Monthly Archives: June 2013

TNTs may benefit from US immigration reform bill

“We should embrace our immigrant roots and recognize that newcomers to our land are not part of the problem, they are part of the solution.” ROGER MAHONY

By Alex P. Vidal

The word TNT (Tago Ng Tago) was coined by a Filipino who went to the United States with no intention of immediately coming back to the Philippines. Most common of all the reasons is economic. Like most people around the world, Filipinos think the United States is a land of milk and honey, a fulfillment of their dreams for a better life.
Filipinos are not the only TNTs in America. In fact, of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, six million are Mexicans. Hundreds of thousands are Latinos, Chinese and Koreans. Most of these undocumented immigrants made it to the land of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck via “over the bakod” or over the fence (crossing the US-Mexican border illegally). Undocumented Immigrant is defined as a foreign-born person who lacks a right to be in the United States, having either entered without inspection (and not subsequently obtained any right to remain) or stayed beyond the expiration date of a visa or other status. (Nolo law for all).


These are the warm bodies that may benefit from the S.744, the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act,” otherwise known as the comprehensive immigration reform law, which the Senate recently passed by a 68-32 margin.
The bill is not yet a law. It still needs the approval of the House of Representatives which will either modify it to reconcile with the senate version and approve it or kill it before it can reach the office of Pres. Barack Obama for his signature.
The bill is called “comprehensive” because it deals with border security, enforcement, immigrant visas, and nonimmigrant visas.
Title one of the bill and its preamble address issues of border security, the oversight of the border, and the security goals (“triggers”) that must be achieved before other provisions of the bill are implemented. This part of the bill establishes that the security of the border is a primary concern as part of a comprehensive strategy to ensure a functioning, fair, and effective immigration policy.


The title “Immigrant Visas” addresses permanent legal status in the United States. It creates a Registered Provisional Immigrant program for undocumented immigrants and incorporates versions of the DREAM Act and AgJOBS, for undocumented young people brought to the U.S. as children and for agricultural workers, respectively. It provides sufficient visas to erase the current backlog of family and employment-based visa applicants in the next 7 years, eliminates or changes some family-based immigration programs, and creates a new merit system that is based on points accrued through education, employment, and family ties.
The subtitle “Legal Immigration Reforms” lays out reforms and new components of the immigration system and addresses backlogs and immigration levels. In particular, it creates a new merit-based point system with two tracks that award points to immigrants with educational credentials, work experience, and other qualifications. It will function alongside the current family-based immigration and employment-based immigration programs, which allow U.S. companies, citizens, and legal permanent residents to file petitions for relatives or employees.
The title “Interior Enforcement” addresses DHS’s ability to enforce immigration laws while correcting many procedural problems with the immigration system. Central to Title III is a phased in, mandatory E-Verify employment eligibility verification program. The bill also addresses important refugee and asylum issues, enhances due-process protections in the immigration courts, increases the oversight of detention facilities, and toughens penalties for gang-related convictions and other offenses. (For more information, please see:

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Posted by on June 30, 2013 in Uncategorized


Pork-laced bullets and Islamaphobia

US Company Produces Pork-Laced Bullets

“Do not look down upon any Muslim, for even the most inferior believer is great in the eyes of God.” ABU BAKR

By Alex P. Vidal

Will you patronize a pork-laced bullet aimed at insulting a gunshot victim on his way to heaven or hell?
Islam continued to be misunderstood even in the West–despite being the only non-Western religion that stands closest to the West geographically and ideologically.
Despite Islam’s mental and spatial proximity, it is still the most difficult religion for the West to understand even if religiously it stands in the Abrahamic family of religions; and builds on the Greeks philosophically.
An American columnist once wrote: “No part of the world is more hopelessly and systematically and stubbornly misunderstood by us than that complex of religion, culture and geography known as Islam.”
Huston Smith, a leading figure in the comparative philosophy of religion, believes that “proximity is no guarantee of concord–tragically, more homicides occur within families than anywhere else. Islam and the West are neighbors. Common borders have given rise to border disputes, which, beginning with raids and counterraids, have escalated into vendettas, blood feuds, and all-out war.”
Muslims report that the standard Western stereotype that they encounter is that of a man marching with sword outstretched, followed by a long train of wives, Smith said. “Not surprisingly, inasmuch as from the beginning Christians have believed that ‘the two most important aspects of Muhammad’s life…are his sexual license and his use of force to establish religion.’ Muslims feel that both Muhammad and the Koran have been maligned on these accounts.”


The furor recently created by the announcement that a new, pork-laced ammunition designed to “serve as a warning shot to would-be Islamic terrorists with plans to attack Americans” is now available for sale, has confirmed once again that some educated Muslims will never take any attempt to trivialize their religion sitting down.
Muslims believe the frenzy whipped up by the public announcement by Jihawg Ammo, the company started by Brendon and Julie Hill of Coer D’Alene, Idaho, USA, that it has started selling boxes of gun cartridges made with pork products and advertised as being “a deterrent to potential terrorists who may not eat pork because of their religious beliefs,” was meant to humiliate the entire Islam religion.
Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the Hills were trying to exploit Muslims for their own profit.
“This is just one of many individuals and companies who seek to make a quick buck exploiting the growing Islamaphobia in our society,” Hooper said. “We’re not motivated by giving them free publicity they so desperately seek. That’s their intention — to get people upset so that they talk about it and they make money. If somebody did actually use one of these bullets to target a Muslim,” he added, “I am sure that a hate crime enhancement would fit.”


The company announced in a press release: “With Jihawg Ammo, you don’t just kill an Islamist terrorist, you also send him to hell. That should give would-be martyrs something to think about before they launch an attack. If it ever becomes necessary to defend yourself and those around you our ammo works on two levels.”
Reports quoted Brendon Hill, who developed the technology for the cartridges with his wife, as saying that the idea behind the ammunition was that “if a devout Muslim were thinking of carrying out a terrorist attack, they might be deterred by knowing they could be shot with bullets covered in pork, a religiously forbidden food.”
The report added: “He is not promoting violence toward Muslims, he insisted. In fact, the company also makes apparel promoting ‘Peace Through Pork.'” Brendon said that he and his wife started the company as “a tongue-in-cheek way to stand up to radical Islamic terrorists.” “We’re having some fun with it,” Hill said quoted by report. “There’s something to be said about using sarcasm to reveal truth about something that is false or a lie, and we’re focusing on the absolute lie they tell that murdering people is good.”
“We realize we’ve hit an emotional thread, and I’d loosely define this as a red-state/blue-state issue,” Hill added in the report. “That’s where our customers are coming from and in that demographic, our product is a way to push back against political correctness. It’s the proverbial middle finger back to political correctness.”


Report said the Hills came up with the idea while camping with friends and talking about the “Ground Zero Mosque,” the name given by opponents to an Islamic cultural center in New York City that was going to open near the World Trade Center site. They were angry over the center and what Hill called “a wave of radical Islam perpetuating from the Middle East to Europe to here.”
Here’s the rest of the report from ABC News: “Brendon Hill said his wife, stay-at-home mom Julie, came up with the idea and the name. Brendon, who used to work for the NRA as a fundraiser, said he drew on his undergraduate science degree and tinkered with the formula for making the ammunition, figuring out how to add pork products to the paint on gun cartridges while ensuring that the paint still works.
They started selling their product earlier this spring. “What we do is take industry base paint, a type of ballistic paint, and it took us a year to formulate how pork product that goes into it is still viable,” Hill said. “The paint still has to function and stick to metal, but also be haraam or unclean.”


Meanwhile, Muslims admit that their own record respecting force is not exemplary, wrote Smith. “Every religion at some stages in its career has been used by its professed adherents to mask aggression, and Islam is no exception. Time and again it has provided designing chieftains, caliphs, and now heads of state with pretext for gratifying their ambitions.”
They deny the following: First, they deny that Islam’s record of intolerance and aggression is greater than that of the other major religions (Buddhism may be an exception here — Smith). Second, they deny that Western historians are fair to Islam in their accounts of its use of force. Jihad, they say, is a case in point. To Westerners it conjures scenes of screaming fanatics being egged into war by promises that they will be instantly transported to heaven if they are slain.
Third, Muslims deny that the blots in their record should be charged against their religion whose presiding ideal they affirm in their standard greeting, as-salamu alaykum (“Peace be upon you”).

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Posted by on June 27, 2013 in Uncategorized



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Posted by on June 21, 2013 in Uncategorized



“Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.” KINKY DSC07344FRIEDMAN



By Alex P. Vidal

A bottle of beer taken by a mother while fleeing from Japanese invaders in World War II, survived after 73 years, and is now being kept for souvenir by the son who is 80 years old.
The bottle, with brand name still slightly attached to it, was carried to evacuation site by Leonardia Justiniani-Dayot when she and her family fled to Pavia town, 9.6 kilometers north of Iloilo City, Philippines as the Japanese started bombing Iloilo in 1941.
“My mother, who never drink in her life, took one bottle of beer from a party saying that when the Japanese would come, she would drink it to banish her fear,” narrated Dayot’s son, Ernesto, in an exclusive interview. “Fortunately, she never met any Japanese soldier as we moved in evacuation.”


Ernesto said they were joined by friends and their families when they fled to Pavia, the smallest municipality in area in Iloilo, covering only 2,715 hectares (6,710 acres). “We had no familiy in Pavia and the ones who provided us with rice, fruits, chickens and eggs were the loyal tenants of our farm,” Ernesto recalled.
Ernesto said his mother kept the beer bottle “intact and untouched” and gave it to him “as a souvenir from the war.” He displayed it in their family bar “for safekeeping and everlasting legacy of history.”
The bottle has the same size of the company’s flagship bottle today that carries eight beer brands from five breweries spread across the country.
“Everything in the bottle is original, including the cap, the design and the liquid content,” Ernesto said.


Before World War II erupted, Ernesto said his parents were living in Iloilo City. His father, Luis Roces Dayot, was assistant of then Iloilo Governor Tomas Confesor. They moved temporarily to Pavia when Japanese soldiers started massing their forces in Panay Island. Pavia was officially established in 1848, during the Spanish Colonial Era, by 13 landowners in what used to be a “camping place”, a “settlement place” or an “abandoned place”.
The original company that produced the beer bottle was founded in 1890 in Spain. It has grown into one of the Philippines’ largest business conglomerates with interests in alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, food, packaging, power, oil and telecommunications.



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Posted by on June 10, 2013 in Uncategorized



“Most importantly, the meaning of spirituality lays the seeds for our destiny and the path we must follow.” DENNIS BANKS

By Alex P. Vidal

It has been my habit to hand carry reading materials while moving around; books and newspapers accompany me whenever I travel, when I crisscross the United States and Canada every now and then. The best weapon to trounce boredom during a long wait in the pre-departure area is to browse the internet and read books or newspapers.
In a recent trip to Montreal, Quebec, I got fascinated by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat’s “Spiritual Literacy” which is about reading the sacred in everyday life. I was attracted by the invitation to read the book by Nancy Burke of Body and Spirit, who exhorts readers to “drink long and slowly from the soulful well that is spiritual literacy –it will sustain you for years to come.”
The authors have given us their kaleidoscopic view, full of color and fun, of the wisdom of the ages, including our own. Thomas Moore, in a foreword, said we need this wisdom desperately in a time when information and data have taken the place of insight. We need opportunities such as the one presented in the book to mediate and reflect, not just to learn and act. And it doesn’t hurt to discover how many different people of our own time are hard at work sorting through the obstacles so often associated with spiritual endeavors.


The authors consider as “spiritual practices from all traditions . . . the letters to know to read the world spiritually and to spell meaning in daily life.” Below are the alphabets of Spiritual Literacy:
ATTENTION: Pay attention. Stay awake and totally alert. See with receptive eyes and discover a world of ceaseless wonders.
BEAUTY: Walk the path of beauty. Relish and encourage its inward and outward expressions. Acknowledge the radiance of the creation.
BEING PRESENT: Live in the present moment. Don’t obsess about the past or worry about the future. All you need is right here now.
COMPASSION: Open your heart, mind, and soul to the pain and suffering in the world. Reach out to others and discover the rewards and obligations of deep feeling.
CONNECTIONS: Cultivate the art of making connections. See how your life is intimately related to all life on the planet.
DEVOTION: Express your feelings of praise and adoration through devotional practices. Pray with words and pray through your actions.
ENTHUSIASM: Celebrate life with this intoxicating passion. It adds zest to everything and helps build community. Hold nothing back.


FAITH: Recognize and accept that there is another dimension to life than what is obvious to us. Live with obstacles, doubt, and paradox, knowing that God is always present in the world.
FORGIVENESS: In both your private and public lives, discover the sweet release that comes from forgiving others. Feel the healing balm of being forgiven and of forgiving yourself.
GRACE: Accept grace and your world will be larger, deeper, richer, and fuller. Look for its intimations everywhere. Let this seed of the Giver of Life bloom in your words and deeds.
GRATITUDE: Spell out your days with a grammar of gratitude. Be thankful for all the blessings in your life.
HOPE: Let this positive and potent emotion fuel your dreams and support your service of others. Through your attitudes and actions, encourage others never to lose hope.
HOSPITALITY: Practice hospitality in a world where too often strangers are feared, enemies are hated, and the “other” is shunned. Welcome guests and alien ideas with graciousness.
IMAGINATION: Give imagination free rein in your life. Explore its images and ponder its meaning-making moments, and it will always present you with something new to be seen, felt, or made known.
JOY: Rejoice and be exceedingly glad. Find t his divine energy in your daily life and share it with others.


JUSTICE: Seek liberty and justice for all. Work for a free and fair world where oppression and inequality no longer exist.
KINDNESS: Let Spirit flow through you in little acts of kindness, brief words of encouragement, and manifold expressions of courtesy. These deeds will add to the planet’s fund of good will.
LISTENING: Cultivate the art of deep listening in which you lean toward the world in love. All things in the universe want to be heard, as do the many voices inside us.
LOVE: Fall in love over and over again every day. Love your family, your neighbors, your enemies, and yourself. And don’t stop with humans. Love animals, plants, stones, even the galaxies.
MEANING: Constantly try to discover the significance of your experiences. Seek further understandings from sacred texts and spiritual teachers.
NURTURING: Take good care of the best that is within you. Self-exploration and personal growth continue throughout our lifetimes and equip us to tend to the needs of others.
OPENNESS: Hold an open house in your heart for all people and all things. Practice empathy with others and receptiveness toward the universe.


PEACE: Protect the earth’s future by promoting peace every day. Your small steps will link you with others who are combating violence in the world.
PLAY: Be playful. Express your creative spirit in spontaneity. Hurrah the pleasures of being, and let loose your laughter.
QUESTING: Savor questions and thrill to the quest. See your life as a journey that quickens your faith and deepens your soul.
REVERENCE: Practice reverence for life. The sacred is in, with, and under all the things of the world. Respond with appropriate respect and awe.
SHADOW: Give up trying to hide, deny, or escape from your imperfections. Listen to what your demons have to say to you.
SILENCE: Slow down. Be calm. Find a place where you can regularly practice silence. There you will find the resources to revitalize your body, mind, and soul.
TEACHERS: Be willing to learn from the spiritual teachers all around you, however unlikely or unlike you they may be. Always be a sensitive student.
TRANSFORMATION: Welcome the positive changes that are taking place in your life. Open up the windows and let in some fresh air. Wholeness and healing are waiting in the wings.
UNITY: In this age of global spirituality, respect differences but affirm commonalities. Work together with those who are trying to make the world a better place.
VISION: Practice the art of seeing the invisible. Use the wisdom of your personal visions to renew yourself and your community.
WONDER: Cultivate a vibrant curiosity and welcome the reports of your senses. The world is alive and moving toward you with rare epiphanies and wonderful surprises. Remember you are standing on holy ground.
THE MYSTERY: Accept the unknown as part of life. Don’t try to unravel the profound mysteries of God, human nature, and the natural world. Love the ineffable.
YEARNING: Follow your heart’s boundless desire. It takes you out of yourself and fosters an appreciation for the multidimensional pleasures of life.
YOU: Accept that you are a child of God. Sing your own song with gusto. Fulfill your mission as a copartner with the Holy One in the unfolding drama of the universe.
ZEAL: Be passionately aroused by life. Cherish every moment, honor your commitments, and treasure your kinship with all.

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Posted by on June 10, 2013 in Uncategorized


(This is the winning entry for the month of May 2013 in the Hiligaynon short story contest initiated by the Los Angeles-based Peter Solis Nery Foundation where yours truly was one of the judges–APV)


ni Marko Antonyo Limson

“Nong, City College?” usisa ni Gino sa drayber sg naglabay nga jeep. 
“Bangga lang ko,” sabat sg drayber. Hingagaw nga nagsaka si Gino kag nagpungko sa likuran nga bahin sg jeep. 
“Boss, labay ka city hall?” pamangkot sg lalaki nga naga hana magsakay. 
“Huo meg” sabat sg drayber.
Nagasakot sa pinsar ni Gino ang iya finals, ang iya thesis defense sa ala una, ang malaba nga pila sa cashier, ang iya iloy nga nagdaho sa iya P4,500 para sa iya tuition kag nagpahanumdom nga mag puli sya matapos ang iya klase para may matimbang pamutos sg ila tocino. “Duha ka semana na lang!” yuhom sg pagpasalig nya sa iya kaugalingon sa iya nagahilapit nga graduation. Nalingaw sya paminsar sg nabilin nya nga hilimuon. Ang mga handum nya dali na lang malab-ot. 
Likom kay Gino, gina mata-mata na gali sg lalaki nga pasahero ang bag sg babaye nga ila kadungan. Tatlo lang sila sa jeep, ang tagsa-tagsa may iya ginapaminsar. Nagapasurip ang lalaki sa bag sg babaye samtang nagapanilag man sa giho ni Gino. Nag-iping ang lalaki apang sa hana sini agawon ang bag, nagsinggit ang babaye, “Sa lugar lang!” Nagdulog kag nanaog ang babaye.
Waay gihapon nagbati sa bungog ni Gino ang malain nga tuyo sg lalaki nga kadungan. Sa kaalang-alangan nga lugar, “Brad kwarta-kwarta lang ni. Idaho na lang ang wallet mo para waay ta gamo.” pagpamahog sg lalaki nga nagataya balisong kay Gino. 
“Meg may exam ko… Ngaa ako gid haw? Malooy ka man ay. ” 
Sa pagkitlouy ni Gino naga dalum ang duso sg balisong sa iya kilid. “Hambal pa kay dus-an ta ka nga dipota ka karon.” Mugot nga sabat sg nagalingas nga lalaki. 
Ginkuot ni Gino ang wallet kag hinali, “Nong may kawatan di ho!” singgit niya sa drayber. 
Ginduso sg lalaki ang balisong sa nawala nga kilid ni Gino kag gin hamakan nya ini sa nawong. Gin pasundan pa gid sg buno sa dughan. Natalupangdan sg drayber ang buroka sa likod kag dali-dali ini nga nagpundo para kun tani buligan ang iya nasamaran nga pasahero. Pagdulog sg salakyan, naglumpat ang lalaki dala ang wallet ni Gino. 
Nagakayaon si Gino sa salakyan samtang ginapunggan ang dugo nga naga-ilig sa iya kilid kag dughan. Sa kada lagas nya sg iya ginhawa, upod nga nagasulog ang ilig sg dugo sa iya samad. Sa pagdasig sg iya pagginhawa nagadasig man ang tiyog sg iya pinsar. Ang iya thesis, ang iya graduation, ang tug-an sg maayo nga bwas damlag. Nadumduman ni Gino ang iya iloy nga nagapamutos tocino. Nag-ilig ang iya luha kag upod nga nahunos ang iya ginhawa. 
Nakadalikyat dalagan ang lalaki nga pasahero padulong sa central market. Nagderecho sa kasilyas malapit sa karnehan. Naga kurog-kurog sya nga nanghinlas sg iya butkon kag ginkusuan ang asik sg dugo sa pako sg iya bayo. Gindunganan nya sg pagpanghilam-os ang iya hibi samtang padayon ang iya lingas. Naggwa sya sa tindahan. Nagpadulong pasulod sa City College kag nag-impon sa malaba nga pila sg mga estudyante nga nagabayad sa cashier.

(This is the winning entry for the month

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Posted by on June 5, 2013 in Uncategorized


General education better than vocational training?

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela

By Alex P. Vidal

This school opening there is still a nagging argument about which is the best type of education– a “general” education in cultural subjects or a “specialized” education in one particular field or occupation. Both types of education are actually necessary if based on standards and demands of society today.
Education is the process of developing or perfecting human beings. It tries to cultivate the humanity of man by developing his specifically human excellence–both intellectual and moral. The ultimate goals of education are human happiness and the welfare of society. Its produce are good men and good citizens.
If the ancients were asked whether education should be specialized, Dr. Mortimer J. Adler, director of the Institute for Philosophical Research, said they would answer that it should be conceived in terms of man’s specially human nature. “If they were asked whether it should be vocational, they would say that the only vocation with which it should be concerned is the common human calling–the pursuit of happiness,” explained Adler. “What we call specialized and vocational training–training in particular jobs–they would regard as the training of slaves, not the education of the free man.”


The classical view of education has prevailed right down to our own century, added Adler. It is reportedly reaffirmed as late as 1916 by none other than John Dewey. In Democracy and Education, Dewey declares that merely vocational training is the training of animals or slaves. It fits them to become cogs in the industrial machine. Free men need liberal education to prepare them to make a good use of their freedom.
“While the ancients had the correct view of education as essentially liberal, they did not think that all men should be liberally educated, because they did not think that all men are fitted by nature for the pursuit of happiness or citizenship or the liberal pursuits of leisure,” stressed Adler. “But we today, at least those of us who are devoted to the principles of democracy, think otherwise. We maintain that all men should be citizens, that all have an equal right to the pursuit of happiness, and that all should be able to enjoy goods of civilization. Hence we think that a democratic society must provide liberal schooling for all.”
Vocational training for particular tasks in the industrial process should be done by industry itself and on the job, not by the schools or in classrooms. The curriculum of basic schooling from the first grade through college, should b wholly liberal and essentially the same for all.


In view of the wide range of abilities and aptitudes with which the schools have to deal, the curriculum must be adapted to different children in different ways. We must solve the problem of how to give children–the least gifted as well as the most gifted–the same kind of liberal education that was given in the past only to the few. Upon our success in solving that problem the future of democracy depends.
Three experts — Eric Hanushek, Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University; Ludger Woessmann, professor of Economics, University of Munich; head, Human Capital and Innovation Department, Institute for Economic Research; and Lei Zhang, senior Fellow and Assistant Director of the National Institute for Fiscal Studies of Tsinghua University — recently posted a “new international evidence” about education type and life-cycle employment opportunities in rapidly changing conditions:
First, in most countries there are noticeable differences between those entering into vocational education and those pursuing general education. Second, since many countries place vocational education within a general, country-wide arrangement, understanding its overall effect requires looking across countries. Third, there are huge measurement problems, because what is vocational education in one country might not look much like that in another.

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Posted by on June 5, 2013 in Uncategorized