In Arlington by Robert Martin

Robert “Bob” Martin is the Past President of the American Rose Society. During his term of office, Bob believed that the Never Forget Garden project of the American Rose Society would be a great fit for the Centennial Celebration of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Here is a beautiful and haunting poem written by him.

Thank you, Bob, for honoring our Fallen.

Francisco Rodriguez and the first Philippine bank


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)


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


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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Imelda Marcos- a study in a power grab, corruption and ill-gotten wealth during the Marcos Era – Part II


Imelda Marcos – Photo taken during an interview at her Makati residence on July 29, 2008. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

In 1978, the administration Kilusang Bagong Lipunan party fielded Imelda as a candidate in the Philippine parliamentary elections of 1978. Because most opposition candidates were either in jail or had limited mobility due to Martial Law, Imelda Marcos easily won a seat as a member of the Interim Batasang Pambansa (National Congress) representing Calabarzon.

On August 7, 1982, Marcos appointed Imelda to his executive council. He assigned presidential powers to the executive council in the event of his death.

Imelda, who shared his delusions of grandeur, contemplated the commissioning of a panoramic mural of the country’s history in which every face would be a Marcos family resemblance. Consonant with all this, Marcos dreamed of founding a royal dynasty. His feckless son, Ferdinand junior, known as Bong Bong, whom he named Governor…

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Leapfrogging to higher economic growth


IF I WERE THE NEXT PRESIDENT (Part 9 of a series)


Founder,Buklod National Political Party

Since about five decades ago, the Philippine economy has gone what appears to be an irreversible downward spiral in comparison with our now 9 ASEAN neighbors. As shown in a World Bank report, in 2020, the Philippines ranked No. 6 in per capita income (gross domestic product) at almost US$3,000. Vietnam appears to be catching up on us soon, making us No. 7 and just ahead of Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia. We used to be No. 1.

We have been overtaken by Indonesia, which now has about one-a-half times our per capita income; Thailand, a little bit more than double; and Malaysia by almost four times, not to mention Singapore which is way, way up, and Brunei which is also quite high.

This continuing cascade certainly gives the Filipino a…

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Ave Verum Corpus

Beautiful hymn we sang at all the choirs I was in years ago!


Ave Verum Corpus has often been described as one of the few perfect pieces of music ever written. It is a mere three minutes long and simple in musical structure but ranks among Mozart’s best works. Ave Verum Corpus (Hail, True Body), (K. 618), is a motet (a short piece of sacred choral music, typically polyphonic and unaccompanied) in D major composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1791.

Mozart composed the motet in 1791 in the middle of writing his opera Die Zauberflöte. He wrote it while visiting his wife Constanze, who was pregnant with their sixth child and staying in the spa Baden bei Wien. Mozart set the 14th century Eucharistic hymn in Latin, Ave Verum Corpus, to music to be used in the Baden church. He wrote the motet for Anton Stoll, a friend of his and of Joseph Haydn. Stoll was the musical director of…

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Playing cards made history

Interesting facts about playing cards!

Pacific Paratrooper

Playing cards to pass the time

War can be hell… and war can be absolute boredom.  There are few better ways to pass the time than by playing cards.  They’re easy to carry: small and lightweight, they fit into a rucksack, duffel bag or Alice pack without having to sacrifice any piece of essential gear.

Plus – they’re cheap!

Wartime decks have been used to help soldiers in the field learn about their enemies and allies, to identify aircraft and even teach American history.  In the 2003 invasion of Iraq, American forces used playing cards to identify the most wanted members of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

The U.S. Army and the United States Playing Card Company cooperation goes way back.  But it was their brand Bicycle that took it to a whole new level.

During WWII, Allied Intelligence officers contacted the card company to produce the most clandestine deck of cards…

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Imelda Marcos – a study in a power grab, corruption and ill-gotten wealth during the Marcos Era – Part I


Imelda Romualdez Marcos with former President Ferdinand Marcos and family during the 1965 inauguration- Photo Credit: Malacañang Palace

Imelda Romualdez Marcos isa Filipina politician and convicted criminal. She married Marcos in 1954 and became the First Lady of the Philippines when Ferdinand Marcos became President of the Philippines in 1965 until they were deposed in 1986. While in power for21 years, Imelda and her husband stole billions from the Filipino people, and that the amount they stole could have paid off the entirety of the Philippine foreign debt. By 2018, the Philippine government had recovered about $3.6 billion of this ill-gotten wealth through compromise deals or sequestration cases.

Upon becoming First Lady, Imelda often asked members of the Blue Ladies to accompany her on her trips out of the country. Imelda’s Blue Ladies, specifically Maria Luisa, a daughter of the wealthy Madrigal family and Daniel Vazquez’s wife, contributed…

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Transforming Agriculture


IF I WERE THE NEXT PRESIDENT (Part 8 of a series)


Founder, Buklod National Political Party

Improving Philippine agriculture, which includes fishery and forestry products, has been a persistent major issue since much of the 20th century. Unfortunately, we still continue to struggle to come to grips with it.

So many official and academic studies as well as private commentaries and opinions abound on how to deal with this extraordinarily important issue. I chose as reference for this commentary a recent study issued by the World Bank in June 2020, “Transforming Philippine Agriculture During COVID-19 and Beyond”. This report provides a high level analysis of the present state of Philippine agriculture and a discussion of policy options to transform Philippine agriculture. Accordingly, unless otherwise specified, the data cited in this commentary come from this source.

Based on data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)…

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A Rose (Brigadoon) and a Tip for Healthy Living

Early stage of bloom

Later Stage of Bloom

Class: Hybrid Tea

Year of introduction – 1992

Registration Name – JACpal

Parentage: Unnamed Seedling x Pristine

Hybridizer: William A. Warriner (United States, 1991)

Introduced in the United States by Jackson & Perkins Co.

This winner of the All America Rose Selection award in 1992 is categorized as a pink blend, a description that says nothing about its real color, a creamy blush spreading from the center into deep pink coral. At times, it looks like coral-orange with cream reverse. It’s wonderful seeing it changes color as it opens from bud to bloom.

Brigadoon has moderate, spicy, fragrant blooms produced one to a stem, and are best up to the halfway stage where the bud is perfection itself. As the flower opens, it holds its shape but does tend to drop the immediate central petals – something that will only bother an exhibitor. As a flower for decoration, it is a real eye-catcher. The bush is vigorous, upright, medium-tall, about 3’ and 28” wide, and well-branched with semi-glossy deep green, dense, leathery foliage that can be pretty large in cooler climates. The long, pointed, ovoid buds unfurl to double (35-40 petals), large (5” across) to high-centered, reflexed bloom form, and blooms in flushes.

Brigadoon can be grown in USDA zone 6b and warmer and used for beds and borders, as cut flower or container rose. For spring pruning, remove old canes and dead or diseased wood and cut back canes that cross. In warmer climates, cut back the remaining canes by about one-third. In colder areas, you’ll probably find you’ll have to prune a little more than that. It requires spring freeze protection but can be grown in the ground or in a container. In a container, it requires winter protection.

Tip of the day: Eat lunch outside – When sunlight hits the body, production of the neurotransmitter serotonin increases, which can make you feel happier, more alert, and more energized. (Be sure to wear your sunscreen!)