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Before there was Facebook, before there was cell phone texting, before there was Instagram and Twitter, there was a time when my wife, Edna, and I would just lie quietly in bed, reading books.
On my side of the bed lay a stack of books generally about politics, history and law. On Edna’s side were books about religion, personal growth and inspirational accounts of lives well-lived.
One night, about 20 years ago, I stopped what I was reading and talked to my wife about my utter frustration with all the destructive intrigues and petty backbiting in the Filipino community. I had written about this debilitating phenomenon in one of my first columns in Philippine News in October of 1987. In “Crab Mentality”, I wrote about the propensity of Filipinos to pull down those who may be seen as climbing out of the crab basket we’re stuck in.      
Instead of counseling strength and acceptance of the slings and arrows that go with being a public figure in the San Francisco Filipino community, my wife instead suggested I read the book she had just finished, “Mother Theresa, Missionary of Charity.”
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Two of the most intelligent presidents the country ever had turned out to be the most corrupt.  So much for intelligent people running the government.  How about those with a lame mind “ampaw” (rice crispies) as President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III called them last March 13 when he advised voters to elect someone with substance.  “In essence, who really has substance and who is ampaw?” he asked the students at an open forum at the Hope Christian High School in Manila. “With ampaw, you might be happy for a while but after 10 minutes, you’re hungry because there’s nothing in it,” P-Noy said in Filipino.  “Ampaw” is a pejorative for people lacking in substance.
But P-Noy is also the target of his critics who questioned his qualifications to run the country during the 2010 presidential elections.  They claimed that in his nine years in the House of Representatives and three years in the Senate, his legislative record was zero; that is, none of the bills he authored have been enacted into law.  “A real ampaw,” they said.
Actually, before P-Noy raised the issue of ampaw presidential candidates, his critics have already been calling him “ampaw” for what they believed was his incompetence in governing the country. His disappearing acts during crises further exacerbated public perception of his incapacity to deal with the country’s problems.  
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The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is up nearly a percentage point from last year. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the nationwide average rate for a 30-year loan rose to 4.15 percent from 4.12 percent last week. The average for the 15-year mortgage increased to 3.24 percent from 3.22 percent.
What’s more, the Mortgage Bankers Association’s latest forecast predicts the average rate on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will hit 5% by the end of the year.  I kind of don’t see that happening now that the Real Estate Market seems to be flattening out, but who knows with stocks at its all time high, investors might shift from Stocks back out to Realty?
But borrowers who missed the boat and didn’t capture an extremely low rate aren’t the only ones who may be in mourning. Lenders miss those low rates, too. 
That’s because their disappearance means the number of people refinancing is way down, forcing lenders to consider ways to drum up business. So now, they’re often more willing to consider borrowers with less-than-perfect credit or those who don’t have a 20% down payment. With a thinned herd of applicants, they’re also able to focus on providing better service. 
Rising rates are encouraging lenders to rethink their lending guidelines and bring in more business.  They haven’t had to do that reassessment of their guidelines [until now] because they were so busy with the refinance volume.  And possible government s watchful eyes  lingering down on lenders being too aggressive with their issuing of loans.  This is really the reason for the lending guidelines being the way it is, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac needs to be staying away from government intervention and start doing business with home borrowers again.
Credit standards are loosening 
For homeowners who had lost their homes due to the “Great Recession” the lenders are doing much more to help them get into homes now.  It’s not all pickles but we are getting more and more borrowers able to qualify for homes after a Foreclosure, Short Sale or even Banktruptcy.
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It is bad enough that China had grabbed the Panganiban Reef in 1994 and the Panatag Shoal in 2012.  It is bad enough that China is building artificial islands in the Spratly Archipelago to be used as naval and air bases.  But for China to loot the Philippines of her natural resources, it has to stop!
And what is very sad is that corrupt government officials are in cahoots with these looters.  Where is President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III’s “matuwid na daan” (straight path) mantra?  Where is his “Walang korap, walang mahirap” (No corruption, no poverty) slogan that he’s been trumpeting these past four years?  And when would the raping of our Inang Bayan (Motherland) ever stop?
These are the questions that President Aquino should – nay, must! – address.  And if he is truly the “honest and incorruptible” leader that his spin meisters have been telling his “boss,” the people, then he should put a stop to this wholesale plunder right away!  But by the looks of it, the criminal pillaging of our patrimony goes on.  Hundreds of Chinese ships loaded with ores, such as black sand (magnetite), leave Philippine ports -- from Cagayan in the north to Zamboanga in the south – destined for China.  
Out of the rubbish of this massive destruction of the ecological system of our land arose a mysterious character – Cedric Lee -- who controls the black sand business in the Philippines through his Colossal Mining Corporation, which is the biggest iron and black sand concessionaire in the Philippines.      
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Q. “I love my husband dearly.  I am willing to do anything for him despite the many hardships I go through. Right now, I am the only one earning for the two of us because he still has visa problems. We hardly make both ends meet, and we are beset with huge debts. Sometimes I get so weary working. Nevertheless, I know these problems are temporary and just like other couples we will be able to make it through. I am just thankful I have found a faithful husband. My mom, however, tells me I spoil my husband because I do not allow him to just get any menial job because of his high educational degree. I would rather have him work at home for some computer or internet jobs rather than earn daily wage which would not even suffice for his own food and transport. Mom tells me we are both guilty of pride. What do you say to this?”
A.  It seems to us that you are struggling not only because of financial needs but also because of the pressure from your mom. Moms are moms because their love and care for their children last for a lifetime. We can imagine your mom suffering on the inside whenever she sees her daughter exhausted from work to be able to provide for the needs of her husband. It is so natural for her to be defensive of her daughter. Although unsolicited, her advice was meant to help you ease your load. She just probably wanted to drive the point that your husband can still help you earn money in one way or another by perhaps doing extra things for neighbors such as maybe fixing broken things and the like. And this is not demeaning and something to be ashamed about. Any wages from the sweat of your brows is something to be proud about. All your mom probably wants to see in your husband is for him to exert effort to help her daughter. Some people say the children cannot comprehend the love of their mothers until they become parents themselves. So just thank your mom and assure her that you are not complaining and that you love what you are doing. Ask her to pray for you as a couple because her prayers matter so much.
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Q:    “I admit that I had been unfaithful to my wife but I never abandoned my family. My wife always suspected that I have affairs but never caught me. Naturally we fight fearlessly. Our pastor tried to intervene so we can to put our lives back together again, but I am not sure if I really want to stay with her. She claims that she loves me but she does not respect me.  Even in front of our children and even our Pastor she would nag, scream and become fuming mad at me. I swear if there were no other people with us she would have smacked me or have eaten me alive and I would have been a battered husband. I know that I have been in error but how could I love and trust her?
A:  Love is a decision. You have to decide to love your wife no matter what. Trust follows after love. When love overtakes you, trust becomes inevitable. Both are results of mutual devotion to God and to one another. If you draw near to God, you will be infused by His love then it will be effortless to love especially your spouse. Try to spend more time with God first and learn to dwell in His presence.  Once you do, it will be easy to love your wife. 
Please remember that love is never a one-sided affair. It takes two to love. You cannot just receive it. You have to give it to feel its real essence. It is unconditionally given to the other person - no buts, no ifs. The Bible says, husbands, love your wives as your own bodies (Ephesians 5:25).
Honestly, if you still care for the welfare of your family and you want it to remain intact, the change should start with you. You must make the first step of humbling yourself:  admit your faults to your wife ask her forgiveness and make it up with her. This way you do not only honor your covenant, you also honor God. The book of Malachi reads in chapter 2:14, “You ask why He no longer accepts the offerings you bring Him.  It is because He knows you have broken your promise to your wife you married when you were young. She was your partner and you have broken your promise to her, although you promised before God that you would be faithful to her”.
  If you want her to respect you, you have to show an example and mind you, respect is always earned. Give her the respect by staying true to your vows to her and making her secure in your love. Once she feels that you love her, she will respond by loving you back. Remember love begets love - you reap what you sow.
You must be questioning why does it seem that we are picking on you when you were asking for advice for yourself? Our answer is: please take time to ponder if God is dealing with you instead.  God loves you and your family so much and He has a great plan for you.  Being the head of your family, you are the spiritual head who will guide your family to truth and righteousness. You will see that the moment you make a decision to stand up to your role as a husband and father as God designed you to be, you will be amazed how the whole situation will turn around for good.
Therefore, we advise you to come to terms with God first. Spend time with Him. Talk to Him.  Listen to His voice. He is your Father.  He will guide you through His Spirit. He will teach you what to do. Read His word, the Bible and He will speak to you. God bless you!
You may call or write to us at our address above-stated or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or you can channel your feedbacks or problems through Philippines Today. God bless you all!
                                             REV. DANTE & CYNTHIA VELUZ
                                                   Authors & Conference Speakers
           On Marriage and Relationships and 
               Certified Marriage Specialists
                                           JESUS IS ALIVE FELLOWSHIP (AG)
                                        414 Tennessee Street, Vallejo, CA 94590
                                  Sunday Bible Study, 9:30AM; Worship, 10:30AM
                                      For prayers, (707) 334-4043, (707) 553-1285 
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Recently, China confirmed that construction work is ongoing at the Mabini Reef (Johnson South Reef) in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).  However, she declined to say what she’s constructing. She told the Philippines that it’s none of her business because the area is “Chinese territory.”
It doesn’t matter that Mabini Reef is within the Philippines’ 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and it doesn’t matter that Mabini Reef is within the Philippines’ continental shelf, both of which are covered by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). With more than 60 countries signing the treaty, including China and the Philippines, the UNCLOS took effect in 1982.  Yet, China roguishly ignores the UNCLOS.  
Today, China insists that an arbitrarily drawn nine-dash line, which bounds about 90% of the South China Sea, delineates what she claims as “undisputable sovereignty” and “core national interest,” a euphemism she uses to signify that an area of land or water is non-negotiable territory.  With no coordinates to pinpoint the exact boundary of the nine-dash-line, the claimed area covers parts of her southern neighbors’ EEZ.  These countries are Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, and lately, Indonesia. 
The reclamation of roughly five square kilometers of the subsurface area around the tiny Mabini Reef would require moving large volume of rock and soil from China, more than 600 miles away.  It’s estimated that the reclamation and construction of the airbase would take 10 years to complete.
But China must have surmised that it’s worth the gargantuan effort because it would result in her establishing a strategic foothold  -- for the first time outside China -- where her navy, air force, troops, ballistic missiles, and drones could reach Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and everybody else within 1,500 miles.  With naval and air bases on Mabini Reef, China would come eyeball-to-eyeball with the Philippines… and, by extension, the U.S.  It would, in effect, break the First Island Chain, America’s first line of defense against Chinese aggression, which runs from Japan through Taiwan, the Philippines, Borneo, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam.   It also runs parallel to the nine-dash line. 
If China took unchallenged possession of the South China Sea, she would be in a position to keep the Strait of Malacca open to Chinese maritime routes for oil from the Middle East and Africa, which comprises 80% her foreign oil imports. 
Should the Strait of Malacca be closed, the Straits of Sunda and Lombok in Indonesia and the Timor Sea would provide China with alternate maritime routes.  However, Australia, which is a key U.S. ally, could play a crucial role should war break out between the U.S. and China.  Darwin, which is a forward operating base for American forces in Australia, could deny China’s use of these sea-lanes. 
With the conversion of Oyster Bay in Palawan into a mini-Subic naval base for Philippine and U.S. naval forces, a Chinese military base on Mabini Reef could effectively close the Ulugan Bay where naval vessels from the inner Oyster Bay had to pass through to get into the West Philippine Sea.   From a geostrategic standpoint, it would be a prized appendage for China, but it would be a pain in the groin for the U.S. and the Philippines.
Air-Sea Battle
Given U.S. President Barack Obama’s plan to rebalance 60% of America’s naval and air forces to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, China’s military presence on Mabini Reef would enhance her Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) strategy, which was designed to counter the U.S.’s Air Sea Battle (ASB) plan.
The question is: What can the Philippines do to assert her sovereignty over Mabini Reef and other islands in the Spratly archipelago that China is fortifying with offensive military assets?   The problem is that the Philippines doesn’t have the capability to stop China on her own.  She relies on the U.S.’s presumed “ironclad” guarantee to come to her aid should hostility erupt over territorial disputes with China.  There is no such “ironclad” guarantee.  
The truth of the matter is the U.S. had repeatedly voiced out her neutrality on the territorial disputes in the South China Sea.  The latest was last May 31 in Singapore when U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reportedly warned Lt. Gen. Wang Guanzhong that “the U.S. will not look the other way when nations such as China try to restrict navigation or ignore international rules and standards.”   However, he also parroted Obama’s cliché that the U.S. is neutral and doesn’t take any side on territorial disputes in the South China Sea.  That means that the Philippines is on her own in defending her sovereignty and territorial integrity when it comes to any of the islands in the South China, which the U.S. had claimed as not being covered by the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT).  The rationale for the exclusion was that the Spratly islands were not included as Philippine territory; hence, not covered by MDT.
Treaty ally
And this brings to mind the question:  Isn’t a “treaty ally” – as the U.S. refers to the Philippines -- an ally in every sense of the word?  Or is it just something that is applied for the U.S.’s convenience when her “core interests” are imperiled?
Evidently – unlike Japan -- the Philippines is not one of America’s “core interests” after the Philippine Senate had unceremoniously evicted the U.S. bases in 1991.  Since then the U.S. has configured her military defense structure in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region without any consideration for the Philippines as part of the defense arc circling China.  In other words, the Philippines has zero geopolitical value to the U.S.  She simply didn’t exist.
But now, after President Benigno Aquino III begged the U.S. to come back, he has to regain the U.S.’s unqualified support for the Philippines, not just a “treaty ally” but also a “true ally.” 
At the end of the day, the Philippines has her work cut out rebuilding U.S.-Philippine alliance.  It’s not going to happen overnight; but it will, slowly but surely. 
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There’s no question the economy has not been kind for many California families who bought and borrowed more than they can chew in the mid 2000s’. Bad things happen to good people and many folks fell victim to bankruptcy, foreclosures,  and lost a home either through short sale.
Buying a home after this type of financial hurdle may be much easier than you think. With the recent increase in bankruptcy and foreclosure filings, lenders are changing their guidelines to allow potential homeowners to get back in the real estate market faster.  Even just learning and preparing now for a future purchase is worth your time.   The following explains how these situations affect purchasing a home based on the new FHA guidelines.
 After Bankruptcy, buy again using:
 • FHA – 2 years from the discharge of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy
 • FHA – 1 year from the discharge of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy 
• Conventional – 4 years from the discharge of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy
 • Conventional – 2 years from the discharge of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. 
NOTE: If you include a mortgage in your bankruptcy there is also a separate waiting period if you end up losing the home to short sale, deed in lieu, or foreclosure. 
These waiting periods run concurrently if you filed bankruptcy as well, so the longer of the two waiting periods will determine eligibility. 
After Short Sale or Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure, buy again using: 
• FHA – 3 years from date deed of trust transfer completed 
• Conventional – 2 years from date deed of trust transfer completed if: 
o 20% down payment | Minimum 680 credit score 
• Conventional – 3 years from date deed of trust transfer completed if: 
o 10% down payment | Minimum 680 credit score 
After Foreclosure, buy again using: 
• FHA – 3 years from date deed of trust transfer completed 
• Conventional – 7 years from date deed of trust transfer completed. 
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I watched the “Godfather” movie -- for the umpteenth time -- last week and loved every scene just like when I saw it the first time 42 years ago.  Yes, forty-two years and the movie is still popular – indeed, very popular -- and the No. 1 movie of all time.  It had brought criminal enterprise and the violence and corruption that it brews into a level of acceptability – and even respectability -- in people’s lives. 
In the same year the “Godfather” made its debut in the movies, another “Godfather” emerged from the political doldrums of the early years of an independent Philippines. On September 21, 1971, in a stroke of madness, then President Ferdinand E. Marcos signed Proclamation No. 1081, the declaration of martial law.      
Fifteen years later, the EDSA People Power revolution ousted Marcos and brought Cory Aquino to power.  She presided over a revolutionary government, rewriting the constitution in the process.  Known as the 1987 Constitution – often called Cory’s Constitution -- it was supposed to dismantle and reform the corrupt system of government that Marcos left behind.  
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Caller :  I currently own a home that is a 3 bed and 1 bath older home, we are quickly outgrowing this house and needing more space.  I would like to take some equity out of this house to buy our family a bigger home.  What I would like to do is to be able to rent out our existing house so we would have a renter to supplement the mortgage payments.  Our currently financial situation is that our total mortgage payment per month is about $2150.00.  We currently have a combined income of about $87 K and we have a car payment of about $390/mo.  All our other debts are at a minimum and we are getting a gift amount for a down payment from our parents.  We would like to take out our equity to be able to do a 20% down on a new house down the street that is much newer and completely remodeled.  Our estimated value of our house is about $390-400K.  What would you be able to advise us on how to proceed with these scenario? 

Ken:  Thanks for the call, these borrowers are in a great position now based on my phone interview.  They bought the house in 2004 at a discount directly from the sellers.  They owed about $300K on it and has about an estimated 80-90K in equity.  After reviewing the entire financial package, I came to a conclusion that, these homeowners are better of selling their existing house and moving all the equity to the new home.  Let me explain, they literally only have about $4K in savings, most of the down payment will be a gift from their parents whom just sold their home and will be moving in with these couple.  Therefore,

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