Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Plagiarism or copy-catting is everywhere...

Here's a TV commercial for Milwaukee beer:

Here's a Colt 45 TV Commercial, which uses the same concept with a minor revision in execution.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Organic farming needs organic fertilizers

After decades of being relegated to the back burner of Philippine agricultural development, organic farming in the country seems to be well on its way to growing substantially in the next few years.

Recently, Agriculture Sec. Proceso Alcala sent off the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the Organic Act of 2010 as approved by the National Organic Agriculture Board (NOAB). 

The IRR will be transmitted to the Congressional Oversight Committee on Agricultural and Fisheries Modernization (COCAFM). The Organic Act seeks to promote, propagate, develop further and implement the practice of organic agriculture in the Philippines.

This is great news as it will certainly spawn not just organic farms but a back end industry that organic farms will need in order to ensure their profitability.

On the surface of it, the assurance that one's produce is free of pesticides and residual chemicals (potential toxins) found in fertilizers allows farmers to sell their produce at a higher price.  And on the onset, there may be farmers in the Philippines who are now considering a shift to organic farming -- but this shift can't be made so easily.

The globally accepted standard for organic farming and organic food states that such farming methods and produce should not use any chemical fertilizer and pesticide.

But without the aid of fertilizers and pesticides, organic farms can have a tough time producing good harvests that can be sold to the market at good prices.

For one, farms used to cultivate crops with the aid of chemical fertilizers and pesticides cannot shift immediately to organic farming.  The soil which basically had been stripped of naturally occurring nutrients, enzymes, and microbes by chemical farming methods will not be in a condition that could sustain abundant crops.

What needs to be done is to basically revive the soil, putting in back the nutrients, enzymes, and microbes that naturally fertilize the soil.

Friends at the Agricultural Inoculants Corporation or AIC has a ready solution that allows farmers to transition to organic farming.  Through a method of rapid composting, AIC can provide farmers with a technology that will allow them to make high grade organic fertilizer from locally available farm produce.

AIC enables farmers not only to cut down on the high cost of fertilizers by producing and using their own organic fertilizer, but also allows them to market the excess organic fertilizer to other farmers.

For inquiries on how you can engage in the production of organic fertilizers, you can get in touch with AIC via e-mail at

Monday, October 25, 2010

Safe, ecologically friendly paint that is NOT PAINT

Ecologically friendly, safe, and versatile home finishing solutions in Fineza

If the title confused you a bit, here's the explanation.

Most people in the Philippines use various kinds of paint to finish their homes and make it look, well, nice.  Most Filipinos prefer to use paint rather than other finishes such as wall paper, wood or fabric panels because of the relatively lower cost and ease of installation.

In other countries, where people are more ecologically conscious and where they put a prime value on 'health and safety', people are shifting from ordinary house paint to finishings that do not pollute the environment and do not contain potentially life threatening toxins.

In the US, certain types of paint have been banned largely because of the chemicals and substances contained in them.  Lead containing paint has been banned and now, the US Environmental Protection Agency warns against paint that contains mercury.

There are actually some brands in the Philippines that advertises its safety and eco-friendliness. Some are advertised with claims that their paint does not emit noxious fumes and there are some who even say that their paint emits healthy negative ions.  But, despite the great product claims, these brands and types of house paints are still beyond the reach of the ordinary home builder -- and that's not even factoring the cost of maintaining the finish, which as we know, may cost as much as the initial installation of the paint.

Fineza G-89, the maker of a wide variety of decorative renders (render - coat with plastic or cement), came up with a solution for home finishing that provides many of the benefits of eco-friendly paints at a more economical price.

To put it simply, Fineza G-89's renders is cement that comes in a huge array of colors that can be applied to any kind of surface to achieve any kind of texture you have in mind.

Here's a bit more about Fineza from their website:

Fineza finishing materials are decorative renders applied exterior and interior floors and walls of homes,schools, churches, commercial buildings,  and  any  type  of  dwelling  or  infrastructure.  
Decorative  renders  offer exquisite, high  value, and lasting finishing material  to surfaces  and are superior alternatives to paint and other traditional finishing materials (e.g. wall paper, tiles, etc.).
Aesthetically  beautiful and  budget friendly finishing materials come in various colors, textures, and designs. 
Unlike ordinary paint, fineza offer the following advantages: Easy to use, Does not fade or peel, Odorless, Environmentally Eco-friendly, and Cost Friendly
And one more thing, perhaps, that should be added is that Fineza G-89 adds to your home's fire resistance -- chiefly because it is cement.

Fineza is the sort of finishing you'd want on your home if you really want the finish to last a lifetime.  After application, the render bonds forever with the surface that it has been applied on and the only way you can take it off is to either tear down the wall or use a hammer and chisel to take it off.

Here's a typical residential project where Fineza 89 decorative renders was used:

You may look at other pictures of Fineza G-89 applications here

Fineza G-89 has been used by a wide assortment of builders as finishing solutions, in some cases, replacing even tiles or brick finishes.

Here is just a bit about their current clientele:

among others: Lor Calma Design Associates, Olmedo Designs, Imagimax, Earth & Style, and Multi-Development and Construction Corporation [MDCC]. We are also actively working with top real estate developers, construction companies and property experts such as Laguna Property Holdings Inc., Community Innovations Inc., G.C. Berberabe Construction, Rockwell Land, Century Properties and Makati Development, just to name a few.

If you're interested, just e-mail

Sunday, October 24, 2010

RH Bill, another dead letter law in the making

Despite the hype and dramatics surrounding the Reproductive Health Bill or Bills, it has all the makings of another dead letter law.  It will be a piece of legislation that will neither curb or abate the rise in population significantly or substantially slow down the spread of STDs.  

Making contraceptives and prophylactics available, per se, won't lead to lesser child births or lesser people contracting STDs.  Neither will sex education, per se.

It is a band-aid solution foisted on the general public as a crucial issue of the time, but in reality, the RH bill or bills just make for a drama that serves nothing more as a smokescreen for the present administration's helplessness in the face of the real issues.

There are only two things that can abruptly hinder runaway population growth, for certain.

One is good quality education and another is jobs.

Beauty Products that contain David Suzuki's Dirty Dozen toxins

The following products reportedly contained at least six of the Dirty Dozen.

  • Bath & Body Works: Bubble Baths, Antibacterial Moisturizing Hand Lotions, Sweet Pea Body Lotion, Warm Vanilla Sugar Hand Cream
  • Canus (Caprina) Li'l Goat's Milk Shampoo and Body Wash
  • Caprina Fresh Goat's Milk Body Wash
  • Clarins Lift Anti-Rides Jour (Extra-Firming Day Cream)
  • Compliments Herbal Bath Foam
  • Crabtree & Evelyn Nomad Invigorating Hair & Body Wash
  • Delon Grapeseed Body Butter
  • Dial Clean and Refresh Antibacterial Bodywash
  • Dove Men+Care Clean Comfort Body and Face Wash
  • Être Dead Sea Hand and Body Lotion
  • Exact Apricot Scrub
  • Joico Daily Care Conditioning Shampoo
  • L'Oreal Kids Smoothie Shampoo
  • L'Oreal Paris Vive Pro Smooth Intense Shampoo
  • Lancôme Photogenic Foundation
  • Life Extra Strength Skin Lotion
  • Lubriderm Advanced Moisture Therapy
  • Marc Anthony Curl Defining Shampoo and Instantly Thick Hair Thickening Shampoo
  • NeoStrata Intense Daytime Wrinkle Repair
  • Neutrogena Deep Clean Invigorating Ultra Foam Cleanser
  • Rimmel Lasting Finish Foundation
  • The Body Shop Satsuma Shower Gel
  • The Healing Garden Sensual Plum Body Spray
  • The Healing Garden Uplifting Jasmine Cleansing Body Wash
  • TiGi Bed Head Manipulator (hair styling product)
  • Vaseline Healthy Hand & Nail Conditioning Hand Lotion

Reposting David Suzuki's Dirty Dozen (list of toxins in beauty products)

The Dirty Dozen

(More detailed info at
  1. BHA and BHT: Used mainly in moisturizers and makeup as preservatives. Suspected endocrine disruptors and may cause cancer (BHA). Harmful to fish and other wildlife.
  2. Coal tar dyes: p-phenylenediamine and colours listed as "CI" followed by five digits. P-phenylenediamine is used in some hair dyes; other colours are used in a variety of cosmetics. Potential to cause cancer and may be contaminated with heavy metals toxic to the brain.
  3. DEA-related ingredients: Used in some creamy and foaming products, such as moisturizers and shampoos. Can react to form nitrosamines, which may cause cancer. Harmful to fish and other wildlife.
  4. Dibutyl phthalate: Used as a plasticizer in some nail care products. Suspected endocrine disrupter and reproductive toxicant. Harmful to fish and other wildlife.
  5. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives: Used in a variety of cosmetics. Slowly release small amounts of formaldehyde, which causes cancer.
  6. Paraben, methylparaben, butylparaben and propylparaben: Used in a variety of cosmetics as preservatives. Suspected endocrine disrupters and may interfere with male reproductive functions.
  7. Parfum: Any mixture of fragrance ingredients used in a variety of cosmetics. Some fragrance ingredients can trigger allergies and asthma. Some linked to cancer and neurotoxicity. Some harmful to fish and other wildlife.
  8. PEGs (e.g., PEG -60): Used in some cosmetic cream bases. Can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer.
  9. Petrolatum: Used in some hair products for shine and as a moisture barrier in some lip balms, lip sticks and moisturizers. Can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which may cause cancer.
  10. Siloxanes: Used in a variety of cosmetics to soften, smooth and moisten. Suspected endocrine disrupter and reproductive toxicant (cyclotetrasiloxane). Harmful to fish and other wildlife.
  11. Sodium laureth sulfate: Used in some foaming cosmetics, such as shampoos, cleansers and bubble bath. Can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer.
  12. Triclosan: Used in some antibacterial cosmetics, such as toothpastes, cleansers and deodorants. Suspected endocrine disrupter and may contribute to antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Harmful to fish and other wildlife.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Plastic bags are just a part of plastic pollution, Senator Legarda

Senator Loren Legarda filed Senate Bill 1368 which intends to reduce plastic waste produced by plastic bags.

On the surface of it, it seems consistent with the Senator's green advocacies, but it doesn't seem to touch on the fact that plastic bags account for just part of the problem of plastic pollution.

Plastics are everywhere.

There are plastic bottles, plastic sachets, pouches, etcetera that all end up littering the planet and leaching toxins into the environment.

We urge Senator Legarda to expand this proposed legislation to cover ALL plastic packaging and help deter plastic pollution.

The Philippines contributes to the giant plastic gyre in the north pacific and it should do its part in helping curb the growth of this menace.


Why raise a fuss over plastic pollution?

At Sulo Hotel News Forum I attended with other members of the Philippine Alliance for a Cleaner Earth, Inquirer columnist Mr. Neal Cruz asked me "Why not ban all plastics?"

I really don't know if the old man was making fun of me or being a smart ass.

If I had said then that banning all plastics would be a great idea, I would have branded myself as one of those radical green activists -- which I am not.  

I just can't see myself turning my back on all the modern conveniences that are probably killing the planet.  Plastics provide a lot of these conveniences and banning them all together might leave us with not much else to use.

So, I told Mr. Cruz, banning plastics would be impractical at this point and re-asserted my position that a tax with de-marketing effects would be a better solution to the plastic pollution menace.

The old man said, "That's even MORE impractical!"

It was clear that he didn't like taxes on plastics and this was a sure indication that a tax on plastics might actually work to keep people from buying stuff packaged in plastic.

For some reason, Filipino consumers hate it when they have to pay a few cents or a few pesos more for products and services even when you say that the the money will go to some good cause.  And yet, they hate it when they get crappy public education, floods, crime, inefficient garbage disposal.

The thing is, they recognize the problem but when you start telling them about the cost of solving the problem, most of them bawl and raise a protest -- saying that they're so poor that they can't afford it or raise doubts as to where the money being raised will go.

I encountered this when, as part of Senator Gordon's staff, we proposed a 5 centavo tax on every text message sent.  To make it more palatable, we put in a provision that said that the 5 cents would be taken from the revenue of the cellphone companies.  But, even if you did get it from the consumers, what's five cents anyway?  What's five cents anyway if the money will go to paying for the upgrading of the Philippine Public Education system?  What's five cents if poor children can start going to schools that match the standards of Ateneo, La Salle, and other good private schools?

In any case, what is a few pesos more for the products that you'll end up buying anyway if the money raised will go to funding a plastics retrieval system and possibly deter manufacturers from producing more products in plastic packaging or if manufacturers used less plastic?

Still, I think, people will go against any measure to tax plastic bags and plastic packaging.

However, what most people don't realize is that THEY ARE ALREADY PAYING extra for the plastics they are buying.

I don't know if you realize it, but SM has been charging its customers the cost of the plastic bags for decades now.  You don't notice it because the cost of the plastic bags is basically tucked into the price of the goods that it sells.  Unless, of course, you think that you can actually SM gives out those plastic bags for FREE.

The bad thing about this is that the money that you pay for the plastic bags just go to paying SM's cost for making more plastic bags and not a single cent goes to cleaning up the environment.

SM's claim that their plastic bags are BIO-DEGRADABLE is a false assurance.  First, the plastic bags last for months or years.  Second, even when they do break up into smaller pieces, they don't turn into anything else -- it continues to be plastic.

Another thing that people are paying extra for is the fact that plastics cause most of the flooding in Metro Manila and other urban areas in the Philippines.  They clog storm drains and water ways.

People also pay extra for the damage it does to our seas and sea life.  The plastics floating on our seas end up being eaten by sea animals that die from it.  When it collects on coral reefs, the corals die.  And when you talk about the value of our seas both for sustenance and tourism, the value of this resource plummets when it's littered by plastic trash.

People also pay extra for the toxic substances in plastic that leach out into the food or drink that it contains.  Re-using water bottles is actually a BAD idea, friends.

All those detergents, shampoos, dish washing liquid, and food in plastic sachets are also contributing to plastic pollution.

A friend of mine who turns plastic trash into pavement tiles told me that plastic sachets can't be converted into anything else, not even pavement tiles.

Do you know just how much plastic is produced world wide?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The hard truths about plastic pollution

Unilever Philippines writes back

I wrote Chito Macapagal of Unilever Philippines a couple of days ago and he wrote back.

I'm rather floored that an officer of such a huge company took interest in a letter from me and has even offered to give me more information about his gigantic company's environmental practices.

Perhaps there IS hope for a plastic pollution free Philippines.

Anyway, if you guys want to read it, here's Chito Macapagal's response to my letter asking about what Unilever Philippines is doing about Plastic Pollution.

Dear Paul,
I am chito macapagal of Unilever Philippines. I get to know of your inquiry as i was checking online last night. This morning i received a note that your message has been received eventually by our people in the Consumer Affairs group. I was informed that our website has been undergoing some changes and maintenance at that time . That will explain the error messages you were getting. Likewise , our IT has been migrating my notebook for days now to another unit. Still i can not send out reliably my messages through my Unilever email account thus i am sending you this response via my personal email account.
My apologies therefore for the delay in responding to your email. I am writing to you just to inform you that i have read your concerns and the questions you have on this issue. Let me assure you that i will try my best to answer as much of the questions you have . This is a concern we share with you and with other individuals and groups .
We also have a lot of things to share with you particularly our efforts to address this issue. We will share with you the successes, the challenges , the various routes we have taken and the efforts to strategically and positively influence other companies to take action ,to take a collective multi-industry approach and seek support of other sectors and environmental networks. Unilever Philippines have been proactively working for the preservation of the environment for many years now . It all started with helping a public market in Paco Manila to manage it's solid waste , working in the Rehabilitation of Pasig River for close to a decade now particularly when we were invited in the Pasig River Commission as Private sector representative, Reforestation of La Mesa Watershed, Preservation and Protection of Laguna de Bay via CLEAR ( conservation multipartite partnership with LLDA , Society for the Conservation of Philippine Wetlands and the Global Living Lakes network ( all of these initiatives under our Clean Water program ) and now to an overarching Climate Change Action Roadmap and Program which we have started 4 years ago.
Clean Water and Solid Waste Management is one of Unilever Philippines response to the Millenium Development Goal challenges under Environmental Sustainability. We are also focused on delivering on the MDG Nutrition Challenge and Community Building commitments under GK.
Under Solid Waste Mgmt. we have led our South East Asian region in a Program called Project Eliminate sometime 2003-2004. It is a project geared towards finding a sustainable program in managing solid waste from manufacturing sites. Though there has been a lot of sharing amongst our Asean neighbor companies ,the Philippine operation has placed a tough target by aiming to have a zero landfill by 2005 which we have achieved . Doing so allowed us to become compliant with our Solid Waste Management Law. We succeded in eliminating Land fill from our factories not via one actions but through many small painstaking and major breakthroughs in our operation. We started by doing a waste characterisation study , in Payatas and Pier 18 dumpsite to have a clear and reliable data on the impact of our products that uses flexible packaging. This also served as an internal driver and motivation for us to aspire to succeed.
This i will share with you and others who are interested, as we have shared this on many forums and occasions particularly on SM's Green Retail Agenda briefing for mall tenants , various Forums, Zero Basura Olympics, Environmental Mgmt. Bureau etc.
From our own Post Manufacturing waste, we wanted and have made some positive in roads also in Post Marketing waste ( example used tarpaulins from marketing activities ) and now Post Consumer Waste ( sachets together with other flexible packaging and other recyclable plastic packaging falls under this category ). We can share with you the technical options already available to us ( some we have piloted with success ,)which we have shared with other companies and various industries .
We would also like to share with you some behavioral issues that we need to overcome as it is key to having a sustainable solution to the issue and concern you have raised. We have sought expert opinions and suggestions from NGO's , and other partners who share the same passion and concern. We are also in the process of formally organizing a multiple stakeholder group to manage flexible packaging for industries , producers , manufacturers and even consumers. It has been done with great success in another packaging industry here and there has also been a succesful model in at least another country overseas.
Flexible packaging offers a lot of positive benefits for both producers , manufacturers and consumers....i intend to expound and clarify this issue as well with you.
We are ready to disclose and share all this developments with you as we have already done with others. Personally i am very willing to walk you through and personally answer the questions based on facts we have gathered, data we have on hand and results of our various activities. Please let me know what will be a good time for you to come and visit us. I am also willing to meet you and do the briefing where it is convenient to you. I am also very keen in learning ,hearing your views and getting some insights which will help us address the issue better.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Back patting after Typhoon Juan: 12 dead, 200 thousand homeless, and Php 1.5 Billion damaged crops

If you stay quiet enough, I bet you can hear all the back patting and ass kissing that is surely going on in the corridors of the Malacanang, the Department of Science and Technology, and PAGASA.

Proof of which is this rather GLOWING story about it on the Inquirer titled PAGASA: Team RP proves World Wrong.

Here's Usec. Yumul thumping his chest:
Science Undersecretary Graciano Yumul said international news reports last weekend had been saying that heavy damage to life and property was expected in the Philippines, being a developing country with weak houses and infrastructure.
“I think we were able to prove them wrong,” said Yumul, the OIC of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).
Yumul said government preparedness and the people’s cooperation helped minimize the losses from Super-typhoon “Juan” (international codename: Megi), which made landfall in Isabela province on Monday.
“I think Typhoon Juan showed you Team Philippines,” he said at a briefing in Malacañang.
Here's President Noynoy Aquino, patting his back:

President Benigno Aquino III commended PAGASA and the departments of science and technology, of national defense, of social welfare and development, and the national disaster council.
“I am very happy to report to the public that everyone has delivered. The thorough preparations of all concerned agencies are in marked contrast to the official helplessness of the past, and at present, we haven’t had to ask the public to contribute outside resources,” the President said.

Here are the facts that they buried under the spin: 
As typhoon Juan (international code name: Megi) leaves the country, it has left in its wake more than 200,000 people homeless, 11 dead, and 16 others injured, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said Wednesday.
Citing its latest tally as of 6 a.m. Wednesday, the former National Disaster Coordinating Council said Juan has affected a total of 39,847 families or 215,037 people from the provinces Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Aurora, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga Tarlac, Zambales, Rizal, Cavite, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Mountain Province, and Metro Manila.
Damage to agriculture dealt by super-typhoon Juan was estimated to be at least P1.55 billion, with rice and vegetable farmers taking heavy losses, the Department of Agriculture said Tuesday.
Agriculture Assistant Secretary Salvador Salacup said the estimate was “conservative” as Region I losses were still being verified as of Tuesday.
Reports received by the DA as of 11 a.m. showed that 70,000 metric tons of palay was damaged, but Salacup said this volume was much lower than their worst-case scenario of 600,000 MT.
“We hope that this trend of minimal losses will continue,” he said in a phone interview.
Here's something Yumul should probably post on his office wall:

Prospects for May 2016... Roxas, Estrada, and Marcos

When Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (the daughter of President Diosdado Macapagal Arroyo) rose to the Presidency in 2001, some people recalled the good things that he father had done and the phrase "Poor Boy from Lubao" was put back into circulation for a while.

Now with Noynoy Aquino, the spinners are somewhat painting the return of all that was good and great about the years under Cory Aquino.

And although 2016 is still more than 5 years away, some people are already talking about the return of some old names in Philippine politics.

Certainly, among those names might be Roxas, Estrada, and perhaps, even Marcos.

It seems to be a fair enough assumption given the shape of how things are right now and assuming that Philippine politics will not change substantially in five years.

The voters (about 60 million of them by 2016) will not have substantially changed in terms of the way they make decisions on voting day.  The candidates, with the system being conditioned against those currently outside of the system's mainstream, will use the same tactics aided and abetted by their adherents among the economic elite who control media, transportation, and other logistics crucial during elections.

If this happens, I guess we can be pretty sure (if we aren't sure yet) that this country is really and will be ruled by just a few families -- the so-called Elite.

Friends at the Get Real Philippines/Anti-Pinoy Network have been espousing several ways to deal with the seeming eventuality of another member of the "Elite" taking the reins of power.

Another way is to, as I understand it, select and support members of the elite who are actually 'enlightened'.

These two posts are really worth poring over, if you do have the time (you have more than five years).

Friday, October 15, 2010

Writing to Unilever Philippine's Chito Macapagal regarding plastic pollution

After some searching, I was able to find a media contact for Unilever Philippines.  It wasn't exactly on the Unilever Philippines website media contacts page, but appeared as a fragment on one of the Google search results.  I was also surprised to discover that the Unilever Media Contact page didn't contain a media contact page for the Philippines.

In anycase, I was able to fire off a letter to Mr. Chito Macapagal whom I assume must be in a Corporate Communications capacity.

Dear Mr. Chito Macapagal,
It was rather difficult looking for a way to contact you through e-mail.  Apparently, the link leading to your contact page on the Unilever website had been taken out or replaced.  Moreover, after looking, I found out that no listing for media contacts for the Philippines appears on the contact page.
I was rather lucky enough to find a fragment of the Unilever Philippines Media Contact page and am now able to write to you.
I realize that Unilever Philippines, being firmly committed to helping preserve the environment, must know the impact made by the plastic packaging of its products.
I want to know more about what Unilever is doing to minimize the impact of the plastic packaging of its products on the environment and therefore, would like answers to the following questions.
I would like to know, how many Unilever Philippines products have plastic sachet/pouch variants or are packaged in plastic sachets? 
What are these products? Are the plastic sachets that you use recyclable or biodegradable?
How many of these plastic sachet products are sold in the Philippines?
How do you make sure that the discarded sachets do not end up polluting the environment? 
How do you make sure that they don't end up clogging water ways or the seas? 
Do you have a retrieval system for the sachets that your company uses to package its products?
Moreover, I would also like to ask if Unilever is a participant to the US "Plastics Disclosure Project" of the Clinton Global Initiative, which takes its cue from the Carbon Disclosure Project's carbon and water program.  The project aims to come out with a comprehensive report on every company's plastic usage and encourage the world's investment community to help reduce plastic use, redesign their products and identify programs where money can be saved when it comes to plastic.

I hope my e-mail doesn't bounce back because I really dread having to send snail mail.

After writing to Unilever, I intend to send other companies which also produce products in plastic sachet packaging the same questions.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Aurora Solon files bill against plastic pollution

Congressman Juan Edgardo Angara, representing the lone district of Aurora, has filed a bill which intends to curb plastic pollution.

House Bills 496 or the proposed Plastic Bag Recycling Act of 2010 and House Bill 501 or the proposed Stores Proactive in Plastic Bag Recycling Act of 2010 both bills promoting the reduction of plastics usage, encourage the use of alternative and reusable bags, like canvass or cloth, and devise retrieval and recycling mechanisms for the benefit of the environment.

In a news release posted on the government website just now, Angara explains the need for the law:

The bills seek to establish at-store retrieval and recycling program will be instituted to provide consumers an easier way to partake in this environmental initiative.
"The use of plastic bags must be reduced. This may be achieved by requiring retailers to establish a recycling mechanism for plastic bags and encouraging consumers to use reusable bags," Angara said.
"In the United States, a similar, but seemingly more progressive, move is being pushed to publicly track corporate plastics usage and management plans in the hopes of reducing plastic pollution around the world," Angara said.
Launched at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in Florida, the "Plastics Disclosure Project" takes its cue from the Carbon Disclosure Project's carbon and water program.
"The project aims to come out with a comprehensive report on every company's plastic usage and encourage the world's investment community to help reduce plastic use, redesign their products and identify programs where money can be saved when it comes to plastic," Angara said.
Plastic bags are just part of the plastic pollution generated by companies in the Philippines.

Unilever, San Miguel, Nestle, Procter and Gamble, and other lesser known companies earn billions of pesos from selling products in plastic sachets.

The latest sachet commercial I've seen is the Uno Dos Tres Quatro of Vaseline Shampoo.

Of course, being marketed to the lower income bracket, I can predict a surge in sales that will eventually mean MORE discarded plastic sachets ending up in our country's landfills, waterways, and seas.

Do you think Unilever will pay for cleaning up the mess they create?

I just hope that Congressman Angara, in pursuing this bill, also checks into the plastic pollution generated by companies that use plastic sachet packaging.

Sana magkaruon ng hearing in aid of legislation para magkaalaman kung sino talaga ang pinaka-grabeng plastic polluter.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Freeing Trillanes assures P-Noy's downfall

I agree with Anti-Pinoy's BenignO, there is no rhyme or reason for granting Antonio Trillanes and his hordes amnesty.

A hundred sixty or more politicians in Congress and the Senate putting up a "clamor" to free a senator who disgraced himself by fleeing the courtroom in which he was being tried, dishonorably discharged military officers, and soldiers doesn't add rectitude to what is really no more than a brazen act of political accommodation.

The Oakwood mutiny and the Marines stand-off are the legacies of EDSA.  Where military adventurers hold it in their minds that they are somewhat saving the country from a corrupt regime in the mold of Fidel Ramos and Juan Ponce Enrile.

Nothing threatens our democracy more than a band of soldiers who take arms or threaten to take arms against a duly constituted government for whatever reason.

Article II, Section 3 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution states, "Civilian authority is, at all times, supreme over the military. The Armed Forces of the Philippines is the protector of the people and the State. Its goal is to secure the sovereignty of the State and the integrity of the national territory."

This grant of amnesty ultimately shows that the rot of the previous administration is still very much with us.  This rot, this cancer, is the unequal treatment of the powerful and the powerless.

What this shows is that if you some amount of coercive power and can wield it against the state, you will always be treated with kid gloves and be granted pardon for whatever crimes you may have committed.

The military, long accustomed to corruption, will much better suffer the whims of a corrupt tyrant than suffer the intellectual musings of a weak and inept elected leader.

Mind you, President Noynoy Aquino will soon find himself being bitten by the dogs that he has freed.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Unilever Philippines website contact page bug

Noted Philippine Star columnist Jarius Bondoc advised me to write to Unilever Philippines to ask about what they are doing about the plastic pollution generated by their products packaged in plastic sachets.

Wanting to avoid the hassle of actually sending a letter via snail mail, I thought of using their corporate website's contact page.

Click to enlarge.

Here were the questions I wanted to ask:

I would like to know, how many Unilever Philippines products have plastic sachet/pouch variants? 
What are these products? Are the plastic sachets that you use recyclable or biodegradable?  
How do you make sure that the discarded sachets do not end up polluting the environment? 
Do you have a retrieval system for the sachets that your company uses to package its products?

And after filling out the required information, I pressed SEND and the website came back with an error message.

I checked if any of the fields I wrote information on had any mistakes in them and found out there were none. So I tried sending it again and but kept getting the same error message.

I'm now planning hand carrying a letter to Unilever Philippines, after I find out who I should address the letter to.

Anyway, if you guys want to try to make inquiries about Unilever Philippines' environmental programs, try logging on to their website's contact page.

See if you have better luck than me:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pasig River Run and the fight against plastic pollution

The Pasig River Run is afoot as I write this blog and I am wondering if this much advertised 'awareness generating' as well as 'fund generating' running event will really do anything for the Pasig River.

To really clean up the Pasig River, you have to be aware of what really makes it dirty and you don't have to pay money to run around the city to find out.
Go to your bathroom and kitchen sink.  All the waste water you create ends up in the Pasig River. (Well, yeah, first it goes to your septic tank and then that septic tank basically drains into the sewerage.)  What's worse is that most companies dump their waste water and other pollutants directly into the Pasig River.
Go to your garbage bins.  We can only hope that all the plastic packaging that comes with the goods that you buy ends up in the landfills outside of the city, where presumably, it will rot away and return to the earth.   
The proliferation of so-called 'bio-degradable' plastic bags and recyclable plastic packaging is misleading people into thinking that these plastics will disappear in a poof of smoke after a few weeks.  It won't.  Plastics are FOREVER.  
And the WORST NEWS SO FAR is that hundreds of tons of NON-RECYCLABLE PLASTIC SACHETS are being churned out by companies like UNILEVER, SAN MIGUEL, PROCTER and GAMBLE, NESTLE, and other companies.
The thing is, will Gina Lopez (the head of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Council) tell these TOP PLASTIC POLLUTERS to switch to REAL bio-degradable plastic packaging?
Just consider these rough estimations of how much plastic is generated by the TOP ADVERTISERS OF ABS-CBN:

Estimated impact of Plastics Pollution:
A discards survey in 2006 involving EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace volunteers shows that synthetic plastic materials constitute 76 percent of the floating trash items in Manila Bay, with plastic bags comprising 51 percent; sachets and junk food wrappers, 19 percent; Styrofoam containers, five percent; and hard plastics, one percent. The rest of the rubbish found in Manila Bay consisted of rubber (10 percent) and biodegradable discards (13 percent).
Another study published in 2009 by the US-based Ocean Conservancy revealed that 679,957 of over 1.2 million pieces of marine litter of various types that were gathered in seaside areas during the 2008 International Coastal Clean Up Day in the country were plastic bags.
Giant consumer goods manufacturer Unilever claims that every day, it sells 160 million products. Assuming that the sales volume of the other manufacturing giants, Procter & Gamble and Nestle is in the vicinity of Unilever’s, that would be some 500 million products sold daily.
Let’s peg a conservative estimate that 10 percent of all products sold are in plastic sachets, then that’s 50 million. That’s 50 million plastic sachets and pouches that will eventually find its way to our oceans, waterways, landfills and drainage systems ready to clog the free flow of water and trigger floods or kill marine wildlife.
But it is really reasonable to think that of the 500 million products sold daily by the three giants, only 10 percent of are in tiny plastic sachets?
According to Unilever’s vice president for corporate planning Chito Macapagal, 70% of Unilever Philippines 2007 sales is from the sachet market. That’s 70% of 30 billion pesos, or 21 billion pesos three years ago. That’s nine zeroes following 21. The company was enjoying double digit growth rate from the previous year, so expect that by now those numbers are now not just big, but big big.
Can you picture how many sachets 21 billion pesos’ worth of Unilever products are? Well, let’s see. Which brands of theirs have sachet variants? Sunsilk, Creamsilk, Rexona, Clear, Knorr, Lady’s Choice, Close-Up, Best Foods, and Vaseline come to mind.
Moving on, 21 billion pesos in sachets, if say, the average price for any given sachet were 20 pesos conservatively (I say conservatively because first, most of those mentioned cost less than 20 pesos, and second, 21 billion pesos in Unilever’s sales is at supplier-to-distributor prices, would be equivalent to 1,050 million sachets.
If 1,050 million sachets were sold, then the waste would be 1,050 million multiplied twice to include front and back of the sachet, times 3 inches by 4 inches (I took an estimate of a Clear shampoo sachet), which equals 25,200 million square inches. This is the equivalent of about 16.26 square kilometers worth of sachet or wrapper material. Now, before you do take the initiative to shoot me for driving you nuts with numbers, picture this: 16.26 square kilometers of sachet is enough to cover all of Ilog Pasig.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Sabroso Lechon, handcrafted lechon experience

Last night I decided to drop by for a few BBZ's (Beer Below Zero) at Guzzler (a small drinking spot behind the Shell Station on the corner of E. Rodriguez and Tomas Morato in Quezon City.

I wasn't expecting anything from this unscheduled tippling at the end of a rather busy week.

In any case, I ambled in the beautiful proprietress Bianca welcomed me as usual and insisted that I sit at a table with other friends.

As the drinks came along with the delicious chicken tail barbecue that they have, I got talking with a guy who looked pretty much like Rain and Jet Li.

Our conversation centered around the idea of the ultimate Lechon experience and it was like a conversation with Forrest Gump's best friend Bubba -- except it was about Lechon, not shrimp.

I thought I knew everything there was to know about Lechon until I stepped into a conversation with Charlie Gaw, the 35 year old owner of Sabroso.

In Charlie's tales about Lechon, he talks about all sorts -- from the famous Cebu Lechon and the infamous Pritson to the Cochinillo to the run of the mill varieties that you find in Laloma, Quezon City.  He has tasted it all and swears that only a few Lechoneros really know what good Lechon is.

"You know good Lechon when it kisses your lips, when the aroma of the herbs and marinade tickles your nose, when the skin crunches and crackles, and when the juices of the fragrant meat swirls around your mouth.  Most Lechons look great, but there is no fooling the mouth when it comes to really good Lechon."

A good lechon, Charlie says, starts with the quality of the pig itself and the key is finding the perfect pig for the perfect roast.

For one, Charlie insists on using a freshly slaughtered pig and not one that has been hanging from a freezer for weeks or months.  "I can tell if a pig has been frozen before it was turned into a Lechon, the meat is dry and in some cases, it's like chewing paper." 

He also doesn't buy pigs that are raised in Quezon (which he says are most likely fed with niyog or mature coconut meat, making it masebo or has it prone to having congealed fat), but rather on small farms where the pigs are fed natural corn feed.  The pigs have to have a good life, living free-range where they can walk around and root around the place.

In anycase, Charlie gets these pigs delivered to his own abattoir and these pigs are slaughtered only when there is an order for Lechon.  This assures that the pig that is being roasted is at the peak of its quality.

The cooking method for most Lechons are pretty straight forward.   The whole pig is marinated with spices and herbs, after which, it is put on a spit and roasted.

But, according to Charlie, that isn't good enough.

"The thing with Lechon is that the bones don't get cooked enough and come out of the fire pit still rare.  The uncooked blood in the bones of the pig is what causes the Lechon to spoil after a few hours on the road.  What I do is I have all the pig's bones broken, the most crucial part of which is the spine of the pig -- all of the vertebrate has to be split from the back of the neck to the pelvis and tail."

He says that only after this can the marinating begin.  Apart from the usual salt and paper, he uses lemon grass, young tamarind leaves, and the fruit of a plant that only grows in Cebu.  The flesh and cracked bones get a thorough massage in the marinate.

Once the pig finishes from the flavor spa, it is roasted on an open pit.

Charlie says that most Lechon is taken off the pit after it turns a certain color and the result is a mediocre Lechon with skin that doesn't crackle when it is bitten.

What Charlie does is, after the pig comes from the fire pit, he has a specialist Lechonero go over the whole pig one more time in a high heat pit that turns all of the skin of the pig into crackling.

"The best Lechon doesn't come with paella inside or sisig inside.  You don't need any of that gimmickry with really good Lechon and that's what I try to make.  Simply put, you just have to get the best ingredients and use the best cooking methods you can find, then making the best Lechon is almost assured,"

Friday, October 08, 2010

MmmmmcDonald's... Finally, I can order online

Grinding It Out: The Making Of McDonald's
It has taken them a long while, but FINALLY, here in the Philippines, you can now order your favorite food at McDonalds from your laptop.


I haven't ordered yet, but I was tempted to do so while I was at the Senate hearing on the Pag-IBIG Fund/Globe Asiatique Fiasco.

It seemed everyone got a soft, buttered bun except me.

I could only look at the Senators and resource speakers who were served tuna sandwhiches as lunch time neared.  Man!  I was so tempted to ask Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile for his sandwhich, since he didn't seem at all interested in it.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Mainstay topics for political grandstanding: Illegal gambling, birth control, graft and corruption, sex scandals

If you're a senator and you want to make noise that resounds throughout the archipelago, come up with an investigation on any of the following topics and implicate a number of big names.
Illegal gambling
Birth Control
Graft and Corruption

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

A personal reaction/opinion on the RH Bill: It's still a band-aid solution


New posts on the topic of the RH Bill or HB4244 have been added.

Tackles sections of the bill that are wide open to abuse and corruption.

Tackles alternatives to government procurement stated in various sections of the bill.

"...if you want to really put an abrupt halt to population growth, give people higher quality education and make them productive (i'm not averse to conscripting labor). Good education and a job with some upward mobility is a better contraceptive than whatever you can get over the counter or from health clinics."
Mike Portes reposted this quote on her wall and when stuff that I write gets reposted, I feel something in my lighting up -- causing me to write even more about the kernel that I whittled from somebody else's vast intellect.

Before the start of the official campaign season, I had a chance to attend a bloggers' session with Risa Hontiveros and in that session, one of the topics was the proposed Reproductive Health Bill.

365 Sex Positions: A New Way Every Day for a Steamy, Erotic YearThe Reproductive Health Bill or any proposed legislation that irritates the Catholic Church is a surefire way to create controversy and a lot of media noise.  So, back then, I thought that Pia was just riding on the RH Bill issue to gain media mileage for herself. 

To test her (or just to be testy), I asked her a number of questions and there are just two that I remember from the volley that I threw at her.

One, which drew some laughter, was when I asked: "Why is the gay community backing the reproductive health bill? Do they reproduce?"

Another which was completely ignored was "Rather than give people a choice, people should be forced to stop making babies.  Is there a way to insert a provision in the RH Bill that would force people to use contraception?"

The first question was more of a comment on the fact that the gay community was hotly backing the RH Bill.  Yes, the RH Bill will allow Robin Hood and his Merry Men to get a butt load of free condoms, thereby (we assume) avoid the further spread of HIV/AIDS.  

I have nothing against stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS -- even though, in certain cases, it is a self-inflicted condition that comes with a set of other risky behaviors.

Trojan Her Pleasure Latex Condoms, Lubricated, 12-Count Boxes (Pack of 3)My concern with this is basically economic in nature.  How much of these condoms will go to heterosexual men who want to prevent their women from getting pregnant and how many will go to homosexual men who want to prevent getting or spreading HIV/AIDS?  What are the costs of overpopulation vis-a-vis taking care of people with HIV/AIDS?  How many Freddy Mercury's and Charlton Heston's will free condoms save?  How many Ampatuans and estapador female lawyyers can we keep from being born?

But seriously, I wanted to know if the RH Bill contemplated this and Hontiveros basically said that the free condoms would be distributed to anyone who wanted them.  Then again, I considered how difficult it would be to track how many gay or straight men would use them.  Difficult, I suppose, but certainly not impossible.

Anyway, my issue is whether the amount of government money we are spending is going to preventing pregnancies or preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS.  If over population is the more serious issue, I guess more money (more condoms) should go to men who want to prevent their female partners from getting pregnant.

The other question that I asked Hontiveros, "Is there a way to force people to use contraception?" fell on deaf ears and this is probably the time when Carlo Ople started treating me like a special child. (HAHAHA!)

The spirit of the law, I have been told, is to give people FREEDOM OF CHOICE.  How can people choose if you force them?!!

In some studies (I can't remember which one) it is said that providing people with free contraceptives or making contraceptives freely available hardly slowed down population growth.

Here & NowWith the average Filipino being the way they are, do you think they'll they stop in the heat of the moment to contemplate the consequences of the action they are going to take?  A great number of them not being able to see a future beyond the next meal, asking them to contemplate on consequences is probably an exercise in futility.  For men and women who have no pride in their past and faith in a future, the only thing that matters is NOW.  So, with this kind of people, what do you think will happen to those free condoms and contraceptives?

I don't know.  Perhaps some will use them, perhaps some won't.

And it is the numbers of those who will not use contraceptives that will say whether the RH Bill will be effective in curbing our population growth or not.

So, in my view, I think that in order for the RH Bill to be effective, the people have to be somewhat obligated to use the contraceptives that the government buys.  Otherwise, the government will just end up stock piling all these contraceptives and the multi-national companies that produce them will be laughing all the way to the bank.

The measures I am contemplating to curb population growth are more drastic and basically throw out certain rights.

  • Institute a system whereby the state will fully subsidize the education and health needs of only the first two children born to a couple who are at least 21 years old.

  • For couples who have more than 2 children or cannot provide for the children they already have, their children will be taken from them and taken care of by the state.  Such couples will be forced to undergo tubal ligation (for the women) and vasectomy (for men).

  • All men and women 15 years and above who are not in school or are working should be conscripted to labor in government factories (they'll be given wages, housing, food, etcetera).  I don't care if they manually produce paper clips or hand craft staple wire or dig holes which others will fill, anything to keep them so busy and bone tired that the last think they'll probably want to do is to have sex.

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