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Mad rush for UP admission

Published in Editorial & Other Articles
A new spectacle at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City surprised the nation and UP itself over the weekend. It is the long queues of students wanting to take the UP admissions test or UPCAT, many taking them more than half a day under the heat of the sun or intermittent downpour, with at least  dozen fainting and some rushed to the clinic or hospitals. UP officials were reported to have been perplexed with what happened with some saying they never foresaw the long lines of senior high graduates in a mad rush to enlist for the UPCAT to be able to study in the American-created university which is now one of the best universities in Asia and the world. It was estimated that more than 10,000 youth joined the queues which, for one, also created monstrous traffic within the university compound.
 
The phenomenal mad rush could actually be easily explained and could have been easily projected by UP officials weeks or even months before had they prepared for them. The reason or reasons for the long queues is simple - UP started administering the UPCAT without any fee to be paid by the applicants and when they pass the rigid tests, they will be entitled toe enrol in UP without paying any single centavo for tuition fee or even miscellaneous fees. This is true not only in UP but in some 200 other state universities and colleges (SUCs) as well as local univerities and colleges (LUCs) all over the county. Some 800,000 to 1.2 million students were expected to enjoy the program starting this school year.
 
The free tertiary education program was one of the promises of President Rodrigo Duterte and this came to effect with the passage by Congress of the bill, Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education, providing for it and signed into law by Duterte as Republic Act 10931. The free tuition program actually started last year but this was expanded this year by providing free admission tests and free miscellaneous tests with allowances and scholarship for those deserving students.
 
 Free college education actually started in Manila initiated by the country's first "colorful" lawyer-mayor, Arsenio H. Lacson, in 1960. Mayor Lacson's untimely death allowed another lawyer mayor, Antonio J. Villegas, to pursue the program with the support of Congress which approved the creation of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) and later signed into law, RA 4196, by then President Diosdado Macapagal. PLM bloomed into one of the top universities of the country. The thousands of students who are now provided the chance to study sans tuition and fees in all SUCs and LUCs should be thankful to Mr. Duterte for the opportunity. There is no other way to be thankful than to study well and graduate and become responsible citizens of the country.

 

The Pied Piper of the White House

Published in Perry Scope

In 1284, as the legend goes, the people of Hamelin, Germany, hired the town’s rat-catcher, a piper, to lure the rats away with his magic pipe.  The piper was dressed in multi-colored (“pied”) clothing; hence he was called the “Pied Piper.”  He led the rats out of the town and into the sea where they drowned.  When the town’s people refused to pay him for his services, he retaliated by using his magic pipe and led their children away as he had with the rats.

 

Today, the term “Pied Piper” describes a person who talks often convincingly but who leads people into disaster.  It is also used to identify a leader whom people willingly follow as he leads them into danger or trouble by means of lies and false promises.

 

During the 2016 presidential elections in the U.S., Democratic Party officials labeled the Republican Party’s candidate Donald Trump a “Pied Piper candidate.”  Using his strong appeal to white nationalists and right-wing conservatives, Trump got the nomination of the Republican Party by eliminating his 16 rivals, one by one, in the primaries. 

 

During the general election, Trump used demagoguery to deliver a populist message such as “America First” and “Make America great again!”  He also manifested anti-women, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim behavior.  But to his die-hard supporters, his coded messages stirred their own prejudices.    

 

Massive protests

 

The day after Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017, the largest organized protest against him occurred in Washington, DC.   The protest -- Women’s March -- was then the largest single-day protest in U.S. history.  Protests in various cities around the world were held in support of the Women’s March.  After that, more protests occurred against Trump’s immigration policy, Travel ban, and the controversial Zero Tolerance Policy that forcibly separated migrant children from their families.

 

As the anti-Trump protests snowballed, his base of diehard voters became angrier. They turned out in large numbers in rallies Trump organized in cities where his voter base was strong.  And in these campaign-like rallies, Trump would excite them using inflammatory rhetoric against the anti-Trump protestors.  

 

He strongly believes that his followers would follow him blindly and remain loyal to him regardless of what he does – right or wrong.  Indeed, on January 23, 2016, then presidential candidate Trump caused controversy when he said during a campaign rally in Iowa: “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” That’s how confident he was.  Knowing how effective it was, he had since repeated the same line over and over again.  It worked and they loved it!  Which makes one wonder if he’d ask them to jump off the bridge, would they do it?   Trump would probably say, “Yes, they’ll jump for me.”  Does that manifest over-confidence or is it symptomatic of his imbalanced psyche? 

 

Faux pas

 

When Trump visited the Queen of England last July 13, huge anti-Trump demonstrations were held in London and other cities.  An orange blimp shaped like a baby in a diaper floated above London. It was called “Baby Trump.”  But what is more surprising was the number of anti-Trump protesters who showed up at the rally.  It was estimated that the protesters numbered from 100,000 to 200,000.  The British media was particularly critical.  One newspaper, the Daily News, showed a cartoon of Trump holding Putin with one hand and shooting Uncle Sam with the other hand.  It was captioned, “OPEN TREASON.”   

 

The social media was also inundated with postings expressing indignation and outrage over Trump’s behavior in London and during the NATO Summit in Brussels two days before.  Trump broke protocol when he arrived 12 minutes late to his meeting with Queen Elizabeth.  And when they reviewed the honor guard, Trump rudely walked in front of her.  The Queen had to walk fast to catch up with Trump and walked by his side, which was the norm. After his visit with the Queen at the Windsor Palace, he bragged to reporters that it was the first time in 70 years that the Queen reviewed an honor guard.  Certainly, that was a lie. 

 

It’s interesting to note that no other members of the Royal Family joined Trump and the Queen for tea.   Was it a deliberate snub for Trump who had said, “Britain is in turmoil” and defended Foreign Minister Boris Johnson who had resigned over Brexit?  

 

 It was bad enough that Trump made some faux pas during his visit with the Queen; he also criticized Prime Minister Theresa May.  He accused her of wrecking Brexit, warning that “she may have killed off any chance of a vital US trade deal,” which is a diplomatic taboo to say.  He also told May: “Boris Johnson is good friend… He would make a great prime minister,” which certainly rubbed May the wrong way.

 

Helsinki disaster

 

But the worst thing happened during the Trump-Putin Summit in Helsinki on July 16.  During the question and answer session following their press briefing, Trump was asked about the indictment of 12 officers from Russia’s GRU, the equivalent of the CIA.   They were indicted in the US for allegedly hacking the Democratic Party’s computer servers during the 2016 elections.  The investigation that led to the indictment was backed up by US intelligence agencies.  But in a stunning rebuke of the US intelligence community, Trump declined to endorse the US government’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections, saying he doesn’t “see any reason why" Russia would be responsible.  Standing next to Putin, he then firmly said in no uncertain terms:  “I have great confidence in my intelligence people. But, I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.  He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would.”  Huh?  Did Trump just throw America and the American people under the bus? 

 

And when Putin was asked whether he had actively wanted Trump to win the presidency, and if he directed any officials to help ensure Trump would win?  Putin’s answer to the double question was: “Yes, I did.  Yes, I did.  Because he [Trump] talked about bringing the US-Russia relationship back to normal.” It was a disaster!

 

Putin’s puppet

 

The Helsinki disaster triggered a tsunami in public opinion.  Waves of Americans vented their anger and displeasure over Trump’s treachery.  Many called him a traitor, Putin’s puppet.  How can their Commander-in-Chief sell out to the country’s geopolitical enemy? 

 

Trump was shocked at the reception back home.  Although his diehard base remained loyal by deluging social media with postings of their support, the rest of the country was thunderstruck!  Why?  He believed that he had just finished an outstanding performance on world stage.  He must have felt that America had disgraced him.  How can the American people elect him as president and then abandon him when he needed their unqualified support?

 

Now Trump is going to exact vengeance against America for turning her back on him.  And what a better way to avenged America’s shabby treatment than to find an ally in Putin?  So, a few days after his devastating diplomatic fiasco, Trump invited Putin to come to America.  He will honor him as his special guest during the military parade he had planned for November 10 to celebrate Veterans Day, which is preceded by the midterm elections on November 6.  The outcome of the midterms could lead to Trump taking his victory lap – if he retains majority in Congress -- with Putin on his side, or receive the biggest insult -- if he loses Congress -- to his presidency in front of the hundreds of parading soldiers.

 

And just like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, the Pied Piper of the White House is going to retaliate with his magical tweets by leading America’s children away and propel America into Russia’s orbit.    

 

(This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

The Pied Piper of the White House

Published in Perry Scope

In 1284, as the legend goes, the people of Hamelin, Germany, hired the town’s rat-catcher, a piper, to lure the rats away with his magic pipe.  The piper was dressed in multi-colored (“pied”) clothing; hence he was called the “Pied Piper.”  He led the rats out of the town and into the sea where they drowned.  When the town’s people refused to pay him for his services, he retaliated by using his magic pipe and led their children away as he had with the rats.

 

Today, the term “Pied Piper” describes a person who talks often convincingly but who leads people into disaster.  It is also used to identify a leader whom people willingly follow as he leads them into danger or trouble by means of lies and false promises.

 

During the 2016 presidential elections in the U.S., Democratic Party officials labeled the Republican Party’s candidate Donald Trump a “Pied Piper candidate.”  Using his strong appeal to white nationalists and right-wing conservatives, Trump got the nomination of the Republican Party by eliminating his 16 rivals, one by one, in the primaries. 

 

During the general election, Trump used demagoguery to deliver a populist message such as “America First” and “Make America great again!”  He also manifested anti-women, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim behavior.  But to his die-hard supporters, his coded messages stirred their own prejudices.    

 

Massive protests

 

The day after Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017, the largest organized protest against him occurred in Washington, DC.   The protest -- Women’s March -- was then the largest single-day protest in U.S. history.  Protests in various cities around the world were held in support of the Women’s March.  After that, more protests occurred against Trump’s immigration policy, Travel ban, and the controversial Zero Tolerance Policy that forcibly separated migrant children from their families.

 

As the anti-Trump protests snowballed, his base of diehard voters became angrier. They turned out in large numbers in rallies Trump organized in cities where his voter base was strong.  And in these campaign-like rallies, Trump would excite them using inflammatory rhetoric against the anti-Trump protestors.  

 

He strongly believes that his followers would follow him blindly and remain loyal to him regardless of what he does – right or wrong.  Indeed, on January 23, 2016, then presidential candidate Trump caused controversy when he said during a campaign rally in Iowa: “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” That’s how confident he was.  Knowing how effective it was, he had since repeated the same line over and over again.  It worked and they loved it!  Which makes one wonder if he’d ask them to jump off the bridge, would they do it?   Trump would probably say, “Yes, they’ll jump for me.”  Does that manifest over-confidence or is it symptomatic of his imbalanced psyche? 

 

Faux pas

 

When Trump visited the Queen of England last July 13, huge anti-Trump demonstrations were held in London and other cities.  An orange blimp shaped like a baby in a diaper floated above London. It was called “Baby Trump.”  But what is more surprising was the number of anti-Trump protesters who showed up at the rally.  It was estimated that the protesters numbered from 100,000 to 200,000.  The British media was particularly critical.  One newspaper, the Daily News, showed a cartoon of Trump holding Putin with one hand and shooting Uncle Sam with the other hand.  It was captioned, “OPEN TREASON.”   

 

The social media was also inundated with postings expressing indignation and outrage over Trump’s behavior in London and during the NATO Summit in Brussels two days before.  Trump broke protocol when he arrived 12 minutes late to his meeting with Queen Elizabeth.  And when they reviewed the honor guard, Trump rudely walked in front of her.  The Queen had to walk fast to catch up with Trump and walked by his side, which was the norm. After his visit with the Queen at the Windsor Palace, he bragged to reporters that it was the first time in 70 years that the Queen reviewed an honor guard.  Certainly, that was a lie. 

 

It’s interesting to note that no other members of the Royal Family joined Trump and the Queen for tea.   Was it a deliberate snub for Trump who had said, “Britain is in turmoil” and defended Foreign Minister Boris Johnson who had resigned over Brexit?  

 

 It was bad enough that Trump made some faux pas during his visit with the Queen; he also criticized Prime Minister Theresa May.  He accused her of wrecking Brexit, warning that “she may have killed off any chance of a vital US trade deal,” which is a diplomatic taboo to say.  He also told May: “Boris Johnson is good friend… He would make a great prime minister,” which certainly rubbed May the wrong way.

 

Helsinki disaster

 

But the worst thing happened during the Trump-Putin Summit in Helsinki on July 16.  During the question and answer session following their press briefing, Trump was asked about the indictment of 12 officers from Russia’s GRU, the equivalent of the CIA.   They were indicted in the US for allegedly hacking the Democratic Party’s computer servers during the 2016 elections.  The investigation that led to the indictment was backed up by US intelligence agencies.  But in a stunning rebuke of the US intelligence community, Trump declined to endorse the US government’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections, saying he doesn’t “see any reason why" Russia would be responsible.  Standing next to Putin, he then firmly said in no uncertain terms:  “I have great confidence in my intelligence people. But, I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.  He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would.”  Huh?  Did Trump just throw America and the American people under the bus? 

 

And when Putin was asked whether he had actively wanted Trump to win the presidency, and if he directed any officials to help ensure Trump would win?  Putin’s answer to the double question was: “Yes, I did.  Yes, I did.  Because he [Trump] talked about bringing the US-Russia relationship back to normal.” It was a disaster!

 

Putin’s puppet

 

The Helsinki disaster triggered a tsunami in public opinion.  Waves of Americans vented their anger and displeasure over Trump’s treachery.  Many called him a traitor, Putin’s puppet.  How can their Commander-in-Chief sell out to the country’s geopolitical enemy? 

 

Trump was shocked at the reception back home.  Although his diehard base remained loyal by deluging social media with postings of their support, the rest of the country was thunderstruck!  Why?  He believed that he had just finished an outstanding performance on world stage.  He must have felt that America had disgraced him.  How can the American people elect him as president and then abandon him when he needed their unqualified support?

 

Now Trump is going to exact vengeance against America for turning her back on him.  And what a better way to avenged America’s shabby treatment than to find an ally in Putin?  So, a few days after his devastating diplomatic fiasco, Trump invited Putin to come to America.  He will honor him as his special guest during the military parade he had planned for November 10 to celebrate Veterans Day, which is preceded by the midterm elections on November 6.  The outcome of the midterms could lead to Trump taking his victory lap – if he retains majority in Congress -- with Putin on his side, or receive the biggest insult -- if he loses Congress -- to his presidency in front of the hundreds of parading soldiers.

 

And just like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, the Pied Piper of the White House is going to retaliate with his magical tweets by leading America’s children away and propel America into Russia’s orbit.    

 

(This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Senior advocate bows out

Published in Editorial & Other Articles

Upside by Cherie

Aurea Cruz concludes her 12-year service on the Commission on Aging with commendation from County Supervisor David Canep0, who also lauded  Sandra Lang (seated behind Cruz) for  her 12-year service.  (Photo by CHERIE M. QUEROL MORENO)

 



San Mateo County Commission on Aging, the board advising the Board of Supervisors on issues facing the county’s older residents, said goodbye to its longest serving Filipino American member last month.

Aurea Ocampo Cruz completed 12 years on the 17-member  volunteer body dedicated to addressing matters promoting the safety, dignity, inclusion and engagement of seniors. Among the topics regularly discussed at monthly general meetings and regular committee sessions are resource access, transportation, housing, health care and adult and dependent abuse.

“I joined the CoA in 2006 to give voice to our underserved residents, especially in North County, where I live,” said the resident of San Pedro Commons in Colma. “Adult abuse prevention is my passion and I’m honored to have contributed to the dissemination of information that has educated many about the different forms of hidden abuse, like neglect and economic control.”

Cruz, 86, brought her forthrightness to meetings, always speaking up to share observations from her community activities or to thank a guest speaker.

 

“I’ve been a commissioner through six chairpersons,” said the former head of the Human Resources Managers Association of the Philippines who rarely missed a meeting.  If she was absent from the second Monday gatherings at Room 100 of the San Mateo County Health Systems complex on 225 37th Avenue, she was most likely halfway around the world visiting family in the Philippines or her grandchildren in Australia.

“Ate Auring,” as protégées called her, modeled the self-sufficiency  her commission aims to inspire and foster. She would commute by Samtrans to and from meetings garbed in the latest fashion, accessories carefully picked to match.

She welcomed new commissioners, taking fellow Filipino Americans like Walter Batara, Elsa Agasid, and, before she resigned to return to full-time work, Marissa Robles, under her wing.

For her “dedication to help promote programs to vastly help the lives of older Americans,” County Supervisor David Canepa commended Cruz at her final meeting. Canepa also commended Commissioner Sandra Lang who completed 12 years of service as well.

“Don’t be surprised to see me at CoA meetings among public attendees,” Cruz told this writer. For sure she will take the mic and have a thought to expound.

Meanwhile she will continue presiding over the Legion of Mary at Holy Angels Parish in Daly City and assisting clergy and sisters to who she is a surrogate aunt.  She looks forward to spending quality time with her husband Ross.

 

Cruz and Lang’s retirement has opened vacancies on the CoA.  Applicants must live in San Mateo County, be at  least 21 years old and available to attend daytime meetings. To apply, visit https://bnc.smcgov.org/sites/bnc.smcgov.org/files/Vacancy%20Ntc.061418.pdf.

***
Cherie M. Querol Moreno is an award-winning journalist, community educator and volunteer.  She is in her third term as Commissioner on the San Mateo County Commission on Aging.

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