Sunday, April 26, 2009

Remember April 26

Forty-two years ago, April 26 was our most awaited date.  It was our high school graduation day!

We must have been excited and were feeling both happy and sad.  Many were happy and relieved to be able to join the march after four years of …. honest cheating ….. Of course not!  Matitibay an batch 67.  Ni minsan mayong nagkodigo sa tuya (sudden flash of lightning then loud brooommmm, sound of thunder! Marhay ta na kailag ako ). 

 Many were also probably sad to leave behind joyful memories and the company of friends.

 Honestly I couldn’t recall now how I felt at that time. What I can remember is that I didn’t know what to take up in college.  That’s why I ended up taking Bachelor of Arts.  Like many of you, I was wondering where and what I would be ten years from then. Now we know where we are, more than thirty years after those ten years.

 Here are some pictures to refresh us of those memories.


Aside from reminiscing about our graduation, April 26 is also important because today is a day of prayer for the successful operation of Alot tomorrow (April 27).  Magsimba kita gabos ha, pati na itong bihidang magsimba dyan!


Let’s include Bella in our prayers, too.  Let’s hope that she has overcome the loss of her husband last February and has moved on with the rest of her family.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

DORSET Celebrates his __th Birthday

Dorset Dwyer celebrated his birthday last Saturday, April 18 (so with Lina Angeles-Nieva).

The following is Maning Abogado's account of the celebration.

re: dorset's bday luxurious celebration. 

i was there with celing carranceja, felix abano, oca cribe and a dozen more.  from lunch to dinner we stayed for "non-stop "drinking and chewing all the beer and the food rich in cholesterol and uric acids. i assumed no guests were fearful of the consequences the way i see their appetites , including me of course. no other classmates attended. by now, my back neck is somehow numb and feeling a bit dizzy.[ i hope not]

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Lintik Lang ang Walang Ganti

I would admit that I’m not a fan of Ted Failon and his radio partner Korina.  In the few times that I get to listen to them at DZMM, I have the impression that they are arrogant and self-righteous.  Regardless of this personal perception, however, all my sympathy goes to Ted Failon on the shocking incident last week involving the shooting and eventual death of his wife Trina, and the arrest of Trina’s siblings and the family’s housemates.  What we saw on TV exposed the arrogance, insensitivity, vindictiveness , and brutality of the QCPD officers and men.  The whole thing was repulsive.  How could the police do such actions, which are legally questionable, morally inappropriate and violative of the culture of the Filipinos (not wanting to leave a dying relative) – in full glare of the tv cameras.  It’s as if they were saying “Lintik lang ang walang ganti” to get even to Ted.


But it shouldn’t only be the QCPD police that should be denounced, investigated and punished.  The Secretary of Justice, himself, should be reprimanded for dignifying unverified rumors and insinuating that it could be a case of parricide.  Well, what can we expect from the Sec of Injustice. (matagal ng pakawala iyan).

 What about Percida Acosta, of the PAO?  Surprise! I agree  with Gonzales.  KSP is the kindest words I can say, although a few months back when she issued a pronouncement that the MIA-road incident was a shoot-out and not a rub-out and even challenged Human Rights Commissioner Leila de Lima to prove that it was a rub-out, I already said that she was C _ _ _ Y.

 Obstruction of justice is conveniently invoked in the Trina Etong-incident.  Such hypocrisy and double standard!  Isn’t obstruction of justice being committed with great abandon by this administration in order to hide the TRUTH? What do you call USec Manny Gaete (now SEC commissioner) facilitating the flight out of the country of Jun Lozada when the Senate was about to invite him to the NBN-ZTE investigation; the administration’s efforts to block cabinet members from testifying in Senate/Congressional investigations, the abduction/rescue (?) of Vidal Doble, a witness to the Hello Garci wire-tapping incident, and many, many more.

 By the way, there were shooting incidents in the past which were accepted to be suicide cases and were not investigated, even if there were “rumors” in cafĂ© shops regarding the circumstances surrounding those cases - (the law-student son of a popular politician, and the former Regal star Alfie Anido, then rumoured to be the boy-friend of the daughter of another politician).  Why such an interest in the Etong case? The reason is obvious.  It’s a warning to all of us.  So, who will protect us from the police, and higher than them - the powers that be?  Let us voice out our outrage even only here in the internet.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

April Fools on Easter Sunday

“In our lives as Christians, we … must prove our love for the TRUTH in [Christ’s] life and teachings. We must love each other and risk our all for the TRUTH, because God commands us so and Christ did no less for us and expected no less from us.”

That was the Easter message of the GLORIETTA.





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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Happy Easter

(Thanks to the owner of the picture. I can't recall if I got this from Flicker or from Skyscraper.)

Happy Easter to all!

After the long holiday I hope you have been re-charged physically and spiritually.  Where did you and your family spend your vacation?

Me, I just stayed  in Manila.  I still reported for work until Wednesday.  On Thursday, I couldn’t get myself to move and take the trip to Calamba.  I simply felt lazy.  I decided to stay put.  I thought I could in fact do some reflections alone at home, go to church, and be able to go over my files to dispose of tons of garbage that I have accumulated. (You attend a conference bringing only your report but you go home with a bagful of handouts – or ‘basurs’, many of which you never get to read seriously. This is especially true in many government conferences.  Bako baga Ate Marynat? It’s a good thing that we can now just bring memory sticks/CDs or DVDs.)

When I was a child, when Holy Week comes, nanay would prevent us from playing and reading our favorite serye in Pilipino Komiks, Espesyal, Hiwaga, and Tagalog Klasiks.  Even laughing out loud was not allowed because Jesus was suffering.  Bawal mag-enjoy.

Penance and abstinence take a different form in today’s technological age.  The Vatican issued a directive to the faithful to refrain from using the internet and cellphone at least for one day.  I must have complied because I used both sparingly.  I didn’t even watch the TV or played loud music…..

But I decided to watch movies while sorting out my documents.  I watched not just one, or two but five! but I chose those that would lift my spirits. (If your fond of movies I recommend that you see the following films, if you still haven’t.)

“Shawshank Redemption” (about a banker who was unjustly sentenced to two life-terms in prison for crimes he did not commit – the murder of his wife and her lover.  He spent 19 years in prison before he was able to escape.  The inhuman condition in prison did not crush his spirit and he remained steadfast in his hope for freedom.  I don’t think I’d be able to last that long if I were innocent.  It stars Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman). 

“Into the Wild” (about a young college graduate from a dysfunctional family who donated all his savings to Oxfam America (an NGO), burned all his ID cards and remaining dollars and went hitchhiking across America with the goal of reaching Alaska to escape society and commune with nature.  Along the way he had to work to earn money for food and supplies, camped out with hippies, and became friends with an old widower.  He did reach Alaska but eventually ran out of supplies and died of hunger.  He had a short but fascinating life.  This is based on a true story.  What attracted me first to this movie is that it was directed by Sean Penn, my favourite actor (Mystic River, Milk, Carlito’s Way, I am Sam).

“Sometimes in April” (an HBO movie about the genocide in Rwanda (a small country in Africa) in 1994, when the Hutus’ killed more than 800,000 Tutsis, who were their own countrymen.  Violence was sparked when the Rwandan President, a Tutsi was killed when his plane was shot on April 6 by rebels believed to be Tutsis.  It took a long time before the UN was able to act.  By the way, I’ve learned from the internet that Rwanda has now recovered and is in fact one of the leading countries in IT in Africa.  This movie is better than a similar commercial movie – Hotel Rwanda.

“The Visitor” (about a middle-aged, widowed Connecticut economics professor who has lost his passion for teaching and writing having taught the same subject for about 20 years.  He tries to fill the vacuum by taking classical piano lessons, unsuccessfully.  Life changed when he was sent by his university to Manhattan to deliver/read a paper (written by another professor).  He owned an apartment there and he was surprised to find a Syrian and his Senegalese girlfriend living there.  They were victimized by a real estate broker.  He allowed them to stay.  The Syrian, who was a talented musician taught him to play the African drum and brought him to jazz clubs. (I too, loved the music.) He was beginning to be “re-awakened” when the Syrian was arrested as undocumented alien.  The professor committed himself to help the Syrian.  Unexpectedly, the Syrian’s beautiful mother came to visit his son, and a romance developed between the prof and the mother.  The Syrian was deported and the mother had to follow him to Syria.  Although the prof was again left alone, he had already been awakened to a new world, and a new life.  The movie ended with the professor playing the African drum in wild abandon……. In a subway!)

“A Beautiful Mind” (true story of Prof. John Nash, a Nobel prize winner who almost lost his sanity.  He was a genius suffering from schizophrenia but was able to overcome his mental illness due to the nurturing love and care of his wife.  This won the Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director for Ron Howard of the Da Vinci Code,

Rituals.  I went to Church on Thursday.  This was supposed to be a happy occasion because we commemorate the first celebration of the Eucharist.  The church was already full, so I just stood outside.  The crowd seemed to be smaller compared to previous years.  Perhaps, more people went out of town.   During the washing of the apostles’ feet, I remembered what I used to wonder when I was a child.  What if the apostoles did not wash their feet before the priest did the ceremonial washing? I can visualize one of the regular apostoles, whom we called “Angel sa Lupa”. I wonder if he’s still alive today.

After the mass, there was a procession of the blessed sacrament inside the church.  I liked the smell of the burning incense.  Tantum Ergo was sang.  I can remember the hymn but not the Latin lyrics.  This brought memories of the benediction during first Fridays when we were in high school.  We had to genuflect with both knees then bow our heads.

It was difficult to pray, to concentrate, to commune with the Lord.  There were many distractions.  Teenagers chatting, reading text messages and giggling.  After the mass, I was able to enter the church, but it was like a market place as the lay ministers took their time for the chikahan. 

There was a pabasa/pasyon near the church and near the house of the former KOMISYONer of NBN-ZTE.  You know who he is of course. Yung may sariling burjeer na masarap daw.  The tolda used by the pasyon(istas?) bore the big picture and name of a mandaluyong councillor (kaapilyido ni KOMISYONer.  Of course, that's already a campaign paraphernalia.   I would have wanted to join the “rappers” so I could partake of the dinner.  On the roadside, they were cooking ginataang langka in a big kawa, and pritong galunggong in another big kawali.  

Friday, I watched the siete palabras on TV, both Channel 2 and 7 had their own coverage.  I decided to watch the one at the UST chapel, with the Dominicans covered by Kapuso.  One priest tried to connect with the audience by citing contemporary examples. He was assigned the words “Ngayon din, isasama kita sa Paraiso”.  … hindi kahapon, hindi bukas… kundi ngayon. Hindi gaya ni Santino, na May Bukas Pa”  ….. he probably wasn’t conscious that it was a GMA7 excusive coverage while May Bukas Pa is the top rating teleserye of its fierce competitor, Kapamilya 2.   More than the priests’ sermons, I liked the reflections shared by Boots Anson Roa about her family’s triple whammy – the death of her father, husband, and the illness of her son, and how they have accepted them as God’s will.

I did not join the procession.  In Daet, this was supposed to be the time when the bakasyonistas from Manila make their appearance.  Kabali kamo digdi.  Sabi pa kan iba, ogwa daang “Tagalig” na ang taram pagkalipas nin pirang bulan na pagklase sa Manila. Of course, exempted sina Alot and Rey.  Tagalog talaga sinda, tagalog-Vinzons nga lang.  Dasig-dasig naman dyan.  Maya-maya palingin mo ang kandila ha.

Of course, Holy Week will be without meaning without the Easter Sunday.  More than the passion of Christ, our focus should be on the Resurrection because this is what gives us Hope in the midst of all the present difficulties.

Happy Easter!


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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Anniversaries - Remembering People and Events

 Quezon National Park (photo taken from Flicker)


Do you know that today, April 7, the second day of the Holy Week is also the 31st anniversary of the first Batasang Pambansa elections? Yes, in 1978 Ninoy Aquino ran as assemblyman and headed the Laban Party  while he was under detention.  Directly pitted against him was Imelda Marcos who was the standard bearer of the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL).  I also remember Kris Aquino, still a cute be-spectacled little girl standing on a stool campaigning for her father.  She won the hearts of many.  On the eve of the elections, many people (including me) spontaneously came out to the streets and joined the noise barrage to express their support for Laban.  Even those inside their homes were flashing the "L" sign and were also making all sorts of noises.  It was more than a New Year revelry in the streets of Manila.  Yet on election day, Imelda and the entire KBL team won by a landslide while Ninoy and all the Laban candidates lost! There was no mention at all of the noise barrage in the newspapers.

Aside from this political event, today is significant to me personally because it is also the 31st anniversary of my mother’s death. That of my brother is four days from now on April 11.  (By the way, by coincidence, both of my parents’ deaths coincide with major political events.  My father died on Sept 21 and was buried on Sept 23, when the declaration of martial law was announced).

April 7, 1978 was a tragic date for our family.  The day before, I called up my brother in Daet to inform him that our elder brother had his third operation on his prostate cancer.  Hence, the next day, after voting, six members of the family proceeded to Manila on board an owner-type jeep driven by my brother.  Others in the vehicle were nanay, two sisters, a brother-in-law, and a cousin. 

Past 5 pm, I got a message that I had a long distance call at home in Sta. Cruz, Manila (there were no cell phones yet at that time).  I was inside the polling precinct at that time since I was a Laban poll watcher.  When I wouldn’t budge from my place of assignment, I was informed that it was my brod-in-law on the phone, calling from Lucena City.  The group met an accident – the jeep fell in a ravine at the “Eme” – Quezon National Park.

Past 7 pm, together with another brother who was also in Manila to visit our cancer-stricken brother,  we boarded a bus for Lucena.  My mother was already at the morgue of the Lucena Medical City.  Except for a slight bruise on the forehead, her face was clean.  The fatal injury was at the back of her head.  The others were in the hospital rooms.  My brother, who drove the jeep, could hardly open his eyes, I could only see the white part of his eyes but not the eyeballs.  But he could speak.  He told me it was an accident and asked me to have my mother embalmed (itong pwedeng maghaloy daa) because they would  join the funeral as soon as they got well. He had broken ribs and hip bone because he held on to the steering wheel as the jeep turned turtle several times.  My sister and cousin suffered injuries on the neck and chest.  Fortunately, my other sister did not have any major injury except for bruises (nabugbog lang), while my brod-in-law suffered minor injury but could talk and move around on a wheel chair.

As if it were planned, my brod’s wife, a doctor who had already migrated to the US arrived that week for a vacation when the accident occurred.  She arranged for an ambulance to bring my brother to the De Los Santos Hospital in Quezon City.  My sister and her husband, and my cousin were brought to UERM in Sta. Mesa, while my other sister was taken to the Cam Norte Provincial Hospital. (My brother who had cancer and whom they intended to visit was confined at the then GSIS General Hospital, now East Avenue Hospital). So we had patients in several hospitals at the same time.

I was left in Lucena with my other brother to settle the bill and get the necessary permits to transport my mother’s body.  I also had her embalmed in Lucena as it was already nearing afternoon and I was afraid the body would start to decompose.  The funeral car came late in the afternoon.  It was already getting dark when we started our long and slow trip.  We had to stop twice in the middle of nowhere to change tires.  It was past midnight when we reached Daet.

The wake was held at my brother’s residence inside the provincial hospital compound. Relatives and friends came.  Deaths are an opportunity for reunions. They bring together relatives who have not seen each other for a long, long time.  In my case, since I started working in Manila in 1973 until that incident in 1978, I have gone home for a vacation only twice and only for two days each time.  Honestly, with apologies to our class, I guess I don’t have much fond memories of the place but I won’t dwell on that.

On the fourth day, after three nights of wake, we received the news that my brother died in the hospital while preparing to undergo an operation.  He was 35 years old at that time and had three kids.  My mother was 71. 

My sister-in-law made the arrangements to transport his body to Daet.  On the fifth night, there were already two coffins in the wake.  My mother and brother were buried at the same time, on the same plot in the Daet public cemetery where my father’s body also lie.

After the burial, I had to go back to Manila to check on the other patients at the UERM and at the GSIS Hospital.  My brother who had cancer already knew about the tragedy.  My sister-in-law waited for a few days for him to recover from the operation before informing him.  She had to do it because he was already wondering and was feeling bad that no other member of the family was visiting him.   

I did not immediately inform my sister about my brother’s death when I visited her at the UERM. (She only knew that nanay was dead).   She had a cast on her neck and chest, and she also had a heart condition.  It would be bad if she gets too emotionally disturbed, which we expected especially since it was my brod who sent her to college.  It was not only my sister though who owed him a lot.  The whole family did because my brod was the one who helped my father support us, ever since he started working.    He had to quit schooling after his third year of engineering in order to work.  It was us, his three younger siblings who got to finish college.

I had to go back to Daet after visiting the patients to attend to many other things, among them was the pa-siyam.  On the first night after the burial, and for the next eight nights, relatives and friends gathered to pray for the dead.  There is food – handaan - on the last day.  That is part of our culture.  We pay a “paradasal” to lead the prayers.   Halawig ang dasal.  According to the paradasal, dai daa pwedeng one prayer lang for the two dead persons. Dapat, duwang dasal daa.  So after finishing one set, there is a re-play. I do not know why it is not acceptable to god to mention both names in one set of prayer. (Alang-alang sa pagpapakasakit ni Hesus…. Kaawaan at patawarin ang kaluluwa ni ______ at ni ________).  So, two sets of prayer, doble din ang bayad.

There are many “pamahiin” involving the dead.  When news about my brother’s death came, immediately some relatives checked on my mother’s coffin.  They had it opened because dai palan daa pinatud itong rosaryong kapot ni nanay.  (Kung pinatud kaya, would my brother not have died?).  On the day of the funeral, while assigning those who would carry the caskets, older relatives told us, bawal daa kaming three brothers na mag-alsa nin kabaong.  When my uncle (the only surviving sibling of my mother, he is more than 80 years old now) learned about this, he got angry.  “Huring serbisyo mi na daa ito, dai mi pa gigibuhon!”  I cannot recall now, whom among the elders we obeyed.

Going back to the significance of 1978 to our family, it was really a tragic year for us.  My brother was diagnosed to have prostate cancer and unexpectedly, we lost our mother and brother, even ahead of him.  (My brother who had cancer, died three years later in 1981).  My grief was not really for them – na “hirak man sinda”.  Even then, I knew that it was God’s will and it was best for them because they were re-united with our creator.  The grief was for those who were left behind.  It must have been very difficult for my sister-in-law.  I salute her for successfully raising their children (all three of them are now in New Jersey, two of whom are already married).  It is unfortunate that our family did not have the means to help her.

 I also realized how difficult it is when the family has not prepared for the passing away of loved ones, not only emotionally, but financially. 

I’ll hear mass after work this afternoon in memory of my loving mother who devoted her whole life taking care of us.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Our classmate, Bing sent these two posts which you may find appropriate reading at the start of the Holy Week. One tells an anecdote about a child’s pure innocence, the other, written by Lee Kuan Yew’s daughter talks about what should really matter in life.  

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Saying Grace in Restaurant

Last week, I took my children to a restaurant. My six-year-old son asked if he could say grace.

As we bowed our heads he said, 'God is good, God is great. Thank you for the food , and I would even thank You more if Mom gets us ice cream for dessert. And Liberty and justice for all! Amen!'

Along with the laughter from the other customers nearby, I heard a woman remark, 'That's what's wrong with this country. Kids today don't even know how to pray. Asking God for ice cream! Why, I never!'

Hearing this, my son burst into tears and asked me, 'Did I do it wrong? Is God mad at me?'

As I held him and assured him that he had done a terrific job, and God was certainly not mad at him, an elderly gentleman approached the table.. He winked at my son and said, 'I happen to know that God thought that was a great prayer.'

'Really?' my son asked.

'Cross my heart,' the man replied.

Then, in a theatrical whisper, he added (indicating the woman whose remark had started this whole thing), 'Too bad she never asks God for ice cream. A little ice cream is good for the soul sometimes.'

Naturally, I bought my kids ice cream at the end of the meal. My son stared at his for a moment, and then did something I will remember the rest of my life.

He picked up his sundae and, without a word, walked over and placed it in front of the woman. With a big smile he told her, 'Here, this is for you. Ice cream is good for the soul sometimes; andmy soul is good already.'


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Wisdom from Lee Kuan Yew's Daughter

Even though she isn't a Christian, this essay is inspiring. .. It reminds us to go back to our basic values in life.

In 2008, in an end-of-year message to the staff of the National Neuroscience Institute, Associate Professor Lee Wei Ling, daughter of Lee Kuan Yew, the Minister Mentor, a director in the institute, wrote:

'Whilst boom time in the public sector is never as booming as in the private sector, let us not forget that boom time is eventually followed by slump time. Slump time in the public sector is always less painful compared to the private sector.'

Slump time has arrived with a bang.

While I worry about the poorer Singaporeans who will be hit hard, perhaps this recession has come at an opportune time for many of us. It will give us an incentive to reconsider our priorities in life.

Decades of the good life have made us soft. The wealthy especially, but also the middle class in Singapore , have had it so good for so long, what they once considered luxuries, they now think of as necessities.

A mobile phone, for instance, is now a statement about who you are, not just a piece of equipment for communication. Hence many people buy the latest model though their existing mobile phones are still in perfect working order.

A Mercedes-Benz is no longer adequate as a status symbol. For millionaires who wish to show the world they have taste, a Ferrari or a Porsche is deemed more appropriate.

The same attitude influences the choice of attire and accessories. I still find it hard to believe that there are people carrying handbags that cost more than thrice the monthly income of a bus driver, and many more times that of the foreign worker labouring in the hot sun, risking his life to construct luxury condominiums he will never have a chance to live in.

The media encourages and amplifies this ostentatious consumption. Perhaps it is good to encourage people to spend more because this will prevent the recession from getting worse. I am not an economist, but wasn't that the root cause of the current crisis - Americans spending more
than they could afford to?

I am not a particularly spiritual person. I don't believe in the supernatural and I don't think I have a soul that will survive my death. But as I view the crass materialism around me, I am reminded of what my mother once told me: 'Suffering and deprivation is good for the soul.'

My family is not poor, but we have been brought up to be frugal. My parents and I live in the same house that my paternal grandparents and their children moved into after World War II in 1945. It is a big house by today's standards, but it is simple - in fact, almost to the point of being shabby.

Those who see it for the first time are astonished that Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew's home is so humble.. But it is a comfortable house, a home we have got used to. Though it does look shabby compared to the new mansions on our street, we are not bothered by the comparison.

Most of the world and much of Singapore will lament the economic downturn. We have been told to tighten our belts. There will undoubtedly be suffering, which we must try our best to ameliorate.

But I personally think the hard times will hold a timely lesson for many Singaporeans, especially those born after 1970 who have never lived through difficult times.. No matter how poor you are in Singapore , the authorities and social groups do try to ensure you have shelter and food.

Nobody starves in Singapore .

Many of those who are currently living in mansions and enjoying a luxurious lifestyle will probably still be able to do so, even if they might have to downgrade from wines costing $20,000 a bottle to $10,000 a bottle.. They would hardly notice the difference.

Being wealthy is not a sin. It cannot be in a capitalist market economy. Enjoying the fruits of one's own labour is one's prerogative and I have no right to chastise those who choose to live luxuriously. But if one is blinded by materialism, there would be no end to wanting and hankering. After the Ferrari, what next? An Aston Martin? After the Hermes Birkin handbag, what can one upgrade to?

Neither an Aston Martin nor an Hermes Birkin can make us truly happy or contented. They are like dust, a fog obscuring the true meaning of life, and can be blown away in the twinkling of an eye.

When the end approaches and we look back on our lives, will we regret the latest mobile phone or luxury car that we did not acquire?? Or would we prefer to die at peace with ourselves, knowing that we have lived lives filled with love, friendship and goodwill, that we have helped some of our fellow voyagers along the way and that we have tried our best to leave this world a slightly better place than how we found it?

We know which is the correct choice - and it is within our power to make that choice. In this new year, burdened as it is with the problems of the year that has just ended, let us again try to choose wisely. To a considerable degree, our happiness is within our own control, and we should not follow the herd blindly.

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Friday, April 3, 2009

Understanding Our Labor and Employment Data

A few days ago, the government released the employment data for 2009. They show that the Philippines hasn’t been greatly affected by the global economic crisis, at least, not yet. As of January 2009, employment rate is 92.3% or an unemployment rate of only 7.7%. They are not significantly different from the figures in the same period last year (Jan 2008), which are: 92.6% employment rate and 7.4% unemployment rate.
We can better appreciate the data if we know what the figures really mean.

Labor and employment data are obtained by the government through a survey conducted quarterly. A series of questions are asked from sample respondents. For ease of recall, all answers to the questions refer only to the previous week.

The primary question is whether the respondent has worked during the past week even for only ONE HOUR for pay or profit, or without pay. Kaya, kung nakapagtrabaho ka noong nakaraang lingo, kahit na ISANG ORAS lamang (at wala ka nang trabaho the rest of the week), you will be counted as employed.

The National Statistical Coordination Board’s exact definition of an employed person is “any member of the labor force who worked during the past week even for only one hour for pay or profit, or work without pay on the farm or business enterprise operated by a member of the same household related by blood, marriage or adoption.”

So next time you see employment figures, you should be asking, what kind of work do they have – are they fully employed? Baka naman they are working only 8 hours a week when full-time work is at least 40 hours. So, magkano lang ang kita niya, mabuti kung consultant na Dollar per hour ang sweldo. Di ba Ed?

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Random Thoughts

I have survived the April 1 CONFICKER virus threat! I’ve been extra watchful for suspicious messages from the internet the whole day yesterday, fortunately no such thing came. What an uneventful April Fools Day! But April Fools is not really part of our Filipino culture. What I can recall as the day for pranksters since I was a child is Dec 28, Ninos Inocentes.

It’s been quite some time since my last post. Since I woke up very early this morning and I had nothing better to do, I decided to write my random thoughts which I'm sharing with you.

Yesterday, I was supposed to have transferred to a new job. Not really “new” if we talk of the nature and field of work, because it would still have been agrarian reform/rural development related. I would have joined a foreign-assisted project and I was excited in having the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as one of the six regional project sites. I’ve been to two provinces so far – Basilan and Lanao Sur. I thought this would be my chance to see Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

The transfer would have been for purely monetary consideration. My colleagues/ friends, however, convinced me to stay in our small NGO, so I reconsidered my decision. I still expect to learn something new. We are developing a program, which if we get a funding for, will give us the opportunity to work with the Higaonon tribes in Misamis and Bukidnon, as well as the Aetas of Botolan in Zambales. If our proposal gets approved, the project will start next year. What is almost certain is adding a new area to our present operations – Candoni, an upland area and one the poorest municipalities of Negros Occidental.


Last March 31, it was exactly six years since I quit smoking. At three packs a day (and sometimes even more), I’ve saved 131,400 sticks of Hope menthol cigarettes. How much would it have cost me to allow such nicotine to enter my lungs?

Have you been to the new terminal (NAIA 3)? I do since I always take Cebu Pacific in my domestic flights because of the cheaper rates. If you don’t have a "sundo" and you’re not willing to take the airport taxis because they can cost you a fortune, there are shuttle vans which charge only P20 that could take you to MRT or LRT stations. But if you don’t want to go through the hassle of carrying your heavy luggage up the railway stations, then there are metered taxis outside the terminal. You just have to walk a few hundred meters from the arrival area.

It was a bad day, however, last Saturday when I arrived from Cagayan de Oro. There was a long queue of taxis but the drivers were nowhere to be found. They were out meeting the passengers – “nango-ngontrata”, (na dapat bawal). It took a while before I got a ride, after complaining aloud and threatening to report the situation to “authorities” (may kumikita na naman, siguradong naglalagay ang mga taxi drivers, to whom and how much, I don’t know). I saw the hotline of the LTFRB (Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board) written on the cab. I called the numbers but nobody was answering. The numbers were for a cellphone and not a landline. So I sent a text message reporting the incident and even sent the plate nos. of two cabs whose drivers refused to take me as passenger. I received a reply that said that the matter will be investigated and advised me to contact them again if I wish to pursue cases against the drivers. I didn’t. It would be a big hassle.

I would think that a “hotline” should be accessible at the shortest time possible time. E kung emergency and mabagal kang magtext like me, tapos na boxing before you can get your message across.

Pero mas grabe ang kapalpakan sa North Expressway according to Ka Tonying (Taverna of Umagang Kay Ganda). He said that there’s a billboard of GMA and PAGCOR chief Efren Genuino reminding motorists about safe driving and with the hotline “711” written. That was the wrong number though – dapat 117, “7-11” is the name of the convenience store!


There’s a lot of high profile news these days, I’ll mention some and add my personal views, pasensya na if you have different views. You’re free to react anyway.

The Abu Sayaf Group is still holding the three International Red Cross volunteers captive and right now, we don’t know what their actual situation is, but we’re hopeful that they are still alive. The situation is very difficult for the government. If something happens to the three kidnap victims, it will be blamed by the whole world. But, it can not and should not also give in to the ASG’s demand for a total pull-out of troops from Sulu because that would be putting the entire province at risk. I wish Sen Gordon, who heads the Red Cross here in the Philippines would refrain from publicly asking the military to heed the demands of the ASG for the sake of the 3 IRC volunteers. I think he should talk with GMA and the military privately, outside the glare of the media.


The noose is getting tighter on the neck of Sen. Ping Lacson on the Dacer-Curvito murder case. Whether efforts to bring back Mancao and Dumlao to the country are politically motivated or not, Sen. Ping has to brace himself for his defense. I am quite satisfied with Ping’s performance as a senator. However, he has to face the ghosts of his past. Actually aside from this case, there’s the Kuratong Baleleng case, which has almost been forgotten.


The “recantation” of the rape-victim “Nicole” is a big issue because “Nicole” has been used as the symbol of the opposition to the Visiting Forces Agreement. Her case is not just a case of the person “Nicole” against Daniel Smith, but a case of the Filipinos/Filipino women against the US and the VFA. It is obvious that many of those pursuing the case on “her behalf” have their own agenda, not necessarily Nicole’s personal interest. I am against rape and against any kind of oppression especially by foreigners against Filipinos. But I have confirmed from this incident that I still hold “old-fashioned” values. I do not believe in what some women activists say that any woman has the right to enjoy, to go to a girlie bar, drink and get thoroughly drunk alone, flirt with a stranger, and not expect to get indecent proposals and much more, to get raped. I’m not saying that those who do, have it coming if they get raped and have no right to complain. Rape is a crime and shouldn’t go unpunished. But I still believe in the “old-outmoded” belief that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure, o “kung ayaw mong masunog, huwag kang magdarang sa apoy”. Wouldn't it be better if you help build your daughter's character so that she’ll not find going to a bar, drinking and flirting as a normal form of enjoyment. And to my son (if I had one) and nephew, to be careful with consensual sex - do it at the right place, right time, and with the right person. Those are just my personal views.


There are groups endorsing Among Ed (Fr. Panlilio, governor of Pampanga) to run for President. I’m not excited about this. I don’t think he’s the one who can rally and unite the people to a common vision for the country. He was not able to do it in Pampanga (he is at odds with the entire Provincial Board, and has the support of only one mayor out of ___ (don’t know the number). Being morally upright is not the only skill needed for good governance.


Lastly my best wishes to our April birthday celebrants, not one of whom is a member of our email group and has not opened our blog – Mila Echano-Rosales (April 1), Mona de Jesus-Luzarraga (April 6), Emily Herrero-Cruz (April 15), Lina Angeles-Nieva and Dorset Dwyer (April 18).

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