This is my third celebration as head of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office.


Today is the anniversary of the start of the Wuchang Uprising of Oct. 10, 1911, which led to the imminent downfall of the Qing Dynasty in China and the establishment of the Chinese Republic.

The Qing Dynasty was a Manchu-led imperial reign that lasted for all of 268 years, subverting and co-opting the Han warlords of the Ming Dynasty.  The Hans are the dominant ethnic group in China, and when the last emperor, Puyi, was forced to abdicate his throne after the establishment of the Republic on Jan. 1, 1912, China became a republic, although it was a troubled government for the longest time, with invasions by the Japanese and internal leadership struggles led to its break-up in the aftermath of the Second World War.

Sun Yat Sen, a Han from Guangdong, eventually led the First Republic, and is revered as the founding father.

Taiwan and many overseas Chinese celebrate the start of the dynasty’s collapse as the Ten-Ten or Double Ten commemoration.

As the chairman of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office, we accepted the gracious invitation of Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office resident representative Michael Hsu to the Double Ten commemoration held yesterday at the Sofitel in Pasay City.

Taiwan ranks as the Philippines’ eighth major trading partner, tenth largest export market and eighth largest supplier of imports, with bilateral trade amounting to some $7 billion annually.

There are now 157,000 Filipinos residing in Taiwan, some 83 percent of whom work in manufacturing jobs.  Filipinos constitute the third largest foreign community in Taiwan, after Indonesia, which supplies mostly caregivers and caretakers, and Vietnam.

To assist our nationals, particularly the OFWs, MECO maintains three offices in Taiwan: the main office in Taipei, for Filipinos residing in northern Taiwan; Taichung for central Taiwan; and Kaohsiung for the southern part.

Our main office in Taipei moved this year to the Neihu District, Taipei’s newest development, and houses in a one-stop shop, the previously disparate offices not only of MECO proper, but also the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, OWWA, Pag-ibig, SSS, and the Trade and Tourism representative offices.  

This is Michael Hsu’s first Ten-Ten commemoration as resident representative of TECO, having assumed the post in July this year after the retirement of Gary Lin.  It is my third Ten-Ten commemoration as MECO head, beginning with my assumption in July 1, 2016.

Representative Hsu and I led hundreds of guests in offering a toast to better and more fruitful Taiwan-Philippine relations in the years to come.

 * * *

For being candid and forthright with his state of health, and informing the public that he had an endoscopy and colonoscopy weeks back, President Duterte’s health has become an issue.

Both tests are standard medical procedures for men of his age.  Colonoscopy is in fact prescribed by physicians even for those undergoing their first extensive medical check-ups, usually when one reaches 40.  I underwent one in 2010, and I recall Senator Chiz Escudero telling me he had one too in 2010, after he turned 40.

For both of us, the physicians saw small polyps that were not at all a matter of concern.  I hope to God it stays that way.

Senator Chiz by the way, celebrates his birthday on Oct. 10, and had planned to run for president in 2010, had not fate intervened and President Cory Aquino’s demise ushered in a wave of sympathy for her son Benigno Simeon.

President Duterte had always been transparent about his age and the state of his illnesses, even during the campaign.  Despite Buerger’s disease, a spinal problem brought about by a motorcycle accident in his sixties, and frequent migraines, the people elected him overwhelmingly in 2016.

He has been a very active president, visiting disaster victims as soon as calamity strikes, and soldiers of the Republic in their camps, hospitals and theaters of conflict.  Now with a colonoscopy and endoscopy, all sorts of speculations arise over diagnostic procedures.

Remember when FVR had a carotid operation in 1997? That was a very delicate operation and he recovered quickly, ending his term in June 30, 1998.  GMA had spondylosis, and required a very delicate neck operation at St. Luke’s Hospital when she was yet president.  She is now the very active Speaker of the House.

They said Erap’s chain-smoking days brought him emphysema, a lung affliction, but for weak knees, he is still very much around, as Mayor of Manila at the ripe old age of 82.  

A since-retired archbishop once kidded me about “your president” (PNoy) having “psychological” problems, and I just chuckled in disbelief.  

All of these “health” concerns stem from the Filipinos’ love for gossip and speculation, a most unhealthy predilection.

* * *

Don’t look now.  Manila’s mayoralty fight next year will be between a nonagenarian Fred Lim, and octogenarian Mayor Erap, and a 44-year-old or so Isko Moreno.

You think you’ve had enough of the nonagenarians, from Mahathir in Malaysia to trying another comeback Lim?

In far north Cagayan province, the 95-year-old Juan Ponce Enrile, former Customs Commissioner, former Finance secretary, former Justice secretary, former Defense minister, former congressman, former senator, former Senate president, and widely acknowledged as the legal architect of martial law for his principal Ferdinand Marcos, is running for governor!

Let’s wait until Dec. 17 when the Comelec closes the period for COC filing, if indeed the old man will give in to the clamor of his leaders to challenge the incumbent Manuel Mamba.  Abangan!

Old politicians never say die.

Topics: Lito Banayo , Ten-Ten , Wuchang Uprising , Qing Dynasty , China , Manila Economic and Cultural Office
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