Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Comic Con 2010 Megamall

The local comic con is alive and well but the cosplay scene is even more vibrant. In the tradition of Dr. Sheldon Cooper and friends, my sons exhibit the same interest for comics. Vito and Popoy not only follow the story and characters, they also draw them well. And judging from the many pictures of Vito with nubile cosplayers, he may be following a more familial tradition.

vito hugo comiccon vito hugo comiccon vito hugo comiccon vito hugo comiccon

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

SWAT: Silang Walang Alam sa Tactics ; Sugod, Wait, Atras, Takbo (Tayo'y Takot)

It could have been Manila's chance to prove it's world class. Instead, we broadcast live to the world our laughable SWAT - Silang Walang Alam sa Tactics who went Sugod, Wait, Atras, Takbo Tayo'y Takot.

The police mishandled all aspects of the case from the hostage taker's gripes to the televised carnage and it's aftermath. There were comic relief moments in the tense assault. They took a long time to smash the bus windows. Either the windows were the toughest plexiglass or they used the softest sledgehammers. Naghiraman pa sila kasi parang iisa ang maso nila. Then twice, cops lost their grip on the sledgehammer, hurtling it into the bus. Parang comedy. I think I heard them laughing on TV.

The excuse they gave PNoy was untenable. PNoy said the the police had to do a hasty assault since the unit that had the capability was not close to the bus. Whoever fed PNoy that line did him a disservice. They had the whole day to bring in the unit that had the capability. They bungled it. Period.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Marcos legacy

Two news items that hogged the limelight recently can be attributed to the Marcos legacy that GMA tried to perpetuate for herself. One news item is that of the publicity seeking military general who aired his gripes in the media. He ranted on radio and TV about his 'demotion' and repeatedly talked cryptically as if threatening of something. Kasalanan ni Marcos iyan. Marcos spoiled the military. Since then, the uniformed guys have their more than enough share of public tantrums. GMA coddled the military too, thus we have this anky-panky general. It's a good thing that PNoy stood firmly on the issue.

The other news item is about Kris's marriage. Had Ninoy not died, Kris would have had a father doting on her and guiding her in her teenage years. But with a tragic death like that of Ninoy's, the public wave of sympathy buoyed Cory to the presidency. That wave lead the nation to tolerate Kris's antics. After all she is a hero's daughter. The least we could do, in gratitude, is to put up with her idiosyncracies. Kawawa naman, eh. Kris masterfully rode on that for years. So the way Kris is acting now is kasalanan ni Marcos yan!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Papogi points

PNoy scored many pogi points when he exposed the excessive pay of GMA appointees to a government corporation. He went on to ask them to resign. Now PNoy allies in the circus called the senate similarly want to score pogi points by shaking down other executives of government financial institutions. Led by chief clown Drilon, the senate questions the perks and privileges of the Bangko Sentral's Monetary Board. I would understand the questioning if Drilon was in Mars the past 20 years. But he has been around the political/government scene since I can remember. How can he not know about these perks? Why the fuss only now? Papogi points.

I agree there is imbalance in the government pay scale, much more so for the line bureaus. But the so called perks and privileges of some agencies have been there for so long. Taking them away will be a loss to those enjoying them. Increasing the low pays of the others will be more Pareto optimal. Increasing the welfare of many need not involve decreasing the welfare of others.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wala pa ring tatalo sa Alaska!

Congrats to the Alaska for effortlessly winning the Fiesta PBA conference over San Miguel. I am a longtime SMB fan but I felt all throughout the series that SMB was not in it. For one, the coach is a known choker. He just could not close out games. If they lead by less than 10 going into the last quarter, I always expect the other team to catch up.

So the most talented team got a so-so talented coach. So Alaska, a great team with a great coach, had excellent chances to win it all. Whereas before, SMB had 75 percent of the crowd going for them, Alaska and other teams like Talk and Text, now command more fans. Clearly, losing despite a talented lineup eroded the fan base. The coach has to go.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Majestic Mayon

I was not feeling very well recently but I had to go on official travel to Legazpi City. It's my first time to the city and the first thing I wanted to see was the majestic Mayon Volcano. I asked to be seated on the last row, window side of the PAL flight so I could get an unobstructed view. It was an early morning flight and Mayon showed its beauty. It turned out to be my last sighting of the volcano. After landing and in the two days I was in the city, clouds veiled the beautiful volcano from dawn till dusk. In contrast, my officemates who traveled there after me were shown its full glory almost the whole duration of their travel. They chide me with what they say the locals said - if it's your first time in Legazpi and you get to see Mayon, it means you're kind-hearted. I tell them I got to see it early on while on the plane.

I always try to observe the local culture in all places I visit. I noticed that Legazpi is a very clean city and the people are not snooty at all. At the airport, I met a friend who is now a doctor and reproduction health expert. He said his group is targeting the males in their population control campaign. The area, he said, has a low population control penetration. I remember the reports, when the volcano was threatening another eruption and people had to be evacuated, that couples often made excuses to return to their houses so they can have conjugal time. This place known for hot and spicy food really has a hot population. Gabriel Garcia Marquez could write another magical realist novel "Love in the time of volcanic eruption".

As I expected, the food was hot and spicy. I had dinner at Sibid-sibid. It's a great seafood house and many dishes are based in gata (coconut milk). I was not feeling very well and thankfully the spicy-hot food helped unclog the stuffy nostrils. Their version of the tuna Bicol Express was a unique experience.

Then a very friendly tricycle driver, noticing the backpack and my unfamiliarity with the city, asked me if I had seen the sights. I told him not yet but I intend to. He said Legazpi has many beautiful sights in the day and also at night. Anticipating what he was up to, I told him I'm not interested but he continued to describe to me his girls and the corresponding prices. Still, no dice.

After just brief glimpses of the marvelous Mayon and just few samplings of the local fare, Mayon deserves another visit. I will be back.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

GSIS deserves a new name: [ ] tafkag

If you ask any government employee what his most despised government agency is, the reply would invariably be the GSIS and then whatever agency that employee is in. In my twenty years in government, I have heard all the 'horror' stories about people learning sadly that others have used their GSIS loan facilities. There are plenty of stories about policy premiums not being recorded despite diligent remittance of deductions. Indeed every government employee has heard of one or two of those.

At the GSIS main office you will see very old people being bodily carried into the building so as to prove that the they are alive. Obviously the GSIS people have not thought of doing the old pensioners a service by visiting them at their homes. Or they have not thought of doing provincial roadshows where the old timers can appear before them. I'm sure there are better ways than requiring them, wheelchair and all, to appear before these lazy, inefficient a$$h013s, but they are too lazy and inefficient to think.

What peeves many are the high salaries and perks enjoyed by the GSIS. They are among the highest paid. They escaped media scrutiny because they did not appear in the COA report published last week. Why? Because the COA has not finished auditing them most probably because of their shoddy record keeping.

At the national grains marketing agency, many did not dare take up an early retirement package offered last year because their GSIS records are in disarray. Now that many agencies face abolition, many again think twice about accepting retirement offers.

With all these, I think the Government Service Insurance System deserves a new name. It's in constant disarray, it appears it has no system. So the word 'system' in its name can go. GSIS=GSI. But wait, GSI is not capable of paying off insurance. They say its funds are dwindling. So the word 'insurance' can go too. GSI=GS. But wait, there's more. What service are we talking about? The word 'service' has to go too. GS=G. And finally, G has not served its client, the government employees, well. The G also has to go. And then we are left with nothing. Very apt, as it had done nothing.

How do we then refer to this nothing of an agency? What is the symbol for nothing? The zero (0) is too elegant to use. Under Winston, this agency has become much less. I propose the symbol []. The brackets are there just to indicate that there is nothing there. The symbol will be referred to as tafkag which means "the agency formerly known as gsis".

Friday, August 13, 2010

Who's afraid of the truth? Who wants a monopoly of commissions?

GMA herself said she's okay with the Truth Commission but her House allies wants it voided. Who's afraid of the truth anyway? Maybe if PNoy won't call it the Truth Commission and calls it the Davide Commission instead, then GMA ass-lickers won't raise a whimper. After all, GMA created other investigative bodies during her term.

Under GMA we had the Melo, Feliciano, Mayuga and Zenarosa Commissions. The Melo Commission, formed in 2006 to investigate media killings, was headed by former SC Justice now Comelec chairman Jose Melo. The Feliciano Commission (former SC Justice Florentino Feliciano), was formed in 2003 to look into Oakwood Mutiny. The Mayuga commission (Admiral Mayuga)looked into the military involvement in the Hello, Garci scandal. Early this year GMA formed the Zeñarosa Commission (CA Justice Monina Arevalo-Zeñarosa) to disband private armies after Maguindanao massacre.

So it appears that GMA allies are not afraid of commissions at all, only if they are named Truth.

It could also be that some people think of a commission as that form of payment to an agent for services rendered. And being so used to commissions during their boss's time, they just want all the commissions just for themselves.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Five tips for improving your team's productivity

his post by John McKee originally appeared on August 9, 2010 at
“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”
That comment was made by the great management guru, Peter F. Drucker. I shared it with a client a few weeks ago as we discussed his team’s performance and the differences between being efficient and being effective. The last is all about making a genuine difference to outcomes — something particularly important in these times when layoffs abound.

Keeping team members motivated and performing at the top of their game is especially difficult right now. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, or it seems as though the job just keeps getting harder, think how some of your team members are probably feeling. If they’re worried about their own job, paying bills, or the fate of a loved one, it’s unlikely they are doing their best work. That reduced effectiveness could, ironically, create a worse situation for them if it results in fewer jobs or reduced pay.

It’s to the benefit of all concerned that you help them keep working at full steam. Here are a few best practices we’ve seen used successfully by strong leaders across a wide swath of industries and organizations. If you or your team could use some new approaches, I suggest you add some of these to your own management toolbox:

Note: These tips are based on an entry in our IT Leadership blog.

1: Lead by example

You send messages to your team members with every action and statement. If you’re seen to be giving extra, it will inspire and energize others to do the same. The same holds true for the opposite: Showing fear or frustration will only fuel similar results within the team.

2: Focus on communicating objectives rather than defining roles

With fewer human resources, now’s the time to reassess your key deliverables. Which of them make an immediate impact and what can be punted for now? Engage as many of the team as possible on the most important goals; even if that move takes them outside their old job definitions.

3: Maintain a sense of urgency

Keep goals, both individual and team, front and center to ensure focus. Broadcast and talk about results and achievements. Especially if you’ve had to reduce headcount, you want each individual performing at optimal levels. Note I say “optimal” and not “maximum.” The former is good management practice; the latter results in burnout and negativity.

4: Celebrate individual contributions

Sports teams are clear about the fact that certain players make a bigger difference, so they recognize those people appropriately. For high performers, hearing only about the “team’s performance” can actually demotivate them and cause them to slow down to the “norm.”

5: Provide guidelines to reduce uncertainty

Trusting your team to do the right thing is well and good; but in uncertain times, even your best team members can make improper decisions. Help them with frequent reviews of goals, new or successful past approaches, and preferred outcomes during regular team meetings.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Execs should earn their pay

In the wake of PNoy's challenge to the MWSS board to resign over their excessive pay, Congress will investigate the salaries and allowances of other executives of government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs). Pnoy himself has gone easy on the highly paid execs since his Sona, but the Inquirer picked up a COA report, prompting the Senate/Congress to start the circus of investigations.

I think PNoy has no beef against the seemingly high pay. It's just that he cannot put his trusted men into  high-paying government jobs. His predecessor has stuffed them with her appointees. That is PNoy's concern. How can he run his program of government if he can't trust the men in those agencies?

Can the execs get away with their pay? There's no problem with their pay, they earned it. The problem lies if they're midnight appointees without the requisite qualifications for the job; and if their agency does not contribute at all to the government coffers.

MWSS Central Bank
function regulates Metro Manila water concessionnaires Maynilad and Manila Water the nation's central monetary authority, provides policy directions in the areas of money, banking and credit; supervises operations of banks and financial institutions
board members an unqualified GMA midnight appointee; a brother of a former witness against Mike Arroyo; other friends of GMA respected people in the financial circles, qualified career service executives
what could be PNoy's beef he cannot put his trusted men in -
can PNoy still put his trusted men in the board? not until they resign or their term expires PNoy has appointed 1 (DoF Sec. Purisima)
declared dividends to the government  P53M in 2002; P65M in 2003; P131 M in 2006 (anywhere from 5%-50% of net income) P4.5 Billion in July 2010; P60 Billion since 1993

Now, why are GSIS officials not in the COA report? I suspect COA has not completed its audit of the GSIS, hence they don't appear anywhere in the report. But it is well known that GSIS officials are the highest paid execs. It's chairman is rumored to command close to P10M in salaries alone. COA was booted out of its office space in the GSIS when they called for the Ombudsman to probe irregularities in the agency.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Hopeless Pagasa XXII

Pnoy kicked upstairs the Pagasa director. Technically, Prisco Nilo was not sacked. He was even named to head an office of special studies. But quicker than Pagasa can declare a storm, Pnoy critics decried the relief order, citing the poor equipment that the agency has as the culprit for the bad forecasts.

I do not know what Pnoy critics want. I think they are not really concerned with Nilo being retained at Pagasa. I think they support Nilo now because deep inside they are truly Pnoy bashers.

I am sure everyone wants better performance from the weather agency. Would the Pnoy critics (and Nilo supporters) rather have the same setup? And thus the same performance? They received a tongue lashing a month ago but there is no indication that things will be better. The forecast for the Sona was again way off.

I am sure Nilo is a dedicated weather man. I'm sure their equipment is antiquated. Pnoy is sure there is somebody who can make use of the existing equipment and churn better forecasts. It may be Nilo himself. After he leads a study of why Pagasa failed in the past.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

White hair chronicles XXXI - White hair is in

Early this year, more mature models starred at previews of fall fashion - chic, retro styles. Consider this line up in recent fashion shows: 45 year old and grey haired Kristen McMenamy; '90s models and now mothers – Stella Tennant and Kirsty Hume; 47-year-old Elle Macpherson. We also still see other models like 41-year-old Christy Turlington and 39-year-old Claudia Schiffer in print ads.

Now Kristen McMenamy appears on the cover of a magazine with her striking silver locks proudly on display. She stopped dying her hair six years ago and will flaunt her tresses in the August issue of Vogue. She says 'You can get older and still be rock 'n' roll. I thought all that grey hair would make a beautiful picture.'

Younger celebrities have gone grey too. Lady Gaga, Kelly Osbourne, Kate Moss, Pixie Geldof and Pink sport silver locks, aided by hair dye.