Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pray for the ICRC hostages in Sulu

Please pray for the safe and immediate release of ICRC workers Filipino Mary-Jean Lacaba, Italian Eugenio Vagni, and Swiss Andreas Notter since they were seized while on a humanitarian mission in Sulu on January 15.

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

Monday, March 30, 2009

Chip Tsao is all the rage among Filipinos

It's another cause of Filipino indignation.

Barbs have been flying all over the blogosphere over what Hongkong journalist Chip Tsao wrote in his column.  Apparently, he was of the opinion that the Philippines is a nation of servants.

Here's a short excerpt of an article on abs-cbnnews.com:

Part of Tsao’s column read: “As a nation of servants, you don't flex your muscles at your master, from whom you earn most of your bread and butter.”

He further wrote that he “summoned Louisa, my domestic assistant who holds a degree in international politics from the University of Manila, hung a map on the wall, and gave her a harsh lecture.”

Tsao threatened to sack his domestic worker should war breaks out between the Philippines and China “because I would not risk the crime of treason for sponsoring an enemy of the state by paying her to wash my toilet and clean my windows 16 hours a day.”

You know what's funny?

It seems we're always indignant over something or other.  Lagi na lang tayong inaapi.

Just a week or so ago, we were indignant over Nicole's decision to recant her testimony against US Serviceman Daniel Smith. 

And when was it that we fumed over a TV show on BBC that slurred Filipina maids too.  

Of course, who'd forget that Terry Hatcher and that Desperate Housewives episode where her character flung a slur against Filipino doctors. 

I'm sure, there are a lot of other examples of how Filipinos are denigrated or put down by people in foreign countries.  The thing is, and this is really infuriating, Filipinos are being put down by their own countrymen.  

Take the case of Boyet Fajardo and this is just one case that found its way on the internet through youtube.

Ever wonder why we're always finding stories of Filipinos being put down?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Manifestos for Political Reform:Those Above

There is an old lie that has been handed down from generation to generation since the time that the Spanish completely dominated the Philippines.
That lie basically tells us that change cannot happen unless "Those Above" decree it.
It used to be God, then it became the Church, and then it became anyone who could wield power by use of force or wealth.
Even the great Jose Rizal could not see change happening unless the power to do so was bestowed by "Those Above".
"Those Above" refer to people or a group of people who control everything in this country by virtue of their position in society as politicians and as controllers of vast stores of wealth.
Consequently, every quest and every struggle for change has been about seizing power from "Those Above". In seizing power, "Those above" are replaced but the situation remains basically the same. The old controllers of power and wealth are replaced by new controllers, yet the relations between "Those Above" and those who are subject to their power remain the same.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Panlilio for President? Whaaaaaaat?!

Perhaps this is an example of people being too literal about restoring morality in governance.
Priest on leave and Pampanga governor Among Ed Panlilio was heard on news radio yesterday referring to himself as a 'last resort' Presidential candidate. He explained that if a suitable Presidential candidate could not be found, he would be compelled to run for the highest position of the land. He also said that unlike most candidates for the position who are afraid to lose, he said that he is afraid to win.
I don't really know what to make of what he said over the radio and I was straining to hear some more.
It's not the typical spiel for a Presidential candidate or a candidate of any sort to say such things. I will grant that it is a breath of fresh air in an atmosphere polluted by the spleens of so-called frontrunner Presidential candidates who wave their money about, dance like lunatics in every fiesta including Cenaculos (passion plays), and announce to the whole world that they are going to save the country from the mess it is in.
But then, again, will it amount to anything?
The idea of a philosopher king ruling this 7,100 islands of ours is a romantic ideal. Having a priest President (as priests usually, at least in UST, major in Philosophy in their undergraduate studies) might be the next best thing.
Perhaps, Panlilio wouldn't be so scared of winning as President if he knew exactly what to do if he gets elected. It would help if he had a vision for where to take our country and a specific plan or plans of how to solve a couple of perennial problems.
For the moment, I'll pass on his vision statement because I'd hate to hear about the pearly gates and Jesus floating down from the clouds.
I'd like to hear about what he'll do about stopping corruption in government, since he is presenting himself as a moral alternative which I assume should be against all manner of stealing.
Stamping out corruption in government alone would do a lot of good and perhaps, if accomplished within the first year of his term, we would be amazed to find out that:
  • the construction cost of classrooms are at P350,000 to P400,000 per unit. Right now, the government bills us P1,000,000 per classroom.
  • the construction of roads only cost 30% of what the government bills us. What is surprising is that contractors still earn from road construction.
  • fertilizers and seeds cost only 10% of what the government says it costs.
  • text messages and wireless internet connections should be free! (Er, if you are wondering where that came from, so am I.)

(more later)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Manny Villar's grand entrance at a fiesta nearly kills people

It is a usual recourse of politician who are running for one position or another to attend fiestas as a way of introducing and ingratiating themselves with voters.

Manny Villar, who claims to a be a contender for the 2010 Presidential elections, apparently wasn't satisfied with just getting his PR people to publish articles about his P 10 Billion political war chest. He wanted to show it off as much as he can.

At the Rodeo Festival in Masbate, Villar had set up his entrance to be as grand as possible.

To the blaring sound of music, he orchestrated his arrival on a luxurious helicopter.

Apparently, the ostentatious show was too much for the crowd and the horses in the rodeo. Five horses went wild and nearly ran over several people in the crowd, causing a stampede.

Beware of candidates such as this, Machiavelli warns of politicians seeking positions who nurture a reputation for liberality (with money) and but later starve the people with heavy taxes.

Villar already said that he will increase taxes when he steps in. Right now the BIR is over taxing people with the right hand and collecting bribes with the left hand. In Caloocan, Ever Gotesco was assessed back real estate taxes amounting to P722 Million for the Grand Central property it was LEASING from the Caloocan City government. When it refused to pay, Ever was harrassed by the Caloocan City government.

What can we expect from Villar when he wins as President? Gun wielding taxmen.

Cowboy Manny spooks horses, guests in rodeo
By Ephraim Aguilar
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 06:08:00 03/22/2009

MASBATE CITY – Talk about a dramatic entrance.

A helicopter descended from the heavens, stirring up dust, while a political jingle played at full blast. Senator Manuel Villar, who came dressed as a cowboy, alighted from the chopper and was brought to the grandstand by a mob of aides and supporters.

This happened in the middle of the opening ceremonies of the annual Rodeo Masbateño festival here on Wednesday, disrupting a speech by a top local tourism official.

Five horses, spooked by the chopper’s landing, dashed around the stadium like mad creatures and ran over a boy who was injured and rushed to the hospital.

Dr. Adolfo Almanzor, provincial health officer, said the boy arrived at the hospital semiconscious and was found to have suffered abrasions on his face as well as cerebral contusions.

Meanwhile, the star-struck masses howled as cowboy Villar paced closer and started shaking everyone’s hand.

Villar, who is running for president in 2010, later delivered a speech.

Respect culture of place

For most people, the senator’s entrance was too grand to ignore.

But for education supervisor Erusita Rosero, cultural coordinator of the Department of Education in Masbate City, Villar’s behavior was not proper.

“No one should disrupt an activity like that. Visitors should properly respect the culture of a place,” Rosero said.

“Since he (Villar) was invited by politicians, there could also be something political behind his visit,” she added.

So sorry

Rosero said all guests were welcome to Masbate. She added there was nothing wrong with inviting Villar but his visit should not be used as an opportunity to campaign.

Throughout the opening rites, Villar was repeatedly referred to by emcees and other politicians as the “next president of the Republic of the Philippines.”

Asked for comment, Villar said he had no intention of disrupting the event and apologized to those who felt offended.

“From what I know, there were some [safety] issues but the pilot was able to land without too much disruption. Nevertheless, if some people were inconvenienced, I apologize. The very warm reception of the crowd on that occasion encourages me to return to Masbate soonest,” he said.

Not intentional

Masbate Governor Elisa Kho, who was with Villar during his late entrance, said the circumstances were not within the senator’s control.

She said they already apologized to Maria Ong-Ravanilla, regional director of the Department of Tourism, for unintentionally disrupting her speech.

“I think it was not being disrespectful,” Kho said in a phone interview.

She added that the 2010 elections were not that far off and politicians tend to grab every opportunity to introduce themselves to the public.

“It cannot be avoided,” Kho said.

She also said that Villar pledged support for the annual rodeo festival and to Masbate province once he was elected president.

Why not the airport?

Local trader Carmelito Fajara, 37, said there were varied reactions from Masbate residents. Some were offended, while others couldn’t care less.

“But since the city has an airport, I think it would have been wiser if [Villar] had landed there so he could quietly enter the stadium,” Fajara said.

“It’s only now, after many years, that I have witnessed such a scene during the rodeo festival!” he added.

“Dili pa ngani siya nagiging presidente (He is not even president yet),” was another comment from a local resident.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A real hero passes on: Paterno Ira Farol

Just want to share this post by my brother on the passing of our Tiyo Peping.

Mission Accomplished

We had a simple mission that day.

My Maryland-based cousin Baby was taking me, my cousin Marissa and my Tio Peping around Washington DC. The Pacific War Memorial was just opened to the public that year, and I asked my Tio Peping whether he wanted to see it.

He said “Sige”, in a way that conveyed he would go where the group wanted to go.

But I knew it would be significant for him. You see, he survived the infamous Bataan Death March. Through the years, he has not talked much about it. This is no surprise, since according to Tom Brokaw's The Greatest Generation, many veterans of World War II didn't share much about their experiences. Yet, even a cursory reading of the Wikipedia entry about the Death March will convince anyone it was a horror to live through.

Tio Peping's enlistment in the army was part of the family lore. He was 16 and under-aged when the second World War war broke out. He faked his age and they took him in. My dad was rejected because at 14, he was too young.

My grandparents, along with my dad and young uncles, hid out in Bulacan during the war due to the famine in Manila. They knew little of Tio Peping's fate while fighting for the army. Eventually, word got to my grandfather that Tio Peping had survived the march and was released in Capas. My Lolo hied off on a train to pick him up.

By the time I was born, Tio Peping already had four children and would eventually have two more. I've never known him to be anything but a responsible family man. Perhaps, surviving the war made him mature beyond his years, and no stories of wild youthful carousings were ever told about him.

His veteran's credentials eventually qualified him for immigration to the U.S. And so, there we were one summer afternoon, looking for the Pacific War Memorial. By then, Tio Peping was already nearing eighty, living with emphysema, and walking with a cane.

It took us a while to find it. But eventually, we did. And it's impossible for me to describe the awe in some people's eyes when they realized an old WWII veteran was there in the flesh. Tio Peping himself, although not overly emotional, was obviously touched by the memorial. All he could say was “Ito ang ipinaglaban namin.”

We accomplished our mission that day. Just one of many Tio Peping had set out for himself: survive the war, raise a family, educate his children, bring them to the U.S.

I remember that day vividly because Tio Peping peacefully left this earth today. And I'd like to hold on to that happy memory for a little while.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Ever and Echeverri, friends again?

Have you ever stepped out of the house then hear the fierce, crackle of thunder? You rush back in to get an umbrella and your rain gear. After rummaging through your closet and finding out that the only good umbrella left is a pink, foldable pocket umbrella, you step out again.

You don your rain gear and begin to unfold the pink umbrella, anticipating a downpour.

Ten minutes pass. You're standing just outside the door of your house. People stare at you and walk to the other side of the street. You look up and there're nothing but clouds the color of heavy, swirly inkwash. You sniff and smell the smell of water when it hits dry earth.

The first drops of rain fall with sudden ferocity and then just as suddenly, stop.

You begin to wonder what all the sudden commotion was about as you stand and stare in the warm, humid silence. Pretty much like a ball of dough still waiting to rise.

This is the Ever and Echeverri debacle told through a metaphor.

It is funny how some of us find a sense of morality (or even some semblance of it) in adverse situations. Suddenly, we're a victim of some evil and we're wailing to all to come to our aid. The thing is, some people are happy living with evil as long as they can get their way.

It's a dirty world my friend, especially after a five minute downpour. The filth that was homogenous dust have now turned into sticky, muddy pools that tend to cling to the soles of your feet.

When is the Philippines going to change?

It won't. Money changes hands, three weeks pass, and all is forgotten.
Or will it?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ano ba ang bago sa pagbabago na sinasabi ng mga politiko natin?

Ano nga ba?

Naka-anim na beer na ako at hindi gaya ng karaniwang pagkalasing noong kabataan ko, lalo akong napapaisip. Dati puro ako sagot. Ngayon, puro ako tanong.

Ano ba ang bagong pangalan sa politika kung lumang kagawian din ang sinusunod? Ano ba ang bago dun kung ang nakasanayang sistema pa rin ang iiral?

Huwag na tayong maglokohan mga kapatid. Walang bago sa mga sinasabi ng mga politiko kungdi puro luma at bulok na mga ideya.

Philippines 2000, bullshit. Erap para sa Mahirap, ogag. Gloria, double ogag. Gloria ulit, hay! Kelan ba matutoto ang mga Pilipino?

Walang pinagkaiba ang isang Presidente sa mga nakalipas na Presidente ng Pilipinas. Bakit? Kasi hindi nagbago ang mga mamamayang bumoto sa kanila. Lahat umaasa sa direksyon ng ihip ng hangin, lahat naghihintay ng utos, lahat biktima. Walang marunong maningil ng dapat singilin kaya, ang pinuno, hayun! Kung ano ang gusto, nagagawa. Wala sa atin iyong tinatawag na accountability. Tangina, kung kailangan ko pang i-explain kung ano iyong accountability sa inyong mga gung-gong at tai-gong, wala na talaga itong bansang ito.

Ang maka-kaliwa, kinakalawang. Wala nang ginawa kungdi tumutol sa lahat, kahit ano. Lahat ng Presidente gustong pabagsakin, sipain, paalisin.

Maniwala kayo, kapag sila ang nagharing uri sa lipunang ito, ang mismong mga kapatid nila sa paniniwala ang siyang sisigaw at aaklas para sila naman ang paalisin.

Mga mokong!

Ang maka-kanan naman, well. Ewan. May tutoong patriot ba sa kanila? Sige nga, who do you owe your loyalty to soldier?

Sa gitna. Wala din.

So, saan na ba tayo pupunta? Kaliwa, kanan, gitna? Shit. Wala akong ideya at kung meron kayo, mag-comment na lang kayo. Kung wala kayong ideya, well, what's new?

Dark days for business in Caloocan

Better Philippines made a great post in reaction to Cito Beltran's column on Corrupt Taxmen.

The thing is, if this happens with the BIR, businessmen face a similar (if not worse) headaches with local government taxes -- particularly, real estate taxes.

Take the case of the Ever Gotesco Grand Central Mall and its current problems with the Caloocan City Government.

For the past 23 years, Ever Gotesco has been leasing the land where its mall stands from the Caloocan City government. Then, just last year, Gotesco managed to buy the land where its mall stands. After accepting a downpayment of P30,000,000.00 and issuing monthly post dated checks for P152,000,000, Caloocan City Mayor Recom Echiverri comes back and says that Gotesco still owes the city government P722 Million in back real estate taxes for the past 23 years.

First of all, as a lawyer, Mayor Recom Echiverri should have been aware of the fact that as a lessee of the land, Gotesco did not have any obligation to pay real estate taxes for the Grand Central property. The obligation to pay real estate taxes belongs to the owner of the land, which in this case is Caloocan City.

So, if Recom were to look for someone to go after, it should be the previous administrations of the Caloocan City government. Infact, Recom Echiverri was a former City Administrator and so the question he really should answer is where did the lease paid by Every Gotesco go? And why didn't the City Government pay its own real estate taxes? Kanino napunta ang upang ibinabayad ng Gotesco para sa lupa ng Caloocan?

Second, if there were in fact real estate tax arrears, the sale of the Grand Central property to Gotesco wouldn't have been possible. First on the account that doing so is against the law and second, the assessment is so ridiculously steep that only a fool would buy the property.

Was Recom high on something when he started going after Ever? And why would he need to force Ever to pay such a large amount? Is it to cover his losses at Casino Filipino at the Heritage Hotel?

Finally, if you were a businessman interested in setting up legitimate business operations, why would you choose Caloocan City? I get depressed just going through it on my way to Malabon!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Vote for a VET

Just today, I read that the administration is supporting Gilbert Teodoro as its Presidential bet for 2010.

Surveys have Noli De Castro in the lead followed by others like Loren Legarda, Chiz Escudero and Erap.

It seems powerful and moneyed forces are trying to make up our minds for us.

Perhaps, apart from values, our choice of who we will vote for as President reflects how we see our country and the situation we are in.

When we vote, we are not voting just for ourselves, we are voting for someone who will do what is right for the common good. We are in dire straits.

In two or three years, we will begin to feel the real effect of the global financial crisis.

Corruption is everywhere. Crime is being perpetrated in broad daylight. Both the corrupt and the criminal are unafraid of law enforcers and judges. They know they can get away with it and this makes them bolder, more brazen.

Disasters. We get hit by 20 typhoons, at the very least, every year. Yet every year, we see nothing being done to stop the cycle of disaster and poverty. The same people who got hit by a typhoons last year are the same people who will get hit by typhoons this year. Those whose possessions got swept away by floods will the same ones whose possession will get swept away by floods this year. Fire? Where else but in the Philippines does the declaration of a Fire Month result in more fires than in any other time of the year.

Our people are either unemployed or trying to make ends meet with a job they are overqualified for. But that's nothing new and what is new is the ends to which desperation brings our countrymen. Afghanistan. Iraq. Name a place where there is a very high risk of getting killed, you'll find Filipinos working there.

Our education system is in shambles and it has been that way since time immemorial.

And those who are tired of this ought not to get sick as well. If you're poor, just waiting for treatment and medicines will bring you closer to the grave.

So, who do you vote for as President given these circumstances?

Young guns like Chiz Escudero and Gilbert Teodoro?

TV personalities like Noli De Castro and Loren Legarda? How about Manny Villar?

How about Mar Roxas or former President Joseph Estrada?

Or are you going to think and look for someone who has actual experience in lifing people out of desparate situations?

Do you think you need someone who has a track record for following through every commitment he has made?

Do you think we need someone with a clear vision for what ought to be done for this country at a time of crisis?

His name is Dick Gordon.

He turned Olongapo from Sin City to Model City.

He turned Subic from wasteland into a haven for tourism and investment.

He turned Philippine tourism from a lackluster department to the brightest beacon in the economy, with 2 million foreign tourists coming to the Philippines in 2003 from a low of just 900,000 in 2000.

As Senator, he authored, pushed for the enactment, and implementation of RA 9369 or the amended AUTOMATION LAW. This is the reason why we will have automated elections in 2010, no more hello garci. He now heads the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.

In his committee report on the P732 Million Fertilizer Fund Scam he implicated President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, recommended plunder charges against Bolante and others, and filed 7 bills to plug up loop holes in the laws exploited by the group he referred to as a pack of wolves.

If you want the country to get through these dire straits, look for someone who knows how to navigate treacherous waters and who knows where to go.

In 2010, don't look for a good candidate. Look for a good leader. That's Dick Gordon.

Making change happen since 1971.

Right to Reply Bill test case: Elevator girl and politician in a blind item

The Urban Dictionary offers this definition of why blind items are written:

When a gossip columnist doesn't have enough evidence to support a claim about a celebrity, where naming said celebrity would result in a lawsuit, giving no names but mild clues to the celebrity's identity in the latest gossip.

Other types of columnists also resort to blind items for similar, if not the same, reasons.

Recently, a tabloid columnist and a friend came out with a blind item that alluded to an incident that supposedly transpired between a politician and an elevator girl.  The columnist said that the politician, whom he described as being excessively horny, pinched an elevator girl just under her breast several times while riding inside an elevator.  The columnist says that the elevator girl apparently didn't make much of it, thinking that it was just the politician's way of pressing the flesh -- in a manner of saying.

In anycase, politicians are more often than not the subject of attacks by blind items and they can hire PR people to manage the damage made by the blind item.  The columnist's intent is clearly to shame the politician and chastise him for his inappropriate behaviour.  However, in pursuing this intent, the columnist may have very possibly also embarassed the elevator girl or, for that matter, several elevator girls who come in contact regularly with politicians.

Moreover, one such elevator girl was seen tearfully carrying a copy of the column that some had handed to her.  She said that all who rode on her elevator had intimated in one way or another that they thought she was the one being alluded to in the column.  She denies that she had ever been pinched under the breast by any of the politicians who rode the elevator she was assigned to operate.

My question now is this:

If you were this elevator girl and you felt alluded to in such a blind item, how would you seek redress without subjecting yourself to further embarassment?

Consider that, in responding to a blind item, it would involve revealing your identity.  But what if the prospect of revealing your identity is not a desired recourse?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Gordon's response to Bong Austero's column "Flash Gordon"

Blogger and Manila Standard Columnist Bong Austero previously wrote about Senator Richard Gordon not being a front runner in the surveys.

This pricked a reaction from Senator Gordon and so he wrote a letter to Austero.  The first thing he wanted to say was that he was thankful that Bong Austero had given him space in his column and how he appreciated that Austero was taking up an issue he was concerned with.  The second, was to take up the issue of why being a front runner in Presidential surveys is no big deal.

I've reposted Mr. Austero's column below:

"Are we there yet?"
By Bong Austero

A couple of weeks back, I wrote about Senator Richard Gordon in this space. I wondered why the Senator was not a front-runner for the 2010 elections. I listed the man’s qualifications in terms of traits and track record and argued that a major test of our maturity as an electorate is choosing who should be in the shortlist of candidates for the 2010 elections. So while my column was about Gordon, it really was more about the sad state of the electoral system in our country.

The senator has written a rather long reply to my column, which I am sharing with my readers below. I would like to state for the record that I am not endorsing Gordon for the presidency. While he has indeed expressed interest in and availability for the highest post in the land, he has not openly launched his bid yet. I haven’t decided on whom to support, myself.

He says that he is still busy with his legislative work as chairman of the Blue Ribbon committee. We should note that this committee, under his watch, came out with a report on the fertilizer scam last week. That a Senate committee came out with something concrete after all those physical exertions and emotional hara kiri by our lawmakers during the hearings is a wonder in itself. That the report actually implicated the President and the Ombudsman and made specific recommendations as way of moving forward gives us some measure of hope, no matter how fleeting, that some things still work in this country.

Gordon is also heavily at work pushing for the automation of the 2010 elections. In a related development, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting and the National Movement for Free Elections have come out with full-page ads in some broadsheets asking for support for the project.

I have decided to lend space to the senator’s letter because I feel that he raised some insightful ideas about what the 2010 elections should be. Of course it can be argued that the senator’s letter drips heavily with undisguised political agenda; that is to be expected. I am not that naïve. But at least the man has not been putting out slick television ads that, quite frankly, are so gratuitously self-serving. If we want the 2010 elections to make a difference in the country, then we must make sure that our pool of candidates are not limited to those who have the means to build a cult following through magic tricks. What follows is Gordon’s reply to my column.

“Thank you for your article ‘Are we there yet?’ which appeared last Feb. 2. It is indeed humbling and flattering to find out that at least one more person of your stature believes that we should be considered as a possible presidential candidate for the 2010 elections.

“Apart from expressing my deep appreciation for what I take as a kind compliment and acknowledging the merits of your analysis, perhaps it would do well to point out that your entire column speaks more of what we ought to change in ourselves as a people in order to save our country from continuing on a downward spiral.

“Perhaps the crux is not so much that I am not a front-runner, but rather, in your own words, the real problem is that ‘we’re stuck in this rut where landing on top of surveys is seen as blanket substitute for qualification, where money is considered the ultimate advantage, where populist strategies win over the principled, etc.’”

“I wholeheartedly agree with you in sounding a call to the Filipino electorate to look beyond a candidate’s popularity, claims of fabulous financial girth, and demagoguery. While these attributes may make for an interesting and lucrative candidacy, they will certainly fail to solve what ails our country and, in the years after 2010, we will once again witness protests against whoever is the occupant of Malacañang.

“Therefore, the next election should be all about competence, integrity and reliability—not popularity, much less money or political machinery. The tragedy of our political history, of course, is that money had not always been able to buy electoral victory. Even our present political parties have become graveyard of real ideas and the birthplace of empty promises. Everybody talks about change. But who had stood for that message when nobody else would?

“I have yet to declare my candidacy as president for a number of reasons, the best ones are the many pressing legislative matters at the Senate, notably as Chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, and with our humanitarian work I lead in the Philippine National Red Cross. Nevertheless, while we have already expressed our interest in seeking a higher position, I have on top of my list the automation of the 2010 elections. We all need to see to it that the Commission on Elections would no longer have any excuse not to automate the country’s elections. We have proven it can be done in the last elections in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and given the national political will, we can do it too in May 2010.

“The title of your particular column caught my attention. ‘Flash Gordon’, after all, was an old monicker given to me by people who believed in and supported my brand of leadership back when I was still Mayor of Olongapo.

“It brings me back to the time when I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with my townmates as we lifted ourselves out of the morass of criminality, corruption, literal filth, and hopelessness that was Olongapo before my term as mayor. It has also made me recall the time when 8,000 of my townmates and I volunteered to transform Subic into the tourism destination and industry haven that it is today.

“We also remember the monicker having regained some currency when we were promoting the country as tourism secretary and succeeded in bringing two million tourists to the Philippines a year despite the negative tide of publicity brought about by SARS, coups d’etat and whatever else was there.

“Right now, I am given to a fair amount of wondering: Will my track record as well as my current performance as senator be enough for people to consider me as their choice for president in 2010?

“I stubbornly believe that meritocracy is still attainable in this country. I still believe that if one works hard and becomes the best in what he does, he will be recognized and rewarded with the privilege of a greater responsibility. But regardless of how passionately I fight for my beliefs and demonstrate my willingness to sacrifice for what I believe is right, all I can do is offer myself and my service in humble gratitude to the nation and its people whom I hold dear. The Filipino people want a president who cares for ordinary people, who can be trusted and relied upon to make tough decisions. It is my ardent prayer that I measure up to their expectations.”


Unless you are living alone inside a cave and just talking to yourself or autistic, you'll have to contend with the fact that communication takes place within a context or a set of circumstances that imbue what is being communicated with meaning not found in the actual thing that was said, heard, or written.

In the often used model for communication, you have the sender, the receiver, and the medium. But outside this model and in the elements of this model is the context or situation where the communication is taking place.

Even in analyzing writing style, you will become aware that the a word can be made to mean different things depending on how you use it.

A spiffier mode of figuring out meanings is structural analysis.
Structuralism is concerned with the interrelationship of the various signifiers within a sign system. The aim of structural analysis is to reconstruct an object in such a way as to make clear the rules by which it functions. In film, structural analysis attempts to identify how film images function as a unique system of representation. It attempts to uncover how the film system sifts and organizes its material in order to render it intelligible.
In any case, however you want to go about your efforts at communicating, don't make the mistake of talking loudly to yourself about liking the color blue when you're in the company of people who love green.

Words signify more than what they mean in the dictionary.

Bagumbayan Movement to be launched on April 27

My Presidential candidate for the 2010 Philippine National and Local Elections, Senator Richard 'Dick' Gordon made a big announcement yesterday at the Senate Press Office.

This is a transcript of that announcement.

Question: Are you running for President in 2010?


I’m really considering running and maybe it’s time to announce it in the sense that on the 27th of April we will have a big meeting of the Bagumbayan Movement at the Manila Hotel.

The Bagumbayan Movement will be represented from all provinces of the country and we will meet there in the Manila Hotel because ang Manila Hotel nasa Bagumbayan.

We will meet there on the day Lapu-Lapu repelled the colonial invader and we will meet in a place where Legaspi kicked Rajah Sulayman out and he created Bagumbayan, isang minimithing bayan na bago ang pag-uugali na may kakayahan, hindi natatakot sa malalaking tao, taglay ang tapang ni Lapu lapu at taglay ang talino at tapang ni Jose Rizal.

Question: Will you be announcing your candidacy on April 27?


I do not know. Because I don’t believe na, ang nangyayari sa atin ngayon ay marami ng kumakampanya even if the law does not permit it.

The spirit of the law says you cannot campaign long before the election period.

Ang lumalabas ang pinapairal dito ay ang patapangan ng apog. I stand against the coarsening of the culture of our country.

Masyado ng matapang ang apog ng lahat. Nakikita natin ang corruption lumaganap na sa atin, sa SEC tinatamaan ngayon, tinatamaan lahat ang ating departamento, lahat ng bidding ng gobyerno naku-question.

So it’s time we change the paradigm. It’s time na magkaroon tayo ng Bagumbayan. Matagal ko na rin minimithi yan.

Nuong panahon ng kastila, lahat ng mga nag-aambisyon na magkaroon ng pagbabago sa ating bansa sa pamamagitan ng isang rebolusyon, pinaslang sila sa Bagumbayan. Sila Gomez, Burgos Zamora, Jose Rizal, dyan sila pinaslang. Hindi nila nakita ang Bagumbayan.

When you run for the presidency you’re asking for the trust of the entire country not only on your skill, not only on your experience, not only your integrity, but in your ability to motivate your people to take them into the promise land if you will, to take them into an era na bago na ang sitwasyon.

Hindi porke mayaman ka ikaw lang ang talagang mamamayagpag, na kung ikaw ay mahirap wala kang pag-asa.

Dapat sa isang Presidente, baguhin ang paradigm o ang tinatahak na landas ng ating bansa upang maging patas ang lahat.

Ayokong ikinakahon ang pag-iisip ng tao na porke ikaw ay mayaman panalo ka, o porke ikaw in-anoint ka ng presidente talo ka. Dapat may sarili tayong pag-iisip, yung boto natin pagpasok natin sa botohan atin yun, tayo ang magdedesiyon, mahalin natin ang boto na yan kahit pa sabihing matatalo yung kandidato mo, kung naniniwala ka doon sa kandidato mo, iboto mo yun.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Better jobs in the Philippines through tourism very soon

In the 2010 Presidential elections, we can expect candidates to come up with all sorts of motherhood vision statements as well as platforms and plans.  Or put it in another way, they'll tell everybody about their general and specific election promises.  

One stupid arguement I got into was whether a motherhood vision statement was worse than a platform and plan, whether a general promise was worse than a specific promise.  I don't know if there was a debate, but both general and specific promises are worthless if they remain promises and can be seeds for uprisings of all sorts if they're broken.

However, there is one point I salvaged from the morass of almost pointless arguements and it is this, specific promises can be accounted for and general promises are most likely fulfilled by tricking it out with all sorts of semantics.

I think what is really worth discussing is not whether a motherhood vision statement is better or worse than a platform and a plan, but how to figure out which candidate can be believed.

Obama mouthed motherhood vision statements, one was "Hope" (not his brand of cigarettes) and "Change" (not barya or a bunch of coins).  But he also spoke about a lot of specific directions that his administration, if voted into office, would take like cutting the outsourcing of jobs in the US, coming up with a bail out plan for the US financial system, getting the US out of Iraq, and others.

Most Presidential candidates in the Philippines will most likely have general and specific promises on what they will do.  I will make a prediction about what those general and specific promises will be like.  They will center around claims of having solutions to the perennial problems of the Philippines.  They will center around so-called gut issues or issues that have to do with the provision of basic necessities.  Why?  Because these are the concerns of more than 80 percent of the voters in the Philippines because most of them are poor or think of themselves as poor.

These problems or issues are:
1. Poverty and the problems arising from poverty.

2. Education.

3. Unemployment and increasing under employment.

4. Agriculture or the country's capacity to produce its own food at an affordable cost.

5. Crime.
In addition to these problems and issues are higher level issues, if you can call it that:
1. Climate change.  Which is the spiffier term for enviromental preservation or conservation.

2. Corruption.

3. Disaster prevention and mitigation.  This is now being connected to climate change.

4. Charter change and other modes of political reform.

5. Population control or population management.  Can you tell the difference?
I don't know how many will vote for a Presidential candidate on the sole basis of better crafted general or specific promises.  

Ideally, if this were true, I'd probably hear our neighborhood's designated street sweeper (and he doesn't have a blog but drinks Bilog -- slang for gin) tell me that he is rooting for a candidate because of his or her stand on a move to legislate a minimum wage increase.  This would be a big step for somebody who just asks everybody for money whether he sweeps their street or not.  He'll probably vote for anyone who buys him his next drink, that is, if he is actually a registered voter and wakes up on election day to cast his vote.

Besides, it ain't a competition on who can come up with the best thesis for solving everything that ails the Philippines.  Not that it shouldn't be.

I still think that Filipinos choose who they will vote for as President based on likeability.

If the 'Hello Garci' tapes didn't surface, perhaps we would have reason to say that this isn't true.  Because then, there would be no doubt that more people voted for someone they didn't like as a person and less people voted for a beloved action star whom everybody in the Philippines grew up watching in movies.

And this is the problem that Mar Roxas, Manuel Villar, Loren Legarda and yes, Dick Gordon will all have to overcome.  Ordinary people wouldn't find them as likeable as, say, Piolo Pascual, Manny Pacquiao, or my favorite actor, Tom Hanks.

If you had been listening to Mar Roxas in the Senate's hearing on the Legacy financial scam, you would have probably heard him say, "Tignan niyo ang mga mukhang ito, ang mga mukhang inargabiyado ninyo.  Kaya, ito ang sasabihin ko sa inyo, hindi ko kayo titigilan."  All words delivered to the effect that he was championing the cause of people who had been taken advantage of.

Who wouldn't like a guy like that?  Besides, even when I was still working FOR him, I really found him to be very likeable.  He's a great guy, really goes out of his way to see how you're doing and will even swap jokes with you.

The whole hearing seemed to be climaxing to the designed effect of showing Mar as a champion of the poor.  That was, after of course, one of the people he had hauled into the hearing missed her line and instead of saying that she had made claims to the Securities and Exchange Commission, had blurted out that she filed claims with the Comelec.  Was it all scripted or what?  That really ruined the whole thing for me.

It was a good thing Mar didn't say, "Putang Ina ka Celso!"  as he did when he said "Putangina! Ano ba naman ito!?" at a rally against charter change in the Makati Business District. 

Manny Villar has a similar gimmick and it is most often seen in the TV commercial of him holding a duck.  Loren Legarda recently had a commercial pitching for 'Pagbabago' and for a few seconds, I thought it was another pitch for Lucida.

Dick Gordon, however, is pursuing likeability too but his approach is kind of traditional in a sense.  He kinda thinks that if he does his job well and does something that will do people good, people will like him.  He also kinda thinks that fulfilling promises and doing what you say is a likeable trait.

When he ran for the Senate in 2004, he promised to improve the country's tourism industry and just recently, the Senate and the House of Representatives approved the final version of the Tourism Act of 2008 -- a law which he authored. 

Here's an article in Manila Times which explains some of the aspects of the Tourism Act.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Govt, private sector, Senate boost tourism 
By Francis Earl A. Cueto, Correspondent 
WITH tourism taking center stage in the Arroyo Administration, Sen. Richard Gordon said he expects the government to use this untapped sector to prop up Philippine economy amid the global financial crisis.

Gordon said tourism as the biggest industry in the world could be the principal growth engine to pull up the country’s economy.

Gordon said such is now possible with the expected signing of the Tourism Act next week, which he sponsored in the Senate.

He said: “This measure will definitely boost domestic tourism as it will provide the necessary infrastructures to invigorate local productivity. An increased productivity means more jobs for the people and more revenues for the government.”

Gordon said the Tourism Act would provide changes for putting in place the necessary regulations and infrastructure, which will make tourism more competitive in the international market.

As it happened, the World Economic Forum has downgraded the Philippines’ global ranking on competitiveness in travel and tourism to 86th in 2008 from 81st in the previous year. In its Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2008, World Economic Forum reported that the country scored 3.73 points among 133 countries in the world.

But Robert Lim Joseph, chairman emeritus of National Association of Independent Travel Agencies (Naitas), said the country could bounce back, adding that the global economic crunch has opened an opportunity to boost domestic tourism. He cited the price war for the lowest fare among local air carriers and the discounts offered by hotels that make travel very affordable to ordinary Filipinos.

Moreover, Mrs. Arroyo in Boracay recently stated that the Philippine tourism industry would withstand the global economic crisis as evidenced by tourist arrivals in the country’s key destinations in the first month of 2009.

At a tour of Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort & Spa before a Cabinet meeting on tourism development in the region, the President said the government would continue to spend more on tourism improvement.

Gordon, on the other hand, said the Tourism Act, once signed, provides for the creation of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority and Tourism Economic Zones. It grants investor’s perks such as a six-year tax holiday, extendable as needed, and a 5-percent tax on gross income.

However, he said the new law would promote community tourism in lieu of domestic tourism, where residents preserve, protect and promote tourism spots in their localities and are friendly and helpful to tourists and travelers.

Echoing the ideas of Naitas such as the multi-school gathering of tourism students in Letran, Gordon said now is the time to develop the culture of tourism.

He said it did not have to be costly and grand as it involves keeping the streets safe and clean for all, not just tourists. An example, he said, would be picking up litters in the streets.

As the Tourism Act aims to generate ideas from the bottom to the national level, the senator said it would empower local communities to participate in a tourism master plan.

On the private sector side, Joseph said the government could give tax rebates to citizens who patronize local tourism and to tour and travel establishment that cooperate with the government in this program.

At the same time, the government can help by building new and improving old roads and bridges in various localities.

Joseph said local tourism at the village level would create jobs and mitigate the massive unemployment that is expected to result from the economic crisis.

He said this way, Philippine tourism and travel sectors will not only survive but will be in stronger position to exploit the rebound in global travel once the recession is over.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Negros River Cruise Vs. Bohol's Loboc River Cruise

As far as competitions between Philippine tourist destinations are concerned, I think that the proper attitude should be the one admonished by the Olympics. And that is, I think, the attitude of using competitions to push everybody's performance to a higher level.

I just came across an article on 'Negros River Cruise tops Bohol's Loboc' and here's an excerpt:
Sagay Mayor Leo Rafael Cueva said the Himogaan River Cruise has a lot to offer compared to famous floating restaurants in Bohol's Loboc River.

Aside from generating income for the community, the river cruise promotes environmental awareness. "We have a longer river. Wider. And we have different landscapes along the way. We're full of sugarcanes and coconut trees. We'll see mangroves," said Cueva.
My brother, Meester Eff, out of the generosity of his big heart treated me to a trip to Bohol and we took the Loboc River Cruise.

This picture has nothing to do with the Loboc River Cruise,
it's just one of the tarsiers we saw on the way to Loboc.
And my way of saying that I wish I had taken more pictures
instead of video.

Anyway, what happens in the Loboc River Cruise is this:

You get a ride to the place where the River boats are parked. On the way there, you'll see a half finished concrete bridge (this is another story). Once you get to the dock, you pay a small fee which will buy you a ride on the boat.

On the boat (which is actually two big boats lashed together under a sturdy platform) you'll find tables, chairs, and a buffet. It's actually a floating eat all you can buffet.

As the ride commences, a guitar player will begin singing all sorts of Visayan songs as well as well loved country songs. If you like the songs of John Denver with a thick Visayan accent, you'll love the cruise.

The trip lasts for about 30 minutes or more. As you eat really good Filipino food (spring rolls, barbecued chicken and pork, noodles, grilled fish, and other native fare), you'll move lazily through the lush greenery of the river banks.

As for Negros' Himogaan, I doubt if it really tops the Loboc River Cruise and the only way is to really know is to go there.

A few cryptic words of encouragement from an old friend

Be who you are and say what you feel.  

Because those that matter, don't mind.

And those that mind, don't matter.

Monday, March 09, 2009

;Hilo! Yo heb rich bitter pilipins! Haw ken we hilp yu? (Filipino call center bloopers)

There was a time when I went through a period when I didn't have a job and I seriously considered working for a call center.  In fact I submitted applications to 5 call centers, aced the exams they gave, and was offered a job in all but one call center.  It was a really great ego boost but I really couldn't see myself answering or making phone calls all night.  So I declined all the offers.

Just a few minutes ago, I was rummaging through the top posts in Feedjit and found this very funny post from Pinkoy.

This is apparently what I missed out on.


Telesales agent getting the customer's credit card info:

Agent: Can I have your expiration date, sir?

Customer: My what?!!

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- ------

Telesales agent giving promo spiels:

Agent: You called at the right time, ma'am. We have a lot of freebies to give away, such as free installation, free equipment, and free DVD player. That's a great offer, di ba?

Customer: huh?!

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- -

Agent verifying info from the customer:

Agent: Is that a P for Ping-Pong?

Customer: No, it's B.

Agent: Oh, B, like Bing-Bong...

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- -------

Customer trying to return a defective product:

Customer: I need to return this defective sauna belt that you delivered yesterday.

Agent: For that concern, you can call our customer service at www.picustomerservice.com.

Customer: Call where??!!
------------ --------- --------- --------- --------
Agent answering a call:

Agent: Thank you for calling Dish Network Department, my name is Vince..... (sees that the number called by customer is for a different client-- a DirecTV dealer).

Customer: So, I called the wrong number then?

Agent: Let me transfer you to DirecTV please dont go.... (puts the customer on hold, and then)... 

Thank you for calling DirecTV Department, my name is Vince...

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- ------

Agent wrapping up the sale:

Agent: Our INSTALLATORS will contact you within the next 24 hours to verify your installation schedules...

Customer: Uhm.... say what, now. Who's gonna call me?

Agent: The INSTALLATORS, sir.

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --

Agent getting coupon code from customer:

Agent: Can I ask for the coupon code? It's a bunch of letters.

Customers: Like ABCs?

Agent: Yes.

Customer: Ok. ABCDEFG....

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------

Agent giving the customer service web address:

Agent: It's P- as in Papa, I- as in India , C- as in costume, U- as in you, S- as in Sam, T- as in Tango, O.... Oscar...V- for Voy...

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- ----

Agent wrapping up the sale, trying to give the account info to customer:

Agent: I will now be giving you your account number and order confirmation number, do you  have a PEN and BALLPEN with you?

------------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- ----

Agent trying to create urgency over the available promotion:

Agent: Are you sure you don't want to take advantage of me?

Customer: Say, what?

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- ----

Agent trying to upsell a warranty:

Agent: Here's an example: In California , a plane crashed into a customer's house, their dish was replaced, no questions asked!

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- ------

Agent trying to upsell a TiVo to customer:

Agent: With a TiVo, you can do this and that, and you know, pretty much anything under the sun. Isn't that a great offer?

Customer: What?

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --

Agent was asking the customer about the cost of his cable service:

Agent: How much are you paying with your current provider?

Customer: Well, I'm only paying $25.00 (--which is way cheaper than what the agent was offering)

Agent: (Surprised) Shet, magkano??!!

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- ---

Agent getting customer's address:

Agent: Can I have your address, please?

Customer: It's twenyfurfif - ysavan newyaorkgh road ( 2457 New York Road )

Agent: Can you repeat that ulit?

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- ---------

Agent asking the customer to be put on hold:

Tech Agent: Sir, Can I hold you for just a minute?

Customer: Sure, baby, go ahead!

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- -------

Agent verifying correct spelling:

Agent: Is that a B as in boy, or a B as in Bravo?

Customer: ...uhmmm... how about B as in Boy?

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --

Technical Agent giving customer support:

Agent: Is the ethernet cord connected?

Cust: Tha Hwhut??? (with Alabama accent)

Agent: Yung yellow cord kung nakakabit ba!

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --

Agent from a local phone company entertaining a Visayan customer:

Customer: hillo! wala kasi yung bell ng pon namin??

Agent: Hindi naman po ba nabagsak yung phone?

Customer: Hende naman.

Agent: Kailan pa po ito nagsimula?

Customer: Ang alen?

Agent: Na hindi po nagri-ring yung phone?

Customer: Nagre-reng naman ah?!

Agent: Di ba sabi mo walang ring?

Customer: Hende! yong BELL ! yong lestahan nong babayaran namin!!

Agent: aahhh... yung BILL?!

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- -------

Technical Agent: To help you out with your concern, ma'am, let me just pull out my tool here,  ok? (referring to a computer program used in call centers to address the customer's concerns)

Customer: Pull out your what now?

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- ----

Tech Support: Okay, Bob, just type P on your keyboard?

Customer: What? Could you repeat that?

Tech Support: 'P' on your keyboard, Bob.

Customer: No way. I'm not going to do that.

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -----

Agent: Sir, that is C for Cubao, Q for Quiapo.....

Customer: What is that?! I dont understand. I don't want to talk to you.

Agent: Who do you want to talk to?

Customer: I want to talk to the highest person.

Agent: My supervisor is not available as of the moment sir.

Customer: I said, I want to talk to the highest person.

Agent: Ok, you want to talk to the highest person?

Customer: Yes!

Agent: Do you want to talk to God?

Customer: what the f***! I'd rather talk to you.

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- ---

Irate Customer: F***k you!

Tech Support: Sir, we're not allowed to say "F***k you!" here...

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -------

Agent: It's C as in CAT.

Customer: what?

Agent: C as in CAT. C-A-T as in meow meow...

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --

Agent: Thank you for calling us, this is Candy, how may I help you?

Customer: What did you say your name was... Mandy?

Agent: No, sir, it's Candy.

Customer: Sorry, i can't hear ya... didja say Mandy?

Agent: It's Candy sir... Candy... as in Storck!

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --

Agent: Alright, let me verify that... Was that a "G" as in golf?

Customer (with a different accent): NO! That was a "G" as in GEBRA! (z as in zebra)

Agent: Oh, Gebra! like the one in the Goo?!

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- -----

Agent: Yeah, sir....hello sir... are you there?

Customer: Yes, sorry. I'm still there.

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- -

Agent: Ok, sir... do u have a PEN and a PENCIL ready?

Customer: What?!!

Agent: Oh, Im sorry, sir... i mean, do u have a PEN and a BALLPEN ready?

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --

Agent: I'd like to speak with Billy Thompson please?

Contact: He's not in. Would you like to leave a message in his voicemail?

Agent: Sure, SIGE..

------------ --------- -----

Tech support: We're going to perform a check disk to see if your hard drive has errors in it. Please type in C-H-K-D-S-K.

Customer: What is that again?

Blogger attacks the Vatican's stand on washing machines contributing most to women's lib

In writing this post, I would just like to register my vehement objection to the view that it was the washing machine that contributed most to women's emancipation.
A report from Agence France Presse that I found in Inquirer dot net said that the Vatican came out with a survey of some sort which solicited answers to the question: What contributed most to the emancipation of women?
People who responded to the article printed in Osservatore Romano gave out the usual answers that ranged from the contraceptive pill, legal abortion and being allowed to work outside the home. However, one reponse stood out and this was from someone who believed that the washing machine contributed most to women's liberation.
I sure hope that this does not reflect the official stand of the Roman Catholic Church, especially here in the Philippines!


Because, in the Philippines and in my homestead in particular, men do the laundry and ironing!

Here's the objectionable article.

Vatican: Washing machine liberated women

France-PresseFirst Posted 09:49:00 03/09/2009
Filed Under: Women

VATICAN CITY—The washing machine has had a greater liberating role for women than the pill, the official Vatican daily said in an International Women's Day commentary Sunday.

"The washing machine and the emancipation of women: put in the powder, close the lid and relax," said the headline on the article in Osservatore Romano.

"In the 20th century, what contributed most to the emancipation of western women?" questioned the article.

"The debate is still open. Some say it was the pill, others the liberalization of abortion, or being able to work outside the home. Others go even further: the washing machine," it added.

The long eulogy to the washing machine – for which the first rudimentary models appeared in the 18th century – highlighted "the sublime mystique to being able to 'change the sheets on the beds twice a week instead of once'," quoting the words of late American feminist Betty Friedan.

While the machines were at first unreliable, technology has developed so quickly that now there is "the image of the super woman, smiling, made up and radiant among the appliances of her house," wrote Osservatore.

The Right of Reply Bill shelved

The latest news I could find on the Right of Reply Bill is that it has been shelved. Previously, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde had said that if the Right of Reply Bill did get through Congress, the President would veto the bill. In a recent statement, Remonde was also reported to have said that Malacanang had welcomed the shelving of the bill.

It's tempting to say that the President's announcement through the Press Secretary of plans to veto the bill and the consequent shelving of the bill were somehow related. One could probably say that this is a show of how Malacanang flexed its muscles to protect press freedom, even when that freedom has been used to fire broadsides against her administration.

Then again, with charges of corruption against the Arroyo Administration being regular fodder for news articles and especially columns, one wonders if the current occupant of Malacanang can really be embarassed into reforming or resigning.

Certainly, news of Hello Garci, the NBN ZTE deal, the P728 fund scam, and other controveries that landed big time in frontpages and the first gaps of the early evening news broadcasts had spurred moves to impeach her and all of these failed.

Even the so-called Oakwood Mutiny which was followed up by the Manila Peninsula siege didn't succeed in ousting President Arroyo.

On one hand, it is tempting to say that the Arroyo Administration believes so much in its invulnerability to any type of attack that it can take whatever the press can dish out. Or perhaps others who still believe in the Arroyo Administration, for one reason or another, will say that this is an example of the Administration's statesmanship or whatever spiffified word you can give it.

Personally, I prefer the view that this is Malacanang's way of saying that the Fourth Estate's efforts at exposing corruption is futile if the intent is to stop it completely. The equivalent of a child saying, "Isakay mo pa lolo mo!"
Moreover, I really don't think Malacanang needs the Right to Reply to air its side on any issue.
It already has 3 televisions stations, radio stations, and several publications. It has all the air time and space it needs!

Better or just a different Philippines?

I am always amused by people who think they know better or have something that's better.

Whenever I hear of somebody claiming something is better, a TV cameraman whom I will call the 'Better Cameraman' always comes to mind.  He always has something even better and there really is no way of knowing whether it's a true story or not.  

For instance, if you tell him that you've just bought a laptop which you think is a real bargain, he'll tell you that another laptop with higher specs went on sale the same day that you bought your laptop or that the exact same laptop went on sale somewhere.

On one hand, the Better Cameraman is a very likeable fellow and very good at his job.  If you get to talk with the guy for the first time and he tells you about something better, you'd think he was just being helpful.  

On the other hand, as you get to know him even more, you begin to suspect that he's other making up these claims for better or that he's just interested in one upsmanship.

Most of the times, whenever I hear claims that something is better, I usually just let it pass without comment.  Then there are times, when for one reason or another, I make the mistake of challenging the better claim by sniping at obvious flaws.

Some times, it can be a real learning experience.  Some times, you just end up in an arguement with the person espousing something that is claimed to be better.

In either case, I take my losses and gains quite happily because I really don't know better.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Better Philippines???

Better Philippines was apparently too chickenshit to name me in this entry.  So I am reposting it here to say that I am the one being referred to in this entry in his blog.
"Lately, this friend of mine has been highlighting his boss’ success in getting several measures relevant to our election system legislated. Here is where my friend makes the big jump. Because of his association to this lawmaker, he now believes that he can rightfully say that he was a part of the “change” his boss worked so hard for. I can understand where he is coming from but is that really the case? I’m not sure. What I’m sure of is that he was rendering paid services to this lawmaker. Following his logic, would it then be safe to say that the lawmaker’s driver was also a part of change?"
To which I responded:
I work for a lawmaker who believes that even a lowly street sweeper, just by doing his or her job the best way possible, can rightfully claim to be part of change and he or she would be right.

A lot of people worked for the passage and implementation of RA 9369 or the Amended Automation Law.  That includes lawyers, writers, researchers, secretaries, executive assistants, clerks, political staff, interns, utility, security, waiters and yes, drivers.

Yes, these are people with salaries -- some sourced from the government and some sourced from political contributions.  

Yes, they were part of changing the way we will vote in 2010.

I certainly hope that you're not belittling anybody's contribution towards the enactment and implementation of RA 9369.  Or maybe you are but will not admit it and say "You missed my point..." which is some times another way of saying "You're too stupid and what I said is above you..."

Whatever it is, suit yourself. 

The fact that people get paid for the work they do doesn't necessarily diminish their participation in the results that are produced.

Another thing to consider is that the hundreds of people who worked for the passage and implementation of RA 9369 couldn't have been paid for the painful personal sacrifices they made.

How can you possibly compensate someone for the countless hours spent away from their families?  

How can you pay someone for losing nights of sleep?  

How can you pay someone for getting sick from too much work and despite the doctors' orders, still reports for work?  

How do you pay someone who, instead of living up their youth, has chosen the drudgery of long hours of work for a piece of legislation that he knows will work for everyone's interest?  

How can you pay someone who didn't get paid his salary at a time when he badly needed the money but went to work anyway?  

How do you pay someone who actually refuses to get paid and really volunteers for work?  

How can you pay someone who, despite their qualifications, chooses to work for government pay just because he or she believes in the lawmaker her or she is working for?

No matter how small a part these people played in getting RA 9369 enacted and implemented, they still played a part in change.  

They can tell it to the world and the lawmaker will openly credit them for it, that's the kind of leader he is.

Plans and Platforms don't get voted into office, people do.

Better Philippines says:
"Instead of basing your choice on the politicians they represent why not base it on the SPECIFIC PLANS (not motherhood vision statements) that these politicians propose. Simply put, let’s support the PLANS, the PLATFORMS not the personality."
I agree but with a minor distinction.

I think the better way of stating it is "let's support the PLANS, the PLATFORMS not JUST the personality."

Plans and platforms can be the ugly sisters of motherhood vision statements.  

This is especially so when the person espousing or advocating such a plan or platform had nothing to do with such a plan or platform for most of their lives and only adopted the plan or platform a few months before the election.

You have to look at who's talking and figure out if they can really deliver their on their plans and platforms.  

What experience does the person have in making the things in his platform happen?  What is their track record for succeeding?

You can even try to get a closer look and weed out any embellishments in their vaunted experience or track record.

Then again, even with the best effort at scrutinizing a candidate, there are still risks but these can be mitigated later by a citizenry that is able to make the candidate accountable for their campaign promises.

What makes good candidates bad leaders is the fact that most people fail to hold them accountable.  Some people think that their only duty under a democracy is just to vote and this is the flaw that most corrupt politicians exploit.

Filipino becomes CNN Heroes nominee

I just came across the story of Efren Peñaflorida and his work with the Dynamic Teen Company (DTC) that got him nominated for CNN's Heroes.

According to the article on ABS-CBNnews.com:
The Dynamic Teen Company (DTC) aims to uplift the lives of underprivileged children younger than themselves through education. Armed with only a pushcart full of books and other educational materials, DTC brings the classroom to children and educate in slum areas, dumpsites and even in the cemetery.

Formed in 1997 in Cavite by Efren Peñaflorida, its mission then was to keep the youth away from trouble and vices.
CNN found out about Penaflorida through Youtube:
DTC’s good deeds were noticed. In fact, the group won the Gawad Geny Lopez Bayaning Pilipino award in 2007 for its mission of educating children through its mobile classrooms in depressed areas, cemeteries and even in dumpsites in Cavite.

A year and a half later, it’s their founder's turn to be nominated as the first Filipino to be included in the international search, “CNN Heroes”. According to CNN’s website, CNN Heroes is a search for “people driven to exceptional achievement in service to others.”

Like Charice Pempengco and Arnel Pineda, CNN discovered DTC’s story through YouTube.

Last January, CNN, with award-winning producer Tim Shwartz visited the Philippines to do a feature on DTC and Peñaflorida.

Shwartz reportedly commented, “I knew your story was good. But now, I think it’s great.”

Peñaflorida will be featured on CNN’s Larry King Live Friday at 6 p.m. He was already interviewed by King Thursday morning via satellite with the help of ABS-CBN.

“Di ako makapaniwala na makapasok sa isang award giving-body na nagre-recognize sa mga kagaya ng mga batang nasa likod nito ngayon. Actually, ang mga totoong heroes dito ngayon itong mga teenager na walang kapaguran na tumutulong sa akin. Talagang collective effort ito sa gusto naming mangyari na maraming kaming matulungan,” he said.

According to Peñaflorida, DTC’s work is simple, and this can be done by other youth regardless of their economic background.

Through DTC, Peñaflorida hopes to inspire the youth and other organizations to be heroes by doing something good for the country. 
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