The choicelessness of President Duterte

Source: Presidential Communications Operations Office

In between the expletives and taboo words that Rodrigo Duterte has said over his tenure as the most powerful man in the country, there is a phrase that is worth noting not because of its profanity, but because it indicates so much about the President’s personality.

“I have no choice.”

Those four words have cropped up in at least five of his speeches, and almost always in the context of making political decisions. It’s a phrase you would not expect to hear from a leader, especially on issues between life and death, between peace and violence, even between democracy and martial rule.

In May last year, Duterte decided to declare martial law in Mindanao as soldiers and terrorists fight for the city of Marawi. He said in a visit to Iligan City, “I hope [at] the soonest time, you will find a new heart to forgive my soldiers, the government, even me for declaring martial law. I did not have any choice. They are destroying Marawi.”

That declaration was later extended to last a year.

When the president decided to bring the participation of the Philippine National Police back to the drug war despite records of brutality, mishandling of evidence, and even murder, he reasoned that he has no choice, as drug-related cases continue to worsen with the absence of the agency.

The order stood, mightily–even though evidence pointed to the police force killing a Korean businessman named Jee Ick-joo inside its headquarters, even when a CCTV footage showed policemen carrying the lifeless body of a Kian delos Santos, 17-year-old boy, who would eventually become the eventual poster boy of the war on drugs.

Most recently, the outspoken 73-year-old has implied the same reasoning in obeying government officials. He said, “even if you choose a son of a b**** president, if he is chosen by the people, we can’t do anything. We’ll just bear it and obey him.”

All this almost sounds like an act of surrender to what is inevitable. It’s as if things were bound to happen the way they did.

Is it really possible for a person to run out of possibilities, moreso, for a leader to believe that there is such a thing as choicelessness?

Continue reading “The choicelessness of President Duterte”


Greenwich gets a makeover from 46-year-old millennial

President of Greenwich, Albert Cuadrante
Greenwich Pizza President Albert Cuadrante

For Greenwich Pizza president Albert Cuadrante, being young is a state of mind.

Having been previously the vice president for marketing of Jollibee Foods Corp. where he was among the younger executives, Cuadrante now leads the country’s leading pizza and pasta chain in a room full of millennials, and yes, that includes himself.

“I consider myself a millennial,” the 46-year-old said. “Greenwich is actually very dynamic, very energetic, and very fun. Nakakabata (It makes me feel young).”

Cuadrante’s unmistakable alacrity to embrace latest trends and the social media has completely transformed the pizza chain from a family-friendly fast food restaurant to a modern-day pizzeria for young adults—and it has proven to be a successful strategy.

In just four years since he took over in 2013, Greenwich revenues kept growing and has been expanding its reach in the country with an average of 30 new stores every year. To date, it has over 300 branches nationwide.

Continue reading “Greenwich gets a makeover from 46-year-old millennial”

Skarm is more than a FlipTop freestyler

Skarm performing during the Malasimbo Festival 2017. Photo by Tristan Tamayo

To loyalists of the rap battle conference FlipTop, Skarm, or Philip Pacheco, is known for his lyrical flow and consistency. He’s also regarded as one of the best local freestylers in the English language today. But recently, the 27-year-old decided to conquer the music scene more than the underground. For this, he struggled to detach himself from his rap battle days and reintroduced Skarm as a musician.

Continue reading “Skarm is more than a FlipTop freestyler”

Engkanto Brewery brings ‘magic recipe’ to beer sector

The power duo behind Engkanto Beers: Ian Paradies (left) and Josh Karten (right)

Filipino-Spanish Ian Paradies left his job at one of the world’s largest port management companies in the country to pursue what he loves—beer.

The 34-year-old admits not knowing anything about making it, but shares with pride that he has years of drinking experience under his belt.

For his venture to work, Paradies searched high and low for a brewmaster with the right combination of knowledge and experience to make a reality of his vision.

Eventually, through mutual friends and a few email exchanges, he met Josh Kanter, the owner of the popular Proclamation Ale Co. in the United States.

With Paradies’ background in marketing and advertising and Kanter’s experience in running the award-winning brewery in Rhode Island, they started Engkanto Brewery.

Their goal? To introduce to the market a line of high-quality craft beers that fit the average Filipino’s palate and pocket.

Continue reading “Engkanto Brewery brings ‘magic recipe’ to beer sector”

A Different Kind of Lust


“If words are the language of man, music is the language of God and spirits. To me, music is the universal truth.”

Listen to LUSTBASS’ track “Vital Transformation,” and you’ll be tempted to believe that maybe, music really is a passage to something spiritual. It makes sense that this is the philosophy the musician adheres to, who is so adept at translating his thoughts to the physical world through sounds.

Doing music since his early childhood, LUSTBASS has assumed different names and has associated himself with different bands through the years: He was Villain when he was still into punk/rock, he’s a bass player for bands Wilderness and Chocolate Grass, a sound designer for imagineer company Migo, and above all, a music producer for various artists.

Having delved into almost all aspects of the music industry, it’s curious how Allan Malabanan, the man behind all these personas, has not gotten the fame yet he deserves. Aside from the music circle from which Malabanan has gained respect, only a few seem to know and appreciate the kind of music he creates.

But why?

Continue reading “A Different Kind of Lust”

The unapologetic philosophy of Jess Connelly

Photo by Anna Cerezo

When I met Jessica Connelly in an isolated office somewhere in Magallanes, she was the same person I exactly imagined from her Instagram feed. Her hair brushed up, her face contoured but not heavily made up, with just the right shade of rose gold painted on her lips. She was wearing a shirt thrice the normal size for her built, the word ‘dime’ written on it. It was partnered with baggy pants, high-cut pink Converse sneakers, and a Gucci clutch bag with a strap.

It was clearly an unflattering outfit, and may look distasteful for some, but with Connelly’s face and confidence, the whole ensemble weirdly, just, fits.

Continue reading “The unapologetic philosophy of Jess Connelly”

Filipino Pride

Had Manny Pacquiao’s latest victory against Mexican-American Jessie Vargas happened in another time, in another landscape, in another context, the Filipino people would be rejoicing in amazing proportions right now.

But Manny Pacquiao’s latest victory happened during a time when the best of his physical strength and mental resolve have been used to snatch a seat in basketball courts, in Congress, and in the Senate. Manny Pacquiao’s latest victory happened after a series of losses, after announcing time and again of his imminent but postponed retirement.

Continue reading “Filipino Pride”

‘Spoiled’ Ateneans prove naysayers wrong with village for displaced folk


When a group of seven millennials decided to create a non-profit organization from scratch, a consultant warned them that they might be perceived as “snotty-nosed, spoiled Ateneans” – those who stand for a cause while relying on their parents’ affluence to finance what they believe in.

Others doubt their level of commitment. With so many years ahead of them, why rush into making the world a better place? Family and friends cannot help but ask why can’t they just focus on their chosen career paths and excel in their own fields.

Their generation, some might think, are such lost dreamers.

But after two years since Taguyod Bayan Foundation Inc.’s (TBFI) establishment, the group has managed to build eight disaster-resilient duplexes for the residents of Sara, Iloilo with their own hands.

Continue reading “‘Spoiled’ Ateneans prove naysayers wrong with village for displaced folk”

Duterte in the flesh

In a dinner hosted by The Philippine Daily Inquirer, I was lucky enough to be a fly on the wall in a roundtable for Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte along with Inquirer editors. It was a moment of revelation, to see one of the most controversial politicians in the country today in the flesh-hear his views, his principles, unfiltered.

Continue reading “Duterte in the flesh”