Apple CEO hits Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley, where the greatest technological revolution in all history has taken place, cannot continue to believe that it can claim credit without accepting responsibility. This was the gist of the commencement speech delivered by Apple chief executive officer Tim Cook at the Stanford University last Sunday, June 16. Cook expressed concern about the seemingly endless instances of data breaches, and how it can affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people who depend on technology in their lives. Here’s a report by CNBC Television:


Leila tastes freedom — for three hours

After being in detention for over two years now, Senator Leila de Lima was granted a three-hour furlough — a temporary pass from prison — to be able to attend her son’s thanksgiving party after passing the 2018 Bar Examinations.

Leila de Lima

Photo credit: Philippine Star

De Lima was actually allowed furloughs on two previous instances: the first was in March 2018 for a medical check-up for her liver condition; the second was to allow her to cast her vote during the May 13, 2019 midterm elections.

Her furlough on Sunday (June 16, 2019) was her first to be with her family outside of detention.

But wasn’t it unfair to other detainees that she was granted such privilege? I am sure there are thousands of other detention prisoners — individuals whose liberties have been cut while their cases are pending in court — who were deprived the opportunity to spend precious moments in similar occasions with their loved ones.

I guess this reflects the sad state of our justice system.

The poor simply cannot enjoy what a detained Senator like Leila de Lima is privileged to have.

Beware of scams

The Kapa Ministry investment scam isn’t the first large-scale estafa case I’ve known about. Last year, several groups preyed on unsuspecting individuals on promises on huge ROI from Bitcoin. It was really a pyramiding scam. In Capiz, I heard that a doctor who started a group soliciting investments for Bitcoin has gone into hiding when investors complained they could not recover their investments.

About eight years ago, Iloilo business persons were also badly hit by the investment scam operated by Reynaldo “Milky” Navarro. The NBI which investigated the case said that as much as P3 billion was lost by investors. Criminal charges of large-scale estafa were filed against Navarro.

I heard about Kapa last year. Bombo Radyo in General Santos had been reporting about its activities. Cases were filed against Pastor Joel Apolinario, but he just kept going with his investment scam.


Many of its members are police officers, which was perhaps why it was difficult to go against Apolinario.

Last week, President Duterte ordered law enforcement agencies to arrest Apolinario and his cohorts. The SEC has also taken action against Kapa. But Apolinario seems belligerent. He had the gall to tell a lie about President Duterte allowing Kapa to continue its operations.

I guess its victims can’t blame anybody but themselves. It was a scam however you looked at it. A 30-percent monthly return is simply incredible. As the saying goes, when it looks too good to be true, it is too good to be true.

My advice: don’t fall for any investment proposal that offers wild returns on investment. Don’t let greed overcome you and fall prey to these fraudsters.

ILOILO, DIIN KA PAKADTO? (March 11, 2019)

Mayor tagged as ‘narco’ builds stone palace in Iloilo

President Rodrigo Duterte named him as one of the “narco-politicians” on his list on August 7, 2016. Two years later, Calinog municipal mayor Alex Centena built a huge mansion using head-sized boulders from an illegal quarry and narra hardwood from the forests of his town worth about P40 million. It was like the municipal mayor sneering at the President. Here are some pictures of his palatial home.

A day to remember: The assassination of Evelio Javier

I remember the date and the events that transpired as if these happened only yesterday.
At around 10:30 a.m. of February 11, 1986, I got a rare international call from Hongkong at my work place at the Development Bank of the Philippines. At the time, I was working as Credit Investigator at DBP and moonlighted as a journalist for Asiaweek Magazine, the regional weekly news magazine that had the same format as Time and Newsweek.
This was long before the era of cell phones, and Facebook and Twitter. News travelled rather slowly.
When I answered the phone, I recognized the voice of my editor, Zoher Abdoolkarim.
“Manuel, there’s been a murder in San Jose, Antique. Can you get a ride to go there quickly?” he said.
Zoher, in rapid fashion, told me what happened.
Former Antique Governor Evelio Javier was keeping watch over the canvassing of the electoral returns for President in the February 6, 1986 snap elections. Cory Aquino had challenged strongman Ferdinand E. Marcos, and there have been allegations of widespread cheating.
Antique province was then ruled by Marcos’s henchman, Arturo Pacificador. Javier knew that Pacificador would try to thwart the people’s will in Antique, and he kept a tight watch on the counting.
That fateful morning, Javier came down from the Capitol building in San Jose, Antique where the canvassing was being conducted to take a break. He went over to a big tree in the park to rest.
Just then, two or three armed men approached him and opened fire with M-16 armalite rifles. Javier was wounded but managed to run across the plaza in zigzag fashion to elude the bullets fired at him. He entered a store and hid inside the toilet.
His assassins, however, simply followed him. Once they got inside the store and learned where Javier had hidden, they fired their weapons at point-blank range. Javier was killed in an instant, his body peppered with bullets.
The gunmen then casually fled aboard a waiting vehicle.
I didn’t hesitate to accept the assignment. I knew history was being made. I filed a leave of absence for the day and negotiated with a taxi to drive me to San Jose, Antique.
I always brought my camera bag with me every day, and I had 3 rolls of transparency film (for slides) ready for exactly situations like this.
I don’t remember now how much the taxi driver charged.
I arrived in San Jose around 2 p.m. The atmosphere in the municipality was tense. PC soldiers were all over the place, and people looked anxiously from windows and doors.
I was told Javier’s cadaver had been brought to the Angel Salazar Memorial General Hospital, so I asked the taxi driver to take me there. Outside the hospital, I saw former Antique Governor Enrique Zaldivar and other political allies of the slain leader.
Zaldivar pointed over to the morgue. “That’s where he is now,” he said.
Without delay, I entered the morgue with my camera ready. To my surprise, the international correspondents were already swarming all over the place — Time Magazine, Newsweek Magazine, the U.S. television net works. I had to elbow my way inside to be able to take pictures of Javier’s bullet-riddled body.
I then talked with eyewitness to get their recollection of what happened.
A few minutes later, the taxi driver approached me, his face filled with dread.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
He told me a PC Major had put a handcuff on the steering wheel to disable the taxi. The PC Major apparently learned that a journalist was his passenger. So I went over to talk with the PC Major, who was the assistant provincial commander.
He asked me what I was doing there. Of course, I was there to cover the assassination of Javier. I presented to him my Asiaweek ID card. He wanted to detain me.
I wasn’t intimidated.
I told him that my arrest would become a secondary international event to the murder itself. “Sir, you will have to answer for this,” I warned him. I pointed to the international media nearby. “This will surely feast on this story,” I calmly said.
I must have seemed to be full of confidence that the PC Major relented. All right, he said, you can leave.
I didn’t waste a second in leaving. The tension had escalated. We were out of there by 6 p.m. If I remember right, my colleague Herbert Vego hitched a ride with me on the way back to Iloilo.
That night, I almost didn’t sleep as I furiously wrote the story on a portable typewriter (yes we had no laptops then). At 4 a.m. I went to the airport to send the 3 rolls of transparencies to Tony Lopez, Manila Bureau Chief of Asiaweek, through PAL cargo.
A picture showing Javier lying on the morgue table, blood pooling around hiim, and my story made it to the Asiaweek edition a few days later.
Now, 33 years later, I look back to this incident with a wish that such political violence will no longer happen again.
Javier had given his life to protect the sanctity of the ballot, and truly, he deserves to be honored on this day.

Political strategy in the age of social media

This political season is an interesting study on how candidates are making use of social media for their campaigns.
Without a doubt, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube possess a tremendous influence on the minds of voters, particularly those below the age of 60.
While traditional media platforms like television, radio and newspapers are still very much in the game, studies have shown that their audience shares are dwindling.
This is particularly true for print media. But TV and radio have not been spared, and one indicator is the declining advertising revenue for these traditional media platforms and increasing advertising in social media.
As a political observer, I have been looking at the social media activities of local candidates, and there are still several who hardly have a presence even just on Facebook.
I liken these candidates to static, inflexible and clumsy armies over the centuries that have been decimated on the battlefield by opponents that were quick to adapt to changing times and embrace technology.
And social media requires a well-crafted message to voters.
Candidates must be aware that the competition for voters’ attention is broad and tight.
If you have lousy content, if you don’t present a message that resonates in the hearts and minds of voters, then you might as well pack up and leave the arena of battle.
Remember, as much as 75% (or even more) of voters depend on social media for their news, information and entertainment.