The Family Business: Political Dynasties in the Philippines

The Family Business: Political Dynasties in the Philippines


                In the Philippines, political dynasties are as common as flu. If you’ve been living in the same city or province for the last 30 years, you’ve probably seen the same surname on project posters and billboards. The same surname for mayors, baranggay captains, congressmen and even the kagawads. We call it political dynasty but it’s actually just oligarchy in disguise.

                What is oligarchy, you ask? It’s a form of government where in the power effectively rests in the hands of a very few people. These people can be royalty, wealthy or has military ties. In most cases, a nation under oligarchy is controlled by a few prominent families who would typically pass their torches to the next generation of power, leaving the control of the land in their name for a very long time.

                The Abads of Batanes, who have served terms since 1965, The Marcoses of Ilocos, and the Aquino-Cojuangcos of Tarlac are one of the biggest political clans in the country today. Some say that this culture of political dynasties started with the Marcoses and their cronies but the truth is, we’ve been exposed to this even before the Spanish invasion. As a nation, we practically grew up with political dynasties and that’s why it seems so normal to us. Before the Spaniards came, early Filipinos already established a political system. They had datus, rajahs and maharlikas who were the rulers and administratorsof the land– with the datu holding the highest power. They also pass their thrones to their heirs like monarchy.

                In a book by Renato Constantino entitled “The First Filipino”, he explained that when the Spanish occupied the country, they introduced a term called “principalia”. The Spanish officials assigned the former datu as principalia and entrusted him with administrative duties as an appendage to the Spanish government. Pretty soon, the principalia of every province/town got replaced with meztisos, llustrados, mestizo-sangley, creole, and Chinese mestizos who passed over their positions to whoever is next in line, bearing their surnames.It became worse during the American occupation were the first democratic elections were held. Families with lands and other properties are the only ones allowed to vote and run for office which was by that time, only 1% of the population. It led to the rise of elite power since they catapulted to national positions in the government and have been ruling their towns and provinces up until now.

                And look where it got us? Political dynasty in the Philippines caused massive poverty because only the rich and powerful get richer and the peasants stay as peasants. They made illegal landowning possible and hacking up all of the town’s resources for personal gain. They took control of our mining, logging and tobacco industries. They made so much money handing over lands to real estate companies. They have so many links to banks and other financial institutions that allows them to commit more fraud. These families have complete economical power over this country and we’re not even getting a single benefit from it. If we had, we’d be as rich as the Cojuangcos ,the Lopez’s and the Ayalas right now.They’re not running a country, they’re running a business.

                Last year, the Anti-political Dynasty Bill was once again proposed to the House of Representatives which has been pending for 27 years. The proposed law seeks to prohibit relatives up to the second degree of consanguinity to hold or run for both national and local office in “successive, simultaneous, or overlapping terms.” However, it has not been fully implemented because of lack of an enabling law. Last May 6, the bill has finally reached the plenary of the House of Representative. If this becomes a law, the Philippines may have a chance of reclaiming its Tiger nickname in South East Asia and probably lift the masses up from poverty—for real.

                Unfortunately, the palace already stated that it is not their priority right now. Well, of course it’s not! The President himself is a product of political dynasty from both sides of his family and 2016 elections are coming up fast. Now is not the time to be making enemies.


How to Use Google Effectively


                Almost everyone knows what Google is and how to use it but  very few actually know how to use it effectively. The biggest search engine in the entire world actually has a lot of awesome features that you can use to search quicker with accurate results if you just know which buttons to click.

Here are some Google tips and tricks for a more effective search:

  • How To Google It


–          If you’re looking for an article inside a specific site, you don’t have to open the entire website and search there. Google can lead you straight to the article you want within the website. Just type “site:” and then type the name of the article or page you want to see. For example, you want to see if Wikipedia has an article about Philippine History, just type site: Wikipedia “Philippine History” and it will lead you directly to the page you want if it exists on the site. Putting “ ” on your keyword will command Google to search for the exact phrase that includes that word.

–          Use the symbol ( – ) if you want a phrase or a word omitted from the search. For example, you’re searching for Philippine History but didn’t want to include the Japanese occupation, just type site: “Philippine History” –japanese occupation and Google will give you results that include Philippine History that does not contain any information about the Japanese occupation.

–          Using the symbol (..) will help you filter a search within a time range. For example, “Philippine History” 1950..1990 Google will then show you articles about Philippine History and events that happened between 1950 and 1990.

–          If you are looking for something specific, for example an article in a certain file format just type filetype:pdf Philippine history and Google will give you articles written in pdf format.


–          If you’re looking for a book, just type in author:John Green the fault in our stars and Google will give you websites that contain the author’s information and other related articles.


  • Quick Searches


o   Definition

                –There’s no need to go to an online dictionary to find out a word’s meaning. Just type in definition: and the word you want to search for. e.g. definition:research


For quick math problems, you don’t have to open you calculator application. Just type the equation in the search bar using these mathematical symbols (+,-,* and /) and parentheses for basic functions. For example: (7*9)/77+9-9

  •  Unit conversions

Enter any conversion, e.g. 100 pesos in dollars and Google will convert  it for you. No need to look for converter apps.

  • If you’re in a hurry


–          Don’t worry about the spelling. Google automatically spell checks your query and searches for it using the correct spelling.

–          Don’t worry so much about capitalization. Searching for “Philippine Daily Inquirer” is the same as “philippine daily inquirer”.

–          Don’t waste time with punctuations. Google does not include that in your search. Don’t use these symbols: ?!,.%^*()[]\,in your search and save time.

–          For quick weather reports, Search weather to see the weather in your location or add a city name after weather to find weather for a certain place. e.g. weather metro manila

By using these neat tricks, your Google experience will be a lot easier and quicker with better results. Happy Googling!



            Elections in the Philippines have been tagged as ‘colorful’ by other countries because we have a lot of characters to choose from all the time. Not to mention, a lot of gimmicks too. Unlike in the USA where there are only two parties, in our country, there happens to be a lot which makes it difficult to choose the best one out of the bunch. It gets even more difficult when political advertisements and scandals start to appear as the Election Day approaches. The best way to counter that is by being informed and conducting your own research. While it’s probably too early to pick a candidate now since the filing for candidacy hasn’t even started yet, it’s best to be well-informed so you can make a sound decision on 2016.

So to give you a bit of information, here are the aspiring candidates for Presidency:


Jejomar Binay : From Vice to President

                                VP Jejomar Binay topped the Pulse Asia Survey where 1,200 citizens were asked who they will vote for President in 2016. However, that doesn’t mean a sure win because a lot can still happen within the next two years. What makes Binay a strong contender is of course, the fact that he has extensive experience in office. He has been after all, the mayor of Makati City for more than ten years. This is a man who handled the powerhouse city of business and commerce for years and is still being handled by a Binay in the form of his wife, Elenita. Being experienced and knowing how to closely work with the masses are Binay’s strongest suits however, what he doesn’t have is a wider media exposure, which is like a prerequisite in having more followers. He’s also not very popular, credibility-wise. His reputation for being the next Marcos might also cause his downfall as well.

Grace Poe



Grace Poe: The Next Female President?

                Senator Grace Poe was the lead during the 2010 elections and she’s doing a good job for a freshman senator for championing the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill. Poe is getting a lot of praise from it, especially from many netizens. When Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago expressed the need for the next woman president; everyone pointed at Poe who immediately said that she is not ready to become one. The reason is that she fears history might repeat itself, regarding the presidential campaign of her late father, Fernando Poe Jr. “Binabalik ko ang masamang puntong, masamang karanasan na, pinagdaanan ng tatay ko. Parang lahat ng tao sa paligid mo, sasabihin ‘Ikaw na lang.’ ’Pagsumubok ka na, paglingon mo, ilan nalang mga kasama mo sa likod. May takot talaga. ’Di ko ina-ambisyon. Sa akin, bonus na nga nakaupo ako dito,” Poe told reporters at the Senate last March 11. However, there’s a lot time left till the election period so who knows, she might lose that fear and run for the highest office in the land.


Mar Roxas: Will Mr. Palengke become Mr. President?

We all know that Mar Roxas was supposed to run for presidency last election but he gave way to Pnoy, became his running mate for vice-president and lost to Binay. But since Roxas got appointed DILG Secretary by his Excellency, we’ve seen a lot of him on TV, on newspapers, everywhere. He works closer to the President than the VP ever did so I guess we can see who’s going to back him up on 2016. However, Mar Roxas hasn’t really spoken about running for presidency since he is ‘busy’ with work. But LP’s acting president Joseph Emilio Abaya said that the party is in ‘unison’ when it comes to their choice as their flag bearer and their choice is Mar Roxas. No one can deny that Roxas is always on the job when it comes to his work, however, being visible doesn’t always equal being effective. His mishaps during typhoon Yolanda relief is still being talked about. His reported outburst and hissy fits in public do not help boost his reputation either.



Bongbong Marcos: Will the Son be like the Father?

One of the most talked about among the contenders for presidency is Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. of the Nacionalista Party. Despite his name being tied to the Pork Barrel Scam, he is still a favorable choice based on online surveys such as where he’s currently number one and where he placed second. Although Marcos did say he has plans for 2016, it is still not clear whether he will run for President or Vice President. One thing is for sure though; his experience as the Governor ofIlocos Norte for years, his impressive resume and his name might just be his ticket for presidency. However, because of the wounds that the Marcos regime left and the bad name the media gave to them, his surname might also lose him the trust of the voters. Who knows? If the senator proves himself worthy in the next two years, our next president might just be another Marcos.

These four are the top bets for presidency in 2016 according to polls and surveys. The other “presidentiables” include Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago, Alan Peter Cayetano, ChizEscudero and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

Things They Didn’t Teach Us in School


                Mark Twain once said “Never let schooling interfere with your education”. I never quite got that until I graduated from college. Since we were kids, we are made to believe that finishing your studies is the greatest achievement we’ll ever have and after that, we will live happily ever after. But the reality is once you got your diploma, you’re back to zero. You’re like a kid again during the first day of classes, clueless and scared because apparently, there are a lot of things they didn’t teach us in school that would really help us if they did. For me, it is in fact after school that my real education began.

So here’s a list of things that would be totally handy if we actually learned them all in school:

How to Talk To People


                I was already working at my first job when I realized I suck at talking to people. It’s ironic really because I’m a communication graduate and yet when it comes to socializing, I fail so horribly. Back in college I’ve always thought I don’t need such a skill. I was fine with being an introvert, satisfied with communicating only with people who are in my network and I don’t even care if other people don’t like me as long as I don’t know them. I now realize that I must learn how to talk and connect with people if I want to get ahead in life. No one can succeed on their own and if you do not know how to talk and attract the right people into your life, you’re more or less screwed.

How to Handle Things Financially


                I’ve read somewhere that rich people tend to teach their kids the value of money and investments and how to read financial statements while the poor does the opposite and it’s one of the reasons why they remain poor.I must admit I agree with it because if only we are set to succeed financially right before we even knew what we want, pretty sure we will get it plus perks and street smarts. If only we learned how to balance a checkbook or know the how the stock market works and not a thing or two about the Pythagorean Theorem and its obvious use for everyday life, 80% of the population would be really rich by now.

Physical Defense


                I hated gym class when I was in high school and I was pretty shocked when I realized we have gym class in college. I was forced to play sports I didn’t understand and didn’t want to play. For others, it might be fun to play volleyball but for me, it’s not fun to get hit on the face with a ball and have my arms red with rashes while I’m too busy thinking about passing my major subjects. I wished then that there was more consideration with kids who aren’t physically active. Gym class would’ve been a great use to non-athletic students if they actually taught self defense. Heck, it might even benefit me for a lifetime and save my life. I would gladly accept body pains if it will help save me from bad people.

How to be a Good Person


                Sure we have GMRC (Good Manners and Right Conduct) subject but everyone knows not one kid took this seriously. This is the subject where most of my 100% scores come from because all the questions in the exams are more or else answerable with common sense. This is the most underrated subject and if we all paid a lot of attention to it like we do in Math, Science and English, more people would be kind and selfless. More than intelligence we need empathy and more than achievements we need more brotherhood.

                There are lots of other things I wished they taught us in school like how to fill out government forms, how to fix things inside your house, proper patriotism, how and why participate in political debates, etc. but given the current situation of our  educational system, that’s not going to happen anytime soon. I guess we really just have to learn these things by ourselves and hope we’re doing it right. Here’s a little tip: Asking advice from people with experience is a great way to lower your chances of failure.

Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Rizal

Jose Rizal is 153 years old today and to celebrate the birthday of our beloved national hero, here is a list of things about Rizal that your history teachers probably never taught you at school:

  • Rizal was suspected of being a serial killer


                                On the 24th of May 1888, Rizal was in the London British Library to copy the book “Sucesos de las Islas de Filipinas” by hand. Incidentally, this was also the time where the notorious ‘Jack the Ripper’ terrorized the city, killing more than five victims. On January 1889, the killings suddenly stopped. This was also the exact time that Rizal left London to publish the book. But that’s not the only reason why he’s suspected of being Jack the Ripper. According to the investigation, the intricate method of killing suggests that only a person with a medical background could do it. We’re all very much aware that Rizal was a doctor. And also, they both have the initial J and R. Though it wasn’t proven, this is one of the most interesting things that Rizal got involved in. Oh and by the way, Jack the Ripper’s identity remains unknown till this day.

  • Rizal was a cheapskate



                As told by historian Ambeth Ocampo on his book “Rizal without the Overcoat”, there was a time when our hero was invited to a party and was assigned to bring the champagne. Despite his protest, he did bring the champagne but he also lectured his friends and the guests against drinking and womanizing. After his agonizing sermon, he then passed around his hat and asked everyone to chip on for the champagne he bought for the party. You can say he is indeed a penny-pincher but he was on a tight budget of P50 a month and on a foreign land. You would do the same if you’re in his shoes.

  • Rizal is kind of a Psychic


                Well, not really but he once had a nightmare that terrified him so badly. He wrote in his journal that he had a frightful nightmare in which he died. In his dream, he was portraying an actor who dies in a scene and that he felt vividly that his breath was failing. This incident happened on December 30, 1882, the same day of his execution 13 years later. He also wrote that in the future, he can see that the Philippines will have a massive transport system like trains that will go around the city, making transportation easier for everyone. We did have that eventually, however, if Rizal were to ride the MRT or LRT today, he’ll probably send an angry letter to the management.

  • Rizal is a not actually a Straight-A Student


                                Yes, we all know that our national hero possesses multiple intelligence and no one doubts he’s a genius but did you know that he wasn’t always the excellent student we thought he was? Jose Rizal’s grades and performance were all just average. And all though he graduated sobraseliente , he received that award along with eight other classmates. His grades in UST weren’t so good either. He had a few passing marks because according to him, “the subjects are a bore and the discussions are dry”.

  • Rizal is still a Mystery


According to Ocampo, there are still a lot of things that we don’t know about Rizal. For instance, it was said that Rizal distracted himself from depression and self-pitying by writing scribbles. However, none of those scribbles were found. Also, on the eve of his execution on December 29, 1896, Rizal stuffed some papers in his pants and shoes, thinking that his body will be given to his family after he died. Of course, the Spanish government did the opposite and they dumped his body on an unmarked grave at the Paco cemetery. His body was exhumed two years later but the papers he wrote were already destroyed. No one knows what’s written in those papers and no one ever will.

CHECKLIST: What Makes a Good Leader?


                The 2016 Presidential Election is not for another 2 years but if the aspiring candidates are getting ready to woo the masses, we must get ready too. After all, the fate of this country lies in our hands and if we’re smart and knowledgeable enough, we might just pick the right person for presidency. So, before you pick a candidate make sure that he or she has all these qualities of a good political leader:


                As cliche as that sounds, honesty will always be the top quality of a good leader. Given the country’s current state and the major political controversies we hear on the news every day, it’s getting difficult to trust politicians. But we have to when 2016 comes, so make sure you’re going to pick the most honest out of the bunch by looking at their profiles, achievements, failures and other relevant information.

                     People Builder

                                Good leaders work hard for the development of each member of their team. They share their knowledge and wisdom and they never leave the weak ones behind. Instead, they push them towards their goals. They don’t lead by telling people what they have to do. Instead, good leaders do it with them and guide them through the process.

                     A Visionary  

                                If your candidate’s platform doesn’t seem so clear to you, it is most likely to be unrealistic or impossible to achieve. Good leaders always have a clear vision of their goals and what they want for their people. They work towards a goal that is bigger than themselves and that’s why they are always able to achieve it no matter what.


                                You know a leader is capable of running a country if they encourage people to be accountable for their own actions. They do not favor their friends, relatives or former classmates over the truth. Leaders do not side with anyone and remain neutral until the issue is resolved.

                     Doesn’t Insult Others To Look Good


                We often see politicians bicker at each other in public. They usually put down other politicians, calling them names and creating scandals just to make themselves look good. Good leaders do the opposite. They make their work speak for them and they do not need to put others down to seem favorable. Seriously, if the candidate you’re betting on does nothing but blame and point fingers at his opponents, that’s a clear cut sign that he does not deserve your vote. Also, it makes them look uneducated and unprofessional.

                     Get Things Done

                Good leaders do not talk about doing things, they get things done instead. Browse carefully through your candidate’s resume and see for yourself if they’ve done enough and also if they can do more. Pick a leader who’s not afraid to do whatever it takes to get the job done and who doesn’t take too much time to finish anything. A leader always knows what his people need and how to get it.

                     Open-minded and Risk Taker


                                Pick a leader who’s not afraid to try new things and who’s ready to embrace change. We all know that our country is pretty traditional but if we do not renounce the old and never get in with the new, we might jeopardize our own progress. Good leaders recognize this problem easily and address them with the utmost respect. They are also risk takers and willing to take chances for the good of the many.

                     Passion for Service


                                Perhaps the greatest quality that a political leader must possess is an enormous passion for public service. A leader with a sole purpose of helping his fellow people and lead them to greatness and prosperity. Someone with a heart for the weak and does not pity them but pushes them forward instead. If your candidate possesses this trait, it will totally reflect on the kind of people he had served, so look into that too.

The Swindler’s List: Napoles Beginnings


                Ever since the Pork Barrel Scam exploded, the name Janet Lim Napoles has always been associated with thievery, deceit and fraud. It’s Ma’am Janet against the People of the Philippines. We see her as the mastermind of a multi-billion con. However,in her latest affidavit, she stated that she is the victim in this whole ordeal and that the real perpetrators are the politicians she has made business with. The initial reaction of Filipinos is probably within the context of “Ang kapal ng mukha mo!” (You’re shameless!). Who wouldn’t react that way after learning that she kept the people’s money in her bathtub, hosted lavish parties and enjoyed a super luxurious life while the most of us can’t even afford to eat three times a day? But that’s not the worst thing you’ll read from her affidavit. There are far worse claims that will make the creases on your forehead permanent.

                                According to her affidavit obtained by the Senate blue ribbon committee on May 26, she stated that she is also a victim of a system that she thought to be just. “Ako ay naging biktima ng isang maling sistema sa ating lipunan na akala ko noon ay tama at naaayon sa batas, dahil ito ay naging kalakaran na sa mahabang panahon,” She also said that the most guilty are the lawmakers who transacted with her through all those years and because they were government officials, she thought that those kind of deals are normal and allowed. It also hurts her to be called the mastermind and the Queen of the Pork Barrel Scam.That statement reeks of another attempt to gain sympathy which she will never get from the masses. The more she tries to wash her hands free of sins, the more it makes us angry.

                But before we all get heart attacks, let’s explore how the Queen of the Pork Barrel Scam came to be and how she climbed her way to the top of the criminal food chain:

“Bata pa lamang ako ay natuto na ‘kong maghanap-buhay. Sa biyaya ng Diyos, sa aking tiyaga, sipag at pawis, at sa tulong ng mga taong nakilala ko, ito ay aking napalago hanggang sa aking narating ngayon,”Napoles said in her signed extended affidavit obtained by The Blue Ribbon committee last May 26.

                Napoles didn’t finish high school but she did not let it hinder her chances of achieving great things when it comes to business. (Insert a very dramatic inspirational song here) She also said that her late mother, Magdalena Lim served as her inspiration and fueled her drive to work hard and help others. Her remains lay at The Heritage Park, in a mausoleum reported to be worth PhP 30 Million. Wherever Mrs. Magdalena Lim is right now, I’m sure she’s looking down on her daughter and shaking her head in disappointment.

                Entering small business ventures is where Napoles started. She specialized in Sales before she bought her first company. Philippines of Nutrigrowth, a manufacturer of liquid foliar fertilizers is one of her first business ventures followed by Dragon 1.5 Mega Philippines years later after the first one collapsed.

                As Napoles looked for ways to expand her fertilizer business, she was introduced to Batanes Rep. Florencio “Butch” Abad, now Budget secretary, circa 2000 and the rest is history. Abad offered her Php 10 Million for a livelihood budget and asked her if she has an NGO (Non-Government Organization), when she said no, Abad allegedly told her that he will take care of it. Thus, the project got implemented under the name Batanes Electric Cooperative based in Basco town. “That is when I started to transact using the PDAF,” Napoles said, referring to lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund allocation.

                Though questioning why the government implementing agencies do not grant projects to companies, but only to foundations, she continued doing business with NGOs that are controlled by officials who are offering them for “rent”. She feared that the NGOs for rent would be deemed fake so she associated herself with legitimate NGOs. She did not say whether she established a fake NGO herself even though she is allegedly the founder of over 70 fake NGOs involved in the PDAF scam.

                The money came pouring in when representatives of lawmakers began offering her deals in exchange for a guaranteed amount of commission. These representatives include the state witnesses Ruby Tuason and former Agrarian Reform Assistant Secretary Catherine May Santos, who Napoles said would demand 15 % for themselves and 40% in kickbacks from the requesting lawmakers.

                In her previous affidavits, Napoles claimed that she does not have the capacity to run this multi-billion scam without some help because she is “just a simple business woman” with a humble background. She also said that she does not have the power to command the release of any documents from the Department of Budget and Management. After the release of the infamous ‘Napolist’ (or as I like to call it,‘The Swindler’s List’), where over 100 congressmen and senators are listed, she fears that they might harm her family for speaking the truth.

                “Hindi po ako ang ‘mastermind’ ng pork barrel [scam], sapagkat hindi ako ang nagpasimula nito at matagal na ang ganitong kalakaran o sistema,”Napoles boldly stated in her extended affidavit.

                As of now, we still don’t know who’s telling the truth because even the Palace says that Napoles’ statements are not reliable. But since she’s the closest thing we got to finding out the truth, we must take her statements seriously and look into every detail of it. Now that we know how it all began, we might get close to knowing how it ends. Hopefully, with all the perpetrators in jail and our money recovered.