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Showing posts from March, 2014

There's more to bathing than hygiene

This is my column today, March 30, 2014. Several related news items in the last few weeks caught my attention.  First, the results of a recent Social Weather Stations survey which said that Filipinos ranked toiletries (bath soap, toothpaste, etc) as more important than, say, rice or sugar.  This had some academics stumped because of the way it redefined the notion of what comprises basic survival needs.  Then there was the human interest story about National boxing champion Emmanuel Manny Pacquiao’s amused reaction to Timothy Bradley’s revelation that he (Bradley) does not bathe for the entire week leading to his fights in keeping with the superstitious belief that doing so negatively affects one’s chances of winning.  Pacquiao was supposed to have reacted with incomprehension; like most Filipinos, not taking a bath was an alien concept to the boxer. And then there were the usual seasonal pictures of people flocking to the beach - in the case of some Metro Manila residents, to the bre…

Summer of 2014

This is my column today, March 25, 2014. Several related news items in the last few weeks caught my attention.  First, the results of a recent Social Weather Stations survey which said that Filipinos ranked toiletries (bath soap, toothpaste, etc) as more important than, say, rice or sugar.  This had some academics stumped because of the way it redefined the notion of what comprises basic survival needs.  Then there was the human interest story about National boxing champion Emmanuel Manny Pacquiao’s amused reaction to Timothy Bradley’s revelation that he (Bradley) does not bathe for the entire week leading to his fights in keeping with the superstitious belief that doing so negatively affects one’s chances of winning.  Pacquiao was supposed to have reacted with incomprehension; like most Filipinos, not taking a bath was an alien concept to the boxer. And then there were the usual seasonal pictures of people flocking to the beach - in the case of some Metro Manila residents, to the brea…

Desperately seeking answers

This is my column today, March 23, 2014


As I write, almost everyone on earth, including experts, are still scratching their heads in   frustration and bewilderment over the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.  There have been a number of promising leads, all of which turned out to be duds.  The question that has been raised repeatedly—and in increasing level of exasperation- is this:  Given the rapid advancements in aviation and surveillance technology, how is it still possible for a commercial airplane with 239 people on board to simply vanish from sight and to remain missing despite the combined search efforts of 24 countries and even after two weeks?  There are a number of sobering realizations that we can draw from the MH370 tragedy, foremost of which is that most people on earth don’t seem to have rudimentary knowledge of geography after all.  I couldn’t believe the number of people who didn’t seem to have an idea of just how vast the Indian Ocean is, or f…

Honor among cadets

This is my column today, March 18, 2014.


At the onset I must stress that I do find it admirable that cadets at the Philippine Military Academy are standing firm on a matter of honor. It is heartening to note that idealism continues to exist among our youth, particularly among those who are being trained to be­come leaders of the military ser­vice. Yes, our military people must adhere to a higher code of honor  and those who are still in the PMA must exemplify higher adherence to the same since they are supposed to represent the new breed of offi­cers who will champion the neces­sary and much-desired changes in the military establishment. One, of course, wishes that they stood up with the same strength of con­viction on a number of occasions on the past when graver matters of honor were at stake. Having said that, I must also stress that I find it frustrating that the same cadets have easily suc­cumbed to a classic case of group­think and have since then unable to consider seemingly di…

Registration plates are not the problem

This is my column today, March 16, 2014. The Transportation Department announced last week that starting April, the registration plates of all vehicles in this country would have to be replaced and owners would have to cough up an additional 450 pesos for this latest money-making venture of government. This would be in addition to the various money-making ventures that are already in place in various Land Transportation Offices in this country – from the ridiculous physical examination for drivers conducted by non-qualified personnel, to drug testing, to smoke emission testing, etc. The bureaucrats regurgitated a long list of justifications for fleecing us yet again. We have been told that the new plates are supposed to be tamper-proof and have more security features than the vaults of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. But then again, if we spend the same amount of time thinking of ways to improve the way we execute and implement our brilliant plans than we do in thinking up ways to ma…

An idea that has failed twice

This is my column today, March 11, 2014. There is, once again, frenzied talk about converting the Pasig River into a passageway for commuters as a means of helping alleviate traffic in Metro Manila.  The idea is to offer to commuters an alternative ferry service that will traverse Guadalupe in Makati to Quiapo in Manila, passing through strategically designated ferry stations along the Pasig River. It’s an idea that is brilliant on paper.  It’s theoretically feasible.  And the idea offers various promising and romantic possibilities; Pasig River, is after all immortalized in our history books as the gateway to Manila as well as source of life and sustenance during the time of our ancestors.  We are told that the river used to brim with life that people fished, swam, and washed clothes in it.  So why not, indeed? The answer is painfully simple:  Because we have tried it before and it didn’t work.  In fact, we tried it at least twice already and failed both times.  We first tried it in …

State of unpreparedness

This is my column today, March 9, 2014.


A major development that is about to happen in a few months that very few people seem to know, or at least care about, is the impending Asean integration in 2015.  Yes, we are following the European model, which gave birth to the European Union and we’re supposed to begin the integration in a few months.  I know what you are thinking:  Why haven’t we heard a squeak from our leaders about it? While the integration is not expected to immediately make major direct impact on our lives, the implications of eventually being part of one economic, security, and social community are quite staggering.  Obviously, the ten countries that comprise the Asean (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) are not on equal footing on various indices.  Given the fact that some of our neighbors are already galloping way ahead of us on various measures of competitiveness, how do we ensure that the Asean integr…

Tacloban dancers' message of hope and thanks

This is my column today, March 4, 2014. It’s always great to hear bits and pieces of good news emanating from my hometown, Tacloban City, after hearing nothing but heartbreaking news for months since the supertyphoon struck last November. We all knew in our hearts that Tacloban would rise again, and not just because Taclobanons are resilient people, but because there are many people all over the world who are reaching out and doing all they can to help.  I know this has been said many times and in various ways, but I will say it again:  Thank you, thank you to everyone all over the world who joined the massive outpouring of help for Yolanda victims. Tacloban City, and the other towns in Leyte and Samar, however, continue to need all the help they can get.  Although conditions are getting better every week, the painful process of rehabilitation and rebuilding continues. In a few weeks it will be graduation season and I can only imagine the pain that many will feel when they note the si…

Peddling a hoax

This is my column today, March 2, 2014. The first thing that hit me while watching the February 24 ABS-CBN late-night news report on the supposed “mysterious disease” caused by a “flesh-eating” bacteria that was allegedly spreading like an epidemic in Pangasinan was that the whole reportage was too dramatic to be taken seriously. Yes, truth is stranger than fiction, but truth seldom comes packaged in modern-day theatrical ways. Most often than not, truth comes in stark simplicity. The ABS-CBN report was too scripted for comfort and seemed more like a documentary feature than a news report. The reporter Jasmin Romero was wearing a surgical gown and a mask although she still didn’t look like she was in danger of contracting something as common as, well, the common colds. The interviews and the shots of the patients and their families showed tell-tale signs of directing—the technical crew obviously had lots of time to block, rewrite, and reshoot. The background information provided on th…