Showing posts from November, 2007

The other reports

Last Monday, I wrote about our country’s dismal ranking in the latest Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum. We ranked 71st among 131 countries in terms of overall competitiveness.

Actually, the report was just the most recent to be released by the forum. Other parallel reports that focused on regional and topical issues were released at different times during the year. All these provide an important context to the main competitiveness report. There’s the Global Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, the Gender Gap Report, the Global Information Technology Report, and then the competitiveness reports focusing on some geo-political groupings such as the African and the Arab world competitiveness reports.

As can be expected, most of the media hype was focused purely on the competitiveness report because it is, after all, the bigger and more comprehensive one. The other “smaller” reports were simply glossed over; some were totally ignored. Of course, the whole repor…

Strengtherning our competitiveness

Let me cut to the chase and declare an embarrassing fact: Based on the 2007 Global Competencies Report released recently by the World Economic Forum, the Philippines ranked 71st out of 131 countries in terms of overall competitiveness.

We ranked lower than Vietnam (68th), Indonesia (54th), Thailand (28th), Malaysia (21st), India (48th) and even Sri Lanka (70th). We’re practically kulelat [last in the pack]. Singapore and Japan made it to the top 10 slots (ranked seventh and eighth, respectively). South Korea was 11th while Hong Kong was 12th in the rankings. China was ranked 34th.

The report, published annually, is considered the most reliable index of the global economic development race. At its bare essence, it is a scorecard of how a country measures up to the rest of the world in terms of being a desirable destination for investments. The index covers 11 factors, called pillars, which include a wide range of components: from macroeconomic and policy stability, to corruption, to la…

The changing face of the workplace

This is my column today.

Sometime last month, I finally found the time to do something that I have wanted to do for the longest time. No, I did not see a dentist, which is the one thing that’s been on top of my “to do” list for quite sometime now. I went to visit two call centers and saw for myself the changing landscape of the workplace as exemplified in the work conditions in this so-called sunrise industry.

Just for the record, I wasn’t there for job interviews. I must admit, though, that I was sorely tempted to submit myself to the process just to find out if I would qualify as a call center employee. I am told that being a call center agent or representative has become an option for many professionals upon their retirement.

I am sure there are people out there who balk at the concept of a retirement job. It certainly is a contradiction in terms since retirement is generally seen as the end of one’s working life. The reality, however, is that many “retired” people end up finding thei…

What is happening to our country?

This was my column yesterday, November 19. Sorry for the late post.

The question that was on most people’s minds last week, verbalized by a number of bloggers immediately after the bomb that snuffed out the lives of three people including that of Rep. Wahab Akbar of Basilan, was, eerily enough, something that was asked by Vice President Emmanuel Pelaez during the dark years of the dictatorship.

“What is happening to our country, general?” This was the question posed by then Vice President Emmanuel Pelaez to then Quezon City Police Chief Tomas Karingal as he lay in a hospital bed, seriously wounded after an ambush.

Many politicians did see some kind of parallel between the two events. One senator immediately raised the specter of martial law, even going as far as to warn President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo against doing a Musharraf, referring to Pakistan’s dictator president.

What is happening to our country? This question can be answered in the way people put two and two together to pin th…

Kid stuff

This is my column today.

I received a number of e-mail messages in response to my column last Monday, which ended with a true story involving my friend and a street child. Three were particularly instructive so I decided to discuss them in today’s column.

For those who missed my column last Monday as well as for those who need reminding, the story was about this street child who chastised a driver for pointedly ignoring her. In so many words, she reminded the driver that it was okay not to give alms, or to refuse to help. What was not okay was ignoring people such as beggars, pretending they do not exist. Since then, my friends and I have made it a point to acknowledge beggars politely when they come knocking instead of pretending we can’t hear them or simply dismissing them by knocking back on the window.
This practice of knocking on windows as a way of turning away beggars is based on a huge urban myth that continues to be perpetuated today. I first heard about the myth in 1988. I r…

Reflections on a suicide

This is my column today.

Suicide is a complicated thing. Others try to romanticize it. Some psychoanalyze it, even make it fodder for political and moral debate. At the end of it all, it is a matter between the person and his or her God. The turmoil or conversely, the tranquility; perhaps even the resoluteness or hesitation going on in the mind of the person are known only to him or her and God.

But when a 12-year old does it, as in the case of Marianette Amper, it is unsettling for everyone. The act becomes not just a matter of taking one’s life. It becomes an indictment against society, against the social order. At the heart of the matter is the shocking realization that suicide has become an option even for a child.

The self-flagellation mode that many among us went into is understandable. Indeed, what does this say of our society; nay, of ourselves as parents when that brutal option has become conceivable even for young kids?

Marianette’s suicide is distressing because regardless of t…


What strikes me the most about the ongoing controversy involving the National Press Club and the Neo-Angono Artists Collective is the way accusations, being bandied about and hurled at all directions, are based purely on assumptions. The sad part is that a number of the assumptions are based on shaky grounds and yet are being passed off as Gospel truth.

Just in case you have been on vacation as well from the never-ending controversies that have become regular fare in our country, here’s a quick backgrounder on the case. On the occasion of its anniversary, the NPC commissioned the Neo-Angono to do a mural on press freedom. The mural was delivered. It was unveiled to the public in ceremonies attended by no less than the President of the Republic.

A few days after, the excrement hit the ventilation. It turns out that the mural was altered in several parts without the consent of the artists’ group. The NPC admitted that yes, they hired an unidentified artist to do “temporary” alterations on…

Halloween, Philippine style

On Hallow’s Eve last week, I was driving home humming with anticipation of the four-day respite when I found myself stuck in limbo.

At the San Andres Bukid District, vehicles were going around and around side streets trying to find a way to get to where ever it was they were headed for before they got confronted by “No Entry” road signs that miraculously sprouted in the middle of some streets. Why and how people are allowed to take it upon themselves to appropriate public streets and turn them into private venues for parties and other occasions is truly a curious thing.

One can understand when people transform streets into public plazas that serve as venue for all kinds of merrymaking during fiestas and even special occasions such as Christmas and New Year’s Eve. And we all know that during elections, streets also transform into political campaign sites.

We have even learned to empathize when streets become venues for funeral wakes. We make allowances automatically assuming that the bere…