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Philippines Today




The Philippine Stagers Foundation ( PSF) headed by its Artistic Director Vince Tañada claims that they tower over the rest of the theater companies in the country as far as the number of productions and audience reach are taken into consideration.


In their 17 years of active existence   in the realm of staging original musical theater, the PSF has continued to perform in their advocacy to bring across   no-nonsense, educational albeit highly entertaining content of their theatrical productions. These were  performed annually in the key cities and provinces throughout the country with unprecedented success in terms of wider audience reach and critical acclaim.


And rightly so, in 2010 said theater company was awarded one of the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) at the Heroes Hall of Malacañang  Palace  by Pres. Noynoy Aquino III Added to this were the honors bestowed on Director Tañada  for his invaluable contribution in the field of Culture and the Arts  as one of the Ten Outstanding Manilans by  Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada including “Dangal Ng Bansa” to PSF by the Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino.


Also, both Director Tañada and the  PSF as a theater company including some of his brilliant actors have received various awards and are continuing to do so in different categories from Aliw Awards Foundation including a slew of the most recent awards from Broadway World Philippines recognizing them  as the country’s best theater group.


It can be argued that not one company in the theater circuit of Manila- centrist theater productions can lay claim to their achievement in the way of reaching wider sectors of society, e.g., students, professionals, and local constituents. 


Incidentally,the past week I was privileged to watch the finale performance of said company’s “Obra Ni Juan,” a multi- media theater presentation which incorporated  film clips and footages on the life,  nationalist struggle, and the controvesial tragic love affair of Juan Luna, the greatest Filipino painter  and revolutionary in history known for his internationally-acclaimed painting “Spoliarium” staged to a bursting capacity at the St. Scholastica’s College, Manila.


To beef up the event, Asia’s King of Talk Boy Abunda  of ABS-CBN’s long-running public service program and entertainment talk show host “The Bottomline” and “Tonight With Boy Abunda”respectivley was the special guest  that night  where he delivered an inspirational message after the show which he did with his usual panache and instinctive sharpness. This he did also in his capacity as spokesperson of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). 


True to his being the darling of the entertainment press, Boy early on  was warmly swarmed  and right after his brief,  though prescient appearance onstage by close friends from the movie press led byCrispina Martinez-Belen, Maryo Labad,Danny Vibas,  Fernan De Guzman with Chi-Cha, Jonas Virtudazo, and PSR editor Josh in tow,Eddie Littlefield and press photographer Fernand Sucalit, Robert Silverio, Throy Catan, and yours truly which humility and indulgence aside was given a descriptive “The Great George Vail” when onstaged he acknowledged me in passing as one of his friends who witnessed his theater beginnings in his salad days with the legendary Madame Conchita Sunico at the  Met which was then  his training ground.


Back then Boy had directed several plays and events to which I was privy and even to this time staying at the ringside of his talk shows where he is the indispensable co-actor stimulating and interacting organically with the motley characters and guests coming from all walks of life and persuasions.


Boy Abunda spoke with deep sincerity from his heart transforming himself instantly into an endemic, empathetic part of the members of PSF poised onstage and all enthralled  at the momentlistening up to him in glowing and encouraging terms as he was and still is a theater person by definition and reckoning.


Yet Boy kind of  apologized for not keeping up with the 17 years of active existence  of PSF in the realm of staging original musical theaterdeep in  social and historical content with ummistakeable  political correctness and  unimpeachable production values. These were  performed annually in the key cities and provinces throughout the country with unprecedented success in terms of wider audience reach and critical acclaim.


I must say, not one company in the theater circuit of Manila- centrist theater productions can lay claim to PSF’s achievement in the way of reaching a wider sectors of society, e.g., students, professionals, and local constituents.


“Obra Ni Juna” was more than nostalgic as it was magical transporting  viewers to the turbulent world of Filipino Progandists in Europe the likes of Marcelo H. Del Pilar,  Dr. Jose Rizal,  Juan and Antonio Luna  particularly while staying in Madrid, vis-a-vis the raging revolutionary forces back home led by Andres Bonifacio as inspired by Rizal’s novels “Noli Me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo”  and the  “Spoliarium, ” the iconic major prize winning painting of Juan Luna, brother to the slained General Antonio Luna.


Director Tañada recalled that  said musical  was staged in Badoc Ilocos Norte where Juan Luna was born. He said, “The Luna descendants  showed up and thanked us profusely for coming out with the play that made an objective interpretation of the extreme fit of jealousy  that led Juan to shoot  dead his wife Paz and mother-in-law Juliana Pardo de Tavera, and  wounding his brother-in-law Felix who tried to intervene. It also showed the not so well-known nationalist acts and participation  of Juan Luna during the revolution. He was eventually  acquitted by the Spanish court due to momentary insanity. The mother and daughter were survived by an only son Andres Pardo de Tavera –Luna.”


Tañada concluded, “On the other hand, not one among the Pardo de Tavera descendants has shown up thus far to watch the musical. Probably, recreating the controversial  cause of the murder of their  progenitors onstage does not sit well with the Pardo de Taveras.  Or perhaps they have not as yet forgiven Juan, our country’s colossal pride and the greatest Filipino painter up to this time for the crime of passion that he had committed? Or some other well-founded reasons that only them were privy to?”

Jinggoy’s 'misrepresentation'

Published in Editorial & Other Articles

A few days ago, the fifth division of the Philippines graft court, the Sandiganbayan, granted a petition of out-on-bail former senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada (real name: Jose Pimentel Ejercito), son of conviced plunderer former President now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada (real name: Joseph Marcelo Ejercito) and former First Lady and senator Luisa P. Estrada, to travel and vacation for one month to the United States. The main reason for Estrada’s petition was an invitation supposedly to be the guest speaker of the Filipino-American group called the US Pinoys for Good Governance (USPGG) headed by lawyer-businesswoman Loida Nicolas Lewis, chairperson, and lawyer Rodel Rodis, president, in its general assembly on May 20 in Sterling Heights in Michigan.


Lewis, a known critic of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, and Rodis, also a columnist, however, denied extending the invitation for the ex-senator who is still facing plunder and graft charges before the Sandiganbayan and is out on P1.3 million bail, pointing out that the USPGG’s Michigan chapter headed by William Dechavez which reportedly wrote the invitation was not authorized to make such invitation to the ex-senator for their general meeting.“USPGG did not invite Jinggoy Estrada to speak in Michigan under USPGG nor is any program being planned by USPGG Michigan, since Willie Dechavez is on vacation in the Philippines,” Lewis and Rodis pointed out in a statement.


The question now that is being raised is did Jinggoy Estrada, who is gearing up for a campaign to return to the Senate via the 2019 elections, lie to the court in view of the denial by Lewis and Rodis, well known FilAm leaders? The graft court should respond immediately to the revelation of Lewis and Rodis, who are both lawyers, considering that there could be some misrepresentation, a grave offense, on the matter. Lewis and Rodis, meanwhile, were reported to be planning to file a petition before the Sandiganbayan seeking to rescind the travel authority of Estrada who, in the first place should not have been granted bail considering that plunder is a non-bailable offense.

It was not just a whiff or whisper

Published in On Distant Shore

The recent appointment of a former Customs official, who was accused by a self-confessed fixer as among those taking bribes, to deputy commissioner of the Bureau of Customs puts an anti-climactic conclusion to the P6.4-billion shabu smuggling scandal, which started as a scorching drama that threatened to expose the underbelly of the supposedly corruption-free family of President Rodrigo Duterte.


On April 3, the President signed the appointment papers of former Customs district collector Vincent Philip Maronilla, who was identified by Customs fixer Mark Taguba, the principal witness in the shabu smuggling case, as one of several senior Customs officials allegedly receiving bribes from him for the facilitation of huge shipments passing through the customs bureau.


Maronilla’s appointment completed the resurrection and promotion of ranking Customs officials implicated in the shabu smuggling scandal, who were placed on administrative leave or who resigned at the height of the congressional investigation into the case only to be reinstated or given higher posts a few months later.


Reinstated to their positions were Ariel Nepomuceno and Teddy Raval as customs deputy commissioners. Nepomuceno and Raval were among the BOC officials named by Sen. Panfilo Lacson as among those recipients of “tara” or payola (bribes) at the agency. Nepomuceno resigned again from his post last month, paving the way for Maronilla’s appointment.


In November, Duterte appointed two other senior Customs officials who resigned at the height of the shabu scandal to key positions in the Department of Transportation. Deputy Customs Commissioner Gerardo Gambala was named security director of the DOTr while Customs Director Milo Maestrecampo, who was one of those recommended charged by the Senate committee, was appointed assistant director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).


Former Customs Commissioner Nick Faeldon, who was one of several senior Customs officials charged in the shabu smuggling case, was appointed as head of the Office of Civil Defense.


All 12 key Customs officials charged in the P6.4-billion shabu smuggling case were cleared by the Department of Justice, then under the recently resigned Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre III, along with six NBI officials who were tagged by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) as those responsible for the release of the illegal shipment, and six officers of the Hong Fei Logistics, which owns the warehouse where the 600 kilograms of shabu were seized.


Guess who remained charged in the case? Taguba -- who implicated all the Customs officials along with presidential son, erstwhile Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and a Davao City councilor – was left holding the bag along with nine other private individuals who probably played very minor roles in the scandalous transaction.


It is a clear travesty of justice where the accuser ends up being accused, and the accused getting appointments or promotions.


The case brought into serious doubt President Duterte’s promise to rid the country of corruption, particularly in the customs bureau. The President had promised to fire government officials even at the slightest hint of corruption.


Indeed, Duterte has fired several ranking officials, some of them his closest friends and supporters, on mere rumors of corruption, and yet reappoints and even promotes officials of an agency he himself pinpointed as the most corrupt in the government despite having been actually indicted before the justice department, recommended to be charged by the Senate, and positively identified by a customs broker involved in the deal.


And the government prosecutors didn’t even look into the claim of Taguba that the younger Duterte was involved in the smuggling of the 600 kilos of shabu. Something definitely stinks in this turn of events, and the DOJ prosecutors wouldn’t even take a second look at it.


In the meantime, Duterte is going hammer and tong to prosecute Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno for allegedly misdeclaring her Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN). Had the government used the same determination to prosecute those involved in the P6.4-billion shabu smuggling and the prominent drug lords implicated in illegal drug activities, perhaps corrupt government officials and criminal lords would be more hesitant to conduct their nefarious activities.


Two years after Duterte promised to clean up the customs bureau, it remains one of the most, if not the most corrupt, agencies in the country. In fact, a recent report by the Office of the Unites States Trade Representative, identified the customs bureau as one of the government agencies that keep corruption as a “pervasive” and longstanding” problem in the Philippines.


“National and local government agencies, particularly Bureau of Customs (BOC), are beset with various corruption issues,” the USTR said.


In June 2016, a few days before being sworn in as president, Duterte said: “Huwag na huwag talaga akong makarinig na (Let me not hear anything about) corruption, [not] even a whiff or whisper. I will fire you or place you somewhere.”


It was not just a whiff or whisper that he heard about the P6.4-billion shabu smuggling scandal. It was the sound of a gathering storm. And he failed – or refused – to hear it. (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

As founder of MOBILE SIGNING SERVICES, I continue to experience creative ideas on how to save and avoid long lines and waiting time at the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco, California.


Early this year, Carol and some clients from Concord, El Cerrito and East Bay Area suggested that we meet at the Balboa Park BART Station(near my San Francisco home) instead of the accredited Notary Public going to their homes for the notarization and accreditation of Special Power of Attorney(SPA) needed in the Philippines. Before the meeting at the Balboa Park BART Station, we instructed the clients to prepare three copies of the prepared SPA and three copies of I.D. (e.g. California Driver's License, California I.D. issued by DMV, or Passport)


We met the clients at the Balboa Park BART Station lobby and have them signed the SPA and the Journal of Notarial Acts and affixed their right thumb marks. With this creative idea, the clients saved money on gas and mileage fees and other related notary fees. The clients didn't have to go to the Philippine Consulate Office and avoided long lines and long waiting time in the submission of SPA at the Front Desk (one hour or more) and release of authenticated (with red ribbon) documents (3-4 hours) at the release counter because the documents were notarized by accredited Notary Public. The authenticated SPA and documents were mailed (by Priority Mail) to the clients the following day.


Last Saturday (day before Easter Sunday), March 31, 2018, another client had creative idea on how to save and avoid long waiting time and long lines at the Philippine Consulate. Roger from South San Francisco arranged to pick me up at home in San Francisco and then brought me to his physically handicapped brother-in-law in the Sunset District in San Francisco for the notarization and follow-up of authentication of Special Power of Attorney. His brother-in-law David signed the SPA and my Journal of Notarial Acts and affixed his right thumb mark. David submitted a copy of his California Senior ID.


Then Roger drove me to the workplace of his sister in the Westlake District in Daly City, California. His sister signed the SPA and my Journal of Notarial Acts and affixed her right thumb mark. Roger's sister submitted her California Senior ID. To avoid long lines on Mondays and Fridays, we submitted the notarized SPA and other documents the following Tuesday at the Front Desk (second Floor, 447 Sutter, San Francisco, California). After review of the documents, I paid $25 authentication fee at the Cashier (sixth Floor) and waited for the release of the authenticated (with red ribbon) SPA at the release counter, later in the afternoon. The authenticated SPA (with red ribbon) was picked up by Roger in my home in San Francisco, California the following day.


Through this another creative idea, the clients saved on gas and mileage fees and other related notary fees. The physically handicapped husband didn't have to go to the Philippine Consulate Office in San Francisco and avoided long lines and long waiting time. The wife didn't have to take off from her work to go to the Philippine Consulate Office. She avoided long lines and long waiting time at the Philippine Consulate Office in San Francisco, California.


As founder of MOBILE SGINING SERVICES, I would like to express my profound thanks, appreciation and commendation to the Philippine Consul General for initiating and continuing the Notary Public Accreditation Program. These savings, convenience and benefits for our hundreds and thousands of “kababayans”and clients were made possible because of the Notary Public Accreditation Program.


For immediate help and assistance in the notarization and authentication of Affidavits, Special Power of Attorney, Deed of Donation, QUITCLAIM DEED, Waiver of Claim, Deed of Extra Judicial Settlement, DEED OF ABSOLUTE SALE and other documents needed in the Philippines and in California, just write or contact MOBILE SIGNING SERVICES, 730 Madrid Street, San Francisco, CA 94112 Tel. (650)438-3531 or (415)584-7095 or email:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


CITIZEN OF THE YEAR: My good friend and incumbent councilmember of the Milpitas City Council, Atty. Garry Barbadilllo, was honored as CITIZEN OF THE YEAR during the Recognition Dinner Night hosted by the Knights of Columbus, last Saturday, March 31, 2018 in Milpitas, California. Congratulations Atty. Barbadillo!


6OTH BIRTHDAY: My youngest brother Salvador ”Buddy” Gabot Madlaing celebrated his 60th Birthday through Dinner and Get-Together in Santa Clara, California last Monday, April 1, 2018 with 99-year-old mother Elena Sampayan Gabot Madlaing; sisters Josie Madlaing Lewis, Magdalena Madlaing Sison, Luzviminda Gabot Madlaing; brother Art Gabot Madlaing; several nieces and nephews and in-laws. The event was hosted by his beloved wife Ursula Talon Madlaing and daughter Mercelina. Naragsak ken nebendisyonan a kasangaymo kabagis!


KEZIA DEBUTANTE PARTY: My wife Virginia Jimenez Madlaing and I were fortunate to attend the 18th Birthday Dinner Party of Kezia Lenon, daughter of Jun Lenon and Manavir Lenon. last Saturday, March 31, 2018 at Fort McKinley, 101 Brentwood Drive, South San Francisco, California. The party and program was ably emceed by the debutante brother A. Joshua Lenon, like a professional Toastmaster.


Special highlight of the program was the sharing of 18 roses and messages to the debutante by Jun Lenon (her father with the first dance), Perry Robea (grandfathert), Art Madlaing, Noli Robea, Gion Robea, Rene Quioco, Rodil Gonzales, Rey/Renzi Obispo, Tony Fabros, Mayo Munar, Joross Gonzales, Russel Gonzales, Simon Robea, Ryan Allen, Romy Dalmacio, Zuhair Hussain, Tony Yuen, A J Lenon.


Another special highlight of the program was the sharing of 18 candles and wishes to the debutante by Manavir Lenon (mother who also delivered special message), Jovy Robea, Virgie Madlaing, Naomi Quioco, Ruby Gonzales, Mawi Robea, Simone Robea, Lily Obispo, April Alberto, Smithchelle Galvan, Rachell Allen, Teresa Cruz, Graciela Cenina, Rhea Sharma, Emily Chan, Vivian Chiong, Cris Yu, Anh Nguyen.


Wishing you a blessed and happy 18th Birthday Kezia! I pray that you may prosper in all things and be of good health, just as your soul prospers. (3rd John 2, NKJV)


(ART GABOT MADLAING is a commissioned Notary Public and licensed Real Estate Broker (BRE#00635976) in California since 1981. He is accredited Notary Public by the Philippine Consul General in San Francisco. Art is founder of FITNESS FOR HUMANITY (aka FITNESS FOR CHRIST) and ACAPINOY. He is active Evangelist with the GOLDEN GATE CHURCH OF CHRIST in San Francisco, California.)

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