Showing posts from September, 2009

Helping survivors deal with trauma

This is my column today, September 30, 2009.
Last Monday I wrote about how utterly unprepared we all were in dealing with major disasters and catastrophes. Our years of experience with other disasters—and we have had our ample share of them from super typhoons to earthquakes and other acts of god— have not made us any wiser.But as we have been noting in various media reports since Sunday, what is even more tragic is our unpreparedness to deal with the aftermath of such disasters. It seems we’re doing everything oido style, based purely on gut feel and intuition rather than on systematic thinking.It was widely expected that the post-disaster picture would be grim although I don’t think anyone was prepared for the extent of the devastation that we are seeing now. Much of the focus of relief efforts has been in ensuring that basic necessities are delivered to those who need it the most.This is understandable and we should continue to do this. However, we really need to coordinate our emer…

Jacque Bermejo controversy

I came across this controversy Saturday night.  At that time, the outraged group has not been started yet.  When I checked today, I was surprised to find out that more than 10,000 people have already joined the orgy of bashing and hate directed at Jacque Bermejo.
Here's a quick backgrounder.  This Jacque Bermejo, or someone who is using her identity, posted a status update in a facebook account bearing her identity:  
"buti n lng am hir in dubai! maybe so many sinners back der! so yeah deserving what happened!"

As can be expected, there was an immediate outrage.  She followed up with this status update:
"cuz of u dnt understand!!!judge me sige!!! kya ala kayong asenso.even nature now is making statement big time!!!"
I can understand why lots of people out there are angry.  
But there have been attempts to shed light on the issue. You can read it here.  Someone who comes by the name of Nicey Yap has also been trying to defend Ms. Bermejo in facebook.  The defense bein…


I am glad that we are seeing bayanihan happening in our country at this very difficult time.  It is sad that there are those who are using the tragedy for their own selfish needs such as the people who are siphoning donations from abroad into private account numbers.  Please make sure that you donate money to reputable organizations such as the Red Cross, the DSWD, or to the media networks. 
Most of the efforts are understandably being focused on rescue and relief operations.  I hope that we also begin the process of helping people heal emotionally and psychologically.  Trauma is a natural consequence of major disasters and people do need help in dealing with it.
Of course helping people deal with severe trauma requires a certain expertise.  It is best that experts are brought in to do professional counseling.  But counseling is not rocket science so there is always something we can do to help friends and relatives deal with trauma.  From my many years experience as counselor, here are …

The great flood

This is my column today, September 28, 2009.
Like millions of other Metro Manila and Central Luzon residents, I woke up Saturday morning to very, very heavy rains. I’ve never seen such a heavy downpour in my whole life.Geologists would later report that what we witnessed was the equivalent of almost a month’s worth of rain being poured on to Metro Manila all within a total of less than six hours. It was like nature unleashing a century’s worth of pent-up fury.Some people did report that the heavy flooding last Saturday was the worst ever in a century.
I live in San Andres in Manila where the streets easily get transformed into instant lakes and rivers.But we live in a street that’s elevated and the structure of the house was precisely built to withstand floods.Not once has floodwaters entered the house.But last Saturday was not like any ordinary day.By 10:00 am, dark murky waters started to seep into the garage and in barely an hour’s time, the ground floor was knee-deep in floodwaters.…

Urgent appeal

The Philippine National Red Cross needs volunteers for sorting, relief packaging, many other tasks that need to be done. Please call Pasay Chapter 8542748 and 4343751; Las Pinas Chapter 8734873 and 4689688; Pasig Chapter 6350922; Alabang Chapter 8093132 and National Headquarters in Manila 5245787 and 5270864.  You can also go to Caritas Manila or call 5639298.  
All these centers accepts donations - cash, food, clothing, blankets, other provisions. 
Those who are abroad may donate cash:
Account Name: The Phil. Nat’l. Red Cross

Port Area Branch
Peso Acct.: 151-3-041-63122-8
Dollar Acct.: 151-2-151-00218-2
Type of Acct. : SAVINGS
Swift Code: MBTC PH MM

Port Area Branch
Peso Acct.: 4991-0010-99
Type of Account: CURRENT

UN Branch
Dollar Acct.: 8114-0030-94
Type of Account: SAVINGS
Swift Code: BOPI PH MM
For your donations to be properly acknowledged, please fax the bank
transaction slip at nos. +63.2.527.0575 or +63.2.404.0979 with your
name, addre…

Many more ways to help

To help, please visit this link.

How you can help

Please visit Manolo L. Quezon's blog for updates on relief/rescue operations as well as how you can help.   
There's always something we can all do.

Blog update

I've been on blog leave for quite sometime because I had to attend to many things - a national conference, a major project in the Bank, etc.  I felt that I had to set some priorities and stick to them.  I've been having some health problems recently too and I've been advised to really slow down. So there.
I am posting the columns that I wrote for the Manila Standard Today all in one sweep.  Sorry, but I don't have the time to organize and ante-date each one.  That would also be cheating in a way.  
To the one or two people that have been bugging me, trying to provoke me into a fight in this blog - sorry, but I have better things to do.  I feel sad that some people are so wrapped up in bitterness but hey, everyone needs to grow up in their own ways and in their own time.

Courage and trash talk

Published September 21, 2009 at the op ed section of the Manila Standard Today.
I didn’t intend to watch the telecast of the boxing event of the season yesterday but was compelled to for two reasons.First, everyone in the house was glued to the television, gritting teeth in frustration as Floyd Mayweather Jr. pummeled the daylights out of Juan Manuel Marquez. As early as the first few rounds of the 12-round fight, it was pretty much evident that Mayweather would win the match. Quite frankly, Mayweather looked like he didn’t even break a sweat and dominated the fight all the way.But one had to be a complete sadist not to recognize and honor Marquez’s heart. He fought a brave battle and displayed great sportsmanship all the way through even when it was already certain that he would lose. This is what makes boxing a compelling sport. It showcases two of the most powerful emotions—on one hand, naked aggression and on the other, pure, unadulterated courage. Unlike other sports where skills …

Reactions to Lacson's expose

Published last September 16, 2009 at the op-ed section of the Manila Standard Today.
The gamut of reactions to Senator Panfilo Lacson’s recent exposé on the shenanigans of Joseph Ejercito Estrada during his short-lived stint as President of the Republic ranged from curiosity, to open-mouth incredulity, to disdain, to resignation, and of course, condemnation.The problem with senatorial public confessions that come under the guise of a privilege speech delivered at the floor of the Senate is that they do not seem to serve any other purpose other than to attract media and public attention. The senator who is making the exposé cannot be held accountable for what he says during a privilege speech because of parliamentary immunity. As a result, quite a number of people think that privilege speeches often constitute unbridled abuse of parliamentary privilege. Thus, a lot of people can be forgiven for taking the content of privilege speeches with not just a grain, but perhaps bushels of salt.T…

Magnificent performances

Published last September 14, 2009 at the op ed section of the Manila Standard Today.
The Cultural Center of the Philippines is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its founding this year. The milestone year is being celebrated through a festival of spectacular shows and breathtaking performances.There are still quite a number of shows in the offing, for example, Cecille Licad is performing in a two-part concert later this week, but the highlights of the 40th anniversary festival were staged last week:The 40th anniversary gala held Sept. 8 and the tribute to the CCP founding chair former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos held Sept. 11, birthday of the former dictator. And anyone looking for metaphors for the state of the arts in the country would have found it at the CCP in the two shows staged last week.I know it’s not fair to make comparisons, particularly since the two shows were supposed to be distinct from each other, but I had this gnawing feeling that of the two shows, the tribut…

Real creamy goodness

Published last September 9, 2009 at the op ed section of the Manila Standard Today.
I love ice cream. It’s my comfort food. I don’t know if there is any kid in this country who does not consider ice cream a treat. When I was a child growing up in the province, ice cream was not something that was readily available and the very few itinerant ice cream vendors that went around our town passed through our street only once a day. Thus, we kids had half an ear perpetually on the watch out for that oh-so-familiar and much-awaited tinkling of the mamang sorbetero’s bell. What a sight we must have been—emerging from playhouses or climbing down trees hastily putting on rubber slippers and running off to welcome the man who would make our day.Kids of this generation are luckier. Not only is ice cream readily available today, there are also lots of variations to choose from. There are also new ice cream products that are coming out that’s not only giving the more established brands stiff competit…

Aquino's challenge

Published last September 7, 2009 at the op-ed section of the Manila Standard Today. 
Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino remains coy and is still trying hard to convey the impression that he is still undecided about whether or not he should throw his hat into the presidential race.The seeming indecision is fortifying the air of mystique around him. For now, it distinguishes him from the rest who are scrambling all over the place to get noticed.However, it doesn’t take that much analysis to conclude that the decision to run has already been reached. Mar Roxas’ withdrawal from the race pretty much sealed the whole deal; it’s really inconceivable to imagine that Roxas would throw away all that hard work and all that investment—including, as some naughty minds have pointed out, giving up bachelorhood and turning his engagement and impending wedding into a public relations circus—for something that is still uncertain. As a friend mischievously surmised, Korina Sanchez would not have forsaken he…

Photo-op of the messiahs

Published last September 2, 2009 at the op ed section of the Manila Standard Today.
In the front pages of most newspapers last Monday was that photo of 13 presidential wannabes linking arms for clean and honest elections in 2010.The photo was of particular human interest for several reasons.First, because it was the first time a group actually succeeded in bringing together more than seven putative candidates in one venue—13 out of the 16 or so presidential aspirants. We all know there are quite a number of people out there with a moist eye on the presidency but for the most part, we’ve only seen them individually. The impact of actually seeing a real visual of all 13 candidates together was quite mystifying. My eight-year-old niece put it in better perspective when she asked me “do all of them really have a chance to become president?”Our problem is not that we don’t have enough leaders because we do have an abundance of them; our problem is that we don’t have enough leaders in this c…

The return of sitcoms

Published last August 26, 2009 at the op ed section of the Manila Standard Today.
Last Monday I wrote about how the clamor to make Senator Noynoy Aquino the next President of the Republic of the Philippines has shaken up the rather fragile state of Philippine politics. Whatever were there in the form of formal or informal agreements, mutual understanding, and coalitions prior to Aug. 1 have now become tentative and subject to renegotiation.There are many things that can be said about this development and I am sure many pundits out there will try to read more into it. I meant to write about the whole phenomenon for today’s column, citing some of the comments I received in response to last Monday’s piece but I noted that most of the column spaces in various newspapers last Monday and yesterday have already been devoted to the issue. So I will just summarize what I meant to say as follow-up to last Monday’s column in three points.First, what this development indicates is that we might hav…

Deja vu

Published last August 24, 2009 at the op ed section of the Manila Standard Today. 
As of last week, there were 15 people who had signified their intention, willingness, or availability to become President of the Republic of the Philippines next year.I am aware of course that many—if not most—of these people are actually angling for a lower post, perhaps that of Vice President or perhaps that of a senator and that the declaration of interest in the presidency is more of a campaign strategy to gain early media mileage. Sliding down to the vice presidency or for a senatorial post makes the candidate seem like a reasonable and gracious person who is willing to give up personal ambition for the sake of the greater good.Some of these people also don’t have the resources to run a grueling national political campaign and will eventually buckle down.But here’s the list so far, of the people who have indicated interest in becoming the next President of the Republic of the Philippines, in alphabe…

Punishing unmarried pregnant women

Published last August 19 at the op ed section of the Manila Standard Today. 
We’ve been talking about women’s issues for so long in this country one would think that significant strides have already been made in terms of putting in place the necessary legal framework that would guarantee the protection of women from discrimination. Unfortunately, we are a country that likes to talk endlessly about issues and show off about how vigilant we are of certain rights and privileges. However, when push comes to shove and we are required to manifest commitment… ah, that’s another matter altogether.After much hemming and hawing, the Magna Carta for Women was finally passed by Congress and was enacted into law by the President recently. The law is supposed to be comprehensive—that’s why it is called a magna carta, isn’t it? It’s supposed to be the mother document— the charter—that spells out every woman’s right in this country that is guaranteed and protected by law. Such rights cover a wide spec…

Populist but potentially disastrous

Published last August 17 at the op ed section of the Manila Standard Today. 
I have three “guests” in my house, promdi relatives who came to Manila in search of the proverbial green pasture. Two are undergraduates who dropped out of college in Tacloban City—one because he lost interest in pursuing a college degree; the other one because she got pregnant and had to get married. In typical Pinoy fashion, they cast their fortunes to fate and came to Manila to find employment. In short, they did what many Filipinos are wont to do—nakipagsapalaran.The third is a graduate of a nautical engineering course who is in the wait-list of a maritime company. As most everyone knows, the current minimum waiting time for fresh graduates in the maritime industry before they can board a ship is at least two years—and that’s if they are lucky to have connections. That is because there is a dearth of employment opportunities in the global maritime industry on account of the global recession. There are few …