Thursday, December 31, 2009

Samot-Sari ‘09

A couple of nights ago I woke up to find my wife watching “Shootout ’09” on TFC. It’s a talk show whose topic was to highlight and discuss the Philippines' best and worst events in 2009. What caught my attention was the way it was presented. The setting was informal; using a typical office environment as backdrop and the participants are clustered around a cubicle. It depicts something like a casual conversation among co-workers. Para bang iyung karaniwang tanawin sa opisina nang gobyerno o di kaya sa pribadong tanggapan pag wala ang amo. The subjects were interesting and the exchanges of ideas were stimulating. This prompts me to share my personal opinion on some of their topics.

MMFF and “Inde” Films
I seldom watch pinoy movies. I can count in my fingers the number of Pinoy films I’ve watch since the days a double-feature cost 50 centavos. It has nothing to do with anti-nationalist, un-pilipino and other boo-boo. It simply bores me to watch a movie where you know, most of the time, what will happen before it happens. Besides, seeing Bong Revilla commenting something like “It’s not about the award. Ang mahalaga ay makapag bigay saya sa ating kababayan” and then adding “hindi pa ako nanalo ng best actor” only makes him looked phony even more. Why enter in a competition in the first place, if his “noble” reason is just to entertain and not win an award? Who ever believes the significance of this “award” doesn’t know any better. Urian? Yes! MMFF? They can have it! Take it, take it!

On the other hand, our “inde” films made some marks in the international arena. And it empresses me to know one even won The Best Director award in Cannes. But when Karen Davila lamented on its unpopularity among local movie goers, my answer is, because the casts are unknown. Movie owners know this, that’s why they seldom support it. Put Sharon or Juday in it, tingnan lang natin kung hindi tatabo yan sa takilya. Papatok yan at bibilhin pa rin ng tao kahit ang kabuohang estorya ay paulit-ulit lang. If you doubt me, watch some old Sharon, Dolphy or FPJ films. Si Sharon palaging api. Si Dolphy, bading. At si Fernando, pabugbog muna bago uubusing mag-isa ang ‘sang katirbang goons.

Just like in politics where we vote the person and not his political platform, we also patronize pinoy movies on how popular (controversial?) its leading casts. Disregarding the merit on how good an actor portrays a role. A good story line is just an add-on.

Pacman
Manny Pacquiao, I would say, is a unique athlete, a man whose feat happens only once in every two or three decades. Not only did boxing make him filthy rich, his achievements make us proud being Pinoys and puts the Philippines on the map once again.

But one should also know ones limitation. I don’t know if all his “blessings” went up his head. But to believe in oneself, I’m a good singer and actor or enter politics leaves a bad taste in my mouth. One can’t help but think if his either surrounded my yes-men or by people whose intention is to partake in his billions.

Charice
No doubt, the kid got talent. She was my bet when she’s just starting in that talent show some years back. Pero nakaka-umay din when every time you see her, all she does was ape Whitney Houston or Mariah Carrey. She’s like a jukebox where all the records play “…and aaaaayyyy-eyay-eyaay will always love youuuu oh wooo… ”.

Joey Reyes put it bluntly when he said “She’s a novelty”. Categorically, he puts her in the same level as Yoyoy Villame, along with Lito Camus and Willie Revellame. The sad thing is if she can’t find her own identity, she’ll definitely end up as a novelty act. A filler, pang patay ng oras habang ang “main act” ay bumibihis at mini-“make-up”pan pa.

Tita Cory and Ondoy
Corazon Aquino’s administration maybe rated as “pasang-awa”. But even if she took the responsibility with reservation, she did her role, performing her job to the best of her ability.

Many of you weren’t born when Martial Law was declared. Many of you are too young to understand what it is like living under a dictatorship. During those times when we need a rallying point, she reluctantly stepped forward. I was one of those thousands who responded when the call to protect the two military camps was announced. Because of that shared event, I felt a special affinity towards her. The feeling I felt that day will never leave my mind.

I’ve experienced that feeling again when I saw those multitude of people lined up on the side of the road when her remains passed by. I’ve witnessed again as people from different walks of life become one in feeling and purpose. I realized that it takes a special event to awaken the nationalistic spirit that lays dormant inside us for so long.

That spirit manifested once again when Ondoy visited us. We saw how gallant our kababayan are in facing a disaster of that magnitude. We saw how some of them risked their lives in order to save other lives. We saw how those who weren’t affected, chipped in, sacrificing a day’s wage in order to send relief goods and financial aid to those who were affected. We saw how complete strangers helped one another, holding hand-in-hand, united in believing that we shall overcome this calamity.

This is the spirit that left us for so long. It takes a gracious, charismatic lady to pass away and a devastating typhoon for her to return. Grab her. Put her in our heart and mind, for she will guide us to a better future as a nation.

These ends my rant for this year! See you in 2010!

HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Congratulation!

Kudos to those who made it to the Top 10 and received special mention awards in the recently concluded PEBA!

It’s like I’ve won myself. I voted for seven (you know who you are) of those who received an award and six (I’m not sure if you know who you are) of those I picked as a judge made it to the top 10.

Again, to all who have won…




KONG-GRAT-TYO-LAYS-YOOOON!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Season Greetings

Wishing you all a very
.
Merry Christmas

.
and may we all have a brighter future, a blessed and
.
Happy New Year!!
.
BlogusVox & Family

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

On Tribalism and a Pinch of Etiquette

In the ‘80s, the government here built condo like housings for their citizens who wants to settle in cities and urban areas. But these buildings were uninhabited for decades because no national wants to live in it. The “condo” concept doesn’t sits well on their psyche where the only thing that separates each unit is a wall. Perhaps they don’t feel secure to have strangers as neighbors. And perhaps this suspicion is a natural reaction whose roots maybe traced back in the old days when tribal raids were common, looting provisions and kidnapping women from one another.

This distrust manifests also in government agencies. If a department head is from a particular region, people under him are likely also from that area. A recruit won’t be accepted to the king’s special guard unless he could prove his lineage down to the generation of the first monarch; probable to know if their ancestors were along side the king during their country’s formative years. And certain businesses that are present in one region are not allowed or don’t exist in another region of the kingdom and vise-versa, a practice born out of centuries of mistrust. A minus factor if aiming for a strong and cohesive country.

But this mindset also exists in the Philippines in the form of regionalism and social group. It may not be as obvious as India’s caste system, but to think the Philippines has a “classless” society, one should look again. It exists in some Spanish “mestizos” and Chinese-Filipinos. It’s visible in someone who claims to have “maharlikan” pedigree, as if they are above “timawas” and former “alipins”. And this “discrimination” is brought to the next level by our two Muslim brothers from the south. I don’t know what started the animosity but I witnessed how Maranaws and Taosugs hate each others guts.

One also sees intolerance in the diverse languages spoken in different regions. I speak our vernacular when I talk to someone from my hometown but I speak Pilipino when I’m with other “kabayans”. And I speak English when a “foreigner” happens to be with us. In a subtle way, I want to emphasize that it’s not polite if someone can’t understand our conversation. But some people just couldn’t take a hint.

A pinoy officemate speaks in his native tongue when he sees a town's mate, even if the two are with a group of other “kababayans”. They talk as if they’re alone; oblivious that some seems annoyed while the rest look amused. This peculiarity is evident everywhere. Some even insist that their language should be the “lingua franca” on the basis of number of speakers. Others reason out that they take pride on their local language (who doesn’t) that they slip into it any chance they get. But sometimes protocol and common courtesy also dictates otherwise.

It’s sad to think that this mundane issue is a factor that holds us back. How could we move forward progressively when we don’t think as one, always divided by linguistic pride and regional self-importance?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Party Colors

The more you observe politics, the more you've got to admit that each party is worse than the other. - Will Rogers

Like football teams, most nations’ political parties identify their affiliation by colors. Communists or socialist are red, royalists and conservatives are blue, environmentalists are green and so forth. The same is true with party names.

Governments, especially those who prefer the parliamentary form, have a clear line drawn in their different political parties. Basically there are three, namely right, center and left. Rights are conservatives, center for moderates and left represent the socialist. That includes the off-shoot of both poles, the ultra-right with their fascist-like ideals and the extreme-left with their Marxist’s ideology. During election, electorates know a candidate’s political agenda thru their party affiliation. That’s because party members personify the principles in which their party was founded.

But in the Philippines, colors do not represent a political group. It represents more an individual rather than an ideology. Aquino inherited yellow from his mother. I don’t know what orange means but Villar chooses it as his battle flag. Roxas’ blue, I think, show his family’s “royal” status in Western Visayas.

Party names are the same. It’s a misnomer, invented to deceive the ignorant. For instance; Pwersa Ng Masang Pilipino is not a socialist group nor it represent them. It only uses the masses for its own end. “Country first” is not the slogan or aim of the Nationalist People’s Coalition and Kilusang Bagong Lipunan have their chance yet I still have to see the social reforms it espouses.

In Congress, I observed only two political entities; the Leftist and the Opportunist. You know who the former are. They’re at the periphery of the congressional circle. They were not elected and their seats are courtesy of the party-list system. The latter is like a chameleon. It changes color to what ever surrounding it’s “in” and their loyalty is a commodity. It’s for sale and has an expiry date. It last only until the next election or maybe bartered in exchange for a slot in the line-up of any leading party. No wonder Reagan find no difference between a politician and a prostitute. They are similar in many ways.

In the US’s two party system, you’re either a republican or a democrat. Republicans are identified with the rich and democrats “represents” the middle class, ethnic groups and the low-income sector. But which ever party wins the presidency or garnered the majority in both houses, their first and foremost duty is to protect the domestic and foreign interests of corporate America. At least their leaders serve a group while ours serve their constituents only if they find it favorable to themselves.

Our government is run by people who think, not the welfare of those who voted them to power, but how to suck up to who ever guarantee their political survival. They think, not of our nation’s future, but how to safeguard their individual turf, as if it’s a legacy, theirs to own and handed down from parents to offspring.

Before we write down our candidates, let us learn first to differentiate what they say and what they meant. Read between the lines, recognize their true agenda and see through their façade to know their true color.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Judging Others

Accomplishment is socially judged by ill defined criteria so that one has to rely on others to find out how one is doing. - Albert Bandura

Some of you may be aware that PEBA honored me by choosing yours truly as one of the judges in this year’s search for the Top 10 Outstanding Expatriates/OFW Blogs. At first I thought it was going to be easy but then I realize it’s not only difficult mentally but emotionally as well.

There are 37 candidates to choose from. I knew most of them and some I considered as friends. In fairness and for transparency’s sake, I devised a method of calculating the result to avoid being accused of partisanship or later might hear discriminatory allegation (like what happened last year). Hopefully these will do justice to my selection.

There are 5 categories in which blogs are to be judge, PEBA entry post, blog contents, blog entries, popularity and blog traffic. Judges are to handle the first 3 categories and pick what they considered their top ten choices. As for me, I rate each category between 1 thru 10, where 1 is the lowest grade given for an entry and 10 the highest. But since I don’t believe in anything perfect outside the physical world, the highest I could give is 9. Believe me; even if you got an excellent blog, how ever good a writer you are, there will always be a better blog or a superior writer out there.

PEBA entry post is somewhat easier to evaluate compared to the other two categories. I judge an entry by its relevance to the contest’s theme and the way the essay’s message makes an impact on me. 15% of the rating will be taken from this category.

Blog content is somewhat within my territory of familiarity. I sub-categorize it into three;
Refresh rate, presentation and blog information.

Refresh rate is the time it takes for a blog to “download”. I consider this necessary because it is somehow discomforting for a reader to “pick” a blog that somewhat takes forever to appear on screen. A refresh rate between 5 and 10 seconds is good enough for me (at low traffic, my own blog has a refresh rate of 3 seconds).

Presentation, in my opinion, is important to a reader. It’s composed of a blog’s appearance; in its uniqueness, symmetry, readability and color coordination. Bloggers who takes pain in making their site pleasing to the eye gets extra points than those who just use available templates or those who over-do their “make-up”.

Blog information is useful to readers or visitors. It includes post categories and history, personal information and links to other useful sites.

I grade each sub-category from 1 to 9 using the formula - summation of grades of all sub-categories divided by 3. Fifteen percent will be taken from its result to be added to the over-all ranking.

Blog entries is the most tasking of the three. Since some blogs are more than a year old and contains more than 50 posts, I made a point to set January to October of this year the cut-off time of entries I’m going to read. I did this in order to meet the date of submission of my results on December 15. Grading each entry depends on how it impresses me. Is it inspirational, informative or thought-provoking? Is it entertaining or just plain boring? Take note that since the contest organizers specifically stated that each blog nominee contains at least one entry post per month; it would be disadvantageous for a nominee if they have no entry for any month inside my cut-off. You are excuse from this provision if your blog is younger than January as long as it has an entry starting from the month of its conception. 30% of the overall result will be taken using the same formula I used above - summation of grades of all read posts divided by the total number of posts read, adding a point penalty to the divisor for each month without an entry.

Using this method, a meaningful entry posted once or twice a month, gains more points compared to posting insignificant entries trice a week. At least a nominee have an idea what’s their ranking if they wrote something like “what I ate for breakfast this morning”.

I’m explaining the mechanics of my computation in order for candidates to know where they stand in my evaluation. But it doesn’t mean that what I’ve explained is “the basis” in choosing the finalist or my final evaluation makes “the difference”. Remember, there are nine other judges to consider. Each has their own method in selecting the most commendable blogs. Beside that, popular vote and blog traffic are still two categories where a nominee may edge other contenders.

So, to each of the nominees, I say GOODLUCK!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Snap It!

Technical writers, researcher and bloggers usually surfs the web when searching for resources needed as additional materials for their document. When a particular page of interest is found, they “copy” it by pressing the “PrntScrn” button, open a graphic software such as Paint, paste the copied material, give it a filename and then save it.

The problem with this technique is its quite tedious and time consuming especially if you got a lot of materials to “copy”. You see, the “Print Screen method” captures the whole screen into your clipboard. If you’re interested only in a particular area of the picture, you have to do extra work of editing the file to remove the unwanted parts.

There’s another method, simpler and easier way of doing it. It’s called SnapIt from Digeus Inc. Once you have installed and set it up, the rest is straightforward as A-B-C.

For example, if you only want to “capture” the header title of this blog...

Just press the “PrntScrn” button and the cursor style will change into a cross-hair. Draw a rectangle around the area you want to grab by holding down the left mouse button while dragging it.

Release the mouse button and that’s it, the software will do the rest.

It automatically assigned a filename, save it to what ever file extension you prefer (JPG, BMP, GIF, TIFF or PNG) then store it to a file folder you assigned in the SnapIt’s property box. It captures anything in your screen except a “freeze frame”.

A “freeze frame” is a “still picture” of a particular scene when you “Pause” a media player while playing a VCD, DVD, MP4 or AVI file. Other capturing software can’t do it too, but it would be great if only SnapIt has this added feature.

Bottom line is; if all you need is to capture a screen, SnapIt can do the job easily, without any hassle. But don’t take my word for it. Try it yourself. You can download a “trial version” here free to use for 14 days.

One more thing, before you install SnapIt; be sure your computer has Framework 2.0 installed. SnapIt won’t work without it. You may download an update from here, free of charge. If Framework 2.0 does not install properly you might need to upgrade your Windows Installer as well. You can download it too from here, also free of charge.

Good luck and happy capturing!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

On Commercial Ads

The art of advertisement, has introduced into all our life such a lavish use of superlatives, that no standard of value whatever is intact. - Wyndham Lewis

I really think people who believed what commercial ads are saying don’t know better. Ads companies have staffs that do research to find what makes people “tick” or what social group prefers what commodity. They then designed their ads, for what ever product they endorse, to that kind of mindset or consumer demography. In a way we are being conned. They even have a term for us – target customers. It feels like we are in the firing range.

Take for example instant noodles. They claim it’s nutritious, pack with vitamins and minerals. For crying out loud, where’s the nutrition in that? Its noodles, made from flour mixed with artificial flavoring to make it edible. Not to mention what other chemicals are in it, if it’s carcinogenic or not. You’ll get more mileage and nutrients eating a stick of banana cue.

Cosmetic is another thing. Since most pinoys are obsessed with fair skin, light-skinned models are hired to push their products, therefore projecting an image that you’ll be “white” after several applications. I’ll believe this crap only if Wilma Dozen turns as white as Kris Aquino after using it. Worst comes to worst, you’ll look like a kabuki actor or that girl from The Grudge.

Car ads are also pretentious. They talk about how strong its engine going from 0 to 60 in 3 seconds or boasting a 12 speaker stereo system and other amenities not particularly related to driving or car performance. I don’t care about those specs except how far it will go to a liter of petrol. For an ordinary man like me, all I want is a ride to go from point A to point B without sweat dripping down my armpit from flagging taxis. And then see them roar away because I won’t agree to a “fixed fare”. In my opinion, in all practical purposes, a person who wants an expensive sport car or SUV has only two reasons for buying it. Either to show-off or get laid.

Political ads disguised as “humanitarian effort” are the same. Lately, Manny Villar’s ad, showing him helping distressed OFWs is on TV every commercial break. It’s redundant to a point of being pathetic. We see it now and then that my 4year old daughter have memorized and can sing its jingle. If he really wants to help, instead of spending money to pay in airing that phony ad, he could have used it to help the victims of Ondoy. I don’t care if he puts his name on every plastic bag containing relief goods. Nakakapantawid gutom yun, ang commercial, hindi!

I wish we become a little bit cynical and refrain from believing everything we see and hear. But from what I observed, we got a long way to go before we could distinguish fantasy from reality and truth from falsehood.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

On Catching a Liar: Anatomy of a Spammer

Like almost everyone who uses e-mail, I receive a ton of spam every day. Much of it offers to help me get out of debt or get rich quick. It would be funny if it weren't so exciting. - Bill Gates

Why the Animosity?I hate spam. I immediately erase it if I get one. It’s analogous to a thick-faced salesman knocking at your door then places his foot at the door gap to get your attention. They wear different masks and specialize on different communication medium. Some are telemarketers, others in the form of “e-mailers” and blog post commenter. They are insensitive, out of topic and devoid of proper decorum.

Blog spammers,, in my opinion, are one of the worst. They disrespect owners by ramming their way into other people’s blogs. And since a lot of visitors not only read posts but comments as well, they also used it as a platform to sell their wares.

First Encounter
Take for example this comment I erased in my KaBlog Station Page:

“I just made $1003 this week working from home for google. I cant believe how easy this is. Im recommending this to everyone, check out this guys google blog makemoneywith-google.com”
It seems harmless and “friendly”, but in effect, designed to increase traffic of the linked site by dangling possible monetary gain on naïve readers. To counter it, I went directly to the spammer’s page and leave this message:

“If you want to put ads, do it in your own blog. Don't go around spamming other sites with your ads. Do that again in my site and I'll recommend that you be remove from this network.”
This incident happened a month ago and then thought nothing of it. But last week, I was blog-hopping on some of my friends KaBlog Station page and noticed ALL of them have spam comment similar to what I deleted. They only differ in monetary value, but verbatim, they are all the same. It made me assume these are all software-generated, randomly inserting monetary numbers for each comment. I went back to the spammer’s page and things got interesting. Somebody responded to my comment.

Can’t Hold His TongueA certain Joey Parman, a KaBlog member, left this message on the spammer’s page:

“Wala akong malay sa sinasabi mo blogus! Before you make any threats you might want to consider other posibilities kung bakit may pumasok na ads sa site mo na allegedly saken galing. For all you know it could be a malaware na nagamit ang pangalan ko. Please refrain from making harsh accusations. Kahit magsumbong ka pa! Hindi ko gawain ang sinasabi mo.”
Nagging QuestionWhat has this spammer, whose profile is female from New York, USA, got to do with Joey Parman from Taguig City, Philippines, that he thinks my comment was addressed to him? I don’t know him or mentioned his name nor did the spam comments ever use his name for that matter. Unless the spammer’s page and "DakilangAlalayMo" are owned by one and the same person, I can’t think of any other reason for him to “sing”. Claiming to be another “Jackie Bermejo” does not hold water either, since the spammer’s page title and URL address are in concordance with what it actually do – to advertised “MakeMoneyWithGoogle.Com”. If that too was hacked and changed, why didn’t he report it to the proper authorities of KaBlog Station?

Possible AnswerKaBlog Station is a social networking site. If you want to comment on a page, you should be a member and log-in first. To do that, you must register. Since the intention is to spam, an existing member created a fictitious account to divert attention away from him. Nice deception and smart, but not smart enough. He forgot one thing, the "code of omerta” – keep your mouth shut!

The ball is in your court Joey. Try to make sense and have a plausible alibi this time.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Enough Is Enough

Foreword: From a very brave Filipina. She even placed her name and telephone number. This is what happens when somebody reaches boiling point and says “enough is enough”. - BlogusVox

To all Filipinos Everywhere:

I used to think that corruption and criminality in the Philippines were caused by poverty. But recent events tell me this isn't true. It is one thing to see people turn into drug addicts, prostitutes, thieves and murderers because of hunger and poverty, but what excuse do these rich, educated people have that could possibly explain their bizarre behavior? And to think I was always so relieved when petty snatchers got caught and locked away in jail because I never fully realized that the big time thieves were out there, making the laws and running our country. Can it get any worse than this?

Every night, I come home and am compelled to turn on my tv to watch the latest turn of events. I am mesmerized by these characters. They are not men. They are caricatures of men - too unreal to be believable and too bad to be real. To see these "honorable" crooks lambast each other, call each one names, look each other in the eye and accuse the other of committing the very same crimes that they themselves are guilty of, is so comical and appalling that I don't know whether to laugh or cry. It is entertainment at its worst!

I have never seen so many criminals roaming around unfettered and looking smug until now. These criminals wear suits and barongs, strut around with the confidence of the rich and famous, inspire fear and awe from the very citizens who voted them to power, bear titles like "Honorable", "Senator", "Justice", "General" and worse, "President". Ironically, these lawless individuals practice law, make our laws, enforce the law. And we wonder why our policemen act the way they do! These are their leaders, and the leaders of this nation – Robin Hoodlum and his band of moneymen. Their motto? "Rob the poor, moderate the greed of the rich."

It makes me wonder where on earth these people came from, and what kind of upbringing they had to make them act the way they do for all the world to see. It makes me wonder what kind of schools they went to, what kind of teachers they had, what kind of environment would produce such creatures who can lie, cheat and steal from an already indebted country and from the impoverished people they had vowed to serve. It makes me wonder what their children and grandchildren think of them, and if they are breeding a whole new generation of improved Filipino crooks and liars with maybe a tad more style but equally negligible conscience. Heaven forbid!

I am an ordinary citizen and taxpayer. I am blessed to have a job that pays for my needs and those of my family's, even though 30% of my earnings go to the nation's coffers. Just like others in my lot, I have complained time and again because our government could not provide enough of the basic services that I expect and deserve. Rutty roads, poor educational system, poor social services, poor health services, poor everything. But I have always thought that was what all third world countries were all about, and my complaints never amounted to anything more.

And then this. Scandalous government deals. Plundering presidents pointing fingers. Senators associated with crooks. Congressmen who accept bribes. Big time lawyers on the side of injustice. De Venecia ratting on his boss only after his interminable term has ended, Enrile inquiring about someone's morality! The already filthy rich Abalos and Arroyo wanting more money than they or their great grandchildren could ever spend in a life time. Joker making a joke of his own "pag bad ka, lagot ka!" slogan. Defensor rendered defenseless. Gen. Razon involved in kidnapping. Security men providing anything but a sense of security. And it's all about money, money, money that the average Juan de la Cruz could not even imagine in his dreams. Is it any wonder why our few remaining decent and hardworking citizens are leaving to go work in other countries?

And worst of all, we are once again saddled with a power-hungry president whose addiction has her clinging on to it like barnacle on a rusty ship. "Love (of power) is blind" takes a whole new meaning when PGMA time and again turns a blind eye on her husband's financial deals. And still blinded with all that is happening, she opts to traipse around the world with her cohorts in tow while her country is in shambles.

They say the few stupid ones like me who remain in the Philippines are no longer capable of showing disgust. I don't agree. Many like me feel anger at the brazenness of men we call our leaders, embarrassment to share the same nationality with them, frustration for our nation and helplessness at my own ineffectuality. It is not that I won't make a stand. It is just that I am afraid my actions would only be futile. After all, these monsters are capable of anything. They can hurt me and my family. They already have, though I may not yet feel it.

But I am writing this because I need to do something concrete. I need to let others know that ordinary citizens like me do not remain lukewarm to issues that would later affect me and my children. I want to make it known that there are also Filipinos who dream of something better for the Philippines. I want them to know that my country is not filled with scalawags and crooks in every corner, and that there are citizens left who believe in decency, fairness, a right to speak, a right to voice out ideas, a right to tell the people we have trusted to lead us that they have abused their power and that it is time for them to step down. I refuse to let this country go to hell because it is the only country I call mine and it is my responsibility to make sure I have done what I could for it.

Those of us who do not have the wealth, power or position it needs to battle the evil crime lords in the government can summon the power of good. We can pray. We can do this with our families every night. We can offer petitions every time we celebrate mass. We can ask others to pray too, including relatives and friends here and overseas. And we can offer sacrifices along with our petitions, just so we get the message to Him of our desperation in ridding our nation of these vermin. After all, they cannot be more powerful than God!

I implore mothers out there to raise your children the best way you can. Do not smother, pamper, or lavish them with too much of the material comforts of life even if you can well afford them. Teach them that there are more important things in this world. I beg all fathers to spend time with their children, to teach them the virtues of hard work, honesty, fair play, sharing, dignity and compassion – right from the sandbox till they are old enough to go on their own. Not just in your homes, but at work, in school, everywhere you go. Be good role models. Be shining examples for your children so they will learn to be responsible adults who will carry and pass on your family name with pride and honor.

I call on educators and teachers – we always underestimate the power of your influence on the minds of our youth. Encourage them to be aware of what is happening in their surroundings. Instill in them a love of their country, inculcate in them the value of perseverance in order to gain real, worthwhile knowledge, help us mold our children into honorable men and women. Encourage our graduates, our best and brightest, to do what they can to lift this country from the mire our traditional politicians have sunk us into. The youth is our future – and it would be largely because of you, our educators, that we will be able to repopulate the seats of power with good leaders, presidents, senators, congressmen, justices, lawmakers, law enforcers and lawful citizens.

I ask all students, young people and young professionals everywhere to look around and get involved in what is happening. Do not let your youth be an excuse for failure to concern yourselves with the harsh realities you see. But neither let this make you cynical, because we need your idealism and fresh perspective just as you need the wisdom of your elders. YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU! Let your voices be heard. Do what you can for this land that gave you your ancestors and your heritage. Use technology and all available resources at hand to spread good. Text meaningful messages to awaken social conscience. Try your best to fight moral decay because I promise you will not regret it when you become parents yourselves. You will look back at your past misdeeds and pray that your children will do better than you did.

Remember that there are a few handful who are capable of running this country. You can join their ranks and make their numbers greater. We are tired of the old trapos. We need brave idealistic leaders who will think of the greater good before anything else. Do your utmost to excel in your chosen field.. Be good lawyers, civil servants, accountants, computer techs, engineers, doctors, military men so that when you are called to serve in government, you will have credibility and a record that can speak for itself.

For love of this country, for the future of our children, for the many who have sacrificed and died to uphold our rights and ideals, I urge you to do what you can. As ordinary citizens, we can do much more for the Philippines than sit around and let crooks lead us to perdition. We owe ourselves this. And we owe our country even more.

Remedios C. Paningbatan
Administrative Officer
Office of the General Counsel
Asian Development Bank
Tel (632) 632-4248



Erratum:
Remedios C. Paningbatan is NOT the author of this essay as stated and explained in comment #24. Please refer to that comment to find out the real author.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

On Political Immaturity

It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first. - Ronald Reagan

You know election is just around the corner when political pundits began sharing their “expert” opinions on who is likely to win and who has no chance at all in the coming presidential race. Almost every body who is of voting age has a favorite aspirant. And the majority is hoping it will be an election towards a fresh beginning; a new era of just and transparent governance.

But how many among us sees this event on a different perspective? How many among us turn our heads away from the political arena and observes the spectators at the sideline? How many tried to understand the collective psyche of the very people who will decide on who will win among the slugging contenders?

Politically, as a whole, we are still young. Few cared to scrutinize a candidate’s personal background and political platform. Most have perceptions that are bounded only by things that directly affect their lives. And a lot of us have short memories and attention span. We go to political rallies, not to listen to candidates’ speeches but to be entertained by their silly antics and ogle at their celebrity endorsers. We vote not as an individual but what our “elders” dictate. We wrote down on ballots names that are attached to faces on giant billboards and we look up to politicians like royalties; public figures to be served and not as public servants.

Politicians knew these and base their strategy around that assertion; from old nicknames like “the poor boy from Lubao” to a more modern “Mr. Palengke”. It’s designed not to woe the educated, the intellectuals or the professionals but the “masa”. Their numbers exceeds compared against the other tiers of the social strata combined. You see them everyday. They shriek when they see celebrities. They think Willie Revellame is Godsend. They knew every facet of Sharon Cuneta’s life but can’t say who the current Speaker of the House is. They knew by heart the lyrics of Otso-otso but can’t partially sing “Lupang Hinirang”. They live uncomplicated lives yet their presence are important. Without them, our daily economic life stands still. But for a politician, they are a good source of votes, easy to persuade and manipulate at a minimal expense. All he has to do is find an image these people can “relate” to. In other words, be the man of the people – be “maka-masa”.

One aspirant abuses this particular image that even his son calls him “taong bayan” as in; “Kung ano ang desisyon ng taong-bayan (namely his father), yun ang susundin ko”. Another dresses ala FPJ (rolled up sleeves and denim pants) even in the Senate and talks in high Tagalog words. But what rolls out from his oily tongue are mostly without substance. Only the likes of Alma Moreno (who by the way thinks “ambiance” is a commodity) are enamored in his glibness. Still another ride on the popularity of his parents but has a scatter-brained sibling who is more of a liability rather than a political asset. But what ever these politicians do; may they sing off-tuned hits, dance out of tempo, endorsed by a “mass-based” celebrity like Juday, give rice and can goods in depressed areas or throw candies along campaign trails. They only have one thing in mind, to tickle your hearts and minds, so you’ll remember them come Election Day.

We always cry for change yet we put into office, again and again, the same people who does nothing but retard those aspiration. As long as we don’t properly educate our people, as long as we don’t know how to choose our leaders. As long as we remain politically immature, we can shout all we want until our voice hoarsens. Our aspiration will remain as it is… a dream.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Busy...

Some of you might have noticed that my posts are dwindling lately. That’s because my job occupies most of my time. Our company, who handled this particular branch of the government for the past 18 years, will end its contract on January next year. We have no idea if we’ll win another extension.

What I mean is they have an unconventional way of awarding contracts. A candidate company’s resume, even if it contains long years of experience, expertise, capable staff or even the lowest bidding price, does not guarantee ink on paper. The final nod is reserved by the head honcho at the Ministry. If the man doesn’t like your CEO’s face, even if you’re qualified, fulfilled all requirements and won the preliminary bidding, there is no assurance you’ll get the contract.

I remember a few years back. After the Gulf War, there was a multi billion dollar communication upgrade contract up for grabs. A consortium composed of big European communication companies (including mine), headed by Siemens, placed a bid and won. A few weeks later, US’s Secretary of State visited the kingdom. After several more weeks, guess what? The contract was awarded to AT&T. I’m not “sour-graping” here, but rumors have it that Bush’s emissary reminded the government on US’s role in liberating its neighbor from Saddam. If there’s any grain of truth in that gossip, then the Americans have a phrase for it – “its payback time”!

I’m going astray here. Let’s get back to my main issue. One of our systems resides in old computers and runs on DOS environment. Since manufacturers no longer make hardware that support 16 bit platform and we’re running out of spare parts, our “policy makers” decided to buy the latest computers and upgrade the system to run in Windows. That is what I’m doing right now; modifying old DOS programs to run in Windows. And I got till December to finish the job. A Quixotic task if you ask me, since I’m a one-man-team assigned to this. That’s because it seems “C” programmers are a rare breed. Am I a dying specie or what? I knew a lot of guys in cyber space who are experts in C and C++. Yet our human resources have a difficult time finding programmers who can read “C” source code and convert it to Visual C++.

A sample of what I’m deciphering is a program similar to this:
and converting it to run in Windows, like this one:
It’s a sub-program that automatically connects receivers to measuring instruments and antennas with just a click of a button. It looks simple. But behind this minimalist facade are relatively complex programming calisthenics, to make life easy for an operator.

I don’t know yet what destiny has in store for me next year. I might be joining the number of jobless workers and be part of the growing unemployment statistic. But I don’t see things that way, at least not yet. I’m preparing myself for any eventualities that might occur.

So if your company needs a System Analyst/Programmer, I’m available next year. Just think of me as an elephant (“I work for peanuts”), a matriarch African elephant. : )

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

State Of the Nation

Because of the recent State of the Nation Address by our president and her "lamyerda" in New York, I can’t help but show this to you, the real state of the nation.

Thanks to J.N. for sharing this to me.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

10 Principles for Peace of Mind

Foreword: I got this from a good friend, R.B. I found guidance and lessons to be learned from it, that I decided to share it with you. I slightly modified its content to make it more "universal" – BlogusVox

1. Do Not Interfere In Others' Business Unless Asked:
Most of us create our own problems by interfering too often in others' affairs. We do so because somehow we have convinced ourselves that our way is the best way, our logic is the perfect logic and those who do not conform to our thinking must be criticized and steered to the right direction, our direction. This thinking denies the existence of individuality. No two human beings can think or act in exactly the same way. Mind your own business and you will keep your peace.

2. Forgive And Forget:
This is the most powerful aid to peace of mind. We often develop ill feelings inside our heart for the person who insults us or harms us. We nurture grievances. This in turn results in loss of sleep, development of stomach ulcers, and high blood pressure. This insult or injury was done once, but nourishing of grievance goes on forever by constantly remembering it. Get over this bad habit. Life is too short to waste in such trifles. Forgive, forget and march on. Love flourishes in giving and forgiving.

3. Do Not Crave For Recognition:
This world is full of selfish people. They seldom praise anybody without selfish motives. They may praise you today because you are in power, but no sooner than you are powerless, they will forget your achievement and will start finding faults in you. Why do you wish to kill yourself in striving for their recognition? Their recognition is not worth the aggravation. Do your duties ethically and sincerely.

4. Do Not Be Jealous:
We all have experienced how jealousy can disturb our peace of mind. You know that you work harder than your colleagues in the office, but sometimes they get promotions; you do not. You started a business several years ago, but you are not as successful as your neighbor whose business is only one year old. There are several examples like these in everyday life. Should you be jealous? No. Remember everybody's life is shaped by his/her destiny, which has now become his/her reality. If you are destined to be rich, nothing in the world can stop you. If you are not so destined, no one can help you either. Nothing will be gained by blaming others for your misfortune. Jealousy will not get you anywhere; it will only take away your peace of mind.

5. Change Yourself According To The Environment:
If you try to change the environment single-handedly, the chances are you will fail. Instead, change yourself to suit your environment. As you do this, even the environment, which has been unfriendly to you, will mysteriously change and seem congenial and harmonious.

6. Endure What Cannot Be Cured:
This is the best way to turn a disadvantage into an advantage. Every day we face numerous inconveniences, ailments, irritations, and accidents that are beyond our control. If we cannot control them or change them, we must learn to put up with these things. We must learn to endure them cheerfully. Believe in yourself and you will gain in terms of patience, inner strength and will power.

7. Do Not Bite Off More Than You Can Chew:
This maxim needs to be remembered constantly. We often tend to take more responsibilities than we are capable of carrying out. This is done to satisfy our ego. Know your limitations. . Why take on additional loads that may create more worries? You cannot gain peace of mind by expanding your external activities. Reduce your material engagements and spend time in prayer, introspection and meditation. This will reduce those thoughts in your mind that make you restless. Uncluttered mind will produce greater peace of mind.

8. Meditate Regularly:
Meditation calms the mind and gets rid of disturbing thoughts. This is the highest state of peace of mind. Try and experience it yourself. If you meditate earnestly for half an hour everyday, your mind will tend to become peaceful during the remaining twenty-three and half-hours. Your mind will not be easily disturbed as it was before. You would benefit by gradually increasing the period of daily meditation. You may think that this will interfere with your daily work. On the contrary, this will increase your efficiency and you will be able to produce better results in less time.

9. Never Leave The Mind Vacant:
“An empty mind is the devil's workshop”. All evil actions start in the vacant mind. Keep your mind occupied in something positive, something worthwhile. Actively follow a hobby. Do something that holds your interest. You must decide what you value more: money or peace of mind. Your hobby, like social work, may not always earn you more money, but you will have a sense of fulfillment and achievement. Even when you are resting physically, occupy yourself in healthy reading.

10. Do Not Procrastinate And Never Regret:
Do not waste time in protracted wondering " Should I or shouldn't I?" Days, weeks, months, and years may be wasted in that futile mental debating. You can never plan enough because you can never anticipate all future happenings. Value your time and do the things that need to be done. It does not matter if you fail the first time. You can learn from your mistakes and succeed the next time. Sitting back and worrying will lead to nothing. Learn from your mistakes, but do not brood over the past. DO NOT REGRET.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Two Decades After

Twenty years ago this week, a young man, in his mid-twenties embark on a journey that will change him and his outlook in life. Armed with knowledge in engineering and computers, he went to a country whose environment, people and culture are completely different from his own. Only one thing prompted him to go; to save enough money to buy a computer. I know, a very shallow reason compared to what motivates other OFW’s to leave their country and love ones behind. But it’s enough for this fool of a young man. Besides it’s a job, man, it’s a job.

When the aircraft touched down, the hot 41 degree wind of a typical July evening snaps him off his day dreaming and reality sets in. It’s like being shoved out a huge oven. He restrained the urge to run back inside, in the comfort of the air-conditioned plane. His no quitter. He rationalizes; it’s just a job, man, only a job.

The Satellite Earth Station site was a self-sustaining structure in the middle of nowhere. His assignment was to maintain 3 power generators that supplies electricity to a small Domestic Satellite station, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Besides that, his job includes keeping the generator shed clean and tidy. It means mopping the floor of oil sleek and washing “standby” generators to look like it was just bought yesterday. A messy job, if you ask him, but he consoles himself, thinking, his batch mate and a very good friend is up there on the base of a 35 meter diameter disk antenna doing the same thing he does but in a different manner. Five years of studies in UST to become an ECE and he scrapes pigeon shit off station roofs. But it’s part of the job, man, just part of the job.

Six months passed before he saved enough money to buy a computer. It’s the latest top of the line model. A 286x, 22MHz speed processor, a 16 color video card, a VGA monitor, 256kb of RAM and a whooping 40Mb of hard disk. After work, he spent his time tinkling his computer. He fine tunes it, searching every available upper-memory to cramped-in his drivers to save precious base memory to run programs bigger than 64kb. Enough memory to play his favorite game “Wolfenstein”, hone his typing skill to his personal best of 60 wpm and learn a new language called “C”. That computer helps him a lot. It shielded him from loneliness... homesickness, man, homesickness.

His luck changes after a year. The project’s computer programmer went home and never came back. They said he migrated to UK along with his family, leaving the Project Manager with a headache. Its end of the year and not even a single page of inventory report were printed, an important document that has to be submitted to the Ministry. At first, the German PM won’t believe what the Station Engineer told him about this Filipino guy who knows computer. Nobody blames him. Who would believe that a guy holding a mop and dressed in a dirty over-all, have knowledge of computer? Not to mention, the capability to manipulate a database in generating an inventory report of the entire project? But desperate people do desperate things. He let the “mop guy” handle the system. After one week, he got his precious report and the “mop guy” got a hefty bonus. It was fun, man, it was fun.

When the project contract ended, his boss wrote a very generous recommendation letter and delivered it personally to the head of a newly formed project. He was immediately hired as a programmer and became a pioneer of that project. For him, it’s like a game, man, just a game and his still playing.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Bayang Magiliw, Pertila Na Didiw… (Ano Raw?)

Every Saturday (the beginning of each week here), school administrators “encourage” their students to come in early than their first subject which is at 8:00 am. The reason is so they could participate on the flag raising ceremony which is only done once a week.

Everybody takes part, including pupils from pre-school. I noticed though that they don’t teach the National Anthem to pre-schoolers. What they do is put them along side the higher grades and the children mimicked what ever they hear or thought they heard from the older kids.

Here’s my daughter’s (currently in kindergarten) version of the “Lupang Hinirang”:



How patriotic can you get than this!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

To Ads or Not To Ads

I was managing my MyBlogLog site and doing some “house cleaning” when I noticed a post from an appended “community”. What caught my attention was the posted response to another blog’s complain. If you’re confused what these two are squabbling about, hopefully, this may clear things up.

What the first blogger did was legal as a “dropper” with respect to the mechanics as stated by the advertising network provider. He availed of the facilities offered in order to increase “visit traffic” in his blog. But on moral ground, I believed this method is self-serving, unethical and devoid of civility. I find it somewhat “felonious” even, when someone tries to gain points and traffic at the expense of other blogs. This is one of two scenarios I’m trying to avoid and the basis of my reluctance in joining the ranks of bloggers who have gone “commercial”. The other situation is the sponsors.

I received quite a few emails requesting that I blog about this or that. Or put links on my post, thereby, redirecting readers to some sites I’m not even sure they’ll find agreeable. To some, I decline, stating I don’t write things I’m not familiar with, unrelated to me and my philosophy or does not concern OFWs in general. To others, I just politely tell that I don’t accept another form of service as payment in return for my write-ups.

Don’t get me wrong here. Let me make it clear that there is nothing wrong if you receive financial gain in blogging. It would be hypocritical of me if I won’t admit, I too would like to earn money from something I love doing. Who doesn’t? But I would like to do it my way and not how they want it done. The moment I hand over the reign and they dictate how I’m suppose to blog, that’s the time I’m no longer “blogging” for the joy of it. On the contrary, it will be like taking an extra job on the side. It will snuff the very essence and reason why I blog in the first place.

How I wish I’ll find advertisers who are willing to put ads on blogs because they believe its contents are meaningful, informative or interesting. And frequency of blog traffic is just a secondary factor, a statistical information which could be manipulated as shown above. But that would be wishful thinking… or maybe not.

Perhaps I’ll start by advertising myself first without stepping on someone else’s toes.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I Got My Vice But This One Appalled Me

Behind every great fortune lies a great crime- Honoré de Balzac

I smoke. Before, I used up two packs of cigarette a day, but since I got married, I gradually decreased my intake. At present, I consume six or seven sticks or a pack in 3 days. With a little more determination, maybe someday I’ll quit.

What ever unpleasant habit I got, may it be detrimental to my health, no one is to blame but myself. It’s a matter of personal choice really. But what got my attention and upset me is this. It doesn’t matter if these officials backed down. The point was they tried to implement a sociopathic policy.

Fact: China has 350 million smokers. Each year about one million die from smoking-related diseases.

I wonder what kind of moral values these government officials adhere to by forcing government employees to a habit in order to save an economy. Do they think its “patriotic” or perhaps “nationalistic” to get smoke-related diseases in exchange for floating a sinking industry? Are Chinese lives so cheap that they are willing to sacrifice it recklessly in favor of some Tai-pan to recover his investment? If they can do these dastardly acts to their own people, how much more when it comes to non-Chinese consumers?

Recently, we heard of Chinese products that are harmful to humans. From lead on toys to melamine in milk, not to mention those that got over-looked because of sheer volumes dumped cheap to other countries. I don’t mind if markets are flooded with imitation products from that country. I don’t mind if it wantonly disregards copy-right laws. I don’t mind if it’s lacking in quality, as long as it was made, keeping in mind, humans are its end user. It may be cheap, a much sought after deal in this trying times. But in the long run, at what price are we going to pay for patronizing it? I think adding a few riyals to buy a more decent good is much cheaper than a hospital bill or worst a 4x6 lot in a memorial park.

I once admired China for its meteoric rise as an economic giant. But behind its great riches lies, God only knows, insurmountable violation of human rights, unfair labor practices, manipulative one-sided loan bargaining and in the case of Darfur, lives and property lost, all in the name of “percentage return of investment”.

From now on, I won’t buy consumable goods from that country. I may not make a difference or cause any dent on its economic infrastructure… but it’s a start.

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P.S. – I’d like to thanks Pen for pointing out this article to me.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

To All Fathers (Including Me)

“Any fool can have a child. That doesn't make you a father. It's the courage to raise a child that makes you a father." – Barack Obama

A man who has begotten a child. That is the definition of "father" according to Merriam-Webster. But does it stop there? Is that the only function of the male specie? To sow his seed, for some in reckless abandonment, and his purpose in the cycle of life is done? Maybe, that holds true with respect to faunas at a lower tier of the food chain. But I disagree when it comes to us, humans.

In the old days we are content with the notion that man’s responsibility is to put food on the table. As long as stomachs are full, man has done his task and is free to indulge on other forms of diversion. But in a modern world we live in, where men and women are on equal footing, where both parents (in most unit) equally share in the family expenses, it is but just right that men should also take half of the domestic chores, especially when it comes to raising offspring.

I did my part and proud of it. It never occurred to me that a portion of my manliness was taken away. I have my share in wiping off my daughter’s ahh-ahh, cleaning her butt of pooh-pooh and mopping her wee-wee. Not to mention the lack of sleep, waking up in the middle of the night to feed her when she was a baby. I don't look at it as my responsibility, but rather, I want to experience what its like to be a father.

I want to raise her in a way I deem right. Fill her with love without spoiling. Educate her in the best way I could afford. Guide her but letting her choose her own destiny. Helping her realize her own dream. In my capacity, that’s the only legacy I could give and left behind.

When I’m gone, I want to be remembered, not as the man who begotten her, but as a parent whose sacrifices were willingly made in order for her to be where she wants to be. Intact recollection of struggles and happy times we spent together, so she'll have something to reminiscence, to use as guidelines and to share to her own children. I want to be remembered as a father.

Happy Father’s Day everyone.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Going Back Home (Part 4)

The next day, they sent us off at the airport for our flight home. Boracay was not supposed to be in our agenda. You see, I let my wife chose which place we’re going to visit, Cebu or Boracay? Since we’ve been to Boracay a lot of times, she opted for Cebu. But as our plane landed in Caticlan, nagkayaya-an bigla. So we spent an overnight in Boracay.

Boracay
A lot of things have change since I last came here (about 6 years ago). They already have an airport and seaport in Caticlan and the boats going to Boracay are well organized. There’s only one disembarking/embarking point in the island and you have to rent a tricycle (P100.00 fee) to go to the resorts. These island of 3 barangays have blossomed into a semblance of a town and I won’t be surprised if someday it will be declared a town or perhaps even a city, just like Olongapo. By the way, if your in the town proper and needed a ride, don’t take tricycles parking in some areas. Instead, flag down those that are plying along the road. Taking tricycles on “standby” is equivalent to renting it. It will cost you P100 while those that you flag downed only cost P7 per person. I got this tip from the receptionist of the hotel we checked-in to.

Inns and hotel room fees varies, depending on the amenities and its proximity from the beach. Price ranges from P1500 for a room with a fan to P140000 per night for a suite complete with amenities you could think of, including a swimming pool and jacuzzi (it sound silly, what the hell do you need a pool or a jacuzzi for in Boracay?). We got ours for P2500, discounted to P2000, because my wife’s nephew’s friend knows the guy who runs the place. It includes an AC, a big flat TV screen which we never use, a ref and a fancy bathroom.

After we checked-in and settled down, we immediately went to the beach to look for a place to have dinner. The place is like a big, long stripped of carnival along the seashore. A lot of “happenings” going on everywhere you go. A nice candle light dinner with jazz music here, a live band performing there, disco music blaring somewhere else. Kulang na lang may kumaka-in ng apoy at buhay na manok at kumpleto na ang circus.

From our vantage point, this is what Boracay looks like after sun down.

Ayaw pa-awat ni Bea. She likes to play on the sand even as the night grows older. We have to literally drag her away to get some rest so will have more stamina in the morning.

Seven o’clock in the morning, and we're already in the waters.

My wife didn’t wear her bathing suit. She got intimidated by those skinny girls roaming around wearing nothing but teeny weenie bikinis. I took some pictures (secretly of course) but I won’t post it here. Wholesome ‘tong blog ko no!

Boracay in daytime is just as active as I witnessed last night. Besides the fancy restos and fastfoods, souvenir shops are open as well and hawkers plying their trade everywhere. You want fake watches and fake pearl necklaces? They got it. You want a partial or whole body massage? They’ll rub it. You want real tattoos or fake ones (henna)? They’ll paint it. You want your hair braided like Carmelo Anthony? You got it. You want your hair to look like a floor mop? They’ll gladly do it for you. You want all kind of souvenir, from t-shirts to little things you stick on your refrigerator door? They have a whole bunch of it.

If you want excitement, they have all kind of rides, from jet ski, para-gliding, sailing, banana rides and even a helicopter ride around the island. The only ride we took is a tourist bus going homeward bound before sunset.

Manila
We spent four days in Manila prior to our flight back here. We do this every year to buy the thinks we need, especially Bea’s clothing. You see, although Riyadh got a lot of malls, your choices, particularly in clothes, are limited, unlike malls in the Philippines where you can find all you need and different selection to choose from.

But of course we also treat our daughter by going to Ocean Park and Star City. I won’t post any pictures because everybody knows where it is. Besides, Ocean Park is not as fancy as advertised in TFC. The only place Bea did enjoy was in Star City. Not the rides but the playground where other children her age play.

So, there you are folks, a blow-by-blow account of our vacation. Will resume our regular programming in my next post.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Responsableng Panunulat: Isang Pagsusuri

Walang hanganan ang takbo ng isipan kung ang sinusulat ay nobela o may temang pantasya. Ito ay nakapaloob sa kategoryang kathang-isip. Ngunit pag ang tema ay komentaryong pang lipunan (social commentary), may kaakibat itong responsabilidad at dapat maging maingat sa pagsulat. Dito ang obserbasyon at kongklusyon ay dapat sinasaliksik at pinag-iisipan. Dahil ang nakasalalay ay pangyayaring apektado ang alin mang tinutukoy na sektor ng lipunan at posibling gawing batayan sa pag buo ng isang opinyon. Ang kwentong pinamagatang Tsokolate ay gawin nating halimbawa para malinaw ang ating pagtatalakay.

Paglalahat (Generalizing)
Tama ang pangungusap na “Ang lahing Negroid ay kulot ang buhok, maitim ang balat at makapal ang labi.”. Ngunit ang diwa sa pangungusap na “Ang Africano ay kulot ang buhok, maitim ang balat at makapal ang labi” ay mali. Dahil karamihan sa nakatira sa hilagang bahagi ng Africa ay mapuputi ang kutis at hindi kulot ang buhok.

Dito madalas nagkakamali ang manunulat, lalo na’t kung ang kaalaman sa tinatalakay ay hindi lubos o kapiranggot lamang. Sa ating halimbawa;

“Isa lang (ang) dahilan kung bakit nagpapaalipin sa ibang lahi ang mga Pinoy. PERA.”
Iwasang gumamit ng mga katagang pangkalahatan kung ang tinutukoy ay iilang tao lamang. Sa pangungusap na ito, kasama ang may akda sa nagpapaalipin sa ibang lahi at mukhang pera.

“Ipinapanalangin kasi ng isang OFW na tumaas nang tumaas nang tumaas ang halaga ng dolyar laban sa piso.”
Merong ilang kababayan na may ganitong pag-uugali, ngunit ang karamihan ay hindi. Kahit gumamit ang may-akda ng pang-uring “isang”, umani pa rin ng batikos dahil binanggit nya ang katagang "OFW" - ang pangkalahatang tawag sa mga Pilipinong nagta-trabaho sa labas ng Pilipinas.

Eksaherasyon (Hyperbole)
Ang eksaherasyon ay ginagamit para makakuha ng reaksyong emosyonal. Kadalasan ang layunin ng may akda ay magpatawa at maturingang masiste (witty). Ngunit sa mga halimbawang ito;

“Gustong-gusto kasing maging Victoria’s Secret ang ginagamit na pabango ng asawa na dati’y White Flower lamang.”

Layuning magpatawa ang may-akda kapalit ng pagsangkalan at pag-alipusta sa pamilya ng tinutukoy.

“Nagkasya kasi tayo sa mga second choice dahil ang mga de-kalibre, naroon at kasalukuyang minumura ng amo kapalit ng dolyar. Bayani ka bang tatawagin kung humahalik ka naman sa paa ng mga dayuhan?”

Mali. Dahil hindi lamang nilahat ng may-akda ang “mga de-kalibre”, gumamit pa ng “hyperbolic statement” na “minumura ng amo kapalit ng dolyar” at “humahalik ka naman sa paa ng mga dayuhan”. Imbis na matuwa o humanga ay nainsulto ang mga OFW, dahil sa pagmamalabis at hindi makatotohanang pagkakalarawan ng kanilang pagtatrabaho sa ibang bansa.

Pagsasalungatan (Contradiction)
Ang opinyon ng isang manunulat ay dapat ayon o kaalinsunod sa iba nya pang opinyon.

“Ikakatwiran na walang pag-asa dito. Mahirap ang buhay dito. O talagang mahilig lang ang iba sa “piso tamang barko”. Meron din naman dito. Kaya lang, ang mga bagay na narito, ayaw naman natin. Para lang din sinabing “walang akong magawa”. Marami ka naman pwedeng gawin. Kaya lang, itong mga bagay na available na gagawin mo, ayaw mong gawin, tinatamad kang gawin o may iba kang gustong gawin.”

“Ang problema, kapag mataas ang halaga ng dolyar, mababa ang halaga ng piso. At kapag mababa ang halaga ng piso, ang ibig sabihin, mababa rin ang ekonomiya ng bansa. At kapag mababa ang ekonomiya ng bansa, mataas ang mga pangunahing bilihin at siyempre pang apektado ang mga karaniwang manggagawa na sumusuweldo ng mababa dito sa Pilipinas.”

Ang dalawang talatang ito ay magkasalungat. Sa una, pinapangaralan ng may-akda ang mga taong nangingibang bansa. Subalit sa ikalawang talata, alam nya rin pala ang dahilan ng kanilang pag-alis. Walang pinag-iba ito sa tanong mo, sagot mo.

Respeto at Opinyon
Ang opinyon ng isang tao ay dapat ginagalang. Subalit ang pag buo ng isang opinyon ay dapat may sinasandigang ebedensiya ng katotohanan. Dahil ang isang opinyon na walang basehan ay masasabing kathang-isip lamang at makakaranas ng supalpal sa mapagtantong mambabasa.

Ang respeto ay ma-ihahalintulad sa salubongang daan. Para maka-iwas matikman ang maaanghang na salita, siguradohing ang sinusulat ay pinag-isipang mabuti, sinaliksik at tinimbang ang positibo at negatibong aspeto ng usapin. Matutong mag-obserba sa mga pangyayari na walang kinikilingan. Ito lamang at masasabing ang manunulat ay mayroong malawak na pananaw at may kakayahang mag himay sa mga usaping pang lipunan.

Pag-ako Ng Pananagutan
Natural lamang sa isang tao ang nagkakamali. Natural din sa tao ang humingi ng paumanhin sa hindi sinasadyang kamalian. At natural din sa tao ang magpakumbaba at magpatawad. Subalit ang taong sobra ang tiwala sa sarili, hindi tumatanggap ng kamalian at walang paki-alam sa kahihinatnan ng kung sino mang masagasaan ng kanyang ginawa ay tanda ng hindi balanseng pag-iisip. Magkahalintulad sa simtomas ng isang “sociopath”.

Panghuling Salita
Ang mga alituntuning ito ay gabay lamang kung ang punteryang mambabasa ay mga propesyonal, edukado at malawak ang pananaw. Pag ang estelo ng pagsusulat ay katulad sa ating halimbawa, makakatagpo ka ng sumasang-ayon dito na pareho ang ugali sa diwa ng salaysay… makitid ang pag-iisip at pananaw.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Going Back Home (Part 3)

The following morning, we went to Cebu (we’re staying in Mactan). They pointed to us another of Mactan’s tourist spots, one of the most expensive lamp posts in the whole world. Each one cost P90,000 (kuno) and there are several hundreds along the way. Unfortunately not a single one works after the ASEAN summit.

We crossed over to Cebu using this new bridge courtesy of the Japanese government.

Magellan’s Cross
Like any other new comer in Cebu, it’s not complete if you haven’t seen the very cross, so they say, brought by the Spaniards, the first time they stepped on our soil. Amazingly, after more than 400 years, it still looks brand new, like it just came out of the carpentry shop.

I have to shove several Korean tourists to get a better view of the ceiling.

Taoist Temple
This landmark is located in a higher elevation built by the Chinese community of Cebu. It sets atop Beverly Hills, supposed to be the enclave of money eyed citizen of the city, akin to Forbes Park of Manila.

A multi-tiered temple. Similar to where Bruce Lee was to meet and fight different martial art experts at different stages. Sayang na dedo sya bago narating ang next level.

A view of Metro Cebu from the Temple.

Tops
If Hong Kong have Victoria’s Peak, Cebu have what they plainly called “Tops”, probable because it’s nestled at the very top of a hill. From there, on a clear day, you’ll see the whole of Cebu and even the island of Bohol. The scenery is breath-taking, so they say, especially at night.

Unfortunately fog was developing as we climbed up Busay Hill.

We console ourselves by taking this picture with the fog as background. Lovely isn’t it?

A unique formation of picnic tables, the only consolation I got in going to the Tops.

So far what I experienced, after climbing steps at the temple and the cold temperature at the tops, is a pain in the butt (literally speaking). We have to pass by a drugstore to buy a box of "Salonpas" before we went home and called it a day.

Next na lang ang Boracay and Manila adventure ha? Mahaba na kasi ang post na to.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Going Back Home (Part 2)

After two busy weeks, my daughter was already restless and bored. She keeps asking when we will go to the beach. Bea never had seen a sea shore except what she saw on pictures. She doesn’t know what beach sand feels like or sea-water taste like and the nearest thing she experienced is dipping in a swimming pool. So come Sunday morning we decided to go to a local beach resort to douse her excitement and curiosity.

Hawili Beach
There are lots of beaches in my home town but there is one particular beach my family goes to on occasion. It’s situated around 20 klicks from our place, patronized by local residents and very few foreigners knew about it (privately, I prefer it that way). It has “white” sand but not as white or as wide as the seashores of Boracay.

But it serves its purpose; a place for a family picnic with no tourists roaming around and a relaxing dip in the green-blue sea, a comforting feeling against the hot summer.

After that, it was my wife’s turn to do an “ala-Bea”, whining why we don’t do much on our vacation. So we pack our bags and went to Iloilo, stayed overnight at my sister’s place and in the morning, they brought us to the airport for our flight to Cebu.

Memories of Cebu
The last time I was in Cebu I was 4 or 5 years old. We went there to attend my aunt’s graduation in Medicine at the University of San Carlos. There are only two things I remember of that event; the ship that brought us there passing under the iron bridge and that little incident at the dormitory. My aunt’s dorm has a small aviary full of lovebirds and my parents left me there while they went up to see her. When they came down, a nun approaches my aunt and complained that two of the lovebirds are dead. When asked if she knows anything about it, naturally, my aunt denies everything. Until today, my family still suspects that I have something to do with it. I admit that I’m very “active” as a small child but, I swear on my grandfather’s tomb, I didn’t do it. Peks man, cross my heart, madapa sana ang hindi maniwala.

Lapu-lapu Shrine
That evening my wife’s cousin fetched and brought us to where Magellan met his creator. As we park our car, children went up to us and start asking for money but were admonished by cousin and shooed away. Anong akala nila sa amin, si Pacman?

I don’t know what this obelisk represents. It looks like a tomb marker with “Hernando Magallanes” written on it. Maybe it’s where Ferdie was buried.

Here’s Lapu-lapu’s statue in all his glory. It reminds me of the “Oscar”.

Further on, they pointed to us the very spot where Magellan was struck down. I keep straining my eyes to see the marker but all I can see was total darkness. It would have help if we went there earlier when the sun was still up.

Next time I'll tell you the further adventure in Cebu and Boracay "ng mga hilaw na turista”.