Thursday, March 29, 2012

RCBC Trader Mary Grace MG Valbuena permanently barred by PSE

(It looks like forces are really ganging up on MG Valbuena.  Prior to the PSE barring her from trading, talk was rife that one of her higher ups at RCBC had made her a fall-girl for a fiasco, after he was cut out from the revenue stream she was generating.)

(Source: )

The Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) on Thursday said it barred from its premises a trader employed by RCBC Securities Inc. for supposedly scamming the brokerage's clients.

Mary Grace Valbuena, a registered trader for RCBC Securities until last December, “was permanently barred by the PSE from entering its facilities and systems due to willfully causing the unauthorized use or disposition of funds or securities entrusted to her by clients of RSI,” the bourse said in a statement.

The PSE fined RCBC Securities—as Valbuena’s employer—with P5 million on the following violations:
Failure to supervise its Registered Salesperson Mary Grace Valbuena and to implement effective internal control procedures to prevent the unauthorized use and disposition of funds and securities entrusted by clients to RCBC Securities 
Failure to apply the Suitability Rule in relation to SRC Rule 30.2-3(E) on Discretionary Accounts being handled by Ms. Valbuena 
Failure to implement SRC Rule 34.1-2 on Segregation of Functions (Chinese Wall) which allowed Ms. Valbuena to gain access to documents which were found to be manipulated and reproduced by her to defraud clients of RCBC Securities and 
Failure to ensure Ms. Valbuena's compliance with Article IV of the Amended MRD Rules or the Code of Conduct and Professional Ethics for Traders and Salesmen.
The company settled the penalty on March 21, according to the PSE.

PSE also obliged the securities company to provide an additional paid-up capital to cover the payment claims by its affected clients. The total claims amounted to P126 million, but the company put up an additional capital totaling P300 million.

The PSE also recommended that the Securities and Exchange Commission suspend the trading license of Rhodora Alberto, another employee of RCBC Securities for allegedly failing to supervise Valbuena.

"This is a clear demonstration of the PSE's role in enforcing good corporate governance. We would like to assure the public that the PSE will not tolerate such activities by erring personnel of trading participants," PSE president and CEO Hans B. Sicat said in the same statement.

Filipino Hero Worship... The Biggest National Pitfall

In this country (the Phailipppines), anything can be a hero -- whether they show any intent or ability to be one.

Hero worship starts at an early age and sometimes persists through adulthood.  To some, heroes represent what they'd like to be and to others, heroes represent someone who'll save them from one situation or another.

I have nothing against heroes or hero worship at all.  If someone's hero or hero worship makes them a better person or helps them get through the day, then fine -- I am all for it.

However, there are instances when I am almost certain that Filipinos have gone way over-the-top with making heroes out of anything and anyone.

About two weeks ago, I spotted a picture of a dead dog and a snake.  The caption that came with it narrated a story that would melt the heart of most dog lovers:
But when Maria Victoria later emerged from the room, she was terrified to find the cobra poised about two feet away. Equally startled, the cobra expanded its hood and appeared to be spitting venom as it prepared to strike. 
"The snake was in front of us, maneuvering a deadly attack," says Maria Victoria. "I screamed out loud to ask for help." 
That's when from "out of nowhere", Chief dashed between the cobra and the two women, using himself as a shield against the cobra's attacks. Chief then seized the cobra by the neck and slammed it into the floor, killing it. 
But for Chief it was a Pyrrhic victory. In the struggle, he sustained a fatal bite to the jaw, and moments later he began gasping for breath and collapsed. 
The family sought the help of a veterinarian, but they were told that nothing could be done. According to the vet, the bite was too close to Chief's brain, and the venom had already spread. Maria Victoria called her husband Marlone who, stunned by the news, rushed home immediately.
At least two Facebook Friends posted the link to the story and one of them said in a status update that the dog Kuya or Chief was a hero just like the other dog hero Kabang.

After reading the word "hero", I spent the next few minutes trying to keep myself from commenting that animals that save people's lives cannot be regarded as heroes.

But before I explain why, it's best to look at a definition of 'hero' and here's one from Wikipedia:
Later, hero (male) and heroine (female) came to refer to characters who, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display courage and the will for self sacrifice—that is, heroism—for some greater good of all humanity.  
This definition originally referred to martial courage or excellence but extended to more general moral excellence.  
So, in this definition, the classical hero is:
1. Someone who faces a challenge or danger from a position of weakness or adversity.
2. Displays courage and willingness to sacrifice himself
3. Commits an act to achieve some greater good
Both dogs faced danger. Both dogs sacrificed themselves and saved lives.  But did both dogs do so willingly?  

They acted instinctively, not willingly.  In order to act willingly, you have to have will or the mental faculty by which one deliberately chooses or decides upon a course of action.

If, for example, the dogs knew they were going to die as a result of their action, would they still do it? I think the instinct for self-preservation would probably over ride all of their other instincts.

In the case of Pacquiao, he has risen from poverty to become one of the greatest Filipino boxing champions. There is no doubt that it takes courage to fight in a boxing ring and there is some measure of self-sacrifice involved, but is it for the greater good?  Perhaps only indirectly.

Perhaps he gives away some of his prize money directly or through charitable organizations.  Perhaps, also, in paying the correct amount in taxes, he is also helping people.  Perhaps, his victories inspire young men and women to excel in whatever area of expertise they chose to excel in.

But all that is an indirect effect of Manny's victory in the ring.  When Manny Pacquiao wins a fight, the prize money and the glory all belong to him and him alone.

In the case of President Benigno S. Aquino III, there is no doubt that he has a large following and those followers probably worship or idolize him or at least venerate what he represents.

Did he encumber adversity to get to his position now? Did he demonstrate courage or the willingness for self-sacrifice?  What acts has he done that has brought about greater good?

I am sure his followers will have no lack of answers to all three questions.  

As for me, I think the hardest thing he has done is to campaign for his position.  All the courage and self-sacrifice redounds to the political clout he now has.  As for acts that accomplish some greater good, I think that is basically something that is pre-programmed and executed almost reflexively by various government agencies.

Now, as for this girl wading against flood waters carrying a Philippine flag, I think Better Philippines can explain the circumstances better than I can:
base mismo sa interview sa batang yan at sa kuya niya. inutusan lang siya. bakit nagkaroon ng heroism angle. kasi ang ibang tao yun ang ikinabit na deskripsyon sa litratong iyan. eh nung ininterview na yung bata at kamaganak siempre medyo leading na ang mga tanong patungo sa heroism angle eh di natural lumabas na nga na hero herohan.
(Translation: Based on the interview with that kid and her older brother, the kid was merely instructed to fetch the flag. How did the picture get imbued with a heroism angle? Other people described it as heroic.  The relatives of the kid were interviewed and leading questions were used to get them to get them to support a heroism angle, so then the kid was called a hero.) 

Now, why does it seem that it is important for Filipinos to describe one person or another as a hero?

It is because, in reality, most Filipinos think of heroes not as models for emulation but rather as people who will save them from one set of circumstances or another.  Why? Because most Filipinos think of themselves as helpless victims and they need saving all the time.

Instead of aspiring to be Pacquiao, guess what most of Manny's relatives do?

I rest my case.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Caltex Three Pesos Off Promo March 29, 2012

Our participating stations tomorrow (Mar 29) will cover the following areas:

1.     Ireneville Subd Sucat Rd Paranaque
2.     San Isidro, Sucat Road, Paranaque
3.     Buendia/Leveriza Pasay City
4.     West Service Road Paranaque (Elamar Marketing, Julieta Tenoria)
5.     Canaynay Ave San Dionisio Paranaque
6.     FTI Complex Taguig
7.     Ninoy Aquino Ave., Kabihasnan, Paranaque
8.     San Dionisio Paranaque
9.     BF Homes Paranaque
10. Nayong Pilipino MIA Rd Pasay City
11. Dr. A. Santos Ave., Sucat Road, Paranaque
12. Lots 18 and 19, Dona Soledad Ave., Better Living Subd., Paranaque City
13.  Gen Luis St Kaybiga Caloocan (From NLEX Valenzuela exit, turn right)

Please wait for the daily announcement of participating Caltex stations which will offer savings treats of up to P3.00 off per liter.

Promo runs on weekdays from February 14 to March 30, 2012. You have from 7am to 7pm each day thus you don’t need to fret as we give you a total of 12 hours to grab this amazing deal

Caltex Three Pesos (P3.00) OFF Promo March 28, 2012

Our participating stations today Mar 28 will cover the Quezon City area:

1.     125 Quirino Highway, Greater Lagro, Quezon City
2.     Sauyo, Quezon City
3.     Unno. Quirino Highway Brgy 182,
4.     885 Quirino Hiway Bgy. Gulod, Novaliches, Quezon City
5.     Commonwealth Ave.corner Feria Road., Quezon City
6.     Lot 43, C3 A. Commonwealth Ave., Brgy Holy Spirit, Quezon City
7.     Quirino Highway, Baesa, Quezon City
8.     Zabarte, Quezon City
9.     Regalado Ave., near SM Fairview, Quezon City
10. Neopolitan Quezon City
11. Fairview Ave., cor. Regaladao St., Quezon City

Please wait for the daily announcement of participating Caltex stations which will offer savings treats of up to P3.00 off per liter.

Promo runs on weekdays from February 14 to March 30, 2012. You have from 7am to 7pm each day thus you don’t need to fret as we give you a total of 12 hours to grab this amazing deal

Monday, March 26, 2012

To the Nincompoops Who Keep Asking President Noynoy Aquino to Lower Fuel Prices

Unless you believe President Noynoy Aquino is truly heaven sent and can command the heavens to rain down oil on the Philippines, asking him to do something to lower fuel prices may be too much for the powers of the Son of Cory and Ninoy.

Here's the thing that people are missing when they think that the Aquino Administration or any administration can or will lower fuel prices if they hold rallies or hold their breath till they are blue in the face.

One. The Philippines DOES NOT PRODUCE OIL that can be turned into gasoline or regular diesel.

Two. Oil producing countries sell oil and set the price for oil based on prevailing market conditions, estimated supply and projections on future demand.

Three. The Philippines has to buy the oil or fuel refined from the oil at a price dictated by companies in oil producing countries.

Four. The Philippines cannot dictate the price of oil or fuel since it does not have a leverage in terms of being a big buyer or geo-political clout that can affect the oil industry of the world.

Five. The only way to lower the price of oil is to have government interfere with market forces by subsidizing the price of oil -- this means shelling out money so that fuel companies in the Philippines can sell it at one or two pesos less.  But the problem is, fuel companies do not show exactly how they price their product and they can jack up their prices without clearly showing why it is necessary.  So, they can claim an upward price adjustment is necessary and the government essentially must decide whether to increase subsidies to maintain a level fuel price or allow the price hike to take place, while still subsidizing fuel prices.  

Subsidies for fuel and other things are taken from the taxes collected from private individuals and companies.  So instead of people and businesses having more money to put away, invest, or spend in ways that will earn more money thereby enabling them to cope with high fuel prices, the money is taken away from them by government who loses a large amount of the tax money to corruption and inefficiency.

Six. One way to cut fuel prices by 12 percent is to lower or do away completely with the Value Added Tax on fuel and that may mean less funds for government services -- not that people would actually feel it because the government, as I've said, is inefficient as well as corrupt.

The only way to lower the price of fuel, fossil fuel, is to curb demand by shifting to lower priced substitutes. That means using less fossil fuel through a number of means:

Making public transportation more efficient.  Ride bus, save gas.  But only if buses come at a regular schedule and are not over-crowded or hot.

Synchronizing working hours according to a staggered schedule.  This might entail classifying various employees into different classes and figuring out when they are actually needed on-site.  The idea behind this is to control the demand for transportation and making peak traffic loads predictable. Laborers in construction or manufacturing might be made to report earlier since they are the more numerous.  Executives should come at a later schedule.  Certain types of professionals (those involved in medicine, for example) can be made exempt.

Allow telecommuting or working at home.  If you don't have to travel to work, you don't need to use a car or ride on public transport, thereby reducing the demand for fuel.

Establish Vehicle Free Zones within Cities.  I've actually seen executives in Makati drive their car or take a cab from one building to another building just two blocks away.  If you had a Vehicle Free Zone in Makati CBD, you'd eliminate a lot of pollution, healthier executives who will have to walk in between snack filled meetings, and again, a lesser demand for fuel.

Step up the use of renewable fuels.  Right now, gasoline is cut with 10 percent ethanol and diesel is cut with 5 percent bio-diesel.  In Brazil, there are cars running on 100% ethanol.  In the US and Europe, diesel engines are run on 100 percent UCO biodiesel. So, if you can imagine the entire Philippines using 100 percent ethanol or 100 percent UCO biodiesel, we might be practically impervious to fossil fuel price hikes.

Philippine Professional Boxing Will No Longer Be Under Gab -- Pimentel


ONCE the Philippine Boxing Commission (PBC) is created, professional boxing will no longer be under the jurisdiction and responsibility of the Games and Amusement Board (GAB).

Senator Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel III said his proposed senate bill to form a boxing commission to ensure the protection of all Filipino boxers will be working independently under the government just like the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and GAB.
“The boxing commission will take all the responsibilities from the GAB when it comes to the welfare of all local boxers,” Pimentel told the Manila Times in an exclusive interview Sunday during his visit to some Filipino boxers at the Elorde gym in Meralco Avenue in Pasig City.

The PBC, he said, will focus only on boxing while the GAB will have time to focus on other professional sports. The PBC could also help amateur boxers if needed, Pimentel explained.

Pimentel, who did not blame though the GAB for the various incidents that transpired early this year in professional boxing, said that the boxing commission will try to find a way to protect the interest and welfare of Filipino boxers in the country and even abroad.

He guaranteed the boxers during his visit in the Elorde gym that he will look for a private insurance firm or private sponsors to handle the boxers’ financial problems. The boxing commission is also entitled to finance the boxers.

“We will find a way to help our Filipino boxers in terms of their pension and retirement benefits,” said Pimentel, admitting also that most private insurance companies in the country are not interested to insure boxers.

Pimentel, who is the vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Youth and Sports, is the Philippine Boxing Commission’s author in the Senate, while Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao serves as his counterpart in the congress.

“There are so many negative things that happened and we do not like that to happen again just like the death of Maquinto, our boxer facing a different opponent and recently the incident in Argentina,” he said. “All those things should not happen again.”

Carlo Maquinto died last January after sustaining blood clot in his brain after his fight in Caloocan, while the promoter of Rey ‘Boom Boom’ Bautista was fooled by a boxing Mexican agent after sending a wrong non-competitive boxer identified as Genaro Garcia.

Last February, Filipino Johnreil Casimero won the International Boxing Federation’s light flyweight title against Luis Lazarte in Mar Del Plata in Argentina, but an ugly riot sparked after the bout where most disappointed fans stormed the ring and attacked Casimero and his promoters.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sen. Koko Pimentel Probes the Real Brutality of Boxing

Friends over at Get Real Philippine Community will probably wince when they read this, but I am a Manny Pacquiao Fan.  

Every time Manny wins, there's a little Flip in my that thumps his chest and shouts "Proud to be  Pinoy!"

But, after learning about the struggles and outright brutality scores of unknown Filipino boxers face outside the ring, I think my inner Flip Manny Pacquiao fan will have to sober up a bit.

The Plight of Unknown Filipino Boxers

You see, while millions of Filipinos cheer Manny Pacquiao on, there are hundreds of other unknown Filipino boxers slugging away and trying to eke out a living from the sport.

Unknown Filipino boxers who have not earned the stature of Pacquiao engage in fighting bouts for paltry sums of prize money which they have to split with their manager (at a hefty 50-50 or in some cases, with just 40 percent going to the boxer).  Those who already have earned rank are paid about P1,000 per round whether they win or lose in a fight -- which is a tough way to make a living.

One story that was told to me by a former boxer who is now a boxing trainer at a gym is that, despite all the gear they have on, boxers always go down the ring suffering bruises and cuts.  They are seldom given medical attention after fights and they are usually left to their own devices as far as getting some sort of medical treatment is concerned.

The boxing trainer I spoke to even says that some boxers who get knocked out even go home riding a jeep. No stay at the hospital, no post fight medical examination of any sort.

Now, not being treated for fight injuries is one thing.  Getting stiffed by either your promoter or manager is another thing.

One former fighter says he was offered a fight in Japan in 2002 and the papers he signed in the Philippines stated his opponent would be 112 pounds.  When he arrived in Japan, he was surprised to find out that his opponent was 122 pounds and he was clearly outmatched.  Despite being somewhat duped, he decided to throw care to the wind (or in tagalog'bahala na!') and push through with the fight.  He claims to have busted his opponent's right eyebrow open and this caused the referee to stop the fight.  But for some reason, the promoter prevailed upon the referee to continue the fight and just as the unknown Filipno boxer was scoring 10s from all the judges, a towel from his corner flew into the ring.  Someone in his corner stopped the fight.

The thing is, he was flown to Japan and when he got there, there were no officials from our country to certify that the fight was legit.  He didn't have anyone in his corner looking out for him and he was cheated out of a sure victory.

But despite "losing", he was at least paid for his performance -- which was a bit of a consolation.

He was lucky he didn't end up like Lito Sisnorio:
Angelito "Lito" Sisnorio Jr. (October 10, 1982 - April 1, 2007) was a Filipino World Boxing Council youth flyweight champion boxer who died following a controversial boxing match in Thailand in April 2007. The controversy over the match arose from the fact that Sisnorio's role in the fight was not officially sanctioned by the Philippine Games and Amusement Board. 
He reportedly sustained brain injuries during the fight on March 31, 2007, which he lost by knockout to Thai boxer Chatchai Sasakul. Following unsuccessful brain surgery, he was pronounced dead at Piyamin Hospital in Thailand at 9:15 PM, April 1, 2007. 
His death prompted the Philippine Games and Amusement Board to ban all fights involving Filipino boxers in Thailand starting April 2007

Dying for the sport

Getting stiffed by a promoter or manager is one thing, but becoming a stiff or dying from boxing related injuries is probably the worst thing that can happen to a boxer.

Just this year, Filipino Flyweight Karlo Maquinto died after sustaining head injuries in a fight.

Here's a snippet of a news article on Maquinto's death:
The right-hander, fighting only his ninth bout as a professional boxer, was taken to hospital last Saturday after rallying from two early knockdowns to salvage a majority draw against fellow Filipino Mark Joseph Costa. 
Maquinto, 8-0-1 with six wins by knockout, collapsed after the four-round bout in northern Manila. 
Rhoby Orata, another member of the hospital medical staff, told ABS-CBN television in an interview that Maquinto was diagnosed with brain swelling, with a blood clot also detected at the right side of his brain. 
“From the start Karlo’s prognosis was not good,” Orata added.
A while back, there was the story of Z Gorres who nearly bought the farm but recovered from brain-swelling.

Moving the Create the Philippine Boxing Council

I first became aware of a move the create the Philippine Boxing Council through a status update posted on Sen. Koko Pimentel's Fanpage on Facebook.

The short update reads:
Born out of last Thursday's hearing of the committee on games and sports, boxing great and Sarangani representative Congressman Pacquiao and I agreed to push for the creation of the Philippine Boxing Commission (PBC).  
The PBC will take care of all details about boxing to benefit all stake-holders most especially the boxers who we all want to have long productive careers and from whose ranks we also hope to produce the next Manny Pacquiao. 
Boxing is the best chance for our country's 1st Olympic gold medal and more worldwide sports glory for our county. By creating the PBC, this will ensure that we will produce more Pacmans and protect the well-being of our Pinoy boxers.
The senator has yet to file the Senate version of the proposed Philippine Boxing Council but there is strong support for the idea of an official body that will look after the welfare of Filipino boxers.

At an informal consultation meeting with boxers and boxing trainers at Elorde's Gym in Ortigas, former boxers and 4 current boxing champions took advantage of the opportunity to tell Pimentel about some of their concerns.

All the boxers approved of the creation of a Philippine Boxing Council, saying that they really needed government agency that focused on assuring the welfare of those who engage in boxing as a professional sport.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Booster Energy Shot... I love you.

Caffeine loaded drinks get me through my 18-hour long days.  I start my day earlier when most people are still sleeping and end it long after most people have tucked in for the night. 

But some times, in the middle of the day and just after lunch (around 2:00PM or 3:00PM), my energy level some times drops.  I usually blame it on whatever I had for lunch and some of my friends say it's because of the circadian rhythm.

I used to take coffee with as little sugar as possible at around this time.  But some times, it's just a hassle to get up, mix up a cup of joe, and wait for it to cool.  Sometimes I just need a quick boost in between deadlines.

Energy drinks would be a time saver, except that most of them are too sweet, too strongly carbonated, or have that weird smell that lingers on your breath hours after drinking it.

Yet another alternative are those Spanish cold medicines with Epherdrine, but I haven't been able to get any of those for a long time (besides, if your company suddenly tests you for drugs, you'll turn up positive for crystal meth).

Just recently, I've found the solution to my problems at a drugstore.  

It's called "Booster C Energy Shot".  It is non-carbonated, it is low calorie, and doesn't have any of that strong flavoring I hate in energy drinks.  It's got 80mg of caffeine, energy vitamins, royal jelly, and ginseng.

What is a bit of concern though is that it contains phenylketonnurics in the form of Phenylalanine, an artificial sweetener that has gotten a pretty bad rap.

At just 60ml, you can down Booster C Energy Shot in just one chug and off you go.  It claims to have long lasting effects and promises no to give you a crash -- which happens often with some energy drinks that have a wee bit too much sugar.

I've been downing two Booster C Energy Shots whenever my energy flags (which doesn't happen often in a week) and so far, the claims are quite true.

Then again, as with most energy drinks, it is always best to use them sparingly.  If you use these drinks often enough, you'll start experiencing very negative side effects and the worst of them may be sleeplessness.  Sleep deprivation plus energy drinks will definitely put you in a destructive cycle that, at worst, can land you in the hospital.

So, as far as my review of Booster C is concerned, it's great but use with precaution.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cebu City and the rest of the Philippines should trade its butt-hurt in for an anti-littering campaign

In my opinion, focusing on the butt-hurtedness of Cebuanos and other Filipinos seems like an old hat that should be retired from any further discussion. 

Pan Doe, a member of the GRP Community says:
If you guys in DOT don't want to happen this again, better start to clean your department and implement plans to improve our tourism. 
Im sick and tired of hearing these onion skinned flips who do nothing but rant and ask for apology. geez!
Doe's observation is valid, but stops at offering a solution.  

But just as much as people are wasting their time ranting about how butt-hurt they are about Jimmy Siecska, there are can't see or think beyond the finger they are pointing at the butt-hurtedness.

We already know that most Filipinos are onion-skinned or emotional about things.  That's the low hanging fruit on any Pinoy Culture Discussion Tree and really, the prized apple on this tree is how to direct that butt-hurtedness towards something that will solve the problem.

One idea that came to mind while spinning wheels with some of the folks on the thread, I remembered an old TV ad campaign in the late 1970's called "Pitch In".

The Pitch In anti-litter campaign was backed by  Anheuser-Busch, one of the largest beer companies in the US at that time. (Which kinda makes me think, if most of the litter happened to be liquor bottles and beer cans, shouldn't they have funded a sobriety campaign as well?)

The campaign drove home the message that keeping the country litter free was everybody's job.  It appealed to a sense of nationalism ("keep America clean") and gave everyone a role in it by channeling patriotism into the act of picking up litter wherever you go.

During its hey day the campaign tagline became part of popular culture and helped strengthen the litter prevention efforts across the US.

In Olongapo City, then Mayor Richard Gordon sought to clean up his city by getting everyone to sweep the street in front of their houses and strictly implemented an anti-littering ordinance.  This was later adopted by other LGUs throughout the country and was even given a slogan of sorts, "Tapat ko, Linis ko."

But the thing is, this didn't find itself into popular culture and so affect the general state of cleanliness around the country.

Perhaps, what can be done today is for government to ask advertisers of popular TV shows (everything from noon time game shows to teledramas) to exert influence on producers of TV shows to find ways of  motivate everyone to pick up litter wherever they find it.

Of course, in getting people to adopt the habit of picking up litter, the campaign should be done in tandem with strict enforcement of anti-littering laws.

People found littering don't have to pay money, but will be made to sweep a ten meter section of a sidewalk or street for an hour or two.  They will also be given the responsibility of apprehending others who throw litter their section of street, otherwise, every person that they allow to throw litter will result a penalty of 10 more minutes of sweeping or a meter more of road to take care of.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Caltex Three Pesos (P3.00) Off Promo Participating Stations March 20, 2012

Our participating stations tomorrow (March 20) will cover Navotas and Valenzuela:
1.     Mc Arthur Highway, Malinta, Valenzuela
2.     T. Santiago St., Bo. Lingunan, Valenzuela
3.     159 M. H. del Pilar Avenue, Tugatog, Malabon
4.     McArthur H-way, Tinajeros, Malabon
5.     Gov Pascual Ave cor Sisa St., Tinajeros, Malabon
6.     C4 Dagat-dagatan Malabon
7.     NFPC, R-10, Navotas
8.     M. Naval St. Navotas
9.     Susano-Camarin Road, Bagumbong, Caloocan
10. 114 A Mabini St, Maypajo, Caloocan

The Dangers of Homebrewing UCO Biodiesel in a Subidvision

With fuel prices going up and the gospel of converting various "feedstock" into bio-diesel in you backyard (or someone else's) may look like a smart alternative to paying through the nose every time you fill up your tank with ordinary diesel.

It's not.  In fact, it may be stupid if you don't know what you are doing and if you are doing it in your own backyard (or right smack in a residential area). 

One of the dangerous substances used in the production of UCO biodiesel is Methoxide.
Sodium methoxide is the true ingredient that reacts with the vegetable oil to make biodiesel (methyl esters).  
Sodium methoxide is an extremely caustic base. The vapors that the mixing process emits, as well as the liquid itself, are extremely toxic. Be absolutely certain to wear heavy duty synthetic rubber gloves, eye protection and an approved respirator.
What is Sodium Methoxide
Sodium methoxide is prepared by carefully treating methanol with sodium:
2 Na + 2 CH3OH → 2 CH3ONa + H2 
The reaction is so exothermic that ignition is possible.
Sodium Methoxide is not only dangerous, it can ruin your vehicle's engine too.

Moreover, methoxide is highly volatile and the resulting sodium methoxide is highly toxic. During the process of creating sodium methoxide, lots of hydrogen and heat are used increasing the dangers involved in the process. The high toxicity levels of sodium methoxide also make it very hazardous catalyst to be used in biodiesel productions. 
What the chemical does is kill human nerve cells before any pain can be felt. When exposure to methoxide occurs, it is best to rinse the affected areas with water and ask for medical treatment immediately. 
Another major disadvantage of using sodium methoxide in biodiesel production is the fact that the compound needs to be purified from the biodiesel. Not doing so can cause a lot of problems for the end consumers. 
First off, unwashed biodiesel will never meet the standards of ASTM (American Society of Testing and Materials). 
Second, when the biodiesel left unwashed some alcohol, sodium hydroxide, and soap may remain in the fuel itself. These elements can easily cause biological growth when the fuel degrades which can ruin the engine or its parts. 
Another reason why unwashed biodiesel is not advisable is that having unreacted methanol in the biodiesel fuel can result in fire or explosion aside from causing corrosion to some of the engine's parts. In particular, unfiltered sodium methoxide might also cause corrosion of other engine components.
 So, if you are buying bio-diesel from an unlicensed home brewer, it's your risk.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Jimmy Sieczka is just another American dipshit honky

(Updated with pictures from Jimmy Sieckzka's video)

Jimmy Sieczka is the guy in the youtube video "20 reasons why I dislike the Philippines" and in my view, he's just another American dipshit honky who has somewhat gained popularity/infamy among a small group Filipinos on the internet. 

Now, before you start accusing me of being another onion-skinned Pinoy, let me clue you in on where I am coming from. 

Before Jimmy Sieczka, there are about a dozen or so other American and at least one Asian dipshit who became the subject of discussion in social media. The thing is, Jim's video comes after the David Letterman-Taylor Kitsch brouhaha where apparently, in a turn of a conversation with Letterman, Kitsch inadvertently was understood as saying that he was asked for a bribe at the airport here in the Philippines. 

As it turns out, he wasn't even in the Philippines. 

The thing is, if you go through the poorer, run-down section of any city in any country, you'll probably find the same things that Jimmy will find filth, piss everywhere, prostitution, crime, and other things.

Here's a picture of a ghetto in Detroit.

Here's a picture of a rundown neighborhood in Hongkong:

Here's a slum area in Malaysia:

Here's another one in Indonesia:

The point is, you will inevitably find something to complain about wherever you go in the world.

One thing that Jimmy doesn't say in his video is, why the heck did you go to a bar serviced by Lady Boys if you really wanted be with real women?

The thing is, it's pretty clear to me that perhaps Jimmy isn't really trying to make a social commentary or be funny.  He has probably discovered at least one sure way of getting hits from some 26 million Filipinos on social media and that is to pluck a very sensitive nerve by picking on flaws in "pinoy culture".

Anyway, complaining for the sake of complaining or worse, just for the sake of getting some attention is just pathetic. 

I think that if people are complaining because they want to improve things, they shouldn't stop at just complaining. They have to take steps to fix it. 

Busted CR in the mall? Complain about it to the administration of the mall, write them or blog about them and then write about it. However, if you do find a badly maintained public CR in a wet market or in some run down part of Manila, well, it's an indication that you brought the wrong set of expectations. 

Dirty streets? Complain about it to the Mayor's office, make it formal. While you are at it, be sure that you don't contribute to the problem of dirty streets by littering. What is better is to develop the habit of picking up the litter you find and throwing them properly into the nearest waste basket -- it shouldn't matter to you that it is somebody else's littler, that's how things start. 

Now, I am not debunking the use of social media in order to make changes happen. However, I am pointing out that a video or blog post hardly does anything by itself unless and until it moves people to actually do something. 

I mean, if you really care about doing something, then it is definitely time to log off from your blog's dashboard or sign off from Facebook, get some gear together and march out of the door to find something to fix. 

Using social media to complain may be more effective if it is paired with the act of lodging a formal complaint. Because, for one, the complaint is formal and therefore should at least be acknowledged as having been received. Any resulting inaction could be grounds for formal charges later or at least, it could be proof that the agency or organization was notified about a complaint and they ignored it. 

When the outrage over the Willy Revillame-Jan Jan controversy was just starting to catch on, I was among the first people to write to Unilever to call their attention to the offensive scene in the TV show they were sponsoring. Then I blogged about writing them a letter and in a matter of days, they stopped placing TV commercials on Revillame's show and they also issued a statement. 

Then again, it is also true that just like the way media does it, the publicity you can generate for a problem using social media can be effective in pressuring government agencies to act. This can happen without a formal complaint and still result in action. However, I have the impression that the pressure from social media should be strong, widespread, and sustained. 

One blog post isn't going to do anything until and unless a lot of people (including the bigshots in social media) turn it into a cause of sorts. 

As far as online campaigns are concerned, it should have the following elements: The complaint must be stated as clearly as possible. 

The complaint cannot be vague like, "The whole government is corrupt" or "there is no justice in the Philippines". It has to be specific.  
The complaint must martial facts in an organized and orderly manner. A complaint turns into an adolescent rant when it is nothing but a long string of accusations. Take time to research the facts and organize it in a way that will be easy for a lot of people to understand. The better you are at describing the problem and making people understand the problem, the easier it will be for people to work together to solve the problem.  
The complaint must give convincing reasons why it is important that people act on the complaint. The complaint must have a call to action. You have to come up with some idea of how to solve the problem and if you don't have an idea, then perhaps, the call to action may be to solicit ideas or even perhaps ask experts/authorities in a field relevant to the complaint to help find solutions.  
The complaint must be directed against the relevant officer or official of an agency or organization. The thing is, for small stuff that people can do together on their own, just raising awareness will suffice. But if it involves more resources and more people acting on a problem over a sustained period of time, you will need the help of an organization. 
And also, if you really want to solve a problem that affects a lot of people, you have to state the complaint in a manner that will not be offensive to the people whose cooperation you will need. 

Using a smart-ass approach may look cool, but the thing is, not everybody will find it cool or funny. The worst thing that can happen is that it may just offend people who can actually help solve the problem.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

CALTEX (P3.00) Three Pesos Off March 16, 2012

Participating stations tomorrow (March 16) will cover the Manila area: 

1. 1868 AH Lacson cor P. Guevarra Sts. Manila 

2. 1526 Andalucia cor Laong laan, Sampaloc, Manila 

3. 2297 Dimasalang cor Blumentritt Sts., Sta. Cruz, Manila 

4. Pres. Quirino Ave, Ermita, Manila 

5. New Panaderos corner Lamayan Sts. Sta Ana Manila 

6. San Marcelino, Ermita, Manila 

7. 1679 Pedro Gil St., La Concordia, Paco, Manila 

8. 2221 PresQuirino Ave., Paco, Manila 

9. Quirino Ave cor Osmena Hway Manila 

10. Jose Abad Santos Ave., Tondo Manila

Reaction on the Philippine Daily Inquirer's Picture of Defense Witness Demetrio Vicente

The Philippine Daily Inquirer ran this picture of Corona Impeachment
defense witness Demetrio Vicente on its frontpage. It is claimed that
Demetrio's twisted and gnarled facial expressions are the result of having suffered
a stroke. An inordinate number of people who saw it registered their disgust
over the apparent breach in journalist ethics and scored the
newspaper for violating its own code of standards and practices.
This article is my take on the online brouhaha.

People who have family members or friends who have been suffered a major stroke may have felt disgust upon seeing this picture of Corona Impeachment defense witness Demetrio Vicente on the front page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

It is claimed that his twisted and gnarled facial expression in these series of photographs is the result of some nerve impairment caused by a massive stroke or strokes.

The pictures are unflattering, to say the least.  And the caption below it hints that whoever wrote it must have been making fun of the old man's picture.
CHARACTER WITNESS. The many faces of Demetrio Vicente on the witness stand. He's no ordinary windess after all. He's the cousin of the Chief Justice whose wife sold him several parcels of land in 1990...
Whoever wrote the caption should be aware that most people can figure out the manner in which the word "character" was used tends to come off as a disparaging innuendo -- perhaps that of being a character actor.  The fact is, Vicente was not testifying on the character of the accused but was giving testimony on the parcel of land he claims he had bought from the Coronas. 

Whether the Inquirer's treatment of Vicente's picture on the frontpage of Inquirer reveals bias or an attempt to brazen attempt to discredit Vicente for the benefit of the Aquino Administration is another matter.

I have used the same picture, but instead of referring to Vicente as a "character witness", I chose to highlight the how his twisted facial expression matches his contorted claim of buying several properties belonging to the Coronas.

Of course, some people didn't pick up on the irony and mistook it for "making fun of a disabled" person. One person says I should have just used on picture and another says I should have added a phrase referring to his disability.

The thing is, this is my blog and I chose to write the caption in the way I did, which is "Defense witness Demetrio Vicente has difficulty keeping both his tongue and story straight."

Anyway, I think that in criticizing the Inquirer for coming out with Vicente's unflattering pictures, the detractors of President Benigno Aquino III should also consider that they may be engaging in a bit of duplicity.

A quick and simple search for "noynoy aquino funny pictures" will turn up hundreds of edited pictures of President Aquino.

Below are some examples:

Some of these edited photographs found its way on the internet sometime in 2009 and 2010, some are more recent.  Some were obviously done as part of an negative online campaign and some seem to have been done just because the creator of the edited photo thought it was funny.

My point in bringing this up is simple, Vicente and Aquino are both human beings.  Both are entitled to dignity and respect, just like every other human being on this planet.

Granted that uglifying public figures (they used to make effigies, but now in the age of social media, people are making pretty nifty graphic art in the tradition of effigies) is somewhat of a tradition, it is still an act that attempts to diminish the dignity and respect due to the people targeted by the pictures.

The rule here, really, is that people shouldn't disparage other people on account of their physical appearance or portray them in a negative way by capturing them in an unflattering pose or editing their picture.

If the anti-noynoy people who are criticizing the Inquirer for coming out with Vicente's contorted face are really the decent, respectful, and tasteful people they claim to be, then it should be perfectly all right also with completely ceasing any manner of self-publishing disparaging remarks about the President, his lack of hair or IQ. 

I don't know if any of the anti-noynoy crowd will admit to any degree of duplicity, but it seems some fail to check their own penchant for heaping all manner of disparagement on the President -- whom, whether we like it or not, is a symbol of this country.

Moreover, I don't know if they really care that the constant disparagement online may also be hurting the feelings of those close to the President.

So, really, if the detractors of Noynoy insist on dishing this stuff out... They have to have the stomach to take whatever it is that is going to come back right at them.

Let's not be cry babies here, okay?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Corona's Impeachment Trial and Siding with the Shrewd

If you're wondering why this country is messed up, one of the reasons is that most Filipinos think shrewdness is a virtue regardless of context or application.

You can apply shrewdness for good or you can apply shrewdness to amass wealth and power through questionable means.

The Curious Case of Impeachment Defense Witness Demetrio Vicente

Mo Twister's Typo Fixation

Dear Mr. Twister,

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to point out that we had misspelled Ms. Conejero's name.

I had always thought it was spelled Cornejero and not Conejero.

I took some time just now to Google the meaning of Conejero and this unfortunate bit of information turned up (which I hope turns out to be untrue):

Literal Meaning: rabbit keeper 
Meaning: mugger 
Example: CuĂ­dado con los conejeros. Este barrio no me convence. (Watch out for muggers. I’m not so sure about this neighborhood.)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Signs that Chief Justice Renato Corona was Lying in his statements before the media last week

This blog post is in response to Alden, who someone I just know through the Get Real Philippines community Facebook Group.

Basically, Alden believes that in order for me to say that Chief Justice Renato Corona is a liar, he has to go through a cross examination first.

That is not necessarily so.

The thing is, last week, Chief Justice Renato Corona went on all out media blitz to make it appear that he was going to come clean.  He said that:

1. Inconsistencies with his SAL-N would be explained.

2. He could reveal information pertaining to his foreign currency deposits.

The first sign of double talk emerged when he was asked whether or not he would testify and submit himself to cross examination.

His answer was that he was merely a client of his lawyers and he would follow what they advise.  First he says he wants to come clean, but back steps and says it would depend on his lawyers.

Yeah, right. Let your lawyers do the lying for you, Chief Justice Corona.

Moreover, instead of coming clean on day one of the defense's turn at the impeachment trial, the put Congressman Toby Tiangco on the stand to testify on something that is already moot and has no bearing on the impeachment trial.  

In the words of Corona's lawyers, Tiangco was put on the witness stand to impugn the integrity of those who signed the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Corona.  

The thing about Corona's media blitz last week was that he wasn't under oath and therefore he couldn't be held to his word.

In any case, even with a simple pop-psychology guide on figuring out if a person is lying or employing deception already 
How to know if someone is lying to you 
The following are signs you should look for when attempting to spot a liar: 
Inconsistencies in the Story: If the person is lying then the story he tells might change a bit every time it is discussed. The liar will forget a word, add something completely new or remove something that he had previously mentioned. Regardless of the type of inconsistency, its a sign that shows that a person is lying. 
Avoiding the Subject: A person who wants to hide something will usually try to avoid bringing it up in the conversation. Try to talk about anything related to the situation without addressing it directly and see if the person tries to jump to another topic.
Last week, Corona's statements showed that he was doing BOTH.

Here is just a partial list of claims and inconsistencies found in Corona's statements last week.

Corona's claim: 

He will explain his SAL-N and reveal financial information regarding his foreign currency deposits.


On the first day of the defense' turn, they put Toby Tiangco on the stand -- the testimony being described by several senator judges as without bearing. 

Corona didn't testify and reveal information regarding his foreign currency deposits.

Corona's claim: He closed three bank accounts in PS Bank Katipunan Branch because he NO LONGER TRUSTED THE BANK after his neighbors informed him that bank employees were openly talking about his bank accounts.

Inconsistency: He deposited the money in the three accounts in the same bank. Moreover, he did not file a complaint as soon as he heard that bank officers were leaking information, inconsistent with the behavior of one whose confidence has been betrayed.

Corona's claim: He doesn’t involve himself in matters concerning his wife’s family feud over Basa Guidote Enterprises Incorporated. 


But in his SALN, he declares P11 million in cash advances from BGEI.

In explaining his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN), Corona had explained that the P11-million liability he reported in his SALN was a loan from the BGEI.

He also said the P32.6 million he withdrew from the Philippine Savings Bank on Dec. 12, 2011, the day he was impeached, actually belonged to BGEI.

What if Corona Impeachment Defense Lawyer Serafin Cuevas had HAIR?

I personally don't buy the crock of shit that former Chief Justice Serafin Cuevas ain't getting
for defending current Chief Justice Renato Corona.  With all the money he should be getting,
I suspect that he'll be able to get a wig or have hair plugs installed.
I've always wondered, "What if Serafin Cuevas had hair?"  And thanks to some crazy arse with photo-editing skill, now I know and I cannot say that I love the image that is now forever burned into my brain.

Ginger Conejero Quits Mo Twister's Show After One Day?

I've met Mo Twister once or twice in 2009 and got to shake his hand.  He really seems to be a very nice guy in person.

Some mutual friends connected with Smart or one of the agencies that has Smart for a client say he IS a very nice guy, despite the bad rap he gets for his radio program and off-the-air persona.

He actually reminds me of a really cool Fil-Am classmate I had in grade school that got beat up all the time because he was small and had a smart mouth on him.

So, anyway, imagine my surprise when I started getting news about Mo's fellow DJs on Good Times with Mo quitting his show, one after the other.

The way it has been told to me, the story goes like a couple of episodes of a US TV Soap just before it gets canned.  Oh the drama!

My good friend Mojo Jojo leaves, then Angelicopter leaves, and then Grace Lee leaves!

Grace Lee on her last day as DJ on Good Times with Mo.
Then all sorts of people come in to try and replace them.

The last word I got was that Ginger Conejero got on board, but decided to leave the show after just one day with Mo Twister.

Why are all these very talented and entertaining people quitting Good Times with Mo?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Balara Children's Park: Accidents Waiting to Happen

(I have written this post after an encounter with a Children's Park from Hell.  The Balara Children's Park is a nightmare and when I mistakenly brought my kid there, I found dozens of children playing in the park -- unmindful of the many hazards that could maim or kill them.  The thing is, I could just decide not to take my kid to this park again and that would be that.  But I think walking away without letting others know about the dangers this park pose to children would be irresponsible. I am still trying to find out who manages this park and if I do find out, I'll definitely lodge a complaint against them to compel them to fix it up. Metro Manila should have better parks and in fact, it should have more parks than malls. )

I am a father of a very energetic four year old and our weekend thing is to go to one park or another within Metro Manila so that he can run around as much as he wants.

The thing is, I could really just fork over P 250.00 for two or three hours of play in those giant, padded hamster cages you see in malls, but I think parks are much more healthier for kids.  The fresh air, trees, contact with grass and earth seems healthier than being caged up inside a climate controlled mall where you are essentially breathing everybody else's air.

Padded hamster cages look safer and they are, but sometimes I suspect that the guys who run them don't really clean all the surfaces properly.  All it really takes is for one kid with a cold to run around the jungle gym and you can count on bringing home a kid with the sniffles.  And let me tell you, it's not fun being up all night because your kid can't sleep with a stuffy nose or worse.  (The biggest scare I had was when I heard my kid wheezing after his cold caused some congestion in his lungs, a sure sign of an oncoming bout with pneumonia -- I was told.)

Anyway, when I scout around for parks to bring my kid to on weekends, i usually look at a couple of things.
  1. There should be a fence around the park and just one entrance/exit point. My biggest fear whenever I bring my kid to a park is (1) he may stray off somewhere when I am not looking and (2) a stranger may just lead him by the hand out of the park.  
  2. The play area should have smooth, level ground.  No holes, no stray rocks or stones, no steep banks or inclines.  There should be nothing sticking out of the ground that could cause a visit to the emergency room of a nearby hospital.
  3. The equipment in the play area should be well maintained.  The slides, see-saws, and what-have-you should be well maintained (meaning it shouldn't be on the verge of collapsing, there should be no moving joint that where limbs or fingers can get caught, no sharp corners, etcetera)
  4. There should be a comfort room nearby and at least a food kiosk.
These are four basic things and I am sure there are more things a cautious parent can add to the checklist, like perhaps a security guard or park attendant, a clinic, or whatever else.

So far, the best park I've taken my kid to (and this is why we visit it regularly) is the Marikina Sports Plaza.

It has a padded track, clean rest rooms, a small area where you can get some food and water, a corner where there are massage therapists, and yes, a small play area for kids.

Although the park is huge, there aren't a lot of hidden corners around the track area and I can let my kid run around without any fear of losing sight of him.  There are one or two areas with potential hazards, but it's easy enough to keep my kid from these areas.

One great thing about the park is the huge soccer field which has been fenced off.  When there aren't people playing soccer, this is where I let my kid run around without fear of runners or cyclists bumping into him. (By the way, unlike in Amoranto or the UP Diliman Circumferential Road, the Marikina Sports Plaza doesn't allow cyclists to mix with runners.  This actually makes it safer for everyone.)

While the Marikina Sports Plaza is great, there are times when it gets kind of old and that's when we look for other parks to romp around in.

A few months ago, I got called for a job interview at Manila Water's head quarters in Balara, Diliman, Quezon City.

Location map of Balara Children's Park

I arrived quite early for the job interview and so I decided to drive around the huge water filtration complex. After making my way down through a winding road, I spotted a small children's park near what used to be a water tower.  There was a sign that said, "Wind Mill Park" and off in one area was a concrete replica of a windmill, which I found a bit kitschy but not really all that bad.

Having just caught a glimpse of the park from the roadside as I drove by, I wasn't able to really inspect the park for the four things on my list of must haves.

Anyway, it was about two months later when I decided to bring my kid to the park and it was about two or three minutes too late when I discovered the horrible, horrible state it was in.  But it was just too late to yank my kid out of the park and so I had to let him romp around a bit lest I provoke him into a tantrum.

The Wind Mill Park and the Children's Park are actually two small parks separated by a chain link fence.

The Wind Mill Park has one entrance and one exit, so, it seemed like a good place to let my kid run around in.  However, there were a few things that I didn't like.

The picture below is actually of fountain in the middle of the park, but it seems the fountain's pump is either broken or non-existent, so the space where the water should be is empty.

Now the thing is, when it rains, the fountain's basin doesn't drain completely and ends up collecting water -- which in a few hours after the rain starts becoming stagnant -- a breeding place for dengue fever carrying mosquitoes.

The adjoining Children's Park isn't a whole lot better and in fact, is much worse.  If only our judicial system were up to smack, we could probably expect several lawsuits to have been filed against either MWSS, Manila Water, Maynilad or even the Quezon City Government for not maintaining the park because it is strewn with so many child hazards.

I'd like to bring your attention to "Exhibit A", a slide that is now one giant potato slicer/dicer.  The slide hasn't been cordoned off so that kids can't climb up it and slide down.  And even if it were, a kid could still trip over the bottom of the slide and get badly cut by the rusty, sharp edges of the slide.

Then I notice most of the see-saws not only had missing handles, but the post where the handle should be has been left jutting out -- just waiting to poke a kid in the chest.

There were a few other hazards in the park which I wasn't able to take picture of because I had to keep a close watch on my kid.  But let me just point them out.

1. There is an unlocked gate just near a play area which leads directly into the street where cars go whizzing by.

2. There are numerous ledges around the park that aren't fenced off, where kids could just tip over or fall off.

3. Lots of places where there are puddles of stagnant water.

4. No restroom.

5. No park attendant or security guard.
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