Showing posts from June, 2006

Class War?

The things we do in the name of the poor!

I never thought I would see the light of the day when certain people would use the same line of defense that their erstwhile nemesis - he who professed his innocence to high heavens yesterday- used to justify all his actions: to benefit the masa, or the poor.

Okay, so maybe there is no point in quibbling with intentions because there is just no way that anyone can actually measure sincerity and all that. Perhaps we can even grant that people do want to help the poor in this country and that the desire to alleviate poverty do haunt their waking hours - they can't sleep, they can't eat, they can't function productively until they are able to accomplish this noble mission.

Fine. So we need to do something for the poor.

But how is fighting for the rights and welfare of the poor a class issue? Does it automatically mean that when one is middle, higher middle, upper class, etc., one can not espouse anymore issues of the other "class…

Bridging the mismatch between skills and jobs

The following appears at the op-ed section of the Manila Standard Today - June 28, 2006.

THE second round of the Graduate Tracer Study officially commences today as research directors of 60 colleges and universities from all over the country come together to begin the arduous process of answering the question that has been baffling industry and academe in the last few years. No, the question has nothing to do with how those voices got caught on tape.

The question, in layman’s terms, is what exactly is causing the mismatch between what academe produces (skills) and what industry needs (jobs)? Hopefully, the answers will lead to prescriptions that will help academic institutions and national policymakers develop a more responsive and relevant educational environment that will enhance the overall competitiveness of Filipino graduates in the marketplace.

But first, an introduction about the Tracer Study. It is a nationwide “tracer” study that aims to gather feedback on the whereabouts of col…

Harmonizing discordant voices

My column for today (Manila Standard Today) is about One Voice and its advocacy.

THERE are at least three main challenges facing One Voice, the new citizens group initially composed of respected Filipinos who have come together to craft a five-point proposal to take the country out of the current political impasse.

The first challenge is getting heard loudly and clearly above the din and dynamics of the current political melee, particularly as the run-up towards the second impeachment brings to a boil. This early, the message of the group, precisely perhaps because of its more sober tone, runs the risk of being drowned out by the more insistent and more confrontational stance of the other messages out there. It doesn’t help, of course, that in our country today, controversy and hysterics get more attention and media airtime.

The adversarial positions being taken up by those advocating that the President be kicked out of office now as a nonnegotiable precondition for anything else, on one…


There are days when you can't help but suspect that all that pressure must be finally taking its toll on some cabinet secretaries. Being a cabinet secretary must be such a difficult job, particularly under the present dispensation; but then again, nobody is holding a gun to their head telling them to stick to their jobs or else...

Of all the cabinet secretaries today, no one - bar none - is as disturbing and exasperating as the Justice Secretary. Yes, he with the cluttered and disorganized work desk and outrageous public statements. Watching the honorable secretary on television is always a riveting experience. A friend once likened it to listening to Howard Stern - you know he is going to say something outrageous but you still listen because you wanna know what appaling thing he is still capable of saying in public.

For instance, why would anyone in his right mind issue a hold departure order for Satur Ocampo and in the process invite adverse media attention? Why would someon…

Call to Order?

One Voice, a new citizens group, which counts among their ranks some people I have profound respect for, has issued a manifesto today. I have read the manifesto, although I haven’t had time to really study it. I read MLQ’s column today which provides some insightful context on both the group and the various points of the manifesto. Overall, I find myself agreeing with most parts of the advocacy. There are some points that I need more clarification on and I hope that these are addressed in the next few days.

There are some parts of the manifesto that I could sincerely identify with, such that I could very well have written them myself. In fact, I think have written some entries in this blog that hew closely to some of the points the group is raising now. In particular, I did write about the need to craft a "social agenda" that takes away focus from the endless nitpicking and mudslinging.

Parts of one particular blog follows.

"But I think it is time to stop the screaming con…

Sex, lies and tough talk

My schedule this week is crazy, so I may not be able to blog regularly. But thank you to all those who emailed me privately and to those who left comments in this blog congratulating and wishing me luck me on my new preoccupation, which is writing a column.

My column for today in the Op-Ed section of Manila Standard Today is Sex, lies and tough talk.

SEX has been very much in the news in the last two weeks, thanks to three national controversies: the introduction of a module on sex education for high school students beginning this school year, the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board’s latest protestations regarding the alleged sexual content of some television shows, and of course, the ongoing trial of four US servicemen accused of raping a Filipina at Subic.

It has been more than a century since this country got out of the metaphorical convent, but judging from the furious reactions of some quarters on the issue of sex education, Padre Damaso is alive and kicking, and…

From blogging to writing a column

Starting today, and every Monday and Wednesday thereafter, my byline will appear in the opinion pages of the Manila Standard Today. My maiden column is about something close to my heart as a Human Resource Management practitioner: wages.

Although it was that letter that gave me my 10 minutes of notoriety, it was this blog that caught media's attention. Yup, bloggers out there, it looks like mainstream media is indeed keeping a keen eye on the blogosphere. Manila Standard Today has another blogger on its roster of columnists, Sassy Lawyer.

I know that there are bloggers out there who will see this move as a form of selling out. I don't.

Have a good week ahead everyone!

Fathers Day Tribute

Tomorrow is Father's Day.

(I agree that any occasion that purports to honor the people who have made significant contributions in our lives is a welcome thing, particularly in this day and age when nobility seemed to have already lost its place in society. Having said that, however, I do wish that such occasions are not milked to such ridiculous extremes where people, particularly kids, are conditioned into thinking that honoring someone requires spending huge amounts of money. This is a futile effort, but I hope that mall and restaurant operators go easy on their campaigns; or at the very least, put more emphasis on propagating the right values. Reminding people about the heroes in our lives and the significant roles they play in our own existence is heartwarming; luring them into buying expensive stuff, or celebrating the occasion in a grand way is another thing because it really is not necessary.

I must admit, however, that there is a part of me that welcomes the celebration of F…


Freedom is a concept that has been perverted in many ways, when people do not get what they want in this country, they not only flail around and engage in all kinds of demagoguery, they also issue thinly-veiled threats…publicly! And naturally, some sectors in the media go into a tailspin to broadcast everything down to the last juicy bit, all for the cause of freedom of course.

Fierce advocates of the death penalty went to town the other day to protest, decry, lambast, and do practically everything dramatic to register their disgust over the eminent lifting of capital punishment in this country. Now, this is a free country and people should be allowed to protest anything – including of course, the right to protest against a protest, and the right to protest against a protest of a protest. And so on and so forth.

But protesting is one thing, making threats is another thing.

Sadly, this has become rather commonplace today. Last week, businessmen led by Donald Dee went on public television …


MLQ has written a more scholarly and authoritative piece about this in a recent PDI column, but I just can not help but add my personal outrage over the way the national flag is being brazenly desecrated in our thoroughfares today.

I was driving along Taft Avenue in Manila this morning and was extremely horrified at the extent to which the Philippine flag has been so desecrated by the City of Manila. I have never ever seen such brazen and wanton disrespect for our national symbol! All along the length of Taft Avenue today, flags are carelessly and haphazardly nailed on the concrete posts that support the LRT. In some cases, the flag is not even nailed but pierced through on all four corners with metal wires and spread like an ordinary streamer. And many of the flags were directly exposed to rain - picture the combination of rainwater, pollution, exhaust, etc., and you can imagine the grimy state of the flags.

It seems that the only consideration made by whoever was responsible for this …

Here we go again

In the papers today is a news item that convinces me that the Philippine Catholic church is not only caught in some time warp, it is seemingly indulging in some form of craftiness.

This year, the government is finally integrating "sex education" in government schools. And it is about time actually. It is high time that teenagers get access to correct information about sex, sexually-transmitted diseases, etc., in the right environment. Ideally, of course, parents should do the explaining; but not all parents have the time, nor the inclination or skills for such a delicate task (my own parents tried when I was 14, but it was too late then, I already knew the facts from peers and from my reading; but I wish they tried sooner for reasons that is worth another blog).

The Catholic bishops' commission on family life has gone on record criticizing the government's sex education program as "disturbing" and trundles the same wornout arguments it has been making sin…

Daggy Manilow as deterrent

My word for the day: daggy. The word refers to something unfashionable or lacking style. In other words, uncool; or in Tagalog – baduy!

I can not imagine what Barry Manilow and his legion of fans around the world are thinking and feeling right now. According to a Reuters dispatch (which was published in some papers today) officials in one Sydney (Australia) district have decided to play Manilow’s music over loudspeakers in a car park where “car hoons” congregate. “Car hoons” are people with “antisocial cars” – you know, those souped-up cars with verrrry loud engines and eardrum-shattering music that go duhg-duhg-duhg. These car hoons annoy residents and drive customers away from the restaurants and shops near the car park. Naturally, people also avoid parking their cars near them.

We actually have some off these car hoons in Metro Manila. And I must admit that while I do not have anything against their taste for cars or sense of style (anyone should be allowed to to paint fire im…

Politics and Art

The annual selection of National Artists is something that I pay close attention to.

I like paintings, literature and art pieces. I also make it a point to catch some performances at the CCP and elsewhere whenever I can. One of my fantasies is living in a huge house where the walls are abloom with the works of Manansala, Luz, Ang Kiukok, Bencab, Malang, Joya, even Badon, Baldemor and Velasco and where a Lluch, an Orlina, or an Abueva piece sits serenely in a side table or two (cut me some slack, it's a fantasy for crying out loud). I do spend a great amount on books (fortunately, they are relatively more affordable and within my means).

This year, they picked Bencab and Bien Lumbera, among others (I already wrote about FPJ's selection and the unfortunate fracas that surrounded the selection and announcement). I am aware that selecting who gets into the illustrious list is a contentious process. I can understand that. There are many artists who deserve the title and I imagine tha…

Nanay's Lumo

Certain tastes are shaped by traditions, flavored by affection, and seasoned by the many textures and savors of experience. This is why of all the possible gustatory delights that crowd my memory one dish that stands out from memory: my Nanay’s lumo.

I grew up in a sleepy town tucked along the fringes of the Leyte Gulf where it was customary for families to fatten their own pigs as "haray," waray term to mean offering for a special occasion. The term is similar but not quite the same as the Tagalog "alay." A "haray" was a fattened pig, necessarily sacrificed at the altar of some patron saint, but was more of a promised feast for all. Thus, my parents always made sure there was a pig or two being fattened months in advance for upcoming occasions. A common comment among the townspeople was that an "occasion" was definitely pushing through when the peace and quiet of the neighborhood would suddenly be pierced by the ear-shattering squealing of "…