s constitution. Duterte is by his own admission hopeful that after he leaves the president’s office, the current mayor of Davao will be voted into it, the president’s daughter, Sara Duterte. Sara had been striving for the president’s office. However, she never got enough helium under her poll numbers, and thus she now supports Bongbong Marcos for president (that’s BBM, aka Ferdinand Marcos Jr., more in a moment) She switched to running for vice-president. Should she succeed at ascending to her goal, the question all would watch for an answer to is whether she would quash investigations into her father, President Rodrigo Duterte’s, past wrong doings. Every indication from her so far shows that she might.

Leni Robredo’s opponent for the president’s office is Ferdinand Marcos Junior. Recall that his father, Ferdinand Macros Senior, took hold of the presidency of the fledgling Philippine democracy and succeeded in making it his kingdom for over two decades. Bongbong, the nickname commonly used by all to speak about the former dictator’s son, has spent his political career attempting to rehabilitate his father’s reputation and protect his family’s wealth from being repatriated to the Philippines. BBM was aided in his effort by President Duterte, who moved his father’s remains into the cemetery for national heroes.

There is no reason to vote in a dynasty from the past to build a fine future for the Philippines. Why, however, do so many support the leading candidate, BBM?

Most of the Philippine people are young, and thus a large percentage of them did not live under the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. An editor of this website grew up to be a college student at University of the Philippines, Las Banos, as the Marcos era neared its terminus. To help end the Marcos dictatorship, she and many thousands of other Filipinos filled Manila’s EDSA Boulevard between the entrances of the Philippine National Police headquarters complex and the PH Army HQ base. Helicopters circled over her and the other Filipinos demonstrating with her that day. Ferdinand Marcos gave the helicopter pilots the order to fire on the peaceful protestors. When they refused to do so, it became another of the quickening steps toward Marcos’ departure from the Philippine Islands for the Hawaiian Islands, with Bongbong and national treasure, leaving behind the infamous closet with his wife Imelda’s shoe collection. What all those above a certain age the whole world round remember, Bongbong Marcos wants all young Filipinos to forget.

As the Bongbong Macros, President – Sara Duterte, VP ticket poll numbers are slipping, a new ploy has been hatched by their supporters. A “devious plan to install Sara Duterte as VP at all costs,” is what a Philippine News Today editorial called the tactic. “What Americans refer to as throwing someone under a bus, Filipinos know as ‘laglagan,’ or dropping someone like a hot potato. This is what’s happening now to Senator Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan, running mate of presidential bet Leni Robredo. In various places throughout the Philippines, groups have sprouted supporting the so-called RoSa tandem, short for Leni Robredo and Sara Duterte. Robredo wants no part of this RoSa nonsense, of course, but there is a growing movement to push for both women to win.”

As election day nears Leni is gaining ground in her campaign to win the presidency. Will victory be ahead for her? We hope so. There is apparently, again regarding the polls, a large distance, easily two dozen percentage points behind Bongbong, that she must win to her cause in very short time.

Unless Philippine voters defy the polls of the moment, two family dynasties, one from the far south of the nation, the other from the far north, the families Duterte and Marcos, will share Malacañang palace, the nation’s white house in Manila, as the next president and vice-president. As the current president has reportedly had the history of the EDSA Revolution stricken from the Department of Education curriculum, so too it has de-emphasized history instruction generally.

Now that we have explained, we would like to reiterate our endorsement of Leni Robredo for President of the Philippines as an exclamation. We’re with her!

To overcome BBM’s seemingly insurmountable lead, Leni Robredo, the only woman in the race for the presidency now that Sara is striving for the VP role, will have to win the hearts of millions more Filipinos. Can she do so? It is worth noting that Leni pulled off an upset in the last presidential election cycle when she won her current job as the nation’s vice-president. We are hopeful that she is able to pull off another upset victory in the Philippine elections come the ninth of May.

“Leni has the momentum, which we expect will only further intensify and accelerate all the way to May 9,” said Barry Gutierrez, Robredo’s spokesperson about what the latest poll numbers are starting to reflect. “What we are seeing now is the turning of the tide,” what we have been seeing on the ground.”

Julie and Julia and Le Saint Amour

August 8, 2009

After days of stress at work, I looked forward to driving through Los Angeles Friday traffic to watch a movie and have dinner with friends.

 As I sat on the comfortable, soft leather, nicely-padded chair of the Westwood movie theater, I began to relax.  Munching on popcorn, we watched the upcoming attractions. 

 The audience expressed their reviews of the previews.  Some hissed and booed as they were seeing the next frightful destruction of the world.  It was another aim of showing off computer special effects in cinematography.  Then there was “The Blind Side”, a Sandra Bullock movie about a rich white family adopting a homeless black kid.  Some people clapped from just seeing the preview.  That’s a movie I want to see.

Watch Trailer

Watch Trailer

Then, “Julie and Julia” started.  I didn’t know what to expect about the movie.  I didn’t grow up knowing Julia Childs except seeing some spoofs of her in the “Electric Company.”  I only looked forward to seeing Meryl Streep again after I enjoyed her movie “Mamma Mia.”

 The 2 hour and 3 minute movie was really a culinary experience that one savors from beginning to end.  My emotional palate was sated.  Audiences laughed at the unpretentious good-natured Julia in her passion for cooking, food and butter.  I empathized with her when she tried to be happy for her sister being pregnant while her heart broke because she can’t a child of her own.  I felt her triumph as she held her published book.

 With their lives almost parallel, Julie also had to find what she loved doing – cooking and writing.  She found her goal of cooking all 594 recipes from Julia Child’s book in 365 days and focused on it.  Her mother thought that she was crazy and shouldn’t waste her time.  She almost lost her loving husband and her job.  It stormed on the night that she would have her first interview.  But at the end of all the struggles, she succeeded in her goals and much more.  

 At the end of the movie, I wanted to buy “Mastering the Art of French Cuisine”, have that bonding with Julie and Julia as I go through each recipe, and start a blog.

Le Saint Amour restaurant in Culver City

Le Saint Amour in Culver City

  After the gastronomic enticement, we headed for a French restaurant, of course.  We dined at Le Saint Amour, a small newly-opened restaurant in Culver City near Sony Studios. The interior was nice, clean, and cozy.  I had a hard time picking what to order from the menu not because they were all appealing to me.  Most of the main entree choices had French fries on the side.  It just didn’t give me the excitement of imagining the taste of all the ingredients cooked together.  

We had Morroccan lamb sausage with cumin carrot and house pate & prosciutto for hor d’ouvres. Not bad but I had better ones.   For my main course, I had Queue de Lotte en Bouride, Brittany monkfish in seafood broth, tomato tart and baby fennel.   The monkfish lived up to its name, simple and bland.   Maybe one really needs to order a good tasting wine to have with the dinner just to excite your palate.  I thought that maybe the dessert would give me something to remember.  Mousse au Chocolat a l’ orange and Tarte Tatin were not to die for. 

It was a good idea of having a theme when going out.  Good company of friends and a good movie made a good French Friday night.