PNR North Long Haul should also be considered

The Philippine National Railways ai its peak. Source:

With recent government projects expanding the railway system currently in the pipeline, such as the North-South Commuter Railway, MRT 7, the Metro Manila Subway, the PNR South Long Haul, the Mindanao Railway, and the potential restoration of the Panay Railways and Cebu Railways as mentioned in the first state of the nation address of President Bongbong Marcos, I think that the government should also put into consideration the restoration and expansion of the PNR North Main Line.

The PNR North Main Line was the original route of the PNR. Having been constructed during the Spanish era, it ran from Tutuban to Dagupan and completed in 1892. During the American period, it was expanded further north to Bacnotan in La Union.

The Phases 1 and 2 of the NSCR are currently underway, running from Tutuban to Clark International Airport, with plans to further expand the line to New Clark City.

I suggest that from there, a long-haul line should run up to La Union, or even possibly further to Laoag. This will cut travel time to Northern Luzon, boost tourism, ease the delivery of goods and services, and decongest NLEX, SCTEX, and TPLEX which are seeing increasing volumes of vehicles due to the influx of tourists to the north.

During the American period, there were abortive attempts to extend the line to Baguio, the summer capital, but due to right of way issues and rising construction costs, they were halted. Then again, with the influx of tourists that road infrastructure cannot sustain, a railway line to Baguio makes more sense, but there should be environmental factors to be considered.

During the 1950s, there were also plans to expand the PNR to the Cagayan Valley, from Tarlac City and San Jose, Nueva Ecija all the way to Tuguegarao, but the project became a casualty of partisan politics. Read more here:

I also think that the project should be revisited as there is also a lot of travel demand to the Cagayan Valley.

There are also plans to construct a freight line to Subic from Clark, but I think a passenger service will also fit as well.

In addition, I have a personal suggestion in mind. Having experienced the long and winding travel to Baler, a popular tourist destination, there should be a railway line going there from Cabanatuan, which will also be connected to the old Balagtas-Cabanatuan line.

I hope these proposals will be realized as I believe that millions of people who travel back and forth from Manila to Pangasinan, Tarlac, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, and Bulacan, tourists going to Baguio and Baler, and residents who have families in Ilocos and Cagayan Valley will benefit, will be a great boost to our economic development, and will lessen our reliance on road-based infrastructure in favor of a people-friendly and eco-friendly public transportation.


Suggested two additional rail lines in Metro Manila

On this post, I am going to share with you two proposed additional railway lines in Metro Manila. I came up with this idea given my experiences in traversing the said routes.

MRT 11: On this proposed line, it will traverse the C-3 road, and then to Sta. Mesa, and to Osmeña Highway all the way to Alabang. However it would involve the dismantlement of the existing Skyway.


-North Bay
-5th Avenue
-Del Monte
-Quezon Ave.
-E. Rodriguez
-Sta. Mesa
-Vito Cruz
-Gil Puyat

MRT 12: This is an additional railway line traversing the Port Area and Roxas Boulevard from Navotas to Parañaque. It will have to be built underground so as not to destroy the aesthetic of the Luneta and Baywalk areas.


-North Bay
-H. Lopez
-Pier 16
-Anda Circle
-Padre Faura
-Pedro Gil

Given the worsening congestion in Metro Manila and the need to move away from car-centric infrastructure, the policymakers should take into consideration the construction of additional railway lines, in addition to the ongoing projects like the North-South Commuter Railway, MRT-7, and the Metro Manila Subway, not to mention the rehabilitation of LRT-1, LRT-2, and MRT-3.

Why The Open Forum exists

In late March 2022, me and a group of like-minded friends decided to form a new group dedicated to the discussion of political issues facing the Philippines, as well as tackle international events with a Filipino perspective.

We have also decided not to structure ourselves into a formal movement given the burden of formalizing things, especially since we are also busy with our real-world lives.

Even if we belong to diverse backgrounds and espouse diverse ideologies, we have arrived at a common goal of ensuring the following:

  • A model of evolving federalism that reflects the country’s ethnic diversity and the need to devolve powers and competencies to the regions;
  • A more proportional electoral system that enables democratic participation;
  • An open and vibrant economy that allows equal participation of small businesses, local industrialists, and foreign direct investors;
  • A parliamentary system to clip the powers of the President and to enable open debate and foster coalition-building;
  • A holistic education system;
  • and a responsive, just, and fair judicial system.

We also aim to be a home for those rendered politically homeless by the prevailing political polarization. We want to promote open discussion and consensus-building with people in order to find common ground with people who may otherwise disagree with us on other issues but are willing to agree on a shared ideal.

If you want to be a part of this vision, you can join us here:

Fact check na nga lang, sablay pa!

Noong 108th anniversary ng Iglesia ni Cristo, kaalinsabay ng 50th anniversary mula nang magkaroon ng presensya ang Iglesia sa Canada, inilawan ang Niagara Falls bilang paggunita sa okasyong ito. Ito ay nakuhanan ng mga kapatid sa Iglesia na nasa Canada.

Pero ang mga bonak sa Rappler ay nagawa pang i-“fact-check” at inangkin na hindi daw totoo ang pangyayaring ito kahit na napakaraming documented photo and video evidence mula sa mga kapatid na nasa Canada.

Ang sabi nila ay tinawagan nila ang Niagara Falls Illumination Board na nagbigay ng tugon na nagsabi na hindi daw nila pinailawan ang Niagara Falls noong July 26. Pero kung susuriin mong mabuti, at sa pamamagitan ng Google Search, mapapag-alaman na yung pinagtanungan ng Rappler ay nasa NEW YORK! EH NASA SIDE NG CANADA ANG PINAILAWAN NG TRICOLOR NG IGLESIA NI CRISTO!

Fact checking na nga lang, sablay pa. Napaghahalataan tuloy na may vendetta lamang ang Rappler laban sa INC at gagawin ang lahat para sirain ito kahit na wala namang ginawang masama sa kanila ang kahit sinong kaanib sa INC.

Dito rin lumalabas ang malaking problema ng ilang media outlets dito sa Pilipinas, na sa kagustuhan nilang makita ang mga sarili nila na sila lang ang dapat maging authority sa pagbabalita at dahil lamang sa protektado ng Saligang Batas ang freedom of speech at freedom of the press ay pakiramdam nila ay malaya na silang makapagsulat ng kahit na ano, dibale nang makasakit ng damdamin. Ayaw nilang kilalanin na sila’y tao lang na nagkakamali din, at hihingi lamang ng sorry kapag napahiya na at upang umiwas sa asunto.

Anyways, hindi na dapat pinag-aaksayahan ang mga katulad nito dahil sa ginawa ng Rappler ay lalo lamang lumabas na hindi sila tunay na news outlet at sila’y nag-eengage sa pagiging partisan dahil titirahin nila ang lahat ng tao at organisasyon na hindi kumukumporme sa mga naratibong nais nilang iparating, at idadamay ang mga relihiyon na kahit na wala namang ginagawang masama sa kanila ay sisiraan pa rin nila dahil lang sa hindi sila sumasang-ayon sa naratibong nais nilang ipakalat.

Hayaan na lang natin na bumulosok pa ang Rappler, at sa mga kapatid, enjoyin na lang natin ang pagdiriwang sa ika-108 taon ng Iglesia.

Random thought

I started this blog when I was in college but because I got very busy and I lost my appetite for blogging because of the current polarized discourse, not to mention I feel like no one’s gonna care for my opinions anymore. Not to mention, I tried creating an entirely new blog kasi may nakapagsabi sa akin na kapangalan ko daw yung blog ni Banat By eh 2016 pa lang noong college pa ako ay ginagamit ko na ang pangalang ito at nagkataon lang na yung blog niya yung mas sikat.

But I’m going to risk it. I will resume my site from time to time. Depende sa topic, though.

I hope you all enjoy!

We’re back

After two years of hiatus, because of busy schedules and also a lack of suitable topics to tackle because of the increasingly toxic political narratives from all sides of the isle, I have decided to reactivate my blog.

Besides that I want to make use of my time while we are all on quarantine, I would like to dedicate this blog for the 100% support of the constitutional reform movement as it will bring tangible long-term benefits to the Filipino people. Because of the present structure of governance, we are ignorant on world affairs and the world is ignorant on our affairs.

I will, from time to time, also discuss about random musings, crowd-sourced topics, as well as developments in the Philippine media industry, as well as local and international politics from the view of how the Filipino should see the world.

Inaasahan po namin ang inyong patuloy na suporta. Daghang salamat kaayo kag halong permi!

After COVID-19, we need a better system

Our government’s response in handling the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the inefficiencies of our current system. Why?

  • Under the unitary system, the national government sets rules and guidelines while the local government units cannot independently act on their own and are being micromanaged from the top levels of leadership despite the fact that these local governments have more knowledge on the ground.
  • Under the presidential system, the president either lacks power or is being given too much power over handling this crisis, as he has to rely on the legislative branch in order to be granted powers. And because of this, there is a lack in accountability, and even if a government official is being incompetent, he cannot be immediately replaced as the said official serves under the pleasure of the president.
  • Under the 40/60 economic restrictions, we have to rely on loans, higher taxes, development aid, or austerity measures in order to fund emergency measures as we lack additional taxation revenue deriving from foreign direct investments.

Now that is getting clearer and clearer that we are being messed up by our current system of government, what should we do? Replacing our incumbents will not be enough because even a good politician can be eaten up by the rotten system. We have to have a new system in place so that it is assured that meaningful change in this country will last beyond a politician’s term.

What are these key reforms needed?

  • Adoption of federalism – The Philippines is a multi-ethnic society so concentrating political and economic power in one area is not a good idea. Political and economic power should be devolved for faster delivery of services, more efficient local governance, and for the country’s diversity to be respected.
  • Adoption of a parliamentary system – Countries using the parliamentary system are proven to have stronger accountability because of constant parliamentary debates where government policies are scrutinized in real time, and have stronger independent institutions that check graft and corruption. The Philippines deserve to join the ranks of these countries too.
  • Removal of 40/60 restrictions – The Philippines has to be opened up to foreign direct investments from all countries as these investors will provide additional jobs and taxes that will contribute to our economic growth, and provides the skills necessary for us to develop our own industries.

Adoption of these three key reforms is not an easy task. It requires extensive amendments to our Constitution, the fundamental law of the land, for these to be implemented. Some people may be averse to the idea, but in a functioning democracy, changes to the Constitution will be necessary for the maturity of our political processes and to make sure that our fundamental laws are in tune with the changing times.

May this pandemic be a time of reflection for us that we should think of long-term solutions on how to make our country a better place.

#BanatReview: One News


Caution to the reader: You may notice deviations from the topic indicated in the title and unnecessary side notes. This is done to present a narrative.

This blog site of mine has become stagnant in its activity as I have become busy with the real world (that is completing my requirements for my subjects, I’m now in 4th year and I was completing my internship over at EBC which I pretty enjoyed) and the lack of subjects to discuss.

With this very boring Sunday, I suddenly thought of making this review of Cignal Digital TV’s One News.

Let me share this, two weeks ago representatives from Cignal came over at our house and my mom told me they are there to install our connection. It took me by surprise as it was against my wishes as I was already content with our RCA Digital TV box with a Baron BRL Antenna as I’m able to enjoy our local channels in high definition (PTV 4, Net 25, and INC TV; more on this on my previous post if you have time to check it out), but somehow excited because I missed watching programs on pay TV since we had disconnected from our SKYcable connection in 2017 and decided to settle with digital free TV. At siyempre, ‘di na ako makakapalag kasi nanay ko na nag-desisyon at di naman ako ang magbabayad para doon, ‘di ba?

Oh, where was I? So, eto na. Naikabit na nila yung Cignal namin. As I was exploring the channel offerings (all channels are unlocked for a long time before they activate your plan, as in our case, Plan 490), I came across One News.

One News was launched last May 28 to replace Bloomberg TV Philippines (which has been relegated into a program block on the channel). This was launched to combine the resources of Bloomberg TV Philippines, News5, The Philippine Star, and BusinessWorld, all of which are owned by Mediaquest. I was familiar with it but only saw snippets of the channel through Jove Francisco’s IG stories, Facebook videos, and this SID, which makes the channel all the more promising.

And it indeed was. What I saw was a potential strong competitor to ANC which has been the leader for two decades. Although I disliked the datacast interface which I felt unpleasant as it obstructs the slick production value of the programs, its offerings are compelling.

Say anything you want against Shawn Yao but I must say Rush Hour is a pretty decent morning news program. I can also say that Agenda and The Chiefs are reminiscent of those pundit-hosted news shows seen on CNN and Fox News, and The Big Story makes a strong news program.

Although the channel’s programming is still dominated by taped programs and replays of its live programs, I believe over time the amount of live programming will increase due to demand, and I believe it will make a strong competitor to ANC, as long as MVP takes it seriously in pours in much resources. It must learn from the lessons of News5 which failed to seize on the momentum when given all the opportunities.

That said, I must say watching One News somehow made me appreciate our Cignal connection. Peace out, and have a safe week ahead.

High definition broadcast on digital free TV

We are five years shy of meeting the analog shutdown deadline, which means by that time a majority of the Philippine TV market would have migrated to digital terrestrial TV. While we’re at it (that is the transition stage), we will see how our television networks are faring in terms of delivering content.

As most of us know (at least the very basic knowledge, the more technical aspects we’ll leave to the professionals), our system ISDB-T adopted from Japan has the capacity to either deliver 8 standard definition multiplexes or 2 (in the case of state-owned PTV, three) high definition multiplexes.

Our television networks has already switched to HD-ready equipment? But in terms of broadcasting in the resolution? To put it mildly, we’re getting there.

Those broadcasting in full high definition at present are minor networks and religious broadcasters: CNN Philippines, PTV (PTV HD1 airs the main Channel 4, PTV HD2 airs reels from RTVM and the PCOO, PTV HD3 broadcasts Salaam TV and Lumad TV dedicated to the Moro and Lumad communities), Pastor Quiboloy’s SMNI News Channel, UNTV-BMPI’s Social TV and the MCGI-affiliated Truth Channel, Adventist-owned Hope Channel Philippines and GNN (which leases space on Hope Channel’s multipex), JIL’s Light TV (albeit upscaled), and the secular and religious-oriented channels of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC TV and NET25).

As for the major networks, ABS-CBN at present exclusively offers the HD versions of their main terrestrial channels (Channel 2 and S+A) and monetizes DTT through exclusive channels (that should change). TV5 meanwhile has HD channels through Colours, Hyper, PBA Rush, and One News, and that should mean they have the funds to fully switch to HD (most of their programs are now in the said format). As for GMA, much of their programs are now produced in full HD but insists on stretching them to 4:3 to benefit those still in CRT and disappoints some of the viewing public. But times are changing, and they haven’t much utilized their bandwidth yet, which gives them space to air in HD.

You might mistake this as an angalysta rant just like the others, but merely voicing out frustrations. But we may never know, as we’re still in the process of transition and there are more surprises in store for us.

ABS-CBN updates its digital lineup, adds new channels

Come July 30, ABS-CBN will unveil new digital channels.

Movie Central, Asianovela Channel, Jeepney TV, Myx, and O Shopping will be available via UHF 16 in Metro Manila, Rizal, Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan, and parts of Pampanga and UHF 36 in Metro Cebu.

This is seen as a response to Solar’s recent moves to make a profit off of DTT via their exclusive, subscription-only service through their Easy TV box and to respond to viewer requests to expand their offerings.

It was initally speculated ABS would use UHF 35 in partnership with El Shaddai’s DBS, but eventually decided to go their own way.

Unless our regulators take a firm stand on conditional access, expect DTT to be a new battleground in the ever-escalating feud between Solar and ABS-CBN at the expense of us, the viewing public.