Former Senate President Manny Villar

The soundtrack of my life

The traffic was horrible and I was stuck inside my car for what seemed like forever. I was looking outside and my mind was wandering when a familiar song suddenly played on the radio. “We skipped the light fandango” it began. It was A Whiter Shade of Pale which was released in 1967 and performed by Procol Harum. It brought back a lot of memories. I think I was 18 and I remember it was always playing on the radio and everyone was singing or humming it.

Traveling with a vengeance

One of the things that the Covid-19 pandemic and its attendant lockdowns deprived us of was our mobility. It severely limited our ability to get out of the house, go to work, meet our friends, run our errands and just basically get some fresh air. The pandemic also halted our ability to travel to other countries — something Filipinos have been doing since the advent of cheaper flights and the popularity of social media which allowed us to share our experiences in strange lands to strangers.

The right side of the tracks

A modern, efficient, and sustainable transport system is essential in the life of a metropolis. Population growth and urbanization have a tendency to choke modern cities that in turn reduce the quality of life of its residents. More people are leaving their rural hometowns and living in cities. According to the United Nations 4.4 billion people live in cities. That is a staggering 56 percent of the total world population! And to think that in 1950 that rate was only 25 percent. The UN further projected that by 2050 “nearly seven of 10 people will live in cities.”

The courage of Toots

The nation lost an outstanding public servant last week. Susan “Toots” Ople, champion of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), Migrant Workers Secretary, protector of workers’ rights and friend to us all, passed away to join the Lord and her father, Ka Blas Ople, in heaven. It was a sad day because Toots had so much more to give in terms of public service. In many of our conversations, she had passionately outlined her plans to help the plight of Filipino migrant workers and more importantly, reduce the country’s dependence of labor export.

A bump in the road

The country received some sobering economic news last week. During the first quarter of the current year, the Philippines was able to sustain its economic recovery and expansion with a GDP growth of 6.4 percent, a growth rate that actually exceeded forecasts. But the second quarter data took the wind out of that recovery trajectory when the economy grew by 4.3 percent, the slowest since the first quarter of 2021 when the economy contracted 3.8 percent.