I am a Filipino – inheritor of a glorious past, hostage to the uncertain future.

-Carlos P. Romulo

Today’s over 12-hour hostage drama had a Filipino hostage taker and Chinese tourists as hostages.  That is the scenario that meets the eye.  But in reality, Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza is also a hostage victim.  And he is not alone.

In Memoriam

In Memoriam

Mendoza, who claims to be innocent of the drug-related offenses hurled against him only wants to have his job back.  Report says that he has reaped awards for his work in the police service but was recently dismissed for manhandling a suspect and for extortion.  Mendoza is a hostage to his uncertain future.

Millions of Filipinos were hooked to their TV or radio monitors for the live coverage of this hostage crisis.  Regular programming of local TV and radio stations were put on hold.  Social media sites like Twitter for example had the Quirino Grandstand as a trending topic.  International broadcast media have covered the incident from CNN, BBC and to New york Times.  The world have become hostage of the unfolding drama.

Philippines hits the headline - for the wrong reasons

Tomorrow, there would be a lot of explaining by government officials and commentaries from broadcast and social media.  Just tonight, Hongkong Security Bureau had already issued a Black travel alert for the Philippines.  Black means severe threat.  In simple words, avoid all travel to the Philippines.  Our tourism industry and our national reputation have become hostages to this unfortunate incident.

Watched by the World

Many people in Twitter tonight, myself included were dismayed by the seemingly lack of police control of the situation (from cordoning off the area, treatment of Mendoza’s family members, use of wrong tools for the job at hand, lack of protective and proper gears- the list goes on).   Not to mention the symptom of dysfunctionality in the redress system in our police force or of our justice system for that matter.

Read by Everyone

Tweets also abound on media’s lack of discernment over covering the incident via live TV, knowing fully well that the hostage taker is boarded on a tourist bus complete with access to television.  How much of the police assault tactics have been compromised by the live coverage?  Again, our media and police institutions found themselves hostaged to poverty of institutional maturity.


I remember what Randy David once wrote in his Public Lives column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.  Thankfully I have a copy of his compilation in Nation, Self and Citizenship:  An Invitation to Philippine Sociology (2004) and I browsed through a page on Mass Media under the heading Nationhood and titled “Life as Television”.  This is what he said:

Could it be that most of today’s hostage taking cases are really nothing but the poor man’s press conferences?  That, in the final analysis, there is little that qualitatively separates the public disturbance created by Rolando Mendoza* from the press conference called by  Kris Aquino*?  Clearly, both involve the public baring of private pain.  Both address the voyeuristic inclinations of an insatiable public.  Both are meant to capture the widest attention.

In the end, we are all hostages-  held involuntarily by a system that does not work.


*names were changed to reflect current events 


The Pacman: Icon Without a Cause

The world’s pound for pound champion is also Time magazine’s one of the most influential persons alive, according to its recently published annual TIME 100.


The list is a result of an online poll where readers were asked to vote for any living person (or entity) who currently influences the re-shaping of our world, for better or for worse.

Manny Pacquiao shares the distinction with the likes of US President Barack Obama (leaders and revolutionaries), First Lady Michelle Obama (heroes and icons), Twitter guys Biz Stone and Evan Williams (builders and titans), Nouriel Roubini (scientists and thinkers) and Rush Limbaugh (artists and entertainers). 


Lennox Lewis, a former heavyweight champion and now boxing commentator for HBO Sports, has this to say about The Pacman:

Manny has connected with the people of his home country, the Philippines, to the point where he’s almost like a god. The people have rallied behind him and feel like they’re a part of him, because they can see his talent, his dedication, his grace and his class. The grip he holds over the Philippines is similar to Nelson Mandela’s influence in South Africa. I can surely see Manny becoming the Philippine President one day.

If leadership is about influence, how come Manny Pacquiao was knocked out by Rep. Darlene Antonino-Custodio in the battle against the congressional seat of General Santos City?

If Manny’s influence is comparable with that of Nelson Mandela, my question is:  what is he influencing?  what is his cause?  what does Manny Pacquiao stand for?  is he changing the world, even just our own corner of the world for the better, or for worse?  Is he capable of influencing or is he the one being influenced?  Is he a leader or is he being…misled?

Obviously, Manny Pacquiao is hell-bent on resuscitating his dismal political career through his People’s Champ Party.  Manny Pacquiao wants to be a Congressman.  And not everyone is happy about it– from Malacañang to the Senate, to civil society groups to radio commentators and columnists (At Large and Method to Madness) and down to the man on the street. 

I don’t find fault in Manny’s desire to run for public office.  In his simple mind, he has not achieved anything substantial yet.  He may be rich, famous and yes, influential but Manny the Pacman, the icon, the hero wants to do more for his fans, for his countrymen.  The man needs an outlet: he is fierce, fast and furious to some extent.  He is passionate and energetic.  He is a dreamer.

But being a dreamer is not enough.  Donald Trump said, “Don’t just think big, we must think expansively”.  That I think is Manny Pacquiao’s problem:  his own limited blueprint of public service.    

Maybe Manny thought that in order for him to serve his country, he has to be in government holding an important position.  His exposure to trapos might have given him this wrong idea.   Remember, Manny Pacquiao is a young man still, and very impresssionable inspite of his physical prowess.  What he sees is what he gets.

Again from Donald Trump:  “the fastest way to change is simply to change your environment”.  For Pacquiao, that means breaking down the cordon sanitaire that envelopes him.

To return the favor, for making us proud to be Filipinos on those days (and only those days) when Manny Pacquiao rallies in front of our television screen as a symbol of unity, bravery and courage, let us help Manny Pacquiao expand his options.  Instead of critizing him for his choices, let us open a whole new world for Manny, avenues where his vision for his country is not compromised by political divide.

This is actually a challenge to our civil society organizations.  Rethink your ways of recruiting advocates.  Re-evaluate your methods in communicating your advocacies.  Reach out, get down and get dirty.  Make extraordinary people icons without a cause –no more. 

Before the dark side gets them.  Before the dark side gets Manny Pacquiao.

r u E S or B I?

I’ve been reading a lot of Robert Kiyosaki these days and I feel enlightened. Like a child in his first Aha! moment, I was surprised by the profundity and power of this book and at the same time, annoyed at myself for not having read Kiyosaki’s books sooner.

51ohfre8lgl__bo2204203200_pisitb-sticker-arrow-clicktopright35-76_aa240_sh20_ou01_1I spent almost four years in B-school but not one of my professors there ever mentioned or made Kiyosaki a required reading.  In fact, these types of books were classified as self-help and students were told to shy away from, like the plague, because self-helps, we were told, are just commercial ploys intended to capture the single-minded non-readers.

They were right about the single-minds but wrong about Kiyosaki.

The book’s power lies in its simplicity, honesty, matter-of-fact discussions, and use of stories, or allegories to drive home a point.  I was not at all bothered by those who criticizes Kiyosaki for the seemingly fictional characterization of his Rich Dad (no one can locate him and Kiyosaki is mum about his whereabouts) because, I guess the use of Rich Dad is a literally license.

Rich Dad Poor Dad, like his other books, is for those who want to be wealthy.  The first step to creating wealth is to find out where you are right now.  Kiyosaki thus introduces the Cashflow Quadrants:  the E for employment, S for small business and self-employment, B for big business and I for investments. 

He said that most people were/ are educated to become good employees who pay their taxes religiously (since income taxes are automatically deducted in company’s payroll), and eventually retire upon reaching the age of 65, hoping that their pension plans can pay for their lifestyle after retirement.  People in this quadrant are POOR.

The other poor people are those who have small businesses, the kind where owner is also the sole employee.  Poor people have one thing in common:  they lack passive income and they thrive in fear (fear of losing their jobs, fear of investing their money).

The other two quadrants are where the rich people are:  big business owners and investors.  Rich people are risk takers because they understand what they are doing.  They are not only educated in the traditional school sense but they have, most importantly invested much time in their financial education.  While poor people work for money, rich people let their money work for them. 

Unfortunately, our formal education system does not teach us these things.  Is there a grand conspiracy somewhere to make people stay poor?  I won’t allow myself to be a victim of that. In fact, I have given up my Saturday mornings for my financial education.  I’ve been attending the Cashflow games in Ortigas Center organized by the Create Abundance 2020 Business Community Continue reading