Carlos Celdran on PNR

Carlos Celdran, a man who is trying to change the way  you look at Manila, one step at a time, featured Mike Defensor's latest project the PNR in his famous blog.

"I thought this day would never come. After decades of living with squatters and a decaying rail system as a permanent scar slicing across my city, I believe things have finally taken a turn for the better. While driving down the northbound side of the South Super Hiway near Magallanes, I was gobsmacked to see the brand new orange and silver rail cars of the newly renovated Philippine National Railways system to my right. And all I can say is "Wow". So cool. Can't wait to take a ride on it from Tutuban Station to FTI in Taguig. Living in a warehouse in Sucat can now feel like a loft in Brooklyn. Then again, maybe not.

See you all onboard."

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Micronutrient is not a micro issue for Mike Defensor


The World Development Report (World Bank, 1998) shows that deficiencies in vitamin A, iron and iodine could waste as much as 5% of the GDP. Such a deficiency contribute to infections and mortality particularly among children and women; low mental performance and less productive workforce.


At that time, the prevalence of children with low to deficient Vitamin A levels is 38%, making a primary public health problem.


This was what our best friend Mike Defensor had in mind when he authored RA 8976 or the Food Fortification Act of 2000. At that time, Mike was the youngest member of the House of Representative.


Some people stayed in Congress for three terms and had never passed a law which they authored principally.


Food fortification is the addition of micronutrients that are deficient in the diet to a food or seasoning that is widely consumed by specific at-risk population groups.


RA 8976 provides for a Food Fortification Program which has two components:

voluntary fortification of processed foods, and

mandatory fortification of: milled rice with iron; refined sugar with vitamin A; cooking oil with vitamin A and wheat flour with iron and vitamin A.

As early as 2005, Seventy-one (71) processed foods are fortified and bear the Sangkap Pinoy Seal. The seal is an assurance of compliance to food fortification standard and good manufacturing practices. Processed food products fortified with vitamin A, iron and iodine include fruit juices, fish and meat products, instant noodles, cheese products, supplementary food for infants, snack foods and biscuits.


As of September 2008, some 258 products have been approved and included by the Department of Health - Bureau of Food and Drugs (DOH-BFAD) in the list of fortified foods under the Philippine Food Fortification Program. The list has 119 staples from 35 companies under the Diamond Sangkap Pinoy seal which have been fortified with a single fortificant or a combination of fortificants (vitamin A, iron, iodine). The staples include rice, flour, cooking oil, salt, and sugar. Another 139 processed foods with Sangkap Pinoy seal manufactured by 51 companies were also fortified. The major food categories include noodles, snack foods, infant foods, biscuits, breads and cereals, sandwich spread, cheese products, milk, chocolate and fruit drinks, meat and fish products, condiments and mixes.



Much has to be done, for sure. But the nutritional needs of our children was given a jumpstart because of a law authored by Mike Defensor.


For more references:




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Quirino Memorial Medical Center

August 15, 2009 was a significant date for the doctors, nurses, personnel and patients the Quirino Memorial Medical Center, now a modern-looking hospital with first-class facilities located in Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City. It was their founding anniversary. Except for some greetings, it was business as usual though. After all, the hospital is always teeming with poor people who can’t afford hospital services in other institutions.

Formerly known as the Labor Hospital, QMMC was built and organized for the service of the indigents on August 15, 1953 during the tenure of the late Pres. ElpidioQuirino. Later, it was named as Quirino Memorial General Hospital on Aug 15, 1964 pursuant to PD 3975 then to Quirino Memorial Medical Center pursuant to EO 119.

It was the only government hospital of its kind in Quezon City when it was first established. Its beginning forty years ago can be traced from its name which bears identification with the working force as the major beneficiary of its medical services. Its primary purpose of reaching out to the sick and infirm was achieved in line with the late President ElpidioQuirino’s social amelioration program.

Today, the hospital has expanded to a 350-bed capacity medical center with an-increasing out-patient cases averaging to 400 daily. True to its objectives, the Quirino Memorial Medical Center, being a government-supported institution, is committed to serve all patients regardless of creed, color or socio-economic status.

But for those who have seen the Labor Hospital twenty years ago, they cannot help but notice how it has changed from a dilapidated, small government hospital that stinks even from the entrance, to the efficient, modern and clean health institution that it is today.

It all started with RA 8313, An Act upgrading the Quirino Memorial Medical Center. It’s principal author? Our friend Mike Defensor. It was his way of fulfilling his promise to the poor communities who trusted in him.

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Mike as a defender of democracy

August 21, 2009

The Editorial of the Philippine Daily Inquirer today succinctly marked the ripeness of time which the country is experiencing at this point: the resurgence of the spirit of democracy.

The assassination of former Sen. Benigno S. Aquino Jr. 26 years ago today led us, by sometimes bizarre twists and unprecedented turns, and in a mere thousand days, to the presidency of his widow, Corazon Aquino. Now, in an amazing historical coincidence, Cory’s slow death and extraordinary funeral earlier this month have led the country back to rediscover Ninoy the hero.”

Sen. Noynoy Aquino, fast becoming a more colorful character since the death of his mother, stated the call to action: have faith in democracy.

"My parents have genuine faith in democracy. They believe the key to democracy is stability of consensus in place of oppression. Now it is our turn to secure the democracy they [my parents] fought for. Alone I am weak but together we are strong. The ball is now in our hands. Ituloy natin ang laban [Let us continue the fight]!" he told the people as he flashed the familiar "L" sign for "laban" (fight), which his mother, the late president Corazon Aquino had used in her own campaign against the dictator Ferdinand Marcos more than 20 years ago.

We at Tenks Mike Blog had a friendly discussion about how history will judge our friend as a defender of democracy. On one hand, he was at the forefront of the fight against Martial Law and oppressive regimes during his youth. Yet, his association with and dedication to the present administration undoubtedly raised doubts about his ideology and commitment to democracy – doubts which are mostly knee-jerk reactions if we are allowed to say so.

One of us recalled how Alleba Politics applauded Mike when he conceded defeat in the Senatorial Elections 2007.

It said, “Yesterday (May 30, 2007), the administrator’s top defender former Chief of Staff Mike Defensor conceded defeat in the yet unconcluded midterm Senatorial race. According to Defensor, he did so in order “to ease tension” and to discourage his supporters (and in essence Team Unity [TU]) from committing “acts inimical to the essence of democracy and fair play in an electoral battle.”

I have not seen Defensor in a positive light since he started to be Arroyo’s staunchest defender. But today, I applaud him. He gave me a renewed faith on Filipino politicians. I know what he did is hard. He has, after all, been in public service for a long time.

I can only hope that the wisdom that made him concede can also be influence those who wish to commit what Defensor wants to avoid. Furthermore, I hope that the same wisdom makes Defensor realize that he is not on the losing side. Rather, he lost because he is on the wrong side. This momentary (I think) rest from public service should make him realize that in the end, a true public servant serves the public and their interests, and nobody else’s.

For now, I applaud him.”

While we may not agree with all of the statements above, we share his conclusion that indeed Mike Defensor has the heart of a true public servant.

After four hours of interesting discussion, we decided that we can never tell how history will judge our friend. However, we would like to open a discussion about the matter online to provide a forum for those who have any opinion - strong or weak, for or against - about the matter.

Let us know what you think.



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A Glimpse of the Country’s Future: 1998

Last June 11, 1998, the lifestyle section of the Philippine Daily Inquirer posted an article written by Geraldine Rullan that looked into the Philippine political crystal ball. It was called, “A Glimpse of the Country’s Future” with a tagline, “Five young leading men who will probably figure in elections 2010.”

The five men featured were the cream of the crop of their generation: Argee Guevarra, David Celdran, Kiko Pangilinan, Mike Defensor and Dennis Mendiola.

We are revisiting this article to take a look at how our friend Mike was viewed in that particular conjucture, and how he fares compared to the rest of that generation.

Here is the first part of the article.

"The generation of Martial Law babies hinge their hope not on the tradpols or on political mercenaries or on old names and tired faces who reflect little of the dreams of the young.
After all, in less than a decade, the movers and shakers of the present will soon be tombstone entries or will be buried in the dustbin of the nation’ s history.

“Who will stand in the gap?” is the query. The youth look among themselves, hope of the fatherland they are called. Could they take the reins of government and usher in new hope – a better life for their children?

The year 2010 bids them to run the race of the country’s leadership. Kiko Pangilinan, Mike Defensor, Argee Guevarra, Dennis Mendiola and David Celdran – certainly not a mix of the questionable kind. Mega lawyer, beloved congressman, anti-establishment poet-columnist, Subic’s golden boy and brainy newsman – are driven by the passions of their youth to change the world and to serve.

Their names are divined from the oracle softly resonating in campus corridors and in the halls of many boardrooms, like whispers presenting themselves as prophesies. All of them have courted controversy and often, admiration – well-deserved or not. All of them belong to a different breed of leaders who by their personal and hard work earned for themselves respect and curiosity from a jaded X-generation.

All of them have done this, have done that. They have achieved reputation that probably exceeds their substance. But in the homestretch when the next generation searches for new leaders to lead it well beyond the Centennial, could they measure up the expectations of their peers and their country’s?

What about Mike Defensor?

That is something we will explore in the next entry.

And the rest of your post here

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I Like Mike

by: Ma. Christina Angela Guevarra

Note: This entry was originally posted in, as part of the Dekada 90 entries. We are reposting this in our blog because the writer was able to capture the highlights of Mike's history as a student activist, and at the same time, she was able to articulate the questions that most people have in their minds.

We hope this will open a forum not only about Mike, but about all former student activists who consider public service as a career track. 


by: Ma. Christina Angela Guevarra

Kuwento lang - noong aktibistang estudyante pa sa UP ang kasalukuyang kinatawan ng ikatlong distrito ng Quezon City, pumapasok lang siya sa klase kapag may eksam o recitation. At dahil maboka at matinik magpaliwanag sa mga titser, madalas na pinalalampas ang kanyang mga "kalokohan."


Balikbayan mula sa US si Michael T. Defensor nung mag-enrol siya sa kolehiyo noong 1985. Sa katunayan, para itong pagbabalik-loob sa dating alma mater. Sa UP Integrated School (UPIS) kasi nagtapos ng elementarya si Mike. Ngunit hindi na ito ang Peyups na nakagisnan niya. Napadpad siya sa isang Pinas na nasa gitna ng mainit na kampanya laban sa diktaduryang Marcos. "Maraming protest rallies," aniya. "May mga questions na ako noon, dahil noong 1985 na nasa States pa ako, maraming news na lumalabas na hindi nakikita rito pero nakikita roon."


Dala ng bugso ng panahon, sumali siya sa isang political org, ang UP Center for Nationalist Studies (CNS), noong 1986. Mula noon ay naging aktibo na siya sa mga kilos protesta para sa demokrasya. Naging USC councilor si Mike noong 1987 at nahalal na vice-chairperson nang sumunod na taon. At dahil talaga namang napakasigasig, hinirang siyang national chairperson ng National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) noong 1989.


Bilang isang masugid na aktibistang may "hectic"na iskedyul at bagong paniniwala na rin, lumipat si Mike sa BA History kahit na isang semestre na lang ang kailangan niyang bunuin upang magtapos ng BS Economics. Problema ang naging dulot nito dahil hindi niya sinabi sa kanyang tatay. "Kaya may pressure sa akin for several years," aniya.


Pagkagradweyt noong 1992, sumabak na siya sa mas malaking larangan ng pulitikahan. Nahalal siya bilang isa sa mga pinakabatang konsehal ng Quezon City. At dahil "child-wonder" itong si Mike, naging isa rin sa pinakabatang deputadong pumasok sa kongreso. Sa kasalukuyan, nakatutok si Mike sa mga programang pang-kabataan bilang vice chairman ng Youth and Sports Development Committee. Kasama ang mga kapwa niya "Spice Boys," hayag din siyang tumututol sa Constitutional Correction and Development (Concord) ng kasalukuyang administrasyong Estrada.


At mukhang namang may pinatutunguhan ang kanyang career. Bilang deputado, tumanggap si Defensor ng mga parangal mula sa iba't ibang kinatawan. Hinirang siyang isa sa Twenty Most Outstanding Congressmen noong 1997 ng Congress Watch. Isa rin siya sa dalawang Pilipinong napabilang sa "Top 20 Asia's Most Powerful and Influential Young Leaders to Watch for in the Next Millennium" ng Asiaweek na inilathala nito lamang Nobyembre.


Ngunit nang tanungin si Mike ukol sa aktibismo, partikular sa kilusang estudyante, mukhang nag-iba na `ata ang simoy ng hangin - taliwas na sa mga paniniwala niya noong mga huling taon ng diktadurya. "Kung hindi kaliwang-kaliwa, kanang-kanan naman. Wala man lamang gitna. Maraming de-kahon na pagtingin at pananaw," hinaing ni Mike. Sandamukal na raw ang mga klase ng ideyolohiya at isyung pinakikialaman ng kilusang estudyante ngayon. Kaya marami na raw ang "nate-turn off."


Kuwento lang - pulitiko na ngayon si Mike. Kung dati rati'y nagtatalumpati lang siya mula sa likod ng inarkilang dyip o trak, ngayo'y asenso na - sa Batasan na rumaraket. At kung gaano kaanghang ang mga salitang binibitiwan ni Mike noon laban sa krisis ng edukasyon, ganoon na rin katamis ang ngiti niya ngayon sa bulwagan ng dating itinuring niyang na kalaban.

Iba na raw kasi ang panahon ngayon.

 O baka naman siya lang?

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Tenks to Some Facebook Friends

Thanks to Megapixels Studio for the photos

When we started this blog, we thought of providing a venue for friends and colleagues of Mike to reach out to him or engage him in a friendly exchange of messages. Because of the nature of his work, he seems to be inaccessible especially to old barkadas and classmates in school.

We are happy that lately, this blog and our site in facebook begin to fulfill our mission. Here are some samples:

Katrina Cabreraso, what are you saying?...that he had no choice? i also know mike and i like what i know...the best of luck on whatever plans he may have in the future.

July 17 at 12:42am · Delete


Gio Colmenares Sir mike, belated happy bday... Btw, congratulations for the PNR Project..good job...see you soon


Eve Defensor I may say this is really a good survey to get the consensus of the people of what Tita Cory really mean to them. Two-thumbs up to you Mike! More power to you !

Fri at 7:47am · Comment · Like · See Wall-to-Wall

E-maey Almedamay you have many many more bdays to come! God bless you and your family.

August 3 at 12:23pm · Delete

Rafael Enriquez AblongBelated Happy Birthday Mike!! May you have more birthdays to come!!

August 3 at 1:44pm · Delete

Rommel O. Guerreromay god bless you allways.....

August 3 at 4:24pm · Delete

Ruth G. JaboneroBoss, i miss you. belated happy birthday your so GWAPO at 40'

Fri at 12:20pm · Delete

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The Legacy of Cory Aquino

Adulations for late former president Cory Aquino abound following her demise to colon cancer on August 1. Much has been said regarding her contributions as the unassuming but iconic figure who rallied the Filipinos to brazenly rise against an oppressive dictatorship and restore democracy to the nation in 1986. And while some political circles have of late been dismissing Mrs. Aquino as politically irrelevant, her legacy as both opposition leader and president will prove inarguable by any measure.

Indeed, groups running the entire breadth of the Philippine political landscape have expressed their solidarity with the Filipino nation in mourning the passing of Mrs. Aquino. No other time in my recollection have we as a nation spoke with a single voice of lament: a rare display of unity for a people used to discordant opinions on politics and its leaders.

From cause-oriented groups to learning institutions, all have expressed their regret for the death of a great leader. Even the NDFP issued a message lauding Mrs. Aquino for being openly critical of US-support for the Marcos dictatorship as well as for fulfilling her commitment to release all political prisoners and engaging in peace negotiations upon assuming the presidency.

Leftist group KMU also honored the late former president: “We in the Kilusang Mayo Uno join the people in mourning the passing of former President Corazon Aquino. Mrs. Aquino became the leading figure in the people’s uprising against the fascist US-Marcos regime.”

The AFP, from which nine botched coup attempts were mounted against her presidency, had this to say: “The Armed Forces of the Philippines are also indebted to Her Excellency for it was under her administration that the military institution started a long process of self-review and assessment…Her presidency was a shining moment in our country and in our armed forces’ history when the military regained its moral footing, recaptured its place in the constitutional order, and re-committed itself to preserving our democratic system.”

The ARMM expressed gratitude: “The former president will be remembered by the Moro people as the progenitor of Muslim autonomy, whose consultative approach in addressing the quest for self-governance led to the creation in 1989 of what is now the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.”

The family of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos also condoled with the Aquino family. “My family joins our nation in mourning the death of former president Corazon Aquino. We would also like to convey our deepest and sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mrs. Aquino. May they find strength in this time of loss,” read a statement by Ilocos Norte Rep. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Ultimately, Mrs. Aquino deserves all that has been said in her honor these past few days. More than ever, her legacy speaks to us with urgency. Because in the end it is up to us Filipinos to cherish and protect the freedoms and democratic institutions that we enjoy now and that she won for us.

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    Kay tamis ng ating samahan sa lungkot at kaligayahan. Tunay na kaibigan, kasamang maaasahan. Salamat at tayo'y may pinagsamahan. Salamat, tunay kong kaibigan

    (Salamat, by The Dawn)

    Mike has always been dear to us since we were kids. He’s a good friend who came running when we needed him. Mike was the go-to guy even before he became Cong. Mike, and then Sec. Defensor. Many of us knew he was destined for public service. Mike was the consummate politician, a trait he developed since grade school. We thought he would go on to become president, if he didn’t disappoint the fickle Filipino public.

    But it seems he has. So much so that he is vilified by the media at every opportunity. His actions are always placed within the perspective of his relationship with an unpopular president. Justifiable, though harsh.

    So we set up this blog. Some of us have worked with him and have seen him make what we thought were good decisions. But some of us were also there when we thought he made wrong ones. But that is how a man is made -- by the choices he makes.

    As his friends, the best we can do is stand by him and try to help everyone else see things from a different light.

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