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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.
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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.

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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?

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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!

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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