Sunday, November 30, 2008

Spam Sunday: Masterpiece of Driving

I'm not into cars, and I don't understand how anybody can sit for hours watching NASCAR. But this clip is just too good to pass up.

Amy Winehouse and Jerry Seinfeld: separated at birth.

The 20 Stupidest GI Joe Vehicles Ever.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Take a Break: Sound Advice

Manny Pacquiao and trainer Freddie Roach already has a game plan set for the fight against Oscar dela Hoya. Oddly enough, it is similar to the advice in a lawyer's sex manual. It says: In and out. Repeat if necessary.

Photo: Nitro101, Flickr, Creative Commons

Friday, November 28, 2008

Craving for Good News

I've had enough of the impeachment and the charter change. I need a reprieve.  In fact, I think everyone is yearning to hear some positive stories about the Philippines. Even Malacañang seems to agree. An inquirer report says:
Malacañang wants the local media to play up more positive stories about President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who has received a battering in recent public approval and public trust surveys.
Ok.... Something positive about GMA.... ummm..... let's see..... ermmm.....



Well here's some (non-GMA related) good news:  Ex-barber’s cream fights skin cancer. Hindi ito kwentong barbero:
By reformulating his amazing cream that gets rid of warts and moles without surgery, Rolando dela Cruz, 71, came up with DeBCC that combats skin cancer.

Doctors from Philippine General Hospital (PGH) have already certified the DeBCC cream as a viable treatment for basal cell carcinoma (BCC), the most common type of skin cancer.

On Friday, Dela Cruz received the World Intellectual Property Office gold medal for DeBCC as an outstanding invention during the closing ceremonies of the National Inventors Week.

Some more good news: Deutsche Bank is planning to increase its employees here by 900 for the next year. Citibank also plans to expand and hire 1,000 more workers in the Philippines next year, presumably as part of the cost-cutting measures of the ailing company. This is definitely good for us, but not for those whose jobs will be transferred here. We all know that the U.S. is in the midst of a recession. Confidence in banks and other traditional financial institutions is at an all-time low. Some Americans have even turned to non-banking institutions like Truth in Equity to help get them out of debt.
Oh well....

Photo: Ali Farid, SXC

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Bulag Pipi at Bingi

I am still seething over the 42-8 vote of the lower house's committee of "justice" junking the impeachment complaint against GMA. The result didn't really come as a surprise. But still, it is amazing how brazen some of these congressmen are.
In one instance, Rep. Liza Masa asked those congressmen who had any involvement with the fertilizer fund to inhibit themselves. Not one solon heeded the call. 
There is this notion that generally, politicians are two-faced - saying one thing and acting under the influence of another. But our congressmen are of a different breed; they aren't two-faced at all. In fact, they are as transparent as air. They do not bother to hide their partisanship. They don't even take into account the sentiments of those they vowed to represent, choosing instead to defend the interest of someone other than those who voted for them. I repeat, our "representatives" are not two-faced. Iisa lang ang mukha ng mga 'yan, makapal at matigas nga lang.
Before the hearing was put to a close, one pro-impeachment congressman (i didn't get his name) said that some of his colleagues are bulag, pipi at bingi. An anti-impeachment congressman bristled at the assertion, immediately moving to have the statement stricken off the records. I'm sorry to say, but even if you expunge the statement from the record, nothing can erase that perception. Some of them are truly deaf, mute and blind, not to mention dumb. The truth hurts; the pro-impreachment congressman just called a spade a spade.
Photo: Lucy Boynton and Mace2000, Flickr, Creative Commons

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Crucified Superstars

I wonder why congressman Pablo Garcia has not been struck by lightning for comparing GMA with Jesus Christ.Wendell Vigilia of Malaya reports:
REP. Pablo Garcia (Kampi, Cebu) yesterday compared President Arroyo to Jesus Christ saying she is being persecuted by the opposition based only on mere perception, the same way Pontius Pilate turned over Christ to the mob to be crucified.

"Our Lord Jesus Christ lost in the survey and he was crucified and that’s how we’re going to judge President?" he asked the committee on justice.

Traditionally, Philippine presidents' approval ratings decline right after the so-called honeymoon period. But GMA is a special case. At least her predecessors did not have negative dissatisfaction ratings. GMA has never experienced a positive net satisfaction rating since 2004. A negative dissatisfaction rating for more than 3 years - that is no fluke. And not for an arbitrary reason: she has been hounded by legitimacy and corruption issues throughout her rule.
GMA should even be thankful that she is only being crucified in the opinion polls. If Garcia and his ilk had done their jobs right, GMA would have been rightly banished from her seat and punished for her transgressions. Jesus Christ she is not.
But come to think of it, there is a similarity between the two. Jesus Christ's act of multiplying bread and fish to feed the multitude made him even more famous; GMA's act of multiplying her own votes to keep feeding congressmen made her even more infamous. 
They're comparable in that respect.
Photo: Marcelo Moura, SXC

Richard Gordon and the Blue Ribbon

I heard Senator Richard Gordon running the fertilizer fund hearing over the radio yesterday. Presiding the hearing as the Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman for the first time, I think he held his own.
He steered the proceedings well - asking the right questions, pulling the reins when needed, gave other senators their time to question the witnesses. 
However, there were instances when he has gone overboard. He was to giddy at times (maybe it has nothing to do with his new post, he is just plain giddy all his waking life). He also made an inappropriate joke at one point (saying something like: Your lawyer advising you to tell the truth? That's new. [or maybe there is a grain of truth there...]). But his gravest sin in my opinion is when he cut off the witnesses in the middle of the sentence. Maybe he didn't like where the witnesses' answers were leading, but that should be the senators' problem, not the witnesses'. A good interrogator leads the witness deftly, even if the witness throws a curveball.
But all in all, he deserves a passing mark.

Photo: pablo pi, SXC

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

JDV, Front and Center

I heard parts of congressman Jose de Venecia's testimony for the impeachment hearing yesterday morning. Voice full of emotion, the former house speaker told his side of the story. He said he was in China only to play golf with the Arroyos and former COMELEC chairman Ben Abalos. If you take his words at face value, it seems as if he was only dragged into the mess like an innocent kid by a scheming pedophile. But methinks he is conveniently omitting some details as to his own liability in the whole mess.
Needless to say, it casts some doubt as to his whole testimony.
Why is JDV doing this anyway? Has he finally seen the light? Is he doing this to save face? To wash his hands a la Pontius Pilate? To claw his way back to relevancy?
Whatever his motivation is, I'm glad that JDV is speaking out and casting his support in favor of the impeachment complaint. There is nothing in his speech that we have not heard of before. But still, it's good that the people - the administration included - are reminded every so often of the sins of GMA. For one, it will put the administration on the defensive yet again. That is a good thing, given that the administration is trying to cram charter change down our throats, even if majority of Filipinos reject it. With the cha cha rejection and JDV's (non)exposé staring right at her face, *maybe* GMA will have an epiphany and decide to fade into the sunset. Exactly on June 30, 2010. Or resign before said date.
And who knows, maybe JDV might sway some of his house colleagues to vote for the impeachment, however miniscule the probability is.

Photo: Kevin Walsh, Flickr, Creative Commons

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Catholic Church's Reproductive Health Initiative

A Reuters report has this for a headline: Philippine Catholic Church drafts own population bill. It's an interesting read. It goes:

MANILA (Reuters) - Powerful Roman Catholic bishops in the Philippines are drafting their own version of a bill on maternal health care, rejecting a pending bill that also promotes artificial contraception.

Reverend Father Melvin Castro of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life said Thursday that the bishops have been working with lawmakers to draft an alternative to the population control bill pending in the lower house of Congress.

"It should not be labeled as a church bill," Castro told foreign correspondents in Manila. "There are so many Catholics there in Congress who are willing to sponsor the bill and the church is only helping draft it."

Castro said the bishops have rejected the current bill in Congress, describing it as unconstitutional and infringing on religious rights of most Filipinos. About 85 percent of nearly 90 million Filipinos are Roman Catholics.

"We would not allow a legislation that would allocate money from a majority of the taxpayers who are Catholics to be allocated to a program which is against their beliefs," he said, referring to provisions that promote artificial contraception.

The Philippines is already the world's 12th most populous country and is projected to have a population of over 140 million by 2040, putting a huge strain on its creaking health system, schools and other services, and its ability to feed itself.

The bill on maternal health care, which requires the government to promote artificial contraception if it becomes law, has become a battleground between the powerful church and activists in the staunchly Roman Catholic nation.

Some bishops have said they will refuse communion and other sacraments to politicians who support the bill. xxx
Three points in relation to the abovequoted article:
First point. With all due respect to our prelates, there is this little provision in the Constitution also known as separation of church and the state. Let me iterate that in passing a law, the lawmaker does not merely look at the interest of a particular RELIGIOUS group alone. More so if the bill will benefit the majority, especially those in the lower strata of our society. Okay, I'm not really a credible source, so let me quote Fr. Joaquin Bernas on this matter:
The fundamental fact of the matter is that our nation today is characterized by religious diversity more pronounced than when we first accepted a democratic system of government. We have chosen to reject the established church of Spanish times. But “We,” the sovereign people in the Preamble of our Constitution, who have covenanted to “establish a government that shall embody our ideals” are a people who, while firmly adhering to certain common ideals, are nevertheless divided in many vital matters, many of them flowing from religious belief. Hence for the purpose of maintaining unity amid diversity we have also covenanted to respect religious liberty within a system that institutionally divides church and state.
If a married Catholic woman does not want to avail of artificial contraceptives, she is free to do so. But she should not deprive the non-Catholic of availing these contraceptives by blocking H.B.5043 , just because they have differing opinions on the matter. That, I think, is the essence of the separation of church and state.

Second point. Again, with all due respect, the Catholic church - singing praises for natural family planning - has not even lifted a finger in disseminating the information about the method that they sacrosanctly uphold. No information about it in church bulletin boards or in homilies. Maybe parish priests feel queasy about discussing it because it's too intertwined with sex. Indeed, the only information related to family planning that the church propagates is "Go forth and multiply!" We all know where that will lead to.

Third point: I don't know, but refusal of communion and other sacraments to politicians who support the bill is such a childish tactic in my opinion. What about refusing communion to politicians who actually break the Ten Commandments: openly cohabiting with someone who is not his/her spouse, stealing people's money, ordering extrajudicial killings? I'm nitpicking, sure.

I'll stop at three - my parents might excommunicate me for blasphemy if I give more arguments.

May I just offer a humble suggestion to our church leaders. If you really believe that there is a groundswell of support for natural family planning and natural family planning alone, maybe you should do an Initiative. R.A. 6735, otherwise known as Initiative and Referendum Act, allows the people to directly enact a law. You don't even have to include congress. All you need is to prepare your petition; to get the signatures of at least 10% of the total number of the registered voters, of which every legislative district is represented by at least 3% of the registered voters thereof; and to register the same with COMELEC. With 85% of the Filipinos being Catholic, it shouldn't be hard for the church to get the needed signatures.

A parting shot: if the church exhibited the same fervor in denouncing graft and corruption, our country would be a much more moral place.

Photo: B Cleary, stock.xching

Friday, November 21, 2008

Attempt at Con-Ass Once More

A snippet of an Inquirer report, headlined Arroyo son leads Charter change move:
MANILA, Philippines—Charter change is gathering steam in the House of Representatives with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's eldest son, Pampanga Representative Juan Miguel "Mikey'' Arroyo personally leading a signature drive to amend the Constitution through a constituent assembly (Con-Ass).
Time is running out, and Jess Dureza's prayer will (second by slow second) mostly likely be unanswered (we have a merciful God, after all - although Dureza says that God has a lot of sense of humor. In which case, God might actually answer Dureza's prayer). Someone is probably getting desperate to stay in the high chair beyond 2010, wanting to leave no chance to the whims of God. Things can't be left to administration allies in Congress either - they wrecked the cha cha train many times before. Thus, taking matters into his own hands, presidential son Mikey is now leading the solicitation of signatures for another attempt at Con-Ass.  
Garapalan na 'to! 
Side Comment: I love how everyone, except the congressmen, calls the constituent assembly con-ass for short (solons prefer the more dignified consa). Double entrendre, harhar!

Photo: justinsomnia, Flickr, Creative Commons

This just in: I just read Ms. Tordesillas' recent post, right after finishing mine. It says: 

House Speaker Prospero Nograles, who authored the resolution, needs only 15 more signatures to meet the required 175 signatures, representing three-fourth of the House of Representatives to bring the resolution to the Committee on Constitutional Amendments, then to the plenary.

My post was tongue-in-cheek. But with the lower house just 15 votes short, this is no laughing matter anymore.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Tail Wagging the Dog

Malaya's Jake Macasaet published an article entitled Taking media for a ride two days ago. In this article, Macasaet says that Malacanang is encouraging the prosecution of former PNP comptroller Eliseo de la Paz in order to divert the attention of the people away from the much more damaging fertilizer fund scandal. 
[Joc Joc Bolante] might have lied through his teeth by design, of course. It is unfortunate that the senators could not pin him down. So far, he has appeared unscathed. And that is the way Malacañang wants to see the situation.

The concentration of the congressional inquiry on Dela Paz, the way he is being grilled and the way Malacañang has successfully evaded the issue so far by scantily talking about it either in defense of the man or in saying justice shall be done, is a successful way of getting the heat off Malacañang.

Media and the senators are being taken for a ride. The investigation of Joc Joc is more important. That of Dela Paz is not comparable to how Joc Joc squandered P728 million which could have provided us a little more food if the money had been spent for the farmers as programmed.

Media and the Senate are helping Malacañang cool off the Joc Joc scandal. We have forgotten the fact that Joc Joc did not act on his own in squandering the money. xxx

The stakes in the case of Joc Joc are too high. That is why the tricksters of Malacañang are busy at work. Unfortunately, media seems to be cooperating by focusing on Dela Paz and impeachment.

These issues are less important than getting Joc Joc to identify who authorized him to disburse the P728 million in taxpayers money intended for the farmers.
This reminds me of the movie Wag the Dog. In the film, The U.S. president's advisor (played by Robert de Niro) contracts a Hollywood producer (Dustin Hoffman) to "produce" a made-up war in Albania in which the U.S. subsequently intervenes. The reason for the elaborate hoax: to divert the attention of the media away from a sex scandal that the President is involved in.

What we have is like the scenario in Wag the Dog, only much more perverse. Instead of a good (albeit false) story covering up the bad, here in the Philippines, a bad story covers up a more repulsive one.

But with the current administration, what else is new?

Photo: Sammis Co, Flickr,Creative Commons

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Leadership Change in the Senate

I read it first in Ms.Ellen Tordesillas' blog: senator Juan Ponce Enrile is now the new senate president.
There are too many issues involved here, so I'm just gonna make some observations:
I'm no big fan of senator Manny Villar, but I think the primary reason for his ouster is in connection with the 2010 presidential elections.
With senator Enrile - a staunch GMA ally - at the helm, will this mean less Senate investigations of the anomalies of the current administration?
With Senator Allan Peter Cayetano relinquishing chairman of the Blue Ribbon Committee, what will happen to the inquiries regarding de la Paz, the fertilizer fund and the NBN-ZTE?
Senator Gringo Honasan was reportedly one of those who orchestrated the coup against Villar. Insert your punchline here.
It's a surprise that senator Jinggoy Estrada and senator Chiz Escudero voted for Enrile. Political affiliations are really a mystery to me. Is it because of convenience or of principles? Is the preceding question an obviously stupid one?
Photo: Rick Audet, Flickr, Creative Commons

Monday, November 17, 2008

Constitutional Change When Circumstances Change

There is a Malaya report the other day to the effect that our congressmen are attempting yet again to railroad proceedings on measures seeking changes to the 1987 Constitution.
At the resumption of the hearing of the House committee on constitutional amendments chaired by Rep. Victor Ortega (Kampi, La Union), Rep. Mauricio Domogan (Lakas, Baguio) moved to put to a vote the question of whether there is a need to change the Constitution.

"The motion is whether there’s a need for change or not. Obama or McCain?" Ortega asked the panel, obviously implying that voting for change is the best choice as proven in the recent US presidential election.
Ortega's insinuation is flawed, to say the least. There is a change for the better and a change for the worse. Obama won based on the change platform because of the perception that he will reverse the damaging policies of the bumbling Bush. The "change" that Ortega proposes will most likely result to more years of hellish GMA rule.
Naturally, any Constitutional revision will be met with skepticism, if not hostility. GMA has shown her ability to cling to power despite the odds. It is thus not an unfounded fear that GMA will take advantage of a Constitutional change to prolong her unwelcome stay as the head of the nation.
Our Constitution is not a perfect document. It has provisions which are either redundant, irrelevant or passé. It can use a little tweaking. Having said that, the million peso question is: should we change our Constitution?
Ask me in a couple of years.


Photo: lanuiop, Flickr, Creative Commons

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Spam Sunday: Men's national anthem

Barney's everyday nightmare.

If you're going to have a senior moment, make it memorable. Here is one example.

Innovative pillows for long lasting sex! Or is it a shrinker?

What to do with melamine-tainted milk? Well... make bricks out of them! Duh!

Batman wants its name back, and royalty fees as well.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Oust the Imp

GMA's penchant for committing impeachable offenses year in and year out never ceases to amaze me. And her actions reflect her unpopularity.
Being a popular president does not make him a good one. Being an unpopular president does not make her a bad one either. Indeed, a president has to make unpopular decisions when needed. But GMA is a special case. Her decisions are not favorably received because they are just patently wrong.

Do we have to endure two more years of her rule? Oust the Imp emphatically says NO: 
The more we say let’s just make Gloria finish her term, the more they rob and steal us of our monies. It’s time to expose Gloria’s transgressions against the People. Time to make her pay.
Why wait when there is an opportunity to banish her right now? To quote Rage Against the Machine:
It has to start somewhere,
It has to start sometime.
What better place than here?
What better time than now?
 Attention honorable congressmen!

Photo: Keith Bacongco, Flickr, Creative Commons

Friday, November 14, 2008

Binay and the Presidency

Makati City Mayor Jejomar “Jojo” Binay just announced his intent to run for president in the 2010 national elections. The question is, does he have the goods to be the next president of the country?
My two main criteria for choosing the president (or any elective official, for that matter) are integrity and competency. Having integrity, the most important trait for a public official, is the quickest way to gain the trust and confidence of the people. With the people's trust, a president will have an easier time in leading the country forward. Take away integrity and we'll have another Gloria rule. Competency is important as well. Would you trust an albularyo to perform your open heart surgery? In the same way, would you trust someone to be the president if he doesn't know what he's doing?
With regard to competency, Jejomar Binay has proven himself, in my opinion. It is not an accident that Makati is still the premier city in Metro Manila, if not the Philippines. Sure, you can argue that cosmopolitan Makati will still be Makati without Binay. I say that Makati can easily become the next old Manila (with the urban blight and all) if it's not run well. Keeping Makati as it is requires careful planning and development. That can be attributed to Binay.
Observe how traffic rules are strictly followed; how MAPSA, Makati's traffic enforcers, are respected (at least more respected than the MMDA); how ordinances are implemented (e.g. on smoking); how trash is regularly collected; how tanod men are roving the streets at night. For Makati residents, they have green cards, in which they can avail of discounts in establishments (even in hospitals); better infrastructure; well-run public schools; school supplies for students; great benefits for senior citizens (free movie passes, among others, I think). In short, Binay has turned Makati into a well-oiled machine. That is a mark of a good administrator.
In sum, his qualifications are formidable as opposed to the other presidentiables, whose qualifications are more apparent than real (some are going to run armed only with weak track records, even weaker soundbites and lots of money to pay for PR).
However, Binay's integrity is suspect. There are whispers of graft and corruption in Makati (as to the veracity of such, I cannot say). Also, Binay's close association with the Erap camp turns off some who want the Philippines to have a fresh start (comparisons to Obama are laughable). Having said that, Binay's loyalty to Erap can be turned into a positive amidst rampant turncoatism in political circles. His loyalty - in a time when many of his brethren have changed allegiances as quickly as they change their underpants - may be a redeeming quality for voters.
All in all, he can make a good presidentt. I, for one, have not yet placed him in my Do Not Vote list.
As to the question of whether he can win, or if he will even get the support needed to run (as per Emmanuel Pasyon), that is an altogether different matter.

Photo: barrera_marquez2003, Flickr, Creative Commons

Joc Time in the Senate

I heard bits and pieces of the Senate hearing of the fertilizer fund scam yesterday over the radio, and I *almost* felt sorry for former Department of Agriculture assistant secretary Montes and undersecretary Joc Joc Bolante.
A Senate hearing is worse than appearing before a court. It is even worse than appearing before the Supreme Court. At least in the Supreme Court, the questions are limited to the issues of the case. Not so in a Senate hearing. A senator (or all 23 of them) can ask a person under oath about practically anything.  As shown in the hearing yesterday, a witness' canned responses (e.g. that is based on my personal knowledge; I do not know anything about it; etc) are no match for the senators' burning questions.
But as for Bolante, the senators could not quite pin him down. He was as slippery as a snake, wriggling his way out of questions when he obviously knew the answers. In one sequence, Senator Aquilino Pimentel (I think) asked Joc Joc the names of the people who availed of the fertilizer fund. Joc Joc said he didn't know. Senator Pimentel then mentioned some names for Joc Joc to identify: "Do you know congressman X of Ilocos? Do you know congressman Y of Cebu? Do you know congressman Jose de Venecia of Pangasinan?
Joc Joc seemed to have developed amnesia as he answered that he did not know the people being mentioned,  not even congressman Jose de Venecia of Pangasinan (In fact, the had developed such a severe case of amnesia that he forgot Rotary's - his favorite social club's - four-way test, when he was previously asked of the same).
An exasperated Pimentel then blurted out, "Have you been living in Mars?" or something to that effect.
I almost pitied Bolante until I had to remind myself that he was most certainly hiding something, had evaded Senate questioning for two years and had been preparing for this moment since then. The fleeting feeling of pity was then dismissed just as easily as Joc Joc's empty answers.

Photo: david drexler, Flickr, Creative Commons

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Grasp the Nettle, Eliseo de la Paz

Malaya reports that the Senate ordered the arrest of retired PNP Comptroller "Eliseo dela Paz for snubbing the summons issued by the Senate foreign relations committee which is conducting a probe into the so-called euro generals." This stemmed from the fact that de la Paz did not show up at the Senate inquiry on October 23, prompting Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, committee chair, to order his arrest.
Mr. de la Paz, if I were you, I would not dilly-dally. It only gives the impression that you are buying time to hide your guilt. As Proverbs 28:1 says: The wicked run when no one is chasing them, but an honest person is as brave as a lion.

Photo: Corey Leopold, Flickr, Creative Commons

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Little Courtesy

Armando Doronilla has an analysis in the Inquirer entitled "Snubs Show Obama is No U.S. Friend." He goes on to say:
In the first blush of victory, US President-elect Barack Obama accepted congratulations from nine presidents and prime ministers and returned their calls. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, one of the numerous early callers, was not one of the chosen few.


The sidelining of the Arroyo call gave a glimpse of the importance of the Philippines to the United States at a moment of change of administration.

It is clear that the Philippines stands on the outer perimeter of US concerns in world affairs.

The first telephone conversations reveal the Philippines is not within the charmed circles of the Obama administration. It is a leper outside looking in.

It is imperative that Manila should rearrange its priorities vis-à-vis Washington. Obama is not our friend.
I don't think we have to over-analyze this issue. The Philippines is not that relevant a country in the international scene, so our president's call may not be as important that of the France's president. Or Obama may think that GMA is a Republican symphatizer - given that GMA practically swoons everytime she and Bush get within 5 five feet of each other. Or Obama may have read of GMA and he doesn't like her and her policies. I can't blame him - majority of the Filipinos do not like her and her policies.
Whatever the reason is, I don't think we have to fret.
Call me naive, but maybe this snub will even do us some good. The U.S. has become the political crutch of every Philippine President. Remember Erap? I thought he was not going to seek the favors of the U.S. (He voted against the US bases in 1991, after all). But surprisingly, one of his first moves as president was to actively push for the Visiting Forces Agreement. So what if Obama is not a friend? As far as I can recall, we have long ceased to be a colony of the U.S. And as far as I can recall, our U.S. president-friends haven't actually done us good that much.
Oh sure, The U.S. gives a lot of dole outs to the Philippines, but sometimes, these are not gratuitous giveaways. Sometimes, these dole outs are so onerous that we usually are on the losing end of the bargain. We have to remember that U.S. is not our only ally. Maybe this is a good time for the Philippines to foster our friendship with other countries, especially our South East Asian neighbors.
And with this situation, maybe the tibak groups will give a rest the oft-used and abused placards saying No to American Imperialism. It's about time they outgrow that mantra.
Photo: ZenRNforObama, Photobucket

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Spam Sunday: Presidential Contest - Pokemon Style

Herr Hitler meets Donatella Versace. I wonder what she thinks of her new president-elect...

Good at sudoku? Try this.

Planning to open up a business despite the bad times? Fear not.

Used panties vending machine in Japan is not an urban legend. What is it with Japanese and their fetish for used panties anyway?. If you're ever in Japan and you want to buy yourself some, here are the directions.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

What To Do with the Fertilizer Fund and the Beneficiaries?

I'm glad that Senator Aquilino Pimentel is putting into question all those who may have gotten involved in the Fertilizer Fund scam. Malaya reports that Sen. Pimentel "sought the inclusion of around 100 former and incumbent congressmen who received a share of the P728 million fertilizer fund" in the Senate Blue Ribbon committee probe.

But will this be an exercise in futility when the Senate cannot even get hold of Joc Joc Bolante? As Booma Cruz of Vera Files reports:
Experts predict a whitewash or coverup in the investigation on former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc Joc” Bolante, with the Arroyo administration apparently shielding him from media scrutiny and the Ombudsman sitting on recommendations that he be charged in court.
If getting Joc Joc to attend Senate hearings is like pinning Jello to a wall, what more our wily congressmen? If the Ombudsman has delayed hearing Bolante's case for  years, how long will the congressmen's cases be delayed? Would the Ombudsman even dare touch our congressmen?

Be that as it may, it's good that Pimentel is making some noise about this thing, to make the people  involved know that not everyone is indifferent. It's good to keep the ball rolling, in the hopes that it may lead to something productive and decisive.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Miriam Doesn't Make it to the ICJ

Here's an excerpt of the report by the Inquirer:
The country has lost its bid for a seat in the International Court of Justice to Somalia, the Philippine Mission to the United Nations said in an e-mailed statement to media.
"Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago's bid for a seat in the ICJ came to an unsuccessful end on Thursday (Friday morning in Manila) but not after the Philippine candidate came up with a good fight that forced voting to go on for the entire day," the Mission said.
That's too bad...
The Philippines would have done away with a big headache had Miriam left the Senate for the ICJ....

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Lost Art of Public Speaking

What about Barack Obama's victory speech, huh? Simply beautiful. Watching him deliver the speech is an even more riveting experience. Granted, he probably read from a teleprompter when he delivered the speech. But he is an outstanding orator, even without any aids or cue cards - he had proven that in the presidential debates against John McCain. A New York Times article intimates that Obama was already a great public speaker before he became a politician:
Standing in his favorite classroom in the austere main building, sharp-witted students looming above him, Mr. Obama refined his public speaking style, his debating abilities, his beliefs.
In the Philippines there are only a few orators who come to mind: Chiz Escudero, Joker Arroyo and Teddyboy Locsin. Other than those three, I can't think of anyone else. Our president definitely isn't (I am sorry speech, anyone?).
President-elect Obama's oratorical skills is even magnified when compared to the outgoing president's. Bush Jr. has got to be one of the worst speakers ever. Youtube has tons of videos showing Dubya's gaffes. The video below is just one example.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

U.S. Election Results 2008

It's over, Barack Obama wins.
Obama garnered a whopping 338 349 electoral votes (270 are needed to win) over John McCain's 141 163 to become the 44th President of the United States. McCain has graciously accepted the result. He said, "Today, I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much, and tonight, I remain her servant."
For Obama, winning the presidential race is the easy part. The hard part comes next - which is actually leading his country.
For the next four years, Obama will have his hands full. He would have to deal with the economic crisis that the U.S. is currently experiencing; the troops in Iraq; foreign relations; the energy/oil siuation;  the budget deficit; healthcare and taxes. I don't expect any radical changes happening in the near future, but I believe positive changes will happen during his term. He can't do any worse than Dubya, can he?

The Credit Information System Law

Last week, GMA signed into law R.A. 9510 or the Credit Information System Law. As reported in Sun Star, the law "aims to ensure the credibility of credit standing borrowers. The law also establishes the Central Credit Information Corporation that would oversee the compiling of data from all financial institutions in an effort to facilitate creditworthiness checks."
I haven't read the new statute in full, but the general idea of an institutionalized credit information system is a welcome development, especially for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Collectively, SMEs are a major economic force in the Philippines. They comprise about 98 percent of the country’s businesses and employs about 70 percent of the work force.
But taken singly, a small-time entrepreneur usually has a hard time obtaining capital for a business. Banks are usually loathe to grant loans to small businessmen, because the cost and the effort to process a P1 million loan is more or less the same as that of a P10 million loan. The businessman, strapped for cash, usually resorts to friends for loans (if he's lucky) or to loan sharks (if he's unlucky).
With the credit information system in place, a person can build his credit standing over time. And with the sharing of information, the banks can process the loans faster and with less risk to themselves. For the lendee, this means that he can obtain the loans more quickly, and may possibly be granted a lower interest rate if his credit standing is good. It's basically a win-win situation.
In the press release of the government website, R.A. 9510's salient features include:
* The establishment of a Credit Information Corporation (CIC) with the primary mandate to receive and consolidate basic credit data and to act as a central registry of credit information which will provide access to reliable standardized information on credit history and financial condition of borrowers;

* The allocation of 60 percent of the total common share of the corporation in favor of the national government and the remaining 40 percent to be owned and held by qualified investors such as industry associations of banks, quasi-banks and other credit related associations.

The amount of P75 million will be provided by the national government in the General Appropriations Act representing its equity share and the P50 million to be subscribed and paid up by qualified investors;

* The designation of a chairperson of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as chairman of the 15-men board of directors of the corporation. The directors representing the government shares shall be appointed by the President;

* Strict confidentiality of credit information is to be maintained by the corporation, the submitting entities, the accessing entities, outsource entities. The special accessing entities and duly authorized non-accessing entities;

* The SEC shall act as the lead government agency to implement and enforce the provisions of RA 9510 and shall submit an annual report to Congress on its implementation status;

* The law is not meant to be an exception to the Bank Secrecy Law (BSL) because confidential information under the Law of Secrecy of bank Deposits, Foreign Currency Deposit Act, General Banking Law and the Anti-Money Laundering Law are expressly excluded from the information to be shared in the system.
What are the drawbacks for the law? The sharing of information is usually a red flag as regards our right to privacy. But we still have to see if there would actually be an improper intrusion or not.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Coffee For Your Vote

If Americans still aren't enticed to go out and vote later, maybe this bit of information will entice them: Starbucks shows its civic duty (and marketing savvy) by giving away a cup of coffee to people who will vote on the 4th. Their tagline: If you care enough to vote, we care enough to give you a free cup of coffee.

Ba't walang ganyan dito sa Pinas?

Monday, November 3, 2008

The World Poll

My mini-poll (right side of the screen) currently shows Barack Obama leading John McCain 9-3, with 1 abstention. Not surprising really, as the Gallup polls reveal that world citizens prefer Obama to McCain by more than 3-to-1.
What is surprising is that in the Philippines, more people prefer McCain over Obama. An Inquirer article about a week ago states:
A Gallup Poll survey conducted in the Philippines in late May found 28 percent of respondents endorsing Republican John McCain -- and only 20 percent in favor of Democrat Barack Obama. A slim majority, 52 percent, had no opinion or refused to respond.

The Philippines thus earned a distinction as one of a handful of countries – the others include Georgia, Laos and Cambodia – where McCain is more popular than Obama.
Anyway, I prefer Obama, because of several reasons. I found this article in Dail Mail that pretty much sums up the reasons for my preference.

You Do the Math

Some piece of good news...
Malaya reports that "THE Philippines won 39 medals including two golds at the 2008 International Mathematics Competition (IMC) held in Chiang Mai, Thailand Oct. 25-31."
Those who brought home the gold were Ma. Czarina Angela Lao of St. Jude Catholic School and Philippine Team A composed of Geraldine Baniqued of St. Paul College Pasig; Carmela Antoinette Lao of St. Jude Catholic School; Aileen Giselle Chua of Grace Christian High School and Jillian Kristel Sy of Chiang Kai Shek College.
The 39 medal haul is an improvement from last year's 14. Galing!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Spam Sunday: Yes we can

My choice:

Ever wondered what will become of the Oval Office if Palin becomes the President? Click here.

Women peeing standing up
? What the....

Chihuahua cheese in your quesadillas...really.

Your digital camera actually has some practical uses! Here!

Divorce, Cambodia style! Each spouse gets half the house, literally.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Tried and Tested Population Policy

What is the Philippines' preferred method of family planning? Anthony Roda shares this anecdote:
In one United Nations meeting on population management, the delegates from different countries had the chance to state their population policies:

The ambassador of China said, “Your excellencies, in our country, we have a policy to STOP AT 1 CHILD.”

It was the turn of the ambassador of Singapore and he said, “We might not have a strict policy like that in China, but we STOP AT 2 CHILDREN.”

The Filipino ambassador stood and said, “In the Philippines, your excellencies, we STOP AT 4.

The other delegates were amazed, and one ambassador said, “Really? We thought that the Church is very strong in opposing population control or management policies, including that of family planning?”

The Filipino ambassador replied, “Don’t get me wrong, your excellencies. In the Philippines, we STOP AT 4 a.m. copulating.”
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