Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Transformers 2 - More than a peso per minute waste of time

Paying PhP161 to watch the 2.5 hrs. long Transformers 2 means you only waste your money at the rate of PhP1.073 per minute. Imagine if the movie was just 90 minutes long, then you would have wasted PhP1.78 per minute. So, despite the all-out assault on your eyes and ears, the movie still gives better bang for the back as you waste your money slower. What other film can give you that?

They made the film PG-13 so parents will have to accompany their pre-teen children to watch it. So the wife and I watched the film too, together with Popoy, 6, and Vito, 12.  There are clearly scenes not for kids, even if they watch together with their parents. There are pumping scenes by dogs. There is another scene with a small robot humping Megan Fox's leg. There is a seduction scene with a scantily clad woman astride Shia LaBeouf with the shot showing her panties. Then there is the scene where Shia's mom got stoned from some weed spiked food and said she would do anything to get an A.

There is a lot of sexual innuendos in the way Mega and Shia were about to conduct their video chat. The scene of John Turturro in thongs is grossly disturbing. But I have no complaints with Megan's other scenes;  she in hotpants on top of a motorcycle, and in a tank top running away from bombs.

Of course there is a lot of violence even if most of it is inflicted by robots on robots. The punching, kicking, stabbing actions will be imitated by kids. The movie bored me, but the head splitting sound effects on a full surround theater prevented me from dozing off. Moreover, I couldn't follow the story, but my boys did. The parents needed guidance on that aspect.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Saving is counterintuitive? The paradox of thrift

Late last year, Malacanang urged Filipinos to tighten their belts some more by saving money and being more thrifty. The monetary authorities embarked on initiatives to promote financial learning that aim to promote a culture of savings. Early this year, a monetary board member urged Filipinos to strengthen their personal finances and help the economy by saving more in banks.

Global consumer confidence is down and a local survey shows consumers see buying conditions in the next quarter less favorable, as the Filipinos’ spare cash is primarily intended for savings. Overseas remittances are seen to go flat this year, and in the first four months of the year, US remittances actually went down. Households have to curtail their spending. Filipinos become more prudent and cautious. In fact the IMF has said that Philippine households showed significant increases in savings rates, thereby cutting domestic demand. Is the government's plea to save now heeded?

But wait! Jollibee and SM are getting worried. Now economists warn us saving at this time will not do us any good. Contrary to what intuition or common sense would indicate, saving now will do us more harm. How is this going to happen?
From Wikipedia: "The paradox of thrift (or Paradox of Saving) is a paradox of economics propounded by John Maynard Keynes. The paradox states that if everyone saves more money during times of recession, then aggregate demand will fall and will in turn lower total savings in the population because of the decrease in consumption and economic growth."
Old school economics say that since what was saved was later invested, there could not be excessive saving. But later Keynes asserted that thrift is virtuous only up to a point. If we increase the proportion of income we save, the reduced expenditure on goods will lower total demand in the economy. Thrift is laudable up to the point businessmen in the economy wish to borrow our savings for investment.

A former NEDA chairman and the monetary authority share the sentiment that further precautionary saving will worsen the country’s current economic conditions.

What happened to their pontifications that frugality is good for our families and the economy? It took a receding economy to be an eye-opener for us to be wise with our money. This is a natural reaction to our increased awareness of our fragile economic state.

But is it going to be a problem?

Why do big business and government authorities want us consumers to fuel economic growth?

Big business and government must also do more to help the economy along. What good is growth if it is not spread among the many? Make sure that the stimulus package is not siphoned off by greed. Be satisfied with moderate growth profits. Please moderate the greed.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Michael has left the building

The Philippine newspaper Philstar cannot resist using the headline "MJ beats it" and the accompanying picture showing him beating it. The layout is even punnier in the print edition.

The viral video of the Cebu inmates dancing to MJ's Thriller enjoys renewed success. It had 23.6M+ views last Saturday and it had an additional 1M+ views overnight. It is viral twice over. Now, the prison is a tourist destination as tourists flock to watch them dance.

MJ had financial troubles lately. But with a resurgence of interest in his body of work, his estimated $400M in debt can be easily wiped off. If he were alive today, he'd be laughing his way to the bank. Like Elvis, who also enjoyed similar renewed public interest after he died, rumors will arise that MJ faked his own death so he can enjoy his life without his every move scrutinized. MJ sightings will be reported, and the new catchphrase will be "Michael is in the building". This is expected in a world grieving because "Michael has left the building".

David vs Gloria-wrath

I tweeted yesterday that I wish I was from Pampanga so I can vote for Randy David and deny Gloria a chance to re-enter politics. Some on Facebook liked it and wished the same. On twitter, some even want to transfer to Pampanga so they can actually vote for the professor. The response to David's intention to run is overwhelming. This early it should give an indication to Gloria that the people want her out. But the Palace factotums are determined to fight, they say it is a David vs. Goliath. If the morally and intellectually formidable opponent in Randy David gets Gloria's goat, then it's more like David vs. Gloria-wrath. The irony here is that Randy David stands tall and stately at all of six feet while Gloria is a 4'11" fishwife on heels.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

White Hair Chronicles III

Two more icons from my youth passed away. Michael Jackson, the sequined moonwalker, was more than an icon. He is the King of Pop. He of the supreme talent was also the supreme eccentric. He changed appearance from the little black boy with a very fine voice to a moonwalking, sequined, gloved one with lighter skin, noticeable nose job, and cleft chin. And notorious liking to entertain little boys, which disgraced him later in life. His catchy Don't Stop Til You Get Enough was adapted as the theme song of my favorite local sitcom John and Marsha, and that is what I will always remember from him. He also inspired 1,500 Cebu inmates to perform a synchronized dance to his Thriller number. The video of that performance is now a viral Youtube video.

Then, we also have the news of Farrah Fawcett's death. Though she has been in death throes for the past days, the news of her passing, together with that of Michael's, remind me that my generation is growing old. Farrah Fawcett was my hand-picked favorite among Charlie's Angels. Her poster was on my bedroom wall until Cheryl Tiegs burst into my consciousness.

Michael was 50, Farrah 62. They have projects lined up. Gone too soon. They will be missed.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ammos for the gunless society campaign

Two gun recent gun related incidents should bolster the call for a gun-free society.

In Cavite, six people were killed in a shootout at a public market. Investigations show that the fight started from a petty traffic-related argument. The two drivers figured in a shouting match and threatened to kill each other. After a few minutes, armed backup from both camps arrived at the scene and they started shooting at each other. The patriarchs of the two camps died along with their sons.

In the other incident, a vacationing soldier died after being accidentally shot by his five-year-old son who was helping clean his gun in their home. The man sustained a gunshot wound on the left side of the body with the bullet exiting his right side, going through the front door and grazing his wife. The wife managed to rush the soldier to the hospital but he was declared dead on arrival.

Filipinos have an increasing passion for guns. Notice the many gun shops proliferating. Notice the many Pro-gun stickers. Advocates of a gunless society should be up in arms (figuratively, of course) against this development. If owning cannot be stopped by law, we should shoot for steps to promote responsible ownership.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

San Juan Feast Day; DOH? duh!; PAG-ASA? Hopeless.

San Juan celebrated its fiesta yesterday, June 24, to honor the town's patron saint - Saint John the Baptist. The revelries include streetdancing with the traditional "Basaan (dousing of water)". Firetrucks hosed down hundreds of people dancing and celebrating on the streets in the annual “Wattah Wattah” festival.

My son Popoy started his festivities with a water gun duel with his cousin Brix. Then when later the two joined the neighbors in dousing all the game passers by in our street. They spared no one, pedestrians, vehicles, they even tried to open closed windows and doors. The wet ones did not mind at all. All was done in fun.

Vito did not join the fun because he was again ill, this time with flu like symptoms. Which brings to mind the online survey on the Dept of Health's handling of the swine flu situation. 75% think the DoH botched it. My thoughts too. Early last month, they wanted Pacquiao to delay his return from abroad to prevent the spread of the disease. Then they early this month they did not want to delay the opening of classes, saying it won't prevent its spread. Now together with the Dept of Education, they want a selective suspension of classes to prevent the spread.

They now also say that the President is not required to self-quarantine when she comes back from her travel, contrary to their pronounced policy last month. And with the rest of the world is placing advance orders on a vaccine that is being developed, they DOH is not ordering any, yet. They say they still do not know who to vaccinate first:  "...the health workers, policemen, and the military; the working groups; or the very young and the very old". Whatever they decide, they will vaccinate anyway, so place your orders now! Common sense is not common at the DoH.

Metro Manila classes are suspended because PAG-ASA declared typhoon storm signal no. 2. The signal signals that good weather will befall upon us. True to form, the weather was not stormy at all yesterday. PAG-ASA is still the most consistent Philippine agency today. Consistently wrong. You just have to expect the reverse of what they say.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Get Ready for The Big One!

July 18, 2008, was a marked date last year. Brazilian Juseleeno Nobulega Daroose predicted an earthquake with a 8.1 magnitude will shake the Philippines on that date. The predicted tremor will cause great destruction and deaths of thousands of Filipinos.

Earthquakes cannot be predicted and the July 18 did not happen. Since July 18 is around the corner again, we expect another prediction from the Brazilian in the light of a United Nations advisory for the Philippines to be ready for an upcoming big earthquake. A quake with a magnitude of 7 or higher on the Richter scale is sure to hit Metro Manila, they say, but the bigger question is when exactly this will happen.

Arjun Kartoch of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ Emergency Service Branch said that the big earthquake may hit Metro Manila anytime with devastating results. He based this on the Earthquakes and Megacities Initiative (EMI) report published in 2004 predicting that an earthquake with a high magnitude will surely occur because of the Philippine Fault Zone (also called the Marikina Valley Fault System). According to the report, the death toll may reach 35,000, some 120,000 people may be injured while around 175,000 buildings will be damaged.

Kartoch’s notes coincides with what Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology Director Renato Solidum Jr. said on radio recently. Solidum noted that we have an active fault (the so-called Marikina fault), and if we fail to prepare, “around 38 percent of residential buildings, 14 percent of high-rise buildings and 35 percent of public buildings will be affected.”

We know we have an active fault line, we are on the ring of fire. Where is the Marikina Valley Fault System? It is northeast of Manila and crosses Marikina, Pasig going to Muntinlupa down to the south. It is very near. Are we prepared for the big one?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Go get it Roger; So sorry Phil

Roger Federer is well on his way to break Pete Sampras record for the most number of grand slam titles. He won over a Taiwanese in the first round of 2009 Wimbledon tournament. With Nadal out there is nada to hound him and admittedly with the pressure now off since tying Sampras, Roger can cruise his way to his 15th slam. Barring any drama from hometown boy Murray.

In golf, Phil Mickelson is once again heartbroken. Losing the US Open to virtual unknown Glover (who he?). It was Phil's golden chance, he was lurking behind and actually caught up midway the final round. His ill wife was goading him to win. That was the drama behind the otherwise bland game. But Mickelson, ever the game's heartbreak kid, was again beaten. I don't know why, but next to seeing Tiger win, seeing Phil lose provides drama and a good excuse for following the game.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Wow! Davao!!!

The home of the Philippine eagle, Davao is also known for the durian, the waling-waling, Mt. Apo. I've been to Davao several times already. I had a few projects there before. I remember its beautiful women and peaceful and safe nights. I watched a PBA road game there in 1992 and saw Tony 'the Hurricane' Harris score 82 pts. I walked the whole way from the gym just outside the city back to my hotel in downtown. It was more than 3 kms, and past 10pm, but I made it back safely. I will not have that luck in Manila or Cebu.

The man credited with this safe and livable environs is Mayor Duterte. The no-nonsense lawyer, law professor, and government prosecutor, has been the mayor for much of the time since the EDSA revolution. With Duterte at the helm, Davao continues to be beautiful, safe, and proud. He is very much like Dick Gordon and Bayani Fernando in transforming their respective cities to prime examples of discipline and growth. The only difference is that Duterte is much more respected by his people (less opposition) and much feared (by lawless elements). Despite bombings and terrorist threats (who doesn't have them in Mindanao, anyway?), Davao is still considered safe.

The highlight of this recent trip is the food. More gimikans have sprouted. There is a lively strip of ihawans along Ilustre and also on Torres. The Venue is still going strong late in the night. I did not have time to check out the Aquarium Bar, reputedly the sosyalan place.

There is a new Sampaguita Inn along Quirino in the heart of downtown. It is bigger than the old one. The rates are reasonable. They have cable, aircon and hot shower. They have WiFi in the lobby too. And it's a short walk to the office.

What is immediately noticeable in the city is its clean, pollution free air. An anti-smoking ordinance in public places is strictly enforced. Drivers follow traffic rules, pedestrians too. The people are proud of their city and their mayor. Other politicians posturing for the mayoralty post will need a major miracle to depose the well-entrenched Duterte clan.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

Sonora Smart Dodd, who wanted to honor her father in raising six children, thought of having an official Father's Day observance to honor all fathers. Like Mother's Day, from which it was derived from, Father's Day has been observed with crass commercialism. Dodd had no problem with the commercialization of the holiday and in fact endorsed several promotions to increase the amount of gifts, unlike Mother's Day creator Anna Jarvis, who actively opposed all commercialization of Mother's Day.

Jose Rizal, whose birthday (June 19) always falls near Father's Day, was not thought of to be a father himself. Despite his legendary romantic conquests, his nearest jab at fatherhood went pfft when Josephine Bracken had a stillbirth. If Jose Rizal were alive today, he I'm sure he would say that Father's Day is the day of priests (araw ng mga pari), mindful of the father-priests then. I really think that the Padre Salvi character is named as a play on the words Padre Salvaje. And Padre Damaso means [Damn + aso (or dog)], is a damn dog, or damn bitch.

Back to Father's Day, I think Mother's Day is celebrated on the wrong date. Technically, Mother's Day comes 9 months after Father's Day. Kidding aside, almost a century after the 1st celebration of Father's Day, it (Mother's Day too) drives business as dads are given gifts ranging from apparel to zen books. But what I like most about this day is I get control of the TV remote. For a single day, 1/365th of the year, I get control. The kids are relegated to the PC and the bedroom TV. The wife volunteers to cook lunch and dinner of my choice. I get a semblance of lordship over the house, at least as much as the wife allows me to. I savor the fleeting experience as the day nears its end for tomorrow I relinquish everything back.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Jollibee scandal - revisited

I promised this scandal video to my overseas friends whose appetites for scandals were whetted by the DVDs at the mini-reunion. I am sorry there is no Kentucky Fried Chicken video scandal between Colonel Sanders and a chicken. There is no truth to the rumor that the Baliuag scandal starred a pig and a chicken. The chicken had pride, ayaw niyang mababoy.

There is also no sex scandal between Max's and Goldilocks shot by Andok in a Tropical Hut.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

How Capitalism works... - Will it work in Manila?

This is from my high school yahoogroup. Thanks Icky.
Forwarded by a friend:

It is the month of August, on the shores of the Black Sea. It is raining, and the little town looks totally deserted. It is tough times, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit.

Suddenly, a rich tourist comes to town.

He enters the only hotel, lays a 100 Euro note on the reception counter, and goes to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one.

The hotel proprietor takes the 100 Euro note and runs to pay his debt to the butcher.

The Butcher takes the 100 Euro note, and runs to pay his debt to the pig grower.

The pig grower takes the 100 Euro note, and runs to pay his debt to the supplier of his feed and fuel.

The supplier of feed and fuel takes the 100 Euro note and runs to pay his debt to the town's prostitute that in these hard times, gave her "services" on credit.

The hooker runs to the hotel, and pays off her debt with the 100 Euro note to the hotel proprietor to pay for the rooms that she rented when she brought her clients there.

The hotel proprietor then lays the 100 Euro note back on the counter so that the rich tourist will not suspect anything.

At that moment, the rich tourist comes down after inspecting the rooms, and takes his 100 Euro note, after saying that he did not like any of the rooms, and leaves town.

No one earned anything. However, the whole town is now without debt, and looks to the future with a lot of optimism..

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the United States Government is doing business today.
Will this work in Manila? I don't think so. Manila prostitutes are seguristas. They want cash up front. For this to work in Manila, we have to legislate that the girls give 'services' on credit.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ironies: son of senator also has sex video, medical team was source of swine flu?

Doctors are puzzled over the cases of swine flu infections in a remote barangay in Nueva Ecija. They say no one among the victims came from abroad. They cannot yet determine the missing link even as 5% of the  population is now infected. The irony of it all is that a possible source of infection is the foreign medical mission that treated the local folks at the end of last month. What an irony! A medical mission causing this medical trouble.

In another development, salacious pictures of a local sexy actress began circulating in the Internet last week. Clearly, the pictures were screen caps from a sex video. The sexy actress is shown in sexy poses in the series of photos. She was shown spraying what looked like whipped cream on her genitals and mammaries. She was shown giving a fallacious job. The irony here is that the guy, not directly shown in the pictures, is said to be the son of a senator crusading against sex videos. If this is true, will the good senator lambast his son and protect the daughter of the tailor from a Hawaiian island?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Deserving and undeserving

Congrats to Kobe and the Lakers. They deserve every bit of the accolades that come now. The Magic deserve to lose. With Lee's botched lay-up in game 2, Howard's missed free throws and the bad defense against Fisher's 3-pt shot in game 3, they do not deserve to win.

Gasol has toughened up a lot since last year's debacle against Garnet. And Howard softened up, perhaps the previous series' exposed him. Perhaps the law of averages that was absent against the Cavs caught up with the Magic. Lewis and Terkoglu can't pull out rabbits from their hats now.

In a similar vein, in the PBA, Rain Or Shine says TY to TY Tang for the ala-Horry and Fisher 3pt shot that gave them the deserving win over the deserving-to-lose Purefoods. When you bench your best and highest paid player, you immediately lose at least 25% of your productivity. When you do that for the last 3 quarters, you do not deserve to win.

Turning to boxing, Miguel Cotto deserve a fight against Pacquiao after fending off Clottey's challenge. Cotto fought 9 rounds bleeding from a nasty cut on his eyebrow. Clottey was not able to capitalize on the wound brought by an accidental head butt. The fight was close and could have gone either way. People wouldn't mind a draw. But Clottey suffered a flash knockdown in the last seconds of the 1st round after doing very well in the first 2.5 minutes. For that carelessness he doesn't deserve to win.

The cut clearly bothered Cotto. But if he fights like that against Pacquiao, he does not deserve to win.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Blasts from the past still ring true in the present

Some people contend that the Philippines has declared independence not just once but six times dating from Bonifacio in 1895 up to Roxas in 1946. It is actually more if we add to that the freedom regained from the people power revolt in 1986. But what do we have to show for it?

Ang sambayanan ay hindi pa rin malaya sa kahirapan. Binanggit ni Pat Sto. Tomas sa kanyang onlayn kolum ang pagkapanalo ng maikling pelikulang "Chicken a la Carte" sa isang kompetisyon. Bagama't sa simula pa lamang ng pelikula ay tila alam ko na ang direksyon ng pelikula ay hindi ko pa rin mapigilang maantig ng pinupunto ng direktor.

Nagkataon din na isang araw matapos ang pagdiriwang ng araw ng kalayaan ay nagkita-kita muli kami ng ilang kamg-aral mula sa mababang paaralan. Nakalulungkot isipin na sa kabila ng ilang dekadang hindi pagkikita, ang mga kaganapan na bumabalot sa bansa ay katulad pa rin ng dati. Kaya naman may kabuluhan pa rin ang mga awit na unang narinig hindi matagal makaraan ang aming pagtatapos.

Kaya narito ang pelikulang nabanggit ni Pat Sto. Tomas at narito rin ang dalawang awit mula sa Banyuhay. Patunay ito na hindi pa tayo umuusad at malayo pa ang ating gagapangin kung hindi tatyo tatayo ngayon.

Oy Utol, Buto't Balat Ka Na'y Natutulog Ka Pa 
masdan niyo ang inyong paligid
akala mo'y walang ligalig
may saya at mayroong awit
ngunit may namimilipit
at siya'y humihibik

masdan niyo ang ating buhay
masdan niyo ang kapalaran
bakit may nahihirapan
bakit may sumisigaw

kay hirap ng tumawa kung hungkag ang iyong tiyan
kay hirap ng mangusap kung bibig moy may tapal
kay hirap ng mabuhay kung kalagaya'y ganyan
kay hirap ng lumaban kung takot ka sa kalaban


walang tutulong
walang tutulong sa atin
walang pag-asa kundi ikaw at ako rin
at kung tayo'y mananahimik at di kikilos
ang dapat sa atin ay tawaging mga gago

bakit may nahihirapan
bakit may sumisigaw
bakit may namamalipit
bakit may humihibik
maging ako'y nahihirapan
kaya ako'y sumisigaw, sumisigaw

Buhay Pinoy
Nang ako ay isilang
At nagdilat na ang mga mata
Ako'y agad sinalubong
Ng mga problema

Kahit saan araw-araw
Kung ang mundo'y pagmamasdan
Punong-puno ng mga tao
Lagi na lang may kaguluhan

Ay kayraming mga tao
Sumasakit ang ulo ko

Tignan n'yo sa bangketa
Pulubi ay naghilera
Mga kamay laging nakasahod
Doon sila natutulog

Ako'y mayroong kaibigan
Siya ay hindi nakapag-aral
At dahil sa kanyang kahirapan
Siya'y napilitang magnakaw

Ay kayraming mga tao
[Nagsisikip/Punong-puno] na ang mundo
Problema'y dumadami
Sana'y isipin n'yo

Ganyan ba talaga
Ang buhay ng pinoy
Ganyan ba talaga
Tayo sa habang panahon

Kayraming mga pamilya
Anak nila'y sobra-sobra
Wala namang maipalamon
Kahit kumayod maghapon

Sa umaga pagkagising
Wala palang makakain
Asawa ay kanyang aawayin
Mga anak sisisihin

Tignan n'yo ang mga pamilya
Sa umaga pagkagising
Wala palang makakain
Asawa ay kanyang aawayin
Mga anak sisisihin

Ay kayraming mga tao
[Nagsisikip/Punong-puno] na ang mundo
Problema'y dumadami
Sana'y isipin n'yo

Mayroon pang pag-asa
Isipin n'yo, isipin n'yo

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Before the end of the innocence

Remember when the days were long/ And rolled beneath a deep blue sky/ Didn't have a care in the world/ With mommy and daddy standing by/ When "happily ever after" fails/ And we've been poisoned by these fairy tales...
...Who knows how long this will last/ Now we've come so far, so fast/ But, somewhere back there in the dust
That same small town in each of us/ I need to remember this/ So baby give me just one kiss/ And let me take a long last look/ Before we say good bye...
...But this is the end/ This is the end of the innocence - Don Henley "The End of the Innocence"

I met with some of my elementary schoolmates still based in Manila for a few hours of banter over pichi-pichi, barbecue, and originally San Juan fare pancit from Aling Banang and Big Scoop ice cream. There was plenty of food to go around for the eight of us who made it to the feast. Some of us have not seen each one for over thirty years. This is catching up bigtime.

I had to give them something, a small token for finding time to meet a classmate who came all the way from the south. I knew copies of the latest scandals will be a good give-away. I was not wrong. It was well appreciated. We went online for a video chat with classmates now based overseas but we were only half-successful. Still we had a good chat with those sacrificed sleep just to stay with us.

We first knew each other when we were in the age of innocence. As I recall now, we did not even had romantic notions then. It was the age for fairy tales, the happily ever afters. After thirty-five years, not everyone has her happily ever after, but they live more happily even after. That is what matters.

Today we can talk without embarrassment about anything. And I mean anything and everything. Someone in the group said this would not be possible a few years ago. We are once again at an age when we can get away with most things. It's a big jump from our simple innocence then to the harsh cynicism today. Don Henley sang about the end of the innocence and one's need to go back, to take one last look, before we all say goodbye. I think that's the reason why we like these mini-reunions.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Hindi Ako Papayag

Even the fruits, yes the fruits, unite against the Con-Ass. The fruits formed a coalition called Fruits Against Con-Ass, United (FAC-U). To show their indignation against the shameless railroading of 1109 in the House, the fruits labored to video tape their objection to the asses conning us. Here is the fruit of their labor.

Cheap that I am, I didn't want to buy all those fruits, tape them and take videos. Instead I planned to take videos at a fruit stand. I couldn't get myself to ask permission from the vendor, afraid he'd say "Hindi Ako Papayag".

For those where Youtube is blocked, here is the same video from another video server:

Friday, June 12, 2009

Happy financial independence to all!

Remember the '70s commercial jingle "ipagpatuloy ang kaunlaran, mag-impok sa bangko"? The tagline has since been used by banks in an attempt to promote domestic savings. We perennially lag behind in economic performance compared to our Asian neighbors. Raising investments is one way of aiming for a higher economic growth. Investments require financing that will can be sourced from domestic sources like savings.

Household savings, according to official government data, have consistently been decreasing. The data also shows that remittance from Overseas Filipinos is a major source of aggregate household saving. OFs should be encouraged to save a portion of the remittances using formal channels.

There is a Youtube channel that showcases videos to promote a culture of savings and encourage the channeling of these savings into productive investments in financial instruments and business ventures. There is also the Financial Learning Campaign advocacy of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas which aims to encourage the productive uses of remittances, not only for consumption or spending for the basic needs, but also for savings in different forms of financial instruments and/or investments such as in small- and medium-sized enterprises or microfinance. They also have the OF videos there. O, ano pa? Save na!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

12 little things

If you notice the "Hindi Ako Papayag" video on my sidebar, most of the personalities there are politicians. Except for Cooky Chua (singer, Color It Red) and Alex Lacson, writer. You probably know Cooky but who is Alex Lacson?

Alex Lacson is a UP/Harvard bred lawyer. Alex’s claim to fame is a simple 108-page book called “12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do to Help Our Country.” He believes that a great part of the solution to our country’s problems will come from our people – from us, the ordinary citizens of our country.

Here are the 12 commandments in his list.
  1. Follow traffic rules. Follow the law.
  2. Whenever you buy or pay for anything, always ask for an official receipt.
  3. Don’t buy smuggled goods. Buy local. Buy Filipino.
  4. When you talk to others, especially foreigners speak positively about us and our country.
  5. Respect your traffic officer, policeman and soldier.
  6. Do not litter. Dispose your garbage properly. Segregate. Recycle. Conserve.
  7. Support your church.
  8. During elections, do your solemn duty.
  9. Pay your employees well.
  10. Pay your taxes.
  11. Adopt a scholar or a poor child.
  12. Be a good parent. Teach your kids to follow the law and love our country.
Simple and doable, isn't it?

He also has 10 tips for our Overseas Filipinos:
  1. Spend your vacation, your dollars and other foreign currencies, in our Philippines. Visit other countries, too, but do spend time and your money n the Philippines.
  2. Encourage and teach your relatives back home to be good citizens and good Filipinos.
  3. All OFW’s, Balikbayans and Pinoy Expats should do more during elections in RP. Tell your relatives back home who you think is best for the country.
  4. Buy Pilipino, wherever you are in the world.
  5. Adopt a poor child as a scholar back home.
  6. Support a charitable organization. There are many good charitable organizations that truly help build our Philippines to become a better place for all of us. (He recommends: Gawad Kalinga, Pondo ng Pinoy, Caritas Manila and World Vision, among others.)
  7. Teach your children about the Philippines, and to love it and its people.
  8. Speak positively about our Philippines and our people.
  9. If you are remitting funds to your relatives in the Philippines, teach them to save 15% or 20% of the funds.
  10. Invest in the Philippines.
For more information go to the 12 little things website.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Kung Fu died after hand combat?

Based on a Yahoo news item.

I know this post can be bad but I cannot help it. Internet reports say that "Kung Fu" star, David Carradine, may have died from masturbation. The Thai police disclosed this as they probed the evidence after the 72 yr old actor star was found hanging naked and bound in a closet.

"There was a rope tied around his neck and another rope tied at his sex organ, and the two ropes were tied together and hung in the closet," a Thai police commander told reporters. How could David do that (to) himself? It's a stretch of imagination. He must have been practicing for his latest movie called "Stretch". How fittingly ironic.

In a twist of fate, the forensic expert working on the case is named Porntip Rojanasunan, as in Porn Tip. If the actor who played Kwai Chang Caine asked tips from this man, he could be alive today instead of being found dead in an embarrassing position. Maybe they will indicate the cause of death as by "hand combat". But it's a stretch.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dengue alert, prevention, cure

Thankfully, Vito is getting better now. He had no fever the last two days. His platelets still went down but in a slower rate. Doctors ordered just one CBC yesterday, unlike the past 3 days where he was subjected to the procedure 2x a day.

He is also more energetic now. Thanks to his cousins and relatives who cheer him up and specially to his brother Popoy, their constant bickering keeps him on his toes. Thanks too, to friends who wished for his speedy recovery, and to those who sent links about dengue prevention.

Vito's main concern now is the dryness on his face and his scaly dandruffy scalp. The doctor assures him that it is not caused by the dengue. He is advised to have complete bed rest for a week. It's good that classes have been reset for a week.

I removed the water plant vases in the house. Although we frequently change the water, these are the only places where mosquitoes could have bred inside the house. There were no other dengue cases within our vicinity. And the rains had just started to come. My main suspects are the vases. They have to go.

In the news, the Dept of Health issued a dengue alert and advised the public to refrain from wearing black or dark blue clothes to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes carrying dengue virus. It seems the dengue mosquitoes are attracted by dark  colors. In one of the links, I learned that a larvicide, Abate, can be used to neutralize mosquito breeding grounds. I'm still looking where to buy the larvicide.

Elsewhere in the news are the kids of Kris Aquino who also had dengue at around the same time as Vito. They, too, are now OK.

Aside from the medical treatment, we are now supplying Vito with kamote leaves tea. This is the greenish-yellowish water where the leaves were boiled. It is supposed to increase the platelet count. Then my wife heard about Kris Aquino's cure - eating peeled and sliced apple, left exposed in the air to make them brown. If eating something that looks sick can make you well, then it's worth trying.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

At last I got one right

I am totally off in my sports predictions lately. But PAG-ASA still has a worse batting average. The Cavs-Nuggets NBA finals I was gung-ho about flopped famously. A friend reminded me that basketball is a team game not a Kobe-LeBron game. I switched allegiance to the Magic, being the anti-Kobe that I am, but they lost game 1.

I blogged that Federer's hopes of matching Sampras' record lies on him not facing Nadal in the finals. In this year's French Open, Federer showed that the other players are catching up on him. He was always put on the brink before somehow managing to find the will to win. Meanwhile Nadal rode on a record win streak until big-serving Robin Soderling took care of him to pave the way for a Soderling-Federer setto.

In the finals, Federer breezed through the first set. But Soderling was holding his own on the second. The rains came suddenly making the match much tougher for the world number two. Federer comfortably squeezed thru a tie-break to take the second set as well.

In the third, Federer broke and held in the first 2 games and the two held on their serves until Federer got the game, set and match to equal Sampras' record. Way to go, Fed! I got one right at last. Tomorrow, the Magic will win to continue my streak. Eat your heart out PAG-ASA.
Update: The Magic lost game 2. My streak ends.

Hopeless PAG-ASA V

I am now constantly monitoring PAG-ASA's weather forecasts. They fail big-time 100% of the time. But today I noticed a change in their strategy, they have several people who make different forecasts which are published in different newspapers/websites. They want to cover all possible scenarios. I read the Inquirer and the Manila Bulletin while watching over Vito who's confined at the hospital because of dengue. I expected the different slants on the political news, but not on a subject like the weather.
  1. The web edition of the Inquirer carried the same story as the broadsheet edition. It said "more sunshine and drier weather in the coming days" according to PAG-ASA's Benjie de Paz. 
  2. The Manila Bulletin Sunday edition says Nathaniel Cruz, also from PAG-ASA, predicts the rains to continue.
  3. Philstar.com reports that PAG-ASA's Bernie de Leon sees less rain next week, more or less the same as what Inquirer says. 
  4. Abs-cbnnews.com, as of 06/07/2009 4:28 PM, headlines "PAGASA: Rains likely to continue until Monday" according to Nathaniel Cruz.
Prisco Nilo was wrong last week. Cruz, too. PAG-ASA's hopes rests on de Leon and de Paz.

Dengue, swine flu, Aling Banang sighting

While the world frets over the A(H1N1) outbreak, my son Vito got the fever, chills, and general malaise. It turned out to be dengue. Our DOH/DepEd should be on the lookout too for other diseases aside from swine flu, especially with the onset of rains. After all, dengue for one has a higher death rate than A(H1N1). The DOH website says that the WHO reported 19,273 cases and 117 deaths from 66 reporting countries. This translates to just 0.6% A(H1N1) fatality rate compared to 2%-8% for dengue.

After failing to delay PacMan from returning to the Philippines, Duque now says the CHED's move to delay the opening of classes won't prevent the spread of the A(H1N1). He says the practice of proper hygiene among students and school officials is still the best protection against the virus. Correct, but Mr. Secretary, please shut the f*ck up and instead help the schools draw plans on how to instill proper hygiene when the students return. Supply them with alcohol dispensers, make posters on the proper hand washing technique, use the time to prepare the schools for the virus, instead of contradicting yourself just to stay in the news.

Vito is confined at the St. Luke's Hospital. A mild surprise is the Aling Banang's pansiteria in front of the hospital. They dropped the Aling, opting to use just Banang's, but they still have the same basic menu of pancit, halo-halo, tapsilog, atbp. I'm not sure who among her children runs the place, but this is the first Banang store where the busboys wear uniforms.
The originally San Juan eatery enjoys good word of mouth success. Its N.Domingo-Araneta branch is now used by Google maps as a landmark, as can be seen from my Google profile map.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

DepEd advisory issued early; rains come late

From philstar.com:

MANILA, Philippines – Citing a weather forecast of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) of monsoon rains in the early morning “heavier” than last Wednesday and Thursday, the Department of Education (DepEd) announced early yesterday the suspension of classes for the third straight day at the elementary and high school levels in Metro Manila.

But the expected heavy rains did not come in the morning, and Education Secretary Jesli Lapus said the DepEd should not be faulted for the apparent wrong decision on class suspension. Heavy rains started to pour in the metropolis only in mid-afternoon.

Click to read the news article.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Hopeless PAG-ASA IV

Perhaps stung and still red-faced with its way-off forecasts, PAG-ASA chose not to comment at all about the rains. The Department of Education, too, was non-committal about declaring suspension of classes early yesterday. But heavy rains the PAG-ASA was expecting last month came in full force. Forcing the DepEd to cancel classes by 12:00 noon yesterday, when half of the students were already wet and shivering.

Buoyed up by the rains, government authorities, in an attempt to become relevant, decided to push their luck and immediately declared suspension of classes at 5:00am this morning. With all the rains last Thursday, they expected Friday to be rainy as well. At last we will be right, they thought! Or so they thought. But again, PAG-ASA and DepEd authorities must be gnashing their teeth in wonder what could they have done in their past lives to deserve this, the weather did not cooperate. Except for a brief spell of gusty winds in the morning, the expected rains did not come. Instead, the clouds dissipated to make way anew for the mighty sun. As of 12:30pm today, the sun is still smugly snickering with scorn.

PAG-ASA's expected vindication did not come. It did not rain on their parade.

White Hair Chronicles II

"'In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." - Benjamin Franklin
I am in that part of the demographics where you have reunions of your nth reunion. Actually, it is that age where you go to more funeral wakes, some 20+ years after the spate of weddings, baptisms, birthdays. This year, I've been to 3 or 4 wakes, the last one just the other night. My father died 2 years ago, after an uncle died, then last year another uncle and my grandpa also died.

Icons from childhood fall one by one. Yesterday, David Carradine, Kung-Fu's Caine, was found dead in a hotel room in Thailand. His character was a boyhood idol of mine; philosophical, inquisitive, bright, pacifist. Another boyhood favorite who recently passed away is Marilyn Chambers. She starred in Behind the Green Door, a porn movie, which by today's standards would bore one to stiff. It did that to me then, in another sense.

People, by nature, are afraid of death and dying. To conquer that fear, we turn to religion which assures us that death is not really the end but the beginning of some other life. Science says that energy cannot be created or destroyed; it merely changes form. But still, it is this life, as we know it, that we want and not some unknown afterlife. So we fight illness, we find ways to hang on to dear life.

No one can win over death. It is a natural part of life that will happen sooner or later. All of us will go, cliche-ish but true. Some have gone, some are in the pre-departure area, all must be prepared. So before we all go to that great big reunion, that great gig in the sky, we hold many reunions here on earth to banter, reminisce, recall our youth, while partaking cholesterol-laden food that will hasten our progress into the afterlife.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Little things I learned about working in IT in the government

A blog/forum I frequent listed 10 dirty little secrets you should know about working in IT. I experienced some of the things in the list. Here's my own:
The salary grade in IT is better compared to many other positions. The pay for IT professionals is better than the ridiculously low salary grade they give to other positions. In the Philippine government, Information Technology Officers are 1-2 salary grades higher than other officers, although they are still paid lower than those in the private sector.
It will be your fault when users make silly errors. This will happen often. It is human nature (or public sector nature) to blame others for their own "kapalpakan".  This happens often when you introduce a new  hardware or software system that is beyond their comfort zone.
You will go from goat to hero and back again multiple times within any given day. When you are able to fix the silly error they make (see previous) - you are instantly a hero, that is until their next silly mistake.
Your co-workers will use you as personal tech support for their home PCs. Your co-workers will treat you as their personal technical support personnel for their home PCs. They will ask you about how to deal with the virus on their personal PC; ask you how to upload photos and videos, etc. A sufficiently higher officer on the pecking order can even ask you to install wi-fi in his home.
Managers and consultants are quick to take all the credit when things work well and will blame you when things go wrong. Like in the blog/forum, consultants here will try to put the blame on you by arguing that their solution works great elsewhere so it must be a problem with the local IT infrastructure. Managers, on the other hand, curiously, are often on the consultants' side and will try to adjust local processes to accomodate the consultants. Managers always try to save face and their hide before the really big bosses.
You’ll spend far more time babysitting old technologies than implementing new ones. This is related to the next one. The Philippines, despite the onset of technological advances, still maintain a lot of legacy systems. IT personnel spend a lot of time maintaining established technologies than implementing new ones. One reason is the budget, there is simply no new money to acquire the newer technologies. Another reason is some older people do not want to wander away from their comfort zones.
Veteran IT professionals are often the biggest roadblock to implementing new technologies. Sometimes, upgrading or replacing software or infrastructure is more cost effective. However, one of the largest roadblocks to migrating to new technologies is not the budget; it’s the veteran techies in the IT department. Once they have something up and running, they are reluctant to change it. You can't teach old dogs new tricks. Specially when they are downright and comfortable where they are.
Some IT professionals deploy technologies that do more to consolidate their own power than to help the business. When they don't want to wander off their comfort zone, they secure it further. Some IT managers implement technologies based on how well those technologies make the agency dependent on them.
IT pros use jargon to confuse nontechnical managers and hide the fact that they screwed up. All IT pros screw things up once in a while. However, not all IT pros, as the blog suggest are good at admitting when they make a mistake. Much more the Filipino. Given that many top managers are not techie enough, IT pros use jargon to confuse them (and cover up the truth) when explaining a problem. The irony is the jargon is equally confusing to the older (veteran) IT pros who use them. A perfect case of the blind leading the blind.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Go Fed!

In the lull before the NBA finals, I turn to the French Open for the sports thrills. I like Roger Federer's odd to win this one, he showed tough grit in recent wins and he's not facing Nadal this time. I watch men's tennis because of the high level of play mixes well with the intense drama.

On the other hand, I like the women's side because of the great looking players. I did not like women's tennis back then during the time of Evert, Jean-King, Navratilova and even Graf. Even if Bobby Riggs (a male) lost to Billie Jean King (a female?). But Ana Kournikova changed all that. The first tennis goddess made me watch women's tennis seriously, albeit for another reason.

So now I eagerly await for matches involving the likes of Ana Ivanovic, Maria Sharapova, Maria Kirilenko, Hantuchova, Elena Dementieva, Nicole Vaidisova, Anna Chakvetadze, and Iveta Benesova among others. I wish somebody with the face of Ivanovic, legs of Sharapova, the gravity-defying 34DDs of Simona Halep (see photos below), rolls into the sensuality of Kournikova. That would be the ultimate delight.But I wouldn't watch Sarah Gronert, even is he/she has been cleared to play tennis as a woman.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Google yourself

Do you google yourself? I do. This practice may seem narcissistic, though I just want to know what pops up when others google me. Sometime ago, when I google my name, some events/seminars that I have been part of show up. But two years ago my name wrongly appeared in a news item about raps filed against some NGO. And ever since I realized some elementary school classmates search for me in their attempts to reconnect with former batchmates, I wanted 'better' Google results for me.

A Google study says that people search for themselves because of their curiousity about what other people see when they search for their name.  But the problem is we don't have any control over the search results.
To give people a bit more control over search results, Google introduced a feature it calls a "Google profile," which users can create. Once users create a Google profile, their name, job and location (photo is optional) appears in a box on the first page of the search results for their name. Next to the thumbnail info, there's a link to a full Google profile page that resembles a Facebook page.

Google maybe jealous of the inroads made by Facebook. It fears it will suffer the same decline experience by e-Bay because of Facebook. By giving users a some control over the results that appear on a search for their name, Google hopes to take on Facebook and MySpace.

The Google profile lets you set up a personalized page on which you can include links to your blog, photos, videos, and personal website. You can include a brief bio, list your current interests, places you've lived and schools you've attended. There's also a space where you can list your "superpower", a curious attempt to be cute.

Unlike Facebook there is no feature that lets you "friend" another user. There is a "Send a message" where others with a Gmail account can send you e-mail without knowing your e-mail address. It's tight integration with Google maps enables your profile to locate you on a map, approximately.

Google says the more information you add to your profile, the higher your page is likely to be ranked on a Google search for your name and associated keywords, such as the name of your hometown, your job title or where you work or go to school. So I think my elementary school mates can find me easier on Google now and the I hope the results about the syndicated estafa raps filed against a client will be deep down in the results pages.

There may be a downside to this, however. The more richly detailed your Google profile is, the more Google knows about you. Already, Google has my photos, email, videos, blog, etc. What happens when Google suddenly goes down? It is possible, could be a problem when that happens. But I'll ponder about that later. So go and create your own profile. Meanwhile my Google profile is here.