Friday, April 26, 2013

Something about the Senate of the Philippines

Official seal of the Philippine Senate today
The official website of the Senate say that
the Latin words in the seal meant:
"Law Serves Peace, Let It Be Done"
If we are to believe Wikipedia (the fifth most visited site in the world), there are eight countries with a legislative body known as Senate in Asia, including the Philippines. In Southeast Asia, Thailand and Cambodia join the Philippines in the list. Now, out of these eight countries in Asia, only the Philippines vote their senators in national elections (Thailand conduct national elections for half of the Senate seats only). The others, by national assemblies of councilors or by appointment. Thus, the question raised in this article today is: Why only the Philippines?

Maybe the Department of Tourism can also add this to their list of fun things in the country - Senate elections: More Fun in the Philippines.

Anyway, tackling the question historically, we cannot trace this practice of at-large voting to the United States, because even if the supposed gift of democracy came from the American nation, they vote their senators by state. Spain voted their senators by province. So, we can assume that this method of senate election in the Philippines is not influenced by the foreign powers that invaded us (Japan had no Senate. When they invaded the Philippines during World War II, the Japanese abolished the Senate and created a National Assembly). Is this a local invention, then?

When we first had Senate (under American occupation) in 1916, the Philippines was divided into 12 senatorial districts with two senators each. One seat had a six-year term, while the other a three-year term. This kind of system saw the first and only Kiram in Senate, Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram I, in 1925. Maybe his infamous (of course, for his critics) descendant wanted to follow his example, thus the 2007 candidacy of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III. National elections for senators began in 1941, shortly before the Japanese invasion.

Image of Sultan title claimant Jamalul
Kiram III
Courtesy of Manila Bulletin and
Yahoo News Philippines
I have here a theory on why the Philippines maintained this system. Many people, until today, see the Senate as a stepping stone to the pinnacle of public service, the Presidency. Ten of the fifteen past presidents were from the Senate. I think that the Commonwealth leaders (Quezon, Osmeña, etc) saw that regionalism prevails in the archipelago (which was why the Quezon-Osmeña tandem won in 1935. You can't expect Quezon to win for the Presidency by himself if he is to face Osmeña), and the only way to maintain power to the Luzon-Visayas bets (Quezon - Luzon, Osmeña - Visayas) than the regional bets alone is to make the elections for Senate national. That is one reason why few Mindanao bets make it to the Senate today (example, 2007 candidacy of Jamalul Kiram III - even though he was the top bet in almost all Mindanao provinces, he did not win a seat).

I believe that this is also a reason why Muslims in Mindanao wanted the Bangsamoro political entity to push through. There, they can consolidate more power than they can in the present system (e.g. they can levy taxes, and have a separate election and government system). Maybe the Luzon-Visayas alliance discriminated Muslim Mindanao for far too long (actually, even before the Spanish era, though Luzon and Visayas did not yet see themselves as allies until the Spanish era. Still, that will be a different story).

Its just my own theory anyway.

I must admit to myself though that I have some fear on returning the Senate into regional than national, despite the recent trending topic I am Muslim, I am not a terrorist. But maybe the Luzon-Visayas alliance can still turn it to their favor by making the number of Senate seats proportional to population. Still, I feel that any developments is still far away.

What can I say today then? Vote wisely, discern thoroughly, fellow Filipinos! Go out and vote on May 13, 2013. Remember, elections show the peak of the people's power in the country.

Philippine senatorial election results from 1946
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Monday, April 22, 2013

Does survey trending exist in the Philippines?

Exactly one month before the 2013 midterm elections in the
Philippines, Social Weather Stations conducted a survey on
senatorial preferences; it is noted that Nancy Binay, who
preferred "campaigning than debating" landed as the best
among the UNA bets (Photo courtesy of
Does survey trending exist in Philippine politics? Many think so. Surveys, or opinion polling, can serve to the advantage of the already famous candidates, though SWS said in earlier polls that surveys also serve to the advantage to the less famous candidates. Why do I say that? Whenever surveys are released, television and radio stations report it. It is also released in the Internet. Free publicity, 'ika nga nila. This is where people base the assumption that there really is survey trending, though of course, those surveyed by the SWS say otherwise.

Anyway, as the Young Filipino Historian, I will tackle the problem of survey trending historically. How correct are surveys and does it really affect how people actually vote?

In the 2004 Senatorial elections, Pulse Asia, in its latest poll before the elections, said that six KNP (Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino) and six K-4 (Koalisyon ng Katapatan at Karanasan sa Kinabukasan) will win. SWS meanwhile said that four KNP and eight K-4 will win. The actual results brought five KNP and seven K-4 to the Senate. But, the margin for the twelfth seat (won by K-4) was only 0.03% ahead of the thirteenth (a KNP candidate).

In the 2007 Senatorial elections, Pulse Asia said that six GO (Genuine Opposition), four Team Unity and two Independents will win. SWS said the same. Seven GO, two Independents, and three Team Unity entered the Senate. Though of course, it is well known that Pimentel (GO) won the twelfth seat after the resignation of Zubiri (Team Unity) because the margin is only 0.1%.

Now, in the latest Pulse Asia and SWS surveys, they agree that three UNA and nine Team PNOY will enter Senate this midterm elections. However, I think that even one month is still to early to celebrate for those who entered the Magic 12 in the latest surveys. Example is Escudero who was second in the earlier surveys, but now he flopped to fifth. Another is Hagedorn, who was 23rd in the earlier surveys, but now rose to 19th.

Still, I believe in my heart that the Filipino has not and will never succumb to survey trending. Surveys are only random statistics. I think that these opinion polls do their job well, even though they are privately managed. Just remember, vote wisely. Discern the candidates wholeheartedly because surveys just reflect opinion, not fact. Thus, opinion polling. Also, the elected will serve for years, not months.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My First Blog post as the Young Filipino Student

In a week, on February 28, students of UP Diliman are going to vote for their local area (college) and wide area (university) candidates. Evidently, UP is divided into three large parties (a tripartisan system, which makes it a little more varied than a bipartisan one): STAND UP, ALYANSA and KAISA. All these names stand for something longer of course, but my short attention span on campaign ads make me forget them most of the time, just like now.

Speaking of campaign ads, many candidates of these major parties give out pamphlets of their successes as student leaders and even had some (supposedly) renowned people to make statements on their exemplary work. Sometimes I think to myself, can I also make out a student leader out of my weak (I can't run more than 2.2 km) and unintelligent (I got lost in a mall once, when I was four) form, just like those that are running today? To think that one time, I boasted to my dad that I can win 100,000 votes with only ten million pesos if I run today for the Philippine Senate. My humility level lowered a little at that time, and I regret I said that.

Anyway, I think the best way to see is to copy what many high-ranking candidates do in some of their pamphlets, present my achievements and successes. Well, let's see...

My image in English Wikipedia, where I contributed more
than 80 articles, mostly Philippine-related
My journey of becoming a student leader began when I was elected in by a landslide victory as Sergeant-at-Arms in my section, I was Grade Three at this time, mainly because I refused to accept the nomination for me as Class President or Vice President. When I was Grade Five, I was elected Vice President. In Grade Six, I was again Vice President of the section. But since my school was a private school, I had no chance to battle for Grade school Student Council, for my school had none.

I came back to the arena when I was Second Year High School. I took High school in Marikina Science High School, the best the city had. Anyway, when I was second year, I ran for the position Third Year Representative, which would mean that I have to be the voice of my batch if I win. It was a three-way race, with I as the worst in terms of grades and worst also in terms of looks and voice control. I turned out to be a funny type of candidate, which I think is as bad as the former traits I already mentioned. Still, I landed second, with 69 votes (32.86%). The winner had 83 (39.52%).

The following year, when I learned that there is none to battle the Third Year Representative (the guy who won out against me 83-69) for his bid as SC President, I took my own banner as an independent candidate. It was the first time in the history of that school that an independent candidate ran for President. Those who I thought would enter the race too were too chicken and battled themselves out for the Vice Presidency.

Many friends told me that I could have won, landslide, as Vice President. Still, it was evident that no party would accept me (there were three parties) as VP or P, I decided to go independent against the strong Third Year Rep. As the campaign progressed, those three who battled out for VP were amazed that they think it would actually be a close fight. It turned out to be a disaster for me, and a miracle for the other guy. He won with 582 votes (70.37%). I got 207 (25.03%). 38 abstained. Later on, some supporters would tell me that there was an inside job to urge the upper half of the school (3rd-4th year) not to vote for me or just abstain. I should have won with a margin as low as 14 votes. They say that the proof of this was the tradition in our school that favored Presidential candidates always win a landslide. I shrugged off these allegations though, and let the issue go. It is done anyway, what else can I do? Besides, it is enough for me to hear some of my supporters telling me that I'm still the winner in their hearts.

In Fourth year, I became President of the school's History Club, which now grew by half.

Now, I'm a first year college student. Even though I was tempted to go back to student politics, but I told myself that a good student leader must first be a good follower. I can't simply assume a position that I still don't have enough knowledge on. I may even end up drowning in black propaganda.

Other things that eat up my time:
* obviously, blogging here at The Young Filipino Historian
* Minister of Defense, Regiment Captain and Congress Member of E-Philippines at
* Founder and facilitator of Wikiproject: Philippine History
* Journeyman Editor Level 3 at English Wikipedia
* Member of Wikimedia Philippines
* University Scholar as of First Semester, AY 2012-2013
* Facilitator of the Facebook page Indie Paraorg and Raposas
* Administrator of the Facebook group Kahit gaano ka pa kagaling, mas magaling pa rin si Lord
* other things but I may have forgotten so far

UP Diliman students, on February 28, vote smart, elect right, for your colleges and university.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Evolution of UNA

Logo of the United Nationalist Alliance, the major opposition coalition
for the 2013 Philippine midterm elections
UNA or United Nationalist Alliance is the current opposition coalition for the 2013 Philippine midterm elections. But the question you may ask is why an article on UNA than the LP-Akbayan-NPC-NP-LDP Coalition? I always side with the opposition when the administration isn't that attractive anymore. But one more was that when I watched the commercial of UNA, I can't stop singing the catchy jingle even if I only knew one line of it. I don't know if its fortunate for them that the top three TV networks in the Philippines signed an agreement not to show any campaign commercials until the campaign period.

Going back, UNA is the successor of the Genuine Opposition or GO, an opposition coalition that fielded candidates for the 2007 Philippine midterm elections. But actually, many of the elements of GO, namely the LP, NP and NPC, soon became the administration parties. Therefore, UNA is composed mainly of Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) and Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-LABAN). The combined powers of UNA gives the coalition 3 Senate seats, 11 Congress seats and 8 governor seats.

The ideology of UNA, like its preceding coalitions, is Center-Left Wing. That is, it is centrist in nature but also upholds social equality and sides mainly with the poor (unlike the right wing that sides with the rich). Again, i'm not pro-UNA if that's what you're afraid of.

Now, PMP was made in 1991 by Joseph Estrada and his colleagues with also a Center-Left Wing ideology (what do you expect?). Today, the highest position the party has is Jejomar Binay, the Country Vice President.

PDP-LABAN was made earlier, in 1983, by Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. and his constituents. This absorbed the late Senator Ninoy Aquino's LABAN or Lakas ng Bayan. LABAN was established in 1978, fielding candidates for the 1978 parliamentary elections. Doy Laurel's UNIDO or United Nationalist Democratic Organization also fused into PDP-LABAN. PDP-LABAN is Center oriented.

Now that we're finished with the anatomy of UNA, here are the official Senate candidates of the coalition for the 2013 midterm elections. I hope you enjoyed a short history of UNA.

Guest candidates:
* Francis "Chiz" Escudero
* Loren Legarda
* Grace Poe

UNA candidates:
* Nancy Binay
* Tingting Cojuangco
* JV Ejercito
* Jack Enrile (from NPC)
* Richard "Dick" Gordon
* Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan
* Ernesto "Ernie" Maceda
* Mitos Magsaysay
* Juan Miguel Zubiri

According to an SWS Survey in the first week of December 2012, 5 UNA candidates out of 12 would win seats in the Senate.

For 2013, vote smart Filipino voters! Mabuhay ang demokrasyang Pilipino.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Philippines and the Great War

Well, I think the less popular
Navy poster may have
more appeal to recruits
This is the typical World War
One poster we still see today,
which features old Uncle Sam
Textbooks in the Philippines usually allot one or two chapters when it comes to Philippine history during World War II, the most destructive war in recorded history. Some would agree though that without World War I, there would be no World War II. There even was a book saying that World War II was fought by mistake (that of Pat Buchanan). I never read the said book yet, which is sad, but it is fairly true that without the first, there would be no second. Why are cardinal numbers even invented if it is otherwise?

What most people may not know is how the Philippines participated in World War I, though it isn't as active as she had did during World War II.

The Philippines was dragged to World War I, the Great War as it was known before 1939, simply because United States joined the war (in 1917). Since the Philippines was American territory, it is obliged to help her Uncle Sam. If America's contribution in the war is small, the Philippine contribution is, logically, smaller. Still, it disproves the idea that only Vietnam (a French colony at the time) and Siam (now Thailand, which even provided pilots for Allied planes) had any significant contribution in the European theater from Southeast Asia.
USS Rizal, a Wickes-class destroyer. It is noticeable that
USS Rizal is the only Wickes-class destroyer that was named
from anything or anyone Filipino

The Philippines actually funded, and built, for the United States one destroyer (USS Rizal) and one submarine. At the time, America did not need many submarines, so this single sub made in the Philippines is definitely significant for the US Navy. America would soon decide to integrate her navy to the British Grand Fleet.

One more thing the Philippines did for America during the Great War was the drafting of Filipinos for the US National Army. The colonial government had the quota set to 15,000. The Philippines provided 25,000. The most famous of these Filipino soldiers was Tomas Mateo Claudio (incidentally, I created an English Wikipedia article for him), who died at the Battle of Chateau-Thierry in 1918.

The Philippines also captured for the Allies 22 German merchant ships, of which seven was later used by Filipinos for internal sea trade and the rest was given to America as gifts.

It so thus prove that the Philippines was also part of the Great War, World War I.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Metro Manila Concept

Political map of Metro Manila
On February 27, 1975, former President Ferdinand Marcos issued Presidential Decree (P. D.) 824 which combined Manila, Quezon City, and some municipalities in Rizal and Bulacan and covered the area now known as Metropolitan Manila, Metro Manila, or the National Capital Region. Imelda Marcos, Ferdinand's first lady, became the first governor of its governing body, the Metropolitan Manila Commission. The MMC would soon be replaced by the MMDA or the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority in 1995, and the position governor was replaced by a chairman being appointed by the President of the Philippines.

So, the Metro Manila was created. Is that it, the original concept?

No. Metro Manila is like a modern Troy, a metropolis of many layers. The modern Metro Manila is not the first, and if it continues to evolve, it would not be the last.

Extent of the Kingdom of Namayan
at its peak
In 1335, a son of Raden Wijaya and a Manila princess turned empress of Wijaya's Madjapahit Empire, which was centered in Indonesia, established the Kingdom of Namayan, which encompassed half of the modern City of Manila up to the Laguna de Bai. In those times, the Philippines was divided into several small principalities called barangays which amounted only to some 30 to 100 families (assuming each family had four members, 120 to 400 people). At times of war, two or three barangays team up into a confederation if they had a common enemy at hand. After the war, they break up again. What makes Namayan stand out is that it comprised of more than six barangays, which meant it would have around 700 to 2,500 people under its fold, and it is united under one ruler, which is so unlike the confederations that recognize joint leadership when they combined their turfs. Namayan, covering around a third of today's Metro Manila, survived another two centuries before being outshone by the Kingdoms of Tondo and Maynila, which both had better locations for maritime trade since they both face the calm Manila Bay. Tondo is way older than Namayan, since it was mentioned in the Laguna Copperplate Inscription (LCI), around the year 900. One theory I have here is that Tondo was reduced in influence in the area when Namayan power rose in the region. But Maynila is newer than Namayan, and the most famous ruler we know of this kingdom was Rajah Sulayman.

Extent of the Province of Manila
during the Spanish era
In 1571, the Spanish established Manila as the Distinguished and Ever Loyal City and was given her own coat of arms by 1595. It also became capital of a larger area, which would be the Province of Manila. It covered the area of modern NCR, but extended farther east, occupying some town that are today under the Province of Rizal, such as San Mateo and Rodriguez. Of course, the Ever Loyal City is the provincial capital, until Emilio Aguinaldo, which had most of the province occupied, made Marikina the provincial capital. This lasted only for almost two years though. Still, it can be observed that Namayan and Manila Province had been glimpses of a greater Manila, an extra-Manila.

The City of Manila today, meanwhile, offers her territorial extent today to the Americans, which extended the city outside Intramuros (also known as the Walled City, it featured one of the first stone forts in Asia). Manila, the Ever Loyal City, only extended inside Intramuros. Some of the suburbs only began to be incorporated after the 1863 Corpus Christi earthquake, which forced the Captain General to transfer his palace outside Intramuros. That is, the Malacanang Palace. However, the Americans made possible the completion of today's City of Manila.

Metro Manila (or NCR, the National Capital Region) and the City of Manila should not be confused with, today or in her history. The former owed its history to Namayan and the Province of Manila, while the latter owed its history to Sulayman's kingdom and the Ever Loyal City. Besides, the current Philippine Constitution offers a distinction as well.

Manila shall be the capital of the Republic of the Philippines, and the area designated as Metro Manila shall be the seat of national government.

So, do not fret whenever you don't see the Senate of the Philippines (which is located in Pasay City) nor the House of Representatives (which is located in Quezon City) in the City of Manila (don't worry though, the palace of the President is still there), because even though it is the capital of the Philippine Republic, Metro Manila shall still be the seat of national government.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Japan's seclusion to the world and the Philippines

In 1635, the third Tokugawa shogun, Iyemitsu Tokugawa (reigned: 1623-1651), issued the Sakou Edict of 1635. The edict enforced the restriction of Japanese migration out of the Japanese Empire and the closure of Japan's ports from international trade. Nagasaki was left open though, but only for limited Chinese and Dutch traders.

The edict had its purpose anyway. The Japanese shogun wanted an increase of domestic output, and when it worked, population grew. Edo (later, Tokyo) grew to a population of one million by the year 1700. However, the act of seclusion from the world made Japan lag behind the fast verging change taking over the world in the next two centuries.

Now, of course there must be a reason, or reasons, behind this act of seclusion by the Tokugawa shogunate.

The most imposing reason is the spread of Catholicism in Japan. It began when St. Francis Xavier (a church with his name is in my locality) went to Japan as a Portuguese missionary in 1549. During the long campaigns of Oda Nobunaga from the 1560s until his death in 1582, the dictator daimyo promoted the spread of Catholicism in Japan. This was to counter the influence of Buddhism in Japan, which had monks at Mount Hiei ready to take Kyoto if had he not occupied the city first. At its peak, there were around 300,000 Japanese Catholics in the country.

Second to the Portuguese in the number of missionaries in Japan were the Spanish, which had a colony near Japan, the Philippines. The Spanish had established New Castille in a city in Southern Luzon called Manila by 1571, and built an imposing walled city, Intramuros, by 1590, which King Philip II himself saw as a costly endeavor.

Well, Nobunaga's successor, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, began to eye the Philippines not only because it was geographically near Japan, but also because of the number of missionaries it had been sending to Japan. Most Spanish missionaries have to go to Manila first before Japan, and Hideyoshi did not like Catholicism, at least, in the latter period of his reign in the 1590s. Hideyoshi did not continue to send an invasion to the Philippines though, mainly because a peace envoy, a Spanish missionary, had talked the Japanese leader out of it. Still, persecution continued in Japan, which even resulted to around 27,000 dead at Shimabara, 1637.

One not-so-obvious reason to us today is the influence of Spanish Manila in Asian trade. It had replaced Japan as the entrepot of Western trade in the Asia-Pacific region because of the galleon trade. Also, Manila begun to attract many Chinese, which was a signal that the city was a flourishing one. Even if Manila had no large navy like Hideyoshi used to invade Korea, its economic clout, feared the Tokugawa shogunate, might take over Japan's ports. Therefore, Japan closed her doors from the world in fear of Manila's influence.

Like what it was said in the Transformers, it is more than meets the eye. (At first glance, this line is corny.)