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The J Spotter

Personal insights from the J Spot author J. Angelo Racoma
( this site has moved to http://jangelo.racoma.net )

The J Spotter » Archives

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Pat Evangelista: CRAZED--Filipino Idol

This is an article published in the 22 October 2004 edition of the Philippine Star (sadly, the Star does not make available its archives online, but you may click here for the Google cache). It makes one, especially a Filipino, think, are we really awful? Are we really a country with awful politics, awful places, awful traffic, awful, awful people. I'd think we do indeed have awful politics and awful traffic! But awful people? I guess we do have a handful of awful people. But what country doesn't?

- Angelo

Filipino Idol
CRAZED By Patricia Chanco Evangelista
The Philippine STAR 10/22/2004

I went to London last May to represent the Philippines in the International Public Speaking Competition. I gave a speech that celebrated the Filipino identity, telling the world that being Filipino is something that must never be denied.

When I competed in the local eliminations, they gave us the topic "A Borderless World." It was inevitable, at least for me, to speak about the Filipino Diaspora. It's true, I was out to win, and I used a feeling that is very much alive in the Philippines today: condemnation.

We have a family friend who used to be close to us. She and her family sent all their kids to America to a better life, a better future. It hurt to have them leave, but people are entitled to their choices. They came back a couple of years ago. They invited us to dinner, and so there we were in their living room, along with their brand-new furniture and 50-inch flat-screen TV. The adults started talking about the Philippines at least our old friend did. She said that she is glad, so glad, that her children have been saved from this god-awful country of ours. A country with awful politics, awful places, awful traffic, awful, awful people.

Im a Filipino. Im one of those "awful" people. And I was outraged.

I didnt say anything then. What could I say? But when the competition gave me the platform to speak about a borderless world, I spoke I said everything I wished I said years ago. I was like a madman on a soapbox, I condemned the Filipinos who chose to leave, said they deserved to be pushed down the road to hell on a handcart. Traitors and turncoats, I called them.

And I won obviously not because of content. Sabi ko nga, angas, kaya minsan. Sometimes confidence can save the day. I still blush when I remember what happened. In London, I didnt win on my own. I was lucky enough to be under the tutelage of some of the best minds in the country. Great writers like Krip Yuson, Gemino Abad, Butch Dalisay, Boo Chanco and Ed Maranan, along with former ambassador Ed Espiritu took me under their wing. They never told me what to do or say – I would never have said what I did in the finals if I didnt reach that conclusion on my own. They asked me questions, listened to what I said, and opened my eyes to a less narrow and more holistic perspective.

I almost didnt go to London. Money is tight, and asking for government support at a time like this is difficult, close to impossible. However, it is a wonderful thing to have corporations such as Shell Philippines who believe in giving back to the country. They sent me to London with a ticket, a smile and a "good luck." Like I said, I as lucky.

With the support of so many people, family, friends and the grace of God, I won. Hey, Im Filipino. I went home with cameras at my face and questions like: "How does it feel to put the Philippines on the map?" I was 18, and I have to admit, I was thrilled. Im not the first Filipino to win, and Im not going to be the last. But unlike a lot of winners, I have something else going for me. My mentors and relatives are some of the most prolific writers in the country, and they made d@mn sure people knew what I did. In other words, I have built-in publicity. Cool, huh?

The other day, I was reading the paper and found the story of an 11-year-old girl named Faye. It was a paid ad by Bread of Life Ministries. "Unknown to her countrymen, this 11-year-old girl brought honor to the Philippines. She represented the country two weeks ago in the Intercontinental Science Quiz Net in Australia. Out of 57 countries represented, Faye garnered first place for the Philippines. Germany came in second, the United States came third."

Faye's story is an extraordinary one. Given financial constraints, especially since her mother was raising Faye on her own, they went to various congressmen for aid. Only one was willing to help them in exchange for the senator taking credit for the childs former achievements (and there were many). Her mother did what any self-respecting mother would have, she refused. Mother and daughter went to Australia by dint of their own savings. They collected her "Best in Physics" award in Brisbane and moved on to Sydney for the Quiz. They were aided by none other than a "kind" Filipina on the plane, who very kindly stole their luggage, passports and plane tickets, leaving the pair with carry-on luggage. They sold their clothes for food, and begged for help from Filipino officials. They were given an overnight stay in a hotel, but no more. They had to check out the next day, and with no money for transportation, they walked the two kilometers to the tournament site.

They were shocked by the sight that faced them. Each competitor had his own cheering squad, a band and a flag. Young Faye had no one other than her mother. In the final round, Faye was the only Asian left competing and was cheered on to victory by her fellow Asians, the Japanese. It was a Japanese diplomat who helped them secure temporary passports, with the prize money only sufficient to bring them back home.

It is tempting to blame everything on a country that claims it is looking for heroes and does not acknowledge them. The article draws parallels to Jasmine Trias victory, why give the Hawaiian winner of America Idol the red carpet to Malacanang, when a homegrown 11-year-old girl went through hell and high water to bring honor to the country? After the Southeast Asian Games, there was no one, not a single member of the National Sports Commission to receive our athletes. True, they did not win but they faced their competitors with a dignity and a skill that befit Filipinos. They too represented the country.

It is tempting to revert back to the old Filipino condemnation. Awful politicians, awful government, awful people. But it would not be fair. Faye herself said, in spite of everything, "let us love our nation, for no one else will." Brave girl that.

I was lucky to be at the right time and the right place, to have the support of so many people, bringing me the opportunities I have today. Some people are not so lucky. I do not deny Jasmine Trias' moment in the sun. Her talent is as real as anyone else's and we Filipinos love the glitz and glamour of spotlights and cameras. Yet her success has drawn a stark contrast to those who have succeeded yet were not recognized.

Butch Jimenez, one of the greatest speakers I have heard and another of those people who see the value of giving to the country, gave a speech to the graduates of UP Diliman. He said that theres something better than having a vision: its having a cause.

I found my cause. I was lucky to get the attention. I am grateful for the recognition. I am honored by the chance to speak my mind and to influence people. I cannot say that enough. Helping this one girl, and others like her will be my cause. It is disgraceful for such victory to go unnoticed. One article may not make a difference, but its a step.

For all those times that no one said it, I say this now.

Faye, congratulations. You did the country proud.

MLQIII Op/Ed: Sweat of a Woman

Manuel L. Quezon III writes on the olfactory sense.

The Long View : Sweat of a woman

Updated 09:38pm (Mla time) Oct 27, 2004
By Manuel L. Quezon III
Inquirer News Service

Editor's Note: Published on page A13 of the October 28, 2004 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

An excerpt:

But here's a juicy tidbit to end things: "For those of exquisite sensuality, there is nothing headier than the musky smell of a loved one moist with sweat. But natural body odors don't strike most of us as particularly enticing. In the Elizabethan Age, lovers exchanged 'love apples' -- a woman would keep a peeled apple in her armpit until it was saturated with her sweat, and then give it to her sweetheart to inhale."

Read more here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Rene Jarque: Reforming the Armed Forces

Retired Captain Rene Jarque writes on the need to reform the Armed Forces of the Philippines. While this dates back to late 2003, this may still be relevant at this time especially in view of the corruption scandals the military top brass are currently facing.

An excerpt:

No amount of lessons in democracy nor instilling the concept of civilian authority over the military can prevent another military mutiny or coup attempt in the future. Only by reforming the Armed Forces and creating a professional and honest Officer Corps can we be assured that the military will know its rightful place in a democratic society. For the sake of the country and our people, for our children and posterity, the Armed Forces of the Philippines must be reformed.

Read full text here.

Relatedly, another paper by Capt. Jarque, "The Fact-Finding Commission Report And The Armed Forces In Philippine Politics," deals with the Report of the Fact Finding Commission to investigate the Oakwood Incident (links here and here) and discusses what the report says and does not say, and looks at the role of the Armed Forces in Philippine politics describing a politicized AFP amidst an unstable political situation and the need for both military and government reform.

An excerpt:

It is the people who elect the political leaders and it is unfortunate that many of our people do not know much where they want to go and what they want and then choose the right leaders who will lead them there. Due to the indifference of a majority of our people, we have all become victims of a political system that is ruled by patronage and populism. To correct this, we must all act together to first, understand what is happening and then, to do something about it. We owe it to ourselves and to our children that the military and the government is transformed to a better one than it is today. In the people reside the strength to change and the building of a true democracy. However, we cannot change government by always taking to the streets and staging people power for it shows how fragile our democratic processes are and that we, as a people, have not matured from mob rule. Personally, I am not discouraging people power because when the political system fails and the rulers continue to be corrupt and rule irresponsible and government does not listen and act, it is in all event the only way to go.

Read full text here.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Joey Alarilla: Surviving the Zeroes

Being a father to a one year and four-month old daughter, I surely can relate to this essay!

From INQ7.net: Joey Alarilla, an INQ7.net contributing editor, won third prize for Essay (English Division) in the 2004 Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature. "Surviving the Zeroes" is dedicated to his wife Ellen and daughter Sam, without whom this essay, his first Palanca award and daily existence itself would not be possible.

An excerpt from Surviving the Zeroes:

Welcome to the Zeroes and the future that our children are building today. More than any other generation that came before it, the children born during the Zeroes (also known as the 00s, Zero Years or, my personal favorite, the Oh-Ohs) will be called upon to build a new world and create the rules for surviving in it. They are the first generation whose formative years will be shaped by pervasive technology, whether in our homes or in our offices (which, in my case, are one and the same). They are the true children of the digital age -- not we who may have embraced the information technology revolution but whose roots are firmly embedded in the analog world.

Read Joey's prize-winning essay here.

Joey narrates, in his blog, how he discovered he had won the Palanca.

2004 Palanca Winners.

** Updated as of 1515H 24-Oct-04 (revised links).

INQ7.net: Mixed Media : A Blog or Not a Blog: Is that the Question?

Sylvia Mayuga writes on the issue on INQ7.net's Talking Points.

An excerpt:

A FUNNY thing happened on INQ7’s way to creating a “more interactive” medium with the new Viewpoints column "Talking Points," intended “to share knowledge, insights and opinions on topics vital to the planet.”

We hit a squall a few hours after setting sail, strangely enough, from some of the local Filipino pioneers in the now wildly popular global media format called weblogging, a.k.a. “blogging,” that we’ve been tracking (and lauding).


Read more here.

** Update as of 1530H 24-Oct-04:
Posted as a comment on Pinoyblog by A Sassy Lawyer

Relevant links :

my response to Mayuga, Cathy's take, Willie Galang's reaction and Stepping on Poop's reply.

What started it

Bloggers' move


Links issue.

William Esposo's High Ground: The “Perfect Storm” that is about to hit the Philippines

COPA's Billy Esposo writes on impending crises in his column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

An excerpt:

Extreme poverty and hopelessness, the continued burden of rising costs, the utter lack of faith of people in their leaders, crime and corruption, the fiscal crisis — all these are combining in a force and fury crying out to explode in a perfect storm.


It is a given that any country, government or leader will encounter crisis. But for a country to have the magnitude of this crisis and the lack of quality of the leadership that has been inflicted upon us at this time – now that is a matter for serious concern.

Read more here.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

The Hot Water Bottle by Helen Roseveare

God works in mysterious ways. I received an email from a colleague with this story. While it was quite simple, it exemplifies how the almighty can intervene in human affairs through the kindness of people.

An excerpt:

As often with children's prayers, I was put on the spot. Could I honestly say, "Amen?" I just did not believe that God could do this. Oh, yes, I know that He can do everything: The Bible says so, but there are limits, aren't there? The only way God could answer this particular prayer would be by sending a parcel from the homeland. I had been in Africa for almost four years at that time, and I had never, ever received a parcel from home.


Helen Roseveare a doctor missionary from England to Zaire, Africa, told this as it had occurred to her in Africa. She shared it in her testimony on a Wednesday night at Thomas Road Baptist Church.

Jose Ma. Montelibano on the Armed Forces scandal

Received this through the COPA-NET e-group. This is for Jose Ma. Montelibano's (of COPA) Glimpses column to be published in tomorrow's Philippine Daily Inquirer.

COPA is Council On Philippine Affairs, an advocacy group whose mission is to motivate Filipinos to BE INFORMED, BE CONCERNED, and BE INVOLVED in nation-building guided by the highest collective good. COPA is engaged in a continuing monitoring of essential and critical developments in the Philippines, offers key decision makers the benefit of its observations and recommendations, and may often provide pro-active leadership to agents and disciples of meaningful and sustainable change in Philippine affairs.
(Click here to download the COPA primer)

** Edited as of 22 October 2004. Here's the link to the PDI article.

Their Cups Runneth Over
Jose Ma. Montelibano

It was too good to be kept a secret. What is the use of amassing wealth, no matter how hidden, when it cannot be enjoyed? And that is the heart of corruption, that its fruits will somehow be enjoyed by the corrupt.

By their fruits you shall know them, the good book says. The Filipino people had long seen the scandalous lifestyle of public officials who forget that the citizens they serve largely wallow in poverty and deprivation. Before global monitoring agencies like Transparency International had tracked the shocking degradation of Philippine governance to being one of the most corrupt in the world, the Filipino people knew their own leaders were stealing from government coffers. By their fruits, the people know them.

Knowing and exposing, though, are two different things. One is an inward process, while the other is crossing the line of personal safety to heroism, or recklessness. There have been few successful exposes that have actually achieved their desired endings. In some cases, the whistle blower is himself or herself counter-accused as a form of harassment, just as Jun Tagun and Acsa Ramirez experienced. In most other cases, the legal process extends itself beyond the life span of the key players.

Thus, it is serendipitous, or divine intervention, when an ugly truth is exposed without any effort of local authorities to do so, or perhaps,
despite the effort of authorities to sweep it under the rug. How poetic that the laws of another country that is too attractive to pass up by those who have the secret funds to spend will be the cause of exposing long suspected corruption in high places. This is precisely what the anti-money laundering law intends to do, if it still has the teeth to do so after our honorable legislators got through with the proposed draft bill.

A mere general in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, an institution accused by some of its young officers as unable to afford sturdy and
reliable boots for their foot soldiers, is determined by official US Customs records to have brought into the United States the equivalent of more than 40 million pesos. This was done through mostly his wife and sons. Scandalous?

Perhaps, but not as scandalous as the Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard which cost a billion to construct despite the fact that it is only a few kilometers in length. When wholesale looting is performed almost publicly, what with approvals coming not just from the Board of the Public Estates Authority but from the board of banks and even from the Office of the President, what is so deplorable about a general carting away tens of millions to the United States?

After all, a general gets to where he is by going through a long and often dangerous process. It can take thirty years for a general to head a sensitive, and lucrative, post in the AFP, while it only needs the right connection and a lucky appointment for once private citizens to become board members of government owned or controlled corporations where they can dip their sticky fingers. With trillions being owed by Napocor over the decades that its officers and bureaucrats ransacked its treasury, what is 40 million pesos being smuggled out of the Philippines by the family of a general?

It will become a circus in the Congress again as investigations in aid of legislation will be viewed over television. Once more, the Filipino public will be treated to a grotesque vaudeville of graft and corruption in government through one of its strategic institutions, the AFP. And once more the spectacle will leave a bitter aftertaste which one day will find its own dangerous overflow.

What will be ironic will not be the expected grandstanding of some lawmakers but the stove calling the kettle black. How hilarious it will then be when one of the most corrupt institutions in people’s minds will be implying the same to a fellow government organization. Indeed, elections are not the only diversion of a people’s discontent and frustration - legislative hearings can also serve the same purpose.

An honest-to-goodness lifestyle check will send many officials to jail. Grafters can become the most dominant of criminals in the prison system, what with the Philippines being rated as the 11th most corrupt nation in the world and one of the most populous. However, lifestyle checks in this country will turn out to be selective, very selective. If not, they can turn out to be very bad for one’s health.

It will not take a whistle-blower to rid the motherland of thieves in high places. It will not even be the courts or formal justice system. When the rot has infected every branch of government, then only an enraged people can begin and end the cleansing process. Or, a few self-appointed messiahs with guns and guts will simply take over. It is not an easy choice, but one that will be made sooner than later.

Have things gone from bad to worse in our beloved Philippines? Not necessarily so. Bringing ugliness to the light can be the purification that rot and decay need to be reborn. The foul odor can be swept away by gusts of fresh air that nature supplies as a gesture of kindness to a mankind that is not as gracious. In the end, transparency rids the spirit and the heart of unnecessary baggage, even if this means millions of pesos or dollars.

The whole leadership and elite structure of the Philippines is on trail. A dirty AFP could also mean a dirty PNP, and a dirty Congress, and a dirty judiciary. It could be dirty all over, and the thieves having stolen so much that their dens are not enough to store their loot. The general’s cup runneth over, and his undeclared wealth burst through hidden vaults. What about the others whose cups runneth over as well? When will we get to see the fruits of their labor?

And what do we do then?

This article (c) Jose Ma. Montelibano, 2004.

MozzillaZine: Mozilla and Other Browsers Vulnerable to Tabbed Browsing Spoofing AttackThe

An excerpt from an article posted in MozillaZine on 20 October 2004:

Mozilla and Other Browsers Vulnerable to Tabbed Browsing Spoofing Attack

Wednesday October 20th, 2004

Secunia has issued an advisory regarding tabbed browsing spoofing vulnerabilities in the Mozilla series of browsers. One spoof involves persuading the user to open a link to a trusted site in a new tab and then opening a JavaScript input box that appears to come from the trusted site when it actually sends its data back to the trickster. Another flaw again requires the user to open a link to a trusted site in a new tab, though this time the spoofer uses JavaScript to continually move focus back to a form field on the malicious page without causing the active tab to change from the trusted site. This means that a user who tries to enter form data on the trusted page will instead be passing information to the attacker. Slashdot has an article about this latest spoofing flaw, which also covers other browser holes published by Secunia today. According to Secunia's original tabbed browsing vulnerability advisory, the Mozilla Foundation was informed on October 4th, sixteen days ago.

Read more here.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Reaching Across the Lines: AdMU's Fr. Nebres addresses DLSU graduates

... And so, my dear graduates, choose to join and to give hope. Choose to care and to hope.

In the midst of your intense pursuit of career and success, remember your inner circle and give time to your family, your friends, your God.

Believe in the miracle of the loaves and fishes -- the seemingly little that you offer can help feed a multitude.

And yes, it will come back to you a hundredfold. For the wonder of gifts from the heart is that, as with the miracle of the loaves and the fishes, they are not diminished, but grow in the giving.

These were the concluding lines of Fr. Ben Nebres' speech during the 9 October 2004 Commencement exercises of the De La Salle University, upon DLSU's conferring upon him the degree of Doctor of Science in Science Development, honoris causa. While there's nothing strange about priests being granted honorary degrees, this one is definitely something to think about. Fr. Nebres is the current president of the Ateneo de Manila University, DLSU's arch-rival.

I was emailed a copy of the speech by the Ateneo Alumni Affairs Office today (yes, I'm an Atenean, not a true-blue one, though, since I only attended High School at AdMU). So was EJ, my colleague and division-mate (katabi ko sa office cubicle: now here's a true-blue Atenean). Imagine our surprise as we read the introduction,

Please find below Fr. Nebres's address to the graduates at DLSU last October 9, 2004 on the occasion of his receiving an Honorary Doctorate in Science for work in science education. Fr. Nebres is the fourth Jesuit to receive an honorary doctorate from DLSU. The others were: Fr. Leo A. Cullum, S.J. in 1959, Fr. James J. Meany, S.J. in 1967 and Fr. Jose A Cruz, S.J. in 1984. Dr. Mary Racelis Hollnsteiner also received an honorary degree in 1976.

I reckon that quite a number of Ateneans and Lasallians, both, found this quite interesting. It's surely a good way to reach across the Eagles-Archers border, in contrast to the mostly hostile, confrontational, and/or competitive rivalry between the two schools. As stated in the blog Nate on the Net, " This One's For Ripley's: DLSU Confers Honorary Degree on ADMU President."

Click here for a copy of the speech.

The Sassy Lawyer on the right against self-incrimination

The Sassy Lawyer writes on the right against self-incrimination, with reference to General Carlos F. Garcia's infamous line "I’m sorry, your honor, I cannot answer your question. I would like to invoke my constitutional right against self-incrimination," (quoting the Manila Times).

The Philippine Daily Inquirer in its 19 October 2004 headline story, cites House Minority Leader Francis Escudero as stating in an exasperated manner that "You have claimed no less than probably 30 or 50 times your right against self-incrimination. For the record, sir, are you protecting your right against incrimination or the interests of others to be incriminated?" Garcia stammered with his reply: "Your Honor, I would like to make it clear that I am invoking my right against self-incrimination."

Personally, and knowing how corrupt Philippine institutions can be, I tend to agree with Congressman Escudero's speculation that Garcia is not only protecting himself, but most likely also others in the military who may be involved in corrupt practices of some sort.

An excerpt from the Sassy Lawyer's post:

Too often, we underestimate the power of public opinion. But in a country where traditional insitutions court favorable public opinion--by guile, wile, lies or genuine service--public opinion may be our most potent agent for social and political change without, of course, insinuating that any substantial change can happen overnight.


Read more here.

Monday, October 18, 2004

MLQIII: The Long View : Making ends meet

Manuel L. Quezon, III writes on Pwede Na! The Complete Pinoy Guide to Personal Finance by Efren Ll. Cruz. According to the publisher's press release, "the book seeks to demystify the art of personal finance for Filipinos. From pre-need plans to credit cards, from bonds to the stock market, the book is a clear source of information for young urban professionals, overseas Filipino workers, or anyone who wants to get a handle on their financial future in a Philippine setting."

An excerpt:

The Long View : Making ends meet

Updated 09:06am (Mla time) Oct 04, 2004
By Manuel L. Quezon III
Inquirer News Service

Editor's Note: Published on page A15 of the October 4, 2004 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

MONEY is a mystery. It is so essential and yet making it can be quite a challenge. Saving it, in our hand-to-mouth economy, seems virtually impossible. For those with business background, making money may be a little less tough. But for those who don't have such background, making money, spending it wisely and putting something aside for either a rainy day or a comfortable retirement may seem an impossible dream.

Read more here.

Pawns in a Political Chess Game (on INQ7.net's article 'Railroading of North Rail project draws flak')

What an interesting play on words. I've often heard comments from colleagues and contacts both from within NEDA and other organizations that the Staff I'm a member of (the NEDA Public Investment Staff/PIS, which provides technical staff support in the coordination and review of the flow of official development assistance to the country to ensure consistency with national development priorities, among other responsibilities) 'railroaded' the North Rail Project. Excuse me, but I beg to disagree. I don't think it's fair to conclude (quite hastily) that it was PIS or the NEDA Secretariat (NS) that 'railroaded' this project. While it was the NS that evaluated the technical, financial, and economic merits of the project, it was the NEDA Board (thru the Investment Coordination Committee) that ultimately approved the project upon NS recommendation. And the NEDA Board is chaired by the President of the Republic herself (click here for information on the NEDA organization).

It seems that the 'facilitated' processing and approval of the project was brought about by foreign policy that paved the way for a favorable discussion between heads of state during the President's visit to China at the time the project was approved and committed (for financing), which was end-2003. Perhaps the distinction between NEDA 'Board' and 'Secretariat' is not quite apparent and widely recognized. The Board itself is composed of various Cabinet Secretaries; hence, NEDA in the sense referred to by most publications ultimately refers not only to the Secretariat, but the collegiate body itself.

It may be mistakenly gleaned from the article that NEDA made a 180-degree turn in its earlier recommendation that the project "be subjected to a public bidding wherever feasible in line with the general policy of the government to encourage competition" and instead "endorsed CNMEC's offer for North Rail without a bidding." However, it was, in fact, pressure from higher-ups that led to this endorsement. After all, we are but pawns in this chess game called politics.

Link to INQ7.net article here.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Joey Alarilla on Talking Points

In his blog, The Babel Machine, Joey Alarilla writes a response to some local bloggers' (i.e. 'Sassy Lawyer') negative reactions on INQ7.net's new Talking Ponts.

An excerpt:

"It's come to my attention that the launch of INQ7.net's Talking Points blog has elicited a negative reaction among certain members of the Philippine blogging community -- you know who you are.

"It's OK to rant. It's OK to say that you hate our blog and don't want to have anything to do with it -- no one's forcing you to use it if you don't like it. But to say that it's not a "true blog," that INQ7.net has no right to use blogging as a tool because we're the mainstream media (the establishment as opposed to the bloggers who are the alternative media), and worse, to say that we apparently stole the idea from certain Philippine bloggers, well, who are now positioning themselves as the gods who determine what blogging is and who and how it should be used?"


Read more here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The Philippines in the Medium-Term: the benefits of private sector participation

I submitted this comment in response to the N! News survey for the 7 October issue (published online on 8 October). The question was:

What do you think of the planning process/content of the [Medium Term Philippine Development Plan] MTPDP 2004-2010?

Note that the above link would only be valid up to the 22nd of the month, after which a new issue would be published. I'll write (in this blog) more about the MTPDP and what I think of our country's present and future situation.

My involvement with the formulation of the 2004-2010 MTPDP was mostly in the "Mobilizing Knowledge" theme, my being one of the Staff's resident techies. I noted that the participation of the private sector is prevalent in this particular theme, from the inter-agency/stakeholder discussions, to the responsibilities/accountabilities outlined in the strategic planning matrices (SPMs). The private sector is also involved with the other themes of the Plan, but perhaps it may be argued that there is a relatively higher need for their involvement in "Mobilizing Knowledge," in particular in the ICT-related sectors/activities. Due to the highly dynamic nature of the sector, it may be difficult for Government to catch up with and respond to the emerging trends without the help of the private sector. Hence, the thrusts of the Plan, and the intensive consultations done with representatives from the private sector, may be correct in providing for a better policy framework and advocacy that would ensure a better climate for firms to invest in infrastructure and human capital (that are quite essential in ICT and Knowledge Management). These private sector investments may be better able to fill in the gaps in government's resources in its activities in the sector, especially given the fiscal problems we are currently experiencing.

One comment about the process itself is that we seem to have have been working on a schedule that's too tight!

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Children and round objects

Click here for a larger image
Balls everywhere! I must be in heaven!

Children love balls and round objects. This realization comes with being a new dad. Ever since my daughter Sofia learned how to roll over, crawl, and sit up, she had always been fascinated by balls and balloons. In fact, I could credit the fact that she was able to start standing up unsupported to a large beach ball that her uncle gave her on her 10th month. She would always crawl around and follow the ball whenever it rolled away. And once she gets to catch the ball (which was about eye level from her point of view back then), she usually tries to mount it--hence her learning to stand up and walk at this early age.

This fascination with balls and other round objects had been become to be both of a boon and a bane to Caren (my beloved wife) and me. We could usually pacify Sofia with a ball or balloon (not that she always needs pacifying). But these items could also be troublesome, as she sometimes seems inseparable with her toys (and worse, with that of others). So whenever we visit a mall or toy store, we would actively try to avoid the ball and balloon areas. For in the instance she sees balls or balloons, she would exclaim "ball," or "balloon," and it would be quite difficult to distract Sofia from trying to pick an item for herself. The same is true whenever she sees balls or balloons on display or with other children. To date, I think we had bought about 10 separate sets of balls for Sofia, in those fateful encounters in malls and toy stores. We try to remind ourselves to bring along even a small ball for her to hold whenever we go out, so we won't have to buy a new one, but we always seem to forget.

As for balloons, we never seem to leave a birthday party without balloons in tow. We now learned that different balloons have different life spans. There are those that last only for three days. And there are those that last for over a month. It's quite a sorrowful experience for us when we have to put a balloon to sleep (popping or piercing with a needle) because of old age. But we explain to Sofia that we have to, or else the old balloons may pose a danger to her health.

Anyway, Sofia has good taste. She has a wide range of balls, from small to large, but always colorful. She even has a medium-sized rubber ball with soft rubber spikes sticking out (imagine if these were hard spikes--ouch). She opts for the brighter-colored and glossy balloons.

When I was younger, I always wondered why balloons and colorful balls clicked so much with young children. Now I still wonder. But along with this comes a feeling of warmth in my heart whenever I see my daughter happy and contented with her round friends.


Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The Twilight of Newspapers

This is an article featured by the PCIJ website today, 5 October 2004. Oh, I must caution you that only the first few paragraphs refer to this issue between Max Soliven and Roberto Romulo; the article is actually quite a lengthy piece on the difficulties newspapers face nowadays as a medium of communication.

Reading through past news articles from various sources (Philippine Star, Philippine Daily Inquirer, etc.), the dispute between the two seems to have been heightened by the Soliven's alleged implication of Romulo(in not-so-anonymous blind items) in government scams in the Star's SpyBIZ column (Star Business Section), which goes with the byline "S. A. Maguire." Romulo alleges that it was Soliven himself who authors the column, with the "Maguire" pseudonym. Now from my point of view, whether or not Soliven himself is the author of SpyBIZ, the content of the newspaper is ultimately his responsibility, being the publisher.

Anyway, I still do enjoy reading newspapers (the comics section, most especially) and of course those glossy, expensive (or not so, especially if "borrowed," or rather stolen from airport lounges) international newsmagazines (as you may already deduce from my previous posts). As long as there are readers, and as long as there's news to tell, they will keep on going, perhaps in changing formats over the next generations, including possibly internet-based, and "printed" on polymer-based electronic "paper."

- Angelo

The Twilight of Newspapers
by Sheila S. Coronel

Newspapers are losing their audience ­ and their advertising ­ to television, but they still set the news agenda and retain their influence on policy makers.

MAX V. Soliven, publisher of The Philippine Star and self-styled doyen of Philippine journalism, is acting as if it were still the 1960s and newspapers were in their prime. The journalist of 40-something years created a stir recently when he refused to print the response of former Foreign Secretary Roberto Romulo to a series of columns that accused the ex-government official of wrongdoing and called him names.


Read more here (PCIJ website).

Article cited (c) Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, 2004