In My Own Words - Ron Centeno

a collection of thoughts and my own words

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Tama Na, Sobra Na!

Written by Ron Centeno

Whether or not the 2010 elections should push through is an issue that refuses to die down. No matter how unconscionable the idea of a charter change that is bent on adopting the parliamentary system to effectively extend Ms Arroyo’s term, some lawmakers allied to the president have now tightened their grip by drafting a resolution to convene a constituent assembly to amend the Constitution.

No less than Speaker Nograles has filed the resolution which contains 175 signatures and is 20 votes shy of the required number of 197. “The resolution of Villafuerte is now in my hands, he turned it over to me. So I have decided to file it”, Nograles said, whose signature is also attached to it.

With just over a year before Arroyo’s term expires and the campaign period starts soon, both aspiring candidates and electorates are somewhat stumped.

Despite the President’s son, Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, who said “that the resolution does not call for a postponement of the 2010 balloting or extension of sitting elective officials” the buzz is incessantly annoying and disturbing. Press Secretary Cerge Remonde was likewise quick to turn the table around against those who link Ms Arroyo to Cha-cha as a mere “black propaganda.”

It is equally troubling that in today’s economic difficulties where unemployment rate is up and poverty continues to swell, our lawmakers are preoccupied with changing our hallowed constitution only to suit their needs.

It is totally preposterous to find faults in a charter to deserve a change when many of our elective officials who are supposed to uphold it are not worthy to walk the august hall of Congress.

At any rate, we can only hope that the life-support of the issue on charter change would soon be unclad in order to expel doubts about the forthcoming elections. Otherwise, we should be emboldened to exercise our collective indignation in the “parliament of the streets” against those who abuse their power by tinkering with the charter.



"Uber Amazing Award"

Written by Ron Centeno

I would like to thank my very good blogger friend David Funk of Basic Blogonomics., who's constantly there to support and encourage. A very talented and creative writer. I could not ask for more from a very friendly and thoughtful friend. Thank you is not enough to express my gratitude.

Uber (synonym to Super) Amazing Blog Award is a blog award given to sites who:

a)inspires you
b) makes you smile and laugh
c)or maybe gives amazing information
d)a great read
e)has an amazing design
f)and any other reasons you can think of that makes them uber amazing

I would like to pass this award to 5 "Uber Amazing" blogs.

1) SHERWIN of "Mokong (Anu’ng Nasa Isip Ko)"
2) Gilbert of "Gillboard"
3) GODDY of "A Friend Named Goddy"
4) Shei of "Pretty Eyes"
5) Ratty of "Everyday Adventurer"



"The Pacman"

Written by Ron Centeno

Whenever Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao ascends to the ring, we Filipinos across the globe simultaneously drop everything only to root for the Pinoy boxing icon as he unleashes his knockout punch against his hapless opponent. While our eyes are glued to our television screens, our collective sighs would turn into deafening roars. Some privileged “bigshots” (Filipino actors and actor-turned politicians), moreover, who thirst for a moment of photo ops and “pogi points” would come in handy to Las Vegas to share the limelight with the “pound-for-pound” mega champ atop the ring.

Time and again, the “Pambansang Kamao” has never failed us. He, as the aphorism goes, single-handedly “killed” all his Mexican counterparts until Mexico has run out of “burritos” that led to his moniker as “The Mexi-cutioner”. His latest casualty was the rusty Oscar “Golden Boy” dela Hoya. Previous “fatalities” include Marquez, Morales, Larios, Solis, and Barrera.

On 2 May 2009, Pacman will soar to the ring again at MGM Grand Hotel and Casino for his anticipated fight against the British fighter known in the league as “The Hitman” or the “Pride of Hyde.” No less than Floyd Mayweather, Jr. commented on Hatton as, “probably one of toughest competitors I’ve faced. I hit him with some big ones but he kept coming and I can see why they call him the “Hitman”.

The bout is guaranteed to be explosive. It is aptly titled “The Battle of East and West”. Presumably, their massive fans from Europe to Asia to America, will soon be sitting on the edge of their seats as spectators to this forthcoming several-million-dollar match.

Behind all the spectacle and glitz of the ensuing match, however, Manny found himself into a different kind of fray – “one that has placed him right in the middle of a fierce rivalry between the country’s two biggest television networks.”

“The Kapamilya” (ABS-CBN), not to be outdone, wanted to have a piece of the cake by “tampering of a live contract” as the former Philippine Basketball Association commissioner and respected lawyer-sportsman Rudy Salud would like to put it. Note that Solar Sports, with ties to GMA 7, has been airing Pacman’s previous fights.

According to a report found in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, “Pacquiao denied he had severed ties with Solar Sports and said the video on his planned transfer to ABS-CBN was prematurely shown by the Lopez-family controlled network.

He said he had an agreement with ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. that the statement on his transfer would not be aired until he had threshed out certain issues regarding his contract with Solar Sports.

The video of his statement on the transfer was aired on the ABS-CBN news show “TV Patrol” last week.”

Without question, the battle between the two networks has always been for the record. The habitual clash between Wowowee and Eat Bulaga is a testament to such rivalry. Putting Pacman on the crossroads, however, only to reign supreme in viewership stats will not do favor for the Filipino champ.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter which network has the right to broadcast the anticipated match between our very own Pacman and UK’s Hitman. What matters is, at least for once, our collective howl will resonate across the globe and momentarily set aside our differences as a people.

Pilipinas, umasenso ka! Mabuhay ka Pacman!


The Hand Behind the Letters

Written by Ron Centeno

I have been tagged by my good friends, Maxi of Health n Beyond and NJ of Desert Aquaforce.

They call this tag “ The Handwriting Tag.”

As I was doing a little research, I bumped into this link.What Does Your Handwriting Say About You? This is not part of the tag but I thought it would be interesting to find out what our handwriting meant. This is what it said about my penmanship:

"Your handwriting says you are not traditional. You are a fairly energetic person. You know how do pace yourself, and you deal well with stress.

You are very extroverted and outgoing. You are loving, friendly, and supportive. However, you are also manipulative and controlling at times.

I would like to victimize and see the handwriting of these following great bloggers, namely:

1) SHERWIN of "Mokong (Anu’ng Nasa Isip Ko)"
2) CZEL of "Vanity’s Child"
3) CK_LEIK of "Beyond Crypticness"
4) GODDY of "A Friend Named Goddy"
5) RHON B of "PIN(K)OY"



The Recantation

Written by Ron Centeno

In the evening of November 1, 2005, a girl named “Nicole” was having a blast at the Neptune Club in Subic. She bottomed up the alcoholic drinks vodka sprite, B52, Singporean sling, B53, long island ice tea, and bullfrog. Alongside, she found herself kissing passionately a U. S. marine named Daniel Smith while sitting on his lap. One thing led to the other and the next thing she knew, she was inside a van with Smith and his two other companions en route to the seawall of Alaba Pier. It was inside the van where the alleged rape was committed based on her testimony three years ago. Because the court sided with her version of the story, Smith was convicted.

From then, “Nicole” became the rallying cry for the modern-day “Gabrielas” and a symbol in her image was drawn to remind the perverted foreigners to show some sense of respect to our Filipino women. A large size of the Filipino people had thrown their fists into the air to celebrate their legal victory over the so-called white supremacy. Others, however, were not totally convinced. And out of the many conflicting opinions, the purported rape would not be put to rest since then.

On 12 March 2009, however, an act that was hoped to put closure to this brouhaha, “Nicole” wrote a dumbfounding affidavit recanting her own story that would essentially set Smith free.

Found in that affidavit, “Nicole” sworn, “My conscience continues to bother me realizing that I may have in fact been so friendly and intimate with Daniel Smith at the Neptune Club that he was led to believe that I was amenable to having sex or that we simply just got carried away. I would rather risk public outrage than do nothing to help the court in ensuring that justice is served.”

Recall her earlier testimony that the rape was committed inside the van. That was then. Her affidavit now completely disproves that.

Her current version is “I told the court that Daniel Smith kissed my lips and neck and held my breast inside the van. Recalling my testimony, I ask myself now how could I have remembered this if witnesses told the court that I passed out and looked unconscious when I was brought to the van by Daniel Smith. How could I have resisted his advances given this condition? Daniel Smith and I were alone on the third row of the van which had limited space and I do not recall anyone inside the van who held my hand or any part of my body. What I can recall is that there was very loud music and shouting inside the van.”

In effect, if her latest side of the story is in fact true, then the court has no authority to put Smith behind bar because of “LOUD MUSIC AND SHOUTING INSIDE THE VAN.”

At any rate, if her overall intent is to put all else to end, so be it. I doubt, however, that her intent be granted knowing that our preoccupation as a people is to bask on someone else’s missteps. All the more, her recantation opens the door to a more vigorous debate.


Divine Right

Written by Ron Centeno

It’s mind-boggling how many “Juan dela Cruz” would want to run for the incoming 2010 presidential elections despite the huge problems he is surely to inherit from the Arroyo administration. On the other, it’s a no-brainer because, aside from the power entailed, his future loot is immense.

Recall how Sen. Villar’s claim that to run for president, a candidate should have at least one billion pesos to win. And with the president receiving a measly monthly salary of P63,525, doing mathematics to interpret such figure, spells incredulity.

One can only imagine how the would-be elected Philippine president is able to recoup his campaign expenses. If his sole purpose is to serve the public without having to plunder the government coffer, there is simply no way would he be able to recover them.

Knowing Juan dela Cruz, however, he would recover them, and he would recover them with utmost impunity. Recall how Marcos siphoned millions of dollars into his Swiss account early on; Erap’s plundering act that cost him his term; and of course, this president and her first gentleman who, not once or twice, but on numerous occasions, has she been accused of corruption.

If such electoral trend would remain unabated where capital investment becomes the measure for earning a seat in Malacanang, then public service, which is the impetus in running for the office, would retire into oblivion.

In such case, only those who are in possession of countless wealth have the right to dream big. The “have nots”, despite the best of their intentions and qualifications, can only watch in disgust from the sideline as the “haves” jockey for the highest position.

Indeed, our country’s democratic process has been reduced to meaningless and the return to feudal rule is now taking place where the entitlement of the “divine right” is allotted only to the privileged few.

Consider 2010 elections as our payback time. If only we could muster our collective strength to deny access to power for those who arrogantly bent on gaining it through the size of their bank accounts, then and only then, our political involvement will have its meaning.

I remember Bubuy, (the singing sensation finalist) who claimed, “Kahit sino pwedeng mangarap.” Well, in a way, he could be right. In so many ways, in Philippine politics, in particular, his claim does not apply.

Photo Source:



Written by Ron Centeno

Last Sunday, the weather was damp and sent me feeling lethargic. It took me awhile to get up from bed trying to ponder what I would do next after downing a sizable cup of green tea.

At any rate, I managed to grab the L.A. Times, browsed it, and tossed it away after. But like most of the previous headlines about how bad the economy is, the news articles would only exacerbate my snoozy Sunday.

So I boiled more water for my second serving of green tea, plus, five pieces of “hopiang pandan” to counter the brazen weather. The hot tea perked me up a bit now and I needed to do something stimulating to while away my time. Throwing my fingers into the keyboard to write about anything, however, was not one of them. I just wanted to sit back and relax. I was all alone.

I had to amuse myself for whatever means possible. Hence, I dug into my DVD rack and loaded a comedy movie starring Steve Martin. After a couple of hours, I loaded another comedy film called Harold & Kumar – Escape from Guantanamo Bay, starring John Cho and Kal Penn. Two hours later, I loaded the third one, this time it’s a movie that has been sitting in the rack for years now. A movie that has earned praises from mostly girls or women in love.

For some reason, I have more funny, musical, horror, and action movies sitting in that rack, nonetheless, gave a thought on this movie described by Gene Shalit on The Today Show as, “A matchless romantic comedy.” The New York Observer calls it, “Uplifting and Delightful.” Fox TV says, “A perfect blend of comedy and romance.” The movie I’m talking about that was released in 2001 is simply called Serendipity, starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale. (Serendipity is the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something else entirely).

“Jonathan (Cusack) and Sara (Beckinsale) meet unexpectedly…then part without expectation when she decides they must let fate determine if they are meant to be together. Years later, they are both engaged to others but cannot give up the dream that-despite time, distance and the obstacles that conspire to keep them apart-they will one day meet again!”

The movie was, indeed, funny and romantic. More importantly, however, it made me nostalgic about Manhattan. Now that I call Los Angeles my current address, having been to the exact location to most of the scenes in that movie was rather amusing to me. It was in Manhattan where Ces and I have first dated.

Thanks to Serendipity! My Sunday weekend has never been the same after watching it.


The "Right Now" Tag

Written by Ron Centeno

So, just when thought I could go back to reading “The Marcos Dynasty” by Sterling Seagrave, I found out that I have been tagged by my new found friend David Funk of Basic Blogonomics! I'm sorry Sterling but you have to wait. :-)

The basic premise is this – answers should all be “at the current moment.”


I would like to pass this tag to 5 of my favorite bloggers, namely:

1) Sherwin Calalang of "Mokong (Anu’ng Nasa Isip Ko)"

2) Gilbert of “"Gillboard"

3) Ck_leik of"Beyond Crypticness"

4) Czel of "Vanity’s Child"

5) Goddy Ramirez of"A Friend Named Goddy"


Jueteng: Why it's so appealing

Written by Ron Centeno

In the U.S., baseball is the country’s long-time favorite pastime that dates back in the 1860’s. In the ensuing years following The Great Depression of the 1930’s, many financially grief-stricken Americans found themselves at the ball parks to find solace in playing or watching the ball game. Since its inception, the likes of the legendary hitters such as Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson became iconic by raising the popularity of the game. Relative to this increased popularity, game attendance followed by radio and television viewership later in years, have dramatically surged, enriching the league’s players.

In recent years, baseball’s great sluggers including Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds, all accused of steroid-abuse scandal of the mid-2000’s, have pushed the limit for the very fat salary offered by the team franchises. In turn, they have been put under pressure to break previous home run records and ultimately break the law in the process. Notwithstanding, baseball is America’s game, because for the most part, it is about tradition that connects the old and future generations at a time when different adversities divide them.

Elsewhere, the game of soccer is South and Central Americas’ all-time favorite. There is nothing more evident than the so-called Football War of 1969 between El Salvador and Honduras to prove such point. El Salvador is a small country with high population growth and a severely limited amount of available land. In contrast, Honduras is a larger country with a smaller population and a less-developed economy. By 1969, about 300,000 El Salvadorans had crossed over the border and squatted in the sparsely populated Honduras. The illegal incursion of the El Salvadorans had become a nationalistic sore point for Honduras.

To make up for his tarnished reputation, Honduran President Oswaldo Lopez Arellano (1963 – 71) revived a dormant agrarian reform law as a pretext to expel the El Salvadoran squatters from the country. The tale of the displaced refugees painted an ugly picture in El Salvador’s dailies and airwaves. In retaliation, when a soccer match was held in El Salvador, the Honduran team members were vilified and harassed by the Salvadoran fans. The ensuing event brought unintended or otherwise consequence called the Football War and as many as 2,000 people, mainly civilians, were killed in the action.

In the Philippines, their pastime is a uniquely different kind of game called jueteng. The game is an illegal numbers betting played by rich and poor alike. The mechanics of the game is to select a combination of two numbers between 1 and 37. Despite the high odds or 1/666 to be exact, the lucrative payout is nowhere difficult to resist which raises its mass appeal in all corners of the country. The game depends largely on the large number of wagers and there is no limit to the amount of the bets.

While the legion of wagers is bountiful, those who run the game have become extremely rich by sucking the hard-earned income from the poor. On the average, a mayor of one municipality who benefits from the game, earns a whopping P50,000 each draw. If my elementary mathematics serves me right, a mayor’s take home is about P150,000 given the three draws each day. One would wonder how much the country’s president gets a single day.

The exact amount is hard to determine. One thing is sure, however. In 2001, Erap Estrada was removed from office when Governor Chavit Singson, a known gambling lord in northern Luzon, blew his whistle and accused the former president of jueteng payoffs. Following their testimonies in the Senate, Estrada’s cobrador who turned state-witnesses, graphically described how they would unload sacks of money into Erap’s presence. In 2005,Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s relatives were likewise alleged to have received payoffs from jueteng operators.

What makes this game appealing to the very grassroots of the Philippine society?

Interestingly enough, the game of jueteng evokes the folkloric notions of good and bad luck. Wagers associate their dreams to the numbers from a combination of symbolic premonitions. For instance, if a bettor dreamed of his bald neighbor to have been shot dead with 45 caliber, and bald being represented by number 70 and 45 caliber being 45, the combination of 70 and 45 would be his notional winning numbers. The ability or inability to interpret such supernatural powers is perceived to influence forces of nature. Or so it seemed.

It is no coincidence that out of the three draws, morning, noon, and evening, the morning draw commands the most number of bets. The evening draw comes in second after the bettor took his siesta at noon.

The other reason for its apparent appeal is that the cobrador literally knocks at bettor’s door to solicit bets. This saves the bettor the time to travel to retail stores compared to say, lotto or other form of legalized gambling. A one peso bet translates into a prize-money of around four hundred to one thousand pesos. Winnings are then delivered straight to the bettor by the same cobrador.

The game’s rule of engagement evokes simplicity. Bettors do not have to sign any written contracts. The transaction between the bettor and the cobrador is done through informal negotiations. Despite the lack of any formalities, a relationship that is built on trust, provides security for the bettors.

Given the mass appeal of jueteng, it is no surprise that Filipinos from all walks of life, either tricycle drivers or parish priests, tambays or school teachers, mayors or the presidents of the country, have become part and parcel of what is now a cultural menace that would surely survive all the generations to come.


How Low Can You Go?

Written by Ron Centeno

Nothing can be more of a detailed description how economic downturn in the U. S. is best exemplified by the story published on 28 February 2009 by the New York Times. The title of the article is aptly called, “After Being Laid Off, an Unexpected Career Change.”

According to the article, nine months ago, Mark Cooper lost his job as the security manager for the western United States for a Fortune 500 company that oversaw a budget of $1.2 million and earning about $70,000 a year. That was then. Now, Mr. Cooper makes $12 an hour as a janitor.

The likes of Mr. Cooper, however, is not unique. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that “about 1.7 million people were working part-time in January because they could not find full-time work.” The article added that “architects, former sales managers and executives who have taken on lower-paying, stop-gap jobs to help make ends meet, found that they were working for places like U.P.S., a Verizon Wireless call center and a liquor store.”

The article gave more stunning accounts of laid-off executives whose once lucrative income vanished into thin air when the companies they have been working suffered economic setbacks since the onset of recession in 2007.

In the case of Mr. Cooper and his wife who own a comfortable four-bedroom home in Glendale, Arizona, the $240 a week unemployment benefit would not be enough to cover their monthly mortgage.

Left without a choice, “Mr. Cooper rises every day at 4 a.m. and, after a time of prayer, devotes two hours to his job hunt on the computer.” He makes phone contacts during breaks from his pickup truck which he calls his “office.”

Indeed, life has gone from bad to worse in most cases. As another former executive who used to earn $165,000 a year and now gets $10 - $15 an hour as a data entry mournfully admits “It has been the hardest thing in my life. It has been harder than my divorce from my husband. It has really been even worse than the death of my mother.”

I’m sure many of us are profoundly affected by the recession and hope that it would end in the soonest possible time. For all of us who may or may not share the same personal crisis as Mr. Cooper, his heartbreaking courage to “vigorously shake out a rug at a back entrance and pushing a dust mop down a long hallway” should humble us to boldly face what life there is at times like this.

May God help us all!


The Passing of Time

Written by Ron Centeno

Albert Einstein points out that time seems so quick to pass by when things matter most and the opposite is true when things are insignificant. Einstein must be referring to his theory of relativity in relation to time and space. I do not attempt to discuss such theory here but I can’t seem to help but relate Einstein’s observation of the passing of the time to my personal experience.

On August 11, 2006, I met Ces in Queens, New York. I was alone in my apartment on a Friday night after wrapping up an assigned thesis that I needed to submit Monday morning. I was in my second semester then at the Graduate School of Business at the Universityof Maryland. Pretty boring I thought and time seemed to have gotten stuck. I needed a way out to amuse myself. I raised myself up from a chair before the computer table. Moments later, I decided to hit the door to grab a bite of kalderatang kambing along Roosevelt Avenuewhere a number of Pinoy bands perform every weekend at the Perlas ng Silangan bar and restaurant. The bar is few blocks away and I had to drag my feet to while away time. Indeed, there seemed to be nothing significant along the line.

I spoke too soon. As soon as I was ushered in, I found my eyes transfixed to a woman sitting two tables away. Immediately, my sense of time was racing like the speed of light. Four hours turned into four minutes. And after the whirling four hours, the band was managing its last song and the lights were fading in. It was time to get up and I seemed to barely notice it. For the last four hours, I had been contemplating on how to approach the lovely woman. I simply couldn’t muster enough courage. But I must have to find a way no matter what. Otherwise, time would run out.

Just right outside the door, armed with determination, I finally met Ces . We shook hands, exchanged quick pleasantries and took off to Café Lalo with the nudging from her two friends. They had some chocolate cakes and cups of coffee. I had two shots of tequila. I thought there was something to celebrate and the tequila was a quick fix for a very short time. After an hour, we had to hit the road. It was already past three in the morning.

Ces and I were sitting next to each other at the rear passenger seats. One of her friends, Rey, was behind the wheel. The other is Nilds, his wife. The streets were seemingly empty. Driving along Queens Blvdwas exceedingly easy. Traffic lights were uncooperatively green. If only I had the ability to stop the hands of time or paint those lights red. In minutes, Rey pulled the car over. I had to get off. It was then that I realized the genius of Albert Einstein.