Showing posts from September, 2006

paradigms, principles, practices

The following is my column today at the op-ed section of the Manila Standard Today

People are our only remaining source of competitive advantage as a country. Most of our other natural resources—forests, marine life, minerals, etc.—are either gone or are seriously imperiled due to years, nay, centuries of abuse and neglect. Not only are people our last hope for deliverance, people are also the key to ensuring that our other sources of national competitiveness are regained, nurtured, and restored to tip-top shape, if not for ourselves, then for the sake of the future generations.

Anyone who needs further convincing about the critical and central role of people in the country’s long-term viability need only to picture in his mind a doomsday scenario: Imagine what will happen if all Filipino workers overseas are sent home. They are the so-called new heroes because, to be candid about it, they are the ones propping up the economy and without them this whole country could have gone belly up …

Killer Lifestyle

The following is my column today, September 25, 2006 at the op-ed section of the Manila Standard Today.

In a span of three weeks, four people I know underwent a heart bypass surgery. Two of the four were close family members—my eldest brother and an aunt. A fifth person, a distant cousin, was also scheduled to undergo a bypass, but the family decided to seek a second opinion and this doctor thankfully recommended a cheaper procedure—an angioplasty— instead. And what do you know, a third opinion from the country’s busiest heart surgeon (an appointment scheduled for 6 p.m. meant an audience with him at 11 p.m.; time management truly needs to be included in the medical school curriculum) ruled out both bypass and angioplasty. It turns out, medication and a stringent regimen of dieting and exercise was enough, thank you very much.

Nevertheless, our gene pool became the object of unwanted bashing and we are still trying to shift from denial to acceptance to action. However, we have also real…

Barred on Taft Avenue

It is four in the morning and I just got home from a rare night out with friends. On my way home, I passed by Taft Avenue in front of De La Salle University Manila and was amazed at the level of preparations underway for the last leg of the bar exams. I know that the so-called bar ops has become one of the hallowed traditions of the bar exams but I never realized until now just how seriously these people take that tradition.

When I passed by Taft Avenue, they were already setting up the tents along the sidewalks and some tents were already abuzz with activity. In fact, as a fitting portent of things to come, some were already drinking beer - at 4 am; perhaps they just came from a long night out and decided to cap the night with more beer at the site of the bar ops.

Anyway, those of you who are going somewhere near Manila today, skip Taft Avenue between Quirino and Vito Cruz unless you have lotsa time on your hands to spend getting stuck in traffic.

Well, one of the very earliest post…

One year and counting...

This blog officially turned one year old yesterday, September 21.

This blog was created with the simplest of reasons - as a bulletin board of sorts where my friends and I could update each other on what was happening in our lives without having to do the often tedious job of exchanging emails. Before then, I was a happy kibitzer in some blogs, leaving comments here and there and generally just content with being a "lurker."

Along the way, this blog became an outlet for my rants and raves. One thing led to another, and well, after one year, here I am - a little bruised but generally wiser - but still trying to get used to the "attention."

The last 12 months have been truly exciting for me. Sure, it was also exasperating and frustrating at times, but overall, I would say it was a good year for me as a blogger. I realize that not many bloggers get noticed at such a short time (yes, I repeat - I have only been blogging for a year) and many of them certainly deserve i…

Prosecutong the prosecutors

The following appears as an op-ed column at the Manila Standard Today. I was in a real hurry to get this column to press, I sent the wrong file, the one with a missing paragraph. The missing paragraph is: "To begin with, the career path of government workers are now limited as rooms at the top have been appropriated as political largasse by powers-that-be. It does not help of course that the chief executive seems bent on turning the whole government bureaucracy as her personal kingdom. "

Given the way things are in our country today, one who has talent has to be desperate, clueless, or a total masochist to consider a career in government. The aggravations that government employees have to contend with every day are simply enormous it appears being a government employee will soon be enough qualification for sainthood. It is not surprising that a government career is not anymore something that any bright young graduate aspires for.

The economic deprivation, I think, is bea…

Trial by legislation

The following is my column today at the op-ed section of the Manila Standard Today. Unforgivable mistake: I do not know how I got the names mixed up. But it happened and I apologize profusely. The name of the blog reader that I quoted in this piece is Domingo T. Arong, not Rayon. My apologies to Mr. Arong. So sorry. I have made the necessary changes in this post. I will do an erratum in my column on Monday.

It is very ironic that for an institution that is under siege and desperately trying to earn points in the bar of public opinion, the Senate just shot itself in the foot last week with the way it conducted its hearing on the alleged “anomalous losses” of the Philippine Communications Satellite Corp. and the Philcomsat Holdings Corp. It was a classic lesson on how not to conduct public hearings. Put more bluntly, it was an arrant and brazen display of power.

It was very disconcerting to watch supposed paragons of virtue publicly humiliating a public official who was, in the fir…

Mixed Results

There is truly no accounting for taste. People make choices based on their heart's desires - and who can fathom the innermost workings of the heart?

The last four singers to get into the magic 12 was a mixed bag:

Stef and Ken were not among the best performers last Saturday. Ken delivered a very tortured rendition of that classic Dionne Warwick song "A House In Not A Home." It turns out he was very sick but he went on with the show. I guess he got in through a sympathy vote.

But the two others, Gian and Mau, were the two top performers last Saturday. So their selection was proof that Filipinos know talent when they see it.

It helped also that finally, the judges were helpful. Because I dissed them in this space and in my column for their earlier performance, I would like to put it on record that I was happy with the changes I saw last Saturday.

So hopefully, ABC 5 will do a better job of making all of us proud of Filipino talent.

On with the first Philippine Idol!

How not to conduct a hearing

What a spectacle!

Drama unfolded at the Senate yesterday as the senators tried to conduct a hearing (in aid of legislation they say, although exactly what kind of legislation is being aided remains to be seen since the senate’s record as a legislative body is, quite frankly, dismal). The senate is an institution that is fast degenerating in the public eye. Our senators seem to be tripping all over themselves in their desperate efforts to justify their existence. As an institution that is fighting tooth and nail to gain public sympathy to maintain its existence, I am afraid that it is losing heavily in the bar of public opinion.

I have no love lost for the PCGG. I think that the commission has failed to live up to its mandate. It has been almost a score since it was established and yet it still has nothing to show for its efforts. I think that even the current pragmatic stance for compromise settlements is doomed simply because the cases have become hopelessly mired in legal entanglement…


Since I posted that advise on how to remove gallbladder stones, I have received emails from well-meaning friends and acquintances who sent in other similar cure-alls. I didn't realize there were so many of them.

One sent me an article on "how to kill cancer cells." The article essentially makes a pitch for eating fruits and vegetables. Having an appetite for fruits and veggies is not a problem for me, I can consume tons of them; my problem is that I can not eat certain fruits because of my acute hyperacidity and I can only eat certain vegetables because of high uric acid levels. Sigh. The article actually makes a lot of claims that, if proven true, should qualify whoever thought them up for the Nobel. But again, I have always believed that if the advise is not harmful and does not cost an arm and a leg, why not?

And then there was another email about how to cure dengue fever. Dengue fever is a scary thing to have and I am aware that many hospitals are overflowing wi…

Judging the judges

The following was my column yesterday at the op-ed section of the Manila Standard Today. I was so busy the whole day I forgot to post the column in this blog. But then again, the column was actually a rewrite of my post last Sunday regarding Philippine Idol. So those of you who read this blog regularly didn't really miss that much.

Last Sunday, I ranted in my Web log about the disservice being done by the judges of “Philippine Idol” to Filipino audiences and to the contestants of that singing contest. I am told that that particular post has been going around as an e-mail. So it seems that there is a sizable number of Filipinos out there who share my rage at the way the local franchise of the global phenomenon is being staged. I can understand why.

If there is something that we crow about more often than anything else, it is our supposed singing talent as a people. And indeed, we do have many great singers. Many of them have dominated international singing competitions, have play…

A world without NGOs

The following is my column today at the op-ed section of the Manila Standard Today:

DEVelopment is such a complicated issue, to say the least. There are “hard” indicators of development manifested in the numbers and figures that government agencies churn out and bandy about to justify and glorify their existence. And then there are the “soft” measures reflected in the joys and pains of ordinary people, particularly those who exist in the margins of society. For many years now, the latter has been the domain of nongovernment organizations—nonprofit institutions that carry on the arduous task of addressing gaps in the system. The relationship between government and NGOs used to be adversarial in the past but has thankfully evolved into some kind of collaborative partnership in recent years.

NGOs in our country have been doing an exemplary and yet often thankless job of raising awareness on critical issues and in providing the necessary services that are often neglected by government. Such…

Wanted: Better judges

Despite my earlier misgivings about the way Philippine Idol is being staged, I made it a point to watch the show tonight, hoping against hope that the show would finally do justice to our collective crowing and chest-thumping about our being the world's greatest singers. I am beginning to think that Philippine Idol is becoming a classic case of good intentions gone to waste. Yes, we have great singers and many of them are in Philippine Idol. But the show is becoming more of a showcase of large-scale ineptness. The production values are horrible. The emceeing is ghastly. And to make matters worst, the judging is simply asinine, ludicrous, and generally tasteless. And these people are supposed to represent our best?

To be fair, Ryan Cayabyab did try to act like a judge. He tried to be objective and to make sensible comments. In fact, many times during the show, he could not help but take a swipe at the supposed poor taste of the Filipinos who cast their votes last week (the …

Where's the singing?

In an earlier post, my friend Jher weighed in with his rants about the way Philippine Idol is being managed by ABC 5. I also made it a point to watch Philippine Idol last Saturday to see just exactly how the competition is going to shape up. I agreed with most of Jher's comments - the technicals were really bad, and the audio actually went kaput during one of the performances - but I think there is hope for the show. However, it looks like the people at ABC 5 really need to get their acts together once and for all.

My main question is: what exactly is their schedule? When exactly will the singing commence? They launched the show many months ago and they succeeded in creating a huge buzz . Unfortunately, they seemed to have squandered the opportunity by taking their own sweet time. Instead of doing a daily show, they compressed everything to an every-Sunday thing. In this day and age of instant gratification, who has the patience to wait up that long? They could have gain…

Digging In

The scene was eerily reminiscent of something we have seen many times before in local movies. There was a "hero" holding fort inside a city hall, proclaiming his innocence to the world and harping against the monumental injustice being committed to him, his supporters, his city, his country, humanity, the universe, etc. The periphery was full of extras - wearing similar shirts at that - supporters who have come together to make up the first line of defense, people who were willing to rish life and limbs for their hero.

And then the shoving started. There was the obligatory cursing, crying, screaming, flailing. But as in the movies, the one with more gunpowder wins. The door was broken down and the hunt for the hero was started.

Only to discover that the hero has fled since early morning and had already abandoned his supporters. But he made himself available through his cellphone - and all the television stations had a live interview with the hero, who, as usual, procla…


(The following is my column today, September 6, 2006 at the op-ed section of the Manila Standard Today.)

I was conducting a training program Monday afternoon when one participant announced during a lull that Steve Irwin has just been killed by a stingray. Some participants looked up with question marks etched on their brows and someone hastened to add “the crocodile hunter on Discovery Channel” and most everyone’s faces lit up with recognition.

Perhaps I was simply in a room with fellow geeks who all had cable television at home, and who shared a common fascination with animal shows that show excruciating details of how a three-toed sloth climbs a tree. But it is also validation of the power of information technology today. Someone who lives and produces a television show Down Under and the tragic incident involving him is immediately known to many others across the globe within a couple of hours.

Discovery is my default television channel at home. When there is absolutely nothing intere…

A fetish for scandals

The following is my column for today, September 4, 2006 at the op-ed section of the Manila Standard Today.

The raging scandal over the nursing board examinations has become a convoluted national soap opera with more than enough subplots to put our regular run-of-the-mill teleseryes to shame. It is another one of those things that boggles the mind and gets everyone worked up into a frenzy of blaming and counterblaming. In short, it brings to the surface our seeming fixation for scandals.

There is truly nothing quite riveting like a scandal, particularly one brimming with salacious and sordid details. There’s hysterics, masked faces, safe houses, musical chairs, a cameo role for the NBI and the senators. And I don’t know exactly how the question of sexual orientation became relevant in the melee, but it is suddenly just there. It is now, for all intents and purposes, a real scandal—it is outrageous, disgraceful, and a cause for shame.

What should have been a case of pinpointing who were re…

Child Superstar

This is a cliche, but it is one that is relevant in this context. They say there is a child within each one of us. I suspect that this "child within" is getting more and more dominant among our leaders today - particularly in the case of Justice Secretary Gonzalez who has been throwing absurdly childish behavior and statements lately. Is he suffering from second childhood already or are these merely pathetic attempts to be cute?

Anyway. I was trying to finish checking and grading tests and papers the other night (it is the end of the first term at the College) when I got distracted by shrieking and giggling of the kind I haven't heard of in a long while, you know, the kind that smacks of pure unadultered "gigil." The whole household was gathered in front of the television set watching Kapitan Inggo, ABS-CBN's latest fantaserye (that is what it is called nowadays if I am not mistaken). The object of their "pang-gigigil" was Makisig Morales, 10-year …