Showing posts from January, 2007

A matter of pride and honor

This is my column today, January 29, 2007 at the op-ed section of the Manila Standard Today.

I have no love lost for the Estradas and Ejercitos of this world. Truth to tell, I consider them a bigger menace to this country than say, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Go ahead, label me as a pro-Arroyo if that makes you feel you are a better Filipino. Unlike others, though, I don’t think that being rabidly anti-Estrada automatically translates into being pro-Arroyo.

But at least there are moments with this current President when people can actually still bask in some deflected glimmer of pride of being a Filipino, such as when one reads about her performance at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland. That does not erase many grievous mistakes, but it does account for something.

In contrast, what have the Estradas done for this country aside from trying to project themselves as the symbol of the suffering Filipino masses and as their last mythical hope for redemption?

Nevertheless, the sight o…

The best "turon" ever

I am not a food blogger. I like visiting food blogs though and I am always awed and amazed at the exquisite pictures of food that invariably come with the posts. I have a cellphone with a camera that can take fairly passable pictures. I can appreciate good food presentation - specially if it's made for the appreciation of my various senses. But somehow, I always forget to take pictures of whatever it is I am having before I actually attack it!!! Di naman ako ganun katakaw (konti lang). I guess I just need to make a mental effort to remind myself to take pictures of whatever it is I am eating, or doing, or seeing.


I was having lunch with a group of mature "geeks" at one of the restaurants at the Asian Institute of Management (the group included a professor of the institute) and upon the prodding of the professor, we ordered the famous dessert of that restaurant - Turon. Yup, that's right. Turon - as in fried bananas. But this one was different. It was... orgasmi…

What third force?

This is my column today at the op-ed section of the Manila Standard Today.

IF we are to go by the almost insane media attention being devoted to the ongoing political version of the game musical chairs among our senator-wannabes, one would think that the only elective posts at stake in the May 2007 elections are those for senators. That’s all we’ve been reading and hearing about in the last few weeks.

I don’t blame media, though, particularly those that have thrived on blowing up political scandals and intrigues into national crises. The relative calm on the political front in the last few weeks has yielded very slim pickings for screaming front-page material. Why, some even tried, although unsuccessfully, to put a spin to the alleged booing that the President supposedly got at a weekend concert, which did not really happen after all. On the other hand, the mad scramble to finalize the Senate slates of both the opposition and the administration has been one replete with all the juicy st…


I am not even sure I will be back in Manila on the 27th in time for the party. Am not even sure I will get an invite because obviously I dont have technorati tags in this blog (one at a time, please; those clickable logos will appear as soon as I find the time to learn how to do those). But it sounds like a great idea, so I am promoting the event in this blog.

There's a bloggers' party being organized by some bloggers. It sounds like a cool idea - so why not.

Go, guys!


This is my column today at the op-ed section of the Manila Standard Today.

THERE are legions of Filipinos who swear by the miraculous powers of the infant Jesus, locally known as the Santo Niño. In Cebu, for example, faith in the Santo Niño is so absolute that every thing that happens in the province—even the success of the recent Asean summit—is attributed to the benevolence of the little child in princely robes.

The last two weekends of January are frenzied months for Santo Niño devotees as the major festivities that pay homage to the Santo Niño are held one after the other—from the fiesta at Tondo, the Sinulog in Cebu, the Ati-atihan in Kalibo and of course to the annual exhibit and procession of Santo Niño images spearheaded by the group of fashion designers who go by the rather archaic name Congregacion del Santisimo Nombre del Niño Jesus. All these events attract droves of devotees.

The Santo Niño figures heavily in local history as in the case of the Santo Niño de Cebu (a gift to …

Sharing and caring

This is my column today at the op-ed section of the Manila Standard Today.

There is an interesting phenomenon happening at the call center industry that highlights exactly how unprepared industry is to deal with the increasing complexities of the workplace, particularly diversity issues. Sure, management people in this country including my fellow human resource practitioners try to be hip and cool, mouthing buzzwords like “respect for diversity,” “compassion and acceptance” and even “empowering people.” In reality, it is a different story altogether. Very, very few companies actually understand what diversity means. Fewer still are companies who have programs to address diversity issues in the workplace.

There are companies which hire minorities such as the Deaf (they prefer to be addressed that way—with an upper case letter “d”—to denote their uniqueness and to say there is nothing wrong with them but that they are simply different). Companies like these, however, are very few and qui…

The circus comes to town

Six early cuckoos trooped to the Comelec offices today to file their respective candidacies for the May 2007 elections and media was there to document the whole crazy spectacle.

I have no doubt that all the six aspiring senatoriables will eventually get disaqualified for the usual reason: They do not have the capacity to mount a national campaign. I am sure that is a perfectly valid reason. But it doesn't put a stop to the cycle.

One of the six candidates said he was running because God told him to. In fact, he said God assured him that he will emerge sixth in the senatorial elections. Perhaps he is truly a virtuous man because I think a more logical question to ask God would be "what are the lucky numbers in the next Lotto draw?"

Another one announced his platform: to make the Philippines a state of the United States. This is actually not new as we've had a number of these loonies advocating the same thing before. And as if to prove that he is the right person to make …

Like dumb driven cattle

This is my column today, January 15, 2007 at the op-ed section of theManila Standard Today.

This is a long shot, but if and when our legislators find the time and the will to actually craft much-needed laws, I have one suggestion. Perhaps they can pass a law that makes it compulsory for producers and organizers of major public events, particularly those that attract droves of people, to ensure public safety and to manage traffic in and out of the venue.

How many more tragedies similar to the Wowowee incident do we have to witness before something is finally done to address this perennial problem? Maybe I am just paranoid, but every time I find myself in a major public event such as television specials, concerts, rallies, midnight madness sales, etc., I get this sense of foreboding that the measures to avert grand-scale tragedy are tragically inadequate.

Take the case of the bedlam that happened last Saturday evening around the streets leading to the Mall of Asia, venue of the finale of…


In a few days, we will mark the 10th death anniversary of my best friend Abes. I wrote this piece in 1996, a few weeks after his tragic death. It’s been ten years but there are still times when I would still catch myself whenever I would find myself in a fix wondering what Abes would say or do in that situation.

In remembrance of his 10th death anniversary, I am posting this ten-year old piece.

Abes, wherever you are, I do miss you my dear friend.

We can all feel bad about losing money to a pickpocket, or belongings to a fire. We can all feel bad about losing a bet or an election. Losing is always a painful experience no matter what, perhaps because it makes us come to terms with the fact that nothing in this world is ours forever. Nothing in this world is finite. Eventually, everything comes to an end whether we like it or not. Losing jolts us to the painful reality that everything we hold dear is borrowed and therefore cannot be ours forever.

The painful thing about losing is that mo…

Har har har

There are funny text messages and there are funnier text messages. This one belongs to the latter category, sent to me by a friend of mine, which I promptly forwarded to my closest friends:

"Dare what it takes to be. Then we shall because it is. To do or not, now or what else to be without." Words of wisdom from Senator Lito Lapid, bahala ka na umintindi."

Of course I know that the attribution to Senator Lapid is also meant as a joke. But who knows, like the Eraption book which was a carefully crafted and orchestrated PR stunt by Reli German, text jokes like this may actually be a creative campaign propaganda. Up until now, Lito Lapid's carabao English has not been an issue at all. Is he really running for Mayor of Makati?

May elections as referendum

This is my column today at the op-ed section of the Manila Standard Today.

WE know that the election season is definitely here because the level of duplicity, froth, and hysterics in the political front is reaching absurd proportions. One does not know whether to laugh, cry or do both at the antics of our politicians. I have said this before and I will say it again, elections really bring out the worst and the best in people.

The horsetrading, backroom wheeling and dealing, and what can only be surmised as the grand scale auction of souls and principles, also euphemistically known as “coalition building” is reaching fever pitch. Why our politicians insist on putting up their own political parties that supposedly articulate their distinct ideologies, philosophies and platforms when they have no qualms about running for elections under the wings of another party with a set of ideologies and platforms diametrically opposed to the original party, is deeply disturbing.

This only validates the…

An unprincipled bill

This is my column today, January 8, 2007, at the op-ed section of the Manila Standard Today.

I wrote about this madness six months ago when the House of Representatives stunned the country by passing on second reading a bill mandating a P125 across-the-board wage increase.

Immediately after that foolish move of the House, the country’s foremost economists, various employer groups, and even the government sounded the alarm: A legislated wage increase, particularly one that mandated an unreasonably high amount, was counterproductive, disastrous, discriminatory, etc.

Various reasons were cited: most small and medium enterprises (which comprise 99 percent of employers in this country) would be unable to pay the mandated wages and would either go underground, forced to reduce or lay off workers, or totally close shop.

The statistics were trundled out about how a significant number of these enterprises were already unable to pay the then current minimum wages. How much more a P125 increase?


I was supposed to go out with some friends a few hours ago (technically last night), but I overslept. Long story. Anyway. I woke up hungry and decided to take a late dinner (or early breakfast), tried to read, and decided to check out what was on the idiot box. I caught the last few minutes of that Lou Diamond Philips movie (Bats) on HBO (whew! aside from technology, has anything really changed in cinema? The premise, the plot, the action sequences are essentially the same; it's like the template for the average American movie has remained the same all through these years). I surfed channels... and at 1:00 am, what else is on local TV but walangggggggggg...tulugan! (Sorry, I just needed to provide a context for what I am going to write about for obviously embarrasing reasons).

As I write this, the 21st reunion of That's Entertainment is playing out on Master Showman. If you are between 30 and 50 years old, I am sure you went through a "dats" phase in your life…

No deal

We knew the picture was grim; in the last few months we've been fervently hoping that a miracle would happen, that funds would finally start trickling in. But no cigar. So what else was there to do but sit down, come to terms with the bleak reality, and wrestle with the ugly job of putting in place cost-minimization programs to help stave off extinction. (Sheesh, I know these sentences are ridden with hackneyed cliches, I am just too tired today to even think).

Anyway. Our problem in our NGO is simple: money for development work in the Philippines is helplessly tied up in bureaucratic red tape, most NGOs particularly those involved in reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, women's issues, etc., are not only feeling the pinch - they are gasping for dear breath. A number of NGOs have started to lay off employees and some have actually closed shop. It is sad because there is so much money available out there for development work. One problem is that at some point in the last few ye…

A new page

Thank you to those who emailed me privately commenting on the new look of this blog. It is something that I have always wanted to do - change the overall packaging.

The New Year was an opportune time to do it in keeping with my resolve to make some drastic changes. So I hope you like the new look. I hope to add more features - perhaps use more pictures (as soon as I learn how to upload pictures from my cellphone, there goes another resolution), perhaps showcase what am currently reading (am currently struggling through Life of Pi by Yann Martel and The Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq; did I tell you about my weird habit of starting three to four books at any given time?) and even perhaps feature my newest discovery in the blogosphere (and there are hundreds of thousands of other blogs out there that I am sure I can add to my list of favorites).

Thanks to google, blogspot has become easier to manage. Changing layout and adding features have become easier and more user…

The nightmare begins

Senator Richard Gomez. I don't know about you, but the thought sends shivers down my spine. Reports have it that the actor slash television gossip host slash underwear model visited former President Erap Estrada at his posh Taytay hideaway (also knows as his "prison") purportedly to ask for his blessings to be allowed to run for the Senate under the banner of the opposition.

If he wins (and I think he has a good chance of winning given his popularity), he will be the fourth "actor" in the Senate -after Lito Lapid, Bong Revilla, and Jinggoy Estrada. In terms of connection to local showbiz, we should add to the list Francis Pangilinan (married to the mega star Sharon Cuneta), Ralph Recto (married to star for all seasons Vilma Santos), Loi Ejercito (married to former President and actor/producer/director Joseph Estrada), Pia Cayetano (daughter of former topnotch lawyer but more popularly known as television personality Rene Cayetano). And if fate decides to pla…

The sorry state of public markets

This is my column today, January 3, 2007, at the op-ed section of the Manila Standard Today.

Now that we’re done with the holidays, it is time to go back to official business. In this country, this could mean trying to put some sense into the heads of some of our leaders.

I found myself on Quiapo thrice during the holidays. When I mentioned this to some friends, the most common reaction I got was “you must have been crazy!” All through these years, Quiapo has acquired a bad reputation for supposedly being the haven of all kinds of unsavory characters so that only the bravest, the most obstinate, and perhaps the most stupid are supposed to go there. It truly is a sad reflection of our times that when something onerous happens to a person at some place, the blame is automatically placed on him simply for committing the mistake of being in that place to begin with.

So you got swindled in Quiapo; what were you doing there in the first place?


I had to be in Quiapo for various reasons. O…

Wish list

I've never been big on making resolutions for the New Year.

But my friends and I had one of those verrrry serious end-of-the-year talk over bottles of red wine recently and the conversation eventually became a sort-of inventory of the pluses and minuses in our respective lives, or to be more specific, our lifestyles.

A quick survey around the table revealed just how the years are finally catching up on us. It must have been the red wine, or the fact that we were in the company of friends; but well, there we were letting it all hang loose as we talked about our fears and our concerns about our own mortality. We were all hypertensive and that was the "simpler" medical problem. I personally am still reeling from this darn pain in my right ear (am on second generation antibiotics already and the infection is still festering...darn it). It struck us that most of us were already caught up doing the dreaded numbers game ... you know, counting creatinin, cholesterol, sgpt, sugar…

Wishful thinking amid jubilation

This is my column today, January 1, 2007, at the op-ed section of the Manila Standard Today.

Euphoria was in the air at the Philippine Stock Exchange last Friday during the last trading day for 2006. Photos of exhilarated stockbrokers raising their hands in jubilation even made it to the papers over the weekend. Having spent almost 10 years in the local capital market, from 1997 to April of last year, I was witness to the daily bloodbath as local stocks invariably took a beating during that long period. Thus, I could empathize with the jubilation of the stockbrokers. It is really about time for a bull run at the stock market.

The Phisix hit 2,982.54, just a few points shy of breaching 2,990.96, the market’s best finish in 10 years attained way back in April 1997 when Fidel Ramos was still president. The local bourse is expected to breach 3,000 points very soon. This is definitely very good news. The stock market is one of the best indicators of investor confidence in the country.

The yea…