Sunday, January 29, 2017

THE SILK ROAD I - NHK's documentary

THE SILK ROAD I - 12 of 12 - Two Roads to the Pamirs

THE SILK ROAD I - 11 of 12 - Where Horses Fly Like the Wind

THE SILK ROAD I - 10 of 12 - Journey into Music South Through the Tian S...

THE SILK ROAD I - 9 of 12 - Through the Tian Shan Mountains by Rail

THE SILK ROAD I - 8 of 12 - A Heat Wave Called Turfan

THE SILK ROAD I - 7 of 12 - Khotan Oasis of Silk and Jade

THE SILK ROAD I - 6 of 12 - Across the Taklamakan Desert

THE SILK ROAD I - 5 of 12 - In Search of the Kingdom of Lou-Lan

THE SILK ROAD I - 5 of 12 - In Search of the Kingdom of Lou-Lan

THE SILK ROAD I - 4 of 12 - The Dark Castle

THE SILK ROAD I - 3 of 12 - The Art Gallery in the Desert

THE SILK ROAD I - 2 of 12 - A Thousand Kilometers Beyond the Yellow River

THE SILK ROAD I - 1 of 12 - The Glories of Ancient Chang'an

The Third Crusade: Saladin & Richard the Lionheart Documentary

When the Moors (Muslims) Ruled Europe: Documentary (full)

1001 Inventions and The Library of Secrets - starring Sir Ben Kingsley a...

By grand design, history was made boring. Thus, unknown to many, the "Dark Ages" in world history books was the "Golden Era of Muslim discoveries in the world civilization and history humankind---establishing the foundations of modern sciences and technology of today and in the future.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


In an archipelagic state with a little more than one 
hundred of million of inhabitants who were inheritors political subdivisions by colonialism and imperialism 
by Spain for 333 years, the United States for 50 years, 
and Japan for 3 years; a partial  independence was 
declared on July 4, 1946---following the infamous 
World War II that devastated its major government
establishments and more than a million precious lives

Seventy years thereafter, the time-honored issue of
independence from external control was revived
by a self-made leader from the island of Mindanao who
politically rocks and commands respect. With him, an 
independent foreign policy is achieved, thereby 
transforming the country into a genuine sovereign 
Philippine state on June 30, 2016.

The unfolding of historic events would lead him to be 
viewed by his believers domestically and international-ly as the savior of his country with more than four 
million citizens who are enslaved by illegal drugs, greatly affected by massive corruption, and seemingly
insurmountable challenges of criminality that he promised to resolve through his unique leadership tempered
with tapang at malasakit---propelling for shift from
unitary to federal form of government---towards
lasting peace, inclusive growth, and sustainable 

However, his staunch critiques especially those who
enjoyed the status-quo and some who cherish the
bounty of life out of other people’s misery sees other-wise. Thus, he being put in the limelight for various 
reasons, and the rest is history in the making. Having this in context, the author, sees it fit and timely to present this modest exploratory endeavor to knowing further the political Rock-Star of Asia for his one dozen
of firsts, to wit:

1) Rodrigo Roa Duterte is the first elected Philippine president from Mindanao. 
 Duterte (DU30) is of a Cebuano (from Danao), Chinese (from Macao), and Moro 
decent (from Lanao province)---M’ranao in his maternal side.

2) DU30 is the first local chief executive to become president of the Philippine Republic being the Mayor for 23 years instrumental in transforming the backward locality to one of the most livable cities of the world-Davao. He is better known in his constituents
 in Davao City and beyond as Mayor “Digong.”

3) Mayor “Digong” is the first elected president without a sophisticated machinery and financial resources who captured power that eventually became his very high political capital of more than 14 million votes that was and still is being optimized in supporting his government initiatives that resulted to an unprecedented 7.1% GDP growth making the Philippines one of the fastest growing economies in the fastest growing region in the world. In fact, President DU30 belong a politically ill-equipped PDP-Laban resulting to very few of his PDP-Laban party-mates won. However, he managed to have garnered a super
     majority in the bicameral Philippine legislative bodies,---the House of 
     Representative with its Speaker Alvarez from Mindanao and the Senate
     with its President of the Senate Pimentel, III who also hailed from from 

4) DU30 is the first president in the 21st century-Philippines who immediately got the attention of the international community by articulating at the ASEAN Leaders’ Summit that the conflict in Mindanao was the result of historical injustices that the country must correct,”---a historical piece that he advanced in his campaign sorties. He also stressed in several official appearances the “historical injustices” against the Moro people in the Bud Dajo Massacre in 1906 in the island of Jolo in Mindanao by the United States armed forces. After the APEC Summit in Peru through an exclusive interview with the leading broadcast journalist of Russia Today (RT), President DU30 emphasized another atrocities by the American soldiers in the Philippines to include the Balangiga Massacre of a Christian village in the Visayas and further stressed that the bells of the churches that were looted and were not returned up to this juncture. 

5) President “Digong” is the first leftist president of the Philippines who appointed considerable number of cabinet members holding key portfolios in the executive department who were recommended by the CPP-NDF leadership. He often sided with most of the Filipinos---the masses; and constructively criticised the country’s oligarchs over issues of national concerns like not proper declaration and taxes, mining and environmental degradation, and land grabbing that got the support of the people and ire of the elites. Thus, he is otherwise known as People’s President Rody Duterte or PPRD.

6) PPRD is the first president to have launched a cease-fire; and a peace negotiation for the three major rebel fronts: the GRP-NDFP, GRP-MNLF, GRP-MILF towards lasting peace, inclusive growth, and sustainable development.  
7) DU30 is also the first newly elected president in the Philippines to immediately assume leadership in the ASEAN in 2017 (few months after his assumption to power). The Philippines will be hosting the ASEAN Summit and BIMP-EAGA engagements in 2017.

8) Mayor “Digong” is the first president in various occasions who used “post-colonialism, postmodernism, and poststructuralism tempered with geopolitical juxtaposition of the United States and the Philippines. He was the first president of a developing state to have boycotted the media networks and eventually snubbed leaders of great powers and have cussed words to great political institutions after criticizing his no-nonsense fight against illegal drugs, criminality, and corruption---that gave him some troubles at the outset with president Barrack Obama of the United States of America (U.S.), the special rapporteur of the United Nations (U.N.), and the some officials of the European Union (E.U.) for the alleged DU30 government sponsored Extra-Judicial Killings (EJKs).

9) DU30 is the first elected president coming from the elders (senior citizen) sector of the Philippine society (72 year old), and strategically  rocks with his high octane power politics putting the Philippine national interests in the forefront of discourses in the realm of geopolitics and historiography.  

10) DU30 was the first presidential aspirant who overwhelmingly won---DU31---notwithstanding his controversial election promises and commitments like:

Ø The Shift from Unitary to Federal form of government; 
Ø The Burial of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos to the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB)---that the Supreme Court of the Philippines sustained with a vote of 9 Associate Justices in favor of the Duterte’s presidential action and held to be legal and in accord with the 1987 Philippine Constitution, 5 magistrates including the Chief Justice voted against, and 1 Associate Justice inhibited due to his being a College of Law fraternity brother of the chief executive; and 
Ø The no-nonsense fight against illegal drugs, criminality, and corruption.

11) DU30 turned out to be the first Philippine president to have optimized a “high octane power politics” at the outset of his leadership who implemented to its truest meaning the “Filipino First Policy” by enforcing the express provision Article II, Section 7 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution which states that "[T]he State shall pursue an independent foreign policy. In its relations with other states the paramount consideration shall be national sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interest, and the right to self-determination."

12) Finally, the first controversial, most talked-about and thought-provoking president in the 21st century---President Duterte---is also seen by some members of the international community as an astute geopolitical player, a brilliant leader with a higher sense of historicity, and dubbed as the “Rock Star of Asia.” 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Philippines-Saudi Arabia Relations, 1968-1998: A Diplomatic History


      The swift, yet purposeful expansion of Philippine diplomatic relations in 1968 spelled by the foreign policy of President Ferdinand E. Marcos necessitates an examination of the ties of the Philippines with various regions and countries of the world. A comprehensive view of the related literature reveals that the richness of the political, socio-cultural, economic, and labor relations of the Philippines and Saudi Arabia remained unexplored. Thus, this study entitled, Philippines-Saudi Arabia Relations, 1968-1998: A Diplomatic History is a small step towards that end.

     A combination of the diplomatic history methodology and foreign policy analysis was used to draw tentative findings on the nature of Philippines-Saudi Arabia relations from 1968 to 1998. The study provides the necessary experience for a more rigorous examination of the subject matter in the future. It aims to show that the relations between the Republic of the Philippines and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the administration of President Marcos and developed during the administrations of Presidents Aquino and Ramos, from 1968 to 1998.

   A number of internal and external determinants of foreign policy were perceived to have impinged on the foreign policy of the Philippines and Saudi Arabia.   Internal determinants include geography, population, power and energy, food, industrial and military capabilities, and history and Islamic heritage. External determinants consist of events or policies from other states that affect the foreign policy of the two nation-states like the "petro-politics," Islamic Conference, gulf war, peace agreements, and pilgrimage to Mecca. These determinants, to a large extent, could help explain and describe the dramatic shifts in Philippine foreign relations in the 1970's. The American oriented thrust of Philippine diplomacy gave way to a more comprehensive and realistic orientation when the country expanded ties with the Muslim countries and the rest of the world.

    The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia sends out a vital country for the Philippines because it controls key strategic resource---oil; it houses influential institutions like the Organization of Islamic Conference, Muslim World League, Arab League, World Muslim Youth, International Red Crescent, and Oil Petroleum Exporting Countries; is the number destination of Overseas Filipino Workers; and is the center of Islamic faith. Major Philippine interests in Saudi Arabia include: 1) ensuring a continuous supply of oil; 2) providing a market for Philippine labor force, and; 3) seeking a peaceful and honorable solution of the Southern Philippines problem.

   On the other hand, Saudi Arabia's major interests in the Philippines include: 1) ensuring the welfare of the Filipinos in the Philippines through peace and development; 2) the Philippines is considered as an economic partner and a huge oil market; 3) continuing supply of Philippine labor to the Kingdom; and 4) promotion of Islamic education and the smooth observance of the pilgrimage (hajj) by able Muslims to Makkah as a pillar of Islam. Saudi Arabia's national interests operate in accordance with the Islamic law using the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah (Traditions of Prophet Muhammad, SAW) as their Constitution, being an Islamic state within the system of Islam.

  Beyond countries of informal ties between the socio-culturally interrelated peoples of the Philippines and Saudi Arabia, in the 30 years (1968-1998) of formal interactions of the two nation-states, mutually beneficial political, socio-cultural, educational, economic and labor relations developed.

by: Esnaen M. Catong, Philippines-Saudi Arabia Relations, 1968-1998: A Diplomatic History,---A Master's Thesis in History (Cognate in Political Science), University of the Philippines-Diliman, Quezon City, 2004. Published (ISSN 0031-7802): Ricardo T. Jose, Ph.D., (Issue Editor), Recent Studies in Philippine History, Philippines Social Sciences Review, Volume 57 Nos. 1-4 2005. College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of the Philippines, Diliman Quezon City, 2006.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

“Three-O” Diplomacy: A Strategic Alternative Towards an Independent Philippine Foreign Policy

© 2016 EMC Working Paper*
Ph.D. in Development Studies Program
College of Public Affairs and Development
University of the Philippines
Los Banos, Laguna


As the President Rodrigo R. Duterte administration continues to chart its foreign policy, this paper studies the impact of United States (U.S.) foreign policy and interest in the Republic  of the Philippines (R.P.) that shaped the RP-US relations for more than seven decades following the declaration of Philippine independence on July 4, 1946Notwithstandingthe express declaration of an independent foreign policy in the Philippine Constitution, it finds a modest but trivial pass through from the path dependence loaded the Philippine 
foreign policy with the U.S. from the time of all the postcolonial leaders to the presidency of Benigno Simeon C. Aquino, which was most recently challenged by the Duterte presidency.

Not following, however, the expected path of risk-free diplomacy---by articulating some post-colonialism and post-structuralism stance---in the R.P.-U.S. relations’ context concluding that countries respond differently to these shocks that eventually favored his using of U.S.' fueled “historical injustice” to the Filipino people in Duterte’s “high octane power politics.
“Three-O” for purposes of this research, refers to: 
  • Oil Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), 
  • Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), and
  • Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).
Finally, I explore the determinants of foreign policy direction and find strong evidence for the role of “Three-O diplomacy, but also for other factors, such as rationalization of openness to attaining lasting peace,inclusive---socio-economic growth, and sustainable development
by building new alliances with the non-traditional allies based on the Filipino first foreign
policyand the credibility of thePhilippine fiscal and monetary policy to position leadership
in the ASEAN.

Keywords: Dependency, diplomacy, “high octane power politics,” ‘historical injustice,” 
independent foreign policy, and “Three-O” Diplomacy.

*The author, Esnaen M.Catong is an Associate Professor and former Dean of the College of Social Sciences at WMSUZamboanga City; and has completed all the academic requirements for Ph.D. in History (Cognate in Political Science) at UPDiliman; and he is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Development Studies (Cognates in Sociology and Economics) at UP-Los Banos.  

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Knowlege Aquisition vis-a-vis Resource Generation in the Context of Issues of National Concerns as Viewed in the #Lenileaks Controversy

I am still very busy, but I cannot allow passing the arrogance of some blind-followers of some government officials appointed by former President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino---with the full support of some destabilizers of the President Rodrigo R. Duterte leadership---unchecked. 

Last week, I was forced by circumstances and by my judgment to finally unfriend a non-reasoning VP Robredo loyalist and apologist in my facebook list of friends (who in the past, notwithstanding my stern warning to behave like a civilized human being with reason) up to the time of removing him in the list of my FB-friends with the last advice to review his reading comprehension, historicity, and decorum. 

Meanwhile, even the staunch supporter and promoter of V-P Leni Robredo---Rappler---only alluded to the report and in fact the cabinet officials of President Duterte on the ground that #Lenileaks controversy was not included in the agenda items for the meeting and that it will be addressed accordingly. Please see: 

The Duterte cabinet members did not dismiss the #Lenileaks. What Sec. Esperon was saying and alluding to is that the Rody Duterte Cabinet has 'more important matters to discuss' on the agenda items within the purview of lasting peace, inclusive socio-economic growth, and sustainable development.

Besides, the LP is now a spent force in the arena of Philippine politics; and it was V-P Robredo who was saying that "they have no capacity to oust the Rody Duterte presidency," because the loyal "LPs this time ay kakaunti nalang ang numero at kakasya nalang kami sa Volkswagen." 

Theories? And conspiracy theory? Well, I am a product of my time and experiences as one of the higher education’s policy making body member (WMSU Board of Regents, Association of Faculty Regents of the Philippines, Executive Development Programs for SUC Deans) who institutionalized research knowledge and resource generation in the SUCs rather than a mere knowledge-acquisition only---as it was in the past---in order for this country to graduate from the state of being yes men forever with the hegemonic control of the manipulative powers that be.

Theory building, (construction and deconstruction) was part of my foundations in almost two decades of continuous UP education in the fields of history, politics, sociology of power, economics, and development studies; rigorous research engagements and experiences as a Rockefeller Research Fellow for Southeast Asia since 2003; and international research-based scholarship environment of proving and disproving theories in the light of academic historical revisionism. 

UP alumni members have a lot of commonalities,---we value human dignity, and we respect diversity. We are molded to theorize with the clearer understanding of research ethics and the hierarchy of sources from primary to secondary to other sources. 

Indeed, the UP education are designed to molding their students especially in the advanced graduate programs to develop theories---prove or disprove) so that they will become leaders in their various fields of disciplines and specializations. 

UP is the country’s leader in all fields of quality education and resource generation endeavors and is now positioning to lead the ASEAN region in interdisciplinary, trans-disciplinarily, and cross-disciplinary research education environment. In so doing, the subsidy of the state coming from the sweat and blood of the Filipino people coming from their taxes will no be put to waste.

I am fortunate to have this unique opportunity and privilege to building a foundation to think beyond the boxes. Like most UP-educated professionals, I am not only concerned of answering the who, when, where, what questions but at all times give premium to the how and the why questions. 

Yes, I do theorizing. I have proven it to be liberating, and productive to the societies where I belong. I think with context specificity. Indeed, we are products of our time, environment, and understanding.

Respect begets respect!

Former Secretary Mehol Sadain's Response on the Issue of Inquirer's "Ombudsman sacks 7 execs over Honasan’s pork barrel scam raps."

With empathy, I am sharing the post with spontaneous answers of a scholar in Philippine legal system and Islamic Jurisprudence in the Philippines who excelled in his fields of specializations, and have served the government in various key positions of authority as Dean of Institute of Islamic Studies of the University of the Philippines-Diliman, Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Commissioner, and National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) with a rank of cabinet secretary. Prior to this controversy, what was only clear to me were the two-fold facts, to wit: 

  • That he was a President BS Aquino's appointee who was open to supporting the President Duterte's war against drugs, and who was a constructive critique of the Aquino and Roxas leaderships, and;
  • He implemented and liquidated in accordance with auditing rules the Senator Honasan's PDAF while those who did not implement the PDAF projects and got the money were not indicted before any court of competent jurisdiction.

Salaam! Concerned brother here. Just read this online. Please check:;

Secretary Mehol Sadain wrote at my facebook page in the context of my private message to him on 12 January 2016 at around 4:01pm informing him about the online news articles on the issue at bar. And few hours thereafter, Atty. Mehol Sadain wrote this:

محول سادين

Brod Teng Catong, thank you for bringing this to my attention. By way of airing my side, here are my comments:
The Inquirer strikes again. In its internet edition today it came out with two (yes two) articles on the same topic of an administrative resolution issued by the Ombudsman on the PDAF of Senator Honasan, to stress it seems that I and other officials of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos have been found guilty of grave misconduct and deserve to be dismissed from the service with all its attendant accessory penalties.
I should not be dignifying these charges and instead just face them before the proper judicial forums, were it not for the fact that the articles are designed to cast aspersion on our character and integrity without even airing our side. Written today, the two articles talk of a case written by the Graft Investigators of the Ombudsman on August 9, 2016 and approved by the Ombudsman herself on November 21, 2016. In other words, this is a repeat news and I really do not know why this is being resurrected today. To deflect some more damaging developments that some of the current officials are being indicted with a non-bailable offense of large scale estafa on the Haj Passport scam perhaps?
This repeat or rehashed news would like to make it appear that we defrauded the government of the PDAF funds of Senator Honasan by allowing the endorsed NGO, Focus, to implement the projects (6 of them fully implemented and liquidated) without going through a public bidding.
We have explained in our position paper which the Ombudsman never considered in its decision that bidding was impossible because the NCA or cash allotment lapsed every end of the month, hence, it was simply too short to prepare and complete a public bidding. Even a negotiated procurement would usually take 45 days. Second, procuring an NGO for the projects do not involve submitting the lowest proposal because the amount of the project is already determined at the Legislator's and DBM's level. Hence, it is simply to assure that the NGO chosen is legitimate and capable of undertaking the project. What we did in NCMF, given the time constraint, was to accredit the NGO by asking it to submit 14 documents to prove its legal existence and capability to do the project, which it did. In other words, the requirements of the public bid was substantially complied with by the accreditation process. And as proof that the NGO was capable, it implemented the 6 projects and liquidated the expenses with complete documentation required by COA. I do not see how this can be grave misconduct.
The news article also highlights what the Ombudsman did not consider in our position paper. That the check was made on May 30, 2012 even before the MOA was signed early June of the same year. What the Ombudsman did not consider were proofs that the accreditation papers of the NGO were already with NCMF a full month before May 30, the project was awarded by the NCMF Banc before May 30, and the only remaining requirement was the endorsement of the legislator of the NGO, which requirement we added to the accreditation papers. In the meantime, after May 30 the NCA was going to lapse again as it had already lapsed end of April. This was the reason why the check was already prepared with all documents already in, and only the endorsement was needed for the MOA signing. More importantly, what the Ombudsman did not mention in its resolution is that even if the check was dated May 30, it was not released until June 7 or after the endorsement and MOA were already in. Again, we do not see any grave misconduct here, because such acts were not attended by intent to defraud or any high degree of malice.
In spite these factual evidence, the Ombudsman remained blind to the truth we submitted to them and seemed bent on indicting and finding us guilty of all charges. It is a pity that the Ombudsman chooses to decide administrative cases only on the basis of paper submissions and does not go into full blown administrative hearings, but when it decides the case, it does not only publicize its non-final decision, but wants it immediately executed in spite the presence of a motion for reconsideration and the appeal to the Court of Appeals. Such punitive stand by the Ombudsman, immediate and merciless as it is, comes out of an in investigation for probable cause. But while the criminal aspect goes to the Sandiganbayan for a full blown trial, the punitive consequences of the administrative aspect are immediately executory. It is, however clear that when the Ombudsman makes such an administrative decision, it is the complainant, investigator and judge at the same time. Is this just?
Be that as it may, the Inquirer true to form, has taken up the story, more than a month after the decision came out. I am not privy to the games these people play. I can only come out with the truth.
This may not be a proper procedure in this case, but in Muslim courts we have the sacred oath called Yameen where a Muslim litigant takes an oath over the Holy Qur'an to attest to the truth of his position. Muslims do not take this oath lightly because it entails lying to GOD before the Qur'an if one is not telling the truth, and there are grave consequences to this.
In a move similar to this, I am almost tempted to challenge the Ombudsman and her graft investigators for us to take a solemn oath before our respective Holy Books that we are telling and interpreting the truth in the facts before us.
More specifically, if they really believe what they are saying in their decision, will they be willing to take an oath before the Holy Bible and before GOD that I and my companions committed fraud and took money, and therefore committed graft and grave misconduct when we entered into the PDAF MOA of Sen. Honasan?
Because I can take that oath before the Holy Qur'an and GOD anytime, as I have in my private moments done that already.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Romanticizing Jose Rizal in the Pens of the Former NHCP Chair: Not Appealing to the Millennials?

The National Historical Institute was replaced by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) through Republic Act 10086 also known as “Strengthening Peoples’ Nationalism through Philippine History Act” approved on May 12, 2010.

Prof. Ambeth Ocampo was among its former chairpersons who is renown for promoting romanticism over nationalism and post-colonialism discourses.

Undeniably, the Philippine history of today is still focused on the life, works, and style of Rizal---as if nothing more important events that are worthy of academic historical revisionism than before and after Jose Rizal and Josephine Bracken’s romance?

This explains the misled national consciousness of romanticism over pre-colonialism, during colonialism, and post-colonialism towards lasting peace, inclusive growth, and sustainable development.

The Filipinos were and are being conditioned to forget more important historical questions especially the whys and the hows, and instead focusing---on chronology answering the questions of who, when, where, what questions---and making history a boring subject in schools, and historiography unpalatable.

No wonder, Jose Rizal was the United States’ conveniently sponsored hero for the Filipinos. This further explains why as a nation-state, it took this country more than 70 years reckoned from July 4, 1946 to declare a truly independent Philippine foreign policy in the context of the 1987 Philippine Constitution's Art. 2 sec. 7.

Thanks indeed to people’s president Duterte for his "high-octane power politics" in optimizing post-colonialism, postmodernism, and poststructuralism stance tempered with “historical injustices” leading to the truest liberation of Filipino people from colonialism and imperialism.

The Philippine history is dominated by the colonial-minded elites and the Filipino oligarchs who pretended to know everything about the struggle of the masses---much less the state of the Indios, the 
Infieles, and the Moros at the height of the conquest and colonialism of Spain, the misleading manifest destiny and colonialism of United States of America, the Asian pro-prosperity sphere and colonialism of Japan, and the Filipino oligarchs’ politicking and camouflaging their sponsored land-grabbing system.

Shifting from unitary to federal form of government is key.

Federalizing Philippine history will also help resolve the colonially inspired “historical injustices” by the imperial Manila-centric history of further dividing the people for their vested interests---manifested by the misleading “historical revisionism” by another former chairperson of the NHCP, Prof. Ma. Serena Diokno.