Amie Joy Antolin

Amie Joy Antolin

Long and Wrong Route

As the title goes, I once found myself riding a 5-hour ride going to Surigao City. I was all anxious and my partner was on the verge of despair. Where is this road leading us?! It was the longest ride of our lives.

We woke up early to catch the friendly morning sun rays as any traveler would. We started off from Barobo Surigao Del Norte and made several pit stops along the way, either to ask people where is the road leading to Surigao City or rest our bones for a while.

People would just nod every time we ask them if we are nearing Surigao City. They just say the same thing: “Just go straight”, and so we went straight ahead. We were already went as far as Tandag when an old lady selling ripe mangoes at the roadside told us that we went the longer route from Barobo to Surigao City. Had we went back to Surigao Del Norte via Butuan route, Surigao City might have been just a 3-hour ride.

But we persisted ,and it’s already too late to backtrack.

What we saw in Carrascal

The air is getting more saturated with dust, and we have to wipe it out from our helmets as it’s becoming more difficult to go uphill. We pulled over at the shady part of the road. At first I thought, where is this place and why is it all covered with red dusts?

My partner told me that we’re at the foot of a large open pit mining. We surveyed the area and of course took some pictures. We saw several makeshift shelters beneath the almost dead trees owned by former Lumad inhabitants who decided not to leave their land. Right in front of us was a stark and glaring irony of former inhabitants now illegal settlers, and foreign investors raping the life out of the mountains.

We asked the Lumad inhabitants what are they doing there and they said they have no choice. They have to scavenge for food and they have nowhere to go. Before, animals especially wild boars and deer are plenty and they never run out of food. Most of the people in their community already went away and searched for new places to put up their huts and re-build their lives. After several Lumad leaders who went against the mining industry were killed one by one, they lost all hopes of going back again, like what it used to be. We bade goodbye and went on.

We have seen the full view of the mining devastation from the top hill. The coffee-colored water oozed from the hills straight out to the coastal area. It’s like blood flowing from the valley wounds, and its cry can be heard by the harrowing sound of the wind. The coastal area surrounding the valleys are colored red and brown. It was more like a sea of blood at first glance.

We have to move forward as we want to reach the city proper before it gets dark. Upon reaching the town, we went to the first gasoline station and have the motor pumped to full. While filling, we asked the gasoline boy about the mining industry in their town. I particularly asked if there were improvements in the lives of the people, were their more jobs ever since the mining industry started?

At first he was hesitant to answer, thinking perhaps we are insiders or reporters or investigators making a case out of the mining industry in their place. But then he gave in and said that the lives of the people in their place didn’t particularly improved. Some benefited but many are still impoverished. He said that most of the workers hired by the mining companies are not from their area. Some are even foreigners, mostly Chinese. In addition, he said that the whole town is owned by the mining companies. As I looked around, yes that was obvious. Most of the signage in every building had the name of the largest mining firm. He said that the one getting rich in their town are the mining companies and the local government leaders who approve the mining contracts.

We rode away with a heavy heart and a painful truth embedded in our minds. It was not just about finding our way to Surigao City, but finding out the truth about the social and environmental injustices committed by these mining firms with the local government as their accomplices! Truly, some times we get lost only to find the truth.
Decentralized- A federalist is not selfish, he shares what he has and allow his partner to grow personally. He doesn’t let all the powers to make decision concentrated in his hands. He knows that power must be shared. So you see, it’s no wonder that people who are too controlling had their relationships spiraled out of control.

Autonomy- Comes with decentralization is autonomy, a federalist understands that independence is part of growth. He would always be there to assist her, but he’ll never be a hindrance in the attainment of her dreams.

Promotes specialization- A federalist believes that her partner is special in every single way, every inch of her. A federalist love to see his partner make use of her core competencies and special abilities to develop herself even more.

Power to make decisions- A federalist would allow her partner to make decisions on her own provided that these will enhance her growth and sense of independence. A federalist divulges decision making responsibilities because he trust that her partner is capable of making right and informed decisions.

Power to take over resources- In matters of resources, a federalist would always encourage her partner to take charge over her own resources given that these are channeled towards the self-improvement. She can spend her money on things and projects she deemed fit and helpful to her development.

With all these qualifications, who cannot love a Federalist, or Federalism even?
The Centrist Democracy Political Institute (CDPI) together with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) – Task Team on Federalism under the Office of Undersecretary Emily O. Padilla spearheaded the first Executive Conference on Federalism in the Province of Bukidnon. The event is in collaboration with the Konrad-Adenauer- Stiftung (KAS) Philippines, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) – Bukidnon Province, League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP), and the Local Government of Valencia City.

The conference,which was attended by 130 participants, was held last 7 February 2017 at The Hotel de Susana and Resort in Valencia City.

Hon. Azucena “Sunny” P. Huervas, Valencia City mayor opened the forum by thanking the collaborating organizations and speakers for coming and sharing their knowledge on Federalism. She recognized the mayors and participants as they hold the greater responsibility of applying such learning in the future Federal system being in the administrative offices.

Governor Jose Maria Zubiri, Jr. of Bukidnon in his solidarity message called for the shift to federalism said that “the decades old system has never been corrected, on the contrary, hunger is being suffered, it goes up and it goes down, but it has never been resolved. Why? Because of the system”.

Assistant Regional Director Nilo P. Castanares had been grateful for the event as he humbly admitted that he also needs to know more about federalism especially that they are responsible for advancing the movement in their region.

Professor Edmund Tayao, Local Government and Development Foundation (LOGODEF) executive director said that power and authority depends on capacity and capability, and that establishment of states must be organic rather than imposed.

“The system can change the character of people”, this is what Atty. Raul Lambino, Deputy Secretary General of the PDP-Laban, therefore, the need to change the current constitution.

Mr. Conrado Generoso, DILG Task Team on Federalism core team member and consultant highlighted important role of social media in building awareness on Federalism and coming up with the majority of the public in supporting the shift to Federalism.

Mr. Lito Monico C. Lorenzana, CDPI president and founder discussed the urgency of stipulating the 4 salient preconditions in the shift to federalism. Without it, there is no inclusive and genuine Federal system.

Congressman Rufus B. Rodriguez, president of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) made a comparison of the present judicial system, and what it would look like under a federal system with all the necessary reforms.

Mr. Bruce A. Colao capped off the conference by providing current statistics on the prevalence of poverty and corruption in the country, and how federalism can be a game-changer.

The executive forum was a success thanks to the collaboration of different groups supporting the call for federalism. As part of the set of initiatives of CDPI and DILG, there will be another round of forum on Federalism and Social Market Economy on March 2017.
The Department of Internal and Local Government (DILG) has come into full swing as they spearheaded campaigns, fora, symposiums, consultations and education drives on Federalism with various sectors and groups.

Today, the DILG Task Team is holding a consultative conference at the NAPOLCOM Center, Quezon Avenue with representatives from Federalism groups and stakeholders in crafting an inclusive roadmap to federalism. The CDPI has been invited to join in this consultative conference and share the centrist democrats’ position regarding the federalism roadmap.

We are glad to inform that the DILG Task Team on Federalism has adopted the Centrist Democrats' position in passing the salient pre-requisites in pursuing Federalism such as the passage of Political Party Development Act, passage of Freedom of Information Bill, passage of Anti-Dynasty Bill, and Electoral Reforms.

Dr. Enerico M. Sampang, Program Manager on Federalism, DILG Task Team on Federalism have shared a common position with CDPI.

"We have adopted the position of Mr. Lito Lorenzana and his group [the Centrist Democratic Party and the Centrist Democracy Political Institute] as pre-requisites in pursuing Federalism in the Philippines. We have presented this to the President already.", he said during the consultative conference.

For Federalism to succeed, the four preconditions must be put in place. First precondition is political party reform. Political parties must possess an ideological core, aggregating the needs and aspirations of a diverse segment of our society. Second precondition is to enact a law banning the Political Dynasties to diffuse concentration of powers by the dynastic families in the barangay, local, and national positions. The third precondition is the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill (FOI) to enforce transparency in all transactions in government allowing public access to information pertaining to official acts. The fourth precondition is initiate electoral reforms that would put in place a system that will not pervert the will of the populace. Any system that adheres to the democratic principles should consider clean and fair elections as imperatives.

With the support from DILG, the following prerequisites will serve as basis for advocating the Federalism model and for the continuing conversations with other Federalism groups and stakeholders.
Beneath the gorgeous smiles and grace, Miss Universe contestants assume a critical role in terms of broader global and international politics. In essence, pageants like these represent another form of diplomacy, one that is softer and more amicable. International beauty pageants fundamentally cover political agenda or try to assume a normalized relationship especially between countries in dispute. Just remember how the netizens reacted when Miss Philippines Maxine Medina got cozy with Miss China for a friendly photo-op. Even this simple picture can launch a thousand tweets and become a subject to several diplomatic interpretations because of the territorial sea disputes between Philippines and China.

Though organizers try to suppress any forms of political agenda surfacing, women joining this pageant cannot help but become more careful of their actions as they were seen by the world not just any other women, but as representations of their homeland. And this is where political flavor inevitably comes in.

For example, controversies surfaced when in 2002, Christina Sawaya skipped the Miss Universe because of border tensions between Lebanon and Israel. Even the much awaited display of national costume can be a source of controversy because of how it depicts situations and practices in the countries the contestants represent. Yamit Har-Noy, Israel's 2002 Miss Universe delegate, had been controversial when she wore a national costume embellished with the map of Israeli state depicting the disputed territories of West Bank and Gaza. (, 2015)

Miss Universe candidates have no immunity to racism and other forms of discriminations. Just take for example our very own 2013 Miss World Megan Young, who was thrown with racial slurs for being a Filipina by a Singaporean Devina DeDiva. The latter said that Filipinos are uneducated, poor and smelly, and that Miss Young do not deserve the crown. A Filipino filed a case against her. She reportedly apologized for her racist comments but still a lot of Filipinos were angered by her remarks.

The “dreaded” Q&A portion is also critical as the candidates’ answers become subjects to public debates. They have to formulate answers not only relevant to the question but is also sensitive to the audience. I remember in 1994, the beautiful and intelligent Sushmita Sen who gave a profound answer to the question about the essence of a woman. According to Miss Sen, the essence of being a woman is the fact that she is a mother and that entails the responsibility to share love and care. She was met with contradictions from other feminist groups, particularly from the West, who pointed that to define the essence of a woman within the parameter of motherhood is fundamentally limiting. Answers to beauty pageants are essentially relevant to the values held by the individual which is brought about by the society she lives in. Apparently, in India, such values are woven in its social fabric.

Unstable political environment sometimes intercepts the essence of Miss Universe beauty pageant especially when beauty queens carry political baggage with them as they join the competition. This is the reason why Miss Universe pageant organizers not only look into the preparations of the actual event but also the geopolitical affairs that may affect the whole course of planning.

In any beauty pageant, a woman is transformed into another being in the entire course. She becomes an ambassadress of goodwill, a representative of her country and an amicable diplomat. Concurrently, beauty pageants like the annual Miss Universe is an avenue for celebrating and embodying cultural sensitivity, diversity, respect, and racial harmony among all the contestants and the nations joining the pageant.
The Centrist Democracy Political Institute (CDPI) in partnership with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Province of Bukidnon will be gathering experts and government partners in synergizing efforts in propagating the roadmap to Federalism through an executive conference this coming 7 February 2017 at Hotel de Susana and Resort, Valencia City, Bukidnon Province.

With the theme, “Creating Synergies towards the Formulation of Federalism Roadmap,” is a call to cooperation in bringing forth all the mayors, vice mayors and provincial DILG. The conference will serve as a venue to discuss important suggestions and thoughts on Constitutional reforms. This collective effort is an initiative spearheaded by Centrist Democrats together with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) Philippines, League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP), and the City Government of Valencia to advance and explicate the salient preconditions towards the creation of the future Federal Republic of the Philippines.

Professor Edmund Tayao, Local Government and Development Foundation (LOGODEF) executive director, will be talking about the role of local government in pursuing federalism and the effects on the structures, political dynamics, finance and economic activities. This will greatly aid the audience in understanding the implications of Federalism especially in the economic aspect.

Atty. Raul Lambino, Deputy Secretary General of the PDP-Laban will be discussing the two forms of government system and how one differs fundamentally from the other. It is important to make such distinctions so as to have an extensive understanding of these two forms of government systems.

Mr. Conrado Generoso, core team member and consultant of the DILG Task Team on Federalism, will be prsenting the DILG Roadmap to Federalism, mainly, in the aspects of advocacy, public education and support generation.

Mr. Lito Monico C. Lorenzana, CDPI president and founder, will be tackling on the salient preconditions in pursuing Federalism and how each is important in the crafting of a real federal Constitution.

Atty. Rufus B. Rodriguez, president of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP), will be discussing the important roles of political parties in the future Federal Republic of the Philippines. Basically, the absence of real political parties will make federalism inutile as traditional patronage system will still prevail.

Atty. Emily O. Padilla, the DILG Underecretary for Legislative Liaison and Special Concerns, and Hon. Jose Ma. Zubiri, Jr., governor of the Province of Bukidnon, will be presenting the initiatives of government agencies and updates on the legislative agenda in pursuing Federalism in the Philippines.


The Centrist Democracy Political Institute (CDPI) in partnership with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) Philippines brought together experts and partners in the shared effort of paving the way to Federalism through a conference and dialogue last 25 November 2016 at St. Giles Hotel, Makati City.

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