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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

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Tandang Sora Flyover to be closed?

Heard from a reliable source last week: Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Bayani Fernando is planning to have the Tandang Sora Flyover closed (yes, the one along Commonwealth Avenue) in favor of U-turn slots.

Now I've encountered complaints about MMDA's resorting to making U-turns the norm in an attempt to improve Metro Manila's traffic situation (read old but insightful articles here and here -- links will open in new windows; ctrl-click in Firefox to open in a new tab), but this is plain silly. Imagine putting to waste an interchange that had cost millions in taxpayers' money, and instead replacing it with a scheme that gives U-turning vehicles the right-of-way or priority over straight-through traffic.

Traffic lights and interchanges were invented for the very reason of allowing for better traffic management. If traffic situation in the Commonwealth-Tandang Sora intersection were to improve with this scheme, then Chairman Fernando deserves an inventor of the decade award!

I'm a fan of innovative thinking, considering myself to be an innovative person as well. And it can be argued that MMDA's preference for a U-turn scheme has indeed brought about marked improvements in the traffic situation in some areas. But unless MMDA had been able to conclude a through study on the advantages of shifting to a U-turn scheme in this particular intersection/interchange, and unless the flyover has already passed its economic life, then it would be tantamount to going against what is supposedly an out-of-the-box thinking, since they may as well generalize that since the U-turns worked elsewhere then it should also work here.

And what will MMDA do with the abandoned flyover? Plant trees on it? (They had uprooted quite a number of trees over the past in their re-design/re-configuration of major thoroughfares in favor of U-turn slots.)

I hope Chairman BF just spoke about this as a joke.

** Image courtesy of Philstar.com

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Yahoo! News - Exploding Cell Phones a Growing Problem

Buyers beware! This warning is especially for those who have bought their mobile phones from non-official distributors, such as those in stalls, in particular Greenhills-type shopping centres. It's a well-known fact in online techie communities (such as the BNC discussion forum) that such retailers usually replace original batteries with "Class A" (or fakes that are marked/labelled to pass off as original) batteries when selling mobile phones, even those considered "'brand new." This is more especially so, if the unit purchased is re-conditioned, refurbished, or re-constituted. It's not uncommon for stalls or fly-by-night operations to pass of recons/refurbs as "brand new."

I once experienced having a fake "Class A" lithium-ion type battery heat up and balloon/swell while charging, to the point that my phone would have been burned, or its innards might have been crushed due to the pressure that had built with the swelling battery pressed against it, had I not noticed the problem early on.

Lesson: never buy fake batteries. Mobile phone manuals clearly caution against this, and even to the point of voiding warranty if unauthorized third-party accessories are used. But given the thrifty Filipino consumer mindset, we would most likely consider original accessories as too expensive. I would hence suggest to opt for reputable third-party equipment/accessory providers, if you choose not to purchase OEM (original equipment manufacturer). Instead of buying the fake item marked as "Class A," for instance, you could go for branded accessories, such as Kingcom (which is available locally thru Wellcom and other mobile outlets).

While the U.S. experience points out that it is possible even for OEM batteries to cause untoward incidents, it's still best to stick with reputable brands, and avoid fakes.

An excerpt from the Yahoo News article (click here to read more):

Yahoo! News - Exploding Cell Phones a Growing Problem: "Exploding Cell Phones a Growing Problem

Wed Nov 24, 1:52 PM ET
By ELIZABETH WOLFE, Associated Press Writer


Burns to the face, neck, leg and hip are among the dozens of injury reports the Consumer Product Safety Commission has received. The agency is providing tips for cell phone users to avoid such accidents and has stepped up oversight of the wireless industry. There have been three voluntary battery recalls, and the CPSC is working with companies to create better battery standards.


U.S. phone makers and carriers say most fires and explosions are caused by counterfeit batteries and note that in a country with some 170 million cell phone users, the number of accidents is extremely low.

Some consumer advocates say the cause goes beyond bad batteries making their way to the market. They point to the increasing pressure on battery and phone makers to fit more capabilities into small instruments.

"If you're cramming more and more power in a small space, what you're making is a small bomb," said Carl Hilliard, president of the California-based Wireless Consumers Alliance, which has been tracking incidents of cell phone fires and explosions.

Though legitimate batteries can go wrong, there is a greater chance that poorly made, counterfeit ones will lack safety devices to detect overheating or overcharging. The lithium-ion batteries found in most cell phones can overheat if, for example, heat vents are covered.


"There needs to be high-quality batteries for these cell phones. You have a lot of power in a very small product, so it's really key," said Wolfson of the CPSC, which is participating in the meetings between wireless industry members and IEEE.

Carriers and manufacturers also are urging cellular users to exercise reasonable care of batteries, chargers and phones and to purchase them directly from phone companies rather than secondhand dealers or off the Internet.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Politics and Long-Term Development

An article published in the 22 November 2004 issue of N-News (by the NEDA's Development Information Staff)*, reports on a study conducted by the National Statistics Coordination Board (NSCB), an attached agency of NEDA. This was presented to the press by Secretary General Romulo Virola in the 19 November 2004 press briefing at the NEDA sa Pasig.

It's good to note that officials who practice good governance are indeed rewarded with re-election (or election of a relative), as exemplified by the ten most-improved provinces. However, of the worst-performing provinces, 50% of the incumbents were still re-elected! Perhaps it can be argued that the Filipino people still has a long way to go in becoming a mature electorate. Then again, Philippine politicical system, itself, still has a long way to go in attaining maturity.

Our political system is still, after all, based on personalities, and not platforms. In contrast, it can be noted that the political system of the United States of America, which can be considered to be a more mature system, is based mostly on platforms. For instance, Republicans are considered to lean more to the right or to conservatism, and Democrats toward liberalism. The policy thrusts of US Administrations are also reflective of party preferences and policies, hence thrusts would depend on whether a Republican or Democrat sits in the White House, and also on who controls Congress. In contrast, here in the Philippines, policy thrusts are also based on personalities, especially given the patronage politics practiced even, or perhaps most especially, in the highest echelons of Government.

It would take quite a while for our nation to attain that level of maturity in our political system. And because of problems prevalent in our day-to-day lives, such as poverty, armed conflict, corruption, and crime, I think we are constrained to attend first to the more immediate concerns. However, in the long run, if we are to aim for sustainable development, we should think about reforming our political system. After all, the 2004-2010 Medium Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP)**, the Administration's blueprint for economic development in the medium-term, states, particularly in Chapter 25 (Constitutional Reforms), that "the country’s seriously weakened economy, political instability and unabated corruption have continued to retard efforts to achieve progress ... The current party system offers no meaningful policy choices since political parties form around well known personalities and families, instead of well-defined programs of government. This has made popularity, and not intelligence, competence, or experience, the winning qualification for public office."

Charter change, anyone?

* I'm quoting the entire article, since N-News publishes fresh content every two weeks--7th and 22nd of the month--and does not archive old articles.

** The 2004-2010 MTPDP may be downloaded through these links: PDF or ZIP.

N! In and About NEDA: Good leaders get reelected, study says

Voters do elect again leaders that have governed them well-but not all the time.

A study with 2002 data by the National Statistical and Coordination Board (NSCB) showed that Laguna, Batanes, Rizal, Benguet, Cavite, Bulacan, Bataan, South Cotabato, Batangas and Siquijor were the 10 best provinces according to a good governance index (GGI). Of their leaders, eight were either reelected, or ran and won for Congressman or a spouse won in 2004.

NSCB Secretary-General Romulo Virola presented this study, 'The Best and Worst Provinces in the Philippines: What Happened To Their Leaders in the 2004 Elections,' during a Nov. 19 press conference at the NEDA Board Room. His co-researchers were Severa de Costo, Joseph Addawe and Leonor Reyes.

Comparing performances in 2000 and 2002, the 10 most improved provinces were Aklan, Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Compostela Valley, Bohol,, South Cotabato,, Negros Occidental, Leyte, Sorsogon and Northern Samar. All governors and/or their relatives of these provinces either ran for reelection or for Congressman and won.

However, eight of the leaders of the 10 worst provinces (Masbate, Sulu, Maguindanao, Romblon, Northern Samar, Surigao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Sultan Kudarat, Camarines Norte and Sorsogon) still got reelected.

Meanwhile, of the 10 worst-performing provinces (Kalinga, Maguindanao, Mt. Province, Ifugao, Abra, Lanao del Norte, Sulu, Capiz, Albay and North Cotabato), five were reelected and five or their relatives lost. Worst performing means that their GGI deteriorated from 2000 to 2002.

Virola explained that the NSCB's GGI covered three types of governance: economic, political and administrative.

The improvement of internal and external security (crime solution efficiency rate) was the indicator used for political governance. Virola said that although they wanted tin include law enforcement and administration of justice, and elimination of graft and corruption as political governance indicators, there were no data available.

Economic governance indicators included sustainable management of resources (per capita financial resources, per capita revenue, per capita total deposits, per capita expenditure on social services, and unemployment and underemployment rates), and enhanced government responsiveness to the poor (poverty incidence and poverty gap).

Indicators for administrative governance included enhanced delivery of services (teacher-pupil ratio, number of public and private elementary schools per 1,000 population, total enrolment in government elementary schools per 1,000 population, health personnel per 10,000 population, live births less than 250 grams per 1,000 births, length of national and local roads per 1,000 population, and percentages of households with access to safe water, housing made of strong roofs, housing made of strong walls, and energized barangays) and expanded use of information technology.

Improved transparency and accountability, and continuous building of capacities were considered as part of administrative governance but there were no data available.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Gizmodo : Retro Phones at Retrofone

The Nokia 8110

Old phones are back! Well, in our country of 24% mobile phone penetration rate (as cited in my immediately preceding post), I guess most of these are what can be considered retro phones, anyway, with the proliferation of refurbished and/or reconstructed phones, especially in mobile phone stalls such as those in Greenhills. And I wouldn't mind using a 'retro' phone myself, as I had once used the classic Ericsson T20s as my primary phone, even when at that time that particular model had been outdated for more than a year (I used my hi-tech phone as a backup, then!).

An excerpt:

Gizmodo : Retro Phones at Retrofone

Retrofone does precisely that [selling out-of-date phones -JABR], selling phones to businesses and individuals who for whatever reason aren't interested in all the whiz-bangery of Bluetooth, cameras, and color displays, like this Nokia 8110. Retrofone stocks phones from a variety of manufacturers including both Sony and Ericsson. If you like to be on the cutting-edge of 1999, you'll feel right at home.

Monday, November 22, 2004

BusinessWeek: Filipinos Are Getting The Message

This Business Week Online article captures the essence of Filipino ingenuity, especially that of local telcos, in providing fund-transfer services over-the air. In a country where the mobile phone penetration rate is about 24%, and foreseen to grow to about 45% to 50% by 2005, and whose primary export is its labor force, the telcos have hit it right on the mark with offering such value-added services. The ordinary Filipino seems to have jumped over e-commerce, and went straight to m-commerce (noting that PC-penetration rate is only about less than 1%).

More about SMART Money / Smart Padala
More about Globe G-Cash

An excerpt:

Once a month, 24-year-old Jane Manarang drops by the McDonald's (MCD ) in her busy Manila neighborhood. But she's not there for a burger and fries. Instead, she is stopping by to cash an electronic check. Her husband, a teller at Forex International in Hong Kong, sends a portion of his salary to Manarang using a new mobile-phone-based cash remittance service called Smart Padala. His Hong Kong remittance company sends a text message to Jane's phone, crediting the money to her account. Then she transfers the credit to McDonald's cell-phone account through her phone, and Mickey D gives her the money, taking a percentage of the amount cashed as a fee. It's a great deal for Manarang and her husband, Glenn, because it costs much less than the $5 Glenn would pay for a wire transfer. For amounts above $180, Manarang gets a free Big Mac meal to boot. 'It's so fast,' marvels Manarang. 'I receive a text message, and I can quickly get cash.'

That kind of innovative service has made the Philippines the king of text messaging worldwide. Filipinos send an average of 200 million messages daily, or 2.4 per capita. In fact, many Filipinos ignore the voice capabilities of their phones and use their handsets almost exclusively for texting. Nearly 38% of sales in the Philippine cellular market come from text, compared with 1% to 2% in the U.S.


Saturday, November 20, 2004

The Email Hoax of the year? A compilation of my blog posts

It's over. We had indeed been taken for a ride. And as sure as the sun rises in the east, some of us had willingly obliged, at least initially. But after much skepticism, and much debate on- and offline, it's been proven: while Ms. Faye Nicole B. San Juan is a real person, her story is not.

I have removed the individual links from my favorite posts, and instead will link to this compilation. I think the story has been read about, forwarded and discussed for so many times, it will live on to be quite possibly the email hoax of the year, at least in our country, and at least for Filipinos whether here or abroad.

Faye, thank you. Since I posted a link to Ms. Patricia Evangelista's CRAZED article on your story and likewise published a link at pinoyblog.com, and as well, made subsequent postings on the topic, my readership has risen to the thousands. Before your story, I only had what, about three to four legitimate readership statistics per day (i.e. excluding myself). Now I had averaged 30-40 a day (though I doubt everyone of those page views refer to people who actually read my content, but hey, it's nice to have garnered quite a handful of referrals from Google and Yahoo!).

Links to my posts in chronological order:

  • Filipino Idol

  • Misplaced Priorities

  • Misplaced Priorities 2

  • Misplaced Priorities 3

  • Dramatic Parable

  • Political Points?

  • Fiary Tale Come True

  • Postscripts

  • A Farfetched Story?

  • Misdirected Aggression?

  • Government statement

  • Church group apologizes

  • Closure?

  • Government statement

  • Idealism and Reality

  • The foolish and the weak

  • Friday, November 19, 2004

    CRAZED: The Foolish and the Weak

    As promised, I'm posting liks to Ms. Patricia Evangelista's Crazed column for today, 19 November 2004.

    Link to article in Philstar.com here.

    Cached link (in my geocities account) here, in case Philstar's article is offline (Philstar.com doesn't archive articles older than a week).

    An excerpt:

    I used to say that my generation had a special mission of our own. We are accused of being a generation without an identity, and maybe there is some truth in that. It has been said that every generation is defined by a cause. But unlike the last generation who rallied on EDSA, this generation does not have a definite wrong to correct, or a distinct institution to oppose. But we grew up with the Ninja Turtles, Spiderman and the Power Rangers – we want to be heroes too. So we fight our own battles, we slay our own demons. We find our own causes.
    Today, I write knowing that much of what I stood for and defended was untrue. I am a writer; I trade by my word. I have been in the business for less than five months, but I grew up knowing that truth is a journalist’s only weapon. A writer’s power goes only as far as her credibility. As I write these words now, I am filled with both helplessness and anger. More than the fact that I was deceived, it is infinitely more painful to be responsible for others’ deception. My responsibility is to correct that untruth.

    I still have a cause. I may be the least person now with the credibility to speak of serving the country, but I will try. There are many who warrant the praise that Faye has unjustly received. In time, I’ll take up that cause again, in the hope that this one failure will not taint the names of all those who still deserve their recognition. I stand for my convictions, and can only wish that my doing so would in some way aid this cause.

    In a world where change is the only thing that’s constant, there are a few things that I still count on. I count on my family’s support. I count on my friends’ understanding. I count on the sun rising in the morning and setting in the evening. Most of all, I count on the idea that all people are basically, inherently good.

    After all that has happened, it’s hard to hang on to even that. But I’m nineteen, and I guess it’s a good thing that I’m not-quite-grown-up yet. I still believe in the goodness of people, and the greatness of the Filipino. It is one of the few truths that no lie, however big, can ever blot out.

    Thank you, Patricia, for your idealism. Perhaps someday idealism will indeed be able to change the world.

    Thursday, November 18, 2004

    Idealism and Reality

    I sent an email to Ms. Patricia Evangelista expressing my support over all the brouhaha over the "Faye" story, especially since quite a number of comments were left on my weblog attacking her personally. Now this may be misconstrued as coddling the Philippine Star writer, but I would beg to disagree. Now that the "Faye" issue is more or less behind us now, lessons have to be learned from the mistakes made. We were all taken for a ride. And some of us willingly obliged--initially, at least.

    She provided a response, along with an advance copy of her article. I read and re-read it, and what can I say? The young, indeed, are idealistic. I'm part of that "young" generation, too, but my idealism had been watered down by reality: a reality where poverty, suffering, and malice are prevalent. But I remain hopeful. I would rather be optimistic. I try to see the world with a hint of idealism. After all, being part of the younger generation, we are what our forebears had described as the hope of the future.

    I will post a copy Ms. Evangelista's CRAZED article here once it's published online by Philstar.com.

    An excerpt from her email:

    i think those people are entitled to their own opinions. there were a lot who based their criticism on misrepresentations of my message. a few went to the extent of consciously taking my words out of context. i believe in the freedom of speech as much as the next person, but one of your posters clearly stated that to use that freedom entails responsibility. but hey, i publish my work in a medium that is very open to criticism. fair or not, i'm getting used to it :)

    i take full responsibility for the column i wrote on faye. it was a mistake to rely on the words and documentations of faye and her church. i apologize to you and everyone else who were needlessly hurt, angered, or saddened by what i wrote. i hope that my words have not unjustly destroyed the cause that i (and so many) are fighting for: that of spotlighting filipino excellence.

    An excerpt from my response, which actually comprised my thoughts upon reading her yet-for-publication article (as she had requested):

    At that age (which was not quite that long ago--only five years ago or so), I was likewise idealistic. I wanted to change the world with my ideas. I wanted to make my mark. But times had changed. I learned that idealism may always be able to change the world. Time will ultimately bring about change, but not without those movers and shakers who are willing to keep on with their idealism until change is achieved, albeit quite slowly.

    We can now all charge this incident to experience.

    Jeremy Wagstaff's LOOSE wire: Cyberwar On The World SMS Capital?

    Bloghopping (with my online RSS reader), I came across Mr. Jeremy Wagstaff's Loose Wire blog post for Wednesday, 17 November 2004. Now, I'm an avid reader of Mr. Wagstaff's Loose Wire tech-oriented column in the Far Eastern Economic Review, and it's good to note that writers of such stature acknowledge that the Philippines is the "World SMS Capital." Mr. Wagstaff cites an INQ7 news report that a group of hackers "breached the short messaging service (SMS) servers of both Smart Communications and Globe Telecom". He likewise posts links to other articles and blogs of note, that echo such concerns, including security holes in government websites.

    I do recall that our very own NEDA Web Portal was hacked a few months back. I can say that NEDA's tech services are among the most advanced in Philippine government today, and the hacking episode exemplifies the saying that if there's a will, there's a way.

    An excerpt:

    Jeremy Wagstaff's LOOSE wire: Cyberwar On The World SMS Capital?

    Today's article, since removed, says that to see "the hacker group's message, one has to create a new SMS message, key in "FLT RB9" on the message body, and send it to 2333 for Globe and 211 for Smart subscribers. After sending the cryptic text message to 211 or 2333, the subscriber will receive this message: "Greetz to PATz, Luvchris, Verum, Fed-X, hEps, ch1m3ra, TriSha22, powerb0xx, clown AFeD-XA, Bryle, royX, Crayden at sa mga wanabee hacker groups ng masang Pilipino!"" The article says that as of Wednesday evening, "the Smart service was still sending this same message to subscribers, while the Globe number gave an error message."

    Intriguingly, the earlier article, published Nov 6, said anonymous readers had posted messages on PI_Flashbulb's blog saying that "that the digital subscriber line (DSL) service of both Digital Telecommunications Philippines Inc.(Digitel) and Globe Telecom were open to possible attacks". One comment appeared to suggest the hackers PI_Flashbulb were referring to are Indonesian. Many Indonesians -- the world's largest Muslim population -- are opposed to George W Bush's administration for his war on terror.

    Read more here.

    Wednesday, November 17, 2004

    Message from Ms. Ruby Cristobal of DOST-SEI

    Ms. Ruby Cristobal of DOST's Science Education Institute, who had emailed me a copy of DOST-SEI's statement on the "Faye" story (as previously posted here), posted, in her blog, s&tmedia, a message to bloggers and other individuals who had been (and continue to be) active in discussing the "fairy tale," and who may have had a hand in exposing the truth about what was an inspirational story gone awry.

    An excerpt:

    I am writing to thank you guys for having the brains and the guts to question or simply write about issues like this one. We in the government recognize our shortcomings. We try our best to promote the achievements of the young, talented youth in science and technology. But we need the media, the private sector, the NGOs and people like you to help us. I have written a lot about these young kids and also about our brilliant scholars (like Jeffrey Hidalgo, a DOST scholar-graduate) but only a few publish such stories. I hope this 'never ending faye story' will change the mindset of the media people.

    Wired News: Do Blogs Change the News?

    A 14 November 2004 article from Wired News poses this question. Excerpts:

    Blogs have drawn attention to political stories that more established media outlets then report on, and exposed flawed journalism by those same newspapers and television news programs. But some at the gathering said they face a near-constant struggle to establish the credibility enjoyed by professionals.

    "Things get picked up by bloggers that take awhile to get picked up by the mainstream media," said Mark Glaser, a columnist for the Online Journalism Review who writes about web logs. "Bloggers have to start from scratch in building trust."


    Mindy McAdams, a University of Florida journalism professor, applauded bloggers' efforts but urged them to adhere to ethical standards held by mainstream journalists.

    "Our credibility is suffering with so many people rushing to publish things without checking them out," McAdams said after Cox's speech. "Blogging is really great. I like that more and more people have a voice. That's good ... But it doesn't give people who call themselves journalists an excuse to not check out the information."

    Read more: Wired News: Do Blogs Change the News?

    Tuesday, November 16, 2004

    Closure on the "Email Hoax of the Year"?

    As follow-up to my previous post on Government's statement on the "Faye" story, Ms. Ruby Cristobal of SEI-DOST emailed me, last Friday evening, a follow-up message stating that they "decided not to have a press release on Faye's story anymore ... [the] statement says it all." Sorry for the late citation.

    Bread of Life Ministries, the Christian organization that first published an account of Ms. Faye Nicole B. San Juan's supposed travails, issued an apology to the public. In fact, there are two, one written by Associate Pastor Sharon E. Valencia for the Higher Word Team (text here), and another by Associate Pastor, Reverend Rito Saquing, Jr., who had authored the original "Misplaced Priorities" article (text of apology here). They say that "Pastor Saquing has been placed under a censure program and spiritual retraining."

    The Philippine Daily Inquirer, in its front page Sunday, 14 November, published an article on the confessions of the mother-and-daughter team of Ms. Cathy and Ms. Faye San Juan, entitled "We lied because no one loved us, says 'whiz' kid ma."

    Ms. Patricia Evangelista writes blogger Cath in gratitude for having giving her the benefit of the doubt, and Ms. Cath responds.

    Is there now finally closure to this issue?

    In my mind, the "email hoax of the year," as what the "Faye" story was called by Observer, a commenter at Flyingroc's blog, will come down in history (my personal history, at least) as one of the simple proofs that you should not always believe what you read/hear/see in the news. A smart audience will not just take for granted what is presented to it. And in turn, a smart media would strive to do better in presenting to its audience the truth, unskewed, unbiased, unadulterated.

    Thanks to the following sites for very insightful discussions on the matter. Personal limits were breached, indeed, but I hope everyone came out a better person, in the end.

    The CA t, http://www.cathcath.com
    ExpectoRANTS, http://restyo.blogspot.com
    Flying Roc, http://flyingroc.org

    Thanks also to those who left insightful (and lengthy) comments on the post that started it all, at least on my blog. Please continue to share your thoughts on the plights of our Filipino brethren working abroad for a better life for their loved ones, and those staying here, holding on.


    Sunday, November 14, 2004

    INQ7.net: Church group apologizes, says whiz kid story not true

    Farfetched story, after all? I'm wondering about the motives of the concerned individuals in bringing out this story: the mother, the Bread of Life pastor who came out with the ad, and even Faye, herself.


    An excerpt:

    Church group apologizes, says whiz kid story not true - INQ7.net:

    FAYE'S brief fling with fame ended yesterday. And it ended with an apology no less from her church, which said her story of victory in Brisbane was not true.

    Even earlier, the Department of Science and Technology also shot down her claim when the Inquirer began probing Faye's seemingly moving story.

    Bread of Life said in a letter to the Inquirer yesterday that it had conducted an investigation into the matter and would issue a public apology soon.

    "We have determined that the story is not true," it said in the letter issued in the name of Rev. Sharon Valencia, Associate Pastor of the BOLM.

    Friday, November 12, 2004

    Congrats to me

    At last, my long-awaited promotion to Senior Economic Development Specialist has come. Appointment papers were signed yesterday. I had weathered the Commission on Elections' (COMELEC) hiring ban, the Administration's re-activation of Lateral Attrition (per Administrative Order 103, "Directing the Continued Adoption of Austerity Measures in the Government"), and whatever else was in the way (my planned transfer? -- Another long wait perhaps?). Oh, and much emotional stress.

    At long last.

    Government's Statement on the Faye Story

    Ms. Ruby Cristobal of the Department of Science and Technology sent me an email containing government's, in particular DOST's, statement of the "Faye" story. While I do not personally know Ms. Cristobal, I'd like to thank her for sending me this information. She attached this scanned document. She likewise included the text of the media release in his message (below).

    (My apologies for earler addressing Ms. Cristobal as "Mr. Cristobal." I thought her first name was "Rudy." Must be my dyslexia acting up.)

    I have yet to validate the authenticity of the memo, though. Today being a Friday, and Monday's being a declared national non-working holiday, and knowing how the bureaucracy works (being in the bureaucracy myself).asa pa ako.

    Please email me for his contact details, for any inquiry.



    12 November 2004

    The story of Faye Nicole San Juan, a Grade 6 student of St. James College of Quezon City, has been recently the subject of discussions in the Internet, electronic mails, articles, opinion columns, TV and radio programs. As claimed in these reports, Faye won first place in the Intercontinental Science Quiz Net in Brisbane, Australia besting 56 students all over the world, and the Best Physics award which she received in Sydney, Australia. It was also told that she was among the Top Five winners in Mathematics for the Young Asians held in Indonesia.

    We, at the Science Education Institute (SEI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), have been alerted to this issue prompting us to validate the claims of the girl and her mother, Ms. Ma. Catherine San Juan. This is in line with the agency’s mandate to support, nurture and recognize talents in science, mathematics and technology. The validation procedure is a process adopted to verify the awards received by individuals for competitions which are not coordinated by the Institute.

    Unfortunately, the information we have gathered from various sources, including our professional counterpart in Australia, do not support the claims of Faye and her mother. We have likewise invited the young girl and Ms. San Juan through the principal of St. James College, Mr. Arnel B. Salgado, to present valid proofs of the girl’s awards. However, Ms. San Juan declined the invitation.

    Although SEI-DOST would like to give Faye the recognition befitting an outstanding young achiever in science and mathematics, we are constrained by the fact that her story as presented in the media lacks merit in terms of valid proofs and the absence of any indication that the competitions cited truly exist.


    Misdirected Aggression (On Pat Evangelista's "CRAZED: Filipino Idol")

    Another "anonymous" comment (no blogger account) to my original post on Ms. Patricia Evangelista's "CRAZED" article entitled "Filipino Idol." This was left by a certain Ube Juan Kanduli (UB1).

    I thought, again, that the comment deserved a blog post in itself.

    Note that the emphases (in bold) are mine. It's quite a long read, so I thought I'd highlight some points.


    Anonymous said...

    This is my response to Patricia Evangelista’s article specifically in reference to “the Filipino People who chose to leave.” I've posted on annonymous because I don't have a log on to this site yet but I'll sign my name at the end.

    I would like to offer some fact to Patricia regarding “Filipinos who chose to leave.”

    1. Working abroad, enduring the loneliness of being apart from their loved ones, many overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) console themselves with the thought of the money that they can send to their family back home.

    For them, the sacrifice is worth it because they can generally earn more abroad. OFWs diligently remit money back to the Philippines—to send their children to college, pay for the household expenses, or help out a younger sibling or needy relative. The money sent back to the Philippines by Filipinos working abroad has become a vital component of the national economy, which is why OFWs have been dubbed as modern-day heroes.
    Source: Manna from abroad, Posted: 1:46 AM (Manila Time) | Aug. 15, 2002 Inquirer News Service with INQ7.net

    2. Presidential spokesperson Ignacio Bunye … a “substantial chunk” of the gross national product comes from the OFW’s remittances. Last year, 7 million Filipinos working or living abroad sent an estimated eight billion dollars, an amount nearly equal to the country’s agricultural output.”
    Source: Global news, 30 Oct 2004

    3. Remittances are an important source of income for many developing countries. According to the World Bank, $111 million was remitted worldwide in 2001. Of this, about 65 percent went to developing countries, with half of that money going to countries considered to be “lower-middle income countries.” For some countries, remittances are a major source of foreign exchange and are an important addition to their gross domestic product.

    Top Ten Remittance Recipients Among Developing Countries, 2001
    1. Mexico $ 9,920,000
    2. India $ 9,160,000
    3. Philippines $ 6,366,000
    Source: Remittances from the United States in Context, By Kevin O’Neil, Migration Policy Institute, June 1, 2003

    The data above probably does not include remittance from permanent residents in Europe, South America, Australia, New Zealand, etc. where our kababayans (countrymen) chose to follow where their opportunities can take them. It also does not include retirees’ choosing to retire in the Philippines and bringing back with them their dollar pensions. Yes, we are in the millions “who chose to leave” the Philippines. One bad apple doesn’t make the whole basket rotten. You take it out and throw it away. One bad experience with your favorite food doesn’t make you stop eating it again. Before you condemn us all to hell think what we have done for the Philippines and will continue to do in the future. Recommend you set your sights within the Philippines not towards us “who chose to leave.” Set you sights not on people who send or bring money back to the Philippines but to those who take it out in the millions of dollars at the expense of Mr. Juan de la Cruz (Filipino taxpayer). There are plenty of (awful) people in the Philippines to condemn to hell.

    Patricia Evangelista is the daughter of couple of my “teenhood” friends and it is with a heavy heart that I am writing about this unfortunate affair. Even if I have read or heard her speech in London beforehand I will react to the article supposedly the same way no more and no less. My reaction will still be objective and non-personal. Her aunt objected when I recommended a “chill pill” and “reality check” for Patricia.

    I recommended a “chill pill” for Patricia because condemning us “who chose to leave” is a very harsh reaction just because she had a bad experience with a close family friend.

    I recommended a “reality check” in defense of those “modern heroes” (8 million of us) who chose to leave the Philippines bringing in revenue, honor and recognition to the Filipino people.

    Yes Patricia’s speech was beautiful. Winning the competition gives credit to herself and Filipinos around the world. However, such accomplishment does not give her the right to “condemn us all to hell on a handcart.”

    Remember, you may receive thousands of “at-a-girl” but it only takes one “oh shit” and you may find yourself back to square one.

    Some of my friends said I took her article “out of context.” Yes of course I did in defense of the 8 million Filipinos who do not know her. I’m not discounting Patricia’s speech or her accomplishment. On the contrary I‘m very proud of her for winning the London competition and for being a Filipino. However, after reading her article and speech several times I still came out with the same conclusion – misdirected aggression. Or, should I say frustration. I can understand her resentment towards their family friend but to condemn all of us to hell because of one bad experience, I believe is uncalled for and irresponsible. Like I said one bad apple doesn’t make the whole harvest rotten. If Patricia was upset and defended the Philippines and Filipinos, because of the comment of a family friend who left the country, stating that she was glad she left this “god-awful country of ours”... and awful Filipino people, then Patricia should have used the words “our family friend” instead of “Filipinos who chose to leave.” Or, she should have specifically condemning their family friend instead of referring to the 8 million plus Filipinos who chose to leave.

    Carefully analyze her words. She wrote, “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.” I’m not native of the English language and I still have difficulties with it sometimes but I think there’s no mistake about my interpretation (regardless whether written by an 18 or 58 year old). She didn’t condemn her family friend (or the likes of them) that caused her torment. She condemned “the Filipinos who chose to leave.” Regardless of her bad experience and or her inspiration that generated the winning speech, 8 million people minus one family friend should have been spared from her wrath.

    Freedom of speech as her aunt mentioned is a very wonderful thing however it must be accompanied by responsibility. I should know – I’ve been defending freedom for 25 years. You can not shout “FIRE” inside a crowded theater without the risk of causing harm due to a possible stampede and invoke your right to “freedom of speech.” Or, change lane in a busy freeway with no proper signal and maneuver without risking an accident and say I’m entitled to “freedom of movement.” With population explosion compounded by internet technology the world is not as big as it used to be. Freedom comes with responsibility. You don’t just shoot from the hip. You need to consider collateral damage. I acknowledge Patricia’s motives to be admirable and honorable but her frustration should be managed and her aggression needs to be guided to the right direction. Eight million people don’t deserve to be condemned to hell on a handcart.

    Ube Juan Kanduli (UB1) 11/12/2004 12:18:59 PM

    Thursday, November 11, 2004

    The Evil Empire and the Inattentive Attendants

    I was planning to go to SM Megamall for lunch this noon, but as I crossed the footbridge near the back gate of the NEDA compound, I changed my mind. I decide to walk to the nearest Mini Stop convenience store (no website, but you can click here for a google search on "mini stop"), instead, which was located along St. Josemaria Escriva Drive, our building's street. I planned on buying prepaid credits for our extra mobile phone at home (Sun Celluar, with the new 24/7 unlimited call and text within the network). I remembered Sun had this promo with Mini Stop where you get free meals with every purchase of prepaid credit.

    Since I was already walking along Gold Loop (where a section of the 'loop' is parallel to Escriva), I decided against re-entering our office compound, and instead thought I'd walk through the driveway of our neighboring building, the Gold Loop Towers. Now I have some very good and certainly some very bad experiences with this condo building. In particular, I could cite more bad memories than good, for it is in this very building where the Evil Empire is housed. Yes, I thought, I'd pass by the doors of the Evil Empire once again. Just to catch a glimpse of what was once a blissful encounter that had turned sour.

    The Evil Empire, in this case, is embodied by a certain 'Internationale Preschool,' loated at the building's ground level. I will not mention the name here, but its name is a combination of the surname of the sixteenth president of the United States and the home of Frodo Baggins (go figure). I noticed that the school had changed its signage to reflect its accreditation by the Philippine Department of Education. Surely, I thought, the DepEd is unaware of the school's unfair labor practices. Either that, or they're privy to such, but choose to turn a blind eye to the fact that they had accredited a school whose management is known to inner circles as regularly, or at least occasionally, abusive to its employees. After all, money talks. And money talks loud!

    I could probably blame most of my problems these days on the Evil Empire, particularly on how it handled the case of my wife, who used to teach there. All was going well summer of this year, until the Evil Empire arbitrarily chose to end its professional relationship with my beloved.

    Yes, the case had been resolved through an out-of-court settlement, after we lodged a complaint with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Pasig office, but the damages done can not be compensated by the paltry amount they had provided. Perhaps no monetary amount can compensate for the emotional stress our encounter with the Evil Empire had brought upon us, for the repercussions of their actions are felt by my family to this very minute.

    In fighting our legal battle with the Evil Empire mid-2004, we decided to settle, for the reason that we were advised that it would be too taxing for us emotionally, financially, and physically to bring the argument to a higher level. Yes, we agreed. Indeed, this is the trade-off. And we could not afford to fight a protracted battle against an enemy who may be better equipped in terms of connections and legal weaponry. In battles between Davids and Goliaths, the Davids may not always win.

    Moving on, I crossed Escriva (amid a speeding maroon Honda Civic) and entered the Mini Stop Convenience Store. I proceeded to the counter to ask about the free stuff that supposedly came with Sun prepaid credits, as advertised in about four posters on different parts of the store. The attendant manning the cash register, sniffling with perhaps a cold or allergic reaction (it was indeed raining this afternoon), asked his boss about my query, but not before seemingly ignoring me and instead attending to the timer of the deep fryer located in the store's restricted area. I approached the Assistant Store Manager, who was manning the other register, and he told me that the freebies were only for purchases of prepaid SIMpacks, and not prepaid credits. It was clearly stated in the posters, though, that one could avail a free hotdog sandwich meal with a purchase of PhP 150 e-load. So I asked again, citing the poster, but to no avail.

    I decided against arguing, for I would only waste my precious time and energy with people who do not seem to care about their clients. So I ended up purchasing a krunchy-pao meal instead for my lunch. And on impulse, I bought a pack of instant coffee (for those times I'm too lazy to brew by french-press) and soupy snax, for my merienda. Money was tight these days. And I could not afford to spend on anything more expensive after all the money I spent on transportation and food the past three days. I could have went on to look for cheaper food, but it was raining harder, and I had only brought my small umbrella. I dared not get myself wet, or worse, sick.

    Total bill: PhP 28 + 30 + 12 + 12 = PhP 82.00.

    Oh, I also visited the Off Price Store beside Mini Stop, and bought a cute red sweatshirt for Sofia.

    Total bill: PhP 59.00.

    Total money spent: PhP 141.00.

    Total emotional drain experienced: priceless / unquantifiable.

    ExpectoRANTS: The skinny on the Faye story

    A post by XP ( ExpectoRANTS ):

    To: All of you who suspected the Faye story was a ruse

    You've won. The latest word is that Boo Chanco is reportedly asking his niece
    [Ms. Patricia Evangelista -JABR] to investigate further this (in)famously fey and fotentially fictitious Faye. Will the Faye fable go pffft faster than you can say Fatricia? Let's fait and fee (wait and see).

    Let's fait and fee indeed! -Angelo

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    I've actually switched from Mozilla full version to firefox when the latter first came out. I assure you, it's worth it. -Angelo

    Wednesday, November 10, 2004

    A Farfetched Story: Is it true?

    A reader left this comment on my first post on the Faye story. Perhaps we should still take the 'Faye' story with a wee bit of scepticism. Indeed, her story came out in the front pages of some Philippine broadsheets (i.e. the Inquirer, 8 November 2004). But as we in government would prefer, things should be in black and white. Things can be better proved with the appropriate paper trail. But still, I do give Ms. Faye San Juan, as a person, the benefit of the doubt. Her travails may be farfetched, but she sure has the guts to face the public with her claims.


    Anonymous said... (Name appears below; commenter seems to have no blogger account, but was polite enough to leave a name. -JABR)


    The FAYE story at first glance appears too good or "cute" to be true. The incidents surrounding
    the successive misfortunes of mother and daughter in their Australian sojourn are stuff for movies . The struggle to find money to make the trip, the emergence of a villain character who caused mom and daughter intense pain and suffering turning them both penniless , the tremendous sacrifices and sheer persistence to pursue the goal to participate in the contest, then the climax of the story, the victory of the suffering and the weak and lastly the emergence of a hero, a saviour in the person of the Japanese diplomat who helped in their repatriation back to R.P. - all of these episodes so glaringly fictional typifies the fairy tale-ish Cinderella mold and anyone with a resonably inquisitive mind will have second thoughts on the veracity of the story. But why did it find it's way into an editorial space of a national newspaper? All because of the source , the Bread of Life Ministries. The fact that Bread of Life is a Christian organization it is deemed to tell facts and not have the audacity and moral recklesness to publish fabricated stories. In other words, despite the many inconsistencies and imperfections, many "bought" the story because of the source. This is never a wrong assumption except when the Bread of Life Ministries slammed the door on the media and ordinary folks when confronted with questions that seek to clarify the veracity of the story. Such silence is disconcerting. A Christian organization is acting like a fly by night company running away from a scam operations when confronted by an investigation.

    Given that Bread of Life had shut its doors to the public, we can only rationalize and use a fair measure of logic in coming up with an answer.

    In my own opinion, the Faye story is very likely a hoax. Consider these scenarios :

    a. If the contest was represented by 57 countries, did Faye represent the Philippines? How was she chosen? Was there a selection process held in Philippine high schools ? Was the Phil Dept of Education involved? Or did Faye join the contest as a private citizen? If she went on her own as an individual she would not have the credentials to represent her country. So why was she trumpeting to the world that she won it for the Phils? And why was she surprised that the RP embassy did not support her - she went on her own without the govt's saction in the first place.

    b. Does anyone have proof that the contest ever happened ? Where was the venue in Australia? What date did the contest take place? Who sponsored the contest?

    c. Filipina stealing their passports, luggage and tickets.. Who was this Filipina? Was she a passenger in the plane, a relative , a stranger? How could it be possible for one person to steal all your money unless she robs you at gunpoint.

    d. Selling clothes for food. For those of us who have been abroad in the U.S or Canada and Australia, it is normal to see clothes donation bins in strip malls. Donated clothes are then sorted and cleaned and the good ones sold at second hand stores and proceeds are given to charity. A charitable organization manages this operation. In such an advanced country like Australia people don't steal clothes off your backyard clothesline. Poor choice of a storyline. The writer has no clue of the western culture.

    e. And lastly, why did Faye’s mother conceal her daughter’s achievements in Australia and Indonesia? Was there something to be ashamed of?

    The inconsistencies and exaggerations goes on and on and the longer you read the story the more incredulous it becomes. Given the above points alone, I have every reason to believe that the Faye story is bogus. It reads like one, it feels like one and with the refusal of Bread of Life to explain their side, it smells like one. The admission of someone to be the real Faye only satisfies one side of the coin. We need to prove the other side and a certification from Australia and Indonesia that these contests did happen dispels the myth. We are still waiting but the response is not forthcoming which means that the contest did not happen. One poster even in another forum suggested that perhaps the Bread of Life with its international network conducted the contest. Nice try.

    The sad part is people seem to take the Faye story in stride and say , well, it doesn't matter if Faye is not real, what is important is the message. This kind of mentality does not speak well of the person's sense of personal values. Deception is not exactly inspiring. Some people have taken the Faye to story to further God's truth in Scripture. What a tragedy. An international math website ( NET MATHEMATICS http://net-mathematics.wikiverse.org/) had posted Faye's story on their in the news section only to pull it out when the debate on its authenticity started hitting the web. What a shame. Have we become a country where truth no longer matters?


    11/10/2004 12:59:44 AM

    Monday, November 08, 2004

    Philstar: Outdated info and legal implications

    I wonder how they come up with these stories? The Philippine Star last 29 October, published an article (the link is to a google-cached version, since Philstar.com does not archive articles older than a week) stating that the "MRT4 [is] most viable among rail systems in Metro" according to a study. Reading onward, the article states that:

    "The proposed Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 4 is considered the most viable of the rail transit systems in Metro Manila based on a foreign-assisted study undertaken by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

    "The findings were contained in the Metro Manila Urban Transportion Integration Study (MMUTIS), which devised an integrated urban transportation system for Metro Manila for the target year 2015.

    "The MMUTIS was undertaken from March 1996 to February 1999 with technical assistance from the Japan Internatinal Cooperation Agency (JICA)."


    "The DOTC, in an order dated Oct. 23, 2001, has prescribed the adoption of the Railway Master Plan proposed by MMUTIS, which includes MRT4 as "Priority A project." Subsequent study of the postoned MRT4 project showed that it integrates well with the Arroyo administration’s focus towards urban transportation development."

    Now, while the MMUTIS is still accepted by transport specialists as a benchmark for performance and priority in evaluating projects of this nature, I am not so sure whether the finding that "[line] 4 is considered the most viable of the rail transit systems in Metro Manila," is still valid and binding, given that the study was formulated more than four years ago. The economic aspects of the study may be already outdated!

    Such articles make one wonder on the true motives of media in its publications. Processing of the MRT4 project has been long put on hold, pending conditions set by government in approving the BOT proposal first-pass (i.e. project approval; second-pass approval would be for the contract/BOT agreement). Legal issues likewise abound, which the Department of Transportation and Communications would still have to resolve with the concerned private sector proponents and government's lawyers. Is the MRT4 consortium going as far as raising the matter for judgement by public perception?

    In the first place, the MRT4 was submitted as an unsolicited Build-Operate-Transfer proposal, per the amended BOT Law and its Implementing Rules and Regulations, which stipulate, among others, that,

    " ... Unsolicited proposals for projects may be accepted by any government agency ... Provided, That, all the following conditions are met: (1) such projects involve a new concept or technology and/or are not part of the list of priority projects ... "

    Hence, since the Philstar article likewise cites that "[t]he DOTC, in an order dated Oct. 23, 2001, has prescribed the adoption of the Railway Master Plan proposed by MMUTIS, which includes MRT4 as 'Priority A project,'" the MRT4 project as proposed by the private sector proponent would be effectively killed off, since (1) the project may no longer be pursued under unsolicited mode; and, hence (2) being a priority, the concerned agency, DOTC, would now have to open the project for bidding (i.e. solicited mode).

    Now I really wonder.

    Caveat: The foregoing observations, statements and representations made are the personal opinion of the author, based on his experiences with such matters, and not in a capacity representing any government agency or any other entity.

    Still more on Faye Nicole B. San Juan

    Mr. Federico D. Pascual (click here for bio), former Philippine Daily Inquirer editor-in-chief who presently writes a Philippine Star column, POSTSCRIPT, writes again on Ms. Faye Nicole B. San Juan, the young lady who had caused quite a stir in some circles both on- and offline due to an article that had been circulated by the Bread of Life Ministries in the past month.

    Atty. Jose Sison (Of Ipaglaban mo fame), likewise a columnist in the Star, wrote on Ms. San Juan last 5 November, in his A Law Each Day column (link here). He recounts that he also wrote on Faye in his 25 October column, which I likewise read (hard copy--guess where!). Sadly, as Philstar.com does not cache its older editions, I have yet to search for an e-copy of this one.

    Yes, Faye is real. But now that her identity had been uncovered (she had also been featured in a couple of TV shows), more issues come to mind. We may ask the following: Are our priorities indeed skewed? Is the Philippine education system indeed lacking in adequately supporting its able students? Was Faye's story used to advance a political agenda, or did BOL have pure intentions when it published its original article?

    Questions had been answered, but only eliciting more queries. We have moved on to a higher level in this discussion. More to come?

    Excerpts from Postscript, 7 November 2004:

    There were just so many loose ends in the story as published by the Bread of Life Ministries. While many readers readily admired and expressed support for Faye, there were others who first wanted confirmation of odd details.


    What is important is that Faye has been located, properly identified and her story retold for those who had been denied the good news or who had initial doubts about some of the embroidery on the story.

    Faye's story as directly told by her on TV and to Evangelista is convincing enough. I cannot say the same thing for the second-hand account as published in the BOL Ministries webpage and print ad. (There are discrepancies between the two versions.)

    With that, I say that Faye deserves recognition, however belated, and must be given material assistance to get ahead and accomplish more.


    STEPPING STONES: But elevating Faye in the public esteem should not be at the expense of anybody. It appears that the girl has what it takes. She has enough spunk and brains to propel her to a higher plane.

    There is no need for her handlers to step on anybody or to exaggerate her exploits.

    If some persons or entities want to give her financial assistance or to provide seed money for a scholarship fund, I strongly suggest that funds be given directly to her or her mother and not through any religious organization.

    Excerpts from A Law Each Day, 5 November:

    The narrative would have created the desired impact if the author just came clean and divulged its parabolic nature. To be sure, I fully agree with some of the writer’s observation that: "we have a dearth of real leaders in this country–leaders who would set the nation’s interests above their own. In the same way, our concept of citizenship is damaged. Those seeking for social good for themselves are never willing to grant the same good to others. Hence it is common for us to hear stories of Filipinos who take advantage of their fellow citizens. We want to be served, but we are unwilling to serve… We would rather spend on things that would make us look good instead of on things that would make us grow in character. We prefer stardom glitter over service oriented endeavors".

    The moral of Faye’s story is beautiful and goes to the very core of human imperfections as it tells us what really matters in this world and why our priorities are misplaced. Fictitious or real, Faye’s mother so aptly expressed it when she said that: "we all wanted to win, but success is not measured by merely winning. It is measured through our hearts, if it is truly attuned with God all the time. It is all that really matters for we have only an Audience of One."

    Sunday, November 07, 2004

    BNC is back online

    After almost a couple of months being offline, the BuynCell forums (a.k.a. BNC) is now alive and kicking. Hosted in its new, temporary server, membership and readership has surged, as expected. Now we technophiles would no longer have to bungle around the 'net searching for info, ads, tips and tricks on mobile telephony, technology, and other general topics. We have the lively, informative and indeed very useful Philippine-based BNC forums on hand!

    Visit the site at http://bnctemp.proboards29.com/ .

    Link to the old site here: http://www.ebuyncell.com/forum/ .

    Friday, November 05, 2004

    Pat Evangelista: CRAZED--Fairy Tale Come True

    Yesterday, I posted a link to a 4 November Op/Ed in the Philippine Star by Mr. Federico D. Pascual. I agree with his thought that the political angle of the writeup done by the Bread of Life Ministries was indeed what was most striking. While it was quite unfair for Malacañang to honor Ms. Jasmine Trias with an invitation to meet President Arroyo, it is likewise unfair to raise accusations that government had not done its part in giving Faye an appropriate welcome. In Mr. Pascual's words, "... in fairness, since the contest sponsors, her school and the others involved in the contest did not publicize the science quiz, it might be too much to expect Malacanang to know about Faye's achievement and to spread the welcome mat." Further, it is also quite inappropriate to use a child in raising political points.

    Today, in her CRAZED column in the Philippine Star, Ms. Patricia Chanco Evangelista writes more on Faye. Recall that she had written about the young lady before, in reaction, perhaps, to the original "Misplaced Priorities" article that had been circulating in cyberspace. Yes, she does exist, indeed. After all the brouhaha over whether she is real or not, people who have now seen her in the flesh, do attest her existence.

    Ms. Evangelista's article provides an account of Faye's experiences from latter's own point of view: in particular how she felt about her journey from daily reviews, to being a ridiculed in a regional contest, to her ingenuity during the Quiz Net in Australia, and finally to her prevailing as champion.

    Now that the world knows about the travails and success of Ms. Faye Nicole B. San Juan, it would be only appropriate to grant her the hero's welcome she deserves.

    Link to the article in Philstar.com here.
    Cached link (on my server, since Philstar.com does not archive articles) here.

    An excerpt:

    Her name is Faye Nicole B. San Juan. She is 12-years-old, a quiet girl with serious eyes and a habit of furrowing her brow when deep in thought. She answers simply questions that people thrice her age would hesitate over. When the right question comes along, the mature mind gives way to the irrepressible child, and Faye bubbles over with giggles as an impish grin lights up her face and brightens her eyes.

    Yes, she exists.


    Faye said that to her, being a Filipino meant growing up in a country ridiculed and condemned all over the world. For her, being a Filipino is an everyday challenge to change that perception. She tells a story of how in Indonesia, during the earlier leg of the competition, she was so nervous that she failed to answer the first question in the quiz. She was booed – the only person to have ever been booed in the competition. She says it was because during that time, people had so little respect for Filipinos they felt they had the right to mock her that way. After that incident, she said "Ipapakita ko talaga sa kanila." And she showed them what a Filipino could do.


    Faye’s story is not out there to ask for aid. Her mother would not have been compelled to come out with Faye’s full identity if it were not for the claims against her child. As Faye’s pastor said, her story was told to show Filipinos that one individual could do well, even one alone and unaided. The story was about hope, about Filipinos who can excel in spite of monumental odds.

    Faye deserves the congratulations. Thanks to so many who believe, she is getting it now.

    Thursday, November 04, 2004

    POSTRSCRIPT by FDP: Faye is real

    Mr. Fedirico D. Pascual, in his POSTSCRIPT Op/Ed Column in the Philippine Star, writes on the existence of Faye..

    Links to the article here (Philstar.com), and here (manilamail.com).

    An excerpt:

    Why use Faye to score political points vs gov’t?
    POSTSCRIPT By Federico D. Pascual, Jr.
    The Philippine Star 11/04/2004

    ELUSIVE PASTOR: We made several calls to the Bread of Life Ministries, which took responsibility for the Faye writeup. We asked for Rev. Bong Saquing, associate pastor, who we presumed wrote the article because his name appeared under it, but he was reportedly too busy.

    I said all I needed was five minutes, but he would still not take my call or return it. I asked the secretary to ask for me the question: “Is everything in that article true and factual and nothing was exaggerated?”

    Coming back, the secretary told me Rev. Bong's answer was Yes. I said I wanted to hear that directly from him. But he would not take the call.


    POLITICAL POINTS: It is important that we were able to establish that Faye is a real person. The TV appearances alone would have settled the point of her identity.

    But the unusual details of the story are another matter. The question lingers in my mind: Is the account of her ordeal true, factual and not exaggerated, not embroidered?

    I also want to know directly from Faye if she is aware of an apparent attempt to use her (1) to put down Jasmine Trias, and (2) score political points against the government.

    By its title alone, the political angle to the writeup is obvious. It says: “Misplaced Priorities Can Mislead the Nation.” The text portrays the administration as uncaring and having skewed priorities.

    The failure of Malacanang to invite Faye upon her return from Australia was highlighted. But in fairness, since the contest sponsors, her school and the others involved in the contest did not publicize the science quiz, it might be too much to expect Malacanang to know about Faye's achievement and to spread the welcome mat.

    The tragedy is that POOR FAYE MAY NOT EVEN BE AWARE of the political points being made in her name -- or of the attempt to put down Jasmine Trias because of the attention the singer got when she came over.

    Wednesday, November 03, 2004

    Dramatic Parable

    Fr. Vicente Marasigan, SJ, a fellow COPA-NET E-Group member, posted this in response to an email I sent to the group:

    [[Whether Faye's story is true or not, what's important for me is that the fact remains that many of our kababayans are starstruck. -- (Angelo)]]

    I like to think that the Faye story is not a hoax intended to deceive but a dramatic parable intended to present a profile of Filipino culture as seen by its anonymous author and also by others including yourself. It is a “starstruck” cuture..

    [[At least we have something to take our minds off politics, eh? -Angelo]]

    Not quite. The story also contains a profile of politicians.

    Here was my response:

    In the last sentence of my previous post, I was referring to our 'starstruck' culture, and not to the article on Faye per se. My apologies for being ambiguous on this.

    It's a sad reality that many of us would rather turn towards showbiz, in effect shying away from the realities and problems of life, political ones included. Consider the proliferation of showbiz-oriented talk and reality-based shows. It used to be that such shows were confined to Sunday afternoons. Now, we see showbiz oriented shows on TV on weekday mornings and weekend afternoons (yes, both Saturday and Sunday--i.e. "Morning Star," "Ek Channel," and "The Buzz" of ABS-CBN). The more popular primetime news shows also seem to have been contributing more airtime to showbiz news than in the past. We're being overloaded with showbiz news!

    But when showbiz personalities get into politics (and what recent national or local election did not feature any showbiz figure?), then that would be a different story!

    On the Faye 'parable,' as we would now put it, I guess we had been focusing too much on looking for the facts pertinent to Faye's identity. I do agree that what's important are the lessons that the story imparts upon us. Lessons such as humility (i.e. in the concerned person's preference not to be known), perseverance (walking
    for miles in a strange distant land), and faith (choosing not to accept the 'help' from opportunitstic officials), among others, should be able to inspire those who read the account of Faye's experience. Faye represents the Filipino who goes through similar experiences in his or her everyday life, in the end coming out as a hero, or more appropriately, bayani, to our nation.

    **Last edited 1330H 04-Nov-04 (fixed formatting)

    More on Faye

    Following are some posts by fellow pinoyblog bloggers referring to my earlier articles wondering on the existence of "Faye."

    Cath: Patricia's Faye, a hoax?
    Guy Rendon/The Edge Blog: Pinoy Idols, Awful People and Condemnation

    More "Awful Observations" by Guy.

    Posts on COPA-NET from fellow e-group members:

    From Mr. Lauro Purcil:

    I still prefer to believe that the story is true. I'm ready to look at it and do something to prevent or at least minimize similar happening.

    From Mr. Tony Cubacub:

    A hoax perhaps ? The source of the story is a reliable and honest person, but we will know for sure once we get some more details as suggested, as we could not launch an initiative on this issue if our facts are in disarray...am doing my share to get more details and will inform you asap.

    I hope we do get that information soonest, so we could finally shed some light on this issue. If the story were just a hoax, then I couldn't help but agree with Guy in his stating in his post that:

    Even if this story is true, then it only proves the point that our media in the Philippines is also awful. Like I said on my previous blog, the Philippine media is like “Tabloids on Steroids”. If you have the money, you can pay them to publish anything you want just as she had mentioned that this ad was paid by Bread of Life Ministries.

    Faye, if you're reading this, I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate you for your success. However, I guess your existence (or lack thereof) has baffled quite a number of people in the Philippine online community. Wouldn't this be a good time to take your claim to fame?


    Tuesday, November 02, 2004

    More on 'Misplaced Priorities'

    A distinguished colleague of mine, Mr. Napoleon B. Imperial (nice name, huh?) did some research and found that the article was likewise published by the Bread of Life Ministries in its regular newsletter. Online version here: CROSSROAD77 website.

    For Mr. Imperial, the legitimacy of Faye's existence and story has been established given that it was published by a reliable source, which is in this case a Christian organization (this he related to me in an email message). However, I still have my reservations. While Mr. Imperial considers the source to be reliable, it is not fool proof, more so with the fact that Faye's story had been circulating in the 'net for some time. Hence, pick up by the various print and online media may be skewed toward the reality presented by the original source of the story (i.e. whether it was fact or fabrication). And in this case, I don't think that the Bread of Life Ministries was the original source. The story (same text) has appeared numerous times in various media; click here for a google search on the text 'misplaced priorities mislead' and you'll see what I mean. And I also note that the contest in which Faye was supposed to have won, the "Intercontinental Science Quiz Net" in Australia does not have mention in any online publication, likewise an observation in her blog by an old contact of mine (way back in the good old BBSing days), Ms. Sacha Chua.
    (Click here for Google search on the Quiz)

    With the foregoing, though, I still hold fast to the opinion that the craze over the arrival of Ms. Jasmine Trias, an American Citizen, born in American soil, of Filipino ancestry, is indicative of misplaced priorities. We should not look elsewhere for inspiration. We have heroes in our midst, and we should recognize them.

    Click here for a copy of the 'Misplaced Priorities' article as posted on CROSSROAD77.

    Last edited: 1534H 02Nov04 -jangelo

    Misplaced Priorities and Looking Elsewhere for Inspiration

    I posted this at COPA-NET (the e-group of the Council on Philippine Affairs/COPA), in response to posts about the 'Faye' and Jasmine Trias story entitled Misplaced Priorities can Mislead a Nation (a version of the full text can be read here). I've been reading around and, indeed, many seem to feel that the story is just a hoax. However, a member of COPA-NET (who posted a copy of the article) indicated that he shall attempt to seek more information on the identity of 'Faye,' in the aim of possibly referring the matter to the appropriate authorities so that they can confer honor on her for her efforts. -Angelo

    I've been reading around the 'net and bloghopping, and I couldn't help but be a bit sceptical about the 'Faye' story, especially given the comments I've read speculating that it's just a hoax. Heck, I even posted a copy of Patricia Evangelista's article in her regular column on my blog, and got an Anonymous comment to the same effect (post on my blog here). It would be good if we could get our hands on information at least on the title of the contest she won in Australia (since it seems the persons involved had requested that their identities not be disclosed). Otherwise it may be best to take the 'Faye' story with a grain of salt at this point.

    However, in the end, I do agree that the fact that a lot of Filipinos went ga-ga over the arrival of Jasmine Trias is indeed indicative of our misplaced priorities, or at least the escapist mentality many of us tend to go into in these troubling times. And of course, I acknowledge that public officials do have the propensity and ability to take advantage of their power and position. We do have a good number of unsung heroes who contribute a lot to our nation in their everyday undertakings, and it's quite disturbing that we choose to look elsewhere for inspiration.