So, what now?

I would like to thank Ben Punongbayan for allowing me to repost this series. It is an eye-opener and food for thought for the Filipino people. I hope the right leader will emerge in the near future!

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IF I WERE THE NEXT PRESIDENT (Part 15 and last of a series)

By BEN R. PUNONGBAYAN

Founder, Buklod National Political Party

We need the right leader to make the many programs articulated in this Commentary Series happen.

Unfortunately, we cannot find that person from the present cohort of political leaders. These present leaders are trapped in the current self-serving political practices, such as perpetuation of political power, abuse of power in various forms, pork barrel budget allocations, corruption, and prevention of legislations that seek to check or prevent such self-serving practices.

Because of the preoccupation to these self-serving practices, making government to work efficiently is neglected; and conspiracy in lower-level corruption is given a blind eye.

As a result of all these, funds that are needed for the general welfare and betterment of the lives of the people become limited and inadequate. For this reason, poverty, homelessness, child…

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How Filipinos Welcome the New Year

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Filipinos have a unique way of welcoming the New Year. Many of these superstitions have been passed down through generations, and they become part of the Filipino customs and traditions in the belief of ushering in a prosperous New Year.

To prepare for New Year’s Eve, Filipinos spend the last days of the year vigorously cleaning everything. However, you are not supposed to do any cleaning on New Year’s Day, so you don’t sweep away the good fortune that came in on New Year’s Eve.

Filipinos try to dress in polka-dots because anything round signifies prosperity. Pockets are filled with round coins, which are jangled to attract wealth. Coins are also scattered around the house, on top of tables and in drawers.

Before the clock strikes midnight to herald in the new year, turn on all lights so that the coming year is bright. All doors must be left wide…

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Acculturating essential values

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IF I WERE THE NEXT PRESIDENT (Part 14 of a series)

By BEN R. PUNONGBAYAN

Founder, Buklod National Political Party

In the earlier parts of this Commentary Series, I dwell on the more important reforms and actions that the government must do to make the lives of the Filipino people much better, achieve higher economic growth and improve public governance.

To help achieve all these goals and maintain and sustain such achievements, it is necessary that the Filipino people themselves imbibe some essential cultural values that we still have yet to acquire.

The first among these values is giving respect to the rights of others. We tend to assert strongly our own rights but conveniently forget that the fellow citizens we live with have also the same rights.

When we break into a waiting line, we are blatantly ignoring the rights of others. When we drive against the flow of…

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Reforming the frontline institutions

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IF I WERE THE NEXT PRESIDENT (Part 13 of a series)

By BEN R. PUNONGBAYAN

Founder, Buklod National Political Party

The first dozen parts of this commentary series dwell essentially in the exercise of powers of the presidency to make the necessary reforms and take appropriate actions to propel the Philippine nation to greater political and economic developments. And in so doing, break the cycle of poverty that is presently so prevalent in our society, and which creates suffering and humiliation among a great number of our people.

In our form of government, the reforms and actions taken by the President at the top of the hierarchy may not fully achieve their desired objectives without the parallel participation and cooperation of the legislative and judicial branches of government, as well as, of the Local Government Units (LGUs). While the President has a great influence in the performance of the responsibilities…

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Combating Corruption

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IF I WERE THE NEXT PRESIDENT (Part 12 of a series)

By BEN R. PUNONGBAYAN

Founder, Buklod National Political Party

Corruption, sadly, has become endemic in the Philippines. It is a big obstacle to economic growth and the reduction of economic inequality. The huge amount of money that leaks out is not spent for the general welfare of the nation, but instead, it goes to and enriches just a few.

And these few show their ill-gotten wealth blatantly without shame and without condemnation by their friends and the general public.

Corruption is widespread and deep. It continues to persist without restraint. I dare say that the three branches of government – the Executive, Legislative and Judicial are generally corrupt. And so, with the Local Government Units (LGUs). Most Filipinos have become so numbed by its prevalence such that corruption no longer comes to the consciousness as terribly wrong. And worse…

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“Saving Wentworth Hall” Launch Today

It’s fascinating to see how the other half lived during the Roaring Twenties – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Read on. . .

Long Island Past and Present

It is my great pleasure to announce the launching of my new historical novel, “Saving Wentworth Hall,” today. Peek behind those fancy gates into the life of the rich and famous of Long Island Gold Coast during the glory days of the Roaring Twenties.

“Saving Wentworth Hall” is about the coming-of-age of Spencer Wentworth, a young scion of a New York banking family, and his sister, Emma. Born into one of the old and privileged families of the Long Island Gold Coast, they enjoy the lavish lifestyle money can buy. Three years into Spencer’s European Grand Tour while living in London, he gets a telegram to come home to New York, which changes the direction of his carefree life. Is he up to the challenge of what lies ahead?

If you are a fan of Downton Abbey, you’ll love this. If you are a real estate agent, home stager, or…

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Saving Wentworth Hall to be released soon

I’m happy to announce my new book, “Saving Wentworth Hall” to be released in a few days. Stay tuned.

Long Island Past and Present

During the Roaring Twenties, fabulous estates dotted the Long Island Gold Coast. Peek through the gate and discover the lifestyle of the rich.

This novel is about the coming of age of Spencer Wentworth, a young scion of a New York banking family, and his sister, Emma. Born into one of the old and privileged families of the Long Island Gold Coast, they enjoy the lavish lifestyle money can buy. Three years into Spencer’s European Grand Tour, he gets a telegram to come home, which changes the direction of his carefree life. Is he up to the challenge of what lies ahead?

If you like Downton Abbey, you’ll love this.

Watch for the release of the Paperback this coming week. The ebook edition is now on pre-order at Amazon. Other venues will be available at a later date.

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Engaging LGUs in economic development

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IF I WERE THE NEXT PRESIDENT (Part 11 of a series)

By BEN R. PUNONGBAYAN

Founder, Buklod National Political Party

At present, the Local Government Units (LGUs), with their Internal Revenue Allotments (IRA), are hardly mobilized to get directly involved in economic development.

The LGUs have been decentralized since 1991, or a period of 30 long years. With the decentralization, they have been given 40% share of the Bureau of Internal Revenue collections computed on the basis of the collections of three years ago. This allocation will be augmented beginning 2022 by an additional 40% of the customs duties collected by the Bureau of Customs in compliance with the Supreme Court decision in 2018.

The total IRA for 2021 is P695 billion and is allocated among the provinces, cities, towns, and barangays based on established proportions and methods of subsequent sub-allocation. The LGUs are required to spend 20% of their…

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Francisco Rodriguez and the first Philippine bank

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BPI branch at Plaza Sta. Cruz, Carriedo, Manila
Photo Credit: By noel Gonong (Wikipedia Takes Manila participant)

While some Filipinos think that the Bank of the Philippine Islands (Banco de las Islas Filipinas, commonly known as BPI) is the first bank in the Philippines, it was not. BPI was founded on August 1, 1851, during the Spanish colonial era of the Philippines. It was called “El Banco Español Filipino de Isabel II, named after the Queen of Spain, Isabella II, the daughter of King Ferdinand VII.

The first bank founded by a Filipino was the Rodriguez Bank, circa 1831. Francisco Rodriguez was quite a wealthy man living in Manila when in 1823, he was wrongly accused of being involved in a local conspiracy spearheaded by three Mexican-born Spanish army officers in the islands. These officers were charged with harboring rebellious motives due both to Mexico’s new status as an independent…

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Leapfrogging to Higher Economic Growth (2)

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IF I WERE THE NEXT PRESIDENT (Part 10 of a series)

By BEN R. PUNONGBAYAN

Founder, Buklod National Political Party

Investments, and in the case of the Philippines, foreign investments, is a big factor in driving economic growth. Unfortunately, for the past many years, the country has been behind most of our neighboring countries in attracting foreign investments. This low performance is a major reason why the Philippines has lagged behind most of the ASEAN countries in historical economic growth. We simply have not been competitive.

There are several reasons why we have not been competitive. The major one, I believe, is that the costs of doing business in the country is comparatively higher. I have discussed the more significant of these higher costs in Part 9 of this Commentary Series (this current Part is a continuation of Part 9). These are: the cost effects of the business interruptions and…

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