Tokyo, Japan - Noting that Metro Manila’s traffic, infrastructure and housing problems can no longer be solved by the Philippines’ National Capital Region, Japan has offered to buy Metro Manila for $57 Billion.
The Japanese government, acting on a report by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), made the offer to Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and Makati City Mayor Junjun Binay. By purchasing Metro Manila, Japan hopes to implement JICA’s “Dream Plan” to solve once and for all Metro Manila’s decades-old woes.
The dream plan seeks to achieve by 2030, the five “No’s” considered to be the ultimate key to the revival of the dying metropolis : no traffic congestion, no excessive transport cost burden for low-income groups, no households living in high hazard risk areas, no barriers for seamless mobility of people and no air pollution.
Under the purchase proposal, Metro Manila will become a Prefecture of Japan and both the local and national governments of the Philippines will totally give up ownership and control of Metro Manila which consists of 17 cities and towns.
The only remaining obstacle to the proposed purchase is to determine how the $57 Billion will be divided among Philippine President Noynoy Aquino, Estrada, Binay and the rest of the mayors of the cities and towns of the metropolis.
Manila, Philippines - The embattled general manager of Manila’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) may have the last laugh despite calls for his resignation for the problems that have been plaguing the light railway system in the populous metropolis.
Activist groups have demanded that Alan Vitangcol III step down from his post for mismanagement of the transport system that millions of residents depend on for their daily commute to and from their work places. Vitangcol is also accused of allegedly extorting $30 million from a Czech train car builder in exchange for being awarded an MRT expansion project contract.
Today, the International Association of Light Railway Systems (IALRS) announced that Manila’s MRT has been unanimously chosen to receive the prestigious 2014 Most Popular Transport System Award. The annual award is given to the railway system that has the largest patronage.
The international body said Manila’s MRT won the judges’ nod hands down, after they saw photos of the long lines of commuters waiting to board the commuter trains. “We haven’t seen such massive popularity among MRT systems anywhere in the world,” one of the judges commented.
This prestigious award adds to the long long list of international recognitions recently awarded to the Philippines. Last month, the Philippine cities of Makati and Pasig were named the selfie capital of the world.
Manila, Philippines - Metro Manila in the Philippines is probably the most congested metropolis in the entire world. It comprises of several big cities and towns with their respective local government units but that in itself makes the delivery of government services truly inefficient and ineffective. That is about to end.
Manila Mayor and former Philippine President Joseph Estrada is proposing to split Metro Manila into just two major cities: Northern Manila and Southern Manila. Estrada’s plan is quite simple. The division line will be the Pasig River which runs from Manila Bay to Laguna Bay. All cities and towns north of the Pasig River will comprise Northern Manila and everything else south of the river will comprise Southern Manila.
There is one big problem.
Most of Manila and Makati are south of the Pasig River, which begs the question, who will be the mayor of Southern Manila? Joseph Estrada or Makati Mayor Junjun Binay, son of incumbent Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay who is running for president in 2016?
A poll conducted by The Adobo Chronicles shows a 50-50 split in support for Estrada and Binay.
Manila, Philippines - From Chicago to San Francisco, from Hong Kong to Venice, water ferries are a popular mode of transportation for both business and pleasure. Manila wants to be known as the ferry capital of the world and is working very hard to earn that distinction.
This week, the Manila Metropolitan Development Authority (MMDA) unveiled a prototype ferry that would transport passengers from one end of the polluted Pasig River to the other, and it is living up to the Philippine tourism meme of “It’s More Fun In the Philippines.”
The prototype ferry consists of a steel barge lined with used rubber tires and on it sits a yellow dilapidated mini-bus that once traversed the traffic-ridden streets of the Philippine metropolis. “The Pasig River ferry boat will be like no other in the world,” and MMDA official said. “It is not only a ferry boat, it is also a bus,” he added.
The new ferry boats will start operating sometime in April this year and passengers will be charged 80 Pesos (roughly $2) each way.
Instead of life jackets, passengers will be handed disposable face masks in order to protect them from the stench of the polluted river.
Responding to media questions, MMDA said that the new ferry system will not contribute to further polluting the river since the boats will not be using regular gasoline to operate. Instead, the boats will run on lambanog, a popular local wine made from coconut. Because of its potency, the lambanog “fuel” has the potential to kill bacteria and viruses that may be clinging to debris floating in the river. “Quite ingenious,” commented one Manila commuter who says he is so sick of the daily traffic gridlock.
MMDA said there will be 5 ferries operating, each with a capacity of 40 passengers. This means a potential of 200 less commuters on Manila’s overcrowded buses and jeepneys each time the ferries run.
Manila, Philippines - It’s all about oil. U.S. interest seems to be shifting from the Middle East to Asia, particularly the oil-rich waters surrounding the Philippines, China, Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. Tension has been rising among and between the governments of these countries over territorial claims in around South China Sea and the Spratly Islands.
Overtly, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in the Philippines to try to ease tensions between the Manila and Beijing governments, urging China to go easy on imposing no-fly and no-sail zones over the disputed territories between the two countries.
Covertly, as confirmed by latest tweets from suspected American security secrets leaker Edward Snowden, Kerry is in Manila talking up the Aquino government to seriously consider becoming the 51st state of the U.S. Kerry said that becoming a U.S. state would be in the best interest of the Philippines because it would essentially put the American military at its disposal in its dispute with China. Of course, what Kerry is not saying is that it would grant the U.S. full access to the area’s rich oil resources.
The Filipino sentiment against American colonialism has significantly changed since the U.S. military bases were practically driven out of the Philippines in the early 1990′s. There is a growing displeasure with the Manila government. Filipinos are fed up with political dynasties, incompetence, corruption and all that kind of stuff.
Is it time to add another star to the stars and stripes?
Manila, Philippines - Meet Mali, the elephant that was a gift from the government of Sri Lanka to former Philippine First Lady and Metro Manila Governor Imelda Marcos. That was 35 years ago. Since then, Mali has been held in captivity at the Manila Zoo, alone and uncared for in terms of her medical needs.
Animal rights activists worldwide have been calling on the Philippine government to release her and have her transferred to an elephant sanctuary in Thailand where she could be with other elephants in a natural habitat. Former Beatle Paul McCarthy was among the latest celebrities to advocate for Mali’s release, writing a letter to Philippine President Aquino.
But the fight for Mali’s release seems to hinge on Manila’s local government, not the presidential palace.
Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada has refused to release Mali to the sanctuary. Estrada is a movie actor and former Philippine president who was impeached and convicted for corruption, only to be pardoned and released from prison by another Philippine President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who herself faces corruption charges.
“Since I am now the mayor of Manila which has jurisdiction over the Manila Zoo, I am technically the owner of Mali,” Estrada told a group of international reporters at Manila’s Press Club.
Asked by The Adobo Chronicles during a Skype call last night about his reason for not wanting to release Mali, Estrada said “Mali is the perfect symbol of my career as a politician. My career is a show, a circus. And what better represents my career than an elephant?”
“Besides,” Estrada added, “I believe my politics is more aligned with the Republican Party in the U.S. and I know the elephant is their mascot and symbol.”
Editor’s note: Well, for once, Estrada got something correct.
Manila, Philippines — It is definitely more fun in the Philippines – exactly as the Department of Tourism advertising mantra says – not only because Filipinos think up of the smartest and sometimes stupid things, but get away with it.
In a surprise move, the country’s Department of Motor Vehicles has actually adopted what was once a smart yet illegal activity, as an official policy. Effective July 15, 2013, the Department will be issuing two-for-one vehicle licenses whereby citizens or businesses owning two or more vehicles can purchase identical license plates for the price of one. This new policy is expected to solve the problem of many vehicle owners not obtaining the proper license plates because the cost and fees are too expensive.
The new policy is expected to put the Department of Motor Vehicles at odds with the Metro Manila Development Authority, particularly with the latter’s “coding” program. Under this coding system, motor vehicles whose license plates ending with an odd or even number are prohibited from the streets and highways of Metro Manila on specified days and times of the week. For example, vehicles wth license plates ending in 1 are prohibited on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Vehicles with license plates ending in 2 are prohibited on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The system has been in effect for many years as a way to solve the traffic gridlock that’s been the hallmark of Metro Manila’s roadways.
Asked for his reaction to the two-for-once license plates, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, who as president of the Philippines was impeached and convicted for corruption, said “I don’t care either way. I am exempted from the coding rules and I always have police car escorts wherever I go so traffic is not a problem for me.”
Already, some enterprising Filipinos are planning to buy the two-for-one license plates and sell the other for half the price.
Manila, Philippines – Southeast Asia’s largest publicly listed food, beverage and packaging company, San Miguel Corporation, is slated in January to start construction work on a Fifteen Billion Peso toll road that would connect Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport to existing expressways in the metropolis. The project , when completed, is expected to greatly ease traffic gridlock which is an everyday occurrence leading to and from the airport. It will also serve as a short cut to the gambling casinos along Manila Bay.
This project is part of President Noynoy Aquino Administration’s public-private partnership, where public projects such as these are funded wholly, or in part, by private corporations, with strings attached of course.
Established in 1890 as a brewery, San Miguel Corporation has some 17,000 employees in over 100 major facilities throughout the Asia-Pacific region. It carries many brand names in the Philippine food and beverage industry, including San Miguel Pale Pilsen, Ginebra San Miguel, Monterey, Magnolia, and Purefoods. San Miguel Beer is one of the largest selling beers and among the top ten selling beer brands in the world.
Return on Investment
As part of the signed agreement, San Miguel Corporation will invest P11 Billion in the project. The company’s return on investment will come when it starts collecting toll along the completed sky way. It wasn’t clear whether any portion of the toll fees will go to the government.
Informed sources who spoke on condition of anonymity said that there was one major roadblock to the signing of the agreement. San Miguel Corporation wanted to sell its premiere product, San Miguel Beer, at the toll booths leading up to the expressway. Initially, the Aquino Administration objected to the idea because this would be in violation of the country’s DUI regulations. After weeks of negotiation, however, the Aquino Administration relented, on the condition that only San Miguel Lite Beer, not the regular beer, will be sold at the toll booths. The government also sought a concession from San Miguel Corporation which agreed to share 10% of all beer sales at the toll booths with the government.
Manila, Philippines – When Miss Philippines Janine Tugonon lost the 2012 Miss Universe crown to Miss U.S.A. Olivia Culpo, two million Filipinos took to the streets of Manila to protest what they claimed to be unfair judging by the international panel of judges. “Our Miss Philippines was clearly the winner,” proclaimed Elias Batongbakal, one of the protest organizers. “Janine not only showed her amazing poise and beauty. She also answered the final question with great intelligence and confidence — none of those ‘major, major’ stuff.” Batongbakal was obviously referring to another Miss Philippines – Venus Raj — who competed in the Miss Universe Pageant in 2010 and lost the crown because of a not -so- smart answer to the final question.
On Wednesday, Filipinos took to the streets again, this time to protest the failure of Manila to take the No. 1 spot in an international survey of “The World’s Ten Worst Public Transit Systems.” Manila came in No. 2, second only to Mumbai. “We were robbed,” protestors chanted. Protest organizer Elena Katigbak said, “Manila’s public transit system is the worst in the world, hands down! How can they take this great honor away from us?”
Katigbak continued, “Where else in the world can one find colorful funny cars (jeepneys) –complete with gas fragrance and obnoxiously loud stereos — stinky buses, dilapidated taxi cabs and sardine-packed light railway system? And did I already mention the 24-hour standstill traffic?”
A Manila public official, who requested anonymity to avoid retaliation from his boss at the Department of Public Transportation, said that he suspects the foreign nationals who undertook the survey were probably met at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, whisked into air conditioned limousines with dark tinted windows, treated with shots of Johnnie Walker Black Label and taken through backstreets inside gated millionaires’ villages before being dropped off at their 5-star hotel in Makati. “They didn’t see the real public transport system of our Metropolis,” the official said.
As of press time, the Department of Foreign Affairs was reportedly preparing a formal letter of protest to the authors of the survey to demand that Manila be declared No. 1 and rescind the honor earlier given to Mumbai.
Manila, Philippines – Edward Snowden, the former U.S. National Security Agency contractor who admitted revealing secret surveillance programs to media outlets, and who has been charged with espionage, has reportedly been sighted in Manila, roaming the traffic-ridden streets of the Philippine Metropolis. Manila, as many will recall, has been described as the “gates of hell” in Dan Brown’s latest best-selling book, “Inferno.”
An eyewitness said he saw Snowden dressed as a Catholic nun and entering a gated mansion owned by the Archdiocese of Manila. Analysts surmised that the Catholic Bishops may be unaware that the supposed nun was Snowden because of their lack of skill in picking out cross-dressers from a crowd.
The U.S. Embassy in Manila, upon hearing of the report, immediately filed a formal request with Malacanang Palace, the official residence of Philippine President Noynoy Aquino, for help in bringing Snowden into custody. It was unclear whether the Philippine Government would have the balls to gatecrash the Catholic mansion to search for Snowden. While the Philippine Constitution provides for the separation of church and state, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines remains to be a driving force in the conduct of government affairs. Politicians are constantly fearful that any action on their part that would piss off the bishops will lead to the former’s political demise, as was the case with Presidents Ferdinand Marcos, Joseph Estrada and other high-ranking government officials.
It was not immediately known if Snowden plans to seek political asylum in the Philippines, after several unsuccessful attempts to do so in China, Ecuador, Cuba and Russia.