"..a bardy view!"

The Beatles, the Philippines and President Marcos….


Fifty three years ago the Philippines fell out of love with the Fab Four. It was also the year that John Lennon made two comments, one which was to be his eventual downfall.

In July 1966 the Beatles toured the Philippines. Little did they know that the dictator President Marcos and his wife Imelda were accustomed to (and expected) absolute attention and devotion; and they certainly didn’t take kindly to the fact that the Beatles refused an invitation to attend a breakfast reception at the Presidential Palace.

Their manager Brian Epstein politely declined the invitation on the grounds that it was the group’s policy not to accept official invitations. Marcos took this as a personal snub and consequently revealed this perceived insult to the media, who ran with it, implying that it was also a snub to the Filipino people.

Subsequently all police protection was removed from them. The group and their entourage had to reach Manila airport unguarded. Their road manager Mal Evans was assaulted, and the band encountered a hostile crowd.

Although they managed to board the plane, Evans was removed, and Epstein was forced to hand over all their Philippines earnings before they were permitted to leave the country.

It led to John Lennon remarking that should he ever return to the country, he “would fly over it with an H-Bomb”.  Many biographies about the Beatles have suggested that they were all lucky to escape with their lives, such was the hostility which they encountered once Marcos stated that his people had been scorned.

Of course we can argue now that perhaps the Beatles were not familiar with international diplomacy, but they relied on their manager to manage, and the manager made a decision. Yet the times were different. Marcos was all powerful, and this unwitting act of disrespect to refuse an invitation to the palace was deemed a personal insult to the president who through hubris  was so offended, that he manipulated his people to turn against the Beatles. His insult was an insult to his people. It’s a classic example of one man exercising power for his own ends. Indeed, this event is not so much about the Beatles, but about pride, power, and dictatorship. It’s about a despot who assumed that his power was omnipotent. 

It would be another twenty years before Filipinos finally realised that this was power absolute and had the courage to rise up in 1986 with “People Power”.  

When John Lennon said he would like to fly over the Philippines with an H Bomb he was 25 years old and did not make that remark directed at the Filipino people. But it wouldn’t be the first hot-headed thing he said, because earlier he said something else which would eventually cause him even more controversy and years later – his murder.

Three months earlier in March, he was reported in the London Evening Standard, during a fairly innocuous interview as stating that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus.  It was an off-the-cuff innocent and careless remark and typical banter from a young Liverpudlian. This was picked up by right-wing religious conservatives in the USA, and exploited. It further fuelled the anger in the Catholic dominated Philippines, which even today they wrongly regard as the blue touch paper which set the firework off. 

Through clever propaganda, instigated by President Ferdinand Marcos, the Filipino people, over half a century later, believe that their antagonism to the Beatles was because of Lennon’s Jesus statement. It could not be further from the truth. 

The story had no merit until a US teen magazine naively ran with it on their front cover, resulting in an evangelic radio station WAQY in Birmingham Alabama announcing that it wouldn’t play anymore Beatles music and that they were going to burn their records. This led to a domino effect, and other radio stations followed suit.

The English brushed off his comments in the newspaper at the time. It wasn’t news.  Not a single word of complaint came from the Church of England or the Roman Catholic Church.

In August when the situation had reached a rolling-stone momentum which threatened the existence of the group, John Lennon was forced to apologise twice – stating that he was not boasting about the fame of the Beatles, and he never intended to cause offence to people of religious faith. It happened in Chicago and proved to be the last Beatles tour.

So let’s put the record straight – here and now! The Filipino people didn’t get angry with the Beatles because of what John Lennon said. They were manipulated and encouraged by a state-run media, controlled by a demigod dictator, who was snubbed by the biggest band of the age. Marcos was insulted, and it struck at his pride. Such was his bitterness that he ensured that his countrymen would feel the same pain and humiliation.

Marcos controlled the media, the military and the government and therefore he controlled the minds of the people. It is he and his cronies that the Filipino people should be angry with – not the Beatles.

Today, the Beatles are revered in the Philippines and there isn’t one karaoke bar which is not playing a Beatles song and not one Filipino crooner who doesn’t attempt to sing one.

As Paul McCartney has acknowledged – it wasn’t the people, but the regime that caused the problems, and he’s proud in hindsight that it was the Beatles which first snubbed the Marcos family and dented their crown. 




March 20, 2016 Posted by | Arts, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Events, History, Religion, The Beatles, The Philippines | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Not Boxing…Box Office…..

maypacAt 04.00 BST Sunday 3rd May, 2015 the Pacman will finally meet the Bagman in Las Vegas. A fight long overdue, which over the past six years has been continually put off because of childish and petulant behaviour (mainly from Mayweather) and unsporting gamesmanship.

My views have been well known about this money-making debacle over the years, indeed I have made several blog posts about it. Of course this is a welterweight fight, and it is indicative of the sport that the “greatest fight of the century” does not involve a heavyweight.

Indeed, I doubt anyone reading this, or anyone not seriously following the sport, could name the current heavyweight champion of the world. There may even be two, depending on which federation claims the title. Such is the dirge of great boxers and great personalities, it is the welterweights (higher than lightweight but less than middleweight) who have captured the public’s imagination. Mayweather is 5ft 8in, and Pacquiao two inches shorter, but between them they have demonstrated that physical stature is meaningless in Vegas – its hype not height that counts.

It is the richest fight in history, and both will walk away (win or lose) with a purse to fund a third world country for a year. The venue, the promoters, the agents, the marketeers, and the cable companies have all contrived to milk it, and and all have contrived to ensure a massive pay day.

Neither boxer ever fights outside Vegas. The days of the “Thriller in Manila” are over. Today boxing means box office.

I’d like to see Manny win, not because I am biased, but I want him to win because fundamentally he is a Filipino made good – he represents the street fighter from a poor background, is humble, doesn’t flaunt his wealth, has a strong faith, and has a passionate belief that he can make a difference for his fellow countrymen be it in politics or philanthropy.

He is in essence a symbol, and an aspiration to a generation of young people who believe that success can be rewarded, and the reward can be passed on to the less fortunate. He also holds the hopes and dreams of a nation that needs him, and he in turn has not abandoned them through his fame and fortune. Contrast that with Mayweather.

Mayweather hasn’t a single moral bone in his body, and he has demonstrated it in numerous occasions. He flaunts his wealth, is a bling king, and represents unadulterated excess. So what? Why should we expect sportsmen to be role models? Why should we expect Mayweather to be anything more than he is – a successful boxer? How he spends his money, or flaunts it, is really none of our business. Surely it’s not up to us to judge him?

Yet this fight tonight is not just a fight – as financially reprehensible and exploitative as it may be – it is a contest between two very different people who represent two different cultures, two different idealisms, and two different attitudes.

It’s not a battle of the heavyweights, but it’s a battle nonetheless. Both will win financially, yet only one will win the crown. Lets hope that he who wears the crown, wears it with dignity. The only man with dignity in the ring tonight will be Manny Pacquiao – so win or lose – that cannot be taken away from him!

Good luck Manny! Floor Floyd!

May 2, 2015 Posted by | Boxing, Culture, Current Affairs, The Philippines, USA | , , | 1 Comment

Philippine Land Grab – disguised as eco-tourism



Jacques Cousteau the famous explorer and conservationist once described Palawan as the last frontier. For good reason. Here was an archipelago of outstanding natural beauty, and he, more than most, understood that protection was the legacy for future generations.

So how does big businesses, and big property developers, justify their mercenary exploitation of the unspoilt?

To them, natural beauty is a golf course waiting to happen, a resort complex, and an emporium squatted by retail multi-nationals selling designer goods.

They do it by dressing it up as sustainable eco-tourism. The catch all phrase. The tart with a heart. Conservationist capitalism. Mercenary magnanimity. Philippine Profitable Philanthropy.

Ayela Land Inc (ALI) intend to build (purely for altruistic motives of course) a “100-hectare development that shall feature hotels and resorts, tourism and commercial establishments and residential communities with world-class amenities that blend with the natural landscape.”

These are not Cinderella’s, but the ugly sisters which squeeze their feet into jewelled slippers. Convinced that any fit is better than none, and an ounce of blood is worth shedding – even if a scar is the result. After all surely any commercial enterprise which aids the economy is better than none? Right? Wrong!

100 hectares is a substantial chunk of real estate, the first 25 hectares is to become the Lio Beach Village “featuring bed and breakfasts, resorts, shops and dining establishments amid civic spaces” which will be developed by Ten Knots Development Corp, which just happens to be a subsidiary of Ayala Land Inc. (The parent. Keep it in the family!)

This has naturally been lauded and applauded by the Philippines Department of Tourism, whose secretary Ramon R. Jimenez Jr. describes it as “a new jewel of sustainable tourism in the Philippines.” Note the word sustainable – synonymous with ecology and conservation. These are the key words which mask the reality. Cousteau will be turning in his grave.

The problem with the Philippines however is that in a land with over 7000 islands it’s surprisingly difficult to find a free beach. Most pieces of beach, be it white sand, black sand, or volcanic sand is owned by someone, who charge money just for the privilege of sitting on one. A resort takes away the freedom, and more importantly removes the locals. Especially the fisherman, who will no doubt be expected to pay a premium just to sail out and sail in – with a catch or not!

That’s not progress, that is exploitation, and it is ruthless because it has the support of the government, whose raison d’etre is not sustainability or culture, but greed and the fast buck.

You see, resorts are victims of the global economy i.e. how many bangs for the buck! It’s a volatile and precarious business, and when a downturn happens the infrastructure suffers, people lose jobs (non jobs associated with service: rooms, restaurants, etc totally dependant on the number of visitors) and invariably when the bottom falls out, the land is sold on. It’s a downward spiral, which cuts into the very ecology which was promoted in the first place. The land has been raped and the agriculture such as coconut trees, bananas, and most indigenous farming and fishing are lost.

What the Philippines government should be doing, and is always decidedly incapable of, is investment in the people. Ensuring that they have proper sustainable employment, encouraging and maintaining the skills that have been garnered over a thousand years, and if necessary subsidising them, because investing in the people and caring for their greatest asset – the land and the seas around it – will ensure worth, value and ultimately self sufficiency with profits all round. Technology may be the future, but a reputation of being the call-centre capital of South East Asia doesn’t really cut the mustard. Like India it will only exist for cheap labour and the service industry.

UNESCO have been threatening for the past five years that the famed rice terraces of the Cordilleras are losing their integrity and will inevitably lose their status as a world heritage site. The terraces which are unique, have been farmed and maintained by skilled tribal people for over two thousand years. They argue that “the terraced landscape is highly vulnerable because the social equilibrium that existed in the rice terraces for the past two millennia has become profoundly threatened by technological and evolutionary changes. Rural-to-urban migration processes limit the necessary agricultural workforce to maintain the extensive area of terraces.”

In simple English this means that the young generation are not following in their fathers and forebears footprints and heading to Manila to seek their fortune. Between the lines it also says that this “migration” makes the land redundant, cannot be sustained, not fit for purpose and therefore prime targets for commercial land grabbers. If you want to know what that is and the horrors it produces, just go to the city in the sky: Baguio – where concrete is king.

A responsible government should be sustaining it’s heritage, not destroying it systematically for short term financial profit, nor pandering to wealthy developers whose hearts are purely mercenary, and leave a legacy of shame, exploitation and avarice.

It will get worse before it gets better – but time is running out, and it will have probably ran out before the people of the Philippines wake up – perpetually somnambulist – perpetually sleepwalking – and whilst they sleep, the politicians, the investment bankers, the fund managers and the speculators are wide awake – singing, celebrating and dancing obscenely on the land!

April 14, 2014 Posted by | Coconut Trees, Conservation, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Politics, The Philippines, Travel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tree Slaughter – More Fun in the Philippines……

“Mile after mile, trees have been felled, and mile after mile those still standing have been marked with the executioners axe – a strip of bark sliced from the trunk – the condemned waiting for death.”
There is a disease that is rampant in the Philippines. It’s a virus, spreads like the plague, and infects all that come into contact with it.
It is unforgiving, affects millions of people, destroys livelihoods, and causes blindness. It’s a virus which is unforgiving, because there is no way back from it. The damage it causes can never be recovered. It is a killer.
It’s not airborne, nor is it a bacterial strain, yet it is man-made. It is a disease born of corruption, greed, and ignorance. There is no cure. It is called Environmental Slaughter.

Along the MacArthur Highway, over 2000 Acacia and Mango trees have been destroyed, many more than 100 years old. It is an unprecedented act of vandalism in the name of progress. The Philippines government decreed that the highway needed widening and with ruthless abandon they embarked on a cultural assault, devoid of any regard to heritage.

Mile after mile, trees have been felled, and mile after mile those still standing have been marked with the executioners axe – a strip of bark sliced from the trunk – the condemned waiting for death.
Businesses, small shop-keepers, homes, communities will all be displaced in the name of progress. Perhaps the highway does need widening? Perhaps there was no alternative?Perhaps nobody thought of an alternative? Why does it matter?

It matters because it’s not just about trees. It’s about heritage. It’s about a country which shouts loudly about culture, yet is prepared to abandon it in the name of progress. It’s about a country which has a superficial regard to it’s history, and whose slogan to attract the tourist is suffixed with…”it’s more fun in the Philippines”. “Beaches are more fun in the Philippines”, “Shopping is more fun in the Philippines”, “Food is more fun in the Philippines”, Scuba Diving, Bird watching, trekking…they are all “more fun in the Philippines”. “Tree slaughter is more fun in the Philippines!”

Corruption is more fun in the Philippines.There is a very serious point here.
Greed is more fun in the Philippines.
Exploitation is more fun in the Philippines.
Poverty is more fun in the Philippines.
This is not quite the message the country wants to project. 
A government which destroys it’s trees and allows (or is too impotent to prevent) deforestation on a massive scale  –  uproots it’s fundamental heritage, riding roughshod over it’s flora and fauna, and employs the word conservation as a euphemism for development. It’s the BIG Lie! The Big Con!
A Government which destroys it’s trees with impunity has no respect for life, culture or heritage. 
Still, no matter. It’s fun that matters.  “Fun…it’s more fun in the Philippines!”

Related articles

Philippines Land Grab – disguised as eco-tourism
More trees to be cut for Makiling road
The Pope, the Philippines, Argentina and the British……
1,829 trees to be killed for road plan
Deadline to finish off trees for road: Feb. 12

January 28, 2014 Posted by | Conservation, Culture, Education, Politics, The Philippines, Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Anchorman 2” and that Philippines “Joke”…..

Anchorman2Emil Guillermo is a very sensitive American-Filipino journalist. So sensitive in fact, that he believes that the power of a juvenile below-average slapstick-comic movie can insult millions of people of a certain nationality, and rejuvenate a slur that has been buried for years.

I refer to Anchorman 2. If you know what that is already – congratulations, and if you don't…well, now you do.

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December 30, 2013 Posted by | Culture, Current Affairs, Dogs, Education, Film, The Philippines, United Kingdom | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bardiness #300

"Who said watching paint dry wasn't fun?"

They couldn't have been more wrong!  Bar de Collage

I've been neglecting my platform here due to a new-found interest in watercolour painting (some examples on the right).

I find it more enjoyable than writing. Don't get me wrong, I'm still opinionated with specific observations and have considerable issues to address which normally I would dissect and present in an informative and humorous way as possible.

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August 12, 2013 Posted by | Arts, Culture, General, The Philippines, Travel | , , , | 4 Comments

Dan Brown – Inferno

Hell philippines picA restaurant chain in the Philippines has reacted with a marketing coup in response to Dan Brown's new novel "Inferno". 

Unlike the humourless Francis Tolentino, Chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), who has taken great umbrance to one of the book's characters describing his city as "The Gates of Hell".

Tolentino is upset that a fictional character, in a fictional book, views Manila with such disgust and a place where the traffic jams last for six hours, and where prostitution is rife etc etc.

He has even accessed records from the Philippines Bureau of Immigration and discovered that Brown has never even visited the Philippines.

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May 25, 2013 Posted by | Arts, Books, Education, General, Politics, Religion, The Philippines, Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spoof Time Magazine Covers fool the Philippines twice in three weeks!

Spoof-pnoy-time-magazine-cover-inquirer-newsRecently the Philippines Daily Inquirer fell foul of a hoax "Time" magazine cover naming President Aquino as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

They duly tucked their tail between their legs and apologised for being duped.

 Yesterday that didn't prevent a plethora of journalists, bloggers, and correspondents failing to learn the same lesson and were duped by a another fake "Time" magazine cover stating that the Philippines was the "most stupid country for electing a 20-year old as a Senator" in the recent mid-term elections.

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May 16, 2013 Posted by | Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Politics, The Philippines | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mount Mayon erupts – with fatal consequences………

"Mayon volcano is an enigmatic personality. The more she
does this, the more they will come. The more the danger, the more the

So says Albay Governor Joey Salceda, after Mount Mayon gave a 73-second explosion killing five climbers on 7th May 2013.

MayonThe state seismologist said the explosion was triggered when the
rainwater made contact with hot ash deposits on the crater mouth. That makes
sense - a bit like adding water to a sizzling frying pan.

It's rather unfortunate that Governor Salceda couldn't have
chosen his words more appropriately. eg "This is a terrible tragedy. My
sympathies go out to the victims and their families. We will do everything to
learn from this, and investigate how this appalling accident occurred."
– it's a stock response, in the files of
every person in a high position of public service – but not in Salceda's. No, to him it
will bring more tourists. If that’s not what he meant it’s certainly how it

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May 8, 2013 Posted by | Conservation, Current Affairs, Education, History, Mount Mayon Volcano, Politics, The Philippines, Travel | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Captain Cook and the USS Guardian…

USS_GuardianIn 1770 Captain Cook's HMS Endeavour grounded on the
unchartered waters of the Great Barrier Reef and got stuck.

Through exceptional seamanship he lightened his load and with a severely
damaged hull was able to free his ship, and nurse her towards a safe harbour
for repairs.

He had no state of the art navigation, no electronic devices, no
sea-bed imaging and no satellite communication.

On January 17, 2013, the USS Guardian, a 223ft minesweeper,
costing $277 million, commanded by Lt. Cmdr. Mark Rice, ran aground on the
Tubbataha Reef, in the Philippines.

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April 2, 2013 Posted by | Arts, Books, Conservation, Current Affairs, Education, History, The Philippines, Travel, United Kingdom, USA | , , , , | Leave a comment

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