Friday, September 21, 2007


Is the country ready to elect as president Lee Iacocca a former chief executive - a successful one - of two American car companies? With the deteriorating image of our current U.S. president and his peculiar style of leadership, perhaps it is time that Lee reconsider the offer once made to him back in 1984.

Lee has a colorful track record to be proud of. When he was President of Ford Motor Company he introduced a revolutionary sporty car which was called THE MUSTANG, named after a wild horse originally named by the Spanish mesteno- but actually Iacocca was thinking of the Mustang (P-51 Fighter Plane of World War II).

Despite this outstanding success that was respected not only throughout the American car industry but across the globe, Lee had a problem of relationship witn only one person, and since it came to a head he had no choice but to leave the company. For some reason that even he did not know a personality conflict arose between him and Henry Ford II who dismissed him from the company. Lee admits the event was one of his painful downside in his life, but with his dynamic personality and sales experience, he maznaged to rebound and later joined Chrysler Corporation.

However, before Lee joined the firm, Chrysler in 1979 seemed destined for bankruptcy. Some say that because of Lee’s timely take over as CEO Chrysler was able to forestall bankruptcy. With Lee Iacocca’s determination and track record, he was able to convince the U.S. government to release as financial loan or ”bail out” 1.2 billion in loan guarantees provided by the federal government.

And it didn't cost the taxpayer a penny. Unable to get private banks to finance a turnaround, he went to President Carter and Congress in search of $1.2 billion in federal loan guarantees to keep the company alive. Congress agreed, and passed the Chrysler Loan Guarantee Act.
After he published his first book, an autobiography, Lee now has come out with a timely and arresting book - that many leaders could use to reflect on the basic elements of REAL leadership - whether that of chief executive of a country or a corporation. The book WHERE HAVE ALL THE LEADERS GONE written in the candid narrative style that Lee is known for, is so current that Lee even analyzes the present set of candidates who will vie of the position of next President of the United States.

After graduating from Lehigh University which he uses as a model for all the training and skill he learned that came into play when he was chief executive, Lee won the Wallace Memorial Fellowship and used it to study at Princeton University as an engineer. Iacocca joined in the early 1950's and after a brief stint on engineering, he quickly asked to be moved to sales and marketing where his career flourished.

In his latest work WHERE HAVE ALL THE LEADERS GONE, he came up with a set of qualities of leadership which he calls the Nine “Cs of Leadership.” They are COURAGE, CHARACTER, CONVICTION,COMMUNICATION, COMPETENCE, CRISIS,CURIOUS, CHARISMA, COMMON SENSE.

Iacocca feels that these are the qualities that every true leader should possess.
A leader should have courage or balls - even female leaders. The leader should also have CONVICTION which he says is “fire in the belly”. He considers President Bush’ 400 vacation days unproductive and should be been devoted to the business of governing. Morever, Capital Hill is also under scrutiny when Iacocca noted that Congress was in session only ninety-seven days in 2006.

CHARISMA is the quality that makes people want to follow you, he said. A leader has to be COMPETENT or he has to know what he is doing and well. And then a most misunderstood phrase is COMMON SENSE which is a basic requirement of a good leader or even a good individual. A leader must have CHARACTER or what is called integrity. A leader who can COMMUNICATE means one who faces reality and truth and to say it how it is which the present U.S. administration seem to lack. Talking straight seems absent in the current set of leaders in our government today.

In his opening chapter Iacocca exclaims, “Am I the only guy in this country who’s fed up with what’s happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We’ve got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff…and instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, ‘Stay the course’. You’ve got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic. I’ll give you a sound bite: “THROW THE BUMS OUT!”

It is very significant to note that whatever blunders - and many incidents under this administration ARE not mistakes but blunders - a peace corps volunteer teaching in Africa heard an elder statesman that there is still no other nation in the world who can exhibit constant and dynamic leadership is the United States of America.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007


All day today, I have looked for you

In the secret places

Where I keep you hidden, like a jewel,

Two precious to share with others.

I like to think that you are mine alone,

Although I know others have as much even more claims to you than

I might have.

I choose to delude myself

For in the mazes of my thoughts,

My passion is yours too.

And so I look for you,

Knowing you will be there

For me…

If not today


Friday, September 7, 2007


When Mama Sarah got her award from the Filipino Community in 1999, Pilita Corrales was the main show and during that time I was seated in Mama's box inside the Convention Hall of Washington D.C.

Pilita, without any warning, suddenly announced my name and asked me to come join her onstage to sing with her.

Here is the clip of that singing incident. I enjoyed it. I hope you do too.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Reflecting on a post war friend and poet

Tony Manuud- Born February 4th, 1930; Died March 7th, 1996;

We were among the shell shocked Filipino teens that suffered through the Pacific War from 1941 - 1945. When we got back to school we felt old at 14 years but Ateneo High School was a haven for us. Still some bore the scars of war - some lost their parents who were murdered by retreating Japanese, shelled homes by the American artillery forces when they liberated Manila freeing the interns at the University of Santo Tomas and other internment camps.

I almost did not get admitted at the Ateneo for the grade school records were all burned when the building inside the Walled City, the exact place where Jose Rizal studied as a young boy was bombed during the early days of the war. Thanks to the Nakpil boys and their father Juan Nakpil who vouched for me during registration time at the Padre Faura Campus where we held our classes in makeshift burnt concrete rooms still with the acrid smell of raw human flesh clinging to crevices. The rest of the classes held session in U.S. installed Quonset Huts which were like ovens during the summer months and a cold storage in January.

Tony lived in Sampaloc with his parents. He had two sisters whom we met during our periodic high school dances held in those times at private homes of students. These dances were "visited" by Jesuit priests and some nuns just to see how the kids were enjoying themselves. Slow drag was the favorite dance in which couples held each other tightly and just sort of swayed with the slow soft music as if in a trance or meditating. We were warned about this type of dance that could provoke the occasion of "sin".

My sisters and I enjoyed Tony's sharp mind and keen wit. Ateneo boys liked to pun at the time and playing with words phrases and quotations always got many laughing with complete abandon. In other mixed groups La Salle students frowned on Ateneo students being too intellectual. They just wanted to dance, period.

After our high school graduation at Padre Faura, Tony got a scholarship for a Masters in Journalism at Marquette University, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was THE school for good Journalists. Gaby Manalac was another Journalism scholarship awardee at this Jesuit university. After his Marquette stint Tony returned to Manila and taught at the Ateneo for a couple of years. Since we became close friends on and off campus we asked Tony to stand as god father to our fourth child Ma. Regina. If the old folks are to be believed, Gina is our brainiest child now into information technology.

In 1964 he was awarded a fellowship at Oxford University (Exeter and St. Antony's Colleges) and another at the University of Durham (Grey College). Tony enjoyed the three year scholarship to observe English Literature courses in both universities. He was commended for his distingushed tutorial paper at the end of the course. We did not see Tony for a while and when he came back he managed to publish the first anthology of Filipino fiction the landmark anthology Brown Heritage: Essays on Philippine Cultural Tradition and Literature ( AdMU, 1967), which has been reviewed as the book that “sparked the revolution in Philippine cultural studies.”

.As chairman of the English Department, Ateneo de Manila University, he organized the Ateneo Institute of Philippine Literature in 1965.

A poem by Tony


Did I forget? Do I regret

Days unremembered, thoughts unkept?

A harp (once plucked to eloquence by joy)

Long untouched now lies untuned ... off-key ...

Not sure if chords ring true. Listen! In coy

Distress -- how mute. Yet singing silently.

Days are remembered, thoughts are kept

In long, long silence ... with regret.

-- Antonio P. Gella Manuud, Bowling Green, 1973

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Pete Roa - a dear colleague, fast friend - 67

MANILA, Philippines — My good friend, Pete Roa, passed away Thursday in Quezon City. His wife, actress Boots Anson said Pete has been suffering from cancer of the stomach, but the death was triggered by pneumonia and cardiac arrest.

I first met Pete while ABS-CBN was laying the groundwork for a new TV show.

I first learned of the planned new TV show when I was called by Eugenio Lopez Jr. to join a short meeting at his office. He sounded excited, but I had no clue as to what kind of program it would be. For one thing, I held the switcher-director button the last time at Channel 13 in 1963. And the meeting with Geny was in 1970. I was not sure I could do it. Do I still know how to direct a TV show? I was awed by the rapid strides of the electronicmedia technology and somehow there was a lot to catch up on.

When I got to the ABS-CBN office of Geny, I sawsome familiar faces. One was E lvira Ledesma Manahan whom I last saw during the early days of the Japanese Occupation in 1942 when she appeared as the Virgin Mary in Narciso Pimentel Jr.’s Holy Week stage presentation “Martir sa Golgota” (Passion Play of Our Lord Jesus Christ). Elvira was a radiant young Visayan teenager who belonged to a group named VSAC composed of pretty girls, very much sought after for their striking beauty.

I also saw Pete Roa whose path crossed mine back in 1962 when I was producing shows at Channel 13. The lady who used to appear in fashion shows in my channel was showcased in a new program by another channel (Channel 5) known as “Dance-o-Rama.” The girl, Baby O’Brien, only daughter of actress Paraluman, and Pete emceed the new noontime show. It was when Baby left the show that Boots Anson joined and met Pete. As the cliché goes, the rest is history.

Back to our meeting at Geny’s office, he soon announced the show’s name “Two for the Road.” Geny said it was Pete who specifically called for me to direct this late night show, definitely a Philippine TV network’s first.

It seemed that Elvira Manahan (married to the nationally known obstetrician Dr. Constantino Manahan who managed the Makati Medical Center) had insomnia and could not sleep until early morning. So Geny got the idea of featuring Elvira to appear as the co-host in the late-night show five nights a week. Co-hosting the show was a dynamic quick-witted and fine mannered announcer named Joey Lardizabal. The format of the show was to get interesting guests from all fields, both international and national, to beinterviewed by Elvira and Joey. The show ran for a couple of years with great success.

Tragedy struck when in the course of the program Joey was diagnosed with throat cancer and it was terminal. Everyone was shocked. Except Joey himself. A devout Catholic and a courageous one, he said that he would undergo the usual treatment but while he still could – continue with the show as co-host. The cancer was kept secret from anyone save a handful of individuals, me included. In time, even Joey’s eye was already being affected by the disease that he had to wear an eye patch. But, wonder of wonders and with much credit to Joey’s bravery, he even joked about it and carried on with the show. Then, after almost a year since discovery of the disease, Joey went into a coma and died.

What to do. At the time our friend, Eddie Mercado, was going great guns as emcee of beauty contests both localand international and we approached him to take over. No hesitation, The next week’s show when Joey was bedridden already, Eddie took over and did terrifically.

However, as is the case with viewership behavior, the interests began to waver after a while. And “Two for the Road” was no exception. So, it was pulled out for a respite. Then after a year, it came back in a new format – a weekly show featuring Nestor Torre as co-host of Elvira. It no longer had the personality of a late night talk show.

Pete and I went a long way in terms of relationships went far even before the show.

First was that Pete took up a radio course towards a bachelor’s degree at the Far Eastern University. The department was headed by my mother, Sarah K. Joaquin, who had the distinction of heading the first radio department in the country that offered B.A. degree in Radio Broadcasting. In fact, the department was instrumental in pursuing a weekly program, FEU on the Air, produced by students and aired through DZBB which was then owned and managed by an ex-American GI, Bob Stewart.

Among Pete’s fellow radio grads included Eddie Ilarde, Frankie Evangelista, and Ray Pedroche who all did very well in the world of radio and television.

Pete Roa was not only a man who did what he believed in – sometimes a bit controversial for his own good, but after he suffered the stroke he strengthened his own philosophy which could be summed up thus: I might as well make the mo
st of what I can enjoy under this condition and pray for the blessings of the Almighty.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

A Wedding Anniversary...48 years

We first met in a classroom back in the late fifties. The school was called Far Eastern University. A remarkable feature of Manila in the late Fifties was the complete positive aura that prevaded the entire City, nay, country.

Stage presentations - both professionals and amateur, schools downtown stage shows, and even visiting classical performers - yes, including Shakepeare groups based in America and Europe treated Manila
aficionados with excellent shows. Even Hollywood movies were mostly musicals and little violence, nor gangster flicks.

She was a young 16 year old, slender, and somewhat resltess. I was teaching Speech I (subtitled Remedial English for Filipino college students). I had several sections to handle each day - and at the time with seven other fellow instuctors, we had our hands full for we had to serve all the institutes.

Thanks to our department Head, she won her battle with the school authorities to require all FEU students to pass at least one semester of Speech I prior to graduation.

Then, it happened.

While I was carefully handling the oral drills of the class, I spotted her at the very last row of a class of 25 students, busy doing something. I tried to continue but was unavoidably distracted that I had to stop my lecture completly.

"Mendoza" I gently called the student's attention. She was startled, stopped abruptly and looked up followed by an ambarrassed smile. That was the first element that attracted me...her beautiful youthful teenage smile."May I see you after class?" I suggested and then continued with my lecture.

Shortly after the bell ending our period, with the room emptied except for this young lady and me, I approached slowly and saw a half tied gym shoe on one foot and the other still unshod.

"Sir, I am sorry, see...I have to get ready or be late for my gym class after this one."

"Oh, you have to change shoes in my class to make your gym schedule in the next period?" I asked amused.

She then continued on with putting both shoes on while explaining that time was of the essence since the gym was across the wide campus and if she did not change shoes then, she would be late for that class following mine.

I soon realized her predicament and gave her a broad smile, and she did smile back. And she was out in a flash. I discovered later that her name was
Concepcion Mendoza, 16 years old and a niece of the school's founder.

Two years passed when one day as I was about to cash my monthly check I spotted a familiar face, well made up but in a demure manner. She was smiling at me. Yes, indeed, it was Ms. Mendoza, now employed in the Treasury Department of the university. That smile was there, more radiant.

After our hellos and once my check was cashed...I invited her for coffee...and as the saying goes ...the rest is history.

Forty Eight years have passed. Five children. Three grandsons. Now residing in Northern California, we find ourselves into our 48th year of marriage as solemnized in the Roman Catholic Faith and officiated by a dear friend, fellow artist, and director par excellence Rev. Fr. James B. Reuter, S.J.

Over the decades Fr. Reuter was to officiate in three more weddings in our family - that of our eldest son Bobby's and Marijean's, our second child Cristina's and Jowin's, and the most recent one in Jay's and Jenny's.

Admirable, might not come close to describing the man but Fr. Reuter with his "walker" and special sandals to cushion his sore feet was at San Agustin Church - Intramuros - one hour earlier than 7 am ready to bless our son's marriage to Jenny Blas.

During the ceremony with obvious difficulty, the dear father solemnized the wedding as if he had not been suffering from the aches and pains of an 88 year old arthritic Jesuit priest.

Today, as we receive wonderful greetings from our children and others who cherish our friendship with them, from across the globe, I gaze at my former student Concepcion Mendoza, now better known as Chita and ask her, "What can you say to this 48 year union?"

She smiles and looks away and says in a steady voice, "I would do it again if I had to..."

Friday, July 20, 2007

Basic Etiquette

One of the basic elements in etiquette is acknowledging a person’s correct name and that of his country.

Therefore, it is imperative that a person unfamiliar with the way of pronouncing a name of place in another tongue should make it a point to find out the CORRECT pronunciation and then pronounce it the correct way.

But for some strange reasons no one in the broadcast media – from the top man to lineman seem to care.

A glaring observation by many radio and television audiences in California – a state once populated and belonging to Mexico – is the seeming lack of interest or desire by radio and television announcers and anchor-persons to pronounce Spanish words correctly.

Among the guilty culprits are the news announcers and reporters.

For some reasons, announcers who appear to look like second generation Asians are the even better ones who take great pains in pronouncing the Spanish words precisely more than the local borns do.

A recent incident that I can cite here is the earthquake in Paso Robles.

Now Paso Robles IS a Spanish name. It means “pass of the oaks.”

But almost ALL the Caucasians pronounced the word “Robles” sounding like ROW BALLS. The correct pronunciation sounds like “NO BLESS.”

But this is just one of hundreds of words and places in California mispronounced by radio and TV announcers and newscasters.

The other glaring words we hear daily are: SAN RA FA EL (they say SAN RAY-FEL) Vicente (they say VIE CENT TEE), and even JOAQUIN many pronounce JOKE KWIN until they realize a valley is named San Joaquin and then correct themselves accordingly.

It seems strange that in Manila, the rule that binds announcers in the radio and TV stations were established by ex-GIs after WWII who were discharged and married Filipino women.

To name one, Bob Stewart who married and became manager of DZBB and later on Channel 7, inculcated among his announcers to double check the right pronunciation of words with a pronouncing dictionary (yes, there is one such book).

And foreign words are even more tricky especially if they are European languages like German and French and even Russian.

As a rule, Filipino announcers take pains in articulating words regardless of its origin and thus come out speaking more clearly than most Americanized announcers.

During the early fifties and sixties American network announcers seemed more careful in pronouncing words.

This was the time when articulate and exemplary announcers like Walter Cronkite, Charles Kurault, Charles Osgood, became the models of young budding announcers in Philippine media.

In fact, to date Walter Cronkite enjoys the respect of listeners and officials of the broadcast media here and abroad.

He still speaks in his low-voiced, well-paced articulate manner.

Another strange thing that commercials seem to have adopted these days is delivering a voiced commercial at rapid fire speed as if one were competing in “the fastest speaker” contest.

Among the better announcers in Manila stations were Ray Oliver, Dick Taylor, Cris de Vera, Vero Perfecto who spoke also Spanish, five dialects and in impeccable English and with a clear baritone voice.

Cris de Vera even ventured in speaking with a British accent in imitation of James Mason the actor – and very well indeed.

What is the big deal, someone might ask? The big deal is that in polite society one has to make sure he pronounces a person’s name correctly.

Therefore, saying SAN RAY-FEL and VIE CENT TEE and JOKE KWIN violates common politeness and therefore it is a breach of etiquette, which commercial announcers should know and be aware of!

I do hope someone from the mainstream broadcast media reads this and takes time to hold a Spoken Communication clinic especially for their announcers since these individuals are paid a lot of money – much more than executives of other professions and therefore are obligated to do their job professionally well – which includes pronouncing foreign words like Spanish places in California.

We owe it to the Latinos and Spanish-speaking citizens in California and other states whose tongue we are murdering!

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