Friday, April 27, 2007
Apparently, it isn't only our Injustice Secretary who believes that there's nothing wrong in promising "incentives" to public officials, such as barangay captains, if they manage to win for the administration. Yesterday and today, a number of administration officials and allies have spoken up in support of the embattled Raul Gonzalez.
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita spoke to reporters yesterday, and said that there was nothing wrong with what Gonzalez promised; in fact, Ermita adds, it's actually a sign of "assertive political leadership" and "smart politics". He goes on to add that he himself did similar gestures when he was running for Congress.
Today, Team Unity senatorial candidate Michael Defensor added his two cents, and said that there was nothing wrong with what Gonzalez did, saying that it's only proper to reward efficient officials with incentives.
The statements and actions of the administration allies show that the politics of gold are alive and well in the Philippines. No wonder we cannot move away from the tactics of vote-buying; the administration has all but stamped its approval on the tactic. People in the administration all but abet such tactics; not only are they abetted, but they're even proud of such moves, as Ermita's statement shows.
Sadly, the administration minions are correct in calling the opposition hypocritical when opposition members decry the shameless vote-buying, because it's also clear that, if the opposition had the funds, they too would also engage in the same practice.
All these show that we have a long way to go in moving away from traditional politics, which probably isn't surprising, considering that our political landscape is rife with trapos, whose main goal in life is to get as much as they can out of their stay in government. In the same vein, because of this, the Filipino people in general have become so used to 'gold' tactics that they've come to expect to be paid for their votes. And so the vicious cycle continues.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
If there’s one Cabinet member who probably should’ve been fired long ago, it’s Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez. Every time he opens his mouth, the most tactless, insensitive and altogether stupid statements come out.
The most recent one which generated flak was his comment about slain Peace Corps volunteer Julie Campbell being “careless and irresponsible” when she supposedly went alone into a deserted area somewhere in the Banaue region.
This went beyond the pale, for a number of reasons. For one, he is speaking carelessly about the death of a foreigner who came to the
Third, as Justice Secretary, he is supposed to be objective in his comments on cases; in some cases, he shouldn’t be saying anything at all. But, I have not seen a more irresponsible government official than Gonzalez. He prejudges cases, he sometimes blames the victims for their troubles, and, all in all, he acts in a manner that is unworthy of the position he holds.
Even now, with the ink still fresh from various reactions about his comments on the
And he continues being irresponsible. Just last night, on the Inquirer web page, there was a report that he apparently promised to give P10,000 to 18 barangay captains in Iloilo, if they delivered a 12-0 sweep for the Team Unity senatorial team. When confronted with the possibility that he was engaging in vote-buying, he cheekily retorted that he was paying it out of his own pocket. So, he’s not vote-buying, but he is probably engaged in corrupting public officials. And this is our Justice Secretary.
One can only wonder why the President hasn’t released this lodestone on her administration. Is it because he acts as a lightning rod, drawing fire away from the President with his idiotic remarks? Is it because he performed some exemplary service for the government that the President cannot get beyond her utang na loob? Is it because he’s gone feeble, and the government can’t bear to hurt his tender feelings if it lets him go? We outsiders to the government machinations can only speculate and shake our heads at the sorry sight of justice gone awry.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Before her untimely death, her last post, dated January 13, 2007, was about the typhoons which ravaged the Bicol region, specifically Legazpi, where she was stationed. The blog records a life fully lived, in service to others. It records the life of a foreigner who, coming here of her own free will, made the conscious decision to help those less fortunate than she.
I saw a video of her in the news, when she talked about her experiences during the typhoons. What impressed me was her determination to speak in Filipino, and, except for the obvious accent, she pretty much managed it. It reminded me of another American, who also made the Philippines his home, and committed himself to celebrating the daily Mass in the high school in Filipino. I'm talking, of course, about the late Fr. James O'Brien, SJ, a wonderful mentor and a good friend. Coincidentally, before Fr. OB came to the Ateneo, he spent time in the Bicol region, just like Julia. Two Americans, separated by time, but connected through their life of service, gave their time to help the Filipino people, and both will always be remembered by the people whose lives they've touched.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Yesterday, I was reading in the Inquirer website that Team Unity (TU) campaign manager Reli German criticized leading Genuine Opposition (GO) senatorial candidates Chiz Escudero and Allan Peter Cayetano of failing to have passed even a single bill, lambasting them for concentrating too much on ousting the President rather than pushing to get their bills passed.
Well, let's check both Escudero's and Cayetano's entries. According to the website, Escudero authored or sponsored a total of 76 bills, and 17 resolutions. Six of them were approved by the House and transmitted to the Senate. Cayetano, on the other hand, authored or sponsored a total of twelve bills and two resolutions. Of these, three were approved by the Housed and transmitted to the Senate.
Admittedly, majority of these bills were local in nature, and merely either changed a road into a national road, or established high schools in the congressmen's respective districts.
Still, it's not entirely correct to say that they haven't actually accomplished anything in Congress, and German is not entirely honest in his criticism of the two candidates.
At the same time, skimming through some of the other representatives' entries, some have accomplished even less, and some of these are allies of the administration. Quezon City 2nd District Representative Mary Ann Susano, in her three years as Congresswoman, has filed a grand total of six bills, with one House approval. Similarly, Rep. Mat Defensor, Quezon City 3rd District Representative, and father of senatorial bet Mike, has filed 11 bills and two resolutions, with one House approval. One might say that these two were too busy doing the Charter Change Cha-Cha to be effective legislators. With such a paltry record, we voters should ask ourselves whether we want these two back in Congress.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
It seems that the Team Unity is taking the use of doubletalk to new depths.
Apparently, according to news reports, Senate bets Mike Defensor and Miguel Zubiri were in
In the Inquirer story, it’s unclear who made the distinction between campaigning and informing; no source is given for it. Still, the distinction probably comes from the administration camp, and it’s right down there with Pichay’s lame explanation about campaigning on Maundy Thursday.
A complaint must be made, so that the Comelec can investigate the incident. But, I doubt anything will come out of it, considering that Defensor is the President’s “Golden Boy.”
Admittedly, as Alex Magno noted in his column today, it’s a relatively minor incident, considering the impact of overseas workers’ votes on the national level will probably be minimal. Still, it’s a technical violation, and it should be addressed.
* * *
I wonder what Magno would say about the current situation involving the President’s son.
I find it strange that presidential son Mikey Arroyo is moving for the disqualification of Dr. Joey Montemayor, his opponent for Pampanga’s 2nd congressional district. It’s not as if Dr. Montemayor has the same last name as Arroyo, which might qualify him as a nuisance candidate. What is Mikey afraid of? In order to win his district, he has to eliminate all possible opponents, even before the elections begin? His bullyboy tactics will probably not create enough sympathy votes for Montemayor, which means that Arroyo will still probably win. Perhaps he just wants to make sure of it.
* * *
I wonder if anybody mentioned to boxing champion Manny Pacquiao what road is paved by good intentions. During his news conference upon his arrival from his successful fight against Mexican Jorge Solis, he claimed he had only “good intentions” in his plans to run for Congress as a representative of
* * *
For the second congressional district race of
None of the major candidates in the district have done any real good for the city, so I may wind up choosing a candidate affiliated with a party I’m familiar with, such as the Liberal Party.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
It’s been a while since my last post, but life’s also been pretty hectic the past few days, what with summer remedial classes and family life all meshing together. I was supposed to write something up last night, but I got engaged in a very interesting telephone conversation, and, by the time I was done, it was too late for me to do any writing.
Once more, the problem with writing about current events is that if I don’t write about them the moment they come out, any commentary I might make will be fairly outdated by the time my post comes out. I may still try to come out with some of the stuff that I planned to write about, but we'll just have to wait and see.
In the meantime, one of the stories currently gripping the world is the horrific shooting incident over in Virginia Tech University, where a 23-year old South Korean English major named Cho Seung-Hui went on a rampage and, in two separate events, killed 33 students and faculty members, before turning the gun on himself and consigning himself to hell.
It’s the worst shooting rampage in
One can only guess what goes through the minds of these whackos that make them go out and take as many people as they can with them on their road to destruction. They do leave clues, however. Harris and Klebold, for example, were known to have played violent video games, and both had a history of mental illness. Seung-Hui wrote two plays for his English classes that so disturbed his classmates that they speculated on the possibility that he could become a school shooter. I read one of the plays, and, true enough, it was graphically disturbing, painting a picture of a very troubled family and depicting violent scenes which went over the top in its violence.
The trouble with trying to predict these incidents to prevent them from occurring is that there is no set pattern for insanity, and attempts to try to categorize these shooters will probably have little impact. The only thing that can be done is to try to identify and reach out to these individuals before it’s too late.
Prayers go to the families and friends of those who were killed; no one should have to go through what happened last Monday.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
One has to wonder what anger and hatred fuels the Daily Tribune’s publishers that the newspaper must always say something negative about the administration, even if it means twisting word and misrepresenting facts. Nothing matters, as long as the government is always painted in a bad light. It is this sheer tunnel vision that relegates the Tribune as a shrill voice in the wilderness.
Take, for example, yesterday’s editorial column. In the column, the Tribune takes the medical condition of First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, and spins it into a tale of cover-ups and lies. The Tribune accuses the doctors both at the
The basis for this accusation is the initial diagnosis of “chronic gastritis” that eventually became a “dissected aortic aneurysm.” The Tribune questions the competence of the doctors at
According to my dad, who’s a doctor, and my mom, who’s a cardiologist, it’s possible that Arroyo’s condition could’ve been initially diagnosed as gastritis, because the aneurysm is located in an area of the body, where the pains could be interpreted as gastritis. It’s possible that the aneurysm could have been detected only after gastritis was ruled out.
This is similar to the case of my co-teacher. Two weeks ago, she was hospitalized for what was thought to be stomach pains, and it was only three days later that they finally discovered that it was appendicitis.
Sometimes, it takes a while for doctors to come up with the proper diagnosis, as some sicknesses share similar symptoms, and can be mistaken one for the other. Perhaps the Tribune hacks think that doctors should be able to come up with diagnoses quickly, at the snap of a finger. It doesn’t always work that way. My dad was telling me, for example, that one of the surefire tests to detect appendicitis will only work if the appendix is clearly situated for it. This wasn’t the case with my co-teacher, which was why it took some time for the doctors to properly diagnose it.
Aside from the utter incompetent research, what I don’t like about the Tribune’s editorial writers is the lack of respect for an ailing person. I’m no fan of the administration; I’ve made that clear in previous posts. But, kicking a man when he’s down and out and hooked to a respirator has got to be a low blow. It betrays the lack of character the Tribune hacks have. Even the most rabid oppositionist, former Maguindanao Rep. Didagen Dilangalen showed basic courtesy when he visited the First Gentleman at St. Luke’s. Perhaps the Tribune hacks can learn something from that, but I doubt that they will.
Finally, the reason why the Tribune lacks credibility is that it’s too eager to paint the government and the President in a bad light. In their rush to tar and feather the administration, they fall into the easy trap of simply ranting without any substance. Perhaps if the hacks at the Tribune did better research, and consulted a doctor about Arroyo’s illness before shooting off their printers, they wouldn’t come off looking like idiots.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Much ado has been made in recent days about the party-list system, particularly whether the names of the party-list nominees should be revealed.
AKBAYAN representative Loretta Ann Rosales thinks that they should, claiming that several party-list groups are merely administration fronts; revealing the names of the nominees will probably show whether these groups are merely part of the administration’s attempts to consolidate its control over Congress.
On the other hand, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Resurreccion Borra believes otherwise, saying that the voters should choose the party on the basis of the party’s platform, and not on who the party nominees are. He goes on to say that any party-list group which reveals its nominees faces disqualification.
Already, there are problems arising from this statement. Yesterday, the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) has challenged this statement by making public its nominees. On the way to
To see which side is correct, let’s take a look at Republic Act 7941, or the law which enables the party-list system.
The pertinent part of the law for this issue is probably Section 7, which states that “The names of the party-list nominees shall not (italics mine) be shown on the certified list.” This is probably the section which Commissioner Borra bases his refusal to make public the nominees for each party-list group.
But, what if someone asks the Comelec for the information? Does the Comelec have the right to deny access to the nominees’ identities? The law is not clear about that point. Neither is it clear whether or not the party-list groups can release the names of their nominees.
The next thing to look at is Section 18 of the law, which states that “The COMELEC shall promulgate the necessary rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this Act.” The Comelec, then, should be responsible for
Do Borra’s statements constitute a Comelec ruling? They don’t; there should be a clear official communication from the Comelec stating what the specific rules are for the elections. What are the rules that the Comelec crafted for the party-list elections?
One of the problems here is that the Comelec made public the identities of the party-list nominees in 2001 and 2004, a move that Borra says was a mistake. But the problem, I think, is that it was not made clear at the start, and the Comelec's refusal to release them now is suspicious, at least. Why hide the identities of the nominees? Why can't the people know who is running under the party-list system?
It’s clear that this will ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court, the final word on such matters; in fact, Rep. Rosales has indicated that she will raise the matter to this, the final arbiter on legal matters.
It’s also clear that the party-list system is need of revision and improvement; safeguards must be in place so that scurrilous individuals cannot manipulate the system as a back-door means to get into Congress. Another option is to scrap the system entirely, but this will leave marginalized sectors out in the cold, and without a voice to specifically represent them in Congress. So, perhaps one of the things the new Congress can look into is to find ways and means to improve what is an ideal but flawed system.
With the Holy Week over, it’s back to the campaign grind for the candidates for the May 2007 elections. It’s back to my musings over the various tidbits and vignettes that crop up as we approach Election Day.
* * *
Senatorial candidate Prospero Pichay is a contradiction of many colors. He was one of the Representatives who was pushing for Charter Change, which included, among other changes, the abolition of the Senate. Yet, here he is, one of the candidates for the administration’s Team Unity senatorial slate.
It was reported in the Inquirer yesterday that he was talking with reporters about an incident that occurred either on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday, both of which are days which the Commission on Elections (Comelec) had designated as non-campaign days.
Pichay, according to his own words, went to a wet market, where he was reminded about the ban by the people there. He apparently replied, “Hindi ako nangangampanya; sinasabi ko lang na itanim ninyo ako sa Senado.” In English, he basically said, “I’m not campaigning; all I’m saying is for you to plant me in the Senate.” His name, of course, sounds similar to one of the local green leafy vegetables, pechay; hence, the use of the pun.
The problem with this is that the second statement is the slogan, or catch phrase that adorns his posters. So, is he guilty of campaigning or not? He may have been joking, but he’ll still be in violation of Comelec rules. However, Pichay can only be investigated if someone complains about his actions. Since it’s a very small matter, no one probably will put up a fuss. Still, the incident illustrates Pichay’s use of doubletalk, which brings into question whether we want him in the Senate.
* * *
The Monday column of Antonio Montalvan III in the Inquirer focuses on political dynasties, and is a good commentary on why political dynasties should be avoided at all costs.
* * *
The recent survey conducted by the Social Weather Station (SWS) shows that people would rather vote for the opposition, particularly in the
This may be so, but I think the survey merely shows: one, what the preferences of people are, and isn’t necessarily a clear indicator that they’ll vote opposition, and two, if the opposition did their homework, and laid the groundwork for a strong political machinery, they might have been able to field candidates who would probably win in their respective districts and local posts. But, since the opposition campaign continues to be disorganized and chaotic, the opposition have squandered a golden opportunity to get the upper hand on the administration.
It was a busy Holy Week for me, as I had to work in school early in the week, due to remedial classes, and I participated in the activities in our subdivision chapel.
The choir I’m part of was scheduled to sing for Good Friday and the Easter Vigil on Black Saturday. Good Friday was simple, as we only had to sing about three songs, but since one of them was “The Way of the Cross,” which was sung during the veneration of the cross, it was a very tiring bout of singing. We wound up singing all 13 verses of the song, plus a go-around back to the first verse, so 14 verses all in all. We were thankful when it ended.
For the Easter Vigil, the choir was asked by our chaplain to sing the five responsorial psalms, plus the alleluia psalm after the epistle. Since a number the members of the choir were too shy to be the cantors, I wound up with four of the psalms. While it was an honor, it was taxing, because I had never sung so many songs by myself, all in one Mass. So I sang “You Are Near,” “I Love the Lord,” “How Lovely is Your Dwelling Place,” and the Celtic alleluia. By the end of it, my throat felt a little dry, but it was fulfilling, because at least, I had given my all for the Holy Week. The kudos that came from my family was pretty nice, too.
* * *
Monday found me going up to
As usual, we had to bring my parents’ driver, because I have a fear of heights, and driving up a mountain range is just beyond my capacities.
Unfortunately, due to the traffic, we weren’t able to go anywhere good to eat, and defaulted to Gerry’s Grill in SM Baguio, which wasn’t bad. It’s just that there are some good eats in
As I mentioned earlier, I had to go down Tuesday morning, to be able to prepare for my classes today. Thus, I wasn’t able to enjoy the cold air of
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
I'll be taking a break as well, to rest up and meditate. And, maybe, plan out what I'll be writing on the road to post 600.
Before I go, I'd like to react to Philippine Star William Esposo, when he lauded his fellow columnist Cito Beltran about hostage-taker Jun Ducat, and seconded Beltran's comparison of Ducat to Christ. Why, did Christ take a knife to a child's throat to make his demands known? Impossible. And impossible is the word to use to react to any comparison of last week's events to Christ's actions. Sure, Jesus Christ might be termed as a person who turned his society on its ear. But, Christ never stooped to putting innocent children in harm's way. There is nothing comparable between what Jun Ducat did, and how Christ lived. What Ducat did is more comparable to some lunatic. What he did is inappropriate to this week's Holy Week commemoration. And that's all I have to say on the matter.
By the way, congratulations to the 1,800 or so passers of the recent Bar examination. Included there is a friend of my wife, and one of my former students. Congratulations once more; it's the end of a long and hard journey, and you've reached the prize.
And that's it for me for this week. Advanced happy Easter to all.
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
With Hazel taking Photoshop classes in SM City, I was free to catch a movie while waiting. And I was finally able to watch "TMNT,” short, of course, for "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."
I’d been a fan of the franchise since the 80s, when the comic book and the cartoon by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird came out. I wasn’t too keen on the live-action films that came out during the 90s; of course, they were unable to capture the speed and grace of the turtle ninjas.
But, with this new movie coming out, that would change, as the filmmakers turned to computer graphics to spin this new tale of the TMNT. And the graphics were, to borrow Michaelangelo’s words, awesome, dude. With the Turtles, the texture of their skin, and the movement of their facial expressions were almost seamless, almost real. With the human cast, it was closer to Pixar’s “The Incredibles,” although there was a anime-ish feel to the animations. The main antagonist, in fact, seemed to borrow a lot of features from Mr. Incredible.
SIDE NOTE: Director and writer Kevin Smith makes a cameo as a diner.
SIDE NOTE: Director and writer Kevin Smith makes a cameo as a diner.
The story was fairly okay, although it hinges on the viewers knowing the back story before coming into the theater. There’s hardly any mention of the turtles’ origins, so, it’s pretty clear that the makers were probably targeting the fans of the series. The Shredder is apparently dead, and April (played by Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Casey (Chris Evans) are closer than they’ve been in previous incarnations. The Foot Clan of ninjas is still around, led by the Shredder’s protégé Karai (Ziyi Zhang; her English has gotten really better).
SIDE NOTE: The movie, according to IMDB, takes its roots from the original comic book series, not the humorous, campy animated series. This is why the story is a little darker, and more mature; don't expect to see Krang, Bebop and Rocksteady anytime soon, although they're mentioned in the closing credits song.
The movie begins with events that occurred 3,000 years ago (narrated by Lawrence Fishburne), when a powerful warlord (voiced by Patrick Stewart) attempted to harness the energy of the portal created by the alignment of the stars. It worked for the warlord, turning him immortal, but his generals, his comrades were turned into stone statues. At the same time, thirteen monsters came through the portal and entered our world.
Moving to the present, the turtles are in disarray following the aftermath of Shredder’s supposed death (by the way, would anybody know when and why this happened?). Leonardo (James Arnold Taylor) was sent to the Central American jungle by Master Splinter (the late Mako), to learn to be a better leader (I agree with the CNN reviewer; this doesn’t make much sense.) April, on the trail of the stone generals, meets up with Leonardo in the jungle, and brings him up to date on the events. I won’t detail what the other turtles had been up to in Leonardo’s absence; it’s funnier to watch it.
With Leonardo’s return, there is some obvious bad blood between him and Raphael (Nolan North), who seems to have taken Leo’s leaving a little too hard. They, of course, manage to settle their differences, and bring everybody together for the finale.
The movie focuses more on Leonardo and Raphael rather than Donatello (Mitchell Whitfield) and Michaelanglo (Mikey Kelley); hopefully, the two other ninja brothers will be given more attention in the next movie (which, of course, has an obvious tag near the end, and, with the box-office success of this movie, there’s sure to be a sequel.).
“TMNT” is geared more for the adolescent viewer rather than the ‘discerning’ adult viewer. It’s still a rollicking adventure from start to finish, and a worthy addition to what has been an enduring series.
Monday, April 02, 2007
It all started with an innocuous after-dinner coffee at the Don Antonio branch of Coffee Beanery last night around ten in the evening.
Hazel and I both ordered mochas, while Hazel decided to have a square of strawberry twirl cheesecake. When the mochas arrived, the first sensation that burst in my mouth was how utterly oversweet the drink was. It was too cloying, and I wound up buying a bottle of water to wash down the taste.
Still, the oversweet mochas were nothing to the slice of cheesecake we were served. Visible on the strawberry swirl were the white-feathery spots of mold, an indication of either the age of the cheesecake or the possibility that their refrigeration went on the fritz. My only regret was that I forgot to take a picture of the offending dish. Disgusted, we asked the waitress to take it back, and Hazel decided to order the ham and cheese croissant, which at P50 was P60 cheaper than the cheesecake (P110), along with a bottle of water (P40). So, we had a refund of P20 coming back to us.
To be charitable, let’s just say that the crew was inexperienced and overwhelmed by the number of customers, because it took an inordinately long time for them to process the refund. On the other hand, from a more cynical view, maybe they were trying to wait us out, and hope that we’d get tired of waiting and simply leave without the refund, but they weren’t in luck. Hazel went straight to the counter to politely ask for the refund, which they gave with nary an apology for serving us spoiled food to begin with.
What I’d like to know is what remedy we consumers can avail of for this experience. Who to complain to, who to report. If anybody who reads this knows, please let me know.
What’s bad is that this is the closest coffee shop to our house; the next nearest good ones are Starbucks and Mocha Blends, both located across Commonwealth, with kilometers of u-turns to traverse. Still, what we went through last night isn’t worth it. We’re taking our money somewhere else.
Bad, expensive food and poor customer service means that, for this branch of Coffee Beanery, they’ve just lost two customers. Permanently.