10 Best Philippines Graphic profiles under the Duterte administration


Davao City: In the eyes of a journalist

Mayor Duterte is nowhere near Manila’s boy-next-door type.

Political correctness has little hold on him. He spares no word, scathing as it may be to his own reputation. He has a knack for being too honest, too much of a verbal gunslinger that his oft-quoted statements carry with them the firepower of a full-fledged army.

He rarely minces words. Nor does he cringe in the face of difficult questions. And while Duterte may not be hailed as a smooth-talker, his all-too-honest opinion about governance broaches a style of leadership of which the current administration is sorely lacking.

His rock-hard stance on issues topped with a political experience that spans decades set him as a possible contender for the 2016 presidential race. On the morning of Jan 27, 2015 , I and our associate editor Alma Anonas-Carpio flew to Davao City to interview the mayor. I’m no stranger to Davao, neither was my companion.


Federalism: The Holy Grail of Poverty Alleviation

We traveled to Davao City in the late morning of June 4, 2016 under no illusion that we will be afforded the time needed for interviews.

My boss, D. Edgard A. Cabangon, who chairs CNN Philippines, had previously paved the way for us to interview President-elect Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s choice of Cabinet members.

One such hopeful is Davao del Norte 1st District representative Pantaleon D. Alvarez.

Alvarez had earlier been picked by Duterte among a slew of close and long-time friends to be the President’s alter ego in Congress. If and when made official, Alvarez would sit as Speaker of the House under the 17th Congress.

Rep. Alvarez had agreed to the interview. At the posh Seda Abreeza Davao Hotel we conducted an exclusive discussion on Duterte’s legislative agenda, constitutional change and federalism. The interview lasted nearly two hours.

Alvarez is no stranger to politics and political rigmaroles. He joined the House of Representatives as Davao del Norte congressman in 1998 during the 10th Congress. Prior to this, Alvarez worked as Assistant General Manager of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), and later, secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications under the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo government.


Know the lay of the land

Every military officer who has seen combat knows the value of such an adage.These officers knew what to do and where to go because they made it a point to see for themselves what they were up against.

The chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Danilo Lim, is such a man.

Lim, a retired brigadier general, was more than just a combat veteran. He’s a Scout Ranger. And Scout Rangers don’t avoid challenges. They thrive on them.

The Scout Ranger song “We Strike” puts it simply: “Laughing at danger, we fight like a panther, Scout Rangers of fortune are we, and conquer the hardships always.” That’s just two things Lim is bringing with him to the MMDA. There’s two more.  The third one is known as stability under pressure. And the fourth is that he’s a survivor.


DWIZ 882’s Karambola: Taking radio journalism one step further

Some in traditional media believe that the profession is facing a quandary: the growth of social media as source of news, analysis, and opinion.

The sudden spike in audience numbers among social media players and bloggers is such that some in traditional media consider it a sort of ‘cancerous growth’ which could, in the long haul, put the profession at dire risk of losing its market.

Karambola’s veteran journalists Jojo Robles, Conrad Banal, and Jonathan dela Cruz believe otherwise. So does RJ Nieto.

There’s no doubt that social media is the wave of the future and what DWIZ’s Karambola is doing is merging both platforms to reach the highest number of people.

While players in both media platforms grab each other’s throats, Karambola breaks the mould through integration: a brave fusion of what both can offer in the service of the Filipino people.


Bulacan’s new frontier

His political awakening began on Aug. 21, 1983, the day former Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. was slain at the airport tarmac.

“My wife and I helped feed those who attended the rallies denouncing the death of Ninoy,” Governor Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado said. “Afterwards, I joined politics during the election for the Batasang Pambansa. So, when the campaign began for the snap presidential elections, I was part of it.”

He never looked back. He became mayor of Hagonoy. Afterwards, he joined the national legislature as a congressman. He then continued his political career by being elected vice governor of Bulacan and then as governor.

“We envision Bulacan as a premier province with a vibrant economy, safe environment, and strong middle class,” the governor said. ‘It is a province whose people have equal access to opportunities and services. We are pursuing programs that will boost the local economy of Bulacan, which will contribute to the overall progress of our country.”


A matter of justice

(AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II is certainly not a stranger when it comes to controversy.

He spent several years in hiding because he was the subject of a shoot- on-sight order during the Martial Law period in the 1970s.

Twenty years later, he was in the defense team of Hubert Webb during the emotionally charged proceedings now known as the Vizconde Massacre trial. Later, when he cupped his ears during the impeachment trial of the late Chief Justice Renato Corona, he was cited for contempt. Definitely, Sec. Aguirre, the President’s law school classmate, knows how to handle controversial situations.


Road to Paradise: Palawan’s environment and tourism development

The Philippines Graphic went on a road trip of 360 kilometers across the province of Palawan, from Puerto Princesa to El Nido, to see the progress of various infrastructure projects there.

We also sat down for a Q & A with Palawan first district Rep. Franz Alvarez.

“Let’s once and for all define which places are protected areas—make them into national parks—and classify the rest of the inhabited areas properly,” Alvarez said in the interview. “The LGUs are also losing money as a result of this because they need to rely on income taxes and cannot collect the proper land taxes for lack of land use and zoning classifications.”

As primed for eco-tourism as Palawan is, there remain many things that need building for the province to reach its full potential: Sturdy roads, efficient drainage systems, water-treatment and sewage facilities, additional airports—all of these added to the regular and regularly-growing needs of the province’s natives for medical facilities, schools, and government offices.


Legislation, lupus, love: Emmeline’s story

When the going gets stressful, the tough keep on trucking until they achieve their goals. So it is with DIWA Party-list Rep. Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, who fills her roles as a breast-feeding mother, workers’ advocate in the House of Representatives, lawyer and wife to fellow lawmaker Mark Villar.

She even cooks alongside her husband and bakes along with her infant daughter, Emma, when she has the time for it.

At first glance, one would not think Aglipay-Villar has lupus, which the Mayo Clinic website defines as a “chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs. Inflammation caused by lupus can affect many different body systems—including your joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs.”


Emphasizing the value of insurance for Filipinos

“It’s better to have one and not need it than to need one and not have it.”

That old saying best illustrates the message that Philippine insurance firms need to convey to ordinary Filipinos.

It’s a reminder to people that investing in some form of insurance is relevant to their lives.

That’s an important issue for the Insurance Commission (IC), which is now headed by lawyer Dennis B. Funa,

This can be seen in the attention the Insurance Commission gives on how vital it is for Filipinos to obtain some form of insurance, including micro-insurance.



The Graphic ran a cover story by Literary Editor Alma Anonas-Carpio on our late Chairman Emeritus, Ambassador Antonio L. Cabangon Chua, fondly called by the nick “Amba,” who kept the Nick Joaquin Literary Awards (NJLA) going year after blessed year until heaven called him home in 2016:

“Often the best and most effective patronage is that which is given quietly but with regularity. The 27 years of Graphic’s literary section under the stewardship of Amba and the magazine’s literary editors are just that: Unassuming but unwavering support for the Filipino writer.”




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