Friday, July 31, 2009

My women's tennis album

I love women's tennis. Apparently many others share the same liking for the sport, orgasmic grunts, clingy linen, eye threatening nipple pokes and all. Notwithstanding the so-so quality of play. So to all lovers of the sport, here's my album. Click on the thumbnails for a larger view. Enjoy!

Update: Album 1, Album 2, Album 3, Album 4, Album 5

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Some things that drive your users crazy

Although I'm not from the IT department, I work in a unit that can be called 'embedded' IT. As such, we provide IT support within the department. Our unit deals with users and their systems more than the actual IT department itself, whose dealings with users are limited to hardware issues. 

Here is one of the lists found at a top IT resource center, summarized for easy reading and infused with some personal experiences.

Users also have certain buttons that should not be pushed. It's a good idea to learn to recognize and avoid as many potential annoyances as possible. Here are 10 of the more common user buttons we should be aware of.

1. Being talked down to - Many users cannot cope with the rapid change in computer technology. Do not make them think that you think they're idiots too lazy to learn.

2. Being talked up to - On the other hand, don't overwhelm them with technical information. Maybe all they really want to know is how long it will be before they can get going again. Anything else, even if important in solving the problem or preventing its recurrence, is secondary. Saying less may be better.

3. Hearing that what they want can't be done - Don't make them think you don't know how to do it or you're just too lazy to do it, qualify your response and give them one or two plausible reasons why what they want might be prohibitively expensive or difficult. This way, they will not think you're ignoring them and gives you time to work out the reasons. The key nos. 1-3 is communications. Try to sort out the kind of user you are dealing with. That will determine the communicating style you need for them.

4. Dealing with people they can't understand - Users are not as experienced in IT as we are. We don't speak the same jargon. If you don't understand the user, or the user does not understand you, do what you can to lessen the problem. If there's someone available who might be a better linguistic match for the user, get them. In my personal experience, I try to nurture or mentor someone from the users' group who is more technically savvy than the rest. That person can be a great help in implementing changes. And more often than not, he is willing to take up the challenge.

5. Having their input ignored - A little patient and nonjudgmental listening can help you tease out (a) what actually happened and (b) what they actually want from the tangle of frustration, misunderstanding, and exaggeration that often greets you.

6. Being treated arbitrarily - Some users can be particularly sensitive to it when they have a computer problem because they already feel like they're being treated arbitrarily—by the computer. Day after day, their computers do incredibly complicated tasks routinely and flawlessly until—for no apparent reason and with little if any warning—they don't. Although, we know there's almost always a reason, and often some warning, users don't see that and may vent their frustration to you. Give reasons for your actions or instructions and explain why the thing you're suggesting will help fix their problem.

7. Being told the problem is "incompatibility"- Blaming incompatibility for the user's problem might be the right answer, but explain more, for example, that it's like the two programs speak different languages. Without translation, it's never going to work. You still mean it's the incompatibility but the user might understand it better.

8. Being asked to change without adequate input, warning, or explanation - IT people are frequently agents of change. And change can be bothersome. Users may be too much in a comfort zone already that changing procedures might be painful for them. The only good reason for them to change is anticipation of future benefits. If you can, try to solicit their input and give them plenty of warning.  Connect the dots for them - show them how the change will benefit them. If you can't, reconsider the change.

9. Being scolded for how they use their computer - Let their boss do the scolding for this.

10. IT people messing with their stuff - Ask permission to open users e-mail or look at their folders or files. Show respect for other people's privacy. Users have that proprietary feeling about "their" computer and "their" stuff (see #9).

As I've said above, communication is the key. Couple that with the honest desire to serve the users, then you will notice that they will come to you more for technical support than the others in your group. That will make you the star and better noticed.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It wasn't a SONA, it was SANA

There's a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure the truth.--Maya Angelou

To be persuasive, one must be believable. To be believable, we must be credible. To be credible, we must be truthful.--Edward R. Murrow

The most dangerous of all falsehoods is a slightly distorted truth.--G. C. Lichtenberg 

People are still wondering what country was described by Gloria in her SONA last Monday. Maybe she thought she would be delivering not a SONA but a SANA or Statement of Activities Not Accomplished. Sana is the Tagalog word used to express unreal futurity in the past or doubtful futurity in the present; it is also used to express uncertainty; or to mean "if only" or "I wish".

Sure she can boast of the nautical highway as roll-on roll-off ports were built. But the other claims are dubious. The claims on the poverty reduction are belied by statistics from her own agency that measure those stats. NSCB data shows poverty incidence to be about the same since she assumed office. Moreover, the Social Weather Stations released on the same day as the SONA survey results indicating that hunger is rising under her watch.

The PCIJ assessed GMA's accomplishments and they came out with a two part report. The report gave her a grade of conditional failure. And riddle me this, she claims foreign direct investments grew by leaps and bounds in her term but still her partymates want to tinker with the constitution in the guise that doing so will attract foreign investments. If GMA can boast that investments are coming in, why change the constitution at all?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lies + verbal jabs + fashion statements + patutsadas = Twitter top trend

As expected, many find the SONA as a pack of lies. The Philippine twitter scene was abuzz. Jim Paredes was impressed but wondered what country GMA was describing. I pity her ghost writers now. She must miss the previous ones who managed to give her speeches some tone of credibility. Or it must be simply that her credibility has gone down south so much that anything she says sounds like lies.

I will let the experts dissect and analyze the details. I found the fashion statements and the patutsadas more interesting. The first photo (from the GMANews) shows Rep. Liza Maza in a white katsa (flour sack) gown. The gown is hand-painted with a golden image of GMA, who is shown weaving an embroidery of the constitution (Con-Ass), while the people below her are strangled by its thread.

The second photo (also from the GMANews) shows Rep. Riza Hontiveros celebrating GMA's last SONA in a white pearl-scale gown embellished it with a red floral accent and a yellow ribbon for Cory.

But the real eye catcher is Sen. Loren Legarda's gown. That ensemble made Sen. Miriam Santiago look like her alalay.

Based on what I heard at the SONA, I think Sen. Manny Villar may yet end up as the administration candidate. Understandably, GMA will not hit his partymates at the SONA. But she swung at her opponents. So in her potshot at Erap, who still dreams of returning to Malacanan, - "Those who live in glass houses should cast no stones. Those who should be in jail should not threaten it, especially if they have been there." - touche. She was just being her taray self.

Even her party mate, former president Fidel Ramos, received a joust. She said "the noisiest critics of constitutional reform tirelessly and shamelessly attempted Cha-cha when they thought they could take advantage of a shift in the form of government. Now that they feel they cannot benefit from it, they oppose it." It can be remembered that Ramos attempted charter change during his term.

She had some advice to presidentiables - "To those who want to be President, this advice: If you want something done, do it hard, do it well. Don’t pussyfoot. Just do it. Don't say bad words in public." It is an obvious dig at Sen. Mar Roxas who once cursed publicly in disgust. And where does Mar Roxas post his reply? In Twitter, where else - "Gloria, I have to say bad words in public because of bad deeds done in secret."

So why do I think Villar may yet be GMA's candidate? Despite his lead in the surveys (he was ahead of Erap and Mar), he was spared from the patutsadas as if he were a partymate.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Onli in da Pilipins.

Filipinos have a folk belief that if someone is falsely reported to have died, that person will live on even longer, lalong hahaba ang buhay. That must have been the intention of those who started the text rumors that former President Cory Aquino has died. The speed, power, and persuasiveness of text messaging in Manila was such that the false news was even announced by a former Supreme Court justice after a mass for the former president. Talk about verifying the info at hand. A foreign embassy also has sent condolences to Cory's family based on the false alarm. If the pamahiin or kasabihan comes true to form, Cory will still be around for a while.

On the other hand, many can't wait for Gloria Arroyo to go. For every man who prays for Cory to live, there are definitely more who pray for Gloria to leave. The US might have reservations on electing a woman president but the Philippines had two within a very short span of time. Where else have they had two women presidents like we had? One is a picture of hope, the other a picture of hopelessness. Onli in da Pilipins.

There will lots of protest actions in today's state of the nation address by Gloria. This day is also the Iglesia ni Cristo anniversary. This day is a special working holiday, as announced by GMA, by virtue of RA 9645 which declared July 27 a special working holiday. There was some confusion after she made the announcement. Many thought that it will be another long weekend, as she has a holiday economics policy. Additionally, Gloria had proclaimed non-working holidays to send students and the rest of the public to enjoy themselves when prospects of them joining political rallies were high. But today turns out to be a special working holiday. Where else do you work on holidays? And special ones at that. Onli in da Pilipins.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Stinking Homeland's Incredible Tales

If the US President has his annual State of the Union Address as mandated by their constitution, the Philippine President has her State of the Nation Address or SONA. President Arroyo will deliver her SONA on Monday, July 27. According to Press Secretary Remonde, she will clarify many political issues and highlight the accomplishments of her 8-year term. Remonde added that the President will discuss political reforms that will complement her planned economic reforms. Many local political pundits await if it would include a push for Charter change, or if she would bare her political ambitions.

Equally many, on the other hand will not care at all. To them the event on Monday is "SO WHAT!" or the State Of the Whole Homeland And Territories.

To those who feel bad for themselves at the way this dispensation has treated them, they want Arroyo to say   "SORRY" - State Of the Residents and Regions Yearnings.

If Arroyo remains the taray-queen, bitchy, aloof and snobbish, her speech will be "SUPLADA" - Some Updates on the Philippine Life And Direction Address.

If her speech will be full of lies and will not make sense, it is "NOT SMART" - No Other Than Snobbish Macapagal-Arroyo Represses Truth.

The speech can turn out to be self-gratuitous, wherein it will be called "SALSAL" - Speech of Arroyo: Last Sona, At Last.

But to many Filipinos the presidential speech on Monday will be just full of - Stinking Homeland's Incredible Tales - or just full of "SH*T".

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Netbooks ≠ Notebooks

I blogged more than a year ago that the netbook will not attract Pinoys. I was mildly wrong because it was still enjoed a mild success with many brands and versions available for the Pinoys. 

But netbooks are not notebooks. And with a few more bucks, consumers will be able to purchase a full-blooded notebook with more robust features they expect.

Last month in the US, they released a survey indicating that the consumer backlash against netbooks has already begun. They found that 60 percent of consumers who purchased a netbook thought they would have the same functionality as notebooks. That confusion lead to some dissatisfaction. Sixty percent of the people who purchased a netbook did so because of its portability, however, 60 percent of buyers never even took their netbooks out of the house.

Looking around the WiFi locales, one will see many people with low-cost notebooks (13+ in screens) instead of netbooks. I guess the netbooks comprise less than 1/5 of those PCs seen in cafes. But as I said above, netbooks enjoyed a mild success here. So maybe, they are used at home.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Thank heavens for women's tennis

Now that the Slam season is over, let's just reminisce the beauty that befell upon us at the last US Open. Her grunts are terrible but the beauty is irresistible.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A short history of the Philippines

This is an email I got last Independence Day. Are we really malas or can we make our own destiny?

WHAT'S the big deal when Lapu-Lapu killed Magellan in 1521? Nothing much really. During Lapu-Lapu's time, Mactan was strictly tribal. Think small, gid. There were no big ideas such as nationalism or geopolitics.

Lapu-Lapu was simply, the local siga-siga and Magellan was the culture-shocked Westerner, a native first-timer in the exotic east.

We lionize Lapu-Lapu as a hero and nationalist. Ang totoo, mayabang lang si Lapu-Lapu. But his defeat of a foreign invader, did not make a Filipino nation. The timing was wrong. And don't you believe that bull that Spanish explorers came to find spices of the East to improve the taste of their bland cuisine. Their hidden agenda was to spread their kingdom through colonization, the euphemism for land grabbing.

During the 333 years of Spanish rule (1565-1898), hundreds of rebellion were waged by native firebrands in many parts of the archipelago.

Not one succeeded. Our rebels were either caught, garotted, or simply ignored by the Commandante as nuisances. Puro malas!

The execution of Rizal in 1896 was a traumatic experience for Filipinos. Those who read Rizal's Fili and Noli were incensed by the abuses of the church and state regime of the Spaniards. Emotions ran high, from Aparri to Jolo. The critical mass needed for nationhood was formed. At last we could rebel as a people, as a nation.

The Katipunan did their battle heroics, originally led by the firebrand Bonifacio and later on by the crafty Aguinaldo. With more Katipunan charges (Sugod mga Kapatid), freedom seemed possible. Between 1897 and 1899, stealth, betrayal, and skullduggery bedeviled our prospect for independence. The Aguinaldo and Bonifacio factions engaged in an ugly infighting (the talangka mentality) resulting in the execution of Bonifacio.

Meantime, an American Admiral named Dewey (not Dewey Dee, the fast one) entered Manila Bay and defeated a lackluster Spanish navy. Aguinaldo reneged on the pact of Biak na bato.

He resumed the revolution by proclaiming the Philippine Independence in Kawit. June 12. From who? We are still under the Americans & Spaniards at that time.

Meanwhile, American and Spanish soldiers held a "moromoro" battle in Intramuros with the Spaniards surrendering. Aguinaldo's republic and his KKK patriots were left out and ignored. Naisahan tayo... Minalas na naman.

The Filipino-American War broke out. Tall American soldiers looking like Clark Gable chased and battled the outlawed Filipino revolutionaries, ending in the capture of Aguinaldo in Isabela. Thanks to the mercenaries from Macabebe. This is the second time those Macabebe turn in their own kind first the Spaniards. This was the mother of all kamalasan.

At that time, our population was 8 million. The gap between the rich and the poor was estimated at 30% middle-class and rich, 70% low-class and rural poor.

During the Commonwealth period (1901-1941), which followed, there were lots of learning on democratic principles, its structure and governance. Technology transfers were done on Constitutional Rights, Public Education, Transportation, Health, International Trade and Industrialization. The Americans turned out to be good tutors. Filipinos also went crazy over American brand products like Libby's corned beef and Portola sardines, Hershey's Kisses and Wrigley's chewing gum, Camel cigarettes and Model T Ford for the hacienderos of Pampanga and Iloilo .

Hollywood films made Pinoy males fantasize on Jean Harlow, Betty Grable, and Mae West. Thus, Filipino colonial mentality began. We fondly called this period Peace Time. By the way, American troops massacred innocent people in Balanguiga. Mga hayup din pala!

1941. Disaster! World War II! After attacking Pearl Harbor , the Japanese army invaded our country defeating the combined American and Filipino forces (USAFFE). General McArthur, the proud and handsome Army chief, fled to Australia at the height of the battle. Then the Filipinos march to Bataan as the prisoner in the Death March.

For four miserable years we suffered the sadism of the Japanese militarists rule. Torture, famine, and death were for us, the order of the day... Kawawa. Malas na malas!

The American forces returned in 1945 to liberate the country. McArthur, General superiority complex himself, sporting Ray Ban sunglasses and corncob pipe swaggered back to Manila . Piqued at his humiliation in 1941, McArthur ordered the bombing and shelling of Manila till kingdom come. So he can get back at Japs for wrecking his R&R place in Asia. Malas na naman.

The whole-wide expanse South of Pasig - from Post Office to Vito Cruz, including all of Intramuros - was pulverized. Manila was the most destroyed city of World War II next to Tokyo .

Our culture, our heritage, and historical assets (seven beautiful churches in Intramuros, hundreds of elegant Art Deco and neo-classical architecture in Paco) were sacrificed recklessly and completely erased from the face of the earth. Sayang na sayang!

In 1946, we gained our Independence from the Americans. We were a free nation at last. A true Independence day for us July 4th 1946 not the June 12th that Aguinaldo declared and Marcos celebrated. We had enough exposure and lessons on how to govern a democratic country, the first in Asia . Our population was 17 million. The dollar exchange was US$1 to P2.

But there was still no peace from 1947 to 1966. A widespread communist rebellion led by Taruc, the Lava brothers, and its armed guerillas called Hukbalahap (Supposed to be Hukbong Laban sa Hapon) waged bloody war with government troops and turn out to be nothing but bandits in disguised. Filipinos killed kapwa Filipinos. Malas na naman!

Our politicians and bureaucrats learned to engage in graft and corruption (What are we in power for?) - such as the war surplus bribery, the Tambobong wheeler-dealing and the Namarco scam. Talo!

Six presidents were elected to manage the country from 1947 to 1972, under the democratic system. They were Presidents Roxas, Quirino, Magsaysay, Garcia, Macapagal, and Marcos.

Economists looked back to the decades of the 50s and 60s as the best years of the Philippine economy, surpassing Asian countries. The nostalgia was naiveté, a useless ego-tripping. The gap between the rich and the poor remained big. 30% middle-class and rich, 70% low- class, rural and urban poor. We were 27 million people. US$1 was to P4.

During the late 60's, the Maoist communists led by Commander Dante intensified its drive to overthrow the government.. Marcos added fuel to the fire by creating a communist spook. Violence and mayhem rule the streets. The youth went up in arms! Martial Law was declared in 1972 and Marcos became dictator. Freedom of assembly and expression went out of the window..

What followed were years of dictatorial abuse, crony capitalism, shackled free enterprise, near economic collapse and a demoralized middle class. The gap between the rich (30%) and poor (70%) remained in a quagmire. Pareho rin pala ang situation.

Our population was 40 million. Exchange rate was US$1 to P7.. Kawawang kawawa! Malas na malas! In 1983, Ninoy Aquino, Marcos' exiled arch rival, was assassinated upon his return. Push came to shove. Cardinal Sin egged on the people on to protest. Outrage, self- pity, shame and fury raged and rumbled like a tidal wave, culminating in the incredible People Power Revolution. The very sick and obstinate Marcos fled (hijacked by Americans from Clark) to Hawaii (sounds like Paoay) where he died. His alleged millions of stolen dollars intact and unresolved. Up to now... Peso to dollar exchange is now P20 to $1.

But People Power was our shining glory! The whole world applauded our saintly courage, our dignified defiance, our bloodless solution to expel a dictator. We were the toast of all freedom-loving countries, the envy of all oppressed people. In 1986, we placed Cory Aquino, Ninoy's widow, in Malacañang. She was virtuous, sincere and full of good intentions for the country. But what happens under Cory?

An endless brown out and living in a portable generators is a must and monopolize be Cory's relatives who threw out her Energy Dept down to Pasig river.

The land reform she professed and promised was going good at first but after she found out her Hacienda Luisa will be greatly affected that program went down the Pasig river too!. No wonder that river is so polluted.

Coup attempts by Honasan, power struggle, political squabbles, and the infighting for juicy deals harassed the amateur Cory presidency. So nothing happened. No progress took place. The economy was still bad. The poor suffered more and more. Sure we got democracy back on its feet. But the Filipino resolve didn't happen. People Power pala was ningas cogon power.

Sayang na sayang! Tha gap between the rich and the poor remained at 30% (middle-class and rich), 70% (lower-class and rural/urban poor). Exchange rate was US$1 to P25. We were 55 million people.

In 1992, Cory's choice, Fidel Ramos, West Pointer, soldier, and hero of the People Power won the presidency. He had the bearing, the single-mindedness and the vision to bring the country to a tiger economy status. Ramos was a terrific salesman of the Philippines to the world. He was able to hype a climate of an economic ground. He removed barriers to progress. He was an apostle of privatization. His mantra was, less government, more private sector! Fidel hit the right note and the economy went on a roll.

Fidel wanted to run for reelection but failed to swing the cha-cha (an idiotic acronym for Constitutional Change) so he could run again.

In 1997, the Asian economic crises struck, triggered by a balloons burst of the hyper speculative Bangkok economy. The financial debacle created a disastrous effects in the investment institutions of Manila , Jakarta , Kuala Lumpur , Hong Kong, Seoul , and Taiwan .

All the Ramos gains evaporated into thin air. Malas na naman! The poor, specially Mang Pandoy, were poorer than ever.

1998 was showbiz time! The Erap para sa mahirap show opened to the chagrin of Makati Business Club. Pasensya na po kayo, mga elitists. Democracy is also weird. The choice of the masa must be respected.

Catastrophe! Chavit Singson exploded jueteng bombs! For days on end, a nation sick in the stomach, sat through primetime TV aghast at watching the bizarre drama of alleged bribery, gambling, drunkenness, womanizing, deceit, and corruption. A lantern-jawed witness and a sexy intelligence "asset" hogged the witness stand.

Viewing the scandals on TV was like watching dogs mating in the public square. It's embarrassing but you can't take your eyes of them.

The impeachment trial serialized on TV was riveting.. The defense lawyers, some wearing a canine sneer (ngiting aso) insulted our intelligence often. (Lokohin n'yo ang lelang n'yo). The whole country was stinking to high heavens.. The prosecution produced its own witnesses - Clarissa Ocampo, Emma Lim, Carmencita Itchon and many others.

Idols with feet of clay fell crashing into the dust. Those who voted against opening the enveloped were legalese, procedural, and sounding intellectually brilliant. Also heartless and thick-skinned. They couldn't fathom the heartbeat of the nation. Cardinal Sin, aging and sickly, called the people again. It was People Power II!

Same humongous and collective umbrage, same brinkmanship, and same staccato prayers! Generals Reyes and Villanueva simply joined the mammoth EDSA crowd. No US jets from Clark this time. Erap was out!
Gloria was in!

Hope springs eternal. Malacañang regained its honor and dignity. Protocol was observed. Absurdity was gone.. Grammatical English was back. Now the first gentleman should have been named Mr. Pakyao, he has the monopoly of the graft behind Gloria's back.

2001. More catastrophies! The peso plummeted to a horrifying P51 to US$1. The Abu Sayyaf (extremist ideologues? Or mindless barbarians) were into kidnapping and terrorism, gaining worldwide notoriety. Businesses are still closing shop. Thousands of workers are being retrenched. Prices of food and gasoline are very high. (Galunggong is P80 per kilo!) Our streets became permanent garbage dumps. Maggots multiply to spread disease. Our communities stink.

Again, the whole nation was witnessing sickening crimes attributed to people in the government. Talo na naman! We are now 75 million people but the gap between the rich, 30% (middle-class and rich), 70% (lower-class and rural/urban poor) remains the same for one century.

When will this end? It's been more than 350 years since Lapu- Lapu's victory, 100 years since Rizal martyrdom and we're nowhere as a people, as a nation. Malas pa rin!

Some wise guy said the Filipino is a damaged culture. Bully! And what do you call other foreigners. They used slaves in their plantations, and landgrabbed from the natives! What should we call such culture? Predatory Culture? Bully Culture? What about another country? How many countries did it put under the barrel of its gunships, so they could gloat that the sun never sets on their empire?" What shall we call this culture?

Sahib culture? Gunga Din culture? C'mon, give us a break!

We Filipinos have strengths and endearing values. We are Christians, God-fearing, and peace-loving. We are patient and tolerant (matiisin to a fault). We are musical. We sing our blues away. We have a sense of humor. (We concoct and text Imelda hyperboles and Erap malapropism. ) We learn fast because we are bilingual and highly educated.

We've got thousands of MBA's and PhD's in economics and management from AIM, WHARTON, HARVARD, UCLA, etc (most of them now overseas).

We've got a surplus of technocrats for nation-building.
We want to work if there are vacancies.
We want to go into business if we have the capital.
We want to obey the law if the law is being enforced.
We want to live and die here, if there is peace and order.

But, but, and but. We have many shortcomings. We are immature in our politics. Given a choice on whom to elect: a handsome pabling movie star or an honest and brilliant political scientist, we'll vote for the movie star.

No brainer tayo dito. Talo! We have many stupidities. Like dogs, we pee (Bawal umihi dito) on walls and tires. Our driving is suicidal. Our service quality is inferior.

Clerks at City Hall act arrogant. Sales ladies at department stores don't know their product features. No exchange No return even it is defective you have to argue for it. Tourists get mugged by thugs in uniform.

Police lay traps so they can catch you and ask for bribe. What's wrong with us? We don't have a great leader. And good governance. (In Singapore , Lee Kwan Yu did it. The constituency profile is similar to Filipinos.) Admittedly, this country is impossible, tiresome, and frustrating.

But it's the only country we've got.

We live and die here.
Will we ever see the dawn?
Dios na mahabagin, Kailan pa kaya? Ubos na ang aming luha. Katog na ang aming mga tuhod. Tuyot na ang aming utak. Hingal na ang aming puso.
Dios na mahabagin, isalba Mo po kami. Hindi po kami talunan. At lalo pong hindi kami tanga. Sunod-sunod lang po ang malas.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The heat is on / The revenge of the fugly

The heat generated by the Hayden-Katrina sex videos turned out to be too much for FleshAsia, allegedly (or admittedly) the first to upload the videos. As of yesterday morning they announced its death on its website, although they still give hint of a resurrection.

The latest news is the release of an audio CD of the meeting between Lolit Solis, Belo, Hayden, and Reli German on how to counter the negative publicity. The meeting is not or what it's all about is not exactly new knowledge. PEP had its in its site since last month. For what it's worth, it shows that Lolit Solis stage managed Hayden and company's reaction to the aftermath. They tried to soften Hayden's image, make him look contrite, and make Katrina look like a slut. More importantly, it shows Hayden and Vicky made immediate defensive moves to negate the bad publicity even before Katrina sued them. Proactive? Or plain guilty?

It also shows the two-faced nature of the business in more than ways than one. Showbiz people are said to be often laughing on the outside, crying on the inside. The audio CD shows that some persons may have advised Katrina AND at the same time advised the other camp AND even the senator who led the investigation. One irony here is that show business is supposed to be about the beautiful people. But look at the people behind the beautiful people. The good looking ones are mere puppets manipulated by fugly ones who control the industry. These people are well loved - by their mothers, who might have aptly described them as - special.

Is there a fugly one in the photo below?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

San Miguel wins - at last, in the San Miguel league

Congrats SMB! The San Miguel Beermen ended four years of frustration by smashing a depleted Barangay Ginebra Kings in the 2009 PBA Fiesta Conference. San Miguel came from behind after being down 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.

San Miguel was much too deep the injury-riddled Ginebra who was simply too tired in the final game. San Miguel coach Siot Tanquincen finally won a crown for SMB.

The San Miguel team was actually a very deep team in all positions for several years now. But the potential never came to fruition under Tanquincen. I was so frustrated with his inability to win a champinship that I initiated a 'fire Siot' movement in a basketbal forum thread/poll. There were many others who were equally dismayed and the thread ran for a long time. The poll showed 70% wanted Siot out as coach since last year.

But with the win, Siot made a lot of SMB fans happy at the moment. His tenure is safe for another conference at least.

The best of seven series still produced a lot of thrills notwithstanding the corporate relations between the two teams. The PBA is truly a San Miguel league with three of the 10 teams (can be actually four) from the San Miguel conglomerate. That makes SMB, Ginebra, and Purefoods (and maybe Coca-Cola) sister teams. In this situation, accusations of a 'scripted' series abound. With its vast corporate resources, SMB teams manage to corner the top players money can buy and go circuitous routes to go around league rules on player transfers. So with the supposed 'script', Purefoods is poised to win the next championship.

Is this situation healthy? The other team owners do not seem to mind, after all PBA continues to provide good exposure for their products. But the rigodon of the players around the league leaves sports fans lost. In the Toyota-Crispa days, PBA fans are fans of the teams. Either you're a Toyota fan or a Crispa fan. When these teams disbanded and the players dispersed to other teams, the players took along their fan base to their new teams. So San Miguel acquired a lot of new fans with the arrival of Mon Fernandez. It was the same with Ginebra when Sonny Jaworski came on board.

What happens when players move around a lot? Team fans lose their identities too. Fans don't root for a team anymore, they root for the players. As a fan, I think rooting for a team is much better than rooting for a particular player, after all basketball is a team game. When fans start to root for a player and not for the team, and if the players move around teams a lot, that defeats the purpose of maintaining a team for product marketing purposes. With the grand exception of the San Miguel teams. The PBA has to do something about the San Miguel stronghold over the league.

Friday, July 17, 2009

“Our Culture is our Destiny”

From an email now circulating the rounds:

In 1994, Lee Kuan Yew, the father and the builder of modern Singapore, was interviewed by Time Magazine. In one portion of the interview, Lee Kuan Yew was asked about the importance of culture.

Lee Kuan Yew said “culture is destiny”. Your culture is your destiny. Your culture will determine your destiny. Your set of beliefs will determine how far you will go in life. If you believe you are a failure, you will be a failure. If you believe you are great, you will be great. If you want to excel, you must build a culture of excellence. If you want to become great, you must build a culture of greatness.

Lee Kuan Yew said that this applies not only to an individual person. It also applies to a people. A people’s culture will determine the destiny of that people.

It is in this context that I wish to talk to you briefly about our story as a people.

We were a colony of Spain for 333 years, which ended only in December 1898. For 333 years, the Spaniards in our country did not treat our people kindly. In fact, they treated our people harshly, violently. At the height of its power in our country, there were just around 40,000 Spanish soldiers in our country, controlling and subjugating more than 1 million Filipinos. The Spaniards conquered and subjugated our people physically, thru superior weapons. But more importantly, they conquered and subjugated the spirit of our people.

The Spaniards called our people many bad and demeaning names. They called us Juan Tamad, or lazy Joe, and made us believe that we are a lazy people. Even inside the churches, in the pulpits, the Spanish Friars or priests called us – tanga, bobo, at tamad. They ridiculed the Filipino as dumb, dull and stupid. This they did continuously, often with violence, on our people, for 333 years. Until it killed the spirit of many of our people – the spirit to fight, the spirit to aspire, the spirit to excel, the spirit to aim high and dream big.

Napoleon Bonaparte said – the best conquest is the conquest of the mind and the heart.

To ensure that the almost 1 million Filipinos will not be united in a revolution against the 40,000 Spanish soldiers, the Spaniards sowed disunity and division among our people. This they did as a policy. They made Filipino families and clans fight among each other, by sowing intrigues among them. This the Spaniards did also for more than 300 years. As a result, many Filipinos did no trust one another, did not help one another, did not work with one another.

When the Spaniards left our country in 1898, after it sold our country to the United States, the 2 most serious problems they left the Filipino people were these – first, the Filipino lost his faith in himself, his self-respect and self-confidence. The Filipino had a very low and negative self-image of himself. Second, the Filipino people did not trust one another and could not work with each other.

The American rule of our country for the next 42 years aggravated these problems. The Japanese occupation of our country from 1941 to 1945 worsened the problems. The Japanese soldiers raped our daughters and sisters and enslaved our men.

We became a free people only in 1946 – that is 63 years ago. If you deduct 14 years of Martial Law from there, we are just 49 years old as a free people.

As you can see, we are still a young nation, a people that is still in search for itself, a nation that is still trying to find its own place under the sun.

But today, our Philippines is perceived as the most corrupt country in the whole of Asia and the 11th most corrupt in the whole world.

Today, our country is considered one of the poorest countries in Asia despite the fact that it is the 5th richest in mineral deposits out of 239 countries in the world, notwithstanding the fact that it has one of the richest natural resources in the world, despite the fact that it is the richest in marine life biodiversity in all the world.

Today, according to a Time Magazine article dated 24 November 2008, almost 10 million of our youth are growing up without a father or a mother by their side because the father or the mother has to find work abroad because our country could not provide the jobs to their fathers and mothers.

Today, almost 11 million of our youth are classified as out-of-school youth. They are school aged and should be at school, but they are not at school. They are out there in the streets or in the squatters or in the mountains of poverty.

Today, out of 20 million families in our country, 5 million families are homeless, living in the slums of poverty as squatters.

Today, the problems created and caused by foreign invaders and rulers of our country still exist in the hearts and minds of many of our people. Today, many of our people still have no faith in the Filipino and consider our Philippines a hopeless country. Many among us still bash the Filipino in front of foreigners and speak negatively about our country. Today, many of our people just think and live only for themselves and their families, but never for the whole Filipino people. A number of our political and government leaders, while in public office, just serve themselves and their families, and not the public interest. Many business people only think much of themselves and their families, but not much of their employees and their employees’ families.

Kanya-kanya at pamilya-pamilya pa rin lang ang marami sa atin. As a people, we still have difficulty attaining national unity in our acts for our country.

Our culture is our destiny. Our culture as a people will determine our destiny as a nation.

In 1987, American writer James Fallows called us a people with a damaged culture because, according to him, we do not have a sense of community as a people. We do not care for one another.

Today, one of the major challenges we face today as a people is this – How do we heal ourselves as a people? How do we repair the damage in our culture that was deeply inflicted in us as a people for almost 400 years? How do we build the greatness of Filipino? How do we make the Filipino truly great and respectable in the eyes of the world?

Truly, we need to rebuild the greatness of ourselves as a people, and this we can do and we must do piece by piece, block by block, group by group, town by town, city by city – until such time that our archipelago of 7,107 islands truly believe in one fundamental thing – that we Filipinos are one people. And that as one people, we are also just one family.

At this juncture, allow me to tell you a portion of my story.

I am a father of four (4) young children, the oldest of whom is 13 years old, while the youngest is just 3. As a parent, I dream of a beautiful country for all my children, one where their dreams are possible to attain, however high they may seem. A society that offers them boundless opportunities and limitless possibilities. One that can and is willing to pay the full value of their talent and hard work, in the same way that America and Canada are able to pay the full value of the talent and hard work of their own people. A nation that respects all their rights and liberties, and one that can provide them justice when an act of injustice is committed against anyone of them. A country that will make them truly proud of themselves as Filipino, one that will make the rest of the world respect the name Filipino.

As a Filipino, like Tito Tony Meloto and Gawad Kalinga, and perhaps like many of you, I also dream of a beautiful Philippines for the Filipino people. I dream of a Philippines that is beautiful in its march to progress, because it seeks prosperity for all and not only for a few, because there is enough for every Filipino and his family, because no Filipino family is left behind in the streets or in slums to suffer in poverty and misery. I dream of a country that is founded on love for one another, one where there is a culture of familihood among our people, because we as a people commit to the noble idea that we are our sister’s and our brother’s keeper. A society where the weakest of our people can also be strong, where the poorest among us can also be wealthy. A nation where law and justice is the rule, where the mighty are just, where the lowly are secure. A society that can meet the lowest needs and the highest expectations of our people. A country where every child is able to study, where every graduate is able to find work. A country where every Filipino can attain the fullness of life as he or she conceives it to be, one that can bring out the best, the highest, and the most beautiful of our people, so the Filipino may become a model and a light to many parts of the world.

On January 20, 1961, President John F Kennedy, in whose name and honor this school of government of Harvard is dedicated, called on the American people in his Inaugural Address – “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country”.

That is the most famous line the world remembers today of John F Kennedy. His call for patriotism, for good citizenship. His call for the American people to step up on their love for their country.

That is also what we are trying to do in our country today. That is also call I make in my book “12 Little Things Filipinos Can Do To Help Our Country”.

But the biggest call in our country today is the one that Tito Tony Meloto and Gawad Kalinga are making to all Filipinos all over the world. A call to care for the poorest of our poor, a call to build homes for our 5 million homeless families, a call to provide the poorest of our people the opportunity to live among us in society, with dignity and hope.

Today, GK brings home millions of our people abroad, to help rebuild our country, to help build the greatness of the Filipino. Today, GK stands as the best vehicle that can unite all Filipinos from all over the world. It is the best hope for our 5 million families who are homeless in the very land where God planted them. GK is the best tool that can build the greatness of the Filipino. It is the best vehicle that can bring us to our dream of a beautiful Philippines.

I believe that there are six (6) core values we should all believe in as a people. These core values could serve as the foundations of the culture of greatness we wish to build for the Filipino.

First, as a people, we should believe that the Philippines is our Motherland. It is the birthplace of our race. It is the home of the Filipino. The Jewish Americans tell their children that while America is their country, Israel is their motherland. Israel is the home of the Jew. Japanese Americans do the same to their children. The Chinese and the Korean Americans too. We as a people, wherever we maybe in the world, should do the same. We should believe that, for it is the truth. Wherever we maybe in the world, we should tell our children that, so our young may grow up with deep love and affection for our motherland. For truly, Philippines is the country our Creator chose and gave to us as a people.

Second, as a people, we should believe that the Filipino is great for he is a child of a great God who truly wants him to be great. The Filipino is a child of God no less than the American, no less than the French or the Italian, no less than the stars above or any person on earth. God has equipped the Filipino, within him and around him, with all the essentials he needs to succeed in this world. God wants the best, the highest, and the most beautiful for the Filipino because he is God’s child.

Third, we should believe that as a people we are but one family. That while we have our spouses and children as our small family, the Filipino people is our big family. Therefore, as a people, we should have a culture of familihood, which is higher and greater than brotherhood. As one family of people, we should truly love and respect one another. Dapat wala tayong iwanan. Dapat wala tayong gulangan. Dapat wala tayong dayaan, lokohan, o nakawan.

Fourth, as people, we should believe that unity is higher and more important than individuality, but without choking anyone’s creativity. If we want the best for the Filipino, unity is essential. For a people achieve great things only if they are united. As JFK said “United, there is little we cannot do; Divided, there is little we can do”.

Fifth, as people, we should believe that the Filipino was born as part of the whole, as part of the answer to the question, as part of the solution to the problem, as part of the hope to our people. As a people, we are born to help build a better world for all humanity, and to help the Filipino become great not only in the eyes of the world but moreso in the eyes of our Lord.

Sixth, as a people, we should aim high and dream big for ourselves. For truly, we will only go as far as our dreams. If we dream small, our achievements will also be small. If we dream big, our achievements will also be big. For truly, we are the architects of our own success. We are the builders of our own greatness. We are the writers of our own story. We are the creators of our own future.

If the Americans were able to build for themselves a great and a prosperous country, why can’t we Filipinos build for ourselves a beautiful Philippines? If the Japanese and the Singaporeans were able to build for themselves an orderly and a prosperous country, why can’t we Filipinos build for our children and people a beautiful country?

We – the present generations of Filipinos – we are today the carriers of the flag of our Philippines. We are today the bearers of the name Filipino, the vanguards of the identity Filipino. It is therefore our task to build the Filipino great. It is therefore our duty to build our Motherland, our beloved Philippines, great!

We Filipinos are a beautiful people!

We and our children deserve a beautiful country!

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas! Mabuhay ang Pilipino!

God bless all of you!

This is a short version of the speech of Alexander Lacson at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government during the GK Global Summit in Boston on June 12-14, 2009. Alex Lacson is the author of the book “12 Little Things Filipinos Can Do To Help Our Country”.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Freddie Aguilar vs. The World = The Worst in the Filipino

I wanted to post here the speech of Alex Lacson, author of the book “12 Little Things Filipinos Can Do To Help Our Country”, at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government during the GK Global Summit in Boston on June 12-14, 2009. It is about what he believes to be the core values that could serve as the foundations of the culture of greatness we wish to build for the Filipino. But I will post that tomorrow. Instead, let's take a look at the current word war between Freddie Aguilar and some Filipino singers, and its aftermath. The situation is a good example of what Alex Lacson is talking about.

Background: In an interview Freddie Aguilar made unfortunate remarks against Arnel Pineda and Charice Pempengco, the current toasts of the local music industry for their recent success in the American music scene. Ka Freddie lashed at Arnel and Charice. He boldly said that the two proved what Mariah Carey once said about Filipinos being like monkeys for aping others' styles. That was uncalled for since the Mariah Carey remark was just an Internet hoax, in the first place. Then Ka Freddie also dragged Gary Valenciano into the word war by saying Gary would be more popular if he does not imitate Michael Jackson and Al Jarreau. Needless to say, the singers responded (1, 2). Other columnists joined the fray, and a full word war erupted.

Freddie's beef was primarily the choice of songs by Charice, Arnel, and Gary. Somehow he equates nationalism with singing Tagalog (not Filipino). Just for that, he may yet enter into another word war with Cebuanos and those who speak other dialects. I believe his is a narrow-minded mindset in view of the globalization trend. Arnel and Charice catered to specific markets, just as Freddie captured the folk market before. Their styles, however American oriented, don't undo their being Filipinos. In fact they are billed as coming from the Philippines. In the light of the many influences in our culture, what is a real Filipino anyway?

I will not venture an answer to that this time.

Let us reflect on what Ka Freddie's thoughtless thoughts led to. For all those remarks, many now call Freddie Aguilar names like unggoy, crab, talangka. He is accused of having crab mentality. Those who got angry with Freddie jeer him as the proverbial Filipino talangka that tries to pull down anyone who attains success. The Wikipedia article about him was altered . The defaced article described him as crabby and the worst song writer in the region. His contribution to the anti-Marcos movement was changed from "Bayan Ko" to "Talangka Ako". A screenshot appears below.

Initially, I found it amusing. Since the interview came out last July 6, the Wikipedia page was repeatedly edited to disgrace him. All attempts to correct it was countered by another defacement. This is a link to the revision history of the article. But on second thought, those who defame Ka Freddie this way is not only doing the Filipino legend a great disservice. By their vandalism, they abuse the wiki concept, and they who maliciously edit the page are being mga talangka themselves.

This is not productive at all. I hope they get to read Alex Lacson's speech. I will post that tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Michael Jackson's inspiration

In a 1999 interview with MTV, Michael Jackson revealed that one of the driving forces behind his video concepts was the Three Stooges. “My dream was to always make short little films, because I’m a big fan of the Three Stooges, and I love watching Curly, who I think is wonderful. They make these 15-minute shorts, and I said, ‘I’d love to do something like that some day,’ and ["Thriller"] was my opportunity.”

In the recent MJ memorial, Marlon Jackson said growing up they always watched the Three Stooges. MJ wrote a somehow revealing foreword of a book about Curly. Here is MJ's foreword from Joan Howard Mauer's 1985 book, 'Curly':

"My memories of the Three Stooges, and especially Curly, are still with me to this day. In my childhood, around our house in Indiana, it was a daily ritual for me to watch the Three Stooges on television. All my brothers loved them then and even more so now. Chaplin and the Stooges are the greatest to me--their humor survives each generation. Even my mother love to see us have fun watching them. Rehearsing as a team and watching the Stooges were the only times we got together as a whole family.

The Stooges' craziness helped me to relax and to escape life's burdens. They influenced me so much that I even wrote a song about them.

Curly was definitely my favorite Stooge. He was unquestionably a comic genius who understood ad-libbing better than anyone. I loved the Stooges' slapstick action and especially Curly's funny noises and his silly, child-like mannerisms and attitudes. He should be honored much more than what has been done for him in the past, for everyone who loves him.

As a kid, I imitated Curly all the time, and I enjoyed feeling superior to and smarter than those three, silly grownups. I owe so much to them that I feel they belong to me. That's why I had to write the Foreword for this book.

Joan, the author, asked me whether I thought that Curly had suffered when he had to shave off his wavy head of hair in order to become a Stooge. My answer was that I was sure he did, that underneath the smile may have been a tear--after all, he was a clown. But it is our duty as entertainers to satisfy the people--to give of our souls even if it hurts.

Curly had a magic. He was God-gifted--a natural. Even when he didn't intend to be funny he was magic.

Today, thirty-three years after his death, Curly still has legions of fans because he was a natural. Such people appeal to the masses young and old--like the color blue.

I love everything about Curly and I would give anything to really know what he was like.

Thanks to the author, this book will clear up much of the mystery of Curly for me and his millions of devoted fans."

Michael Jackson

Even in just the foreword of a book about another celebrity, MJ allowed us a glimpse of his suffering amid his heart-felt duty to entertain. The words MJ used - greatest, genius, child-like, suffered, magic, God-gifted, natural, entertainer,  mystery, millions of devoted fans - are the same words he could have used to write his autobio. I am sure many books about how he became an inspiration will come out, but none will clear up the mystery of Michael Jackson for his millions of devoted fans.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Basic Instinct + Technology = Sex Scandals

After the initial barrage of Hayden videos, came a lull of several weeks until screen caps from the Princess-Hayden video surfaced. We salivate for the rest of the supposed 40 or so videos with 10 different women. Then another video with a different Brazilian was uploaded. Hayden later declared that there a really only 11 videos with 4 different women. What? No Vicky Belo, Ruffa, or KC? If there are only 4 women, then are all accounted for. The 2 Brazilians+ Maricar+Katrina=4. But wait, what about the Princess screencaps and the Belo admission that she also has a video. Ah, Hayden is protecting some women.

So voyeurs are eagerly waiting for the videos but authorities raided the office of a website that first uploaded the Hayden Kho sex videos. took pride in being the first, now they face some heat for it. Technically, the website operators can argue that theirs is not a porn site since they only provide download links. Moreover, the country still does not have a law against Internet porn. I expect them to get away with it. Meanwhile some other sites pulled out the Hayden videos in anticipation of a crackdown.

Legislators, on the other hand, notice the increasing number of sex video scandals. They think that the absence of a law covering sex videos embolden people to videotape their or other people’s private sex acts by means of mobile phones or video cameras.

These congressmen think they can legislate everything. Man since his caveman days has always made mementos of his conquests for posterity. We have the cave drawings, we have diaries, we have videos. Laws or not, the coupling of man's basic instinct and  technology breeds sex scandals. Over the years, sex scandals have been a function of technology. With the invention of the audio cassette recorder came the grunt and groan Marcos-Dovie Beams sex audio scandal. The invention of the Betamax spread the Vivian-Farinas videotape. Then the handycam made it even more easy to take videos. Today, camera phones and digital cameras make it easier to shoot videos. The Internet makes them viral.

The absence of a law has nothing to do with it. Race has nothing to do with it (Asians, Americans, Europeans have sex videos). Economic standing has nothing to do with it either (Pinoys, Japs have videos). Not ideology either (Chinese videos abound). Nor religion (Indonesians, Malaysians have videos too). Clearly it is man's basic instinct plus the access to technology that compels man to produce these videos. Show me a place that hasn't made a video by now and I'll show you a place not yet reached by camera phones and Internet.

This is not to say that what Hayden did should be forgiven. He clearly violated the women in the videos in more ways than one. The videotaping without their knowledge is the clear violation. There are certain cultural and community standards to privacy. Then the causing of the videos to be uploaded is another violation. Hayden and the others who had a hand in the videos (others admitted to copying the harddisk and making CD copies) have contributed to the distribution, either by design or by negligence. They should not get away with it.

Wow! This could really be a warning!?@#$%^&*()

I woke up at the usual time, started to cook breakfast for the kids, opened the PC and tried to eke out a blog post about the Hayden Kho sex video scandal. It is not earth-shaking no matter how Hayden tries. But a childhood friend thinks the issue had died down. Then I suddenly noticed that quite a few readers are reading the earthquake prediction post made last month (June 24). Aha, I thought, July 18 nears. And I realized that Twitterfeed re-fed the post to Twitter and then Facebook picked up the tweet, while I was sleeping. Wow, what, why, and how! This could be something big indeed.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Barakong Obama gawks, whats next global cop?

In the G-8 summit last week, US President Barack Obama was photographed covetously ogling at the booty of a 17-year-old junior G-8 delegate. The Clintonesque stare was snapped moments before the group photo was taken.

Also shown enjoying the rear view was French President Nicolas Zarkosy who must be thinking of excuses to his MILF wife Carla Bruni about the stimulus package he saw at the conference.

But we have not seen the end of it. AbcNews reports that the gaze was really quite innocent. Barakong Obama was on a higher step and was stepping down - so he looked down to watch his footing and at the same time help a lady step down - while the girl was walking up the stairs. Butt barako Zarkosy was not cleared.

Butt wait, there's more. Barakong Barry and Zarkosy are again at it. The shy third man who is too ashamed to look is Italian President Berlusconi, himself caught in worse photo controversy. Ahh, boys will be boys!

Butt wait, there's even more. The boob tube reports that the White House has invited GMA to a one-on-one meeting. Barako's top spook, who met GMA just moments earlier before the announcement, must have confirmed to him the recent boob job. Now Barako must see for himself. Will the global cop cop a feel this time?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

After that memorial, Michael can't be alive

I downloaded a 2.05gb 3hr video of that Michael Jackson memorial held at the Staples Center on Tuesday. That was really some memorial. There were wonderful eulogies from his friends and there were musical performances of mostly MJ songs by his collaborators and family. The musical numbers were not spectacular as can be usually expected from the legendary performers, clearly because they were not able to fully rehearse as the event was hastily assembled since no one suspected MJ will be gone too soon. And the performers were overcome by emotions during their numbers.

MJ's untimely death really generated renewed interest in his work. Although I'm a big believer of his talent, I'm not really a big fan like I'm a big fan of U2 and Springsteen. I'm not that all familiar with what John Mayer played and what Jennifer Hudson sang in the memoral. But instantly I felt it had a deep connection to MJ. John Mayer played 'Human Nature' and Jennifer sang the them from 'Free Willy'. The lyrics were MJ questioning his inner demons - loneliness, insecurities, self-doubt, desire to break free. I'm sure many will find special and deeper MJ interpretations/meanings also in other songs like 'In the Closet', 'Black and White', 'Privacy', etc.

The aborted comeback tour could have been great. His back-up singers, who likewise performed in the memorial, were really good. The young, female, long haired, blond, lead guitarist/vocalist will become popular, I dare say. Her name is Orianthi. The Japanese looking lead backup singer, Judith Hill, is also good. She'll have more than her 15-minutes of fame.

And just as I thought early on, many still in denial about his death will concoct stories of him being still alive. There is an (un)healthy number of such fans. After that loving, moving, fitting tribute, Michael cannot be alive. Those who mourned and were deeply moved by the memorial will kill him if he surfaces and says he faked his own death. You just don't pour out so much grief for nothing.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Inertia not initiative prevails in bureaucracy

This quotes Bob Nelson, author of the best-selling book, 1001 Ways to Take Initiative at Work, ISBN: 076111405X

[start of quote]
"Taking the initiative" can mean many things--tapping inner creativity, tackling a persistent problem, capitalizing on opportunities, or creating ways to improve customer services or current work environment. By taking initiative in any of these ways, employees can elevate their visibility in the organization and greatly enhance their chances for recognition, learning, advancement, pay raises and bonuses, as well as have a more meaningful and exciting time at work.

Here are some ways any employee can take greater initiative in his or her job, voiced in a way that you could give directly to your employees or managers. It's one thing to tell your employees to take greater initiative, but another to provide them with easy and clear ways to do it.

Ways To Take More Initiative In Your Job

Thinking Outside the Box: Innovation--thinking outside the box--is the spark that keeps organizations moving ever onward and upward. To think outside the box, look for new combinations, ask "what if" or develop "what-if" scenarios, consider approaches you've never considered before, brainstorm with others, and be a champion of new ideas.

Doing Your Homework: Preparation is often the key to success in any endeavor. You will be more successful in convincing others that what you believe is the right thing, if you are armed and ready with the facts. Taking the initiative to do your homework means doing the basic research necessary to back up your claims, such as obtaining necessary information, determining costs and benefits, making calculations, and/or gaining buy-in from others who will be affected.

Taking Action--Capitalizing on Opportunities: Taking action can often be a scary proposition. It would be much easier to wait for your boss to make the decision and take the responsibility to tell you what to do and when to do it. However, progressive companies realize that they need employees at all levels who are willing and encouraged to take chances and to make decisions--and be willing to take responsibility for their actions.

Making Improvements: One of the easiest--and most effective--ways for employees to take initiative is to be on the lookout for ways to improve the work processes, products, services, and systems that are a vital part of how the organization does its business. In fact, the closer you are to an organization's actual product, the greater the chance is that you have more daily contact with its real business--its customers, clients, products, and services--than do those who are higher up the ladder.

Perseverance and Persistence: Employees who excel at taking initiative usually must also persist in the support of the ideas and actions in which they believe. This type of initiative can, at times, include overcoming the resistance of higher-ups or of entrenched policies and systems that work to ensure the maintenance of the status quo. It often takes a certain degree of courage to take initiative in the first place. But to persist--even over the objections of your manager or others--takes even more commitment and courage.

Taking initiative can be as simple as asking "what if." So, the next time you're doing a routine task, remember that it's the person who does the job who is in the best position to know how to do the job better--whether this improvement means identifying new ways to cut costs, how to make improvements to the way products are developed in your company, how a process might be streamlined, or how to enhance the level of services your customer receives.
[end quote]

More from the book:
"All progress is made in defiance of management." - Bob Woodward, Reporter, The Washington Post
"New ideas... are not born in a conforming environment." - Roger von Oech, President, Creative Think, Inc.
"Be Proactive, Not reactive.... Asking for forgiveness is easier than asking for permission. If you know what needs to be done, do it now and explain yourself later."
"Our people...are responsible for their own product and its quality. We expect them to act like owners." - Gordon Forward, President, Chaparral Steel

"The four cornerstones of character on which the structure of this nation was built are: Initiative, Imagination, Individuality and Independence."  - American war hero Eddie Riclenbacker. Do we have those to rebuild this nation? Ever wondered why despite all the new idealistic graduates that enter the Philippine bureaucracy each year, the bureaucracy remains the way it is - sluggish, bloated, stagnant, so full of itself? It is because the well entrenched bureaucracy does not understand what initiative is as pointed out by Nelson. The bureaucracy is too mindful of itself defending the status quo. To them the only initiative that matters is the initiative that preserves the present order. Inertia prevails. I call it INERTIATIVE - the readiness to preserve the current comfort level.

The fresh graduates brimming with idealism are slowly gnawed up by the system. They mature into zombies themselves gobbling up succeeding idealists that come. It is a vicious spiraling cycle with no end in sight unless we start to care and be heroes.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Peter Principle proven

People who perform well at one level get be promoted on the assumption that they will also do well at another level. Common sense tells us so - a worker who is competent at a given level will also be competent at a higher level of the hierarchy. So it may well seem a good idea to promote such an individual to the next level. Or is it? The problem is that common sense can be counterintuitive. A new position requires different skills, thus the competence at one level may not necessarily mean equal competence in doing another task. We remember in Management 101 this seeming paradox known as Peter's Principle, after the Canadian psychologist Laurence Peter who succinctly described it thus:
"All new members in a hierarchical organization climb the hierarchy until they reach their level of maximum incompetence."
This could lead to the spread of incompetence throughout an organization. But is there a better way of choosing individuals for promotion?

Lately mathematical models are used to take into account collective behavior to discover features often counterintuitive and difficult to predict following the common sense. Scientists study the Peter Principle process within a general context where different promotion strategies compete with others for maximizing the global efficiency of a given hierarchical system.

Alessandro Pluchino, et al, Italian physicists/scientists, have simulated the Peter Principle practice with an agent-based model. Their results (02 July 2009), contained in a paper submitted to Elsevier Science, indicate that the Peter Principle indeed leads to a significant reduction in the efficiency of an organization, as incompetency spreads through it.

So is there a better way of choosing individuals for promotion? Pluchino and co. say there may be better ways.  Their model shows that two other strategies outperform the conventional method of promotion. One is to alternately promote first the most competent and then the least competent individuals. Another way is to promote individuals at random. Both of these methods improve, or at least do not diminish, the efficiency of an organization.

Their simulation showed that what Peter said in 1969 can happen. What the new study does not show is the potential decrease in morale (not just efficiency) due to the Peter Principle. The lower morale can have a multiplier effect in further bringing down efficiency. On the other hand, the study also did not take into account the possible decrease in overall morale if the competent ones are not promoted at all and if promotion was random or given to the least deserving. That defies the reward system and is heartless. As it is, promotions should be made regardless of the probable Peter Principle backlash. If and when the Peter Principle manifests itself, top management should be able to counteract. Top management surely does not want the Peter Principle to happen, but when it does, it must do something about it.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Bureaucracy: Red Tape and Other Negative By-products

This post is lifted entirely from Busting Bureaucracy, a website that attempts to eliminate the crushing, demoralizing and innovation-sapping torments of too much bureaucracy. I'll add  experiences recounted to me by some friends in future posts.

Bureaucracy: Red Tape and Other Negative By-products
Inside the organization, employees live with the red tape and some very negative by-products of the bureaucratic form.

When employees are asked to give examples of things they think of as being bureaucratic, they frequently cite the following:
• Each department has its own agenda, and departments don’t cooperate to help other departments get the job done.
• The head of a department feels responsible first for protecting the department, its people and its budget, even before helping to achieve the organization’s mission.
• There is political in-fighting, with executives striving for personal advancement and power.
• Ideas can be killed because they come from the "wrong" person. Ideas will be supported because the are advanced by the "right" person.
• People in their own department spend much of their time protecting their department’s "turf."
• People in other departments spend so much time protecting their "turf" that they don’t have time to do the work they are responsible to do.
• They are treated as though they can’t be trusted.
• They are treated as though they don’t have good judgment.
• They are treated as though they won’t work hard unless pushed.
• Their work environment includes large amounts of unhealthy stress.
• The tendency of the organization is to grow top-heavy, while the operating units of the organization tend to be too lean.
• Promotions are more likely to be made on the basis of politics, rather than actual achievements on the job.
• Top managers are dangerously ill-informed and insulated from what is happening on the front lines or in "the field."
• Information is hoarded or kept secret and used as the basis for power.
• Data is used selectively, or distorted to make performance look better than it really is.
• Internal communications to employees are distorted to reflect what the organization would like to be, rather than what it really is.
• Mistakes and failures are denied, covered up or ignored.
• Responsibility for mistakes and failure tends to be denied, and where possible, blame is shifted to others.
• Decisions are made by larger and larger groups, so no one can be held accountable.
• Decisions are made based on the perceived desires of superiors, rather than concern for mission achievement.
• Policies, practices and procedures tend to grow endlessly and to be followed more and more rigidly.
• Senior managers become so insulated from the realities of the front line that they may use stereotypical thinking and out-of-date experience in making decisions.
• Quantitative measurements are favored over qualitative measurements, so the concentration is on quantities of output, with less and less concern for quality of output.
• Both employees and customers are treated more as numbers than people. Personal issues and human needs are ignored or discounted.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Lucifer Effect in Life, Not for Nothing

The story of 4th episode/2nd season of my new favorite TV drama, Life (episode title Not for Nothing)(CS-Origin, Ch31 Destiny Cable) is loosely based on the Phillipi Zimbardo's Stanford Prison Experiment conducted in 1971. In the experiment the subjects (college students) were given roles either as guards or as prisoners. Zimbardo wanted to see how much the uniform and the stereotypical role affects normal people. Under minor pressure from their "warden," the "guards" quickly and inventively became abusive and sadistic. The "prisoners", who could have walked out at any time, showed extreme passivity and depression and put up with the abuse. The experiment was cut short because of the to brutality put upon on the "prisoners". In the Life episode a student-"guard" mysteriously got killed (remember that it is a crime drama).

The "guards" merely thought themselves to be "doing their jobs." The "prisoners" quickly came to see themselves as "helpless." Until consultant Christina Maslach condemned it and caused the end of the experiment, Zimbardo, the "warden," did not realize the abuse he was indirectly causing, thinking it was a voluntary behavior of students under contract to participate.

Zimbardo chronicled the experiment in his book The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil”.  He uses his findings to explain what makes good people do bad things, how moral people can be seduced to act immorally, where the line is that separates good from evil, and who is in danger of crossing it. He then uses his theories to explain some of the worst examples of man’s inhumanity to man -- the Rwanda massacre, and even more recently, the abuse of prisoners in Abu Ghraib.

Zimbardo says that the right “situational” forces and group dynamics can work in concert to make decent men and women abandon their moral scruples and cooperate in oppression and violence - bringing out the worst in them. Thus, the Lucifer Effect. The situational forces need not be of an extraordinary nature: wearing a uniform, or dressing in ways that conceal identity, and insecure individuals acquiring new found petty powers. We are reminded of Lord Acton's "Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts absolutely".

There is a thin line line between good and evil. Every man has the potential for engaging in evil deeds despite a generally moral upbringing. There is also the “evil of inaction”, a new form of evil that supports its perpetrators, by knowing but not acting to challenge them. Which in turn reminds us of Edmund Burke's "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

Winnie Monsod looks at what is happening in the Philippines from a Lucifer Effect perspective. With non-stop news of corruption, military and police cruelty or indifference, there is a tendency to go with the flow. This may explain what some call the People Power fatigue.

Are we then hopeless? No, not at all. Zimbardo argues that not only are we capable of resisting evil, but that we can even teach ourselves to act heroically. We can resist unjust authorities, we can break corrupt systems - we can be heroes. Zimbardo gives us some tips on how to defy the Lucifer Effect. Here are rules 18-19.
 18. Rules are abstractions for controlling behavior and eliciting compliance and conformity – challenge them when necessary: ask, who made the rule? What purpose does it serve? Who maintains it? Does it make sense in this specific situation? What happens if you violate it? Insist that the rule be made explicit, so it cannot be modified and altered over time to suit the influence agent.
19. When developing causal attributions for unusual behavior – yours or others – never rush to the dispositional, always start by considering possible situational forces and variables that are the true causal agent, and seek to highlight them and to change them where possible.
Being an ordinary hero by defying the Lucifer Effect is doing the right thing when it is much easier to keep quiet. We need to have the stuff of which ordinary heroes are made of. There is hope. Be a hero.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Moon landing anniversary, moonwalker memorial

This month we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon. He uttered the historic words, "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." It was a momentous event for mankind even as many doubt that the event actually took place. Conspiracy theorists say the moon landing is an elaborate hoax.

This month, too, a memorial will be held for the most popular Moonwalker of all time, Michael Jackson. whose sudden death brought a resurgent interest in his body of work. Just like when Elvis Presley died, many will cling to the belief that Michael faked his own death. There are many parallels in their lives. The drugs, the waning popularity, then the early death. It is also conceivable that many will think his death is a hoax.

Michael was clearly ahead of his time. I can think of many comments about his many firsts, but all are in bad taste now that he's dead. But I'm Bad so here goes. Michael could have been the first black man to become a white woman. Michael could have been the first commercial model for glutathione. Michael could have been the poster model for swine flu hygiene (with his disposable surgical mask and gloves). Michael could have been the first model of hair straightening salons. Michael should not have gone too soon, he could have touched many more (boys') lives.

Arghh, enough already, I'm not that bad. Just sad that the Thriller is gone.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Good Sport, bad sport, bad sports fan

Congrats to Roger Federer for once again making history by winning his 15th major. It's not his fault that Nadal's gimpy knees kept him from defending his title. Federer is not only good, the's the best, and on top of it all, he is lucky. Of the only one time that Roger will break Andy's serve, it will break Andy' heart as well. Roger won the 5 setter on a tie-breaker 16-14. But Andy Roddick is a good sport. And the crowd chanted his name to acknowledge the great effort.

Which cannot be said of Danny Ildefonso and a Ginebra fan. The fan heckled the entire San Miguel squad the whole game. After the game, Danny I went after the fan who initially stood his ground until he realized that Danny is not joking. That was when he scampered for safety, then cried afterwards. The TV coverage missed the action because it switched cameras.

Heckling is part of the game. It makes watching live games more exciting. Cursing, flashing the dirty finger sign, challenging the the players to fistfights - fans do what it takes to get the players off their game. What Danny I (and Pingris too) merited fines and suspension. For that, they were not able to play in their next game and their team lost.

But I can understand why Danny I acted that way. His daughter is gravely ill. He missed the all-star game just to be with her. When the fan shouted "ang yabang mo, kaya nagkakasakit ang anak mo, hindi na gagaling yun, gag0", he must have snapped. He must have thought, heckle me all you like, wish me to miss my shots, but don't wish my daughter dead.

Below are photos from Patricia Hizon's blog. The heckler at first stood his ground. He was not able to walk the talk. He ran after he talked.