Saturday, June 28, 2008
Now, their legal guns are trained on the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). Their argument was that PAGASA didn't send out a warning to the shipping company regarding the change of the typhoon's track. Therefore, Sulpicio's lawyer argues, PAGASA is guilty of negligence.
First of all, the question must be asked: why did Sulpicio Lines let the Princess of the Stars set sail, despite the fact that there was a typhoon, and that other shipping companies, Superferry and Negros Navigation, docked their ships in anticipation of the typhoon? The answer, for me, at least, is that Sulpicio Lines was probably trying to make a quick buck by getting some of the passengers from those companies.
Second, I think it should be clear to the owners of Sulpicio Lines that typhoons, from experience, can deviate from their expected path, and, being in the shipping industry, as well as having experienced three tragic accidents in the past, shouldn't the owners of Sulpicio moved more cautiously?
A second problem, which will add to the owners' burden, is the discovery yesterday of 10 metric tons of endosulfan, a highly toxic pesticide, which was not previously revealed by the owners. Aggravating the situation is that the Princess of the Stars, being a passenger ferry, is not authorized to carry such goods, despite Sulpicio owners' protestations to the contrary.
This poses a grave environmental threat to the surrounding area. If any of the pesticide containers should leak, it would damage the ecological balance even worse than the Guimaras oil spill two years ago.
I wonder how the owners' lawyer is going to spin this one off. One thing is becoming clearer and clearer. Sulpicio Lines cannot be allowed to get off lightly this time around, given its spotty track record.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
This probably would have played well once, except for the small detail that Sulpicio Lines has been involved in three other maritime disasters, one being the tragedy of the Dona Paz, where more than 4000 lost their lives on the overloaded ship. You'd think that one or two tragedies would be enough to end the franchise of a company with a questionable safety record. And yet, the fact that Sulpicio has managed to get four of its ships sunk in the span of two decades, and still remain operating is something that officials will need to think long and hard about. Why has such a company managed to keep afloat despite the deaths it has caused?
It doesn't help that, according to an article in the Philippine Star, Philippine laws covering the maritime industry appear to be in need of being updated and revised, and that the authority of the various government agencies over the industry overlap. It is this confusion that Sulpicio owners take advantage of, using every technicality and legal loophole to get itself off the hook; up to now, for example, they haven't been nailed down for the Dona Paz disaster, 21 years after the tragic event.
It doesn't help that our President, along with about one-fourth of the House of Representatives, thinks that it is more important to curry favor from the United States, and maybe catch Manny Pacquiao going for his fourth crown against David Diaz this coming weekend, instead of cutting her trip short, and going to the affected areas in person, in order to project the image of a concerned leader. With one-fourth of our congressmen in the U.S., ostensibly to lobby for the passage of the Veterans' bill, it won't be possible to call for an emergency session of the House, perhaps to deliberate on the necessary laws to revamp and improve the maritime industry.
It also doesn't help that it is we taxpayers who are shouldering this U.S. trip. So, funds that could've been used to help typhoon victims are wasted on this current Presidential junket.
All of these, however, will probably help the Sulpicio Lines owners, if luck is on their side, escape culpability from their latest crime.
I'm being optimistic, and hoping that this latest disaster will be enough to finally sink what is obviously a company that has gotten away with murder.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
I guess the President is past caring about how people judge her actions. It would've been nice, however, for her to rethink her US trip. Along with her came 59 congressmen, as well as her immediate family members.
This, despite the common Filipino's woes: the never-ending rise in oil prices, the domino effect on the prices of goods and services, and now, the death and destruction brought about by typhoon 'Frank'. Worse still is the fact that, since this is a working visit, we Filipino taxpayers are footing the bill for this trip.
Of course, our politicians will mouth the necessary soundbites, about how it is necessary to help sell the image of the country, or how they need to study certain practices in the U.S., (although I can't think of what might those might be), but nothing can be more graphic than seeing our congressmen and President going off on an expensive junket while the country wallows in misery.
The Philippine Star, in its editorial yesterday, had the right of it, castigating our political leaders for their insensitivity, and asking at the end of the editorial the question, "Where is leadership by example in this country?" It's certainly not found in our current political leaders.
The challenge is for us to be able to actually select leaders of vision and commitment, and not because we are compelled by the 3 G's of traditional Philippine politics. It would be nice to call for voters to identify these politicians who joined the President, and call on voters not to vote for them, but that is shooting for the moon. Change is not going to happen overnight, but it should not stop us from continuing to push for it.
Monday, June 23, 2008
This morning, I was dismayed to learn that yet another ship was claimed by stormy weather. The Princess of the Stars, owned by Sulpicio Lines, capsized and sank off Sibuyan Island near Romblon, leaving about 700 passengers missing.
Apparently, according to Inquirer.net, the ship encountered engine problems and stalled as it was trying to take shelter from the storm. As it drifted, it apparently struck something, which caused it to sink.
As as result, the Princess of the Stars tragedy adds to another statistic to the list of sea tragedies in our country, the worst of which was that of the Dona Paz in December 1987. The Dona Paz was also owned by Sulpicio Lines.
Once more, the finger pointing will begin, as to who is responsible for this tragedy. Was it the Coast Guard, for having allowed the ship to sail despite the presence of typhoon "Frank"? Was it the ship owners who failed to keep the ship well-maintained, resulting in the engine problems?
Aside from the port officials and the ship owners, the media should also be advised as to how to report such news. Of course, ABS-CBN couldn't keep from being ghoulish and display photos, albeit blurred, of the four bodies that have been recovered. What useful purpose does showing the pictures have? It can't be for identification purposes, as the pictures have been blurred out. The answer of course is simple morbid curiosity for the sake of upping the ratings. For that, ABS-CBN should be castigated for profiting off the misery of others.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
All is right in the world.
In the local news, ABS-CBN reporter Ces Drilon, her cameraman Jimmy Encarnacion and guide Professor Octavio Dinampo were finally released by their Abu Sayyaf captors after nine days of captivity.
And, in sports, the Boston Celtics displayed tremendous focus is crushing the hapless Los Angeles Lakers, 131-92, in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, in clinching their 17th championship (first in 22 years).
Throughout the game, it was clear that the Celtics wanted to win this game to clinch, as they outscored the Lakers in each of the four quarters. By halftime, the score was 58-35, and, apparently, that was it for the Lakers, as they allowed the Celtics to inflate that lead to 39 points by the end of the game, the second largest margin of victory in NBA history.
Players Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, who were brought in via monster trades in the off-season, showed how right it was for GM Danny Ainge to acquire them. Garnett had a double-double, 26 points and 14 rebounds, and Allen shot 7 out of 9 from long-range territory en route to 26 points. Franchise player Paul Pierce contributed 17 points and 10 assists, although he only shot 4-13 from the field. Super sophomore Rajon Rondo had a great game, almost managing a triple double (21 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds), along with 6 steals.
By winning their first championship, the Celtics, ably coached by Doc Rivers, beat a Lakers team coached by the Zen Master, Phil Jackson, winner of nine titles, and the reigning MVP Kobe Bryant, winner of three titles. It was apparent that Bryant’s supporting cast was not up to the job of stopping the Celtics. The Lakers were beaten in almost every stat that mattered, except in personal fouls, wherein they tied the Celtics at 25.
Of course, the next question is, can Boston do it again? I’m sure that the Celtics’ front office and the coaching staff, along with the players, will do everything that they can to make it back-to-back championships. At the same time, every team in the NBA will now be gunning for them. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
It’s been a truly memorable time for Boston fans. If the New England Patriots hadn’t stumbled in the Super Bowl, Boston sports would’ve achieved a rare Triple Crown, what with the Red Sox winning last year, and the Celtics’ clinching today.
It’s been a long but fruitful road for Boston’s Big Three (Allen, Garnett and Pierce). Prior to this, none of them had ever won a championship. But, now, that is past. They now have the privilege of being called NBA Champions.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
I’ve long resisted moves by Charter Change advocates pushing the shift of our legislative body from a bicameral to a unicameral one. However, with the recent antics of some of our Senators, I’m more inclined to support the move, despite the inherent dangers I see in just one law-making body.
On one hand, I read about and saw our Senators berating and rudely treating foreign investors, going as far as to tell the foreigners to get the hell out of our country if they continue to “meddle” in our national affairs. On the other hand, I read about a Senator filing a case with the Supreme Court, questioning the constitutionality of Congress’ Commission on Appointments (CA), earning her the ire of both the House and Senate. This, of course, after the Senator (a CA member herself) indiscriminately abused the CA rules and vetoed appointments on a wholesale basis.
As the Philippine Star’s Jess Sison pointed out in his column yesterday, there was a time when political and intellectual giants strode across the halls of the Senate. Now, however, thanks to the uneducated choices of our voters, who either willingly sell their votes, or choose on the basis of looks, the Senate is populated with a motley group of actors, product endorsers and whackos. Even the collegial atmosphere that permeated previous post-EDSA Congresses has apparently evaporated, with Senators sniping at one another and insulting each other in the media.
It’s not like the upcoming 2010 elections will bring about needed change in the Senate. Looking at some of the politicians being foisted on us by the administration and the opposition, it’s pretty much the same tired group of retreads. While some may stand out, in terms of credentials, Filipino voters, sadly, don’t look at the credentials, choosing instead to elect the popular, which has brought the Senate to its current sorry state.
The only recourse, it seems, is to consign the institution of the Senate to the dustbins of history, and hope that those involved in Charter Change are astute and honest enough to craft a legislative body that we can be proud of, with safeguards to ensure that the best and brightest are chosen to serve.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Happily, it did. "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" succeeded in surpassing even the "Harry Potter" movies, in terms of story coherence and cinematic quality.
This year, the second of the "Narnia" chronicles, "Prince Caspian" came out this week to much fanfare, primarily because of the hype surrounding the actor portraying Caspian, Ben Barnes. It also warned viewers, through Trumpkin's words, that they would be faced with a darker movie than the first.
They weren't kidding. Unlike the fairly clean battle scene in the first movie, the battle scenes in "Caspian" reflect the ruthlessness of the foe the Narnians face, the Telmarines, who conquered Narnia several centuries prior to the story.
Also, the main characters, the Pevensies, have grown a year older, and Peter, in particular, is chafing at the thought that, while he was once the High King, he is back to being an awkward and rather angry adolescent. Edmund, who betrayed them in the first movie, comes off as more mature and discerning about his decisions.
Story-wise, the movie makers take a bit of liberty with the story, but the changes do help the story progress in character development, and emotional appeal. The raid on the castle, for example, wasn't in the book, but it does show Peter's recklessness and pride, and the tragic consequences of those flaws.
Overall, the movie is a wonderful addition to yet another series which is turning out to be a classic. I've read that the next installment is "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader", due out in 2010, and hopefully, it will live up to the first two movies.
Monday, June 09, 2008
Dreamworks' "Kung Fu Panda" is probably the first effort by the studio to focus on the story; there is little or no hint of pop culture reference to be found in the movie. It's a refreshing change from such movies as "Shark Tale" or "Madagascar".
Once more, no spoilers, but what I can say is that the movie is one of the better CGI films to come out, and may give Pixar a run for its money come Oscar time. Do try to watch it.
Sunday, June 08, 2008
Sometimes I wonder where the sensibilities of the Philippine Daily Inquirer are, in terms of selecting the stories and the readers' letters that are published.
Yesterday’s paper contained a letter reacting to an event that occurred more a month ago, wherein a 7-year old boy was attacked and killed by a crocodile last April. Before the boy’s body was found the following morning, a group responding to the tragedy apparently caught and killed a 15-foot crocodile, cutting open its belly to see if the boy was inside.
In the letter penned by Rey Sioson yesterday, he writes that it was “unwise for those groups to kill the crocodile when they were not sure whether or not it was the one who took the boy’s life. They were not acting in self-defense.” He then goes on a sanctimonious diatribe about how crocodiles also have a right to live, and that it is the fault of us humans that crocodiles wind up attacking us, either in defense of its territory or out of hunger.
First of all, it must be pointed out that the group was searching for the boy, and, having caught a crocodile, they had to cut open the belly; it’s not like the boy’s outline shows up against the crocodile’s belly, like some TV cartoon. They weren’t killing the crocodile out of spite, but out of concern for the missing boy (at least, if the news report is to be believed).
Second, while Sioson has a point about protecting the crocodiles, as they are an endangered species, where does he come off spouting his tripe in the midst of a human tragedy? It’s not like it was the boy was to blame for the environmental problem. Sioson’s piece comes off as overly insensitive and self-righteous. I’d like to see him read his letter to the grieving family, and be able to see their reaction.
Third and last, it doesn’t seem as if he has an understanding of people’s lives out in the provinces, writing from his address of Unit 1916, Wackwack Royal Mansion 561 Wackwack Road, East Greenhills,
The other thing that I’m ticked off about is that the Inquirer actually published this guy’s letter, more than a month after the issue happened. Perhaps it would've been better to publish it earlier, or if Sioson just wrote his piece just recently, simply consign it to the trash bin. Talk about rubbing salt in the wound.
Friday, June 06, 2008
The recent admission by the head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), that they routinely plant evidence on suspected drug smugglers, is a big blow to the authority and credibility of not only the PDEA, but also the entire Philippine law enforcement community. Now that the cat’s out of the bag, each PDEA arrest is brought into question, and the courts will be justified in throwing out the cases filed in their salas, as the PDEA used falsified evidence. In fact, I won’t be surprised if these drug smugglers will turn the tables on the PDEA, and sue it and its agents for unlawful arrests.
It also lends credence to the Commission on Human Rights head’s statements that the recent killing of three alleged suspects in the RCBC bank robbery/massacre was not a result of a shootout, but a rubout. If PDEA agents plant evidence, what’s to stop the police from taking shortcuts as well, and simply shooting the suspects before they’re brought to trial? Of course, they have public sympathy on their side, as people would want to see the deaths of the suspects involved in one of the bloodiest bank robberies in this country, and will not mind if the suspects are simply summarily executed. Unless, of course, the slain is a relative or a friend, or if the slain is actually innocent. The police shouldn’t take shortcuts; that’s sloppy police work on their part.
* * *
It’s difficult for me to sympathize with either side in the ongoing war between Meralco and the GSIS, as neither side is truly in the right on this matter. The officials of Meralco are moving heaven and earth to convince the public that their company isn’t to blame for the high cost of electricity, resorting to full-page ads (the cost of which will probably be added to our bills) and celebrity endorsements (hello, Juday?). None of these gimmicks disguise the fact that systems loss is not only due to the process of making electricity, but is also due to the fact that pilferage by unscrupulous users is passed on to us. Explaining it through the melting of ice is both glib and patently false.
On the other hand, the move by the GSIS is seen as a heavy-handed means to force the Lopez family, who run Meralco, to give up control. Is GSIS head Winston Garcia the right attack dog for this purpose? Even before, he’s been seen as arrogant and overbearing. Does he really think that he and his GSIS cronies can run Meralco better, when there are GSIS pensioners still waiting to receive their just pension?
In the end, the ultimate loser in this war will be the consumers, as we will wind up paying for the cost of this war.
* * *
Illinois Senator Barack Obama has finally clinched the Democratic Party nomination, and now, he begins the arduous tasks of one, selecting a running mate, and two, making preparations for his upcoming battle with Republican candidate, Sen. John McCain.
With the running mate, it stands to reason to some that the most obvious choice for Obama’s running mate should be New York Sen. Hilary Clinton, Obama’s closest rival. But I have my misgivings on that.
While it’s clear that Clinton would bring a lot to the table in terms of votes, it’s not very clear how she and Obama will reconcile their differences, considering that Clinton is the type of politician whom Obama has been campaigning against. Moreover, there is the matter of her conduct during the primary fight. She has not been entirely truthful, as her claims of running for cover in Bosnia was so vividly disproved. Up to now, she has not conceded the fight, and has been haranguing crowds about the 18 million who voted for her, a clear tactic of fighting for concessions, perhaps a ploy to claim the vice presidency.
There’s also the matter of her verbal gaffe about the assassination of Robert Kennedy. Should she be Obama’s running mate, she’ll just be a step away from her most coveted prize, and while she will probably not countenance killing Obama, it’s entirely possible that she will do everything to undermine him so that she can step into his shoes.
Still, it cannot be ignored that she is also fairly popular, and does well with groups that Obama had trouble drawing to him during the primaries. My guess is that realpolitik will step in, and Obama will have to make her his running mate, whether he likes it or not.
Well, the preliminary round is over. I’ll be keeping an eye on how the main event will be shaping up.
Monday, June 02, 2008
The summer is coming to a rapid end, and I’ll start another school year yet again, but in a different setting. What the future holds for me is anybody’s guess, but I’ll take it one step at a time, as I always do.
It’s been a busy summer, in terms of getting a bit of personal cultural growth. I’ve managed to sample a number of new restaurants, added several more books to my completed list, and viewed a number of movies, both in the theatre and at home.
“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” – The latest and, maybe, the last instalment of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas’ collaborative efforts, the movie takes Indiana Jones, played once more by Harrison Ford, more than a decade into the future, during the era of the Cold War between the U.S. and the now-defunct U.S.S.R. It’s a laudable addition to the venerable series, complete with a number of its trademark gimmicks, notably the gross-out settings and some strange endings for various villains. The supporting cast is also good, although it’s too bad that Sean Connery, who played Indy’s dad in “The Last Crusade”, decided not to come back. Karen Allen comes back as Marion Ravenwood, Indy’s love interest in the first movie. While it’s probably only better than the second movie (Temple of Doom), it’s solid and worth seeing.
“Steamboy” – this anime movie about a mechanical genius I read about in a gaming magazine, and finally downloaded it a few weeks ago. However, it took me a while to discover that VLC Player allowed me to switch between the Japanese dialogue, which I couldn’t understand, and the English one, which, of course, I could. The movie is set around the late 1800s, and is rich in detail, from the steam-powered engines, to the setting of Victorian London. Ray Steam (the name in the English version) is a young boy who has the same mechanical aptitude as his father and grandfather, who both work for the O’Hara Foundation. One day, he and his family receive a package from his grandfather, which is sought after by the Foundation, and there Ray’s adventures start. For the longest time, my only experience with anime was the “Ranma 1/2” series and the works of Hayao Miyazake, creator of “Nausicaa” and “Princess Mononoke”. “Steamboy” is a revelation, and I’m looking forward to viewing more quality anime in the future.
Fish and Co. – we ate at the Trinoma branch last last Sunday for my sister’s birthday bash. I wasn’t too impressed by the seafood fare, as I’ve eaten better, but the fish and chips was top rate, as was the clam chowder. The squid, or calamari, was a disappointment; although it was tender, it was next to tasteless.
Mong Kok (Royale Place, across Ever Commonwealth) – Hazel and I didn’t actually get to eat here, and I’m merely including this as a warning for those who might want to try it. Maybe it was the timing of our arrival, but none of the waiters seemed to want to serve us. Two of them were on the phone, and one of them went out of the restaurant, glanced at where we were seated, and walked down the row of eateries. After waiting for about 2-3 minutes, we decided to go to World Topps, which was beside it. Like the Coffee Beanery along Don Antonio, that Mong Kok branch is a place to which we will never return.
The Tale of Desperaux – A Newbery Award winner, “The Tale of Desperaux” is a classic tale of the little guy being the hero. It’s a simple tale with interesting characters. At the top of the list is little Desperaux, a tiny mouse born with his eyes open, which is a rarity among mice, making him a little odd. What makes the situation worse for him is the fact that he falls in love with a human princess, the Princess Pea. For this, Desperaux is severely punished. What befalls him is the crux of the story. What makes the story interesting is that the writer writes as if she is telling the story to an actual live audience of children, much like the style of Stephen King in his dark fantasy novel, “The Eyes of the Dragon.” “The Tale of Desperaux” is a book that is suitable for readers at the young end of young adulthood.
The World’s Most Evil Men – You’ve probably seen this line of books in National Bookstore, which focus on the World’s Most list of things, such as the world’s worst mistakes and blunders, the world’s worst serial killers, and so on. It’s the stuff pulp fiction is made of, only that it’s more or less based on historical events. I say more or less, because sometimes the writers will extrapolate from true events what could have happened. The book focuses on, well, what the writers consider to be the world’s most evil men, and the book includes details about such tyrants as Idi Amin, Adolf Hitler, and Ivan the Terrible. It makes for interesting reading, and provides details that history books might ignore. Still, it’s basically lurid tabloid stuff in book form, e.g. light reading. Not for kids, though.
Waking Up Screaming – Like the other Lovecraft collection, “Shadows of Death”, “Waking Up Screaming” is an anthology of the works of Howard Philip Lovecraft, the master of American Gothic fiction. In the book are tales meant to horrify and disgust, of the fishlike and immortal Deep Ones, of a clan of devolved humans, of Herbert West and his quest to revive the dead, and of the strange case of Charles Dexter Ward, which I’m still currently reading. All of the stories share the rich, graphic descriptive details for which Lovecraft is known, and they draw the reader into a world both familiar and strange. If I have one quibble, I wish the publishers didn’t give away the details in the blurb on the back cover. As a result, I got an idea about what was to happen in the stories mentioned. Still, H.P. Lovecraft has truly earned his place in literature as a master of American Gothic horror.
And thus ends this summer’s harvest. I can only hope that I’ll be as fortunate to expand my horizons next summer.
I’d lost track of time, and didn’t realize that the fourth birthday of my blog was upon me. And now, since I wasn't able to post this yesterday, it's passed on.
When I started Daily Musings, I envisioned simply recording my thoughts on a day to day basis, and as practice for writing novels (oh, the dreamer), but slowly my writing evolved in its focus, at the cost of not actually writing on a daily basis. Still, I discovered that I liked writing particularly about current events and the political realm. At the same time, I also found out that I could write about other topics, such as music and arts.
I often wonder whether I should simply focus my writings in this blog on a specific topic, and then, I thought that it would be too boring, too monotonous. I’d rather continue writing the way I’ve been writing for the past few years, which is basically anything that I am currently interested in.
So do continue reading as I continue my own personal growth as a writer.