Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Picture of the Year

There is nothing like a good list to get one's juices stirred up. It's great when there are winners or losers. It's organized gossip. Like Time Magazine trying to filter a year of global acts down to one man. Boy howdy, Time takes it on the chin every year for the people the editors did not choose. 

Seventh Runner Up

This, my friends, is an action photo, showing the Number One idol of the Philippines, Representative Colonel Doctor Champion Champion Champion Champion Champion Champion Champion Manny Pacquiao displaying another of his skills: submachine gun shooting.  Not shown in the photo is his aptitude in chicken fighting, betting, boxing, and praying. Or soldering. Or honorary doctoring. Or law making.

It is by definition a good photo because it is of Pacquiao, and our list would be horribly remiss if we did not include this icon of Filipino public service, pride and virtue.

Plus, I don't want no hyper-sensitive Filipino congressman on my case for failing to show allegiance to their dream guy whom I, being Hollywood of origin, mistakenly take to be merely an entertainer, and a very rich one at that.

Sixth Runner Up

Oh, rats! Now Congress is going to be on my case for re-running this mocking photo by Justin Bieber of Manny Pacquiao imitating Michael Jackson's lean.

A guy can't even be a reporter around here without getting his mitt in a wringer.

Congress has a bill in the hopper to declare Justin Bieber "persona non-grata" in the Philippines for mocking National Hero Pacquiao, a guy who has virtually identical credentials to the other National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal.

Evidently freedom of expression to these congressmen means "you are free to express whatever I find acceptable".

Bizarre. As if their Congressional Act helps the international standing of the Philippines, once again casting the Philippines as a nation of whiners. Who is doing the most damage, Bieber, whom most people find upstanding and kind, or Philippine congressmen with zero comprehension that free expression is what helps a nation grow and stay honest.

Never mind that the poor go poor, the FOI bill languishes, the Divorce Bill suffers and other bills of import get pushed aside for this urgent vendetta. Congress evidently has nothing substantial to do.

But let's get serious.

Fifth Runner Up

This picture was not taken in 2012, obviously, but it was found by JoeAm in 2012 and he was stunned at the portrayal of an American soldier doing a good deed rather than coming off as one of the American sons-of-bitches who blasted Manila to rubble trying to get some rats out.

This is a scene from the WW II Battle for Manila.

You will note the nun in the background bringing a halo to the picture. And the rubble. And in the fore, the serious American soldier carrying a young Filipina who appears to be in shock. The beauty and the beast, eh?

Contrary to what some might lead you to believe, most Americans are genuinely good people. Her military leaders sometimes take brutal choices.

Fourth Runner Up

This picture is of importance because it shows three things: (1) the nations of the world eating all the tuna from the sea, consigning their grandkids to the enjoyment of eating seaweed and salt, (2) a very handsome hunka hunka tuna, and (3) an even more handsome hunka hunka Filipino, the latter doing what 80 percent of all Filipino men are consumed with: (a) laboring for a pittance, and (b) being happy.

For some reason, I love the laboring Philippines. Americans sacrifice their young men on the battlefield and Filipinos do it in the fields and trees and oceans and pedaling bicycles for a lifetime.

Third  Runner Up

I wish Transparency International or Pulse Asia or some other influential rating agency would evaluate all the countries in the world on the scale of Most Photogenic to Least Photogenic.

I don't care where you are in the Philippines, you can wake up, wander around for an hour, and come home with photos, one of which will prove to be absolutely stunning.

This is that photo for 2012, Bohol, obviously, a rice field, obviously, and a home or cottage.

The Philippines has to be in the top ten, eh? There are so many good shots I have largely given up on the camera and taken to simply absorbing the most gorgeous place on earth. And the most poignant. And on occasion the most tragic.

Second Runner Up

Storms rake the Philippines regularly. We'll set aside the earthquakes, volcanoes and coup temperments for now and focus on the wind and rain.

Filipinos deal with storms in phases: (1) preparation if they are lucky enough to hear that a big one is coming, (2) hunkering down during the rain and wind, (3) emerging to a landscape of destruction and too often death, (4) finding relief, (5) surviving, and (6) rebuilding before the next one hits.

This is a picture of relief delivered in the Filipino tradition, the powerful overwhelming the weak to get their handout. I will leave it to you to guess what share of the crowd is genuinely needy and what share is out for a freebie. If I have become a cynic, it is because the local training is exemplary.

This is a picture that says a lot, and leaves too much to the imagination.

First Runner Up

I'm always looking for new photos of President Aquino because he is always popping up in my blogs.

This one is fantastic because it is how he deserves to look for all the good work he is doing to raise the Philippines out of an era of corruption and self dealing into one of honest work and achievement. He is not merely doing traditional acts of governance, he is doing those acts which will remake the Philippine social and governmental framework forever.

Arresting plunderers. Tossing errant Chief Justices. Hammering out a Mindanao agreement. An RH Bill. Anti-Disappearing Bill. POGI Bill (FOI) coming down the pike. I expect Divorce to be delivered, too. These are all modernization acts, acts that CHANGE the Philippines for the good, sometimes done in the face of crusty old men who would hold the Philippines to its backward days forever.

I like the picture because this is how I imagine President Aquino would look upon arriving back in the Philippines after traveling to Norway to get his Nobel Peace Prize.

JoeAm's Favorite Photo of 2012

Yes, it has to be a people shot. Showing the side of the Philippines that the antis simply won't recognize. The heart and dedication and effort of good people in the face of incredible obstacles.

The occasion is the aftermath of typhoon Bopha. I look at the activities from the perspective of the woman on the stretcher who has given her trust, and the safety of her young child, to the men of the rescue unit. Her ride is loud, it is bumpy, it is cold and wet, it is filled with tension. Yet she is calm, for her baby.

I'm sorry, I don't know the men or the situation or the woman.

But I think it does not matter much. The photo is for the thousands and thousands of unnamed good samaratan Filipinos who emerge during or after a tragedy to begin making some sense of it. Some kindness. They dig for the bodies. They rescue those holding onto life by a thread. They put themselves at risk. They labor as only Filipinos can labor. Long hours, sleepless nights, little food and precious little monetary reward. You know, frankly and with cynicism and satire aside, I think Manny Pacquiao is one of these guys, at the core, which is why he is so loved.

Too many congressmen do not appear to be of this style, frankly. Nor some Associate Chief Justices. Nor some governors.

The contrast is stunning.

Jesse Robredo would be there, for sure. In the water. It's the REAL Philippines, y'know? Where people of good heart, and often little wealth and little power, step up to help others in even greater need . . .


  1. Love the sensitivities of the pictures, Joe. You are American by DNA, but your heart beats for the Republic.

    Dont know why, but I feel we are on the cusp of something good and great in the near future.

    It seems ironic, but I'm not surprised at all, that the path to development hinged on a leader's personal integrity that was not totally anchored on religiosity. Humanism at its finest!

    Happy New Year to All!

    1. I'm morphing over. Yes, these are fascinating times. I thought President Aquino was back-tracking, but he came through on RH. The "Anti-Disappearing" bill (ha, I don't know the real name) was a bonus. Next POGI. All that is needed is a deeper manufacturing base and continuity for about 15 more years. Vote LP.

    2. I'll comment here because down there is an altogether different party being hosted by Mariano. :)

      They're great pictures JoeAm. My favorite one would have to be of the happy, almost jubilant Aquino. That wave of the hand frozen in time looks like a high five to all like minded Filipinos who think it's been a good year overall for his presidency. It can also be a stop sign to all the antis, saying, "this is as far as you go, thank you, I'm taking over from here".

      I share Andrew's optimism up there but I also acknowledge Mariano's realism down below. So I'll take the middle ground for today and say it's looking to be a great year ahead but it won't be an easy ride. The forces of good will have to work hard. The President even harder. It's shaping up to be a long arduous battle with those corrupted by insatiable greed, or blinded by their own self righteousness and deluded sense of influence on the Filipino public, and then there's the widespread ignorance and all its kin.

      But I fear not, there's been a buzz in the blogosphere these last few days of 2012 that's been very infectious. So many people woken up to the possibilities of success. There is hope out there, plenty of it. And commitment. And resolve. So bring it on!

  2. I cringed at the thought benign0 will be Nobel Peace Prize awardee. Once a country has a novel Peace Prize winner, the country will forever be not at peace among themselves.

    God so not love peace that God made his own country and his people not in peace since the beginning of time.

    Well, Filipinos can be proud of having a novel Peace Prize winner. A boxing winner. A beauty contestant winner. I am still looking forward to having a Nobel winner in science which is still christmas light-years away.

    I love the ring of peace prize ... what is disconcerting about peace prize is it just clinched the fact that the country is not at peace.

    1. The Philippines has been at war with itself for centuries. Its hard to get 114 dialects speaking intelligibly to one another, not to mention the clans within tribes, each a lord and master unto itself. It is important to have a common rallying point that cuts across all the little self-interests with one big community interest.

      President Aquino has provided that by working to impose a sense of honesty and good intent in government acts. Nothing more peaceful than that . . .

  3. The woman in the picture placed herself in that situation because she did not want to abandon her meager possessions that took her years and years of hard toil. She'd rather die protecting it from looting christian neighbors.

    Same is true in the christmas day fire that claimed seven lives. Filipinos would rather save their hard-won belongings than putting out fire together. And, they rather not turn their back on their possessions to help put out the fire because the moment they did that, their television would be swiped by christian looters.

    1. Well, I don't have a high spiked wall around my place to keep the chickens in.

  4. In the aftermath of Sandy, Americans lined-up for free gas from the American government. What was refreshing in that picture I saw was two Filipinos MEEKLY LINED-UP WITHOUT A GRUMBLE !!! Yeah, I saw two of them in CBSNews.

    In the second runner-up picture, the relief workers cannot get the Filipinos to wait in line for their turn. They are all scrambling to get one. I wonder how relief workers can know if 5 of those hands came from the same family.

    Someobdy gotta whip them in orderly line. The picture shows disorderly Filipinos at their best.

    Last night I watched "Mammoth" the movie. While on a trip to Thailand, a successful American businessman tries to radically change his life. Back in New York, his wife and daughter find their relationship with their live-in Filipino maid changing around them. At the same time, in the Philippines, the maid's family struggles to deal with her absence. I love this movie. It was released in 2009. The government did not give accolade to Filipino maid/actress. She was natural. Maybe the Philippine government did not want Filipnos to watch this movie or it ever existed becuase IT IS REAL. IT IS THE REALITY. I give this 5 star. I truly recommend this. MTRCB and the Philippine Government has to give it a stamp of approval to be shown.

    1. I rather think many in government are serious control freaks. Like the Bieber congressmen or the guy who has proposed that the national anthem be mandated in commercial buildings three times a day to instill patriotism. We'll be patriotic by the numbers or end up in the stocks or like Jose Rizal.

  5. Gosh, I love that 3rd runner up! Chocolate Hills. Been there. I never get tired of that place. I love going there rainy season. It's green all over. Another place I sorely miss in Bohol is Panglao Island connected by two land bridges. In my teens my Filipino friends would rather clamber up on the bus roof foreign-tourist style than down there squished between no-leg room seats.

    Watching the picturesque scenery from the comfort of hired van gives me a feeling of guilt. How could I be an atheist be so lucky and those swim-or-sink irresponsibly religious Filipinos harvesting rice are not. I bet ya, they'd give up their religion in exchange for my lifestyle.

    Next week, I'll be dusting off my New Year Resolution list. I'll be recyling the same 'ol resolutions that never get past February so does all Filipinos.

    1. It's next on my family's touring list, after we recover from our planned trip to Hong Kong. Well . . . after my wallet recovers from my wife's trip to Hong Kong with the kid and I carrying the bags.

  6. Americans are inherently goot people. I'd rather be slave to Americans than be a househelp to fanatically religious Filipinos.

    Househelp in the Philippines are treated like dogs. The 7 congressmen would rather pass a law declaring Justin a non-person than passing bill-of-rights of houselps:

    1. Vacation and sick time
    2. decent food
    3. living wage
    4. humane working hours not from sun up till the slave master sleeps
    5. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner break
    6. free from having their face flat-ironed
    7. 15-year-old houseslaves is very common. I betcha these congressmen, bureauc rats, senators and, of course, benign0 Aquino have an army of underage slaves. Having underage slaves is very common. GOSH PEOPLE. HAVE DECENCY NAMAN !!!! Treat them like human. Of course, my parents employ one whole family as their slaves, too. My parents slaves do not have all of the above. Jeeeezzzz !!! AND THEY GO TO CHURCH !!!!

    1. What's happening with the domestic helper bill, I wonder. It is supposed to start Jan 1? Minimum wage and mandated social security and health insurance? Note to self to follow up. I think I have to get our maid to sign a contract, which I have to write in two languages. . . .

  7. Been checking Google News for the past days and weeks, it appears Philippines is raring to go to war ensnaring other countries with it including the U.S.

    What if Philippines declares war and no one came except Philippines ?

    "Little pig, little pig, let me come in."
    To which the pig answered: "Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin."
    The wolf answered to that, "Then I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow the house down."
    Well, he huffed, and he puffed, and he puffed, and he puffed and he puffed and huffed; but he could not get the house down.
    When the pig saw what he was about, he hung on a pot full of water, and made a blazing fire...and in fell the wolf..."

    This is how my son described Philippines over Christimas/Hannukah lunch. I told my wife to have their passports ready. Escape and evasion plan to Singapore unto the U.S. just in case.

    1. I'm buying my own boat but it goes east to Guam, not into China's ocean.

  8. Mariano,

    Happy New Year! Or is that too much of me to ask? Ahaha.

    1. Happy New Year to you, too, Cha ! Ahaha.

      Looks like the Philippines is going the right direction the way we all wanted.

      The Philippines will soon be habitable when I have retired assuming it is not obliterated by the Chinese. Thank you, benign0. Not you, benign0! THE benign0 Aquino. I am hoping I am not declared persona-non-grata AND if my Philippine passport is still acceptable by the Chinese commonwealth government in the Philippines.

      Happy New Year to you and Joe and all the bloggers and commentators out there.

    2. Happy New Year, Mariano. May the ship of good humor continue to anchor in your harbor nex year. Suggest you sew a Chinese flag and stuff it in the locker with the emergency supplies.

  9. Great shots, JoeAm. That old photo was of an era of great photojournalists and war correspondents. No photoshop yet. No poverty porn.


    1. Thanks Doc. Yes, that's true. They shot it as they saw it, bullets raining down or not. Happy New Year to you. Thanks for jazzing up the site with your comedy, Latin, medical expertise (good friend Onan) and poetry.

    2. And happy new year to you too, DocB!

      Poverty porn.. now there's something that should get a triple Y? rating instead of an X :) . I don't know about you but I'm off to see Les Mis. Heard Jackman is really good as Valjean though Russell Crowe apparently disappoints as Enrile er.. Javert.

    3. Happy New Year, Cha. Hey, I remember that Pinoy Javert, Enrile. Great movie that one, Enrile played by Norman Bates. Hehehe


  10. Excellent post Joe! Nothing is more uplifting than seeing Pinoys helping Pinoys yet the Anti-Pinoy crowd still manage to twist this tragedy and somehow blame it on Noynoy. Yeah, as if Noynoy can control the weather! But even if Noynoy was secretly a God and blew the storm away while also wiping out the Chinese Military, and magically ending all world hunger, I'm sure the Anti-Pinoy crowd will STILL criticize him. There is simply NOTHING Noynoy can do right in their minds.

    They tell you this with a straight face while they have YET TO WRITE A SINGLE CRITICISM OF GMA!!! Wow. What am I missing here?

    Seriously, dude, it is they who need to Get Real.

    1. PP, glad you appreciated the selection. I have taken to ignoring the anti pinoy sites with every fiber of my being. The sooner we declare them irrelevant the better off we all are.

  11. "The photo is for the thousands and thousands of unnamed good samaratan Filipinos who emerge during or after a tragedy to begin making some sense of it. Some kindness. They dig for the bodies. They rescue those holding onto life by a thread. They put themselves at risk. They labor as only Filipinos can labor. Long hours, sleepless nights, little food and precious little monetary reward."

    ---> These people really deserve to be called heroes - they actually DO SOMETHING, instead of just whining in front of the computer all day long.

    Seriously, Joe, it is the Ignacios who need to get real - they're not intellectuals, only whiners with Internet access.

    1. That's the trick, isn't it? To get past the whine and do something constructive. They could be constructive from their keyboards, I suppose, but not if they have zero credibility. I'll be giving out my 2012 blog awards, ummm, probably Thursday. Get Real gets an appropriate one.


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