Fresh Surprise

Like many visitors, I don’t associate the Philippines with fine local cuisine, a fact that makes it seem out of step with its neighbors. Thais stir up miraculous delicacies conjured from chilies, lemon grass, fish sauce and crisp fresh vegetables on side streets almost anywhere. Vietnamese cuisine is also famously fresh with added touches borrowed…

Philippines: Off its sick bed?

Could the country perennially described as the sick man of Asia be reviving? Its economic vital signs are unexpectedly better than thought possible, with growth in gross domestic product that could hit 6 percent in 2007. On the other hand, the Asian Development Bank and the United Nations released a report this week putting the…

Face Off

One of the Philippines’ top opposition politicians, Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay, barricaded himself in his office on Tuesday hours after the government issued an order suspending him and his entire city administration from office. As supporters of the mayor gathered outside his headquarters, police in Metro Manila were placed on alert in anticipation of…

A Bad (Constitutional) Joke in the Philippines

I have been in favor of a parliamentary system of government for the Philippines since the time of President Corazon Aquino, but I am against the current drive to change the constitution and make the shift away from our presidential system. Charter Change, or ChaCha in local slang, is gathering momentum and being promoted as…

Ferdie’s Looking Good, Considering

It could be hard to get face-time with Ferdinand Marcos during the 22 years he ruled the Philippines, 14 of them as a dictator. That’s no challenge anymore. Just travel to the northern Philippine town of Batac. There, beneath the mansion of the Governor of Ilocos Norte Province, you enter the Marcos Mausoleum, a high-ceilinged,…

Mimi’s Dream Race

When Filipina-American Melody “Mimi Miyagi” Damayo used the fame she gained as a porn star to launch a bid for the Republican nomination for governor of the US state of Nevada, she could hardly have expected to win. And, of course, she didn’t. She garnered just 1,651 votes in the 15 November primary race, finishing…

Beyond Campiness

Not me. I’d rather be in Manila’s Malate district, at The Library bar, which brings together all the best the Philippines can offer: music, comedy of the highest order, and, for those who like such things, booze, pretty office girls and guys in drag. The Library began nearly 20 years ago as a gay club,…

Where has the hope gone?

It is hard to recall the hope sometimes because the Philippines is such a mess. Birth rates are among the highest in the world, a third of the workforce is either unemployed or underemployed. The country is kept afloat financially by remittances from its chief export, Filipinos who labor as maids in Hong Kong, cooks…

A Dirty Job

Tony Kwok has more than a touch of the evangelist about him. On his favorite topic, the trim and soft-spoken former operations chief of Hong Kong's legendary graft- busting agency is fervent about the need for society to find the path to redemption from corruption, a sin he says harms people, retards growth and eats…

The Melody and Mimi show

  Melody Damayo, a/k/a: Mimi Miyagi Melody Damayo is a forceful, well- spoken Filipino-American, a Republican and candidate for state governor, who favors getting tough on crime, upgrading schools and improving the state's infrastructure to battle terrorism. Mimi Miyagi is a dolled up anime creature whose fire red lips, Jessica Rabbit body, long black hair…