Political Tidbits is the prestigious column of Belinda Olivares-Cunanan that ran for 25 continuous years in the op-ed page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the newspaper that she helped put up with its multi-awarded founder, the legendary Eugenia Duran-Apostol, in December 1985, just two months before the EDSA Revolution.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

With X’mas mere seven weeks away, traffic congestion at our ports---caused by bureaucratic incompetence---would likely jack up prices of goods and foodstuffs for X’mas-fixated, import-crazed populace. But bigger problem could be soaring inflation as prices of goods shoot up, and economic impact of looming energy crisis. Brillantes calls for bids for new election paraphernalia worth P16.4 billion, including 40,000 new PCOS machines for 2016, despite two petitions before SC to annul 2013 senatorial elections.

The Christmas season is already upon us, but it’s going to be far less cheerful than other past seasons---for the simple reason that our ports are choked with vessels, many of them laden with goods and foodstuffs normally made available during the Christmas season, but they’re unable to unload. There’s frightful traffic congestion not just in EDSA but in the ports of Manila and Subic, owing to a number of reasons, the biggest being government incompetence.

As is usual in this administration, it’s the left hand not knowing what the right’s doing---and not the least is the failure to apply and coordinate proper responses to emergency situations. What’s tough is that this incompetence is going to ruin things for the Christmas-loving Filipinos because those cargo vessels in the congested ports, that ferry foodstuffs to our ‘imported’-addicted people, are being charged enormously excessive fees which, turn, are going to be passed on to consumers.

We Filipinos are a hardy people used to hardships and of course those who have some means could minimize X’mas spending;  but ultimately the bigger issues we have to face as a result of the ports congestion would be the inflationary effect on prices of the more critical commodities in this country that has become so import-dependent, and on the energy crisis in a few months.


At a recent gathering, business leader Fernando Peña, whose company is into shipping, narrated how congestion at the Port of Manila is a “disease of epidemic proportions that could lead to a pandemic with staggering inflation and prices of prime commodities soaring through the roof, and finally a full blown energy crisis staring us in the face next summer.” In fact, Fern Peña put it in his usual colorful manner: it’s a “Coup d’etat by Port Congestion.”

What happened was a series of disastrous moves by local and national government. It began with the daylight truck ban imposed by the city of Manila that made moving out those goods from the port possible only at night. This affected factories, customs brokers and truckers in a slow build-up. There was speculation that Mayor Joseph Estrada was choking up the ports in retaliation for the arrest and detention of his son Sen. Jinggoy Estrada. On the other hand, Erap may truly have been just reacting to the horrendous traffic on C-5 and Manila streets aggravated by endless containers on the road. He later lifted the ban, but by then moves by government regulating agencies had aggravated the congestion problem.


The Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) issued orders vs. colorum or “no-franchise trucks”, meaning they would not be for hire to carry cargo of a third-party.  The LTFRB also ordered all units 15 years old and above to be removed and not allowed to register as franchise trucks, thus heightening the already acute shortage of trucks. Then the DPWH chooses this time to do all the road construction, plus all the floods in metro streets.

To compound the nightmare, the Bureau of Customs implemented new documenting requirements for accreditation of importers, causing many containers to be trapped at customs. Then the BIR issued new guidelines, including personal appearance at the head office of importers to sign docus and submit bio-data about good standing as taxpayers.


The result of these simultaneous moves was that trucking costs shot up as manpower and diesel adjusted to the delays. Then the port and shipping lines followed---charging more fees for delays. Prices of trucking containers to and from port jacked up to over 30-40%---as Pena pointed out, where a trip to Subic before would cost P18,000 to P27,000 per trip, today it’s from P35,000 to P50,000.  Meantime, the Philippine Ports Authority charged premium for overstaying containers---as much as P10,000 a day for those overstaying for more than  10 days, while international shipping lines charged over $600 extra per container.

As Peña stressed, Batangas Port is already over 2005 of what it used to contain. But the other side of it is that international vessels are avoiding PH now because of all the complications, and to a country so dependent on importation, as affecting food security, this is frightful.

His recommendation: a moratorium on all measures implemented in the last many months. The ports crisis needs crisis response, but President Aquino was quoted many weeks back as opining that the congestion in the ports and over-loaded container traffic were signs of a booming economy. He needs a jolt of reality, but his Cabinet also has to pitch in for his deficiency but it’s not.


Manila Times’ respected columnist, Ricardo Saludo, correctly opined that of all the gargantuan problems this country faces (including the one discussed above---BOC), the most serious is the prospect of another massive electoral fraud in 2016, courtesy of the PCOS machines. Ric is correct, for as UP political science professor Bobby Tuazon  opines, ”He who controls the machine controls the votes.” And from all indications, the Comelec under Chair Sixto Brillantes is dead-set before he leaves office next February to have the PCOS machine contract accomplished (rumors say he’ll be succeeded by DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima!). He has called for bidding of P16.4 BILLION worth of election equipment, of which some 40,000 new PCOS machines for 2016 are part.   

In other countries, elections so fraudulent as our 2010 and 2013 elections would have already caused a revolution which would automatically throw out the counterpart of our Comelec chair. But here our Comelec officials act with brazenness and impunity and do get away with it---largely because many executive and legislative officials may have played to the poll body’s tune and avoided the risk of incurring its ire. No Comelec chief has ever been impeached.


Luckily we have militant citizens who will take up the cudgels for our nation. Last Oct. 9, 2014, lawyer and former Biliran representative Glenn Chong, former Philippine Computer Society president and election watchdog AES Watch spokesperson Nelson Celis, former Comelec employee and the whistle-blower of the folder scam Mel Magdamo, VACC Chair Martin Dino and Pastor Windell Unlayco filed a petition before the High Court seeking to join---and further substantiate---an earlier petition filed by Ricardo Penson, Christian Seneres, Rizalito David and Baldomero Falcone, to declare the 2013 elections “null and void” due to “strong evidence of electronic dagdag-bawas.”
These patriotic citizens accused Comelec before the SC of ‘ “grave discretion’ in proclaiming the May 2013 elections senatorial winners, despite clear and overwhelming evidence that (those) elections were carried out illegally, resulting in massive electoral fraud and deliberate subversion of the will of the electorate.”


I discussed this militant group’s complaint with Glenn Chong who stressed that they have all the evidence to refute the Comelec’s denial of fraud, which includes actual tampered ballots. Chong stressed that these evidence were obtained despite obstacles presented by Comelec to prevent fraud hunters from gathering “tales” on election fraud. Among the best-argued evidence were those from Chong’s Biliran, where election results were mysteriously received by the municipal board of canvassers in at least three municipalities AFTER the precincts’ PCOS had been switched off. On the other hand, 4,114 votes were already recorded in the PCOS Machines in 145 clustered precincts BEFORE election day.

In Lapu-Lapu City mysterious lines in images effectively altered the machine’s appreciation of the ballots, and were it not for the order of RTC Branch 34 of Nueva Ecija to open ballot boxes in three precinct clusters in Gapan, it wouldn’t have been known that Jesus is Lord candidate Eddie Villanueva lost by 119 votes. That may be only 119 votes, but as columnist Rene Azurin of BusinessWorld stressed, that represents a huge 15% alteration in actual poll results there; and were more clusters opened, the cheated sum would doubtless jack up too. And who would forget the 60 PCOS machines found in Antipolo in 2010, hot and still smoking three days after elections closed!


The other day I showed up at our barangay hall where Comelec was holding a re-registration of voters who needed to do so. I thought to myself whether I wanted to do so, realizing full well how many citizens’ votes were skewered in the 2010 and 2013 elections, and now that Comelec Chief Brillantes is again holding a bidding for new PCOS machines for 2016. I showed up nonetheless because I’d like to see what’s in store for us electorate; but this shouldn’t stop us from registering our outrage at this new bidding for PCOS, and demand several things. Of the 82,000 PCOS units used supposedly in the 2013 national and local elections, a good number are already in dilapidated state; thus, Brillantes’ logic to purchase new ones. But if Comelec were truly above board, it should begin with an open inventory of the PCOS bodega, for there are disturbing reports that many machines used in 2013 are still in the hands of local officials who can still use the same software in 2016.   

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Classical pianist Jovianney Emmanuel Cruz jabs at conscience-less politicians amid troubling images of Filipinos surviving Friday's great floods. Rep. Toby Tiangco,demanding full disclosure of DAP from Abad, went to answer Nature's call and came back to budget session quickly suspended. Next time, he thundered into House records, "If I take a leak on the floor, you can't castigate me for disorderly conduct."

Classical Filipino pianist Jovianney Emmanuel Cruz, the Manhattan School of Music-trained founder of the Orchestra for the Filipino Youth (OFY) and memorable to scores of fans for his incomparable renditions of Chopin, had a mouthful to say about the great deluge that sank Metro Manila last Friday. Jovianney’s statement echoes the sentiment of all Filipinos:

“It's perplexing to realize that no administration has solved the flooding issue in the Philippines. Aren't the current images of Filipinos going through floods enough to wake up anyone's conscience or do we need another Typhoon Yolanda? 

"Maybe if the top 100 politicians with the highest statements of assets and liabilities took 10% of their pork barrels or better yet, their salaries and placed them in a 'flood solution pot', there could be less Filipinos suffering. Only then could they call themselves nationalistic because nationalism partially means sacrificing yourself for the nation, Referring especially to those who have much to let go: "Whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required." 

"But then again, I'm just a musician. What do i know?”

My reply to Jo-Em Cruz: plenty, for as an artist with highly sensitized feelings you see and feel the misery of our people. It’s also interesting that reaction to all the misery around us in this hapless country is coming from all quarters---be it a multi-award-winning classical pianist, the tricycle driver braving the floods to make a living, the mother providing safe-hand to her beleaguered family, a soldier heroically trying to save others with just a rope over treacherous waters, or a teacher continuing classes with half-submerged students. 

Sadly it is catastrophes such as last Friday’s that are the regular binders of the nation and our people, when we could use more communal blessings instead.


Thus, the protest demonstration by UP students against Budget Secretary  Florencio Abad outside the UP School of Economics last Wednesday evening, Sept. 17, can be considered one such binder in our national misery.  After the student-organized forum where this most controversial Cabinet official spoke, the protest deteriorated into violence as he was leaving the premises---with some blocking his way and shouting invectives and slogans, and some pelting him with coins and paper balls, and one or two of them even grabbing Abad by the collar. 

23 members of the UP Economics faculty deplored in “the strongest terms” the “hooliganism” of the protesters and called on University authorities to impose corresponding punishments on the demonstrators. One wonders, however, why the UP Eco faculty did not join the demonstrators nor other protest gatherings, nor even issue statements denouncing the abuse of public funds by this administration. 

More than anyone of the disciplines, it's the economists who ought to understand the hooliganism that Palace manipulators of public funds did. 


This is the kind of instance when each Filipino is asked to make a stand, and indeed, in the social media there’s an avalanche of comments, mostly  hailing the action of the angry UP students. 

I must emphasize that I never encourage violence in expressing feelings or reactions; over decades of participating in historic events I have always espoused peaceful demonstrations and dialogue as the rationale approach is more effective. Re the UP confrontation the students had every right to vent their anger and protests---through placards and slogans--- over the notorious dissipation of public funds by Secretary Abad and his and his boss' destruction of state institutions through bribery and corruption. But I lament  the manhandling he underwent from one or two students who obviously lost control of their senses. 


Unfortunately, it's also clear, as history has shown us, that mass actions indeed deteriorate into violent reactions. In fact Abad should thank his lucky stars he wasn't dumped into a trash bin like that unfortunate Ukraine parliamentarian. 

For the fact is that out there is a whole lot of people angry and upset with this administration, but the latter obviously remains oblivious to the prevailing sentiments---preferring until now to believe the lullaby-inducing data of survey groups with inter-locking directorates, or political sycophants out for more pork barrel. 

But it’s obvious that demonstrations with varying intensity will be part and parcel of our times, and in fact even as Abad was hounded by the UP students, the President he serves has also been on the receiving end of demos in various parts of our country, as well as in Europe on his state visits, and expectedly in New York and Washington D.C


I’ve always admired Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, he of the smart, well-tailored suits and salt-and-pepper hair and preppy, au courant hairstyle. Chatting with him on the phone, Toby told me with a laugh that he already gave up that hairstyle and is sporting a more  conventional look, to distinguish him from the preppies.  But never mind, I sense that this young (he’s turning 47 this November) two-term representative, who’s the Sec-Gen and articulate spokesperson of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), will be the same principled guy whose career I’ve followed for a while now.

Toby  first impressed me  during the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona over two years ago, when he offered to be witness against the railroading of the majority vote vs. the Chief Magistrate---by certifying that he refused to sign the impeachment complaint because he was not given time to read it. That took courage, given the vengeance of the administration against CJ Corona, but Toby was again on the losing side during the RH bill debates and voting.

In a chamber where support for an issue often depends on the size of the bribe envelop, it does help that Toby comes from a wealthy family whose fortunes were built on the fishing industry in Navotas---thus he could be truly independent of the dictates of the powers that be. But I suspect that swimming against the tide comes naturally to this young legislator regardless of outcome. 


Over the weeks of deliberations on the 2015 budget Toby has been pressing to get full accounting from DBM Secretary Abad on his "diabolic" invention (as Times columnist Bobi Tiglao terms it)--- the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). Toby's math is simple: if some P10 billion was set aside from the P144 billion DAP (or roughly 7% of DAP) for the Corona impeachment for both chambers in mid-2012, and if P1.88 billion was spent for the impeachment vote of 188 representatives and some P2 billion for 20 senators' conviction vote, what happened to the P7 billion unaccounted for in Abad's list? Toby suspects it went to the Palace duo's contingency fund. 

Tiangco pressed Abad for the list of solons and how their DAP was spent, and after weeks of being badgered, Abad finally gave him a supposed 139-page photocopy of what was submitted to the House leadership. Well and good---except that there were less pages and a lot more blanks in the names of solons in his copy. There were also generic headings for where solons' funds went--- ranging from the prosaic: "Various infrastructure and local projects (VILP)" to the more enigmatic and sentimental: "Protective services for individuals and families in especially difficult circumstances."  Nakakaiyak, di ba?


House leaders handling the budget proceedings would get quite upset at queries on specifics, but Tiangco found a way to force the issue: by questioning quorum at each hearing (majority of Aquino's allies did not care to attend anymore, as they knew it was already a fait accompli), and splitting hairs between "suspension of hearing" and "adjournment." Suspension of hearing means that even if the event was ended it could resume next day even without a quorum as it was only a continuation; whereas adjournment means another struggle for the House leaders vs. absenteeism. 

But after some time it was all-out brazenness: Toby just went to answer the call of Nature and immediately hearing was suspended. Next time, he thundered into the record, "If I take a leak on the floor, you cannot blame me for disorderly conduct." 

The budget with all those mysterious and unexplained lump sums will be passed by the steamroller House next week, but voters will remember how Toby Tiangco put up a good fight. Already in the internet, citizens are saying they want him in the Senate but he just wants to finish his third and last term. Citizens will remember him. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

100-year-old Fr. Pierre T. Tritz, S.J. shows our politicos how to be truly a "man for others"

In September 1914, the world was in turmoil as Europe was caught in the grip of the First World War, termed the last "Trench Warfare,” and pretty soon the US declared war against Germany. The world order was changing and so did traditional values and mores, and lifestyles. Dancing was very much a craze in a world worried sick about the war; cars and the radio were very popular.

In September 1914 our part of the world, the Philippine Islands, under US colonial rule, was coming to grips with a new representative system of governance in the emergent Philippine Assembly, while the educational system was being cobbled together from the pioneering days of the Thomasites.

On September 19, 1914, Pierre Tritz was born in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France near the German border. As the oldest living Jesuit today in the Philippines at 100 years of age and doubtless among the longest-surviving of some 22,000 Jesuits around the world, Fr. Tritz, still ramrod-straight, still reports to  his office at the Erda Foundation in Quezon City three times a week, with a much-reduced load. He’s also on call once in a while to bless the sick at the Infant Jesus Hospital in Sampaloc, Manila, which is his residence.

With eyes twinkling he used to brag to this writer some years back about being a member of the most exclusive club of Jesuits over 90 years of age in Manila, who were still alive and kicking;  but over the years he began to be the third oldest, then the second and now finally the oldest.


Fr. Tritz was to make his mark on education here, with his advocacy for the training of impoverished Filipino youths as the best way to prepare them for the future. As he likes to tirelessly say: “To allow a child to go to school is to give him HOPE (l’espoir, as he’d say in his native French). As he views it, education is the best way to break the cycle of poverty gripping Filipino families.

With this firm belief, Fr. Tritz founded the Educational Research and Development Assistance (ERDA) Foundation over 40 years ago, that has enabled tens of thousands of young people across the country to continue in school---thus allowing them to crash through the barrier of poverty.


Over ten years ago in a TV program, the late Press Secretary Cerge Remonde asked Fr. Tritz, "Is there hope for this country?"  The French-born naturalized Filipino Jesuit, who was once called by Cory Aquino the "Mother Teresa of the Philippines," answered Cerge without hesitation: "Sure, there is hope." But he also stressed that "we have to develop cooperation among the many people who can afford, so that they could give more attention to those in our midst who are in extreme poverty."

A controversial reality in our present-day society has been the existence of bogus NGOs to which many politicians have channeled many billions in public funds, which ultimately disappeared into their own pockets. But as Tritz argued nearly four decades ago, real and meaningful NGOs such as the Erda Foundation can change the lives of people and combat grinding poverty. And he proved it.

As the citation for the St. Ignatius Award given by the Ateneo University in 2000 said, “Pierre Tritz just went on and on, and the world has to make way for this man who knew where he was going.”


Pierre Tritz entered the Jesuit Society at age 19 and in 1936, he began his lifelong dream of becoming a missionary in China, where he was ordained priest in Shanghai in 1947 (his 81st year as a Jesuit will be this Oct 3).

Young Jesuits in the 1930s such as Tritz were inspired by older missionaries like the famed Fr. Matteo Ricci, SJ, who blazed a trail in China. Tritz insisted on being sent to that country, where he spent most of his Jesuit formation and taught in various schools for 12 years during a most turbulent political era.

The fall of China to the communists in 1949 caught the young Jesuit while on his tertianship in Europe, and upon his superiors’ orders, he arrived in Manila in October 1950 to await – or so he thought – reassignment to China. But he got stuck here and China's loss was PH's gain.


                             Playing chess with Erda boys in Tondo

In the mid-60’s, Fr. Tritz became very disturbed upon reading a published Department of Education study on the alarming rate of school dropouts among Filipino children. Of those who started in first grade, 12-15% dropped out in second grade and the dropout rate got bigger in the higher grades (a malady that persists in our day).

With his first volunteer, Betty Reyes of the Aristocrat Restaurant family, Tritz began in the late ’60s to persuade families in the Juan Luna Elementary School area in Sampaloc to send their children back to school. He offered to shoulder their schooling expenses himself.

In 1974 he organized a “Balik-Paaralan” program with 200 beneficiaries from Tondo. Then, forsaking his teaching activities at the Ateneo de Manila, Araneta University and FEU, he formally organized ERDA Foundation--- an NGO that provides poor pre-school and elementary schoolchildren with school uniforms and supplies, as well as social services to their families. Tritz clearly saw that while public schools offer free elementary and high school education, the lack of school requisites caused children from poor families to drop out---mostly out of shame.

He maintained that if a child is not developed in its early years, “it would be too late.”

Thus, long before the law enforcing pre-school education was passed, he already set up such schools in poor communities across the country. To date ERDA Foundation has assisted well over half a million students. 


Firmly espousing that the best way to break the cycle of poverty is to provide poor young people with adequate skills, he began to lament in the early ‘90s that so many able-bodied youths were idle and out of school; he wanted them to ride on the country’s growing need for industrial skills.

In 1993, Tritz established the ERDA Technical and Vocational Secondary School (ERDA Tech) in a depressed area of Pandacan in Manila, where students from poor families, through sponsorships, would obtain a free five-year high school education--- as well as special training in a technical skill that would enable them to find gainful employment upon graduation.

 ERDA Tech’s current technical courses for its 450 scholars include automotive servicing, machining, electrical installation/maintenance and food technology; on their 5th year they spend 680 hours of in-plant training with partner companies. Studies are underway to perhaps shorten while intensifying Erda Tech's students' training to two years only, in conformity with the K-12 program of the government. 

So poor are some of ERDA Tech’s students  that they come to school without breakfast  every day---and fainting spells by mid-morning became apparent. Thus the school set up a feeding program to help these needy kids stay in school and this year it counts some 105 students. 


Perhaps the best thing that happened to ERDA Tech and the Foundation was the formal adoption of the school, at the Jesuit Provincial’s request, by the Jesuit-run Xavier School in San Juan, following the deceleration of the aging Tritz from active involvement (he now holds the title of President Emeritus).

Assuming the presidency of ERDA in 2012 was Xavier’s president for 12 years, Fr. Johnny C. Go, SJ, who had been ERDA’s chair since 2007. Fr. Go left earlier last year on a much deserved sabbatical to complete his doctoral studies. Xavier’s new president, Fr. Aristotle C. Dy, SJ, was elected ERDA President, with Atty. Anthony Charlemagne C. Yu as Chairman of the Board.


The partnership between ERDA and Xavier School has resulted in the upgrading of facilities and curriculum of ERDA Tech, as well as the injection of new blood into the faculty, led by its first two Xavier-“loaned" principals, first Jane Natividad and currently Peter Marc Magsalin, and a vigorous faculty development program.

The synergy between ERDA and Xavier has begun to bear fruit. As Jane Natividad pointed out last year, ERDA Tech improved its school standing in the National Achievement Tests where it once ranked 36th, then 23rd and eventually 12th place among high schools of DepEd’s Manila Division. The school also had its graduating students in selected specializations undergo TESDA Competency Assessments for two years now, each time with close to 100% passing rates.

But more important, doubtless, is the increasing concern for the poor that the Pandacan school has stirred in the minds and hearts of well-off Xavier parents. Many of them have generously responded in various ways, e.g., scholarships for ERDA Tech students (P32,000 per year), support for its feeding program, donations of basic school equipment as well as out-of-their-closet items. Xavier parents organized a successful fund-raising concert for ERDA Tech students last year and also raised generous donations during the farewell concert for Fr. Go. 

The school was pleased to note that the topnotcher in the 2012 mechanical engineering board exams, Kenneth del Rosario, began at ERDA Tech. An ERDA-supported child from Iloilo, John Paul Claudio, was appointed by President Macapagal Arroyo as Child Commissioner of the Children Basic Section of NAPC (National Anti-Poverty Commission), and he was succeeded by another ERDA youth from Tondo, Bernardo Sumaya.


But so inclusive has been Fr. Tritz’s love for the underprivileged that in past decades he also organized the Albert Schweitzer Association Philippines (ASAP), which assisted poor orphaned and abandoned youths who ran into conflict with the law.

In 1978 he established the Foundation for the Assistance to Hansenites (FAHAN) which helped those afflicted with leprosy to seek treatment and cope with its stigma in society, and provided educational assistance for their children.

ERDA Foundation and ERDA Tech thrive principally on the element of hope: that the children of our streets would one day walk out of the darkness of poverty, despair, ignorance and lack of opportunity, and into the bright light of prosperity, justice and basic human rights. In other words, a fighting chance at survival.

As we in the ERDA family celebrate today the centenary of this wonderful educator and defender of marginalized Filipino children, we are proud to hold him up as a model of the selfless and compassionate human being---especially in contrast to the terrible breed of Filipino politicians who have all but forgotten their oath of public service.

Until advance age grounded him, Fr. Tritz used to set off on his yearly “begging” trips abroad for ERDA kids. The joke among his staff was that it was hazardous for anyone to sit next to Tritz in a speeding train in Europe – as his seatmates invariably ended up forking over sums of money or later sending him checks after hearing his story about impoverished Filipino children.

This writer innocently attended an Agape fund-raising dinner for ERDA in the early '80s--- and got hooked to serve ERDA in perpetuity as its PRO.


To work more effectively, Tritz joined 11 other foreign-born Jesuits in taking the oath of allegiance as Filipino citizens before President Marcos in 1974.  As he recounted to this writer with a laugh, the French government couldn't understand why this French-born priest would choose to become a Filipino citizen when thousands of Filipinos were renouncing their citizenship abroad!

But years later, the French government forgave him for quitting on his native land and honored him with awards, including the prestigious Officier de la Legion d’ Honneur (2007) for his humanitarian work with Filipino children.

Tritz's inspiring work has not gone unnoticed, especially abroad. European TV has produced many documentaries on him and various books have been written about him in France.

He has received many awards here too, such as the Golden Heart Presidential Award (1993) from President Fidel Ramos, the Aurora Aragon-Quezon Peace Award for Education (1993), the Mother Teresa Award (1998) from the Jaycees’ AY Foundation,  the Congressional Medal of Merit from the Philippine House of Representatives (2004) and a formal Commendation by the Senate of the Philippines (2011).

 Foreign awards include the highest decoration from the German government, the Bundesverdienstkreuz Award (2004), and the Raoul Follereau Prize (1983) from the French Academy.

After decades of fulfilling his self-appointed mission of rescuing impoverished Pinoy children from the pit of hopelessness and despair, Fr. Tritz still enjoys reading newspapers everyday without need for eyeglasses (!) and yes, he still loves to eat his favorite chocolates. He no longer celebrates Mass as he suffers bouts of forgetfulness and at times has to hold on to the altar; but he attends mass daily. 

Fr. Tritz had served for a long time as Night Chaplain in the Hospital of the Infant Jesus in Sampaloc, Manila, and to this day  he remains on call---from his wheelchair---for an emergency baptism or to bless a critically ill child-patient. 

Truly a man for others in his 100 years.