Showing posts from May, 2014

No thanks to government

This is my column today, May 27,  2014.

I know Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma was just doing his job when he asserted yesterday that government is on track in so far as rehabilitation of Yolanda-ravaged areas is concerned.  He even cited a World Bank report which supposedly said it was happy with the way the rehabilitation programs have been conducted by government.  I have great respect for Coloma and I think he is one of the few remaining people in government with solid credibility on account of the fact that he has no vested interest.  He is an academic and business leader who has no political ambitions.  It is very obvious that the poor guy only wants to serve. But Coloma’s defense of the government’s continuing dismal failure to respond effectively to the needs of Yolanda victims must be rebuffed.  Actually, a separate news item yesterday already did so.  Budget Secretary Butch Abad was quoted in reports as saying that more than half of the pledges for the Yolanda rehabili…

Being mindful of others

This is my column today, May 25, 2014.

A colleague in the human resource management profession wrote about it in another daily recently, but it is a topic that has been in my mind in the last few years.  In fact, I considered it as subject for a dissertation except that I was hobbled by the lack of a reliable survey instrument.  I am referring to what my colleague referred to as the dismal lack of “mindfulness” among many people today.  There are just too many people in the world who seem to have no regard for other people.  I am afraid that if we don’t make a deliberate and conscious effort to teach our young how to behave in communal spaces and show respect for the time and the efforts of other people around us, this lack of mindfulness will fester and eventually lead to the collapse of the very values and traits that we are supposed to be proud of, and known for, as Filipinos. Let me present 10 things we can do, or conversely, stop doing, as a sign of respect or courtesy to other p…

Department of harm

This is my column today, May 20, 2014.

It’s as if the last four decades have not happened; as if we haven’t learned anything at all about HIV and AIDS and how best to manage the pandemic.  It’s as if the gazillions of money the world has poured into understanding the many psychological, social, and cultural factors that hamper prevention of infections have not produced any valuable lessons that we can learn from, as most other countries have.   The Philippine government, through the Department of Health, plans to implement mandatory HIV testing so that those who “may have risk for HIV...can be properly counselled on what to do.”  Health Department spokesperson Eric Tayag confirmed in a television interview that government is now working out the details as to how to make compulsory testing possible.  According to rumours, mandatory HIV testing will be initially imposed among specific “target populations” a move that should ring alarm bells everywhere as it is an open invitation for hum…

Too much democracy?

This is my column today, May 18, 2014.

We wanted to take the train from the airport to the city, but we didn’t find the counter that sold the three-day public transportation pass for tourists so we opted to take a taxi instead.  We braced ourselves for the worst, forgetting that not all airports are like the Ninoy Aquino International Airport where taxi drivers fleece tourists and new arrivals for a living.  We stepped out of Changi Airport to find a row of taxis all available to take anyone to any point in Singapore.  The driver of the taxi at the head of the line even got out to open the trunk and assist us with our luggage.  My son told him the hotel we were going to and very casually asked how much he would be charging us.  The driver smiled and politely told my son that he would be charging us based on what will be on the meter.  And then the inevitable side comment:  “We don’t do here in Singapore what taxi drivers do in the Philippines.”  And he went on to explain how his licen…

Bent over backwards

This is my column today, May 13, 2014. 

One of the Internet memes that struck me recently, which I reposted in my social networking accounts, and consequently reposted by many of my friends, was that joke about how Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs should look like if it were revisited today.  The base of the triangle which represented the hierarchy had been revised to include a need seemingly more basic than biological needs – WIFI or wireless internet connection.  The meme was supposed to be a joke, but it felt true particularly since many people now seem to live primarily in social networking sites.  I know quite a number of people whose survival seems to be dependent on their being able to access the Internet; they begin displaying withdrawal symptoms if they are unable to do so even for just a single day. It is actually understandable.  Practically everything we need to know can be sourced through the Internet – from complex questions such as how to split the atom, to pressing c…

Responsible parenting

This is my column today, May 11, 2014.

Allow me, first, a little digression. The maiden is supposed to be very shy, she rarely shows herself in her full glory.  I’ve been coming to Legaspi City for many years for business and some pleasure, and I can count with my fingers the actual number of times that I have seen Magayon fully—with nary a wisp of cloud to obstruct the view.  But last Friday morning seemed like one of those mornings when the Gods woke up in a really good mood and everything was all right with the world.  The whole of Bicolandia was cloudless and Magayon, or Mount Mayon as most people refer to the volcano, seemed like she was silently showing off her full splendour.  And what a breathtaking, majestic sight she was. Perhaps because Magayon was always shrouded in clouds in my past visits, I didn’t realise then just how pervasive her presence in Legaspi really is.  One could actually see and feel her imposing presence wherever one was in the city.  As we drove to the air…

Rites of May

This is my column today, May 4, 2014.

While on official business in the South towards the weekend, I chanced upon a Flores de Mayo activity inside a church one afternoon. The sight of kids streaming into the churchyard bearing flowers to be offered to the Virgin at the altar brought back powerful memories of many May afternoons spent in my hometown in Leyte where Flores de Mayo activities were an annual preoccupation that marked summer along with flying kites, climbing trees, making halo-halo with ice crushed manually using a kuskusan, and watching the grownups make fools of themselves in the various “benefit dances” (public disco that were supposed to be fund raising events) held in street corners at night.  I thought of how my young nephews and nieces in Manila are spending their summer this year alternately sitting in front of the television set, the x-box machine, or their laptops.  Their parents - and this harassed uncle – are forced to intervene by introducing supposedly more pr…