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Showing posts from October, 2010

Beyond repair

This was my column on the date indicated above.
When I was young—ahem, not too long ago—my friends and some relatives thought I was a perfect candidate to become chairman of the Kabataang Barangay (the precursor of the Sangguniang Kabataan) in our district. I was idealistic. I really and truly believed in Rizal’s admonition that the youth was the hope of the fatherland. I was just in high school then and had great dreams for our hometown.So I was “drafted” into becoming a candidate. Everyone thought I was the candidate to beat. Many thought—and I believed them, perhaps foolishly—that my being chairman of the KB was “in the bag.” Modesty aside, I was clearly more articulate, more intelligent, had more leadership skills than my opponent who was not only lagging in school but also couldn’t speak in public even if his whole life depended on it. I was also (ahem, again) cuter. Unfortunately, my opponent was rich. He was the son of a town councilor and also had the support of the politicians…

The messenger

This was my column on the date indicated above.
I used to make fun of Senator Lito Lapid and referred to him as the most expensive piece of furniture in the Philippine Senate because he was the one senator who was rarely heard of. In a chamber full of people with gigantic egos all seemingly fighting to be heard, Lapid was an aberration. He never gave privilege speeches, did not hog the limelight, did not file controversial bills (or any other bill, it seemed); did not even seem to attend Senate sessions - if he did, he must have vanished into the woodwork because he was rarely caught on television being inside the session hall.All these, however, were perceptions that were really not supported by facts.The truth is that Lapid was quite prolific as a senator in terms of number of bills filed. In a study conducted by a professor at the University of the Philippines early this year, Lapid was ranked sixth overall among senators who successfully shepherded “original” bills into law. He was…

What were they thinking?

This was my column on the date indicated above.
It was bad enough that someone tried to copy the logo of the Polska tourism campaign of the Republic of Poland and pass it off as an original inspired idea to help sell Philippine tourism. We thought it was just another plagiarism issue (not that plagiarism is a simple issue, just that…well, we all know what the Supreme Court of the Philippines, the highest court in the land, said about when plagiarism can be justified).And then came that rejoinder from Campaigns and Grey, the advertising agency co-opted to help design the campaign, which said in so many words that there was really serious and deliberate intent to copy the Polska logo. The agency people said that shamelessly replicating the logo was the marching orders given to them!Honestly, what were the officials of the Department of Tourism thinking? That nobody in this country had ever been to Poland or Europe? Did it ever cross their mind that the similarities between the two logos …

We must not forget

This was my column on the date indicated above.
A year ago tomorrow, 57 people —most of them journalists—were brutally killed in what has been referred to as the Maguindanao massacre. The Committee to Protect Journalists has referred to the massacre as the deadliest single event for journalists in history.The anniversary of the gruesome event is being remembered this week and media has been churning out stories reminding people of what happened in the town of Ampatuan in Maguindanao province in Mindanao. It is important that we all take the trouble to remember the Maguindanao massacre and the people that were murdered.We must never forget the brazen, thoughtless, and heartless way in which one family tried to assert its political supremacy even to the point of mass annihilation.We must not forget because the magnitude of the crime remains incomprehensible—what was done was beyond words.We must not forget that 37 journalists who were simply doing their jobs were senselessly killed appar…

Lessons learned well

This was my column on the date indicated above.
Rumors, it has been said, arise out of situations where there is a lot of ambiguity and where the outcome is important but uncertain. Obviously, rumors fuel anxiety and breed the creation of more rumors including those that are too mind-boggling to comprehend and those that border on the bizarre.For example, just before and during the time Typhoon Milenyo struck Metro Manila four years ago, there was a flurry of text messages from all over about the supposed actual strength of the typhoon, the path it would be taking, the kind of devastation it would cause, etc. These were important information to take in and would have been helpful to people if only they came from official sources such as the government and if only they were not unnecessarily alarmist. I remember the text messages quoted all kinds of experts—from United States military forces to certain international broadcast reporters. Milenyo was one of the most destructive typhoons t…

Heroes

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This was my column on the date indicated above.
Eleven years ago, a couple—each with a doctoral degree in physics —left very promising careers at the University of the Philippines to settle down at a fourth class municipality in the Province of Bohol to resuscitate an old, crumbling high school. They gave up their statures as eminent physicists in the National Institute of Physics so that they could teach students from remote barrios. They turned away from very high profile jobs as heads of the country’s foremost center of learning for physics to live in a town with no nightlife, or even a fast food restaurant.At a time when a modicum of academic credentials and some teaching experience could be easily parlayed into a ticket to a very high-paying job abroad, the couple’s decision to not only stay in the country but worse, to relocate to an unheard of remote town in the middle of the one of the least developed provinces in the country struck many as foolhardy. I must hasten to add, thou…

SSS delinquency list

This was my column on the date indicated above.
I am writing this column in Cebu City while in the thick of preparations for a conference dubbed as the biggest human resource event of the year: The 47th annual conference of the People Management Association of the Philippines. The conference opens at 2 p.m. today at the Cebu International Convention Center.There are close to 1,500 human resource management professionals attending the conference and let me share with you in this column the hottest topic of conversation in every nook and cranny of the convention: The supposed alarming state of the Social Security System.We are all aware of the problems of the SSS. One of its former Presidents, Corazon de la Paz did sound the alarm almost a decade ago. If I remember correctly, de la Paz warned that unless some drastic measures were put in place, the agency would stop being viable in a number of years. Since the warning was not repeated and the alarm bells were not rung after that, people …

Teachers' day

This was my column on the date indicated above.
World Teachers’ Day was celebrated last October 5. I was made aware of the fact because I received quite a number of greetings from former students, fellow teachers, and a handful of current students.Yes, I continue to teach despite my crazy schedule; I’ve been continuously teaching two nights a week and on some weekends in the last 12 years. It can be physically draining and the demands can take its toll on one’s health. But the psychological rewards are beyond compare. There’s the fulfillment that comes with seeing eyes light up when students finally get a difficult concept. There’s the satisfaction that comes with being aware that one has contributed to another person’s growth.I continue to teach because rather than whine nonstop and flail around at the shortcomings of the educational system, I choose to be part of the crafting of the solutions. There’s a gaping mismatch between what academe produces and what industry needs and clearly…

Mismatched

This was my column on the date indicated above.
I sat as a panelist in a round-table discussion on the mismatch problem at the annual conference of the Call Center Association of the Philippines last week. We had a very insightful exchange and I would like to synthesize the points of discussion in this column.The mismatch problem has become a major area of concern for industry. It basically refers to the yawning gorge between what industry requires and what academe produces. Those of us in industry have been whining about the problem for the longest time. Now we’re about ready to press the panic button and start screaming like disoriented banshees. You know a problem has reached an alarming point when people start normal everyday conversations by asking each other how they are coping with the problem. So instead of talking about hypertension or inquiring about each other’s uric acid levels, human resource management professionals now invariably talk about how they’re managing their man…

Padre Damaso

This was my column on the date indicated above.
I join the many, many Filipino people who are taking their hats off to Carlos Celdran for doing what was necessary last Thursday at the Manila Cathedral. It was theatrical, yes. It bordered on the heretical, yes. It was probably rude and disrespectful. But it brought home the message in a loud and clear way.One does not have to be Machiavellian to understand that sometimes it is necessary to test the limits to prove a point. And to my mind, that was exactly what Celdran wanted to do: Prove a point. That point is that the Catholic Church in the Philippines has lost touch with the real issues of its flock. Worse, the bishops and the priests carry on their business—think and act like they are infallible, that they are beyond reproach. In short, like Padre Damaso in Rizal’s novels.And ironically enough, that point was amplified even further by the Church’s knee jerk reaction to what Celdran did. The Church issued a statement that essentially …