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Showing posts from August, 2015

Real Solutions, please

My column, August 30, 2015 at The Standard.


It takes a lot before Filipinos snap.  Our capacity for patience and to forgive the inefficiency of public officials is legendary.  It took us more than two decades before we threw up our hands in the air in frustration over the sins of the conjugal dictatorship, and even allowed the family of the dictator to return to power eventually.  Gloria Macapagal Arroyo lasted 10 years in office despite the supposed illegitimacy of her assumption to power and the many allegations of corruption involving her husband and her minions.   Senator Juan Ponce Enrile is now out of jail and back at the Senate despite being charged of plunder.  Many officials of the Aquino administration remain in office despite the mounting proof of inefficiency and ineptitude.  We’ve been complaining about the traffic situation in Metro Manila for quite some time now.  The response from our officials have ranged from the ridiculous (“it’s a sign of progress”), to dismissive (…

Breeding resentment

This was my column at The Standard August 25, 2015. What can we make of the fact that the seeming display of conscientiousness on the part of some government officials has been met by a lot of howling?  Two weeks ago, the initiative of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board to regulate application-based ride-sharing services such as Uber and Grab Taxi was met by virulent protests. This happened even when the agency made it clear that it really just wanted to guarantee the safety of the riding public and to ensure that the right taxes were paid by the entrepreneurs behind the new transport services scheme.  And as we settled in for the three-day weekend, social networking sites were ablaze with fiery commentaries directed at the Bureau of Customs over the proposal to open balikbayan boxes to ensure that these are not being used to smuggle goods that would normally be subject to taxes. In both cases, taxation was submitted as an issue.  It is a given that any discussion…

Lies and half-truths

This was my column on August 23, 2015 The campaign period for the 2016 elections has not officially started but that has not stopped a number of aspirants for certain elective positions from already unleashing their campaign propaganda on the electorate. We know that what these aspirants are doing is not illegal; they are not official candidates yet and precisely because the campaign period has not begun, the Commission on Elections has no jurisdiction over their political activities. But that doesn’t mean that their actions are ethical or moral. To begin with, it is clearly indicative of blatant and shameless display of influence and resources. Television ads cost a hell lot of money—the cost of a 30-seconder television advertisement shown repeatedly over a one-month period on primetime can reach hundreds of millions of pesos. Even if the candidate is independently wealthy, there still remains the question about how he intends to recover all that investment. Candidates aspire to be …

Medical marijuana

My August 18, 2015 column. As can be expected in a country where people in positions of authority and influence make the mistake of assuming that being able to hold themselves up to a higher moral standard gives them license to assert superiority over others, the issue of legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes was bound to encounter major hurdles.  There’s a lot of stigma associated with the use of marijuana for recreational purposes that most cannot imagine how something that’s illegal, immoral, and supposedly harmful could be allowed as medicine for the sick! Just to clarify, it must be pointed out that medical marijuana is not prescribed as a cigarette.  It’s important to point this out because there have been people who have been fulminating about the evils of allowing the sick to smoke marijuana.  Medical marijuana involves extracting oil from the herb and mixing it with food. One of the groups behind the initiative to legalize medical marijuana, a group of mothers …

Tower of Babel

My August 16, 2015 column.


Like many others, I await with bated breath the decision of the Supreme Court on the Torre de Manila case. It’s a landmark case for many reasons, foremost of which is that it has turned culture and heritage conservation into a legal issue whose ultimate resolution has been put in the hands of a select few. Everyone is hoping, of course, that the honorable court would render a decision that not only resolves the long-simmering issue but also provides wise counsel that is comprehensible and acceptable to all stakeholders. Achieving the latter, of course, would be almost impossible given that the opposing parties in the case have already dug deep trenches to fortify their respective positions; as far as each party is concerned, theirs is the only correct position. Thus, any decision of the honorable court would be met by great jubilation, or alternately, great disappointment and consternation by either side. So will the honorable judges of the highest court in th…

Air traffic congestion

My August 12, 2015 column. I had to travel to Davao City last Friday to attend a family affair.  My flight was at 7:40pm.  I had already checked in through the web to ensure a seat and left for the airport very early.  The two-kilometer ride to the airport from Pasay City took an excruciating one hour and a half, thanks to the bedlam around the airport terminals caused by the construction activities in the area.  I made it to the airport with barely enough time for a quick bite.  Sadly, all that rushing was for naught.  The flight was delayed for almost two hours.  The culprit:  Air traffic congestion.   We arrived in Davao at almost 11:00 PM. The trip back to Manila was even worse.  Our flight was supposed to leave at 2:30 PM.  We were at the Davao International Airport Terminal before noon.  I knew the flight was going to be delayed because all the other flights were.  Every single announcement in the public address system was about another flight that was going to be delayed due to…

Charot vs chaka

My August 9, 2015 column. Gayspeak is in the news, and sadly,
for the wrong reasons. MalacaƱan Palace and the Office of the Vice President
have been trading barbs, using gayspeak. Presidential spokesperson
Edwin Lacierda started the catfight by calling
Vice President Jejomar Binay’s recent True State-of-the-Nation Address
“charot” - which is gaypeak for something that should not be taken seriously
such as a joke, a frivolous action or statement, or a charade.
Binay’s camp through spokesperson Joey Salgado came back with a more
catty response done in more colorful gayspeak: “Imbey ang fez ni Secretarush
dahil trulalu ang spluk ni VP. Pero ang SONA ng pangulo, chaka ever
sa madlang pipol dahil hindi trulalu” (roughly, “Secretary Lacierda is
annoyed because what the VP said was the truth.  But the President’s SONA
was derided by the masses because what he said was not true.”) Aside from Lacierda and Salgado and their rabid supporters, I don’t think
anyone else was amused - not even the l…

The Unforgiven

My August 4, 2015 column.


Like all other promising young high school graduates, Krisel Mallari could have the whole world ahead of her.  She dreams of becoming an accountant someday, and she has enrolled at the University of Santo Tomas where classes are supposed to start this week.   However, whether Mallari gets to enter UST, or attend college for that matter, remains uncertain.  It all depends if UST accepts the certificate of good moral character that has been issued grudgingly by the administrators of the Santo Nino Parochial School in Quezon City, the school where she finished high school as a salutatorian, mainly to comply with an order issued by the Court of Appeals.  The SNPS has refused to give Mallari a certificate of good moral character because she delivered a speech during her graduation that accused the school of unfair practices in deciding who should become valedictorian of the class.  The video of her speech (and the attempt to stop her from finishing it) became viral…

Doctors are people too

My August 2, 2015 column. Everyone, at one point or another, has to deal with a medical practitioner. We’re all mortals so getting sick is a certainty. In fact, the number of doctors one has to deal with and the number of interactions one is forced to have with them increase correspondingly with age.  Like clockwork, I turned hypertensive when I hit 40. The signs of wear and tear surfaced soon thereafter. I undergo an executive check-up every year, but regular visits to doctors have become inevitable. I’ve experienced waiting in line for hours for consultation or for medical procedures. Because I have the worst case of gastroesophageal reflux disease, I have found myself in hospital emergency rooms on far too many occasions, doubling over in extreme pain similar in manifestation to a heart attack. I know what it is like to be a patient needing immediate care.   My reaction when I read that tirade against doctors written by a columnist in a provincial paper (I think it went viral prima…