Tuesday, July 31, 2007


This was sent to me by a friend. I have no idea if this is a true story, but if it isn’t it should be.

When I was quite young, my father had one of the first telephones in our neighborhood. I remember the polished, old case fastened to the wall. The shiny receiver hung on the side of the box. I was too little to reach the telephone, but used to listen with fascination when my mother talked to it.Then I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device lived an amazing person. Her name was "Information Please" and there was nothing she did not know. “Information Please” could supply anyone's number and the correct time.My personal experience with this amazing person came one day while my mother was visiting a neighbor. Amusing myself at the tool bench in the basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer, the pain was terrible.I ran around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at the stairway. The telephone! Quickly, I ran for the footstool in the parlor and dragged it to the landing. Climbing up, I unhooked the receiver in the parlor and held it to my ear. "Information, please" I said into the mouthpiece just above my head. A click or two and a small clear voice spoke into my ear. "Information." "I hurt my finger..." I wailed into the phone, the tears came readily enough now that I had an audience. "Isn't your mother home?" came the question. "Nobody's home but me," I blubbered. "Are you bleeding?" the voice asked. "No," I replied. "I hit my finger with the hammer and it hurts somethin’ terrible." Can you open the icebox?" she asked. I said I could. “Then chip off a little bit of ice and hold it to your finger," she said .After that, I called "Information Please" for everything. I asked her for help with my geography, and she help me locate Philadelphia. She helped me with my math. She told me my pet chipmunk would eat fruit and nuts.Then, there was the time “Petey”, our pet canary, died. I called, Information Please," and told her the sad story. She listened. I asked her, "Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy to so many, only to end up as a heap of feathers on the bottom of a cage?"She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly, " Wayne always remember that there are other worlds to sing in." Somehow I felt better.All this took place in a small town in the Pacific Northwest. When I was nine years old, we moved across the country to Boston. I missed my friend very much. "Information Please" belonged in that old wooden box back home and I somehow never thought of trying the shiny new phone that sat on the table in the hall. As I grew into my teens, the memories of those childhood conversations never really left me.A few years later, on my way west to college, my plane put down in Seattle . I had about a half-hour or so between planes. I spent 15 minutes or so on the phone with my sister, who lived there. Then without thinking what I was doing, I dialed my hometown operator and said, "Information Please."Miraculously, I heard the small, clear voice I knew so well. "Information."I hadn't planned this, but I heard myself saying, "Could you please tell me how to spell fix?"There was a long pause. Then came the soft spoken answer, "I guess your finger must have healed by now."I laughed, "So it is really you," I said. "I wonder if you have any idea how much you meant to me during that time?"I wonder," she said, "if you know how much your calls meant to me. I never had any children and I used to look forward to your calls."I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and I asked if I could call her again when I came back to visit my sister."Please do", she said. "Just ask for Sally."Three months later I was back in Seattle . A different voice answered, "Information." I asked for Sally."Are you a friend?" she said."Yes, a very old friend," I answered."I'm sorry to have to tell you this," she said. "Sally had been working part-time the last few years because she was very sick. Sally died five weeks ago." Before I could hang up she said, "Wait a minute, are you Wayne ?" "Yes." I answered."Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down in case you called. As she read I felt a pain in my heart."Tell him there are other worlds to sing in. He'll know what I mean."I thanked her and gently hung up the phone.
We never know how profoundly our actions can impact the lives of others. If you have a chance to give a simple act of kindness, no matter how small, don’t think about it, be an Everyday Hero and just do it. Kindness and love are never wasted.


This story might strike a cord with some of you.

It seems there were these islands in which the United States had some interests. The islands had once been the possession of Spain but we won them in the Spanish-American War. Later we built and occupied military bases on these beautiful lush green islands filled with equally beautiful brown skinned people. From the beginning there was trouble. These proud people demanded to be free. Our two cultures clashed on many levels. There was strong resistance to American dominance of their economy and territory. They also object to “Gringos” marrying their beautiful young women. They even tried to assassinate a United States President!

No, it is not the Philippines. I refer to the island of Puerto Rico and her sister island, Vieques. For those geographically challenged, these are two small islands about 90 miles off the coast of Florida. While I served there, the “Independantistas” tried to assassinate my boss and did kill several sailors at Sebana Seca.

For years the people of Vieques have fought to eject the US Navy from their little island. The Navy has used half the island as a weapons testing area for almost 75 years. The ground is so contaminated no one will be able to use it for several hundred years and fishing is restricted. Even though the ejection of the Navy would gain the people of Vieques nothing; their pride demands the removal of these crude uncouth intruders. I was once almost assaulted by a 350 pound woman protesting our being on her island.

After years of demonstrations and arrests Congress decided to pull the Navy and return the island to Puerto Rican control. The government has not disclosed what it will do with this contaminated pile of rock filled with unexploded ordinance but they at least they have successfully ejected the imperialist barbarians.

Actions have consequences. Always be careful what you wish for, you may get it. On the nearby island of Puerto Rico the Navy has a huge complex called “Roosevelt Roads Naval Air Station.” It employed over 1,200 civilians. There were over 700 military families living and working in the area. Each year they pumped 300 million dollars into the local economy. Entire Puerto Rican communities depended on “Rosy Roads” for their existence. Because we no longer test our pilots and equipment on Vieques, the US government decided they no longer needed this expensive facility and closed it.

Suddenly the Governor, Sila Calderon, held a news conference in San Juan, protesting the base closure and stating, “The people of Puerto Rico don’t now nor ever did have an interest in closing the Vieques bombing range or Roosevelt Roads. We are interested in both staying in Puerto Rico.”

After years of German protests, “Yankee Go Home”, the US government has announced it will pull American troops out of Germany. That will mean a six BILLION dollar annual loss to the German economy. There will be a lot of businesses which will have to close their doors. Thousands will be forced to stop their schooling. I am sure some of the rich Germans will make a lot of money selling old US military land and facilities but the vast majority of “little” people will suffer an economic down turn..

Personally, I think America should pull all its troops from every country around the world. Stationing troops in other countries is counter-productive. It has no real strategic military value and is actually just US “welfare” for other countries. That "welfare" creates a balance of payments problem and a drain on the American economy. It is almost like we are trying to buy or bribe friends and that never does not works well.
We are not ”Big Brother” or the world’s police force. While I support humanitarian aid, without caveats, our intrusion into the internal affairs of other nations seldom comes out well and is usually not appreciated by those nations. It is time for other nations to “police” themselves. Beyond simple economics and the strategic waste, the American military is not our best export. Unlike Filipinos, Americans often do not adapt well to other cultures. We have a tendency to be our own worst enemy and create a cultural backlash such as we had in this country.

America has the finest fighting force in the world... but we lack some grassroots diplomatic and adaptive skills.

Just the humble opinion of an old war dog…..


I had this foreign friend who was married to a sweet beautiful little “barrio” girl. One day in casual conversation he said, “My wife is an idiot!” I felt very sad for him. I knew his wife and he was the “idiot” not her. With all his academic credentials he failed to appreciate one simple truth.

“We are all idiots and geniuses depending on the subject”

There are many things about life here in the Philippines she could have taught him but he was not wise enough to listen to her. Because someone has not seen snow or ridden on a train does not make them an idiot. Just as you may not know which fish taste best and how to pick the freshest fish does not make you an idiot. We all have different life experiences.

The truly sad thing about my myopic friend was he missed the fantastic chance to increase his own knowledge and share with her the wonders of his life experiences.

I was in a hotel room with a friend who had spent her entire life in a simple fishing village. She had seen bamboo walls and painted concrete walls but she had never seen “wallpaper”. What followed was an interesting talk about how wallpaper is made and installed. How the pieces are matched and glued to the wall. We even talked about the history of wallpaper. Did you know that many historians think that the great French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was killed by wallpaper? Napoleon was in exile and living in a villa. The walls of his bedroom had wallpaper with a green flocked pattern. To create this textured surface the manufacturer used arsenic and copper. In the warm tropical climate of St Helena the copper-arsenic together with mold produced a toxic gas. Historians think that over a protracted period of time Napoleon’s body absorbed enough of the poison gas that it killed him.

In the US Army Ranger School survival class the first rule is to “copy the natives”. They know better than you how to survive in their environment. I am constantly seeking knowledge from my Filipino friends. The very title of this column was changed from “purok” to “barrio” based on advice of a Filipina friend.

To my foreign friends instead of trying to change your Filipina wife or girlfriend into something she is not; glory in her uniqueness, in her special beauty. You should honor her and respect her. Explore her world; increase your own knowledge and life experiences. Turn your life into an adventure with her.
Be an Everyday Hero open your heart and your mind.


The people who disagree with me deserve a chance to be heard.
Rosa wrote:

Dear Mr. James:
I read your articles with interest, you write of our beautiful country from a foreigner's point of view. You have always been gracious about your being here.
One topic that perhaps many locals do not understand is your lavish praises for the Filipina girlfriends or "wives" of foreigners. Truth to tell, they are not our regular Filipinas. By their dressing and actions, they cannot be mistaken for the homegrown Filipinas. They are more western than Asian, perhaps to mimic or impress (?) their foreign partners.
Another topic we locals do not understand is the "May - December" relationship ( it is more February - November relationship) that you write about and we see all over. All told that is simply not the norm and was not until the foreigners started flaunting their money in front of these girls.
You can very very rarely see an old regular Filipino (sixty or seventy years old) with a 16 or 17 or 20 years old Filipina. It just is not a regular relationship. The sensible older Filipino marries a reasonably mature Filipina, not a teen-ager.
What we see are old foreigners with one or two skimpily dressed Filipinas hanging on as if it was the most normal thing in the Filipino culture.
Even in Europe and America, the average older men are not seen with girls 20 or 30 years old younger than them. They would be the ultimate laughing stock pair! Fortunately for the foreigners here, the locals are to polite to laugh in their faces and call them dirty old men or naive fools. Even without words, the foreigners must know what the locals think.
Maybe there will be rare exceptions to what I write, but the odds are 1 or 2 to a hundred. It is almost as disgusting as the child bride of India; what makes it different is the foreigner and the young Filipina profess Love instead of the word manipulation.
After all is said, one thing is clear: this old Foreigner-young Filipina syndrome has corrupted the real Filipino culture and moral values. It has fallen to a business transaction with each side trying to get the most out of the other.
Try standing on our side looking out and see if it isn’t disgusting.


If you read my column “EVIL” you would know I agree with you about the DOM relationships based on lies and deception. Where we part company is when you assume that all of these DOM relationships are false. I object to you taking it upon yourself to be judge and punisher of people you do not know.
Back when I first started writing this column a young Filipina wrote me a poignant tribute to her older foreign husband. She had been a young widow struggling to raise her children and keep a roof over their head and food on their table. Her life was slowly falling apart. Without a father, her children were beginning to make bad choices. This “old foreigner” sold his home in America and risked everything to come here and marry her. Their “May-December” love turned tragedy into a true love story. Together they created a loving functional “family”. I later met this couple and you could feel the love and respect they had for each other. I object to you calling her a “gold-digger, whore and prostitute” just because she fell in love with someone older than her.
You make several bold statements of “fact” that are really just your opinion. First you say these “May-December” relationships are “not the norm”. Who says it is not normal? Check the Bible. These “May-December” relationships have been going on for thousands of years. There are no laws against them. There are no scriptures against them. These relationships pose no real threat to society and are the “private” business of two adults. They hurt no one. They do not threaten society. Even the “May-December” relationships based on lies hurt only themselves.
You say these DOM relationships are not “a regular relationship”. You say that normal Filipinos chose people their own age to marry. As they say in the courtroom, “You assume facts not in evidence”. You assume that because older Filipinos usually chose brides in their own age group, they would not chose a younger bride if they could. The fact that “Dolphy” and others marry young brides proves that elderly Filipinos would marry young girls if the young girls would have them. The choice is not the elderly Filipinos; the choice is in the hands of the young Filipinas. That is how it should be; their choice not yours. You try to slime these “May-December” relationships by comparing them to the “disgusting … child bride of India” You must be truly disingenuous and desperate. How do you compare a free choice made by two adults to the selling of innocent children?
You claim “in Europe and America, the average older man is not seen with a girl 20 or 30 years younger than him.” I do not know where you get your “facts” (?). “May-December” marriages and even the marriages of total strangers have been practiced many thousands of years around the world, including Europe and America. Even if you were accurate in your claim, which you are not, the existence or non-existence of these DOM relationships does not negate their right to exist. Two adults have the right to associate and marry whom they wish without your approval.
“Locals are too polite to laugh in their faces and call them dirty old men or naive fools.” I admit that most Pinoy’s are very gracious and polite. One of the many characteristics I admire about the Pinoy culture. But the people you speak of are NOT “too polite”. They are foul mouthed cowards. They use the foreigner’s ignorance of Visyan to verbally assault the young Filipina in public. They call her ugly names and ask her ugly personal questions about her sex life. If I did this to your mother you would be justifiably outraged but people like you feel free to do it to this young Filipina simply because she loves a man older than her. You do not know if her love is real but you still set yourself up as the judge and punisher.
You claim that “this old Foreigner-young Filipina syndrome has corrupted the real Filipino culture and moral values.” How? How has the free choice of two adults changed your life or your society? These kinds of relationships have been going on here and around the world for centuries. You still live by your values. Nobody has forced you to change your lifestyle or morals. Without searching, I know of three Filipino families where the father openly breaks his marriage vows with any woman who will lay down with him. I read in the newspaper where fathers molest their own children. My own “wife’s” uncle was murdered and the killer was set free. If you want to protect the “real” Filipino culture and moral values get outraged at these breaches and leave the relationship of consenting adults alone. They are not yours to judge or punish. That job belongs to God.
“Try standing on our side looking out and see if it isn’t disgusting.” Those “false” DOM relationships based on economics punish themselves. The “May-December” relationships based on real love deserve our respect and to be honored. Your problem is you punish EVERYONE with your ugly words and contempt. You could use a little Christian compassion and empathy.


If your leg were broke, you would not just ignore it. You would seek proper medical attention. Not to see a doctor would be “stupid”. It could cause you to possibly lose your leg or even die.
If you have measles, you would not ignore it. You would seek proper medical treatment. Not to see a doctor would be “stupid.” Not to be treated would not only endanger you but the lives of others around you.
The human mind is like any other part of your body. Your mind can get sick or be injured. Not to seek help from a doctor is “stupid.” Not to seek proper medical help could cause the injury or illness to get worse and might even destroy your life. Mental illness and injury can be treated, controlled and even cured.
We are not ashamed of a broken leg. We are not ashamed of having the measles. But for some illogical reason nobody wants to admit they might have a “mind” that has been injured or is sick. There is an ugly fear, even stigma, of being diagnosed as mentally injured or mentally ill.
The usual response to aberrant behavior is to ignore it until it gets so bad you can ignore it no longer. You hide your “crazy” aunt in the back room. You tolerate your nutty uncle’s bad behavior and just avoid him. The shame of this is their illness may just be a chemical imbalance that could be cured with medication. They could possibly live “normal’ loving productive lives if someone cared enough to help them get proper treatment.
The Philippines has an excellent Mental Health Association. The local chapter is compassionately managed by Mrs. Aurora Caluscusin-Flores. The office is staffed by equally compassionate and highly professional people. The new patient is given a series of psychological tests and their condition is expertly diagnosed. With proper treatment many patients fully recover and lead normal lives.
How do I know all this? I am one of their patients. I suffer what is called “Anxiety Disorder; acerbated by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder”. I suffered a dysfunctional childhood and then was further traumatized by my military service. I take medication and undergo therapy sessions. Despite what my critics say I am not really “crazy”. My illness manifests itself in hypersensitivity and rages both of which I have been successful in controlling. Most people do not even know I have a medical problem. The shame is not in having a mental injury; the shame is not seeking proper treatment.
Substance addiction, beyond damaging the body, can also be an indication of possible mental problems. If your “loved one” is drunk every night, that is not normal. A friend of mine has a teenage son who pulled a knife on the maid and he is constantly physically abusing his little brother. He has serious separation anxiety and rage issues. He needs professional help before he kills someone. If you have a friend or relative who is subject to uncontrolled rage or anti-social behavior get them to the Philippine Mental Health Association and seek professional help. Mrs. Caluscusin-Flores and her staff are my Everyday Heroes for this week. Keep up the good work.


I have been inundated with a flood of support from Filipinas and Foreigners who are angry with petty small-minded black-hearted evil people who have been attacking Filipina-Foreigner relationships unchallenged for years. These evil people only have the courage to speak out in Visyan and hurt defenseless young Filipinas. Now, normally non-confrontational Filipinas are speaking out. The following email from a proud Filipina is typical of this new Pinoy voice that will not tolerate this abuse any longer..

Jinky writes:

“Hello, a good day to you. I am an avid reader of Negros Chronicle… I would like to react to (the)” Everyday Heroes” column by James KOJAK Hughs. I am a filipina married to a foreigner. I agree with what he has written in his July 22 ,2007 column. I would like to (stress) not all Filipina-Foreigner relationships are fake or ugly. Not all Filipina(s) who marry foreigners are “gold diggers” or just want to go out of the country in search for greener pastures. I know some people who are so shallow minded, judgmental and (vindictive) about us Filipinas married to foreigners. My relationship with my husband is built on love, trust,( and ) respect. My relationships with … past Filipino boyfriends didn't work out. I wanted to find my happiness; I wanted to love and be loved. What is wrong with that?... Being married is being happy. What is” wrong” (are these) people who think all Filipinas married to a foreigner are prostitutes and gold diggers!!”

In the past three years, I have been told of hundreds of these cowardly attacks made against innocent Filipinas. Filipinas, who have had to stand silently and unflinchingly as the vilest of comments were directed at them “IN PUBLIC!”
If some Foreigner had said these things to a Filipina married to a Filipino, the foreigner would have justifiably been attacked and punished. But these malicious cowardly attacks have, up to now, been silently tolerated. Maybe that silence has finally been broken. I applaud Jinky and the other Filipinas who refuse to apologize for loving and honoring their foreign husbands. Women who refuse to tolerate these cowardly attacks and are speaking out for justice, fairness and respect. Jinky, you and your modern Pinoy sisters are my Everyday Heroes for this week.


Everyone has heard the sad story about the “American Promise”. How an American would come here to the Philippines and meet some sweet beautiful young Filipina. He will promise to marry her, then take advantage of her trusting nature and rob her of her innocence. Often these sweet girls would be left with fatherless children and shattered lives. Sadly there is some truth to these stories. It did / does happen; maybe not as often as some people think, but just once is too often. There is another side to this “ugly” human tragedy. There is the Filipina who robs the trusting foreigner of his money and crushes his dreams.
Over the last two years I have watched numerous foreigners get robbed and emotionally destroyed by ruthless Filipinas. There is Patrick who married a Filipina and started a local business. After a year of cheating on him with half of Dumaguete City, she finally took all his money and left him penniless on the streets. There is the Australian who built a 1.2 million peso home on another island only to have it stolen by his Filipina girlfriend. Heartbroken he come here and fell in love again. He built another beautiful home and his new girlfriend kicked him out and brought in her lover. Then there is the simple lad who sold his home in Ireland and married a Filipina. They started a nightclub in Manila. Next thing he knew, she had his 12 million pesos, the business and a new lover. He became another penniless human wreck on the streets of Dumaguete City. He has been befriended by some local Filipinos. I am watching to see if this trusting boy is being ripped off yet again.
I do not excuse or condone either of these life shattering crimes but I find it interesting that some Filipinos only condemn the “American Promise”. Filipinos make movies about the “American Promise”, but no one talks about the “Filipina Promise”. They talk about the “American Promise” in the classrooms at Silliman University and say vicious nasty things about people they do not even know. The consensus seems to be that old foolish foreigners deserve to be robbed and have their lives and dreams destroyed. That teacher who spewed those ugly attacks against foreigners in his classroom ought to borrow a text book on logic from the Philosophy Department. If it is wrong for foreigners to destroy Filipina lives; it is also wrong for Filipinas to destroy foolish old foreigners lives.

Be an Everyday Hero and cleanse your heart of prejudice and racism. We are all God’s children and deserve respect until we earn something less.


This was told to me by Lowell E. Hedges, a retired professor. He was taught this little lesson by a young student who was a refugee from Central America. There is a lesson here not just for the Philippines but for the American Congress.

How to Catch a Wild Pig
First you find out where the wild pigs are roaming and feeding. You then put some corn out in an open field. Soon the pigs will come to eat the free corn. You keep putting out this free corn everyday. More wild pigs will come. After the pigs get used to your free corn, you put up a length of fence along one side of the open field. Soon the pigs will get accustomed to the fence. You keep giving them the free corn. Later you put up another section of fence at right angles to the first. You keep giving them the free corn. The pigs get used to the second fence. After awhile you put up a third section of fence at right angles to the second section. You now have a U-shaped fenced open area. You keep giving them free corn. Then you put another section of fence with a gate in it, making a closed area except for the gate. You keep giving them free corn. Now, the pigs are no longer out in the woods, working to find their own food. They get accustomed to the fenced area with the open gate. Then, one day you slam shut the gate trapping the wild pigs inside. They quickly lose their ability to find their wild food and become totally dependent on your free corn. They can not survive without you.

This is how communism and socialism works. They give you “free corn” until you are dependent on them. Until you lose your ability to support yourself. They rob you of your free spirit and your self respect. You become their domesticated worker pigs.

I see pictures of Che Quevara and hear socialist / communist propagandist all around Dumaguete City, especially at the universities. The “free corn” is very seductive. Communism / Socialism offer the illusion of ultimate equality, “free” medical care, and “free” homes and food. Marx said, “To each according to his abilities; to each according to his needs” The implication is that we would all be taken care of by the state. The sad reality is that great promise has never been fulfilled. Many have tried; all have failed.
With any form of government someone has to be in charge. Someone has to have the power to distribute the benefits. Those with power will eventually abuse it. They become the new elite. While millions wait in line for their free bread; the elite have theirs delivered. While millions live in no rent apartments; the elite have no rent homes and a dacha (summer cottage) on the Black Sea (Russia) or the Isle of Pines (Cuba). While millions wait for that doctor’s appointment; the elite have their own physician.
There is no difference between communism / socialism and any other corrupt government system. They all have “haves” and “have nots”, the privileged rich and the desperately poor. If that is true, why then is democracy preferable over communism? Simple, democracy and capitalism have one advantage over all other systems of government. The word is “CHANGE”. There is the possibility to change and improve. Not just change and improve the government but change and improve individually. There is social and economic mobility. The “have nots” can become the “haves”.
Rather than hunger for the false promise of socialism and communism, seek to change and improve the system you already have. You have the building blocks here to create the greatest nation in the Far East. Look around you. You have great climate, good resources, strategic location, hard working intelligent people, and an inordinate ability to adapt and change.
Are there problems to be solved here? Of course there are, but I believe the Philippine people not only can solve those problems but are well on the way to solving them now. Name another nation that has put a sitting President in jail for corruption. Many countries need to, but only the Philippines has actually done it. That is not a mark of shame but a badge of courage and commitment.
I believe in you, my Philippines; it is time for you to believe in yourself.


Did you know here in the Philippines that it is specifically against the law for foreign guests to become involved in local politics? If you think about this, the prohibition makes good sense. Most of us do not even speak the local language; much less understand the nuances or subtle undercurrents that pervade local politics. For us to use our money and influence to obtain our idea of what we think the Philippines needs not only smacks of neo-colonialism but would corrupt a political system already plagued by serious problems.
Most people think the prohibition against our involvement in local politics started with the Philippine Constitution and the anti-colonial movement, but its roots are much older. The historical precedence is closer to 500 years old.

Now for the rest of the story.

Most people know that Ferdinand Magellan was killed by local natives in 1521. Few of you know “WHY” he died. To put it simply, he got involved in local politics.
When Magellan first arrived in the Philippines he was greeted with open arms by Rajah Humabon of Cebu. They exchange gifts and the Rajah even converted to Christianity. From Datu Zula, Magellan learned there was a war going on with Chief Lapu Lapu of Mactan Island. Magellan volunteered to use his superior fire power and vast military skills to resolve this ugly situation. He even invited the Rajah to watch as he destroyed their enemy. Underestimating the enemy was just one of the mistakes that led to Magellan’s death. His superior weapons were still stuck in the boats off shore when his body and inflated ego was pierced by a native bamboo spear. The Rajah tried to rescue his new friend but it was too late. The Spanish retreated in chaos. Do not get involved in local politics. You can get hurt.


Not long ago a woman from Occidental Negros was caught smuggling over one hundred poisonous snakes and reptiles out of this country. She was taking them to Malaysia to be sold for a variety of uses. The reptiles were in little plastic bottles in her luggage. Many of the poor reptiles had died during the short suffocating trip from Bacolod to Manila. I am sure some of you are shivering and saying, “Good, Lets ship all of the little nasty creatures out of the country. Who the hell needs them?”
Actually, WE all need them. They are an important part of the web of life and help keep a very delicate balance. Surprisingly, they probably indirectly save hundreds of lives here every year. They may have saved your life.
While it is true a few of these poisonous reptiles do injure people; they do so only in self defense. Their normal prey are rats or mice. In fact there are many homes in Korea that keep snakes in their garden to control rodents. While a few thousand people around the world die from poisonous reptiles, literally billions of people die or have died from rats and mice. Rats carried the plague that wiped out half of Europe. Just a few years ago rats carried a hemorrhagic fever in the four corner area of Arizona, killing several people before we got it under control. Rats and mice carry rabies which can cause an excruciating death. A rabid rat will hunt and attack you. Even normal rats will bite sleeping babies, especially around the mouth. Snakes want nothing to do with you; but mice and rats will eat and poop in your food.
Many of you are afraid of snakes and lizards. Everybody is afraid of something. Learn to deal with your fears. Knowledge is power. Knowledge conquers fear. When you remove the snakes and lizards from the web of life, you allow the rats and mice to breed unchecked. You upset the balance of nature and endanger us all. If there is a poisonous snake or lizard near your home, try to safely move it or have it moved to a new home; you should kill it only as a last resort.
God left us as custodians of this wonderful world. We need to learn to do a better job. We need to live in harmony with nature and each other.


Charles Ponzi did not invent the scheme named after him but he certainly perfected it. In the 1920’s He got thousands of people to invest in his Postage Redemption Plan. The plan was simple and seemed perfectly legal. Someone would buy cheap postage coupons overseas then send them to Charles to have them redeemed at the much higher American rate. The profits were then shared by the investors. Ponzi guaranteed profits in excess of 50% each 45 days. The investor would deposit $300 on the first of each month then collect a “guaranteed” $450 after 45 days. As the investors raked in the cash the lines at Ponzi’s Bank stretched around the block. What they did not know was there were no postage coupons, no investments and no profits. What Ponzi did was pay the first investor with money provided by the second investor. Eventually Ponzi collected over $9,000,000.00, and then the scheme fell apart and Ponzi disappeared.
Greed blinds people to the obvious. No one bothered to think or investigate. In order to earn the millions of dollars Ponzi had claimed, astronomical quantities of coupons would have to been redeemed. One can only imagine hordes of Ponzi agents, pushing wheelbarrows full of coupons to post offices, unloading them with shovels or pitchforks. Shear logic should tell you; “something is wrong here”.
This is a type of fraud is called a pyramid scheme. This system of making money requires an endless stream of victims for success. The first few investors might make a little money but the scheme will quickly exhaust any new investors. In fact if you use the world’s entire population, an impossible 50 billion people, there will only be 500 million winners and 4.5 BILLION LOSERS.
The only way anybody can make money through a pyramid scheme or chain letter is if other people are cheated out of their money. That is not only morally wrong but it is also very likely you will be the one cheated.
Pyramid schemes are popular because most people are greedy and greed can fog your thinking. Scam artists know how greed works. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can outsmart these grifters. Even police departments have been victims and they should have known better.
In 1995-96, at least 67 employees of the Sacramento Police Department, including 45 officers, were investigated for involvement in a pyramid scheme. The chief of police said that he will fire at least seven officers and discipline 60 other police department employees. Nine officers were placed on administrative leave and relieved of their guns and badges. According to a prosecutor, the scheme involved more than 200 people. The minimum amount lost by those who were on the bottom of the pyramid was $500, not to mention losing their jobs. This police pyramid scheme was called an "investment club". The scheme is sold to investors by claiming it is “perfectly legal” and approved by the BIR and that it definitely is not a pyramid scheme. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true; it probably is not true.

Here are some indicators that you should investigate further before investing your money in a company or club.

-Be wary of high start-up costs / investment requests. Pyramid schemes want you to pay a large amount up front. The promoters behind the scheme make most of their profit on the signing up of new recruits.

- Find out if the company will buy back inventory not sold. Keep in mind that normal legitimate companies will buy back at least 80 percent of your stock purchases.

-What is the consumer market for the products or services? If the company seems to be making money by recruiting, you will want to stay away! Multi-level marketing depends on selling to consumers and establishing a market for a quality product. Pyramid schemes are not concerned with actual sales of the products or services.

-Check with others who have experience with the company, its products or the club and its services. Are the products actually being sold or services actually being provided?

Not every business opportunity is a crooked scheme or an attempt to steal your money but before you invest you owe it to yourself to thoroughly investigate, especially if it sounds too good. Especially if the “investment opportunity” promises high profits and with little risk. Be an Everyday Hero and lets work together to protect each other.

(What happened to Charles Ponzi? He was eventually caught. He spent time in prison, was divorced, was deported and eventually died in a charity hospital in Italy. )

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


There is an insidious slimy black-hearted evil here in the Philippines . It is grounded in ignorance, jealousy and prejudice.
I came to the Philippines with two dreams. I wanted to live a better life and to write a book. I did not come here to be a DOM (Dirty Old Man). In fact I found old foreigners taking advantage of young sweet poor Filipinas particularly repugnant. To me it was a form of prostitution. A relationship built on individual needs and mutual deception. It was a facade of lies and pretence. I have an almost childish belief that love and relationships should be “real”. They should be grounded in truth.
Without truth there is no honesty
Without honesty there is no trust
Without trust there is no love
Without love there is NOTHING

Not all Filipina / Foreigner relationships are fake or ugly. I personally know of several of these “May-December” relationships that are true romantic treasures. Two people from different cultures and different generations who have managed to find each other amid the chaos and pain of this world. Two people who genuinely love each other. But sadly some of these DOM relationships are not real but merely a hollow empty sad “business” deal. I was determined not to be a part of that ugliness.
I had searched all my life for “real” love. I wanted to find the other half of my soul. Enjoy the bliss of “never having to say you are sorry” because the one you love “knows” you would never hurt her on purpose. I fell in love with a young Filipina. She eventually fell in love with me. For a brief period we were very happy. I wrote about that joy many times in this column. I wrote of the pride and respect I have for this Filipina flower. My heart soared with the promise of the great adventures we would share. Her compassion and love were limitless. She wanted to help her own people. Not just her family but friends and neighbors. There are 32 students we alone are putting through school. Our lives were productive and filled with love. Then the evil came.
Like most Filipinos she is VERY sensitive. Each day she had to sit silently as her fellow Silliman students spewed forth the dirtiest foulest attacks against young women in DOM relationships. They called them whores, prostitutes and gold diggers. These students never met these people but they somehow “knew” that they could not possibly be in love. Even some of the faculty vomited this same malicious ignorance and prejudice. They made it clear they had "no respect" for people in these relationships. The ugliness of these people's souls was so palpable it became a part of her daily student life. She was forced to hide our relationship in shame. She had to invent lies to hide something beautiful and good; something she should be able to shout to the world. She loved me and I loved her. But this beautiful truth would have destroy her. The other students would have shunned her. Whispered ugly things behind her back. It might even have affect her grades and prevented her being able to graduate. This secret began to tear us apart. The constant pounding eventually drove her from my arms.
There is no scripture against this kind of relationship. There are no laws against it. Yet these small minded people have made themselves judge and executioner. They, with their ignorance and prejudice, destroy and hurt others; people they do not know.
The scripture says, “Judge not ; less yee be judged”. One day all of those bigoted people will face the “real" judge and answer for the pain and ugliness they have inflicted. I pray God has more compassion and understanding with them than they have shown us.
It is too late for me and the lady who once loved me. She was not strong enough to stand up to the vile names and stigma heaped upon her. The other day a fellow student saw her with me. She ran in a panic away from me so the "shameful" secret of our love would not be discovered. She has now given up her academic dreams. She has thrown away the promise of a better life we could have had together. I am sorry my Beh, I could not protect you, take away the pain. I failed you.
These cowards only mutter their vile words in Visayan because they know better than to rile my wrath. They pick on the innocent, the vulnerable because they have not the courage to face me.
If she really was a “gold digger”; she never would have quit. She was just a sweet simple young girl who’s only crime was to fall in love with the wrong man. Where ever you are dear, one last time, “Mahal Kita Walang Iba”.


The story goes like this:

Once before in American history we had an episode of Islamic terrorism. It was very quickly stopped. It happened in the Philippines (1911), when General. “Black Jack” Pershing was in command of the occupying US troops. There had been numerous Islamic terrorist attacks and General Pershing was determined to stop them.
Terrorists were captured and forced to dig their own graves. US soldiers then brought in pigs and slaughtered them, leaving the carcasses in the open graves. They then rubbed their bullets in pig blood and fat. The terrorists were horrified. If they are contaminated with pigs' blood, they could never enter heaven.
All but one terrorist was shot, their bodies then dumped into the contaminated graves. The lone survivor was set free and allowed to return to the terrorist camp. He told his comrades what happened to the others. This brought a stop to Philippine Islamic terrorism for the next 50 years.”
As you can see this story is very popular in the world because it provides a very “simple” solution to a very complex problem. The harsh sad truth is it will not work, it will most likely would cause greater problems and, in historical fact, never even happened.
General Pershing was Governor of the troublesome Mindanao-Jolo area. There is absolutely no record of this incident having ever happened and in fact it is in direct conflict with General Pershing’s recorded conduct and known feelings. When the terrorists refused to obey Pershing's order banning firearms, he sent a letter to the Moro leadership expressing sorrow that his soldiers had to resort to violence to enforce that order. He wrote paternally, “All Moros are the same to me as my children and no father wants to kill his own children”. When negotiations stalled and matters became critical, Pershing was still reluctant to be responsible for more unnecessary loss of life.
The interesting dichotomy in this historical excerpt is that the current terrorist / insurgency problems can be solved with lessons direct from Philippine history. Magsaysay knew the answer. Aguinaldo learned the answer the hard way. Negros Chronicle columnist Dindo Generoso had it almost correct (column “Books Not Bullets”). The answer is NOT found with bullets and violence, but sadly not found in books either unless of course it is a Philippine history book. Study your own history and you have the answer to the current terrorist/insurgency problems.


Evidently some people think I have “magical” powers. They feel all I need do is write about a “problem” here in the Philippines and somehow it will magically be resolved. Only wish it were that easy or that I had that type of influence. There are many Filipinos much smarter and more articulate than I trying to solve most of these problems. My mumblings and scribblings go in a different direction. All I do is try and focus on the positives; while giving you a possible “new” way to look at an old problem.
One of these old problems that people keep bringing to me is “air pollution” Specifically the burning of trash each evening. Most of the people complaining are upset about this odorous pastime but I doubt they have really given it any real thought.
Why is the trash burned? Obviously the first reason is to get rid of the trash. Then why not just have the trash hauled to the dump? Oriental Negros uses 2.5 hectares of landfill per year. Not only would hauling this extra trash to the landfill stress the already overburdened sanitation trucks but potentially it would double or triple this annual land loss. In the current situation it is not practical or efficient to try to haul it all away. So what can we do? If you let the trash accumulate we run a high risk of having an unplanned fire that would kill people and destroy property.
The secondary reason the trash is burned is indicated by “when” it is burned. Trash is burned usually in the early evenings when insects are at their worst. Without the smoke of the burning trash to help control these insects there would be a sharp increase in disease. For example many more children and old people would die of dengue fever. So why not get chemical foggers like they do in the United States? First, where do we get the money to support this expensive program? Beyond that, I have lived in Florida where they have these “safe” (?) fogging programs. The fog not only smells much worse than the smoke but it kills “good” insects as well as the bad. This could upset the balance of nature and create more problems. For example without good insects farming could be impacted. If the fog kills insects how good can it be for our growing children to breathe it?
You have children going hungry or not being able to go to school because they can not afford supplies and uniforms. You have children living and eating amid the fetid stench of a landfill to just survive and you worry about a little wood smoke each evening. Sorry but I think the burning of trash is a non-problem and sometimes the smoke even smells good. Be an Everyday Hero and help a child get an education and stop worrying about a little smoke.


Psychopath is the official name for the world’s worst antisocial criminal. What makes a psychopath and why are they so dangerous? Doctors agree that the psychopaths are devoid of love and guilt. They know what they are doing and care nothing for those they hurt. What makes them dangerous is that many appear quite normal. Their capacity to hurt and destroy can be hidden under a veneer of charm and honesty.
Typical example is John Wayne Gacy. Gacy was a well-respected volunteer in community affairs. He often dressed as a clown and entertained children at a local hospital. He appeared to everyone as a nice sweet gentle man, yet he tortured and murdered 33 young boys and buried them in his basement. His veneer of respectability was so good that despite complaints from victims who had escaped, the police did not investigate. After being caught, not once did Gacy express any remorse or guilt for his savage crimes.
Ted Bundy had a similar mask of respectability. He was a clean-cut law student, and put his charm and smile to good use at a crisis hotline center. After his capture, he confessed to raping and murdering 28 women and may possibly have murdered a hundred more. He showed no remorse or pity. He was a classic psychopath.
The traits that define psychopaths ( i.e. impulsiveness, violence, lack of guilt, etc) are well known. An important predictor of psychopathy is severe love deprivation in childhood. Serial killers were nearly always been beaten or abused when children. They also consistently had family members addicted to drugs or alcohol (an indicator of love deprivation).
Hitler's father, in drunken rages, often beat him and his mother. At 15, Hitler himself beat his mother. The rapist and serial killer Carl Panzram, America's most violent prison inmate, was deserted by his father and beaten by his mother. The multiple killer, Jack Abbott, had an abusive alcoholic father and a prostitute mother, who left when he was four, leaving him to a string of abusive foster homes. Albert DeSalvo, the Boston Strangler, was brutally tortured by his alcoholic father. In each case the effects of “love deprivation” later exploded into terrible violence.
How do we discipline our children without creating monsters? I am not against spanking, but there is a difference between paddling and “beating”. Just because you spank your children does not mean they will grow up to be serial killers or psychopaths. So where do you draw the lines in our attempt to discipline your child. I use two methods: one negative; one positive. I use a variety of negative methods from "time out" and withholding privileges to spanking. The spanking should not be a first option but a last option, and it NEVER should injure.
The most neglected and most important disciplinary technique is the positive re-enforcement approach. Lavish on the child praise, hugs and kisses for everything good they do. Even if the results of their actions are not so good; give them hugs for trying to do the right thing. You should have special “rewards” for positive performance. Remember, when you paddle their butts they jump up and down, going nowhere; but when you pat them on the back, they go forward with a smile. Love is more powerful than pain.
Be an Everyday Hero, love and hug your child today.