Reading for the Day: Marcos’ Legendary Loot

It’s not often that self sees an article in The Economist about the Philippines.

Lemme see, in the past few years, self can remember:

an article about cockfighting
an article about the Abu Sayyaf
an article about Filipino maids in Hong Kong (That one was classic: made the cover of a December Economist, with title, “The Anthropology of Happiness”)

Self is still working through a pile of stuff that accumulated while she was in Virginia. Working through the Aug. 11-17 Economist, she spies one of those rare Philippine articles, with title “Treasure Hunt.” Below, the first half of said article:

Ferdinand Marcos, the dictator overthrown in a 1986 “people-power” uprising, reputedly looted up to $10 billion from the Philippines’ public purse. After his downfall, a Presidential Commission on Good Governance (PCGG) was created to trace and recover the stolen assets. In two decades of legal battles, it has retrieved only about a quarter of this sum. Dissatisfaction with the commission intensified last month when it lost a court case to recover almost $5m of alleged Marcos bank deposits after failing to present an important witness. Since then, speculation has grown that the PCGG has struck a deal with Marcos’s family, to let it keep a chunk of its money in return for helping the commission recover the rest.

Officials insist there is no such deal. But some curious things are happening. Most notably, the Marcoses have suddenly revived their claims to valuable chunks of property and shareholding in some of the Philippines’ largest companies. Last month, they tried (and failed) to stop the sale on the stockmarket of GMA Network, a television station, claiming they owned 30% of it. Marcos supposedly parked much of his wealth with friendly businessmen. Their empires still dominate the Philippine economy, from agriculture to airlines, brewing to broadcasting. Much of the PCGG’s efforts have been directed at getting these tycoons to hand over the Marcoses’ alleged shares in their businesses.

Read the rest of this entry »

Autumn in the Garden

Self must confess that today was one of those days when she stayed in her pajamas (actually, a nightgown) until long past mid-day. And when she finally did get dressed to go out (ostensibly to buy a couple of desserts from Vivaldi/Chocolate Mousse on Laurel St. in San Carlos), she unfortunately kept thinking of something else she had to do, and so she never did step out the door at all today.

But, that’s all right, because self did quite a bit of work digging planting holes in the backyard. And also worked on a couple of stories, including one that she thinks she might send out.

Wait a minute, dear blog reader will ask, isn’t self supposed to be teaching three classes this semester? Wherefore all this time spent in the garden? And writing?

Well, self must confess that one of her classes got canceled this week (Is that one “l” or two?), and another one that will meet for the first time on Monday the 10th has only four students enrolled and will probably get canceled as well (Isn’t that cause for happy happy joy joy? But self has to think of a way to conceal her joy from hubby, since the poor guy is always worrying about our finances), and the third class doesn’t start until the 24th. So self still has two weeks to pursue her writing and gardening activities.

Since today felt unseasonably cool (at least, when compared to last couple of weeks), self decided to pretend autumn was already here. And she decided to plant the Mexican orange and sundry other plants she had purchased a few days ago from Wegman’s sale. And, in addition, she heffed and hawed and managed to pry loose a tri-color sage from its ceramic pot, for sage was looking miserable and self thinks it would rather be in the ground. All sorts of green matter fell out of the pot when self turned it upside down (and this was no small 6-inch flowerpot, dear blog reader: this was one of the 16-inch behemoths), and she finally sat herself on the ground in her nightgown, positioned pot between her legs, and yanked with both hands with all her might, and nearly fell over backwards. Self knows that she has just presented a very unflattering picture of herself, but not to have included such would have seriously impaired this post’s entertainment value, let’s hope dear blog reader appreciates the effort.

Anyhoo, according to self’s gardening bible, Robert Smaus’ 52 Weeks in the California Garden:

Research shows that roots grow quickly in autumn soils warmed by months of summer weather. You may see little above-ground growth, but down below roots are growing quite furiously. When spring arrives plants are well established and rooted fast, able to support astounding spring growth.

Yes! Self must confess that she got quite excited at that word “astounding.” Astounding growth is just what her garden needs, dear blog reader! Especially since, when hubby and self bought this house over 10 years ago, previous occupant Jack de Benedetti had a flourishing orchard of peach and cherry and fig trees, and a beautiful black walnut, but over the years the trees have been dying off, one by one (probably as a result of self’s complete absence of gardening know-how), and now there are many many bare spaces in the garden that are simply crying out to be filled! Self sincerely hopes that Mr. Smaus is right! And that everything she has put in the ground today will astonish her in the spring with their astounding growth!

The only drawback to the day was that self got poked by a rose thorn in the fleshy part of her right forearm, and this evening the puncture is a little red and swollen, and the area all around it is black and blue. Eeeek! And there are scratches all over self’s hands, which — goodness, how did she get so many scratches? There’s one that’s at least an inch long, right beneath her right thumb. Guess it’s time for the peroxide. Stay tuned, dear blog reader, stay tuned.

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