About financial scams in the Philippines

Philippine PhP50 bill

Avoid financial scam, stay away from scammers

Many people know the Philippines is a country abundant with natural resources and wonderful, postcard-worthy attractions. Only a few people know – and do seem to care – that we are a nation flowing with political dynasties and financial scams.

(Too bad we Filipinos keep electing the wrong politicians. Only stupid Filipinos would be proud of the kind of politicians this country has. Too bad we can’t export political dynasties and their family members as slave laborers or sell them to organ traffickers.)

The favorite pastime of Filipinos (if it isn’t basketball, gossiping, social media, religion, littering, adoring unworthy politicians, sex, or going to malls) is engaging in financial scams.

I was browsing the ABS-CBN News website when I came across this article, which was posted on June 10, 2014 and updated on Oct. 14, 2016. I posted this article here for your benefit (because it concerns your hard-earned money and sanity). The article is in blue text and my comments and observations below are in black text. Please read:

Why some free ‘financial literacy’ seminars may be scams

MANILA, Philippines – There’s a new wave of financial scams victimizing overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and it’s riding the popularity of financial literacy seminars.

>>> Financial scams victimizing OFWs are no new in the Philippines. The scammers are certain religious groups, multi-level networking companies, and family and friends. In my direct and indirect experience, family and friends of OFWs are the worst scammers.

Floi Wycoco, founder of The Global Filipino Investors, said there are some unscrupulous groups who are inviting OFWs to attend free financial literacy seminars in Singapore.

>>> Such groups also operate in the Philippines and in other countries with a sizable population of OFWs. Some unscrupulous groups even invite foreigners. Everyone, regardless of nationality or ethnicity, is a potential victim – or milking cow.

“For example, they invite people. These people are encouraged to attend because it’s free. Filipinos have this mentality that they always want free stuff so they attend, knowing they will learn something new. But when they attend, they will be introduced to different real estate terminology which is something they never heard before,” Wycoco told ANC’s On The Money.

>>> I hate to admit it but we Filipinos are suckers for freebies. Who wouldn’t love free stuff? And who wouldn’t want to learn something new? I had attended a few “free” financial literacy seminars – which, in my opinion, are promotional seminars, not financial literacy – in the past before I learned real, true financial literacy or financial education from legit teachers, experts, financial advisors, institutions, and groups. Certain multi-level marketing groups continue to make a killing out of scam seminars.

These free financial literacy “seminars” usually lure attendees with full buffet at a high-end hotel. A pastor would usually begin with an inspirational talk, then participants will be taught how to make balance sheets and financial statements.

>>> A priest who was once a victim of an investment scam had observed that “people come to church only when there’s free food.” I also knew a Pentecostal pastor who used the “free food” technique to attract potential converts to his church. He’s also a teacher and former principal; during his tenure as principal, he introduced a multi-level networking scam to his colleagues. In just a few days, all teachers at my former school had become networkers.

>>> Years ago, I attended a promotional seminar conducted by a multi-level marketing company at a popular fast-food restaurant. That was the only seminar that gave free food and which opening prayer and inspirational talk were given by a pastor. He told the attendees that the multi-level marketing company is “an opportunity from God” and it is an instrument to get out of poverty.

>>> In their brochure for their most popular food supplement product, one of the people who provided testimony that the product worked wonders was a bishop of an evangelical church. Religion has already become a tool to legitimize not only corrupt governments but also financial scams.

“Then the sales people will come in, and they will look at the balance sheets of these OFWs. And when they see the OFW is earning this much, they say you can buy this kind of property or condo. The catch is, they won’t just entice you to buy one, but they will entice you to buy as many as you can,” Wycoco said.

The scammer groups use their marketing tactics to pressure the OFWs to purchase products.

“When you attend this seminar, you will be pressured to buy because you have to decide right away. Second, they will have this kind of networking style wherein someone will buy and will give an energetic feeling in the room. And when the attendees will get to be pressured, they will just say, ‘let me sign’,” Wycoco said.

>>> A similar thing happened to me years ago when a marketing agent of an international marketing group lured me into signing up for membership and buying their investment product. I wasn’t into financial education or financial literacy that time and was unconcerned about my financial future but I did know the basics of insurance, insurance-linked funds, bonds, and mutual funds.

>>> I should have known the agent was up to no good when she told me to withdraw money right away and emphasized recruitment (of a multi-level networking or pyramiding type) over investment product knowledge and financial self-improvement.

>>> I confirmed I was trapped in a scam when I attended a session after becoming a member. One of the speakers was one of the top-tier people at the international marketing group. The way he explained and illustrated how to recruit people sounded like financial scam, pyramiding scam to me, based on articles and books I had read.
If an OFW will say he doesn’t have money to buy a condo, the facilitator will, “We will teach you how to make money from your name alone. We will teach you how to take out a bank loan.”

>>> When I didn’t have much money with me that time, the agent persuaded me to withdraw money from a nearby ATM and that she would come with me to the ATM. Recounting the experience, I am sure she never taught me financial literacy, financial self-improvement. She only persuaded me, using pressure and fear marketing, to join her group and recruit members.
On The Money’s resident financial advisor Salve Duplito interviewed some OFWs in Singapore who have bought the condos say these are usually located in areas that are not attractive and are empty at this time.

One victim said he is torn between selling and keeping the condo he bought during one of these seminars. “Wala po kasi akong passive income and mabigat ang monthly payments niya,” he said.

>>> Years later, I had learned that the investment product I had bought out of fear and pressure was not a good deal. I then found out there are legit and well-established companies or financial service providers that offer more superior and customized investment packages. How I wish I could turn back time.

Duplito said these scams also have an unintended effect of making Filipinos suspicious of financial literacy seminars.

The Global Filipino Investors group, which is headed by Wycoco, holds free financial literacy seminars in Singapore for their financial literacy advocacy and they do not sell anything at the end.

The group discovered that once OFWs are bitten by scams, most would shy away from investing talks, even if they are legitimate.

“They don’t want to be victimized again. Second, they don’t want to pay,” Wycoco said.

>>> I shy away from multi-level networking scams. I go to legit financial literacy seminars, paid or free, offered by legit financial institutions, financial service providers, and financial advisors. I encourage readers to read books and articles or listen to talks by Warren Buffet, Napoleon Hill, Suze Orman, Robert Kiyosaki, Marvin Germo, Salve Duplito, Francisco Colayco, Randell Tiongson, Bo Sanchez, Chinkee Tan, and many more.

Afraid of scams, OFWs turn to shopping instead. “Filipinos are very impulsive. In Singapore, you will see the OFWs choosing brand new shoes, branded bags, gadgets. When you tell them, I have something to teach you, financial literacy, they say they don’t have time,” Wycoco said.

>>> I can’t say about other Filipinos but at the moment, let them do whatever they want with their money. If you ask me, it takes an unforgettable experience and a much-needed realization to take up financial education, to study personal finance, to protect their financial health, to build a financial foundation, to ensure their financial future, to start saving and investing. Filipinos should feel the experience that should push them toward such practices.

>>> I would also like to mention that many Filipinos are not only afraid of financial scams, investment scams. They are also afraid of family members and friends who had scammed them. Countless family ties and friendships have been destroyed due to the scams perpetrated by unscrupulous family members and friends. This is common in the Philippines.

Financial literacy as a movement is now attracting scammers.

>>> It’s the same with religion. In the Philippines, some groups use religion as a front for their financial or investment scams. Many individuals use religion to scam other people. In fact, many practicing Christians, whether Catholic, charismatic, Born-Again Christian, mainline Protestant, Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ, founded in 1914), Ang Dating Daan (or Members, Church of God International), or Aglipayan (Philippine Independent Church, founded in 1902), have been scammers. You do know one, don’t you?

>>> Of scammers among practicing Christians, their base of operation is their local church, where they recruit people. Or they operate outside the confines of their church, refusing to become the “salt of the earth” and “light of the world.”

>>> Some netizens claim there are Christian denominations that emphasize tithing or offering rather than spiritual and moral self-improvement and the Bible. I remember attending a service of one of the most famous Born-Again Christian movements in the Philippines. The preaching was 75% tithing and offering and 25% Scripture. Prosperity preachers or prosperity theologians roam around in the Philippines like it’s the Wild Wild West.

>>> A former Baptist pastor and now humanist claims believers join the ministry – just for the money. He knows some priests, pastors and ministers who no longer believe what their religion teaches but refuse to resign from their position of power, influence and wealth.

>>> In one of my previous articles, I had written about practicing Christians who refuse to pay their debts or loans and are involved in financial mismanagement. They are the worst and most common kind of scammers in the Philippines.

>>> Some Filipino artists have tackled the link between religion and financial scams, between piety and money, between religion and corruption. For one, watch the 2015 movie Honor Thy Father, starring John Lloyd Cruz, Meryll Soriano, and Tirso Cruz III.

>>> We must as well avoid scam religion or scam religious groups or scam Christians.

“Catch 22: Our people need financial literacy, and yet these financial literacy scams are turning them into ignorant victims. We need more fearless advocates who intend to do the right thing to stop this from continuing,” Duplito said.

>>> All Filipinos, regardless of socioeconomic status, should have financial literacy. All Filipinos should reject financial literacy scams and keep away from scammers. We should avoid people who treat financial literacy (as well as religion) as a front for more cash, for easy money.

>>> We should avoid false “advocates” who treat financial literacy as just one of their advocacies. Financial literacy is a commitment and we must reject “advocates” who are not fully committed to financial literacy.

>>> Some “marketing” agents will claim to be financial advisors or experts. Don’t believe them right away, but examine their credentials and the institution they belong to. Ask them about their financial investments. Make them show papers pertaining to their financial investments. Ask lots of questions. Seek referrals or character references.

>>> Make sure to follow credible financial experts, groups, and service providers. Like them on Facebook, visit their website, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and spread the word about them. Here are some of them: (Disclaimer: I am never connected with the following individuals, groups, and service providers, personally or professionally. I am simply a fan, follower or subscriber on social media. I am simply a consumer of their books, articles, videos, posts, and other information materials. I attend their talks and comment or react to them on social media. I am also an investor. A mention is not an endorsement. Please do your homework.)

The Global Filipino Investors
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TGFInvestors/
Website: http://www.educ.tgfiph.com

CFO PESO SENSE
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pesosenseph
Website: http://pesosense.com/

Pisobilities
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Pisobilities/
Website: https://www.kskcoop.com/

PESOLAB
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pesolab/
Website: https://pesolab.com/

The Wise Guy
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thewiseguyph/
Website: http://www.thewiseguyph.com/

iMoney Philippines
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iMoneyPH/
Website: http://www.imoney.ph

Juan For The Money
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/juanforthemoney/
Website: https://cristinaorlina.com/free-ebook/

The Philippine Stock Exchange, Inc.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PhStockExchange/
Website: http://www.pse.com.ph

Investagrams
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Investagrams/
Website: https://www.investagrams.com/

Philstocks
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PhilstocksOfficial/
Website: http://www.philstocks.ph

First Metro Securities
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/firstmetrosec/
Website: http://www.firstmetrosec.com.ph

UTrade by Unicapital Inc.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UTradePH/
Website: http://www.utradeph.com

MyTrade PH
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MyTradePH/
Website: https://mytrade.com.ph

Philippine Investment Funds Association – PIFA
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PIFAMutualFunds/
Website: http://pifa.com.ph/

Seedbox PH
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SeedboxPH/
Website: http://www.seedbox.ph

Philequity Management
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Philequity/
Website: http://www.philequity.net

Rampver Financials
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rampverfinancials/
Website: invest.rampver.com

ATR Asset Management
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/atrassetmanagement/
Website: http://www.atram.com.ph

First Metro Asset Management, Inc. (FAMI)
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FirstMetroAsset/
Website: http://www.fami.com.ph

Metrobank
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/metrobank/
Website: https://www.metrobank.com.ph

Chinabank
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chinabank.ph/
Website: https://chinabank.ph/personal.aspx

Sun Life Philippines
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sunlifeph/
Website: http://www.sunlife.com.ph

Insular Life
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/InsularLifePH/
Website: http://www.insularlife.com.ph

Marvin Germo
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marvingermo/
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/marvingermo

Salve Duplito
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/salveduplito.onthemoney/
Website: http://moneystories.ph

(To reiterate, a mention is not an endorsement. Please research and do your homework. Think before you invest.)

Some last words for your financial future

From the book of Francisco Colayco, “Do not agree to do anything involving money for a relative or friend unless you are sure you are willing and can afford to lose the money.

Also from the same book, “People who sell you any investment (possible a SCAM) make money on that sale to you. Never think that they are doing it only because they love you. Ask how they make money and understand whether it is worth your while to help them make that money.

May God and His angels bless you and guide you toward a better

Chinese goodwill in the time of novel coronavirus

The 2019 novel coronavirus, our common enemy

There is a time to bash or rather curse China for its occupation of islands and islets claimed or owned by Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia in the South China Sea. There is a time to become suspicious about the financial aid China offers to the Philippines and other developing countries. (Ever heard of China’s debt-trap diplomacy?) There is also a time to become suspicious and concerned about the influx of mainland Chinese workers, some of them illegal and most of them working in POGO (Philippine offshore gaming operations) companies and infrastructure construction projects funded by China. (The South China Morning Post published a news report about the proliferation of prostitution dens that cater only to Chinese clients.)

Now is a time we call a time-out, a ceasefire. Now is the time we suspend all verbal hostilities and set aside our regional geopolitics and nationalism.

Now is the time to support China in its war against the novel coronavirus, a deadly enemy that knows no nationality, ethnicity, or religion. It is the enemy of every Han Chinese, Uyghur, and Tibetan. It is the enemy of every Filipino, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Korean, Japanese, American, European, African, etc. It is the enemy of our body, mind, and spirit.

Now is not the time to be a regionalist or a nationalist. Never is it the time to be racist or xenophobic. Now is the time to be compassionate and considerate.

Now is the time we pray for China. Now is the time we pray for Wuhan City, Hubei province, the epicenter of the deadly novel coronavirus. Now is the time we pray that the deadly novel coronavirus be wiped off from the face of Mother Earth.

Pray for China novel coronavirus outbreak

Novel coronavirus outbreak, a time to do some good

Joy Adalia of The Summit Express couldn’t say it any better:

The world is in a state of panic over the novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) which originated from Wuhan, China. More infectious but less severe and fatal than the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak, the novel coronavirus still remains a scary virus that led to a lockdown in Wuhan as officials scramble to contain the outbreak.

Because the virus originated from China and has spread across the world mainly due to Chinese travelers, people have come to fear the Chinese or those who look similar to Chinese people, including Koreans.

There have been a number of stories about Chinese people getting bullied just because they are Chinese. Many Filipinos fear they might get the deadly virus from any Chinese they meet; thus, a lot of them would go as far as run away when they meet any Chinese on the road.

Despite the discrimination and verbal abuse they experience, some Chinese choose to be a force of good and a shining beacon of hope in these bleak times.

Two Chinese men give free facemasks to passersby in Makati City

Two Chinese men give free facemasks to passersby in Makati City | Photo Courtesy: Facebook/Precious Ann Patiño

Along Ayala Avenue in Makati City, two Chinese nationals were spotted standing along PBCom Tower and distributing free face masks on Friday, January 31. Resident Precious Ann Patiño took a photo of the scene and shared it on Facebook. GMA News and The Summit Express picked up the story.

According to Patiño (as written in The Summit Express):

The man in black was holding out his phone that has a message. While she was a bit unsure on what is said, a netizen commented that the message on the phone reads, “FREE FACEMASK.” The other Chinese man in white was the one who hands out the face masks.

Patiño asked the public to accept the two Chinese men’s offer of free face masks as it is their way of helping Filipinos amid the spread of the novel coronavirus and reducing the public’s resentment against them.

A Filipino netizen who saw Patiño’s post added, “Just accept the face mask even if you won’t use it. Just appreciate their effort. Don’t be racist.”

Another netizen commented, “Stop the hatred. Let’s pray for the victims of coronavirus. They’re humans just like us. They feel hurt too.”

“They’re also afraid of the NCoV. They’re protecting their families too.”

A group of Chinese give away free face masks in Manila.

A group of Chinese give away free face masks in Manila. | Image credits: Cindy Arcangeles / Facebook

Spotted outside Lido De Paris Hotel 1036 Ongpin St, Santa Cruz, Manila, a group of Chinese men gave away several boxes of surgical masks for free to Filipinos. Netizen Cindy Arcangeles took photos and shared them on Facebook. The Summit Express picked up the story.

Chinese nationals distribute free face masks in Manila

Chinese nationals distribute free face masks in Manila. | Photo credits: YouScooper Mingo Royo Lee

Another group of Chinese men also distributed free face masks in nearby Fugoso St. on Saturday morning, February 1. YouScooper Mingo Royo Lee not only took photos of the group but also thanked them. GMA News featured Lee’s story.

The Chinese ambassador Huang Xilian said last Friday that the Philippine Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Inc. would donate 600 boxes of face masks. Around 600,000 facemasks would be given to the concerned authorities “to help people in the Philippines,” said the ambassador in a press briefing.

China, he said, is also concerned about the situation in the Philippines. “We are making a great sacrifice for the benefit of the Chinese people and the rest of the world. At the same time, the cases, suspected cases, of the coronavirus in the Philippines have also been very concerning to all of us.”

Chinese nationals have reported experiencing prejudice in different countries amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, which originated in Wuhan City, Hubei Province. But amidst the chaos and fear, they choose to offer kindness. They do their best to help in any, in every way they could.

How should we respond? We should respond in kindness and show compassion toward their plight. Accept their offer gladly, appreciate their effort and personal sacrifice, and thank them profusely.

Together we will vanquish our common enemy.

Pray for Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China! Pray for the world!

 

Suggested readings:

Chinese nationals distribute free face masks in Manila

2 Chinese nationals distribute free masks in Makati

PCCCII to donate 600k facemasks to Philippines – China ambassador

LOOK: Two Chinese men give free facemasks to passersby in Makati

Chinese group gives away free masks for Filipinos in Manila

Pray for China! Pray for Wuhan City, Hubei Province!

Novel coronavirus, now a global health emergency

As of this writing, there has been reported 9,843 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), also known as the Wuhan coronavirus and 2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease. The bulk of the confirmed cases are reported in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. There are also confirmed cases in Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Australia, Taiwan, Malaysia, Macau, South Korea, USA, France, Germany, UAE, Canada, Italy, Vietnam, Cambodia, Finland, India, Nepal, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka.

The death toll has reached 213. On the bright side… with a glimmer of hope… 187 patients have already recovered from the dreaded coronavirus.

Imagine the panic and alarm the coronavirus outbreak has caused in the Philippines once the Department of Health (DOH) announced yesterday (January 30) it had confirmed the first 2019-nCoV case in the country. A 38-year-old woman from Wuhan City traveled to the Philippines via Hong Kong and arrived last January 21.

Raffy Tima of GMA 7 network reported: “Just over an hour after DOH confirmed the first case of the 2019-NCOV in the Philippines, a long line has formed in front of a medical supply store selling surgical masks along Rizal Ave. in Manila. Buyers say other stores in the Bambang area have run out of stock.”Panic buying? It’s not only happening in the National Capital Region but also in other parts of the country, especially in Davao City, Cebu, and Dumaguete City – the last two cities having been visited by the 38-year-old woman before flying to Manila.

Merchants are taking advantage of the global health crisis to raise profits – by increasing the prices of N95 respirator masks and disposable surgical face masks. Even online sellers on Facebook’s Marketplace are selling overpriced face masks, some of them selling the wrong types of face masks.

(Thanks goodness, I managed to buy a box of disposable surgical face masks at the fourth pharmacy I visited just days before the DOH confirmed the first case of the novel coronavirus in the Philippines. Face masks are running out.)

Just this morning, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a travel ban on Chinese nationals from the afflicted areas. He was initially against the idea but Filipino netizens, particularly DDS – Diehard Duterte Supporters, shortened as Dutertards – got emotional and hysterical. They now want to #OustDuterte for not imposing a travel ban on Chinese tourists. (As of this writing, the hashtag #OustDuterte trends #1 on Twitter.)

Mind you, the Dutertards usually support their idol Duterte’s pivot to China. Now, they panic. But of course, safety first, country first, and family first. Not Duterte first.

The novel coronavirus has brought out the best and the worst in many non-Chinese people, including Filipinos.

“An Outbreak of Racist Sentiment as Coronavirus Reaches Australia,” reads the headline of the New York Times.

“’No Chinese allowed’: Racism and fear are now spreading along with the coronaviru,” reads the headline of MarketWatch.

“Coronavirus: racism and exclusion can hurt as much as a virus,” reads the editorial of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The CNN reported: The 200 South Koreans who were flown home from Wuhan, China, on Friday were met with a mixed reception. In the city of Asan, where the evacuated residents will be quarantined for 14 days, some residents held up welcome signs. But others in Asan protested the evacuees’ presence, worried that they would bring the coronavirus to the region.”

I have been called a moron, an asshole for tweeting that we need not ban Chinese nationals from entering the Philippines or turn away those who have already entered the country before and in the middle of the novel coronavirus outbreak – and even before countries neighboring China sealed their borders and issued travel advisories and international airlines halt flights to China.

I am against permanent travel ban. The Chinese nationals are as scared as us and they need medical attention too. What choice do they have when international airlines have halted flights to their country?

What we can do instead is to accommodate them, give them the proper medical attention, and place them in mandatory quarantine. That’s the least we can do at the moment for them and their country. China has too much on its plate right now.

There is time to criticize China for its occupation of Philippine islands and islets and illegal activities in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) and its persecution of religious believers. There is time to be wary about China’s goodwill and financial assistance toward the Philippines and other developing countries (debt-trap diplomacy).

But today, this is the time to pray for China. This is the time to pray for the people of Wuhan City, Hubei Province. We may hate the Chinese Communist Party and the dictatorship but we must not hate the people. We pray the Chinese authorities will do whatever it takes to contain and eliminate the novel coronavirus.

We must set aside our geopolitics and nationalism for a while. We must pray for the Chinese people, the medical workers at the frontlines in Wuhan, and its leaders. We pray the scientists will soon develop a vaccine.

Pray for China! Pray for Wuhan City, Hubei Province!

Important links you must visit:

2019-nCoV Global Cases (by Johns Hopkins CSSE)
Protecting yourself from coronavirus: The two types of face masks that can help

Apollo Quiboloy worshippers, what now? FBI raids church in Los Angeles

Pastor Apollo Quiboloy can’t stop the FBI.

Pastor Apollo Quiboloy can’t stop the FBI.

More troubles, not blessings, for Apollo Quiboloy

Troubles and shame keep mounting for Pastor Apollo Quiboloy and, to some extent, people in his circle. According to the news article, dated Jan. 30, by The Philippine Star, “The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) raided the church of evangelist Apollo Quiboloy in Los Angeles that led to the arrests of three church administrators who allegedly trafficked followers as part of a six-year fundraising scam.”

Correction: Apollo Quiboloy is not an evangelist. He’s not even a prosperity preacher. He’s a fraudster, a scammer, a trickster, a con man.

For those who don’t know, Apollo Quiboloy proclaims himself as the Appointed Son of God. He is the founder of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name, Inc., a cult based in Davao City, the hometown of President Rodrigo Duterte. He is also the best friend and spiritual advisor of Duterte.

The raid led to the arrests of three people associated with the church: two of them were arrested on site, the other one was arrested in Virginia.

More from The Philippine Star:

According to the reports, immigrants who escaped from the church told federal agents that they had been sent across the United States to solicit donations year-round for the church’s charity and were physically and psychologically abused if they did not meet the quota.
The money raised for the Children’s Joy Foundation USA was supposed to benefit poor people but the workers, in the complaint, said most of the money was used to finance the operations of the church and the luxurious lifestyle of Quiboloy.

According to authorities, the unfortunate individuals who were tricked into the fundraising scam were forced to work all day, soliciting funds for “what they are saying are for impoverished children in the Philippines but in reality… the money is going to fund the lavish lifestyles of the leaders of this scheme.” As per the Philippine Daily Inquirer, some of them “described having to live in cars at truck stops.”

Still wondering how and where Pastor Apollo Quiboloy got all the money to fund his businesses and lavish lifestyle?

Still wondering how and where Pastor Apollo Quiboloy got the money to buy real estate properties and cars and give them to Duterte?

Still wondering how Pastor Apollo Quiboloy could afford to construct the KJC King Dome, a multipurpose indoor arena currently under construction in Davao City? Once constructed, the KJC King Dome will surpass the Philippine Arena as the largest indoor arena in the world.

By the way, the Philippine Arena is owned by another local restorationist church, which is managed by the grandson of the founder of the church. The church supported Duterte in the 2016 and 2018 general elections. The grandson was appointed by Duterte as a special envoy for overseas Filipino concerns, a post he held from January 2018 to January 2019.

Just a few years ago, rumors had it that the grandson, along with church officials, travelled on an Airbus 330-202 and a Boeing executive jet in his personal and personal trips abroad. The price of a huge Airbus ranges from P8.8 billion to P11 billion ($172,650,578.77 to $215,813,223.46, as of Jan. 30 on MSN currency converter), while an executive jet costs about P3.6 billion ($70,629,782.22, as of Jan. 30 on MSN currency converter).

By the way, this church was investigated in 2018 by The Fifth Estate, a newsmagazine television program that airs on Canada’s CBC Television network.

Netizens are now thinking and even hoping the FBI would raid the church managed by this grandson next because the church operates similarly to Quiboloy’s cult. Let’s see what happens next. I hope things do happen.

Pastor Apollo Quiboloy prays over President Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte and Quiboloy are Trumped by the U.S.A.

Just a few days ago, the United States cancelled the visa of Senator and former chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa. Duterte’s favorite policeman believed the revocation of his visa was connected to allegations of extrajudicial killings perpetrated when he was PNP chief. Last year, he was banned from entering the US.

President Duterte, not happy that the US cancelled his favorite policeman’s visa, threatens to terminate the bilateral visiting forces agreement between the two countries if the US doesn’t reconsider the cancellation. And as if that’s not enough, he prohibits his cabinet members from traveling to the US.

Why doesn’t Duterte ask his spiritual advisor Quiboloy to stop the US from cancelling Senator Bato’s visa? If Quiboloy can stop earthquakes and typhoons, surely he can also stop the US from cancelling Senator Bato’s visa and banning him, right?

But no, it doesn’t work that way. Because Apollo Quiboloy is no appointed son of God. He isn’t even the owner of the world or the universe.

Apollo Quiboloy claims he can stop earthquakes and typhoons. But he can’t stop the US from cancelling the visa of Duterte’s favorite policeman. He can’t stop the FBI from raiding his church in Los Angeles. He might be able to stop those human trafficking charges to be files against him and his cult.

The kingdom of Apollo Quiboloy is falling down.

The US should next investigate the other individuals in Duterte and Quiboloy’s circles of friends. These include former president and congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, superstar boxer and Senator Manny Pacquiao, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, and former foreign affairs secretary and current Taguig City representative Alan Peter Cayetano.

Suggested readings:

FBI raids Quiboloy’s church in LA, arrests 3 leaders in immigrant trafficking scam
FBI raids Quiboloy’s church in Los Angeles in human trafficking probe

16 Best Jpop Songs I’ve Heard in 2019

(Striving Writer’s note: While completing the blog post 49 best songs I’ve heard in 2019 [please don’t forget to read it], I counted enough Jpop songs – quite enough for me to create an article specific to Jpop. I retain each song’s ranking in the general list.)

16 best Jpop songs of 2019

Still good even without AKB48, SKE48, & Nogizaka46

As I have said in 49 best songs I’ve heard in 2019, it’s one of the years that Jpop didn’t dominate my music list. Still they have gained a plurality, and a different plurality it is. (I admit, however, that I have yet to listen to decades’ worth of Jpop music. I try my best to listen or watch everything on Spotify and YouTube.)

Since 2011 and 2014, I have been ranking AKB48 and Nogizaka46, respectively, in my lists. Alongside them are fripSide, SKE48, GReeeeN, and mihimaru GT. They’re my big 6.

And in this year’s best songs list, only GReeeeN ranked.

What??? No AKB48, SKE48, and Nogizaka46? (I’m shocked because they’re my big 3 idol groups.)

Well, it’s because 1) they released lame material this year (as with SKE48’s “Frustration”), 2) I haven’t discovered any “new” material from them, and 3)

I’m slowly turning away from idol music.

16 best Jpop songs of 2019

In my opinion, idol music is losing its cool and luster. Rumors over the 48G idol sphere have it that AKB48 is a sinking ship, though it hasn’t reached rock bottom yet. Not only the 2019 senbatsu was cancelled but also their variety TV show was taken off the air. Plus, the number of graduations in Nogizaka46 in just a span of three years (2016-2019) causes me to worry. The departure of certain idols drives me sad and deaf. I don’t know if I could still listen if the first generations idols – or idols I caught up with the first time I heard – are no longer around. (Please don’t graduate yet, Ikuta Erika, Akimoto Manatsu, Shiraishi Mai, Matsumoto Sayuri, Saito Asuka, Matsui Jurina, and Yokoyama Yui.)

But even without AKB48, SKE48, and Nogizaka46, the 2019 best songs’ list still looks impressive and the songs are great (but I still hope that my big 3 idol groups will release great material in 2020). Listen to the songs, watch the videos, and be blown away by the best Jpop songs I’ve heard in 2019.

49. yui (FLOWER FLOWER) and ミゾベリョウ (odol), “100 Years Train”. This song has a feel-good vibe and one of the best music video stories I have ever seen.

46. Last Idol, “Otona Survivor”. Although the lowest ranked Jpop track in the list, it’s one of my most favorite songs in 2019. The choreography is beyond amazing. Outasight! The title means “adult survivor” in English.

42. 4Minute, “Dreams Come True”. I stumbled upon this song on Archive.org. I prefer the Japanese version, but the original, in Korean, sounds great too. I happened to first listened to the former. This is one of the best I’ve ever heard from a Kpop act.

41. Emiko Suzuki, “FLY MY WAY”. Japanese artists leave their mark on the gospel music market, which is dominated by African-Americans, as well as Africans. I classify this track as gospel pop: combining the energy of pop with the divinity of black music, complimented by good English vocals… and pretty looks too.

39. SPYAIR, “B-THE ONE”. This is a powerful rock anthem of the Japanese basketball league. I often play this song on my way to work.

34. THE COINLOCKERS, “Tsuki Wa Doko Ni Itta”. There is no stopping Yasushi Akimoto, fondly called as Aki-P, from founding and funding girl groups. Not content with AKB48, Nogizaka46, Keyakizaka46, and Last Idol, he introduced THE COINLOCKERS, which is a female group like no other. It’s not a sing-and-dance female group because IT”S A FEMALE ROCK BAND. Dig? The rock band follows similar concept, except that members play instruments. The title of the song is “Where did the moon go?” in English.

25. GReeeeN x No title, “Yakusoku”. Feminine vocals finely, wonderfully playing along with the keys of the piano… it gives me the feels. Soon after, an edgy sound accompanied by rock instruments follows up. The title of the song means “promise” in English.

24. Yukipoyo & SLOTH, “Aitai Aenai”. This song reminds me of “i hate u,” a collaboration song by ISSA, SoulJa, and ROLA, which I discovered on YouTube in 2015 – one year before I got on Spotify. The pairing reminds me of the Japanese pop/rap duo Mihimaru GT, which was on indefinite hiatus since 2013. They’ve also released an English version of the song. Groovy!

23. Hinatazaka46, “Doremisolasido”. Nogizaka46’s newest sister group (and Keyakizaka46’s offshoot formerly known as Hirigana Keyakizaka46) delivers a goodie that will make 48/46 fans forget the frustration of an SK48 single (pardon the pun). What gives? The song is a delicious ear candy, the MV looks great… and the girls are stunning.

20. Last Idol, “Seishun Train”. Last Idol is one of the most underappreciated Jpop acts today, even unheard of among fans of Yasushi Akimoto’s girl groups. Too bad because they’ve got some heavy pop/dance tracks and pretty faces too… pretty enough for AKB48 and Nogizaka46. The title in English means “youth train.”

19. Niji no Conquistador, “Mayonaka no TELEPHONE”. I only knew about the group when I saw a post on a Jpop shitposting community on Facebook. It was a picture of a pretty gal clad in whitish blue bikini (the way I saw it) posing beside a stove. The post said the girl, a member of Niji no Conquistador, is preparing to enter the adult video (AV) industry, following the disbandment of the group. I listened to the group on Spotify. So far, this is the song I like.

18. Keyakizaka46, “Kuroi Hitsuji”. Nogizaka46’s first sister group gives the 48/46 universe their best and most relevant song and music video of the year. The title is translated as “black sheep” in English.

16. Wagakki Band, “Appare ga Seigi”. This is a Japanese band that plays rock with wagakki (traditional Japanese musical instruments). If Google Translate is to be trusted, the title of this song in English is “Appeal is justice.” I have yet to understand the context/meaning of this song. I was drawn to this track only because the tune sounds great and inviting to my ears, the MV has a great concept… and the vocalist is pretty too.

13. NEWS, “Ikiro”. I was looking for the complete MV of GReeeeN’s “U R not alone” on YouTube when I stumbled upon NEWS performing “Ikiro,” which means “live (on)” in English, and “U R not alone.” It so happens that both songs bear a similar message or theme of perseverance. Edgy song it is and very empowering!

12. Chihiro Yonekura, “Winter Wish”. This is my first discovery off Reddit, a social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion website – and one of the most popular websites in the world. This song is a soulful classic.

11. Sangatsu no Phantasia, “Kaze no Koe wo Kikinagara”. Need proof why Japanese pop (Jpop) music is forever beautiful and meaningful? Listen to this one and be blown away. The title in English means “While listening to the voice of the wind.”

What do you think of my list? Let me know what you think. Please leave a comment below. I welcome Jpop suggestions. Don’t forget to share this blog post.

49 best songs I’ve heard in 2019

48 best songs I’ve heard in 2019

Once again, only the best songs

It is this time of the year when I make lists: list of my best experiences in the year, list of the best movies I have seen, people who have impacted me, news events, sports events, new purchases… and the best songs too, plus music videos.Plenty of good music, indeed! And it’s one of the years that Jpop did not dominate but still got away with a plurality. There are quality songs from certain Japanese acts, though, but songs by American, Chinese, European, and Filipino artists impress me the most this year.

I am happy to catch up with old material from the glorious past and lend ears to old-timers churning out new tracks. It’s sad to know that the artists I was crazy about for the past seven years have failed to produce an earful of impactful music. I look forward to listening them again… if only they produce or release tracks that sound good to my ears.

And so, my dear friends, watch the videos and listen… to my list of best songs for 2019!

(Striving Writer’s note: Having came up with enough items, I decided to create a separate post for Jpop songs, titled 16 Best Jpop Songs I’ve Heard in 2019. I retain each song’s ranking, though.)

Best music of 2019

49. yui (FLOWER FLOWER) and ミゾベリョウ (odol), “100 Years Train

48. Nissim Black ft. Yisroel Laub, “A Million Years”. The Jewish people’s reverence to God – and the Torah (the first five books [Pentateuch or five books of Moses] of the 24 books of the Tanakh [Hebrew Bible] – deserve to be sung and rhymed.

47. Various Artists, “Let Love Be The Bridge”. Catholic celebrities in predominantly Buddhist Thailand offered their heavenly voices to the song dedicated to the papal visit. Pope Francis visited Thailand on November 20-23, 2019. One of the Thai Catholic celebrities who sang and appeared in the accompanying MV was Natticha Chantaravareelekha (popularly known as Fond of BNK48, AKB48’s 3rd overseas sister group). So pretty she is and I’m in love.

46. Last Idol, “Otona Survivor

45. Westlife, “My Blood”. The Guinness World Record-breaking Irish pop vocal group’s vocal prowess knows no bounds. And there is limitless potential to the songwriting prowess of Ed Sheeran and Steve Mac (who also co-wrote the group’s UK #1 tracks “Flying Without Wings,” “Swear It Again,” and “World of Our Own”).

44. Zephanie, “Pangarap Kong Pangarap Mo”. My ears tell me this inspirational pop-R&B-ish song is one of the fewest best tracks released by a winner of a reality singing TV competition in the Philippines. Zephanie is the first winner of Idol Philippines, the third Philippine version of the Idol franchise. (The Philippines is a sucker for singing competitions, as well as beauty pageants.) The title means “My Dream That Is Your Dream.”

43. Juan Paasa, “Summoning Eru”. Bisrock (Bisayan rock, a sub-genre of Philippine rock music belonging to the people of the Visayas islands) gets a revival in the form of an anime-inspired track that is inspired by the story of band members being chased by mongrels. The vocalist sang the track in Japanese accent, and the MV featured band members performing in Naruto outfit. By the way, “eru” is actually spelled as “iro,” which means “dog” in Bisaya, but spelled that way to allow the title to sound Japanese.

42. 4Minute, “Dreams Come True

41. Emiko Suzuki, “FLY MY WAY

40. Ex Battalion, “Pakinabang”. The future of OPM, particularly Pinoy hip hop, lies in the hands – and talents – of six lads who lost veteran actress and comedian Ai-Ai delas Alas as manager this year. In this track, the group raps about being taken advantage of, being exploited, being used for personal gain by unscrupulous people and afterwards getting dumped when they have outlived their usefulness. The MV was shot in the Jewish cemetery, a section of Manila North Cemetery. The title in English means “use” or “benefit.”

39. SPYAIR, “B-THE ONE

38. Three People, “Stuck”. I forgot the circumstances that led me to this song. Only two things I am sure of: one, this is the first song that impressed me this 2019, and two, the MV is the best Chinese MV I have ever seen. Want three? Almost all Filipinos have never heard of this song.

37. Hacken Lee, “Red Sun”. From one of the pillars of Chinese pop music comes an encouraging track for those who are currently experiencing difficulties in life. He sings, “Even if life is crazy / and the road is twisted and winding / if life terrifies you and you no longer feel like living / please don’t cry, or feel disheartened, don’t give up / I will be by your side forever.”

36. Younha, “Nonsense”. One of the best Kpop songs I have ever heard. A Filipina artist by the name of Sabrina recorded an OPM version of this song, titled “Saranghae.” Both original and OPM versions are good.

35. SARA and Liu Jia, “Love Is Beautiful”. I can’t resist getting cheesy with this, but diabetes patients may not be able to overcome the total sweetness of this song. This is one of the best Chinese pop songs I have ever heard.

34. THE COINLOCKERS, “Tsuki Wa Doko Ni Itta

33. Kelly Chen, “Love Paradise”. This soulful song is a testament of my great admiration for Chinese artists who can sing in English. Jpop and Kpop artists, do you copy?

32. Panic at the Disco, “High Hopes”. The graduating class of one secondary school in the Philippines sang – and danced – to the band’s most streamed song and most viewed MV on Spotify and YouTube, respectively. That’s how seniors should graduate – with class.

31. Mandy Moore, “Senses Working Overtime”. During the ghost months, I decided to listen to Mandy Moore’s material from her self-titled third album Mandy Moore (2001) and her cover album – her fourth overall – Coverage (2003). Her cover of the British rock band XTC’s hit from 1982 is ear candy.

30. Lucie Jones, “Never Give Up On You”. UK’s entry to the 2017 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest is one of its best ever.

29. Jessica Simpson, “I’ve Got My Eyes On You”. Also during the ghost months, I listened to Jessica Simpson’s debut album Sweet Kisses (1999). The sound is more mature teen pop, a level or two above the debuts of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Mandy Moore. I’d give 3.8 stars out of 5 for Simpson’s material, of which “I’ve Got My Eyes On You” is one of the two tracks I like. The other one is…

28. Jessica Simpson, “Final Heartbreak”. Probably the best track from Sweet Kisses. Teen pop really sounds that good 20 years ago.

27. Dreamers Union Choir, “Protect All Life”. Japan produced this song to mark the first papal visit to the predominantly nonreligious, culturally Buddhist-Shinto country since 1981. Pope Francis visited Japan on November 23-26, 2019. Unlike its Thai counterpart, the track was performed by the Dreamers Union Choir, a power chorus group that “sings gospel and non-gospel songs and does not aim for Christian activity.”

26. Gloc-9 and Keiko Necesario, “Dungaw”. In my opinion, this is the Filipino rapper’s best hit since 2012’s “Sirena” and best collaboration since 2011’s “Hari ng Tondo.” The title means “to look out (a window)” in English. “The song,” as per MYX Channel of ABS-CBN, “imagines the point of view of a dead person and the things that happen during funerals.” The song, according to the Philippine Star, “is an infectiously upbeat, foot-stomping and hand-clapping tune, which belies the dark themes tackled in the lyrics. These include poverty, violence against women, greed, corruption, among others, because what is a Gloc-9 song without a commentary on pressing social issues? It also touches on faith, especially with the goosebumps-inducing final rap verse that comes across as an open letter to God.”

25. GReeeeN x No title, “Yakusoku

24. Yukipoyo & SLOTH, “Aitai Aenai

23. Hinatazaka46, “Doremisolasido

22. Fahrenheit ft. S.H.E, “New Home”. From Taiwan’s pop legends comes an edgy pop-rap track. So cool!

21. Gareth Gates, “Too Serious Too Soon”. Thanks to Spotify, I discovered this gem of pop by the runner-up of UK’s singing competition Pop Idol in 2002. This track is from the singer’s debut album What My Heart Wants To Say, released in 2002.

20. Last Idol, “Seishun Train

19. Niji no Conquistador, “Mayonaka no TELEPHONE

18. Keyakizaka46, “Kuroi Hitsuji

17. Jésed, “Ven y sígueme”. A Contemporary Catholic music group from Mexico carries out their apostolate through their love for music. The title in English means “Come and follow me.”

16. Wagakki Band, “Appare ga Seigi

15. Shae, “Sayang”. A ditty from an Indonesian-Australian beauty, this is one of my best LSS tracks. By the way, the title means “sweetheart” in English.

14. Shiga Lin, “I’m Still Loving You”. A Hong Kong artist of Japanese descent delivers, in my opinion, the most tearjerker solo song since Britney Spears’ “Everytime” in 2004.

13. NEWS, “Ikiro

12. Chihiro Yonekura, “Winter Wish

11. Sangatsu no Phantasia, “Kaze no Koe wo Kikinagara

10. Gad Elbaz and Nissim Black, “Hashem Melech 2.0”. The Jewish people’s devotion to God transcend genre and race. Indeed, praise, honor, and glory to God are forever beautiful.

9. Within Temptation ft. Tarja, “Paradise (What About Us?)”. For the environmentalists, anti-nuclear activists and lovers of post-apocalyptic literature among rock fans, a powerful anthem from rockers from the Netherlands and Finland.

8. Plus One, “I Don’t Care”. Evangelical and Pentecostal Protestants have many reasons to dance as praise and worship offering to the Lord. This pop group, composed of Assemblies of God members, offers a divine pop-dance ditty from 2002.

7. The Click Five, “Catch Your Wave”. The first time I listened to this track, I was hooked. Thus, it became one of my LSS tracks for 2019. Definitely, a feel-good song to sing to a girl you like! This is one of my best discoveries from Spotify’s “Discover Weekly.”

6. Matt Maher, “Deliverer”. This song affirms Matt Maher’s enduring appeal to both Protestants and Catholics who listen to Contemporary Christian music (dominated by Evangelical Protestants) on a daily basis.

5. Taking Back Sunday, “Cute Without The ‘E’ (Cut From The Team)”. A former close friend/workmate posted on Facebook a funny video that featured this song. After a search on Google, I was hooked.

4. Lara Maigue, “Yakap Mo”. It was only on the last week (the “heavenly finale”) of the ABS-CBN drama series Nang Ngumiti ang Langit (“When Heaven Smiled”) that I found this song. It should be one of the best OPM songs I’ve ever heard. The original is sung by OPM legend Dianne Dela Fuente. The title means “your embrace” in English.

3. Corrinne May, “Five Loaves and Two Fishes”. A Chinese-Singaporean contributes a beautiful song to a small yet vibrant Contemporary Catholic music market.

2. Westlife, “Better Man”. This is the Guinness World Record-breaking Irish pop vocal group’s best single since 2010’s “Safe.” So distinctively Westlife!

1. Lordi, “Hard Rock Hallelujah”. Finland’s first winning entry to the 2006 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest. I applauded the Finns for making heavy metal (and rock music, in general) cool 13 years ago (as 2006 was the last best year for rock).

If I’m not mistaken, this is my most diverse music list. Will my 2020 list be as diverse as this? I can’t wait to listen to plenty of “new” songs next year.

What do you think of my list? Let me know what you think. Please leave a comment below. I welcome song suggestions. Don’t forget to share this blog post.

2019 SEA Games: Love of country ≠ love of government

SEA Games 2019 logo

The official logo of the 2019 SEA Games (Philstar.com/Ding Cervantes)

Not expecting too much at the SEA Games 2019

For the fourth time (1981, 1991, 2005, and 2019), the Philippines got the chance to host the Southeast Asian Games. The SEA Games is a biennial multi-sport event involving participants from the current 11 countries of Southeast Asia: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste (East Timor), and Vietnam. The 30th Southeast Asian Games, also known as Philippines 2019, gives Filipinos the prime opportunity to showcase their sporting prowess, as well as hosting capabilities.

Filipino athletes and delegates at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games

Filipino athletes and delegates at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games (Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler)

I’m not expecting too much from the Filipino athletes and sportspeople. The Philippines managed to dominate only one edition (out of 29) of the SEA Games: the 23rd Southeast Asian Games held in our very own turf, in 2005. They face tough competition from the Malaysians, Thais, Vietnamese, Indonesians, and Singaporeans.

But I’m expecting a surprise… a miracle, just like the young Philippine men’s football team stunning heavily favored Malaysia, 1-0; the women’s team dumping Malaysia 5-0; and the polo team trashing Indonesia and reigning champion Malaysia.

The sad, sorry state of Philippine sports

The Philippine sporting community faces perennial problems. I will let media outlets tell what these problems are – and express my exasperation and disappointment with regards to Philippine sports:

The ails of Philippine sports have been attributed to many factors—the great lack of funding, absence of a comprehensive sports-development program, gross mismanagement and corruption and, most of all, the nasty and divisive politics among the different government agencies that are mandated to take care of our athletes. (“Debilitating sports through politics,” Business Mirror, November 9, 2016)

For decades, if not forever, Philippine sports have been racked by corruption, kickbacks, favoritism, lawsuits and politics. (“It’s all about money, power and politics. (Play The Game, November 15, 2016)

At present, it is unfortunate that accountability issues continue to plague Philippine sports, preventing the implementation of a sports development strategy. Sports, becomes a palakasan of personal interests—its power to unify and empower through friendly competition is corrupted and lost. (“Palakasan: Getting Philippine Sports’ Gameplan Together” by Paolo Adrian B. Monteiro, The Manila Review, 2015)

World Fischer Random Chess Champion Wesley So

Wesley So claims the first World Fischer Random Chess Championship title. File photo by Anastasya Karlovich/FIDE press officer

The biggest blow to Philippine sports took place when last month, chess sensation Wesley So, playing for the United States, defeated Norwegian Magnus Carlsen to become the first World Fischer Random Chess champion. The Filipino-America grandmaster switched federation in 2014 because he was denied compensation for winning the gold medal at the 2013 World Universiade Games in Kazan, Russia in 2013.

“To be poor and unconnected in the Philippines is to be trash for rich people to step on,” So said. “Because of a quarrel between the kings of the sports bodies, not only did the country refuse to acknowledge my efforts, they refused to give me the PhP1 million promised to athletes who bring home a gold medal.”

(Dear readers, please forgive me if I mentioned here the corruption and politicking angles, among others, in the sad, sorry state of Philippine sports. I never lack in mentioning Philippine sports victories, whenever I got the opportunity to write them. Please check my previous articles for reference.)

Blunders and irregularities in Philippines 2019

The words “corruption” and “kickback” came into my mind when the issue of PhP50-million SEA Games cauldron came out in the news. Said Senator Franklin Drilon, “Do you realize that at one million (pesos) per classroom, we can construct 50 classrooms? In other words, we did away with 50 classrooms in exchange for one ‘kaldero’ (the Filipino word for a cooking pot).” (Note: Senator Drilon was once accused of corruption and other anomalies.)

Gretchen Malalad

SEA Games gold medalist Gretchen Malalad (Image from Twitter)

Journalist Gretchen Malalad, a three-time SEA Games gold medalist and Asian Games bronze, was one of the many (former and current) national athletes who questioned the amount as they recalled how challenging it was for them to secure financial support from the government. She said, “’Walang budget! Walang budget! Hindi na approve.’ Yan lagi naririnig ng mga atleta kapag nag-request ng funds for training and exposure abroad. Pero may budget ang gobyerno para sa 50M na kaldero.”

That’s just one shit and more shits come out. Man, shit gets shittier.

A number of athletes were removed from the official roster of Filipino players in the 2019 SEA Games. One of them is Arianne Mae Trinidad, the 2019 Go for Gold Skateboarding Championships’ downhill race gold medalist. She alleged she was removed from the list for supposedly refusing to apologize in “exposing the truth in social media.” Take note: she was removed without having received any official or formal letter.

“They don’t want us on their team because we resist, we speak the truth and we fight when something is wrong and not fair. THEY NEED PUPPETS, NOT ATHLETES!” wrote Trinidad on her Facebook.

Another player removed from the official roster is karateka James De Los Santos. He claimed he was struck out from the list due to alleged politicking in The Karate Pilipinas (KPI) and was replaced by the “son of the KPI Vice President” who has “junior level” achievements.
KPI, for its part, said that its coaches independently performed the selection process which included determining a player’s “technical performance, athletic performance and attitude or mindset.” (Interaksyon, Nov. 26, 2019)

With just days leading to the grand opening of the 2019 SEA Games last Saturday, many blunders were reported in the news (but Dutertards – fanatical supporters of President Rodrigo R. Duterte – claimed they were fake news).

From ABS-CBN News and Philippine Daily Inquirer:

  • The football teams of Myanmar and Timor-Leste complained about their long wait from the airport. The Myanmar coach said his players were crammed into a vehicle that took them from the airport to the hotel. The contingent from Timor-Leste was brought to a different hotel.
  • The Thailand football team, meanwhile, complained of accreditation and accommodation issues, and said they were unable to practice due to the venue being too far away from their hotel. They had to cancel its scheduled practice at UP Diliman football field due to traffic.
  • There were also reports that the rooms for the Cambodian team were not yet ready when they arrived at their hotel. They resorted to sleeping on the floor at one of Century Park’s conference halls since their rooms weren’t readily available when they arrived.

Food problems also came out in the news. Reports of the Philippine women’s football team were served with kikiam made the rounds on social media. Issues checking in at the hotel were also raised. The hotel in question denied serving the players kikiam, saying it doesn’t even have it on the menu. It’s chicken sausage, they said. (Sports Interactive Network Philippines)

“Unfinished stadiums, food shortages and nowhere to sleep have characterised the shambolic Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines…” read the description of UK daily Independent under their headliner “How the disastrous SEA Games 2019 is turning into sport’s very own Fyre Festival.”

President Duterte apologized for the problems foreign athletes experienced in the Philippines’ hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games. He called for an investigation after the games. (I hope heads will roll.)

Unfinished venues, inadequate food supply, transportation woes, and accommodation issues are part and parcel of organizing and hosting an international multi-sport event. The Philippines 2019 should serve as a lesson for future international sports events in the country.

Political fanaticism, not patriotism, at SEA Games 2019

I did not pay much attention to the issues because all of them occurred before the grand opening of the 2019 SEA Games, not on the opening and first day of the event. It would be worse it these issues persist throughout the games. I pray all these issues have been resolved.

In fact, as much as I’d like not to admit it, I wasn’t even appalled by the cost of the cauldron for the SEA Games. Have I become insensitive to the government’s extravagant spending? I hope not. Maybe I was just too busy with work… or the athletes’ gold medals matter to me the most.

What appalls me is the indifference of the Dutertards to the SEA Games mishaps during the buildup. It seems they care more about the country’s reputation than (knowing and telling) the truth. They fail and they refuse to recognize there were problems.

“An array of criticisms has been made on how PHISGOC (Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee chaired by Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, a Duterte ally) has handled the logistics of this momentous event, and these should be accepted and considered in order to rectify the errors it has committed,” said Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo in a statement. “The critics have a point. There is indeed something wrong with the preparations.”

Duterte was reported displeased by the SEA Games mishaps. He wants a probe after the games.

Dutertards, however, were not displeased. They were offended by the mainstream media reporting these mishaps to the public and the world. It made them – and their idol Duterte – look bad.

Most Dutertards, I believe, don’t care about the athletes, much less their countrymen who struggle to secure financial support from the government. And they aren’t even sports fans or longtime SEA Games observers to begin with. They’re just seasonal PBA and NBA fans; they’re around only during the finals.

I bet most Dutertards have never heard of the past editions of the Southeast Asian Games. They’ve only heard it now because it’s happening right now in the country and under the Duterte administration. And after that, they don’t care and won’t care. It’s back to regular programming or factory setting.

Most Dutertards are into the 2019 SEA Games only because they believe hosting the said multi-sport event will make the Duterte administration look good. However, there were problems, and Panelo even admitted there were problems.

Most Dutertards remain silent about the national athletes’ struggles and the sad, sorry state of Philippine sports. They are vocal about the Duterte administration’s reputation.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, chairman of the organizing committee of the 30th SEA Games

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, chairman of the organizing committee of the 30th SEA Games (Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler)

If Dutertards care about Philippine sports or the 30th Southeast Asian Games, they would have questioned the role of Cayetano and Senator Bong Go in the hosting of the multi-billion multi-sport event. Do they care how Cayetano would spend the PhP6 billion-budget, plus the PhP1.5 billion as transfer funds? They might not care because Cayetano is a staunch Duterte ally.

I reiterate: most Dutertards don’t care about the athletes and the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, in general. They only care about Duterte; they only care about the environment.

Most Dutertards jumping into the SEA Games 2019 are not sports fans. They are not even patriots. They are just political fanatics. They’re just supporters of politicians, not athletes. They cheer because it makes them feel good not as Filipinos but as Dutertards.

Please support our athletes, not the politicians behind the 2019 SEA Games.

Basic seminars on stock trading by COL Financial and First Metro Securities

COL Financial and First Metro Securities

Online stock brokers COL Financial and First Metro Securities

My basic knowledge on investing in the stock market

Prior to attending the basic seminars on stock trading offered by stock brokerage firms COL Financial and First Metro Securities (the stock brokerage arm of Metrobank), I had no idea how to get – and invest – in the stock market. I only had the following basic ideas:

  • Stocks are shares of ownership in a company.
  • If a business is listed in the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), it can be owned by the public.
  • Stock market is risky at first but when you study it over time, the risks become minimal.
  • If the stock market is down, the economy is in a bad shape. If it plunges further, the country is on its way to a serious economic/financial crisis. (Please correct me if I am wrong on this.)
  • (If the aforementioned notion is true, then…) That’s the best time to buy stocks. (I have heard a popular saying which goes like this, “The best time to buy is where there is blood on the streets.”)
  • Plus, the best time to invest in stocks is when the prices of stocks go down.
  • Investing in mutual funds is one way to invest in the stock market. A mutual fund is a pool of money professionally managed and invested in specific types of securities. The fund manager monitors the markets wherein the funds are invested and also looks for more opportunities to invest, always with the intention to maximize the returns of the fund (definition from First Metro Asset Management or FAMI, the mutual fund arm of Metrobank).

Insights from Bo Sanchez

I also read a book by a popular lay preacher and entrepreneur, Bo Sanchez, who advised his readers to invest, not trade, in the stock market. He said, “I don’t believe ordinary people show be trading. I repeat, 80 percent of people lose their money in the stock market. My belief is that most of those 80 percent are traders. And most of the 20 percent who do earn money in the stock market are investors. So leave the trading to full-time traders, people who do this eight hours a day.

So says the man who owns plenty of businesses and non-government organizations and invests in many different mutual funds. Of course, that is his opinion. It is from him I learned the difference between trading and investing in the stock market.

Bo Sanchez also said, “Trading is buying stocks and selling them within a few days. Investing is buying stocks and selling them in six months or never! (Warren Buffet, the man who made his billions in the stock market, rarely sells his stocks.)”

A free seminar and a paid seminar

I believed I was in the right place and time to receive new opportunities for learning.

One person I met at work is a COL member. She isn’t a regular investor, though, but whenever she could, she invests in stocks of companies, such as Jollibee, SM, and BDO. She told me about the free seminars COL Financial gives every week. So, I visited their Facebook page for schedules. I immediately signed up.

One Facebook friend posted a link to a Basic Education on Stock Trading (B.E.S.T) seminar offered by First Metro Securities. It wasn’t for free; the fee costs PhP 1000 but only PhP 700 for early birds. Since I had extra bucks, I registered. I went to the nearest bank to pay the fee.

Because the COL seminar was free, the venue was filled to capacity; some of the attendees even brought children. In my estimate, there were around 80 people, most of them middle-aged.

At the B.E.S.T of First Metro Securities, there were only around 30 people, mostly young professionals. Some of the attendees even came late. (Let me say this: When you pay good money to attend a seminar that could change your financial situation, you should never arrive late. You lose your money’s worth if you arrive late.)

I would like to mention that both venues are of the similar size.

What I have learned at COL and FirstMetroSec

I could say a lot. I would like to emphasize the following:

  • The higher the returns, the higher the risks and the longer the investment horizon.
  • You need to go through a broker to buy stocks.
  • A good stock can be a bad stock at the wrong time.
  • Limit your stocks to 3-5 companies.
  • One earns from the stock market through capital appreciation and dividends.
  • Invest in the long term to earn from stocks, mutual funds, and exchange-traded funds.
  • Save for safety. Invest for growth. Build your growth fund.
  • Don’t save forever. Saving is not enough. Saving is not equal to investing.
  • You cannot enjoy the journey of saving if you are paying loans.
  • Beat inflation by investing. Work smarter by buying investments.
  • Investing your money in a money market mutual fund is better and yields more than putting your money in time deposits of banks.
  • An index fund is composed of the country’s 30 largest and most active listed stocks. If you invest in an index fund, you invest in these top companies.
  • There are six top mutual fund houses in the country. Aside from FAMI, the other five are Sun Life Asset Management, PhilEquity Management, Philam Asset Management, ALFM Mutual Funds (by BPI), and ATR Asset Management (ATRAM).
  • One’s investment personality can change overtime. Plus, a person’s definition of success changes when they get older.

Investing through COL and FirstMetroSec

Both COL Financial (formerly Citiseconline) and First Metro Securities are online stock brokers. They have online platforms that offer investors access to both stocks and the six top mutual fund houses. COL investors invest in mutual funds through its Fund Source while FirstMetroSec invest through FundsMart.
Potential investors can open an account onsite, though First Metro Securities loves to do paperless transaction.

To open an account with COL or FirstMetroSec, you need to fill out a form and submit photocopies of important documents, such as government issued IDs, proof of billing, and bank account details (the most important). (Please contact COL Financial or First Metro Securities or visit the nearest office in your city to know more about these documents and how to submit them.)

With COL, investors pay PhP 1000 or PhP 2500, depending on the account they sign up. With FirstMetroSec, it’s PhP 2500. The best part is that you use the fee to initially fund your online account so you can start buying stocks or investing in the mutual funds of your choice.

Of Duterte, Quiboloy, and KAPA

Apolonario and Quiboloy: Prosperity Preachers

Prosperity Preachers Apolonario and Quiboloy give religions a bad name.

Disclaimer: I wrote this blog post not to defend KAPA Community Ministry International, Inc. a religious organization that is involved in a Ponzi scheme.

Philippine political and religious realities

In Philippine politics, the leaders, especially those belonging to political dynasties and large prominent rich families, wear rose-colored glasses, occupy heavenly thrones, and believe they are the law. Worse, they think they are equal to God… or above God. (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte called God “stupid” while lambasting Catholic clergymen last year.)

Quiboloy and Duterte

Pastor Quiboloy and President Duterte

In Philippine religion, the church hierarchy endears itself to the rich and famous. Religious leaders surround themselves with rich and powerful friends in both the government and entertainment industry.

A number of Filipino celebrities are politicians themselves or have loved ones in positions of power. Many of them are practicing religious adherents and the most vocal ones, as evident in their social media accounts, are evangelicals or born-again Christians. However, many of them are blind to the blatant human rights violations committed by the government.

Religious leaders mix piety and prosperity in their theology; some others mix power and prosperity. Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy, a founder of a Davao City-based restorationist church (which is more is a cult and less than a church) the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name (which is more of a personality cult and less than a Christ-centered church) proclaims himself as the Appointed Son of God and the owner of the world. (Some sources say ‘owner of the universe.’)

And speaking of Duterte and Quiboloy… and power and prosperity…

Apolinario and Quiboloy make money off religion

Pastor Apolinario and Pastor Quiboloy

Much ado about KAPA

Last June 8, President Duterte appeared on Give Us This Day, a religious TV program of Pastor Quiboloy on his media network Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI). There, the president ordered the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to arrest the people behind KAPA, investigate, and throw the book at them.

KAPA is short for Kabus Padatuon (in English, make the poor rich). KAPA is founded by a Pastor Joel Apolinario in Bislig, Surigao del Sur and is registered in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a religious organization. It promises its 4-5 million members, mostly in Mindanao and Visayas, that after they make a one-time “donation” (minimum of PhP 10,000) to the organization, they will be receiving 30% of the amount per month – and for life as a “love gift” or blessings.

Wow! Could you imagine? Your donated money will grow 30% per month and for life. But for President Duterte, it’s too good to be true – and if it’s too good to be true, then it’s a scam. He saw the activities of KAPA as clearly a form of syndicated estafa and pyramiding. For this reason, he ordered the CIDG, NBI and PNP to raid and seize KAPA which, according to media reports, has about PhP 100 billion worth of assets, including a luxury car, SUVs, and a helicopter.

Earlier this year, the SEC issued a cease and desist order against KAPA for soliciting investments, dubbed by KAPA as “donations,” from the public without the necessary (secondary) license.

KAPA members, from Luzon to Mindanao, particularly the ones who have received their blessings, lost no time in coming together in droves at prayer rallies all over the country. They appealed to God to touch the heart and change the mind of President Duterte. Elsewhere on social media, KAPA members mocked Pastor Quiboloy, blaming him for their problem.

President Duterte and Pastor Quiboloy

President Duterte and Pastor Quiboloy

President Duterte, a lapdog of Pastor Quiboloy

Rumors are rife that Pastor Quiboloy was behind KAPA’s predicament. It is said that he envies the success of KAPA, which managed to snatch members from his church (which, in reality, is not a church but a cult). He used his deep friendship with President Duterte to put a full stop to KAPA’s activities.

The president, who owed his political success to the self-proclaimed messiah, acquiesced… not knowing that many KAPA members voted for him in the 2016 elections and for his senatorial candidates in the recent midterm elections.

President Duterte has no qualms about threatening Catholic clergymen, attacking the Catholic or Christian religion, insulting God and the Bible, making rape jokes, appointing questionable (and incompetent) people to government positions, etc. However, he keeps quiet about the alleged corruption and spiritual repression in another Philippine-based restorationist nontrinitarian church that drew the ire of netizens for supporting senatorial candidates whose names are synonymous with graft and corruption, plunder, incompetence, and human rights violations.

Early in his term, President Duterte appointed the leader of that church to a government position. In 2015, this religious leader expelled his mother from the church, which is founded by his grandfather more than a century ago. It is said that members who spoke up against the corruption in the church were expelled too; some others were persecuted and, worse, murdered. One former minister, who was once ‘abducted’ along with his young family on orders of the people closest to that religious leader, managed to gain asylum in Canada.

If President Duterte can keep mum about the corruption and spiritual repression in that church, he can also keep mum about Pastor Quiboloy’s shenanigans and false teachings.

Just last year, a female member of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name (which is not a church but a cult), was arrested for cash smuggling in Hawaii. She, a US citizen and business manager of the church’s (but in reality, a cult) branch in Hawaii, was caught trying to smuggle more than US$350,000 and AUS$9,000 in black socks during a flight en route to the Philippines. She was also charged with accessory for helping Pastor Quiboloy avoid arrest and prosecution. She was on board the self-proclaimed messiah’s private plane.

Pastors Apolinario and Quiboloy mock Christianity

Pastors Apolinario and Quiboloy

Pastor Quiboloy was reported to be briefly detained at the Honolulu airport over the attempted bulk cash smuggling incident. He later returned to the Philippines via a commercial flight.

This female follower and Pastor Quiboloy were also investigated by the FBI for alleged human trafficking. The former was previously arrested in 2015 “for allegedly assaulting a fellow church member, who claimed she was forced to raise money.” The alleged victim said she was made to sell “manapua and Krispy Kreme” donuts for church fundraisers “rain or shine.” She said church members were punished if they didn’t sell enough.

As expected, President Duterte was mum. Of course, he admitted he received properties and cars from his spiritual advisor, the self-proclaimed messiah. Rumors were also rife that his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio coveted the cars given to her father by Pastor Quiboloy but denied the rumors.
Read more:

FBI investigates Quiboloy church in Hawaii for trafficking | Rappler

Woman on private jet with Pastor Quiboloy to Philippines smuggled cash — US agents | Philippine Star

Quiboloy follower charged with cash smuggling; lawyer speaks up | ABS-CBN News

Quiboloy gave me cars, properties – Duterte | The Manila Times 

Sara denies coveting SUV gifted to President Duterte | GMA News Online

President Duterte has the galls to question and mock Catholic or Christian beliefs, call God ‘stupid,’ insult the Apostles and the saints, and poke his nose on the Catholic Church sexual abuse cases. However, he has no balls to pry into and question Pastor Quiboloy’s false teachings and preposterous claims.

Pastor Quiboloy claims to be the appointed son of God, the owner of the world (some sources say ‘owner of the universe’), the owner of the gold reserves of the United States and Germany, etc. Of course, his followers, brainwashed as they are for all times, believe him and put him above Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. Of course, Duterte, who is blind and dumb and forever in debt of the self-proclaimed messiah, dares not to question his spiritual advisor.

Read more to know why Pastor Quiboloy’s Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name is not a church but a cult:

Apollo C. Quiboloy Exposed | Truth On Fire 

The New Owner of the World | Reddit

Confronting the Filipino Son of God | Cultish

False Teacher – Apollo Quiboloy | The Path of Truth

Signs of a Cult and Pastor Apollo Quiboloy | Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry (CARM) 

Apollo C. Quiboloy Exposed | Jesus is Savior 

The best president in the universe and the owner of the world (or the universe)… they are both from Davao City… they are both out of their mind.

President Duterte curses God and the Apostles, the clergy and the saints. Pastor Quiboloy exploits God and his religious followers for his political and financial ends.

Jesus Christ is a political martyr. Pastor Quiboloy is a political whore.

KAPA members and Pastor Quiboloy

KAPA members and Pastor Quiboloy

Poor KAPA

Pastor Joel Apolinario of KAPA Community Ministry International is an unfortunate guy. It took him less than five years to build up his massive fortune (and acquire a helicopter too). But because he has no friends in high places, no politicians and celebrities to stand up for him, he becomes stressed out and miserable. He is a few meters to poverty and prison.

What has become of his followers? Helpless and desperate!

KAPA could have been a more ecumenical church but like Pastor Quiboloy’s cult, it is no church. It did not plant churches but offices to receive “donations” from members. There were no worship services, only pay-outs. In the process, Pastor Apolinario and his followers worship Mammon.

KAPA, “The Church within The Church?” Nay, the slogan should be “Making Money out of The Church.”

KAPA Community Ministry International and Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name exist to make their founders rich.

Pastors Apolinario and Quiboloy make religion a profitable business

Pastors Apolinario and Quiboloy

The timing can’t be right

President Duterte ordered the crackdown on KAPA just 27 days after the midterm elections. Had he ordered the crackdown a few days before the elections, his senatorial candidates could have lost. Think about it.

President Duterte, Pastor Quiboloy, and Pastor Joel Apolinario… They are Bisaya people. They are from Mindanao. They are rich. They scam the people in different ways.

Some 48G and Sakamichi Series idols who had graduated (and I will miss)

Rino Sashihara, Sayaka Yamamoto, Rina Ikoma, Nanase Nishino

L to R: Sashihara Rino (HKT48/AKB48), Yamamoto Sayaka (NMB48/AKB48), Ikoma Rina (Nogizaka46/AKB48), and Nishino Nanase (Nogizaka46)

Idols come and go but the love remains

I will never forget 2018… ‘twas the year a number of idols from both the 48G and Sakamichi Series groups graduated: Sashihara Rino, Yamamoto Sayaka, Ikoma Rina, and Nishino Nanase, among others. The major idol set to graduate this year is Nagahama Neru of Keyakizaka46. (Because she’s about to graduate, I included her in this list.)

Of course, Idols come and go. They can’t stay forever in the business. They have a post-idol career to think of. They have to fall in love, get married, and raise a family. They have to say goodbye. It’s life.

Idols come and go… but the love remains. Creating this blog post is one way of expressing my love for them. I love you, girls!

Sashihara Rino

Rino Sashihara AKB48 Senbatsu

HKT ace Sashihara Rino wins her 3rd title as senbatsu queen in 2016 (image from Jpop Asia)

Never one of my favorite idols, even if she’s one of the sexiest and most beautiful in the 48 universe, four-time senbatsu queen, and idol producer… even if she had performed wearing a bikini at one of HKT48’s concerts. But there is no denying she’s one of the best.

Notable songs: Koi Suru Fortune Cookie, Kokoro no Placard, #SukiNanda, Tobe Nai Agehachou, Kimi no Koto ga Suki Dakara, Majijo Teppen Blues

Yamamoto Sayaka

Sayaka Yamamoto NMB48

Former NMB48 ace Yamamoto Sayaka graduated in 2018 (Image from Tokyo Girls Update)

I was first conscious of her way back in 2013 when I watched the MV to “Nante Bohemian” for the first time. Then in 2014, I saw the MV to “Ibiza Girl.” I realized she’s got the… well, never mind. She’s one of the most talented in the 48 universe.

Notable songs: Ibiza Girl, Must be now, Ima Naraba, Nante Bohemian

Ikoma Rina

Ikoma Rina Nogizaka46 AKB48 Kokoro no Placard

Ikoma Rina in attire for AKB48’s 2014 senbatsu single “Kokoro no Placard” (Image from Fanpop)

She isn’t sexy. She’s just an average beauty. But she’s got charm, which is one reason I find her likable. She’s got that, you know, boyish feminine appeal (when she still sported a short hairdo.) And I like her. She reminds me of Atsuko Maeda.

Notable songs: First five singles of Nogizaka46, Natsu no Free & Easy, Yubi Bouenkyou, Shakiism, Tsuki no Okisa, Korogatta Kane wo Narase!, Sekai de Ichiban Kodoku na Lover, Kokoro no Placard

Nishino Nanase

Nishino Nanase Nogizaka46

Nishino Nanase, formerly of Nogizaka46. She is the center of four singles. (Image from Koreaboo)

To date, one of the three major Nogizaka46 members to graduate, in my opinion. (The other two were Hashimoto Nanami and Ikoma Rina.) I was surprised when she centered “Inochi wa Utsukushii” in 2015, the first single released that year. (I expected Ikoma Rina or Ikuta Erika to center it.) I miss her… because I like her.

Notable songs: Natsu no Free & Easy, Nandome no Aozora ka?, Inochi wa Utsukushii, Ima, Hanashitai Dareka ga Iru, Sayonara no Imi, Influencer, Itsuka Dekirukara Kyou Dekiru, Shakiism, Tsuki no Okisa, Sekai de Ichiban Kodoku na Lover, Hitori yogari

Wakatsuki Yumi

Wakatsuki Yumi Nogizaka46

Wakatsuki Yumi (Image from first PB)

In my opinion, the second most beautiful Nogi idol (after Eto Misa). I miss her ‘coupling’ with Sakurai Reika.

Notable songs: Nandome no Aozora ka?, Sayonara no Imi, Yubi Bouenkyou, Tsuki no Okisa

Eto Misa

Eto Misa Nogizaka46

Eto Misa (Image from second PB)

Probably the most beautiful idol in the 46 universe. I began to pay her attention only when she announced her graduation last year. I also found out that… well, it is enough to say that she’s the most beautiful Nogizaka46 member.

Notable songs: Watashi no Tame ni, Dareka no Tame ni (I can’t believe she’s one of the singers.), Tsuki no Okisa, Sono Sa no Deguchi, Nandome no Aozora ka?

Ito Marika

Ito Marika Nogizaka46

Ito Marika, formerly of Nogizaka46 (Image from J-pop Idols)

I initially dislike her due to her roles in two comedy skits. My dislike for her disappeared when I watched her individual PV for the 17th single. I terribly miss her now.

Notable songs: Sekai de Ichiban Kodoku na Lover, Umareta Mama de

Imaizumi Yui

Imaizumi Yui Keyakizaka46

Imaizumi Yui, formerly of Keyakizaka46 (Image from Pinterest)

My oshimen in Keyakizaka46. I was worried about her when she went on a hiatus due to bad health condition in 2017. And I felt sad when she announced her graduation. She’s too young to graduate from the group, in my opinion. How I wish she stayed for 3-4 more years.

Notable songs: Shibuyagawa, Silent Majority, Glass wo Ware!

Nagahama Neru

Nagahama Neru Keyakizaka46

Nagahama Neru (Image from her first PB)

No doubt the prettiest member in Keyakizaka46. After Imaizumi Yui, she’s the second major member to announced graduation. I had bet her to become the next ace of the group after HIrate Yurina. She’s also too young to graduate. If only she would stay for a few more years… Anyway, I download her photobook, and that’s all I care.

Notable songs: Mata Atte Kudasai, Glass wo Ware!

Sagara Iori

Sagara Iori Nogizaka46

Sagara Iori (Image from Pinterest)

My most favorite UNDER member. I first saw her in the MV for the Nishino Nanase-centered “Inochi wa Utsukushii.” Though she got limited face time, it was easy for me to see her due to her long hair and height. She’s got the physique and beauty of a model. I felt sad she didn’t stay long.

Notable songs: Inochi wa Utsukushii, Blanco, 2dome no Kiss Kara (The MV made me appreciate more of her.)

Kawamura Mahiro

Kawamura Mahiro Nogizaka46

Kawamura Mahiro (Image from Tumblr)

One of the most recognizable UNDER members. Stage48.net says that she’s “considered by other members to be the best singer and dancer in Nogizaka46.” She is now a member of a Kpop group ZGIRLS.

Notable songs: Senpuuki, Watashi no Tame ni, Dareka no Tame ni (No wonder why she’s one of the best singers in Nogizaka46.), Blanco, Nandome no Aozora ka? (MV only)

Saito Chiharu

Saito Chiharu Nogizaka46

Saito Chiharu (Image from J-pop Idols)

One of the most recognizable UNDER members. I miss her too.

Notable songs: Senpuuki, Blanco

Takahashi Juri

Juri Takahashi AKB48

Juri Takahashi (Image from Pinterest)

I knew she was thrice a member of the senbatsu but I began to pay her attention only when she announced she’s graduating to pursue a career in the Korean idol business.

Notable songs: Pick Me, Sentimental Train

I dread the day when Matsui Jurina, Yuka Ogino, Nakai Rika, Shiraishi Mai, Ikuta Erika, Saito Asuka, and others I know announce their graduation. But that’s life. I hope I still have plenty of love to show for these ladies on their graduation.

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