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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Miriam Defensor Santiago

Miriam Defensor Santiago became globally famous with her courageous and brilliant crusade against corruption in the Philippines. As a result, at 43, she was named Laureate of the Asian Nobel Prize, known as the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service. She was cited "for bold and moral leadership in cleaning up a graft-ridden government agency."

Miriam was widely featured in the international press because of her charisma, flamboyant personality, and her signature witticisms, making her good copy. In 1997, the Australian magazine named her one of "The 100 Most Powerful Women in the World." In later years, Miriam was keynote speaker of the international anticorruption conference in Sydney, Australia. As senator, she sponsored and secured ratification by the Philippine Senate of the UN Convention Against Corruption.

Miriam ran for President of the Philippines in 1992, and led in the canvass of nationwide votes for the first five days. But she was ultimately defeated by a margin of less than a million votes out of 36 million votes. The campaign was reportedly marred by widespread election fraud, notably power blackouts after the first five days. The public outrage over the presidential results prompted Newsweek to feature her and her rival on the cover with the question: "Was the Election Fair?" In another cover story, Philippine Free Press magazine asked: "Who's the Real President?"

Child Prodigy

Miriam was born in 1945 in Iloilo City, in southern Philippines. Her father Benjamin was a district trial judge, and her mother Dimpna was a college dean. She is the eldest of seven children, most of whom she helped to send through college.

Miriam graduated valedictorian of the La Paz Elementary School, and valedictorian of the Iloilo Provincial National High School, also earning a medal for all-around excellence. In high school, she proved to be a child prodigy. As a freshman, she won as champion of a Spelling Bee which included seniors. Also still a freshman, she topped written examinations and was appointed by a faculty panel as editor-in-chief of the high school paper, a post which she held for four years. She was high school swimming champion for the entire province during competitions sponsored by the Red Cross. She topped the National College Entrance Examinations for the Western Visayas region.
Record-Setter at University of the Philippines Visayas

At 16, Miriam enrolled as freshman at the University of the Philippines Visayas in Iloilo City. Repeating her high school achievement as a freshman, she topped the written examinations and was appointed editor-in-chief of the college paper, a post she also held for four years. She emerged champion in oratorical and literary contests. She even held a campus beauty title as UP ROTC corps sponsor.

She finished the academic requirements in only three and a half years, instead of four years. Nonetheless, she remained at the university for an extra semester, which she finished with a near perfect average grade of 1.1. (In the Philippines, 1.0 is the perfect grade.) She graduated Bachelor of Arts in political science, magna cum laude. She was also recipient of the Rotary Award for Most Outstanding Graduate.

Record-Setter at University of the Philippines Diliman

Miriam then flew to Metro Manila to take up law at UP Diliman. As a freshman in law school, she topped written examinations and was appointed editor-in-chief of the law school paper. Eventually, she was also appointed editor of the Philippine Law Journal. She was only a freshman when she won campus-wide elections as councilor in the University Student Council, where she eventually became vice-chairperson.

Miriam is best remembered in the state university for breaking a record of 50 years of male dominance, by topping the written examinations and getting appointed as the first female editor-in-chief of the nationally prominent student newspaper, the Philippine Collegian. She also made history by posting the highest number of consecutive college scholarships in the state university (a college or university scholarship is equivalent to a place in the Dean's List). Another record was that she became the only female to be appointed twice to the campus beauty title of UP ROTC corps sponsor. Another record was that she twice received the Vinzons Achievement Award for excellence in student leadership. Another record was that she became the first female to win as Best Debater in the annual debate between UP Diliman and UP Manila law schools.

A faculty panel chose her as one of the U.P. Ten Outstanding Coeds. A feature story in the Manila Chronicle magazine said it all, when it described Miriam as "super girl at the state university."

Miriam graduated Bachelor of Laws, cum laude, from the state university. She was valedictorian of her class at the UP Diliman campus. (At that time, there was an evening law school for working students at UP Manila).

Record-Setter at University of Michigan

After marriage, Miriam won the DeWitt Fellowship at the University of Michigan law school. She finished her first semester in graduate school with an A average. On the basis of her high grades, for the first time in the law school's history, a graduate student was allowed to pursue a special program. Thus, she earned the degree Master of Laws after one year, and the degree Doctor of the Science of Jurisprudence, after only six months. Her grades qualified her for the prestigious Barbour Scholarship. Her doctoral dissertation, with Prof. William W. Bishop, Jr. as supervisor, was later published as Political Offences in International Law.

Lawyer and Theologian

Not content with her law doctorate, Miriam later pursued postdoctoral studies in law at Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Stanford, University of California, at Berkeley, and Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. She attended the Hague Academy of Public International Law at The Hague, Netherlands, and at Sophia University, Tokyo.

Already a senator, she finished with high grades the academic requirements for the degree, Master of Arts in Religious Studies, at the Maryhill School of Theology in Metro Manila. She wrote her published master's dissertation, Christianity Versus Corruption, Political Theology of the Third World as a Fellow at St. Hilda's College, Oxford. Because her book was in part critical of the Catholic hierarchy in the Philippines, she was asked to rewrite some chapters, but she refused.
Public Service

At 25, Miriam was invited to join big Makati law firms. But she chose government service, as special assistant to the Secretary of Justice who, under Philippine law, is the official legal adviser of the executive branch. Later, in the same position, she was tapped as one of the speechwriters of President Ferdinand Marcos, a lawyer.

Not content with working full-time as a lawyer, Miriam also took on a teaching post in the evening. She was professor of political science in Trinity College, and eventually professor of law in UP Diliman. She held down a third job as an opinion columnist for a Sunday magazine and later in life, in a national daily.

Prolific Author

In her starting years as a lawyer, Miriam began to write law books. She also wrote two autobiographies, Inventing Myself and Cutting Edge: The Politics of Reform in the Philippines. She has written some 30 textbooks in law and in the social sciences, particularly political science and philosophy. In her Code Annotated Series, she annotated the major codes of law in her country (Constitution, Rules of Court, Civil Code, Penal Code, etc.) with decisions of the Supreme Court. The Series, widely used in law schools and in the judiciary, will undergo second editions in 2007. Her books are listed in the US Library of Congress.

She is acknowledged by the media and fellow senators as an expert in constitutional and international law.

United Nations Officer

When the Secretary of Justice was promoted to associate justice of the Supreme Court, he requested that Miriam should be seconded to the Supreme Court as his law clerk. For half a year, she researched and drafted legal opinions.

She then flew to Geneva, Switzerland where she served as legal officer of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, assigned to the treaties and conferences section. As a UN officer, she took French classes. Her budding UN career was cut short, when her father contracted terminal cancer, forcing her to resign. Serving as a caregiver at his bedside, she accepted part-time work as legal consultant of the UP Law Center.

After her father's death, she briefly worked as legal consultant to the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. But in 1993, during the national judicial reorganization, she returned to Metro Manila to take up a new post as Regional Trial Court judge of Quezon City.

Most Decorated Trial Judge

Miriam's appointment to the trial court in Metro Manila was exceptional, because newcomers are usually appointed in the provinces before they are considered qualified to sit in Metro Manila trial courts. She soon proved her mettle, by decreeing that she would not entertain any motions to postpone trial. Postponements are the bane of the Philippine judiciary, thus delaying justice.

As a freshman judge, Miriam disposed of the highest number of cases in Metro Manila. Her reputation for integrity, competence, and efficiency became established, and she was showered with awards for judicial excellence from civic groups, notably as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Professionals of the Philippine Jaycees, and the Ten Outstanding Women in the Nation's Service of the Philippine Lions.

Her awards for judicial excellence, added to her awards for anticorruption work as immigration commissioner, make Miriam the most awarded Filipino public official today.

National Prominence

Miriam first rose to national prominence, when a case was raffled to her court, involving an arrest warrant called Preventive Detention Action issued during the martial law regime of President Marcos. A group of university students, mostly from UP and Ateneo de Manila University, accompanied by a group of the religious and of film luminaries, staged a public assembly in Quezon City. They protested not only an oil price hike, but also the alleged extravagance of the First Lady. They were all promptly thrown in jail, placing the students in danger of missing their final examinations for that semester. The students sued for release, and the case was raffled to Miriam.

At that time, judges were afraid to rule against any martial law edict. The prosecution presented so many witnesses that it would have been impossible to finish trial, before the week of the final exams for the university students. But Miriam suspended her regular calendar of trials, and proceeded to conduct marathon hearings on the case.

Her eventual decision to release the students was hailed as a courageous act that stressed judicial independence, even during a martial law situation. She became a national heroine to all university students, and earned the grudging respect even of the martial law administrators.

International Prominence

After the first People Power revolution, President Marcos was forced into exile and replaced by President Corazon Aquino, a former housewife whose assassinated husband had been the leading opposition leader during martial law. The new president plucked Miriam out of the judiciary, and gave her the mission of cleaning up the notoriously corrupt Commission on Immigration and Deportation.

Miriam rose to the challenge, and launched an anticorruption crusade that took the Filipinos' breath away. Described as "a breath of fresh air," she became an overnight sensation. She ordered lightning raids on criminal syndicates that had made the Philippines notorious as the fake passport capital of Asian. She filled the immigration detention center to bursting with foreign criminals engaged in the pedophile industry, smuggling of illegal aliens, including prostitutes, import and export of illicit firearms and dangerous drugs, and even operatives of the infamous Yakuza.

Almost every week, the media were full of Miriam's successful exploits against criminal syndicates. At this point, she earned the wrathful resentment of politicians who are patrons and benefactors of certain criminal syndicates.

For her extraordinary success in the capture of fugitives from justice, certain governments, such as the US, Australia, and Japan, invited Miriam to their countries to share her expertise in the enforcement of immigration law.

Darling of the Press

Miriam became the darling of the press, both national and international. She was featured by TIME, The Economist, New York Times, Washington Post, and International Herald Tribune, among others. She graced dozens of magazine covers. They tried to capture her colorful personality with such accolades as: the incorruptible lady, the iron lady of Asia, the dragon lady, the platinum lady, and the undisputed campus heroine. Her intense and passionate orations against corruption captured the public imagination. On the invitation of universities and civic groups, she began a hectic nationwide speaking tour that would continue for at least one decade.

At the height of her popularity, Miriam's charisma could cause shopping malls to close down for the day, and could cause traffic to snarl. On one weekend when she went shopping at a Quezon City mall, she attracted such a huge throng of autograph seekers that virtually the entire mall closed down, because store owners were afraid that the crowd might turn into an uncontrollable mob. This was duly reported in media.

On one holiday, when she went to the mountaintop resort of Baguio City, the entire downtown traffic went into gridlock. The traffic cop recognized her at the wheel of her car, and stopped traffic to greet her. All other car owners and bus drivers then left their vehicles to shake her hand, and traffic became so snarled that the mobile patrol unit had to be called to restore order.

Her famous quips have been captured in the book Miriam Dictionary. She once told media: "I eat death threats for breakfast." When a congressman delivered a privilege speech against her for a lightning group arrest of foreign pedophiles occupying a village in his district, Miriam called him "fungus face." She was famous for describing her anticorruption work as needing "the epidermis of a pachyderm" and "intestinal fortitude." Filipinos were delighted when, on TV, she told a foreigner charged with pedophilia: "Sir, I represent the majesty of the Republic of the Philippines. Now shut up, or I'll bash your teeth in!"

Finally, the ultimate recognition of her dangerous and backbreaking work came. The Magsaysay Awards Foundation named her in 1988, Laureate of the Asian Nobel Prize, known as the Magsaysay Award for Government Service. Thus, she joined the elite of Asian heroes who have dedicated their lives to public service.

One amusing postscript to Miriam's reign as "queen of popularity polls" was the constant media mention of her acclaimed beautiful legs. After she left the Cabinet, she gave a poolside interview to a reporter of the Daily Inquirer, which featured Miriam seated by the pool hugging her legs. This photo became the talk of the town, and without her permission, was used by an enterprising group of young Makati businessmen as a calendar photo.

Assassination Attempt

Miriam's popularity was so widespread among the youth, the yuppies, and the poor that politicians begun to feel threatened. As a result, she became the subject of character assassination and black propaganda, manufactured out of sheer lies and fabrications by highly paid public relations firms.

Because her millions of fans call her a genius, her political enemies tried to peddle the desperate charge that she is eccentric. Because her fans adore her charisma, her political enemies called her intellectually arrogant. Because her fans call her a fighter, her enemies dubbed her as a non-team player.

Her fans were so outraged at the political malice being thrown in their idol's direction that they begin to agitate that Miriam should run for president. At first, Miriam treated the subject as a joke. But she began to top presidential surveys by all national survey firms, as well as campus presidential surveys conducted by student organizations all over the country.

When she became a real political threat to the traditional politicians, she was suddenly victimized in a car crash that remains unsolved up to the present. On the highway during a speaking tour, Miriam suffered life-threatening injuries, after a car rammed her vehicle on the side where she was seated. Bloodied and unconscious, she was airlifted by helicopter from Tarlac to Metro Manila and taken to the Metropolitan Hospital, where a stream of her fans visited daily, although they were refused admittance. They left flowers, anyway.

Her staff decided not to reveal the true extent of Miriam's injuries, so as not to prejudice her presidential chances. But she was completely immobile and could not walk nor even move her arms. Her facial injuries made it impossible for her to talk, and she had to communicate by writing. She underwent surgery, during which she had a near-death experience.

Political Persecution

While Miriam was physically incapacitated, her enemies in the administration filed charges against her with the antigraft court. The charges were ironic, because they consisted of the very same anticorruption programs, for which she had earned the Magsaysay Award.

Thus, she was prevented from leaving the country to avail of a Mason Fellowship granted her by the Kennedy School of Government in Harvard. Thereafter, for the next seven years, she was placed under a hold-departure order, only to be finally acquitted for absence of any evidence on the part of the prosecution.

Her humility and courage in bearing political persecution endeared her even more to her fans, and her presidential candidacy became inevitable.

Political Phenomenon

After she was discharged from hospital, Miriam was forced to remain confined at home. Thus, a few months later, when she resumed her speaking tour of the nation, she had become a martyr to the murderous malice of corrupt politicians.

In her public speeches, Miriam had always twitted the political parties for being beholden to campaign contributors. She despised traditional politicians for placing political protégés in revenue-producing offices, where the political appointees could earn illicit incomes that they shared with their political patrons. Hence, she disdained to join any established political party.

Instead, she organized a completely new one, the People's Reform Party, which she headed as president. She then fielded a national senatorial ticket and candidates at the local level. Miriam's PRP carried out an unorthodox campaign. Because she had no party funding, she called on university students to campaign house to house for her, and to literally construct her rally platforms from secondhand lumber. Unlike other parties that rented their crowds, Miriam's PRP attracted mammoth crowds and sometimes hysterical mobs, on the sheer strength of her personality.Twice or thrice, while Miriam was speaking on the platform, it became so crowded with her supporters that the entire platform collapsed.

Young people also served as Miriam's watchers in the precincts, since she did not have money to pay for professional poll watchers. Work in the Philippines came to a halt during the first televised TV presidential debates, as even peasants left their farms to watch TV in town. Media concluded that Miriam won as Best Debater, with her wit, eloquence, and mastery of national policy.

In the 1992 elections, nearly a hundred PRP candidates won, led by the mayor and vice-mayor of Manila. In her home region of Western Visayas, Miriam won an unprecedented 98 percent of the votes. She placed first among presidential candidates in Metro Manila, and in regions with the highest voter populations.

Unfortunately, it appears that in 1992, massive vote cheating was carried out at the presidential level. Her closest rival was a former military general endorsed by the administration, and thus had access to the massive resources of the administration.

The Philippine Congress conducts the canvass of votes in presidential elections, on a random basis. This means that canvass certificates by province are counted as they are brought to Metro Manila, without any particular order as to voting population or geography. Hence, the political analysts even of the global media concluded that since Miriam had led in the canvass of votes for the first five days, in effect the canvass was tantamount to a survey of the voting universe, and she was a sure winner. In reporting election results, global TV called her "President-elect."

Victim of Electoral Fraud

But her political rivals were determined to ensure that Miriam "won in the voting but lost in the counting." Media exposés later revealed that she was cheated by the Sulo Hotel Operations Group of the administration candidate. This Group, operating in a hotel near the Congress, was able to get advance copies of provincial canvass certificates, and to switch the high votes of Miriam with the low votes of her closest rival.

This process of vote-switching between a winner and a runner-up was dubbed in later elections as "Operation Dagdag-Bawas." This term means Operation Add-Subtract, a reference to the subtraction of votes from the real winner, and the simultaneous addition of her subtracted votes to the column of votes for her rival.

Miriam refused to concede victory to her opponent, and instead filed an election protest with the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, which is also the Philippine Supreme Court. She mortgaged her law office to pay for the judicial fees.

Her rival, already the newly-proclaimed president, moved to avert the brewing political crisis caused by the electoral fraud accusations. He postponed the opening of classes in Metro Manila, to prevent the youth from taking to the streets in protest. An official from Malacañang Palace (the president's office), called up university administrators in Metro Manila to instruct them to prohibit student organizations from inviting Miriam as guest speaker.

Even the press downplayed her electoral protest, as the administration's PR firms set to work against her. Except for the young people, businessmen stayed away from her, for fear of harassment from the administration. And the administration's paid hacks in the notoriously corrupt media worked overtime to continue their attempts to discredit Miriam.

In addition to the trumped-up charges filed against her in court, Miriam was threatened by the military. A group of men and women in military uniforms stormed Miriam's house, at a time when she was supposed to be home with dengue fever. However, unknown to her assailants, Miriam had decided at the last minute to deliver a speech at a Manila university. The armed group tied up all the househelp and overturned Miriam's clothes closet and dresser, in an attempt to make it appear as a robbery. But the real intent was to intimidate her to keep quiet on her electoral protest.

Unsinkable Miriam

Despite the unremitting campaign of a powerful administration to harass her with trumped-up charges and armed invasions, Miriam refused her rival's oft-repeated public offers of "reconciliation." She refused to recognize him as a duly-elected president. Instead, she coined the term "snowpake president," because in many canvass certificates, her votes had been erased with white snowpake correctional ink.

Despite alleged offers from the Office of the President for a financial reward to every mayor who could keep Miriam out of the winning circle in his municipality, Miriam won her first term as senator in 1995. She earned her laurels in the Senate, by unremitting exposés which were vindicated by investigative reporting by the press in subsequent years.

For example, after he left the presidency, the press uncovered alleged massive corruption in her rival's expensive pet projects, such as the grant of exorbitant contracts to independent power producers, the huge financial losses incurred in a widely-touted Centennial City which never got finished, and the alleged illegal disposition of expensive reclaimed land along the Manila Bay shoreline, in favor of presidential cronies.

Media reported Miriam to be an outstanding senator. She was always among the yearly topnotchers in number of bills filed. But she is most impressive during Senate debates, with her meticulous preparation and searching interpellations. She is warmly regarded by both administration and opposition senators, although some fear her independence of mind.

Miriam was the first senator in Philippine political history to decline a pork barrel allocation, on the ground that it was unconstitutional because it lacked an appropriation law, thus creating headlines. She was also the first legislator to expose building contractors who solicited public works projects from Congress members, with a promise to give an advance ten percent kickback.

Standing by the Rule of Law

As senator, Miriam became an ally of President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, a former movie actor. He was impeached by the House of Representatives, and tried by the Senate as an impeachment court. Miriam was the only one of 24 senators who had served in the judiciary. As a former trial judge, she insisted that Estrada should be granted due process of law. Instead, the impeachment trial was never concluded and Estrada, like Marcos, was overthrown by another People Power revolution which installed President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, an economist.

Under a new administration, Miriam ran on the Estrada opposition ticket, and again led during the early days of the canvass of votes. But eventually, her votes were whittled down, and it appeared that she was again cheated in the elections. By this time, Estrada was already in detention as the accused in a plunder case.

In the next elections, Estrada handpicked another movie actor to run for president. Miriam objected, and instead ran for senator under President Arroyo's ticket. In 2004, Miriam won her second term as senator. She chairs two powerful committees: the energy committee, and the foreign relations committee.

She is also one of President Arroyo's most trusted legal advisers. In late 2006, a group of young lawyers nominated her for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. But she reportedly gave way to the senior associate justice, saying that she was too young for the post.

Personal Tragedy

Miriam's husband Narciso Y. Santiago Jr. from Tarlac, nicknamed "Jun," serves as presidential adviser on revenue enhancement. Under President Estrada, Jun served as undersecretary of local government. The couple has two birth children, Narciso III and Alexander Robert.

Miriam lost her younger son in November 2003. He was only 22 years old and was on the Dean's List at the Ateneo University. In the years that followed her personal tragedy, Miriam's irreparable grief manifested itself as a health failure, including a minor stroke (thankfully without lingering effects), hypertension, pinched nerves, high cholesterol, and most recently, unexplained anorexia (an eating disorder) which caused her to lose weight.

Political Icon

Her diehard supporters still hope that Miriam will run again in the 2010 presidential elections. But she has implied that reforming a corrupt system has lost its challenge, maybe because she has not yet healed from the loss of her beloved son.

Miriam has turned into a cult figure, and fans consider her a living legend in Philippine politics. She creates a stir when she appears in shopping malls or trade exhibits, provoking fans to whip out cellphones and go on a photo and autograph frenzy. No other politician in the country, despite wealth or popularity, has received the universal admiration she evokes as a brilliant, principled politician with a wicked sense of humor. She remains feisty and controversial, as she weaves her unique brand of what media calls "Miriam Magic," the noble appeal to idealism in the hurly-burly world of politics in a developing country.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Joseph Ejercito Estrada (Erap)

Joseph Ejercito Estrada, more popularly known as Erap (born Jose Marcelo Ejercito on April 19, 1937), is a popular former film actor in the Philippines and was the 13th President of the Philippines from June 30, 1998 to January 20, 2001.

Early Life and Career:

José Marcelo Ejército was born in Tondo, one of the poorest parts of Manila. He was the son of Emilio Ejército, Sr. (1898-1977), a small-scale government contractor, and the former María Marcelo (1905-present), a housewife. He is the brother of Antonio Ejercito (1932-2005) and Emilio Ejercito, Jr. (1928-1999)

Contrary to the popular notion that he grew up in life of poverty, he lived a relatively lower middle class life. After being expelled from Ateneo de Manila University for repugnant conduct, he enrolled in an engineering course at Mapua Institute of Technology, eventually dropping out to pursue acting.

Dropping out of college and involvement in a street gang so displeased his family that they forbade him from using his family name. He adopted the surname "Estrada" (Spanish for 'road') as a last name. As an actor he acquired the nickname "Erap" (from the reversed spelling of pare, Filipino slang for 'pal' or 'buddy'). He played the lead role in more than 100 movies, and was producer of over 70 films. He was the first FAMAS Hall of Fame awardee for Best Actor (1981) and also became a Hall of Fame awardee as a producer (1983). He often played heroes of the downtrodden classes, which gained him the admiration of a lot of the nation's many unschooled and impoverished citizens. This later proved advantageous to his political career.

Joseph Estrada married Luisa Pimentel (former Doctor and first lady turned senator) and had three children with her: Jinggoy Estrada (former Mayor of San Juan turned Senator/married to Precy Vitug), Jackie Estrada (married to Beaver Lopez), and Jude Estrada. Joseph Estrada met his wife Loi while working as an orderly at the National Center for Mental Health (NMCH) in Mandaluyong City.

He also had a child from an out-of-wedlock relationship, Joseph Victor "JV" Ejercito (from socialite Guia Gómez), who also made a name for himself in Philippine politics by following his father's footsteps as the current mayor of the town of San Juan, Metro Manila. Pagsanjan, Laguna Mayor Emilio Ramon Ejercito III, known in Philippine showbiz as George Estregan Jr. or E.R. Ejercito, is his nephew.

During the 2000 impeachment proceedings, reports of Estrada's numerous out-of-marriage relationships and offsprings surfaced in the press.

As an actor with no prior political experience, Estrada ran for mayor of San Juan, a municipality of Metro Manila, in 1968 and ended up losing his bid for mayor. He was only proclaimed mayor in 1969, after winning an electoral protest against Dr. Braulio Sto. Domingo.

When Corazon Aquino assumed the presidency in 1986, all officials of the local government suspected of malfeasance and anomalies were removed and replaced by appointed officers-in-charge. Estrada was then removed from his position as mayor. The following year, he ran and won a seat in the Senate under the Grand Alliance for Democracy (GAD). He placed 16th place in the said elections (out of 24 winners).


In the 1992 presidential election Estrada initially intended to run for president but later decided to be the running mate of Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr. of the Nationalist People's Coalition. Estrada won the vice-presidency, though Cojuangco was defeated by Fidel V. Ramos of the LAKAS party. Shortly after the inauguration of Ramos, Estrada was appointed to head the Presidential Anti-Crime Commission (PACC) even though Estrada was from the political opposition.


* Election:

The 1998 presidential election campaign, like most presidential election campaigns in the Philippines, had hardly anything to do with a contest between political platforms and programs. Estrada’s campaign in particular was focused on wooing the masses. Estrada’s political strategists and financial backers were aware that a large share of the Philippine electorate, the "masa" (the poor and undereducated masses), were looking for a leadership they could relate to. Estrada’s financial backers designed a campaign strategy that reflected Estrada’s pro-poor image that he had built up throughout his movie career. Central in the campaign was Estrada’s campaign slogan "Erap para sa Mahirap" (Erap for the poor) that succeeded in inspiring the masses with the hope that Estrada would be the president of and for the masses. Estrada's running mate, Edgardo Angara, was defeated by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. During the campaign, Estrada's political rivals tried but failed to discredit him while publicizing his womanizing, drinking and gambling. Estrada was inaugurated on June 30, 1998 in the historical town of Malolos in Bulacan province. Like all presidential election campaigns in the Philippines, billions of Pesos (hundreds of millions of US Dollars) were spent by most of the financial backers of the candidates.

* Philippine Daily Inquirer:

Erap criticized The Philippine Daily Inquirer, the nation's most popular broadsheet newspaper, for "bias, malice and fabrication" against him — a charge The Inquirer denied. In 1999, several government organizations, pro-Estrada businesses, and movie producers simultaneously pulled their advertisements in The Inquirer. The presidential palace was widely implicated in the advertising boycott, prompting sharp criticism from international press freedom watchdog.

Corruption Charges and Impeachment:

The Estrada presidency was soon dogged by charges of plunder and corruption. He was reported by his Chief of Staff Aprodicio Laquian to have allegedly spent long hours drinking with shady characters as well as "midnight drinking sessions" with some of his cabinet members during meetings. In October 2000, an acknowledged gambling racketeer, Luis "Chavit" Singson, governor of the province of Ilocos Sur, alleged that he had personally given Estrada the sum of 400 million pesos ($8,255,933) as payoff from illegal gambling profits, as well as 180 million pesos ($3,715,170) from the government price subsidy for the tobacco farmers' marketing cooperative. Singson's allegation caused an uproar across the nation, which culminated in Estrada's impeachment by the House of Representatives in November 13, 2000. He was the first Philippine President to be impeached. The articles of impeachment were then transmitted to the Senate and an impeachment court was formed, with Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr. as presiding officer.

Major television networks pre-empted their afternoon schedules to bring full coverage of the Impeachment Trial. There were three sets of cameras in the Impeachment Court (normally the Senate Chamber): one from ABS-CBN, one from the GMA Network, and one from NBN (used as a pool camera).

During the trial, the prosecution (composed of congressmen and private prosecutors) presented witnesses and evidence to the impeachment court regarding Estrada's involvement in illegal gambling, also known as jueteng, and his maintenance of secret bank accounts. However, the president's legal team (composed of a former chief justice, former congressman, former solicitor-general and other lawyers) denied these allegations.

Ilocos Governor Chavit Singson was one of the witnesses who testified against President Estrada. The President and the governor of Ilocos were said to be "partners" in-charge of the operations of illegal gambling in the country. Governor Singson feared that he would be charged and stripped of power (there have been talks about the governor making a deal with the opposition... he was to help incriminate Estrada and he would be compensated for his service), but he was offered immunity by anti-Estrada lawmakers. He was then asked to accuse the President of having committed several illegal acts. He gave personal accounts that may or may not have been biased. Singson's credibility has been questioned several times in the past, and he has been involved in various scandals that have not been resolved up to this day.

EDSA II Revolution:

On the evening of January 16, 2001, the impeachment court, whose majority were political allies of Estrada, voted not to open an envelope that was said to contain incriminating evidence against the president. The final vote was 11-10, in favor of keeping the envelope closed. The prosecution panel (of congressmen and lawyers) walked out of the Impeachment Court in protest of this vote. Others noted that the walkout merited court contempt which Davide, intentionally or unintentionally, did not enforce.

The afternoon schedule of television networks covering the Impeachment were pre-empted by the prolongation of the day's court session due to the issue of this envelope. The evening telenovelas of networks were pushed back for up to two hours.

That night, anti-Estrada protesters gathered on the historical EDSA highway at EDSA Shrine, not too far away from the site of the 1986 EDSA Revolution that overthrew Ferdinand Marcos. A political turmoil ensued and the clamor for Estrada's resignation became stronger than ever. In the following days, the number of protesters grew to the hundreds of thousands.

On January 19, 2001, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, seeing the political upheaval throughout the country, decided to withdraw its support from the president and transfer its allegiance to the vice president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

On January 20, 2001, the Supreme Court declared the seat of presidency vacant. At noon, the Chief Justice swore in the constitutional successor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, as President of the Philippines. Estrada and his family were quickly evacuated from the presidential palace.


Estrada returned to his old home in San Juan. He maintained that he never resigned, implying that Arroyo's government was illegitimate, despite the international community's recognition of Arroyo's succession and the acknowledgment of Arroyo as the new president by all government offices, the military, and the national police.

The new government charged him with plunder and had him arrested in April. Estrada's supporters, particularly those among the poor, marched to the EDSA Shrine demanding Estrada's release and his reinstatement as president, attempting to replicate the success of the previous revolution. On the morning of May 1, the protesters marched straight to the presidential palace. Violence erupted and the government declared a State of Rebellion. Many of Estrada's supporters were arrested, including politicians accused of provoking the violence. The government called out the military and was able to quell the rebellion. The rebellion came to be known as EDSA III.

Estrada was initially detained at the Veteran's Memorial Medical Center in Manila and then transferred to a military facility in Tanay, Rizal, but he was later transferred to a nearby vacation home, virtually in house arrest. He is still facing the charges of plunder and corruption. Under Filipino law, plunder has a maximum penalty of death, though it is unlikely that Estrada will be given that sentence.

On April 2, 2005, the United Opposition movement named Estrada "Chairman Emeritus". The unexpected death of Fernando Poe, Jr., after the election brought with it uncertainty as to the opposition's direction and leadership, yet with Estrada still facing charges and trial some have been left to speculate how much of an influence or support this declaration will create in the formation of an opposition front to the current Presidency, and her Lakas-CMD party.

Rodolfo Quizon (Dolphy)

Dolphy (born Rodolfo Quizon on July 25, 1928 in Pampanga though raised in Tondo, Manila), is a comedian actor in the Philippines. Better known as the Philippine's "King of Comedy", his career has spanned for more than 5 decades. He used the screen names Golay and Pidol under Sampaguita Pictures.


He was raised by his parents Melencio Espinosa Quizon, a Chinese Filipino, and Salud de la Rosa Vera. He is currently living with his domestic partner Zsa Zsa Padilla. He has 18 children by five different women.

He started as a struggling performer onstage during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. The late Fernando Poe, Sr. gave him his first break as a character actor. His comic talents became well known in the films, Jack en Jill and Facifica Falayfay. Soon, he made many comedy films, alongside fellow comedians, Pugo, Tugo, Babalu, Panchito, Ike Lozada and German Moreno. In 1966, as part of the comedy duo Dolphy and Panchito, he opened for the Beatles at Rizal Stadium in Manila. Even though their show was in Tagalog, Paul McCartney has said he was amused by their act.

He is best known for his character John Puruntong in the comedy sitcom John En Marsha with Nida Blanca. The series lasted for 17 years and ended in 1990.

After John En Marsha, he returned on TV to play Kevin Kosme (a play on the name of actor Kevin Costner) in the sitcom Home Along da Riles, of ABS-CBN, which was reinvented into Home Along da Airport.

In 2001, Dolphy and his sons Eric and Jeffrey Quizon all won the Prix de la Meilleure Interpretation (the equivalent of a Best Actor Award) in Brussels, Belgium for playing Walterina Markova in the movie Markova: Comfort Gay.

He currently appears in a show called John En Shirley which is a spin-off of John En Marsha with Maricel Soriano the only returning cast member from the show.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Allan Pineda Lindo (

Allan Pineda Lindo, (b. 28 November 1974) better known as, is a hip hop musician, record producer, and member of the The Black Eyed Peas. He was born in the Barangay (Barrio) of Sapang Bato, Angeles City, Pampanga, in the Philippines, to a Filipina mother and African American father.

Early Life: is an original member of the hip hop group The Black Eyed Peas where he is the main composer. His father, a U.S. soldier stationed at nearby Clark Air Base, abandoned the family shortly after his birth. His mother, Christina Pineda, raised him and his four brothers and two sisters on her own in their small barrio. He grew up poor as heavily referenced in "The Apl Song". His house was frequently destroyed by typhoons, and he fished in the river to make money. Later after having moved to the US, he attended John Marshall High School in Los Angeles, California and often visits to help out in the music class. Music had always been part of Apl’s life, his early influences having been Stevie Wonder, The Eagles, The Beatles and the popular Filipino rock/folk group, Asin. Hip-hop soon came into the picture via the breakdancing, "I would take the jeepney all the way to Angeles City, and that's how I got introduced to break dancing," he said. "I would see kids at the corner break-dancing and I'm like, 'I wanna do that.'"


They then teamed up and formed a break-dancing crew called Tribal Nation and were regularly performing at Southern California parties and events. As their partnership evolved, they added another MC, Mookie Mook, performer Dante Santiago and producer DJ Motiv8 (part of the group from 1992-1995) and the name of their crew turned into Atban Klann (ATBAN stands for "A Tribe Beyond a Nation"), and became part of L.A.'s hip-hop/break-dance circuit, eventually being signed onto Eazy-E’s label, Ruthless Records. Their debut album, "Grass Roots", was never released because Ruthless did not consider the social themes reflected in the group's music to be marketable to their audience.

After Eazy-E's AIDS-related death in 1995, Mookie left ATBAN, then Dante joined Will and Apl in 1996. Then a Mexican/Native American rapper named Jaime "Taboo" Gomez joined the mix and the group renamed themselves the Black Eyed Peas. Unlike many hip-hop acts, they chose to perform with a live band and adopted a unique musical and clothing style that differed wildly from the "Gangsta rap" sounds of other Los Angeles-based hip-hop acts at the time.

Their first album, Behind the Front was released in 1998 to critical acclaim and was followed by Bridging the Gap in 2000 featuring a guest appearance by Macy Gray as well as members of Jurassic 5 and De La Soul. After two albums, the group brought in Fergie, a.k.a. Stacy Ferguson, for "Elephunk".

He explains his life story in a song called "The Apl Song" found on the Peas' 2003 album Elephunk (track 11). This song has a full chorus in Tagalog (Filipino) taken from the Asin song "Balita." "Coming from the Philippines my whole goal was to support my family and have a better living situation," he said. "Trying to pursue my dream took up a lot of my time, and I got separated from my family a little bit ... I was separated from my brothers and sisters. Some good things happened to them and some bad things happened to some of them." This is in reference to the suicide of his younger brother Arnel, a heartbreaking event he recalls in the song. Its accompanying video, which reached number one in the Philippines, with its cameo appearances by fellow Fil-Ams, Dante Basco and Chad Hugo, is also a tribute to the Filipinos who fought for the U.S. in World War II.

"Bebot" is another all-Tagalog song on 2005's Monkey Business album. A music video for "Bebot" was filmed in early July 2006 and premiered online on August 4, 2006. The video was directed by Patricio Ginelsa (Kid Heroes Productions) who also directed "The Apl Song" and produced the Filipino-American coming of age movie, "The Debut". The Bebot music video was filmed in various locations in Los Angeles, CA, one location including Kenneth Hahn Park, where Dr. Dre's "Nothing But A G Thang" video was also filmed. The term "Bebot" is Filipino slang for "pretty woman", "hot chick", "hottie", "baby/babe". The video for Bebot features primarily Filipinos, Filipino-Americans and several other Asian ethnicities from the Los Angeles area (Korean-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Chinese-Americans, Thai-Americans, Indonesian-Americans, Vietnamese-Americans, etc.). The single was not released in the US but was in the Philippines and several other Asian countries.

In the future, is also planning to release a solo album of his own. He recently disclosed in an interview that he would be collaborating with fellow Filipino-American Chad Hugo of The Neptunes and incorporating traditional Filipino instruments into his songs. Some of his songs are uploaded on his MySpace page.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Ramon Bong Revilla Jr.

Ramon Revilla Jr. popularly known as Bong Revilla is a Filipino actor, politician and Senator of the Republic of the Philippines.

Born Jose Marie Mortel Bautista on September 25, 1966 to Ramon Revilla (Jose Acuna Bautista) and Azucena Mortel Bautista. On 1977, he finished his elementary education at the Jesus Good Shepherd School in Imus, Cavite. It has not been documented that he finished his secondary education at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, California. he did attend the school though.

Acting Career:

Revilla is known for his lead roles in numerous action movies during the 1980s and the 1990s. He also starred in a few movies alongside his father, Ramon Revilla. Recently, he has been involved in a number of comedy related movies and TV shows in GMA-7.

Politcal and Public Service Career:

As a native of Cavite, he made several films focusing in his home province. Revilla also made several charity works for the province through the RRJ Foundation Inc. He was invited by former NBI director Epimaco Velasco to be his running mate as Vice Governor of Cavite. In the 1995 local elections, Velasco and Revilla won as governor and vice governor beating the Remullas who dominated the Cavite political arena since the 1980s.

On February 1998, Velasco resigned as governor of Cavite when he was appointed as secretary of Interior and Local Government replacing then Senatorial candidate Robert Barbers. Revilla assumed as the chief executive of the province. In the May 1998 local elections, Revilla defeated the returning Juanito Remulla for the position of governor.

In January 2001, Revilla joined the EDSA II Rally and asked for the resignation of President Joseph Estrada. His participation was a widely used topic in the May 2001 local elections. Revilla lost to Cavite congressman Erineo “Ayong” Maliksi as governor of Cavite. Former governor Remulla's son and Malisksi's running mate Juanito Victor "JonVic" Remulla won as vice governor.

Revilla returned to his acting career and became a TV actor in GMA-7's sitcom Idol ko si Kap. In 2002, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo appointed Revilla as Chairman of the Videogram Regulatory Board (now Optical Media Board). Revilla became a popular figure in reducing optical media piracy in the Philippines. Due to his efforts, he was given a Plaque of International Recognition for Efforts Against Piracy by the Motion Picture Association of America on July 23, 2003 and the Huwarang Lingkod Bayan Award by the Consumers League of the Philippines Foundation, Inc. on October 25, 2003.

On February 2004, he resigned as Chairman of the VRB and recommend Eduardo "Edu" Manzano as his replacement. His father, Ramon Revilla ends term as senator on June 30, 2004. Revilla Sr. was elected senator in 1992, reelected 1998, and cannot run for third term according to the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Bong Revilla ran for the position of Senator under the administration K-4 coalition. He won and received the second highest number of votes from the national electorate.

On March 28, 2007, he jumped onto a bus being held hostage in the Philippines in order to ensure the safety of the students on the bus and try and talk the hostage taker into giving themselves up.

Personal Life:

He married Lani Mercado (Jesusa Victoria Hernandez Bautista) in 1987 in a civil wedding. They have six children namely: Leonard Bryan (born November 22, 1986), Jose Lorenzo (Ramon "Jolo" Revilla III, born March 15, 1988), Inah Felicia (born October 2, 1989), Ma. Viktoria Gianna (born August 15, 1995), Ma. Franzel Loudette (born October 15, 1997) and Ramon Vicente (born December 8, 1998). He also has another son out of wedlock with Lovely de Guzman, a University of the Philippines political science graduate, formerly of White Plains.

In the Philippine Centennial celebrations, Revilla portrayed General Emilio Aguinaldo. To highlight the celebrations, he and Lani remarried in through church wedding using the same costume they used in the centennial.

He is also the older brother of Strike Revilla, the incumbent mayor of their hometown of Bacoor, Cavite.

Bong's children, Bryan, Jolo and Inah, were also third-generation stars of Revilla Family.

Eddie Garcia

Eddie Garcia (born Eduardo Verchez García on 2 May 1921 in Sorsogon, Philippines) popularly known as Manoy is one of the top Filipino film actors of all time. He is a former member of the Philippine Scouts in Okinawa during World War II. He made his first movie, Siete Infantes de Lara in 1949.

He is also known to play the part of Leandro Montemayor, the fictional Philippine President on the television drama series, "Kung Mawawala Ka" (When You're Gone), and gave him his first Best Actor in a Drama Series in the 2002 Star Awards.

He also played a part as Lolo Carlos (Grandfather Carlos) in the Filipino-American film, The Debut, and as Lolo Sinat (Grandfather Sinat) in the film, Deathrow.

He is the only person in the Philippines to be a Hall of Fame inductee of the FAMAS in three categories: Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Director.

He is the only performer in Philippine movie history to win three consecutive FAMAS Awards: Best Supporting Actor Awards for Taga sa Bato (1957), Condenado (1958) and Tanikalang Apoy (1959).

He is the most awarded and nominated person in the long history of the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS) Awards. He garnered a total of 34 nominations (13 for Best Supporting Actor, 10 for Best Actor and 11 for Best Director). Out of these, he got 6 Best Supporting Actor wins, 5 Best Actor wins and 5 Best Director wins, 3 Hall of Fame Awards, 1 Lifetime Achievement Award and the Fernando Poe, Jr. Memorial Award. He was awarded his first FAMAS Award in 1957 and his last FAMAS, a Hall of Fame for Best Actor, in 2003.

The first actor to be inducted in the FAMAS Best Supporting Actor Hall of Fame of the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences in 1974.

The Philippine Military Academy Marangal (Honorable) Class of 1974 also adopted him as one of their honorary classmates, alongside First Gentleman Mike Arroyo.

He played the role of Markadan of Saladin, a powerful dark magician, in the television fantasy series, Majika.

He has a daughter living in San Diego, CA by the name of Lisa Ortega.

Vilma Santos - Recto

Vilma Santos
(born Maria Rosa Vilma Tuazon Santos November 3, 1953) is a popular multi-awarded actress and politician in the Philippines. She's known as the "Queenstar" and "Star for All Seasons". She is currently governor of Batangas. She is the first woman governor of the province. She was previously the first woman mayor of Lipa City.

Acting Career:

She started acting at the age of nine, after winning the title role for the hit drama film Trudis Liit (Little Trudis). She immediately received her first acting trophy as Best Child Performer from FAMAS for the same film.

Groomed as a lead actress in her teens, her popularity grew further, bolstered by her loveteam with actor Edgar Mortiz and rivalry with contemporary actress Nora Aunor. At the height of her showbiz career she was a consistent box-office drawer highlighted by comic-book adapted films like the Darna series and Dyesebel, and dramatic/daring films like Burlesk Queen and Sinasamba Kita, among others.

Regarded as the longest reigning Box-Office Queen of Philippine Cinema, her films broke box-office records several times in her career and is hailed as the Star for All Seasons and Queenstar. She also hosted her own top-rating musical variety television shows ('The Sensations', 'VIP' and the long-running multi-awarded 'Vilma').Though not really a singer but a natural dancer fond of doing 'acrobatic' dance performances in her TV show, she managed to earn gold record awards as a teener.

Known for her versatility and intense acting, she honed her craft as she worked with various top caliber directors, writers and actors, and now holds the record for having the most acting awards ever by a Philippine actress from prestigious award-giving bodies, local and international. Critically acclaimed for tackling roles on various women's issues, her other major films include "Burlesk Queen", Rubia Servious", Relasyon, Sister Stella L, Dolzura Cortez,Dekada '70, Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa?, and Anak. To date, she has almost 200 films under her belt with numerous commercial endorsements and television works on the side.

Political Career:

In 1998, she entered politics and ran for mayor of Lipa City, Batangas where she won by landslide victories in three consecutive elections. As the first woman mayor of Lipa City, she helped bring not just economic progress and infrastructure development to Lipa City, but more notably her various programs on public health, education and environment, which again earned various local and international awards and recognitions.

In 2005, the University of the Philippines conferred her the Gawad Plaridel Award for her achievements and contributions both as an actress and a public servant. In the same year she was conferred with honorary doctorate degree (honoris causa) in humanities by the Lipa City College. She was again honored in 2006 by the University of the Philippines as one of the four awardees in UP's First Diwata Awards.

Dr. Vilma Santos is married to Senator Ralph Recto, who belongs to a well-known political clan in the Philippines. Together they have a son, Ryan Christian. She is also a mother to actor/model/television host Luis 'Lucky' Manzano, from previous marriage to actor Edu Manzano.

Running for Governor in Batangas:

Mayor Santos-Recto ran for Governor in the 2007 elections challenging incumbent governor and jueteng lord Arman Sanchez and even her brother-in-law, Vice Governor Richard Recto (who is said to be not in good terms with his brother). People in Batangas were eagerly waiting for this match up. Mayor Santos-Recto's decision to run for governor of the province of Batangas resulted in a family feud as Ricky,his brother-in-law, also said that he will run for the same post. After spending some time thinking about the predicament she was in, Mayor Santos-Recto said that she opted to give way to to Ricky but left people hanging as she said that she had until March 29 to decide and that it was still a long time before that date and anything may still happen. Mayor Santos-Recto was then being said to be interested in running as Congresswoman representing the 4th District of Batangas. To add spice to the situation, Vilma's husband re-electionist Senator Ralph Recto announced to the media that they would not support the candidacy of Ricky.

During the weekly flag-raising at the Lipa City Hall last March 5, 2007, political leaders from different parts of the province gathered at the Lipa City Hall grounds to announce their support and ask Mayor Vilma Santos to run as Governor. Mayor Santos-Recto was too emotional to make a decision at that point and asked for a week to make up her mind.

She made her promise good to announce her decision, and on March 12, she announced before a jampacked crowd at the Lipa City Cultural Center that she will accept the people's challenge and run for provincial governor. Banker Edwin Ermita, the son of incumbent Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, will be her runningmate.

She ran under the banner of Lakas CMD after being endorsed by Speaker Jose de Venecia as the official candidate of the majority party. Kampi adopted her as their official bet for Batangas Governor instead of incumbent Governor Arman Sanchez.


Santos-Recto was proclaimed as the duly elected Governor-elect of the province of Batangas on May 21, 2007 after garnering 475,740 votes against Sanchez's 344,969 for a winning margin of more than 130,000. She will be the first female governor of Batangas.

Parokya ni Edgar

Parokya ni Edgar is a Filipino band that was formed in 1993 by a group of Ateneo high school students. The band is famous and most lauded for its original rock novelty songs and often satirical covers of famous songs. With several in the music scene, it has transcended musical genres, varying styles from one to another - alternative rock to pop rock, funk to rapcore, and so on without leaving behind its trademark style of providing comic relief to their listeners.

Before Parokya ni Edgar:

Naming themselves Comic Relief, the band members were originally composed of three vocalists and two guitarists - Chito Miranda, Vinci Montaner, Gabriel Chee-Kee, a certain Miko and Jerick. Their after-school jamming honed their musical skills, making themselves worthy enough to deserve the opening number for an Eraserheads concert. This "break" made the band members decide to add a drummer and a bassist, enter Dindin Moreno and Buhawi Meneses. This same performance marked the change of the band's name to Parokya ni Edgar. After high school, two of their members, Jerick and Miko pursued other interests and left the band. Far from being discouraged, the remaining band members invited to their fold guitarist Darius Semaña.

Parokya ni Edgar:

The name was said to have been derived from an old classroom joke involving the main character in Noli Me Tangere, one of their school subjects.

The band soon started playing at the legendary local band hub, Club Dredd. Coming out during the height of the Pinoy rock explosion, with the Filipino rock community giving into the influence of foreign bands, especially grunge acts such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, Parokya ni Edgar stood out as the band that played like no other. Their jokes, silly antics, and outrageous performances paved way to the popularity that they currently enjoy.

Eventually, the late Bella Dy Tan, managing director of Universal Records signed them up as contract artist after viewing a gig at Club Dredd. Soon their initial recordings such as Buloy, Trip and Lutong Bahay were heard all over the air waves across the nation. Their first album, Khangkhungkherrnitz became a triple platinum hit.

Musical Legacy:

Though they still remain very active in their musical efforts, their unmatched staying power in the Philippine recording scene already is garnering favorable critical comments on their band achievements. The secret of their success is centered on Chito Miranda's musical and band leadership. He is the core that keeps everybody in the band together. All music and artistic ideas pass thru his judgement, filtering it which often is up to date to the taste and reception of their audience. They seem to be making fun of themselves and easy-going but close associates and friends of the band point out that this band persona is actually calculated and to a certain extent planned. The humor and relentless technique of self-immolation shall be the hallmark of their musical contributions. They now make commercial Jingles, campaign jingles for politician and novelty songs which in direct line of Lito Camo, Philippines most iconic novelty song maker. They can also be invited at childrens party and stag party

Kris Aquino

Kristina Bernadette Cojuangco Aquino-Yap (born February 14, 1971 in Quezon City) is a prominent television and movie personality in the Philippines.

She is the youngest of the five children of former President Corazon Aquino and former Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr., a popular opposition senator during the Ferdinand Marcos regime. The name of her siblings are Maria Elena, Aurora Corazon, Benigno III (Currently a senator from 2007 to 2013, former congressman of Tarlac), and Victoria Eliza.

In recent years, Aquino has been labeled the Philippines's "Queen of Talk," due to her success in hosting talk shows. She was crowned as the 2004 Box Office Queen for her hit movies such as Feng Shui and So... Happy Together.

In 2006, she regained the same Box Office title for her movie Sukob, which is said to be the highest-grossing Filipino film of the year.

Early Life:

In the infamous 1978 parliamentary elections where her father was a candidate, the seven-year-old Aquino wooed the crowds as a stand-in for her imprisoned father at campaign rallies. The young campaigner was featured on the front page of NYT and on Time Magazine. Aquino spent most of her elementary school days in the United States because the Aquino family was in exile. After the assassination of her father in 1983, Aquino returned to the Philippines and was a precocious presence in rallies against the Marcos regime. In an interview with the documentary Kontrobersyal, Congressman Teddy Locsin Jr. revealed that Ninoy Aquino named her youngest daughter Kris because she was born at the height of a major crisis.

After the 1986 revolution that removed President Ferdinand Marcos from power, the teenaged Kris stepped into the limelight, starting with guest spots on television dramas and comedies, as well as talk shows. Finally, she made her film debut with actor-comedian Rene Requiestas in the comedy Pido Dida. This movie was a blockbuster hit and made Kris the box office queen for that year.

Aquino afterwards had a commercially steady, though critically panned career and managed to score an acting nomination for The Fatima Buen Story. She starred in a film based on a true-life murder, the Vizconde Massacre. Its financial success and successive crime films of the same vein in which she starred in gained her the nickname "Massacre Queen" by newspaper critics.

Aquino studied High School at Colegio San Agustin, Makati and graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1992 with a degree of Bachelor of Arts in English Literature.

Television Career:

Aquino started her career on TV at ABS-CBN. Being young then, she was the starrer of the short-lived comedy show Luv Ko Si Kris.

It was not until 1994, that she did Nandito Ako with action star Philip Salvador that started one of Aquino's very controversial love affairs. Aquino became pregnant and had a child, Joshua.

With her movie career slowing, Aquino shifted her sights on a television career as a talk show host launched through Kris produced by Viva Television on Channel 4 (at that time named PTV, this was transferred to GMA Network which has partnership with Viva and after Viva's contract with PTV ended). But it was in GMA Network showbiz oriented talk show Startalk where she co-hosted with Boy Abunda and Lolit Solis that her hosting capabilities were noticed.

After her GMA and Viva contracts expired, she went back to media conglomerate and GMA Network's rival ABS-CBN which noticed her undeniable hosting wit, offered her a contract and launched Today with Kris Aquino, one of the most successful talk shows of the 1990s. She started hosting The Buzz on 1999 together with close friend Boy Abunda. On year 2001, when game shows became very popular in the Philippines, ABS-CBN tapped her to host Game KNB? to compete against IBC-13's local franchises of The Weakest Link and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. In January 2003 to May 2004, she hosted yet another successful morning talk show that was supposed to last for 2 weeks but lasted for 16 months entitled Morning Girls with Kris and Korina alongside popular media personality Korina Sanchez. Not all of Aquino's television endeavors were hits; notable failures include Balitang Kris, which lasted for one season. For several years, she hosted The Buzz, a showbiz gossip/talk show with Boy Abunda and Cristy Fermin for the same network, as well as Pilipinas, Game KNB?, a game show which focuses on trivia. She officially left The Buzz and Pilipinas, Game KNB? after she gave birth to Baby James. According to her, she had to give up her hosting stint on the said shows to give more time to her baby. It was also assumed that she does not want to go back to The Buzz because she no longer wants to work with former co-host Cristy Fermin.

Aquino is the highest paid TV Host in the Philippines, thus, making her the 'Queen of Talk and Game Shows'. She is also one of the Filipino actresses who are sought after by companies for product endorsements. At present, she is an endorser for a popular corned beef brand as well as for San Miguel Corporation and Smart Communications. Her commercial for San Miguel became the most remembered television commercial and was said to have a 99 percent audience recall. She was paid a total of P20,000,000.00 for the endorsement. She also recently signed an endorsement contract with Facial Care Centre, a direct competitor of Belo Medical Group. Kris decided not to renew her contract with Belo Medical Group. It was uncertain as to whether her decision to transfer to Facial Care had something to do with the issue regarding James' alleged sexual encounter with a receptionist from Belo Medical Group.

Aquino was bestowed the title of "Commercial Princess of the Philippines". Said title was given to her for having numerous of TV and print appearances in Filipino media and for being one of the highest paid commercial endorsers in the Philippines, being at par with Sharon Cuneta.

She hosts the Philippine franchise of Deal or No Deal, which is part of ABS-CBN's primetime lineup. It ended its first season on February 23, 2007. The second season of the said game show started on June 11, 2007. She also hosts Boy & Kris, a morning talk show that replaced Homeboy, together with Boy Abunda, and Be Bench, a model search show together with Piolo Pascual. She is also expected to host Weekends with Kris, a lifestyle show. Nestor Torre, a known critic of the Philippine Entertainment industry, pointed out that Kris took a lot of risks when she chose to give up her two former shows. The critic pointed out that giving up The Buzz and Pilipinas, Game KNB? deprived her of the major exposure that those two popular shows afforded her. Torre also noted that it is much more difficult to successfully launch new shows than to resume hosting programs that are already popular.

Movie Career:

Aquino got her start in movies with the help of Regal Films, one of the oldest film outfits in the Philippines. Her early film includes the Pido Dida series, where she was paired with comedian Rene Requiestas and earned her first box-office queen award. She later on shifted into other roles, notably with massacre films such as The Vizconde Massacre, Myrna Diones Story, Elsa Castillo-Ang Katotohanan, and Humanda Ka Mayor. Despite her being a big draw in the box office, her acting skills were considered stiff and mechanical. She was dubbed then as "massacre queen" because of her portrayals in massacre movies which was the vogue during the time.

She first drew praise for her acting when she earned a nomination from the Gawad Urian award-giving body, composed of film critics, for the film The Fatima Buen Story. She eventually won a supporting actress award for the film Mano Po (2002 Regal Films), where she portrayed a weak-willed and submissive scion of a wealthy Filipino-Chinese clan. This was her comeback movie after her long layoff from movie acting.

But Aquino's most commercially-successful movies in her career are: Feng Shui, a Star Cinema production that featured Chinese influences and omen. Feng Shui, which was made during the wave of "Asian-style horror" flicks that spread throughout the continent since 2002's The Ring, made P180,218,395. It was the highest grossing Filipino movie of 2004, and the second most successful movie overall next to Spider-Man 2 which made over P225 million and earned Kris her second box office queen title. "Sukob," another horror thriller which she starred with Claudine Barretto in 2006, is the highest grossing Filipino film of all time surpassing Tanging Ina, Anak & her own starrer, Feng Shui.

Like anyone else, Aquino had her share of box-office bombs. Her 2003 movie with actor Robin Padilla, You and Me Against The World, flopped at the box-office right from the start. Made for P25,000,000 and released immediately after Aquino won acting awards (for her performance in 2002's Mano Po), You and Me Against The World made only P4,389,005. The film's producers lost an estimated P23,000,000, even with home videos accounted. Because You and Me Against The World failed to attract an audience, several movie theaters pulled the film out and replaced it with another film. Some theaters were reported to have done this on the movie's 2nd day of play.

Personal Life:

Aquino is known for her troublesome relationships. In the mid-1990s, she was involved with a Purefoods basketball player, Alvin Patrimonio, who was then married. In her relationship before Purefoods Chunkee Giants player James Yap, she was involved with then Parañaque mayor (ex PBA basketball player and actor/tv host Joey Marquez), who she later split with in a tumultuous ending, alleging that Marquez pointed a gun at her face, and gave her a venereal disease. She made her admission in an exclusive tell all interview by former co-host Korina Sanchez on the ABS-CBN newscast TV Patrol. Such admission became the highest-rating news segment in the history of Philippine newscast that even those in the workplaces paused from their work to hear Aquino's' story. Aquino filed charges of grave threat, illegal possession of firearms, grave coercion and less serious physical injuries against Marquez, but the former eventually dropped charges against the latter.

She is now married to PBA 2006 MVP superstar James Yap of Purefoods. They had their civil marriage in July 2005. The following year, she announced on The Buzz that she was pregnant. In early 2007, their marriage was rocked by the revelation of a former receptionist from Belo Medical Group named Hope Centeno that she had a relationship with James, which he vehemently denied in an interview with Korina Sanchez.

On April 19, 2007, she gave birth to her first son by Yap on 5:52pm (UTC +8) in Makati Medical Center in Makati City. The baby boy's real name is James A. Yap, Jr. but is affectionately known as "Baby James". She also had a relationship with actor Philip Salvador to whom she had a son named Joshua. Aquino also released her first album, entitled "Songs of Love and Healing", which contains inspirational songs from various artists. The album turned Double Platinum in just 8 months. Also, Aquino release again a new album titled "Love and Inspiration", that features again some of previous various artist. The album turned Gold in only 2 weeks. The both albums are produced by Universal Records Philippines.

Kris is known for causing enormous suffering to the contestants who appear on her game shows. She once asked a young man when he opened his Christmas presents: before or after the holiday. He replied that since he was agnostic, his family did not observe Christmas. Kris screamed at him and said he should be ashamed of himself for not believing in God. She then expressed her wish that he lose the game, which he then did. When she asked a woman what she did for a living, and heard "Late Night Call Center Representative," Kris said, "Is that why you're so fat and pimply?"

Business Ventures:

Being successful in her TV and movie career, Aquino ventured into several businesses. She owns Lena Restaurant in partnership with several celebrities, and Roberto Antonio, an upscale flower shop in partnership with Boy Abunda. She established a boutique ad agency in partnership with Boy Abunda but also including Nonon del Carmen and Agnes Maranan, and have decided to call it MAD (an acronym for their surnames, Maranan Abunda Aquino del Carmen).

JOse De Venecia Jr. (JDV)

Note: this biograpy is lifted from his own website josedeveneciajr [dot] com

Jose de Venecia is a four-time Speaker of the House of Representatives, unprecedented in Philippine post-war history. He has been a journalist, diplomat, business leader and a prominent political figure co-founded the Philippines′ biggest party, the ruling Lakas CMD. De Venecia, early in his career, conceived and implemented the first Philippine dollar deposits and remittances program credited for having killed the dollarblack market and earning for the Philippines more than $110 billion as of 2005. At age 30, he headed the Presidential Committee on Dollar Remittances. De Venecia was also the Philippine pioneer and first prime contractor in the Middle East and North Africa in construction, ports operations and aquaculture" opening the way for the employment of millions of skilled Filipinos in these regions.

As a Peacemaker

As Speaker, he negotiated the ceasefire with the RAM-YOU military rebels, effectively ending the series of coup attempt "and the period of political instability" in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

He initiated the breakthrough in peace negotiations with the MNLF, crossing the North African desert twice to meet with Libyan leader, Col. Moammar Khaddafy and Chairman Nur Misuari of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). Consequently, de Venecia helped negotiate the 1996 Peace Agreement between the Philippine Government and the MNLF.

De Venecia also helped propel the ongoing peace negotiations, now nearing completion, with the residual rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). De Venecia was the first to propose the global Interfaith Dialogue, which the United Nations General Assembly formally adopted in November 2004, to mediate ethnic and politico-religious conflicts in regions of the world.

Parliamentary Leader

De Venecia was elected president of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Organization (AIPO) in 1993 and re-elected AIPO head in 2006. He was elected president of the Association of Asian Parliaments for Peace (AAPP) in 2003-2004, his term highlighted by approval of his proposal converting the AAPP into the Asian Parliamentary Assembly (APA)"the beginnings of an Asian Parliament" after a five-year transition period.

He was also elected chairman of the AAPP Senior Advisory Council in 2005. He conceived and implemented the first meeting in history of the Asia’s political parties "ruling and opposition” with the launching in Manila of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) in 2000. He was thrice elected chairman of the ICAPP Standing Committee and was also elected chairman of the Philippine Political Parties’ Standing Committee.

He was secretary-general of the Lakas CMD (formerly Lakas NUCD), which he co-founded with President Fidel Ramos and the late Sen. Raul Manglapus. Later, de Venecia was elected party president and then chairman, and again president of Lakas CMD, with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as Chair, and former President Ramos as chairman emeritus.

As a Lawmaker

As a lawmaker, de Venecia authored the highly successful Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law, the Bases Conversion law that turned into thriving economic enclaves the former US bases at Clark, Subic, and John Hay and led to the creation of the Fort Bonifacio Global City. Between 1992 and 1998, he steered the approval of 220 reform laws that enabled the Philippines to exit from the International Monetary Fund, after 35 years of straitjacket controls. He conceived the Debt-for-Equity Program to convert part of the foreign debt of the world’s poorest nations into equity programs to finance their requirements for national development. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the governments of Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi and of former Chancellor Schroeder of Germany have endorsed the program among a number of leaders from Asia, Europe and Africa. Last year, de Venecia presented the program in detail to senior officials of the IMF, World Bank, and the Paris Club.


Married to Georgina Vera Perez, they have six children: Alexandra, a patent lawyer and scientist, a graduate of Wellesley, with a doctorate from Princeton University and Fordham. She is married to Mark Haner, official of Lucent. Leslie Norton, graduate of Yale and Columbia University, and is now Asian columnist and Asian Editor of Barron’s. Vivien Garcia, graduate in of Smith University. Married to noted physician, Dennis Garcia. Jose de Venecia III, who earned his MBA from Fordham University. Carissa Cruz, Undersecretary of the Department of Trade and Industry and a graduate of Boston University. Philip Cruz III, journalist and columnist of Philippine Star.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Gloria Macapagal - Arroyo

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President of the Philippines
Born: April 5, 1947

Daughter of the late Philippine President Diosdado Macapagal, Macapagal-Arroyo graduated from Assumption College in the Philippines, holds a master’s degree in economics from Ateneo de Manila University, and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of the Philippines. After teaching economics, Macapagal-Arroyo became former President Corazon Aquino’s Undersecretary of Trade and Industry. She was elected senator in 1992, winning reelection in 1995 in a landslide. In 1998 Macapagal-Arroyo easily won the vice presidency. She assumed the presidency in January 2001 when street demonstrations forced Joseph Estrada, who faced serious corruption allegations, from office. She is married to lawyer and businessman Jose Miguel Tuason Arroyo. They have three children, Mikey, Luli, and Dato.