Saturday, May 30, 2015

Leftists and the Rising Cost of Education

As I scrolled through my social media feed, one item caught my attention. It was an article released by the leftist organization Anakbayan listing what its head, Vencer Crisostomo, claims are the "billions in profits because of the skyrocketing tuition rates." Kabataan, another leftist youth group, released a similar article, with its party-list representative Terry Ridon is quoted as saying,
 “These numbers are simply astounding and is comparable to the profits of a commercial company. Clearly, these schools are not in the red and there is no reason to again increase tuition and other school fees next year.” ("Top private universities in PH earning billions in profits", Kabataan party-list website)
When one looks at the infographic posted in the Anakbayan article (see below), at first glance, the numbers are staggering.
Infographic from the Anakbayan webite.

P14.8 billion is, indeed, quite a bit of money, and can be used to illustrate, at least to Anakbayan and Kabataan, how parents of students in private schools are, in Crisostomo's words, "scammed through the collection of high tuition and questionable other school fees." 

However, since I am an employee of one of those private schools (Ateneo de Manila, for full disclosure), the numbers presented by the leftists are misleading and intended to inflame those who do not take time to do a little research.

One will note that, even in the Anakbayan article, what is mostly listed is the gross income. I will not refer to it as profit, which is what the Anakbayan article calls it, since the school will have to benefit from it for it to be profit (those in business may feel free to correct me on this.). Since it is the gross income, it is the total amount that the school has collected, before expenses.

It costs a lot to run a school. By law, the largest slice of the tuition pie must go to teachers' salaries, and, depending on the average number of years a teacher has spent in a school, one's salary can increase, albeit to a limited extent, so the school has to be able to account for that. After that, there are utilities to consider: electricity, water, and so on.

In the Anakbayan article, the Ateneo is listed to have collected P2.9 billion in tuition fees, but the article does not take into consideration that the Ateneo de Manila is composed of several units scattered throughout the metropolis. Aside from its main campus in Loyola Heights, there are the professional schools in Rockwell, Makati, which includes the MBA and law programs. Then, there is the medical school, which is based in Medical City in Pasig City. One puts these schools together, and the figure of P2.9 billion isn't too difficult to hit.

Even the so-called profit (UST, and La Salle posted their net profit.) will be something the school will most likely use to upgrade itself, at least, speaking with my own workplace in mind. The coming of senior high school, for example, will entail massive spending in order to build the necessary classrooms, as well as the other various facilities needed by a school.

To support their call to stop tuition fee hikes, Kabataan, Anakbayan, and other leftist organizations will point to the 1987 Constitution, in which section 1 of Article XIV states,
"The State shall protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels, and shall take appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all."
 However, the Philippine government has done this, by instituting and maintaining state colleges and universities. Private institutions, such the Ateneo de Manila, La Salle, and UST, do not receive government money (at least, I don't think they do.), and, thus, must generate their own income via the tuition fees and other school fees. At the same time, such institutions, if they wish to continue to be considered among the country's, if not the world's, best, they must continually upgrade to keep pace. This, of course, requires money, a fact of life that leftist organizations such as Anakbayan and Kabataan simply cannot understand, or refuse to understand.

It is doubtful that the leftists' fulmination over the rising cost of education will gain any noticeable traction, since it is something that they have been protesting for time immemorial. One of their problems is that they seem to see the world through an ideology that is outdated and irrelevant. Another is their penchant for not telling the whole truth, such as the manner by which they presented the so-called "profit" of the private schools. Such tactics ensure that they will remain a strident, but insignificant, voice in the wilderness.

At the same time, it should be a spur for the government, through its Department of Education (DepEd), to ensure that Filipino students are able to get quality education in the public schools, since students and their parents would not be compelled to enter expensive private schools if the quality of public education was top-notch.

 It is food for thought as the DepEd continues its preparations for the K-12 educational reform, to make sure that the new educational program fulfills its objective of improving the quality of Philippine education. Otherwise, the possible failure of K-12 would give leftists more momentum to rail against the rising costs of Philippine education. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Musings on Rodrigo Duterte

One cannot argue that Davao City is one of the safest cities in the world; in fact, it was ranked 9th by the crowd-sourcing site, Davao City residents and visitors will attest to this. Unlike in other parts of the country, one can take a stroll at night without fear of being mugged or attacked. At the same time, Davao City is a booming metropolis, with its economic gains attracting positive attention. Much of Davao City's reputation is because of its long-time mayor, Rodrigo Duterte. Duterte has long been an advocate of being tough on crime and has been committed to enforcing the law. There is a much-publicized story of the mayor's daughter caught speeding, and having to pay the fine, which proved that, to Rodrigo Duterte, no one is above the law.

Except, perhaps, himself.

While one cannot dispute the fact that Duterte has molded his city into a paragon of order and law, evidence has come to light that Davao City's safety is built on blood. The blood of criminals, maybe, but blood nonetheless.

Recently, at a national convention of the Workplace Advocates on Safety, Rodrigo revealed the reason for Davao City's success: kill all the criminals, as his means of being tough on crime. Here are some of the quotes from his speech:

"You rape a child in my city? I will kill you, I have no problem with that." (sic)

"You commit robbery and rape your victim? I will kill you."

"We’re the ninth safest city,” he added. “How do you think I did it? How did I reach that title among the world’s safest cities?”

“Kill them all (criminals).”

The comments drew loud condemnation from human rights advocates, since, for one thing, the Philippines has suspended its implementation of the death penalty. For another, it's not clear as to what method Duterte uses to determine the guilt of one to be executed. Was the person convicted in court, or is he or she just suspected of committing the crime? What evidence was submitted to establish the person's guilt, beyond reasonable doubt? It's more likely that Duterte would rather cut through the legal tangle, and simply execute whomever he believes is guilty of a crime.

Duterte's party mate, Senator Aquilino Pimentel III of the PDP-Laban, was quick to defend the mayor, suggesting that the mayor was either misquoted, or speaking out of bravado. Senator Pimentel also made an oblique cue to Duterte, and said that, if Duterte wishes to run for either President or Vice-President, he should tone down the talk of killing and executions. Senator Pimentel also denied that Duterte was involved in the executions, saying, "He has never done that."

Duterte promptly gave the lie to Pimentel's statements, and said on a radio show last Sunday, that he was, indeed, connected to the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS), which is supposedly responsible for the summary executions of around 1,000 criminals. Duterte showed no signs of toning down his tough guy talk, and said that, should he be elected as President, the death toll could rise to over 100,000, as he would proceed to weed out criminals in government by executing them. Duterte would later deny his links to the DDS, after Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said that she would look into his admission. The two are currently engaged in a word war, with neither side apparently willing to back down.

Malacanang was finally forced to issue a statement through Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., who stressed that elected officials must "uphold the law," and disputed that Duterte's popularity was due to the breakdown of law and order in the country. In reaction to this, Secretary Coloma said, "We believe that rule of law prevails in our country and it is the duty of the President as chief executive to enforce our laws,” he told reporters in Filipino. “The principle we believe in is this: public servants should also enforce the law.” Sec. Coloma then called upon the Department of Justice to "do what needs to be done based on its mandate" in order to deal with Duterte's admission regarding the DDS.

Unfortunately for Sec. Coloma, the perception that our laws are weak and not enforced consistently is a strong one, since there is much evidence of it. We have seen how slow it takes for justice to be obtained, or, sometimes, not obtained at all, due to lack of evidence or legal technicalities. We have seen how our officials, both elected and non-elected, have used and abused their positions to enrich themselves. We have seen how there are two sets of justice, one for the rich, and one for the poor.

Because of this, it is not surprising that a number of Filipinos have become disenchanted and disillusioned about the enforcement of law in our country. This is why someone such as Rodrigo Duterte becomes so popular, since he appears to be willing to do the dirty work others refuse to do. As a recent editorial in the Philippine Daily Inquirer notes,
"The man is different; he suffers no knaves, and loves the idea of bludgeoning them to submission—or to kingdom come, if need be. His vocabulary is a thesaurus on one word—“kill.” He doesn’t mind being seen as violent; if it’s the language of the blackguards and heels he’s up against, then he’ll dish it to them, in full glare of the media and an adoring throng weary of the everyday lawlessness around them. Forget action movies, here’s the real Dirty Harry, and he doesn’t slink back into ambiguous darkness after the hit." (PDI, May 23, 2015)
Thanks to his tough guy image, Duterte has made it to the national stage, wherein he is being considered either as a possible President or Vice-President. However, running a country is an entirely different game compared to running a city. Duterte's hubris about killing more and more alleged criminals will not gain traction on the national stage, since not everyone subscribes to his brutal solution to crime. Moreover, being a democracy, Duterte will be unable to act as freely on a national level as he did in Davao, as there will be more who will be unwilling to turn the Philippines into a charnel house. At the same time, it will be difficult to garner global support for the Philippines if one of its leaders espouses summary executions as a means to fight crime.

The only way for Duterte to implement his killing solution on the country is if he is able to dictate the law, without the fetters of Congress or Constitution. As the Inquirer concludes its editorial,
"The appeal is understandable; it was only a matter of time before our descent into the pits as a nation would produce another tough guy, another putative strongman whose penchant for legal shortcuts, whose disdain for the exasperating niceties of the law, becomes precisely his sterling qualification for the job of extracting Filipinos from the hellhole. Ferdinand Marcos once attempted this, too—his New Society, backed by martial law, was meant to save Filipinos from the rot and evil of the old ways, and for a while the country seemed functioning and orderly. The deaths under his watch eventually reached tens of thousands. Most of them, unfortunately, were not criminals, but people who simply had a different mind than the guy in power." (PDI, May 23, 2015)
Do we want a return to the bad old days? If so, perhaps we should elect Duterte as President, but, hopefully, calmer heads and wiser minds will not.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Retreat Hiatus

It's been a busy end of the month, but I won't be able to post until the end of the week; I'll be out on retreat. When I get back, be sure that I'll be recharged and refreshed enough to continue writing, especially since it'll be the anniversary of the blog come June. 

Until then, please pray for me and my co-teachers as we take time out to reflect, pray, and prepare for the coming school year.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Requiem for a Pair of Kings

My strongest memory of musicians Ben E. King and B.B. King, who both passed away within two weeks of each other, is connected with two movies.

Ben E. King2.jpg
Ben E. King, 2007. Image from Wikipedia
For Ben E. King, who passed away April 30, it was his 1961 song "Stand By Me," that was the theme song for the 1986 movie of the same title. The movie, starring Will Wheaton, the late River Phoenix, as well as Kiefer Sutherland, was based on a Stephen King novella, and was a coming-of-age story about friendship, of how experiences bond one another together. King's voice, coming in after a catchy bass line, provided a haunting reminder of that bond.

While "Stand by Me" is probably King's greatest hit thus far, he also had hits while with the doo-wop group The Drifters, with whom he had the hit song, "There Goes My Baby" in 1959. After leaving the group, King had even greater success as a solo artist, coming out with R&B hit songs until the mid-70s. "Stand by Me" was no. 25 on the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)'s Songs of the Century.

B.B. King in 2009.jpg
B.B. King in 2009. Image from Wikipedia
B.B. King is considered to be one of the legends of the jazz genre, with a host of awards and an extensive library of work. He is also one of the most influential guitarists of his time, ranked no. 6 by "Rolling Stone" magazine in 2011. 

 The New York Times had this to say about King's music:
Mr. King married country blues to big-city rhythms and created a sound instantly recognizable to millions: a stinging guitar with a shimmering vibrato, notes that coiled and leapt like an animal, and a voice that groaned and bent with the weight of lust, longing and lost love.

I remember him best in his cameo in the movie "Heart and Souls" starring Robert Downey, Jr., and Elizabeth Shue.  His riff for the "Star Spangled Banner" was pure electricity.

With the passing of both Kings, the music world is so much poorer, but both men have left such a rich legacy that neither are likely to be forgotten.

Requiescat in pace, Ben E. King and B.B. King. Keep on playing and singing up there.

A Can of Worms: The Kentex Fire

Another busy week for me, and, in the news, it's also been pretty busy. I'll try to play catch-up on the various issues of the past week.

Last week, a fire raged for seven hours at the Kentex factory in Valenzuela City. When the fire died down, firefighters found the charred remains of those who were not able to escape. However, based on the investigations done, it's clear that their deaths could have been prevented. The tragic fire at the Kentex factory in Valenzuela City, which claimed more than 72 lives, opened a can of worms by exposing a number of issues regarding fire safety, labor, and the enforcement of laws surrounding these.

It's clear that there were violations in the fire safety of the factory. Based on survivors' accounts, there were no fire drills held at all prior to the fire, and there were a number of fire safety laws and ordinances that were violated by the owners of the factory. One of these was the placement of grills and screens which blocked possible exits of those trapped on the second floor. In today's Philippine Star, columnist Cito Beltran noted that these were placed to serve as security measures, and blamed the state of law and order which has forced citizens to resort to illegal means to protect themselves.

As a result of the fire, several possible violations of the labor code were brought to light. Survivors alleged that workers at the factory were paid below the minimum wage, and had to work in the presence of hazardous chemicals. In fact, it was a stray spark from a welder's work that apparently ignited these chemicals, which led to the seven-hour long fire. The Inquirer's editorial today noted how it would take a tragedy such as this to expose these labor conditions.

The various fire safety and labor violations surrounding the Kentex fire show how weak our enforcement of laws are. During a family gathering, one of my relatives observed that the Philippines has a multitude of good laws, but it's the lack of their enforcement that is appalling. Such is the case here. It's clear that the 72 or so persons who burned to death in the fire died because of the negligence of both the factory owners and those tasked to enforce the law. While this will be damaging to the owners of the factory, equally liable are the government officials who allowed these violations to exist. As Beltran noted, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas should identify who these are, and throw the book at them.

It's infuriating that it takes a high body count to expose the flaws in the way things are done in the country. What's even more infuriating is that, in spite of these exposes, more often than not, little or nothing happens to change the state of affairs. 
The Kentex fire evoked memories of the Ozone tragedy, wherein more than a 160 people, mostly young people celebrating their graduation, were burned to death. It's taken two decades for the cases against those responsible to be decided, and it's not yet over, since those accused may appeal the decision with the Supreme Court. Here's hoping that, for the victims of the Kentex fire, deciding the cases will not take that long.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

My Phones Through the Years, Revisited

While I've been aware of the term "Throwback Thursday" for quite a while now, I've never really felt strongly enough about posting something about it, until a while ago, when a chat with a friend made me think of the way we communicate with one another, particularly our use of the cellular phone. It's a term that one doesn't hear nowadays, it having been supplanted by "smartphone," or "iPhone," or "Android phone." Still, the evolution of the cellular phone to its current incarnation has come a long way in just a little over a decade, and I'd like to go back to an earlier post, and look at the phones that I'd used over the years.

Nokia 6080
Just for full disclosure, I don't use an Android phone or an iPhone, although the phone I'm currently using qualifies as a smartphone. I haven't really seen an urgent need to upgrade, since the phone I'm currently using satisfies my needs in all aspects of using a phone, except maybe taking sharp pictures. But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

So, looking back, I started with the Nokia 5110, then moved on to the Nokia 3310, and then, when I reread my 2012 post, I realized that I had missed one in between the 3310 and the 5130.

Before the 5130, my first camera phone was the 6080, a very basic phone. It had very little memory, which meant I couldn't place much music into it. I used it more for taking a few pictures here and there. I had to replace it with the 5130 because the casing was coming apart at the seams, and, at the same time, I really wanted to get a phone which had more space for music, hence, the 5130.

BlackBerry Curve 9220
When I lost the 5130 back in 2012, it seemed easier to get a postpaid plan after doing prepaid all these years, so, using my wife's postpaid account, I got myself a fairly inexpensive plan. With it, came the BlackBerry Curve 9220, which ended my long-term relationship with Nokia phones. Interestingly enough, the only color available for the Curve when I applied for my plan was blue, so I wound up nicknaming my phone the "BlueBerry."

As I mentioned before, I'm not too happy with the 9220's camera; it's pretty basic, and grainy. All I can normally use it for is to take pictures of movie reservations, and maybe some really emergency-level pictures. However, for everything else, it's pretty useful. The micro-SD slot allows me to have a fairly extensive range of music, with enough room for a number of videos, particularly those which my daughters watch from time to time.

However, I sense the 9220's time is coming to an end. The rubber buttons on the sides, which allow volume control, and activation of the camera and BlackBerry Messenger, have already degraded, which makes it difficult to control the volume. Clumsy as I am, I've dropped it a number of times, which can't have been very good for it. Still, it has been a very durable and handy companion; it went with me on my trips to Singapore and Bangkok, and did everything that I needed from it.

And so, I'm looking at phones once more, to try to choose something to my liking. As much as I would like something like the 9220, I'm pretty certain that I'll finally be moving on to a touchscreen phone, something I'd been resisting for a while. Call it the grumpy old man in me, as I prefer the tactile keyboard, which I had gotten used to after using the instinctive Nokia numeric keypad for so long. However, I suspect that I'll soon get used to that as well, like I did the rest.

As it is, I actually might come back to Nokia, since the Lumia 535 seems to be available with the postpaid plan I'm looking at. Thus, events bring us back to the start.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Lost in the Shuffle: FOI

One of the tools that is necessary for transparency in government is the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill, which has been languishing in limbo, despite President Aquino's campaign promise to shepherd it into law.

The bill is necessary because it allows people to access government records, with restrictions plus a clear procedure for accessing the records. By allowing access, it is hoped that government will be more transparent regarding its actions. 

During the 2010 presidential campaign, Noynoy Aquino promised voters that he would make freedom of information a priority issue. However, he appears to have backtracked on this promise, since the FOI bills are still in the legislative grinder as we approach the next election cycle. While the Senate already passed its version last year, the House has been cooling its heels, as the various consolidated bills have only made it past the first reading. With the 2016 elections looming in the distance, with certificates of candidacy to be filed later this year, it becomes more and more unlikely that the House will manage to pass the FOI bill. 

At the same time, this year has been packed with enough issues that FOI has been placed on the back burner. From the visit of Pope Francis to the tragic Mamasapano incident, to the controversy around the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), to the Binays' corruption cases, to Chinese depredations on our territory, to the earthquakes in Nepal, the year 2015 has been jam packed with quite a number of issues, making it difficult for FOI to gain any traction.

Furthermore, every government loves its secrets, because it probably believes that there are always some actions the details of which should remain hidden from the public eye. However, what a government believes should remain hidden and what the public believes should be made public are often very different interpretations. This is why the founder of Wikileaks and Edward Snowden remain fugitives from their respective countries, as the secrets they revealed were very damaging not only to those countries, but also to other countries included in the secrets.

As a result, it seems unlikely that we will see the implementation of an FOI law before the end of this administration. With the possibility of a candidate who has every reason to deep-six FOI winning next year, the possibility of the bill's passage becomes even more remote. 

Despite these huge hurdles, it's important that we do not let up in sounding out our government that FOI is necessary in our fight to root out and stop corruption. At the same time, it is equally important to educate our countrymen, so that the clamor can be so strong that it can no longer be ignored.

K-12: Challenges

This is a follow-up to my previous post on K-12, wherein I dealt with the arguments raised against the program. Now, I'd like to take a look at the various challenges that K-12 faces, and what can be done about them.

One of the major challenges is dealing with those whose employment will be affected by the program. The naysayers led by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV claim that 80,000 will be out of work because of the lack of enrollment in college, a reality caused by the extra two years of senior high school. However, the Department of Education (DepEd), as well as the NGO Philippine Business for Education (PBEd), has disputed this, and have said that the number of those affected will only be about 28,000, or about a third of what the naysayers have claimed.  

As for those who will be affected by the lack of enrollment, the DepEd has already said that those affected will have first priority in teaching senior high school. In reality, the curriculum of senior high school looks more like the core curriculum of colleges and universities, so college professors may not have so much trouble teaching at the senior high level. The DepEd has attempted to sweeten the deal by exempting college professors from having to take the Licensure Exam for Teachers (LET) in order to secure a teaching license for senior high.

The next question is whether there will be enough senior high schools for the graduating grade 10 batch, since a good number of schools, both public and private, will not be offering senior high school as of this time, since they lack both the facilities and resources to do so. I am hoping that this will be a temporary lack, and the DepEd is rushing to make sure that there will be enough schools to accommodate the graduating batch. Otherwise, this will be a major contention to deal with, as it's certain that Sen. Trillanes and his ilk will use that as confirmation of the country's unreadiness for K-12.

One of the concerns that have been raised is that the additional two years will be a burden for parents already struggling to make ends meet; in fact, ABS-CBN ran a news story on "TV Patrol" a few days ago, featuring parents who are not in favor of K-12. Knowing how ABS-CBN likes to "create" news, I suspect that the story is skewed, as it did not even tackle how these parents' concerns are being answered. 

On one hand, the extra two years may be a burden for a number of families, but they should consider the possibility of their children finding work earlier, especially if the students choose to enter the non-college tracks; if their children do so, parents will actually be saved from paying for 3-4 years of college. 

For those whose children are aiming for college, the DepEd has been working with the business sector to set up a voucher system that will allow students who, normally, wouldn't be able to pay for college, to enroll. It'll probably be like a scholarship program. Here's hoping that the DepEd will be able to make this work.

Admittedly, the concerns of various stakeholders in education are valid, but the DepEd, along with the private schools and other sectors of society, has been working hard to allay the fears, and ensure that the implementation of K-12 will be successful. As I mentioned in my previous post, the K-12 is a badly needed reform for our educational system, and, instead of playing on fears, it would be better for those opposing it to find ways and means by which the concerns can be minimized. 

K-12: Answering the Naysayers

Last week, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, along with Magdalo party-list representatives Gary Alejano and Francis Ashley Acedillo, filed a petition with the Supreme Court to suspend the implementation of Republic Act 10533, also known as the "Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013." In their petition, Sen. Trillanes and his Magdalo allies claimed that, when the deliberations for the law were held, there were no representatives from the education sector present. Sen. Trillanes also claimed that the Department of Education officials (DepEd, led by Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro, were misleading the President regarding how prepared the country was for the new educational system. In sum, Sen. Trillanes concludes, the country is not yet ready for K-12.  

It should be noted that, during the Senate deliberations on RA 10533, Sen. Trillanes was the only one who voted against the law's passage. With various groups voicing their opposition to K-12, it's possible that Trillanes sees an opportunity to show his colleagues in the Senate that they were wrong in passing the bill. It's also possible that Trillanes is using populist sentiments in order to fuel support for a possible run at the vice-presidency next year. Whatever his reasons, he could not be more wrong about K-12. K-12 is a necessary reform for our educational system, in order for us to be more competitive in the global level.

Aside from the Philippines, only Angola and Djibouti continue to have a 10-grade level basic education program, one can only wonder what is going through the minds of the likes of Sen. Trillanes and those opposing the K-12 education reform. Do they seriously believe that we can continue to be globally competitive if our graduates are not compliant with the rest of the world's educational requirements?

As it is, with many Filipinos going abroad to work, they find themselves at a disadvantage since they lack the two extra years that workers from other countries (except Angola and Djibouti) have, and, as a result, sometimes have to settle for lesser jobs because of this.

On the local side, the average age of students who graduate from the 10-year basic education system is 15-16, which means that they will be unable to find meaningful employment, since they are minors. This is what necessitates college education, which can be more of a burden than the 12-year basic education. The fact is, not all graduates have the aptitude for college, and may be better off finding work straight out of high school. Unfortunately, because of their age, they will be unable to do so. This is one of the reasons why K-12 is necessary. (see K-12 myths being busted. Also, note the FAQs in the official government website on K-12.)

I am not going to go into a detailed description of K-12, as there are enough, notably the Philippine Star's Isagani Cruz (check his archives), who have written, at length, about what changes the program will implement, and what its benefits are. To give a short summary, RA 10533 seeks to reform our educational system by: one, strengthening the early basic education levels by making kindergarten mandatory and introducing mother tongue based teaching; two, making the curriculum more relevant to learners; and three, giving students more choices with the introduction of senior high school, which will allow students to enter the workforce without having to go through additional college education.

Of course, such sweeping changes to our educational system are not going to happen without some glitches happening here and there. However, instead of griping about those glitches, those opposing the reform would be better off working on how to better support the new program, and making it work. The May 7 editorial of the Philippine Daily Inquirer notes how sorely needed the reform is, and details some of the actions being taken to support K-12.

Sen. Trillanes and other K-12 naysayers claim that the country is not prepared for K-12. If so, then when will be the perfect time? The answer is that there will never be a perfect time to implement K-12; if the Supreme Court somehow agrees with the petitioners, and suspends K-12, it will only mean that we will continue to fall further behind the rest of the world. 

Thursday, May 07, 2015

What's Next for Pacquiao?

With the disappointing loss to Floyd Mayweather, Jr., one may question what the next move for Manny Pacquiao will be.

Definitely, the first thing will be dealing with the fallout from his rotator cuff injury, for which he will be undergoing surgery to repair. Then, he will have to deal with the repercussions from not revealing the injury before the fight, as both Nevada athletic officials, as well as some fans, are irate over that fact. It's possible that Pacquiao may face sanctions from Nevada officials, and, apparently, two fans have filed a class-action suit against Pacquiao.

Because of the injury and subsequent surgery, Pacquiao's mainly done with boxing for the year, since he will need time to recover from the surgery. However, Mayweather has apparently expressed interest in a rematch next year, so it's very possible that Pacquiao will jump at that chance, if only to prove that he can take on Mayweather when healthy.

Of course, the fly in the ointment is the fact that next year is an election year, and Pacquiao is on the short-list of Vice-President Binay's party for its senatorial slate. Despite his lackluster run as Congressman, Pacquiao will probably to accept the offer to run for Senator, and he is likely to win, given the nature of Filipino voting. Depending on whether there will be a rematch, and depending on when it will be scheduled, the fight will be affected by the election campaign, because it's unlikely that Pacquiao will not join the Vice-President on the campaign trail.

If another match with Mayweather will be set next year, it's very possible that Pacquiao will move from the most absentee Congressman to the most absentee Senator.

As for his stint in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), the injury will preclude any playing time for Pacquiao, although he will probably continue being the token head coach of the team.

Based on the initial reactions from Pacquiao's camp, it doesn't look like he's planning to retire anytime soon, especially if there's substance behind Mayweather's rematch offer. If Pacquiao does consent to fighting Mayweather a second time, hopefully, he will take the rematch more seriously, and train better for it. Of course, if he decides to run, and train at the same time, then he will be doing a double disservice, to his boxing fans, and to the Filipino people.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Pacquiao-Mayweather Post-Mortem

Based on my Facebook feed, it appears that a lot of people expected Floyd Mayweather, Jr., to stand and fight Manny Pacquiao in their much-anticipated match last Sunday. I'm not sure why that's the case, since Mayweather has made a living playing defensively, and basically, avoiding getting hit, while getting his points with accurate punches. Such was the case last Sunday, as he continued his unbeaten streak, and got past Pacquiao via unanimous decision.

What I found surprising was the Pacman's apparent lack of killer instinct, as he appeared to have cornered Mayweather a number of times, but didn't go in with his signature flurry of punches. This was borne out by the official statistics which showed that Pacquiao threw less punches than Mayweather, and connected with even fewer. Perhaps the post-game revelation of Pacquiao having an injured shoulder played a factor in that, although Pacquiao has stressed that he doesn't want to make any excuses for his loss.

In addition, Pacquiao did not seem to demonstrate any lateral movement, as he tried to engage Mayweather again and again with frontal assaults, only to be stymied by Mayweather's quick left jab. I'm not sure what gameplan Pacquiao and trainer Freddie Roach had on Mayweather, but it was clear, to me, at least, that Pacquiao was not at top form as he took on the undefeated Mayweather.

Could it be a case of age? While Pacquiao (36) is two years younger than Mayweather (38), the Pacman has fought more battles than Mayweather, both statistically and literally. Throughout Mayweather's career, he has made a living off not going toe-to-toe and thus, not getting hit, while Pacquiao has been in more brawls than his opponent. It could mean that there are a lot of miles in Pacquiao's body, and all those brawls may have taken their toll on the Pacman. Throw in a bum right shoulder (possible torn rotator cuff), and it spells 12 rounds of trouble for Pacquiao.

While many boxing fans were turned off by Mayweather's defensive, boring style, and social media was awash with jokes about Mayweather's running and hugging, I found Mayweather to be an excellent boxer, as he ducked and weaved, and made it extremely difficult for Pacquiao to corner and pummel him (I will have to say that I would have loved to see Mayweather get pummeled.). At the same time, Mayweather was able to throw his punches more accurately; boxing is a sport of points, and Mayweather made sure that he was able to score a lot of them.  

Despite the unanimous decision, and despite the commanding performance, it's clear that Mayweather is not a champion beloved by the fans; in fact, he was roundly booed after the announcement of the win. While Mayweather demonstrated technical brilliance as he took Pacman to school, it's clear that, for a lot of boxing fans, they would rather see a lot of punching action, e.g. toe to toe boxing.

Despite the loss, Pacquiao was not diminished by the defeat. One, he didn't get badly injured during the fight, unlike in some of his previous matches, and, two, Mayweather, despite the win, did not really demonstrate his ability as a fighter by playing defensive. It would be interesting to speculate whether a healthy Pacquiao could have taken down Mayweather, but, with Mayweather announcing officially that he has one fight left on his contract, it's uncertain whether he will agree to another match.

It was the first time for me to watch a boxing match via pay-per-view, and I appreciated the lack of the ten to twenty minute commercial breaks. At the same time, the match went by very quickly, as the breaks between rounds were short.

All in all, though, the much-hyped "Fight of the Century" didn't deliver as promised, as one fighter (Pacquiao) was apparently not at 100%, and the other fighter (Mayweather) chose not to directly engage his opponent. Perhaps if this match happened five years ago, when both fighters were at their peak, it would have been a more thrilling match. As it is, it's unlikely that there will be another match as highly anticipated as this one in the near future, which could spell trouble for the future of professional boxing.


There were a lot of interesting articles on the fight, and I thought it would be interesting to include links to some of them:

Saturday, May 02, 2015

The Militants' Agenda and the Veloso Family's Ingratitude

While netizens are up in arms over the apparent ingratitude the family of Mary Jane Veloso towards the Aquino administration, I blame the militants, particularly those of Migrante International, for exploiting the Velosos to further the militants' own agenda.

Quick recap: Mary Jane Veloso is a migrant worker who was arrested in 2010 for bringing illegal drugs into Indonesia. After her trial, she was meted out the death penalty by an Indonesian court. Sentenced to die along with eight other convicts by firing squad, Veloso was granted a reprieve by the Indonesian government, as she was . An Indonesian official noted that it was President Aquino's last minute request that was responsible for Veloso's reprieve.

In the aftermath of the reprieve came the strident noise of the militants, who slammed the President for supposedly taking credit for Veloso's reprieve. The Veloso family also claimed that the President does not deserve any credit, that it was the Filipino people who saved their family member from death. The Veloso's statement parrots the militants' stand, and, since the Velosos apparently consider the members of Migrante as part of their family, it isn't hard to see whose hand is influencing the Velosos.

While I, like others, find the Velosos' statements of ingratitude distasteful, I also have to remember that what they're going through is something very difficult, to say the least. If I try hard enough, I can understand their frustration and pain and their outpouring of emotional response. However, I cannot excuse the manner by which they are apparently being used by Migrante and other militant groups. It says a lot about those groups that they would exploit a family's pain to further their own agenda.

It's also erroneous for the Velosos and the militants to accuse the Aquino administration for credit-grabbing. It's not as if the Palace spokespersons have been bragging or trumpeting the President's success over Veloso's reprieve. If anything, it was the Indonesian government that gave the President credit, although I'm sure the huge outcry over Veloso's impending execution probably helped the Indonesians in granting a temporary reprieve. (Related: Read this article about why the Philippines' appeal worked, and that of Australia and other countries didn't.)

If anything, the plight of Veloso is a wake-up call for the government to be more vigilant and aggressive about training and making sure overseas Filipino workers are well-informed about such tactics of drug smugglers and other criminals, and teach OFWs how to avoid these tactics.

Let us also not forget that the reprieve is only temporary; Mary Jane Veloso has not yet been granted clemency, so it's still very possible for her to face the firing squad in the future.  The government still has work to do, which is to prove that Veloso was only a dupe and not someone who was truly guilty of the crime of drug smuggling. If, after everything, Veloso will still be executed, what will the Velosos and Migrante International say then? I can imagine that, whether she's executed or not, they will still blame the Aquino administration for everything.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Crucial Decisions: Filling Vacancies in the Aquino Administration

As President Benigno Aquino III enters his final year in office, he is faced with a daunting task: replacing persons in his Cabinet and administration who have resigned. With the latest resignation being that of Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla and Bureau of Corrections Franklyn Bucayu, there are reportedly at least seven vacancies in the Aquino administration, according to a news report in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

The other vacancies are that of the head of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the Civil Service Commission, the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Bureau of Customs, and the Commission on Audit (COA). If I'm not mistaken, the Customs head position has already been filled, as former commissioner Alberto Lina returns to being the Customs chief, replacing commissioner John Sevilla, who resigned amidst accusations of political pressure.

While the President must be given time to find the right persons for each of the vacant positions, he cannot dilly-dally for long, since a number of these positions, particularly that of the Comelec, the COA and the PNP, are sensitive positions that cannot be vacant for long.

The Comelec, in particular, will be in need of strong leadership as it prepares for next year's elections, with the continuation of automated elections in doubt after the Supreme Court invalidated the Comelec contract with Smartmatic for running diagnostics on the PCOS machines which were to be used in next year's elections. The contract, which was rather defiantly signed by outgoing Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes, came under fire since it was not bid out, as per procurement rules. Whomever the President appoints as Comelec head will have to figure this out upon entry to the office.

The COA, whose leadership by Commissioner Grace Pulido-Tan helped uncover the anomalies in the pork barrel scam, will need someone who is not simply a political appointee in order to maintain its credibility in auditing government expenses.

The same goes for the PNP, which is still dealing with morale issues stemming from the PNP-SAF operation in Mamasapano, and it will have to be someone very apolitical to help avoid suspicions of favoritism from Malacanang.

I am not knowledgeable about each government office, and so I am not sure who I would like to see heading each of them. It's certain, though, that the people who need to be in each vacant position should be men and women of integrity and authority; otherwise, if these criteria are not met, an appointment will be sure to be perceived as a political accommodation.

However, it is unlikely that anyone the President appoints at this time will escape accusations of politicking by the President, which may explain the President's apparent delay in making the appointments. Unfortunately, the vacant positions are key positions which are in need of clear leadership, especially at this time, and the President does not have the luxury of time in replacing his personnel, especially if he wishes to accomplish anything in the final year of his administration.The President must be decisive, appoint the right person for each job, and support that person to the hilt, in order for anything to get done.

Baltimore Unrest

Being here in the Philippines, my exposure to the city of Baltimore has been limited to sports, namely, baseball's Orioles and American football's Ravens. I was able to visit the city of my birth at the around the turn of the millennium, and I managed to catch a game at Camden Yards; the O's lost, but that's another story. During my very short stay there, I found the city to be fairly hospitable and clean.

This is why the more recent news more than a decade later, of riots blowing out of control in Baltimore, was a bit jarring.

The fuse to the powder keg of the Baltimore riots was apparently the death of Freddy Gray, a 25-year old black man who was arrested last April 12, and then died, apparently of a spinal cord injury, a week later. It was the mystery behind the deaths, as well as the fact that yet another black man was arrested and apparently killed by white policemen that sparked the recent riots. (For reading: What is known and what is not known about the Freddy Gray arrest.)

However, based on the reports, Gray was no Trayvon Martin, since, based on the CNN report, Gray was facing multiple charges against him at the time of his arrest. Still, his death, which occurred under police custody, bears investigation.

Gray's death doesn't explain the violent riots that happened last Monday. What's even more disturbing was that the riots were apparently led by people of high school-age. They looted stores, destroyed property, and attacked police; I can't imagine young adults here engaging in such reckless and criminal behavior on a large scale.

It's apparently the age of the rioters which made controlling the riots difficult. Police were placed in an unenviable position, considering that, if they went in as they would against adults, it's very possible that they would face charges afterwards for child abuse. While a number of people took Baltimore and Maryland's governments to task for what was perceived to be a poor response to the riots, I can imagine that city and state officials had to grapple with the ethics of quelling the riots.  

The riots are damaging to a city which has been struggling to regain a level of respectability. Businesses will have been adversely affected by the riots, since the unrest will most likely have a negative effect on visitors, investors, and even residents who will probably try to find a way to leave the city, permanently. Such negative movements will pull down the city's economy, something Baltimore can ill-afford at the moment.

In order to quell any further unrest, the investigation into Gray's death must be expedited, and, if ever, charges should be filed against those responsible. At the same time, city and police officials should evaluate what happened in the Monday riots, so that they can better prepare for any future outrages over the Gray case.

Mary Jane Veloso's Ordeal

Image result for mary jane veloso, story of conviction

For now, Mary Jane Veloso has another chance at life.

At the last minute, the Indonesian government decided to spare Veloso's life, although it continued with the execution of eight others who were convicted for drug smuggling. Veloso herself was arrested for drug smuggling in 2010, although she has maintained ignorance of the drugs she was carrying. Apparently, with the surrender of her recruiter to the NBI, the Indonesian government has accepted the argument that Veloso is a potential witness in uncovering a drug syndicate; her testimony will be necessary in helping establish her recruiter's alleged role in the syndicate. (For reading: Mary Jane Veloso's own narrative of her plight.)

It has been a harrowing experience for Veloso and her family and supporters, considering that, as of last night, it appeared that all attempts to save her had failed. For all intent and purposes, as of last night, Veloso was a dead woman walking, simply waiting for the firing squad that would execute her. This last-minute reprieve has given Veloso and her supporters hope that she will eventually be set free. However, I would hold off any big celebrations pending the resolution of the case against her recruiter. For all we know, this is simply a postponement of the inevitable. Until it is clearly proven that Veloso was simply a naive dupe of the drug smugglers, her execution is still very possible.

Still, it's a feather in the cap of the Aquino administration for being able to convince the Indonesian officials to hold off Veloso's execution, the leftists' noise notwithstanding.

At the same time, Veloso's ordeal should spur the government to go after human traffickers more aggressively, and, to educate Filipino overseas workers of the dangers of human trafficking and drug smuggling. That way, there will be less Velosos in the future.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Back from the Break: The Nepal Earthquake

It's been an eventful two weeks while I was out on vacation. There have been so many issues and events cropping up; however, the most pressing news would have to be that of the Nepal earthquake yesterday, which registered a whopping 7.9 magnitude, and has officially killed more than 2,000 people; that count, sad to say, is still bound to rise, as search and rescue teams frantically sift through the rubble for more survivors. An aftershock, measuring 6.7 magnitude, hit just today, which sent avalanches tumbling through the Himalayas, and endangering climbers on Mt. Everest. (Pictures of the avalanche and its aftermath by AFP's Roberto Schmidt)

Two of the mountaineers on Everest are Filipinos, and, fortunately, they are safe. According to Foreign Affairs spokesperson Charles Jose,"Jessica Ann Nicole Ramirez and Jose Francisco Oracion were in the base camp at Mt. Everest when the earthquake struck Nepal." However, both are now safe in Durbar Square in Kathmandu.

For Filipinos, the Nepal earthquake will evoke memories of the 1990 earthquake which struck Luzon; that natural disaster resulted in about 1,600 deaths.

Here's a news article from the U.K.'s The Telegraph which gives more information about the earthquake. 

One of the ways by which we can help those affected in Nepal is to course our donations through the Philippine Red Cross; below is an infographic for details:

Of course, prayer is a powerful tool, and we can continue to pray for those affected by the earthquake in Nepal, that they do not lose hope, and continue to fight on, and live.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Middle of a Two-Week Break

I was out for the past week since I couldn't get any wi-fi where I was in Baguio, although there will probably be two or three posts from my time there, if I can manage it.

I'll be out again this week, since I'll be joining my family on another out-of-town trip. I won't be bringing my laptop, and typing a post on the iPad Mini has always been a difficult procedure. So, there will probably be no posts for this week, either.

At the same time, I'll be looking forward to some time to myself and my family, so, to all readers out there, take care. I'll be back to my regular inconsistent posting in about a week and a half.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Requiem, Lauren Hill

How does one define determination? When one has an inoperable brain tumor, and persists in chasing one's dream to play college basketball? Then, Lauren Hill would be the answer to that question.

Hill, who died early yesterday, was diagnosed in 2013 with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a rare brain tumor located near the back of the brain. According to the DIPG Registry, the tumor causes "double vision, difficulty in controlling eye and eyelid movement and facial expression, and difficulty chewing and swallowing." Furthermore, the Registry notes, "pressure on other nerves may cause weakness in the arms and the legs and difficulty speaking and walking."

Made It: Lauren Hill, 19, made it through a full season with the Mount St. Joseph's women's basketball team while raising more than $1.5 million for research into the type of brain tumor that will likely end her life
Lauren Hill, in her Mount St.  Joseph's jersey. Image from Daily Mail UK
Despite these difficulties, Hill persisted in playing high school basketball, and was accepted into the basketball program in Mount St. Joseph's in Cincinnati. Because of her condition, the school requested the NCAA to move up their first scheduled game in order to give Lauren a chance to play. This was granted, and, on November 2, in the first game against Xavier University, Lauren, wearing #22, scored the first basket, an uncontested lay-up. According to an article in the NY Daily News, "She would play in four games for Mount St. Joseph’s and scored 10 points. She finished the year with the team as an honorary coach."

It was after the fourth game that her condition worsened, and she was forced to stop playing, but her spirit never wavered, never gave up. During a ceremony held Friday afternoon to honor her, an assistant coach read a quote from her,
"I encourage everyone to cherish every moment with no worry about the past or anxiety about the future. Because the next moment is never promised. Never leave anything unsaid. I have learned to see the blessings in every moment and through every struggle, no matter how tough it might be. Nothing holds me back from living my life and chasing my dreams. I always finish what I start and see it through to the end. Never give up on your dreams. Find something to fight for; I fight for others."
Lauren Hill's fight helped her raise more than $2 million for cancer research, and raised awareness about DIPG. 

Never give up: Lauren, picture on March 22, is vowing to never give up her battle with rare brain cancer 
Image from Daily Mail UK

Requiescat in pace, Lauren Hill. Though short, your life helped touch many. Be at peace.

Requiem, Leland McKenzie

"L.A Law" was probably the first "adult" TV series I followed when I was younger. When the show debuted in 1986, I was in high school, and I was enthralled by the show's crisp storytelling, and how the various characters interacted with one another. Each episode was filled with drama, humor, sex (of course), and the occasional reflective bit, wherein one is made to think about a particular issue. The show did not shy away from controversial topics, including the L.A. riots after the verdict on the Rodney King police trial.

Upon further reflection, it's very possible that "L.A. Law" was one of the reasons why I write about politics and law. The show focused on the drama inside and outside of the courtroom, helped glamorize the profession of law,  and presented how cases are tried, won, and lost. Of course, one has to keep in mind the show presents a glamorized version of the law, and law cases are rarely tried as neatly and quickly as those presented in the show. It's similar to how "C.S.I." made people believe that criminal forensics can quickly establish the guilt or innocence of a suspect. However, such shows helped raise awareness of how these professions work.

At the center of the fictitious law firm McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney and Kuzak, was founder Leland McKenzie, played by actor Richard Dysart. At the start of the series, McKenzie was a voice of reason and wisdom, as he counseled his younger colleagues about how they should comport themselves. Later, he was given more human foibles, as he was exposed to be not as wise or as infallible as he originally was portrayed. His being discovered in bed with a competitor apparently ranks as one of the greatest moments in TV history.

It was Dysart who brought McKenzie to life, and he played McKenzie for the entire 8-season run of the show; in fact, he is one of the few actors who has appeared on every episode. Because of Dysart, the audience was made to believe that McKenzie was human; at least, I believed so.

Leland McKenzie was to be one of the last characters Dysart brought to life, as he appeared only sporadically after "L.A. Law" ended. He would reprise his iconic role for the 2002 reunion show.

Before "L.A. Law," Dysart had a very versatile and colorful career in film and TV. According to a CNN article,
Dysart's range of authority -figure parts ran right to the top. He limned Harry Truman in the CBS telefilm "Day One" and in the ABC miniseries "War and Remembrance," both of which aired in 1989, and he was Henry L. Stimson, the 33rd U.S. president's Secretary of War, in the 1995 HBO telefilm "Truman," starring Gary Sinise.
Similarly, he played the Secretary of Defense in "Meteor" (1979).

Dysart also performed extensively in the medical- (movie) field, performing enough doctor roles to, perhaps, qualify to practice. His two most memorable came in classic satires: in Paddy Chayevsky's scathing "The Hospital" (1971), starring George C. Scott (a good friend), and in "Being There" (1979), as Melvyn Douglas' doctor.
He also was a doctor who died a gruesome death in John Carpenter's "The Thing" (1982) and a physician in such films as "The Terminal Man" (1974), "The Falcon and the Snowman" (1985) and "Warning Sign" (1985).
Dysart portrayed J. Edgar Hoover in the 1993 USA telefilm "Marilyn & Bobby: Her Final Affair" and in Mario Van Peebles' "Panther" (1995).
Dysart also excelled as cranky coots and shifty sorts. He portrayed a motel receptionist in Richard Lester's "Petulia" (1968); was the bad guy who battled Clint Eastwood in "Pale Rider" (1985); stood out as a power player in Oliver Stone's "Wall Street" (1987); and sold barbwire in "Back to the Future III" (1990).
Dysart's credits include an eclectic array of movies, including "The Crazy World of Julius Vrooder" (1974), "The Day of the Locust" (1975), "The Hindenburg" (1975), "An Enemy of the People" (1978), "Prophecy" (1979), "Mask" (1985) and "Hard Rain" (1998).
On television, he was top-notch in the telefilms "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman" (1974), "The People vs. Jean Harris" (1981), as Dwight D. Eisenhower in "The Last Days of Patton" (1986) and as studio chief Louis B. Mayer in "Malice in Wonderland" (1985).

Sadly, Dysart passed away due to a lingering illness last Sunday, at the age of 86.

Requiescat in pace, Richard Dysart. You will be missed.

Richard A Dysart
Image from Doblaje Wiki

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Remembering Bataan

Today is a holiday, Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor), which is also known as Bataan and Corregidor Day. More than seven decades ago, during World War II, thousands of American and Filipino soldiers surrendered after months of intense fighting against the Japanese; those who surrendered were then forced to march 97 km from Bataan to Pampanga in what is now known as the Bataan Death March.

It may seem strange that we celebrate a day wherein we technically lost, but the bravery and sheer determination of the Filipino and American soldiers who fought and lost their lives during the Battle of Bataan cannot simply be forgotten. The last stand of the Filipino-American forces, which lasted three months, delayed the Japanese forces enough that it prevented them from expanding further into the Pacific region, including Australia. As the radio broadcast by the Voice of Freedom from Malinta Tunnel in Corregidor so eloquently put it,
Bataan has fallen. The Philippine-American troops on this war-ravaged and bloodstained peninsula have laid down their arms. With heads bloody but unbowed, they have yielded to the superior force and numbers of the enemy.

The world will long remember the epic struggle that Filipino and American soldiers put up in the jungle fastness and along the rugged coast of Bataan. They have stood up uncomplaining under the constant and grueling fire of the enemy for more than three months. Besieged on land and blockaded by sea, cut off from all sources of help in the Philippines and in America, the intrepid fighters have done all that human endurance could bear.

For what sustained them through all these months of incessant battle was a force that was more than merely physical. It was the force of an unconquerable faith—something in the heart and soul that physical hardship and adversity could not destroy. It was the thought of native land and all that it holds most dear, the thought of freedom and dignity and pride in these most priceless of all our human prerogatives.

The adversary, in the pride of his power and triumph, will credit our troops with nothing less than the courage and fortitude that his own troops have shown in battle. Our men have fought a brave and bitterly contested struggle. All the world will testify to the most superhuman endurance with which they stood up until the last in the face of overwhelming odds.
But the decision had to come. Men fighting under the banner of unshakable faith are made of something more than flesh, but they are not made of impervious steel. The flesh must yield at last, endurance melts away, and the end of the battle must come.
Bataan has fallen, but the spirit that made it stand—a beacon to all the liberty-loving peoples of the world—cannot fall!
  On this particular Araw ng Kagitingan, it's likely that the so-called Fallen 44 of the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police (PNP-SAF) will be the ones who will be given focus once more, since they are the most recent of our soldiers and police who have died in the line of duty. However, we should not forget all of those who have fought and died to keep our country safe and free.

Sadly, though, it's likely that, thanks to the woefully short historical memory of the Filipino people, most will simply think of today as a regular holiday, and not give thought to the reasons why we celebrate today as a holiday. I guess that's why I'm writing this post: we should not forget. To forget will be a disservice to all of those who gave up their lives in the name of the Philippines. The very reason why we are able to go about our lives is because of people such as the Fallen 44 and the brave soldiers in Bataan. We must not forget.