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qwertyatty

qwertyatty has written 138 posts for QWERTY Attorney

My 2014 in Books

Hi there! Happy to be here again! Haha.

Before turning the page and welcoming the New Year, I look back to the year that was… in terms of the books I’ve read and bought.

For the fourth consecutive year, I joined Goodreads.com’s Reading Challenge, where readers set a certain number of books to read within the year.

When 2014 began, I pledged to read 12 books, or one for each month. (In 2011, I completed 12 out of 15 books; in 2012, 11 out of 12; and in 2013, 6 out of 15.)

At the end of 2014, I finished reading 7 books. (Meanwhile, I enter 2015 with 2 unfinished books. Haha.)

Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge

Here are my reviews, posted on Goodreads.com, for those I have completed:

Prayers for the Assassin, Robert Ferrigno

I’ve read the [sequel], Sins of the Assassin, before this one, so I already know how the ending will go here. Nevertheless, the edge-of-your-seat element was still there. Darwin is so cunning, so deceptive.

I like Prayers… more than Sins… (pun somewhat intended).

It was nice for the author to compare today’s freedoms in the USA (or in any other democratic country) with a fictional Islamic USA, where almost all freedoms were regulated, if not stifled. The argument was between tolerating excesses and setting up controls.

I did not mind the religion in this book. Besides, this is a work of fiction. The author has free rein to point out both Catholicism and Islam’s strengths and flaws. And I felt that he did not favor nor dislike either one.

Prayers for the Assassin is a fun read. Nice story, too. Lots of twists. ūüôā

Popular Crime: Reflections on the Celebration of Violence, Bill James

Get ready for lots of crime stories… and lots of theories/proposals, too!

You really have to pace yourself when reading this book. You’ll learn so much in every page! From the details of each crime to the flaws of the US justice system through time, Popular Crime is an enlightening book, and an impressive undertaking on the part of Bill James.

An engrossing and entertaining read.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, Malcolm Gladwell

Learned a lot from this book. Amazed at how little things, however insignificant or unrelated, can make a big difference.

But the keyword here is “sometimes.” In my opinion, tipping points are of a case-to-case basis. There would always be exceptions to the general rule (yes, even the rules in the book itself).

In fact, 2 of my officemates have raised valid arguments against some points in the book. For instance: with regards to small things making big, “sudden” impacts, sometimes, a “boiling point” is effective, too.

I particularly liked the sections about teen smoking, The Power of Context, the Fundamental Attribution Error, and the Stickiness Factor.

A good read, overall. ūüôā

A Journey of Struggle & Hope, Jovito R. Salonga (borrowed from one of my editors)

[I was] inspired by Sen. Jovy’s life story. He’s truly among the best Filipino statesmen.

Nowadays, putting the country first before one’s self ‚Äď like what Salonga has done ‚Äď is a rarity in Philippine politics. I hope a new breed of selfless public servants would emerge, because the country is in urgent need of some of them right now.

Habibi, Craig Thompson (borrowed from an officemate)

Amazing storytelling, captivating illustrations. Can’t stop turning the pages. Lots of feels while reading this book. Learned a lot more about both Islam and Christianity, too. ūüôā

Person of the Year 75th Anniversary Celebration, Time-Life Books

When I discovered this book in our office library, I completely geeked out, excited to read it from cover to cover!

I’m very happy to have read this. It’s inspiring, thought-provoking. A peek into TIME’s character, and a nice glimpse into the past through the persons and objects that mattered in the news, for better or for worse.

The Memory Collector, Meg Gardiner

Like Memento, but in the proper playback and with a high-tech flavor. Lots of twists and turns. Bittersweet ending. Kept me hooked, to say the least.

—–

My 2014 was also full of “book-searching.” Whenever I am in malls, bookstores are my first destination (National Bookstore, Booksale, Fully Booked, and that mini-bookstore at the entrance of Market! Market!), hoping to chance upon interesting on-sale books, as well as books on my wishlist.

I also browse for good titles in book fairs. (I wasn’t able to go to this year’s Manila International Book Fair, though.)

Back in August, I almost got lost in Pasig City looking for the Books for Less warehouse, which hosted a month-long sale. Most of what I bought were books about the media.

I also had the opportunity to visit cool bookstores outside malls: Books from Underground at an underpass near the Manila City Hall, and Bookay Ukay at Maginhawa St., Quezon City.

So here is a list of books I have bought from all these places in 2014. I hope I could read them all in 2015.

  • Chaplin: The Tramp’s Odyssey, Simon Louvish
  • Don’t Touch That Dial!: Radio Programming in American Life from 1920 to 1960, Fred J. MacDonald
  • Einstein: The Life and Times, Ronald William Clark
  • Hello Goodbye Hello: A Circle of 101 Remarkable Meetings, Craig Brown
  • Macroeconomics, a textbook under the McGraw Hill series
  • PBS: Behind the Screen, Laurence Jarvik
  • Peter Jennings: A Reporter’s Life, Kate Darnton
  • Prize Journalism: A Collection of Jaime V. Ongpin Award Winners, CMFR
  • The Box: An Oral History of Television, 1929-1961, Jeff Kisseloff
  • The Greatest Generation, Tom Brokaw
  • The Miami Herald Report: Democracy Held Hostage, Martin Merzer
  • Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA, Bob Woodward

—–

#ShamelessPlug: Add me as a friend on Goodreads. Haha.

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Failing in Line

Magulo na naman ang pila sa jeepney terminal kanina.

Hindi pa puno ang unang jeep, tumatakbo na sa susunod na jeep ang mga nasa gitna ng pila. Ang iba naman, ayaw nang pumila; noong nakitang mahaba ang pila, sumabit na lang sila sa jeep na napuno at paalis na.

Paligsahan na naman sa pilahan. Atat na atat makasakay. Walang paki sa pila.

Hay.

Hindi lang sa mga terminal ng jeep talamak ang mga eksenang tulad niyan.

Sa istasyon ng MRT, hindi pa nakakalabas ng tren ang mga bababa, susugod na papasok ang mga pasahero sa platform.

Sa EDSA, may mga bus stops nga, pero sa ibang lugar naghahantay ng bus at sumasakay ang mga commuters. Pagkababa ng bus, may mga hahakbang at lulusot sa metal barriers sa gilid ng sidewalk, para lang mabilis na makatungtong sa overpass at makatawid sa kabila.

Pati bus drivers, pasaway rin: nagsasakay at nagbababa ng pasahero sa hindi bus stop, nagbubukas ng pinto ng bus sa gitna ng daan, at patabingi ‚Äď dalawang linya ng EDSA ang sakop ‚Äď kung magsakay.

Maski mga colorum na tricycle sa barangay namin, isang linya ng daan ang ino-okupa, pero nag-aabang lang naman ng pasahero. Ang iba nga, bubuntot pa sa mga tumitigil na jeep, nagbabaka-sakaling paparahin sila ng mga bumababang pasahero.

Heto pa: Mga taxi na mabilis ang patak ng metro, mga traffic enforcers na nangongotong, mga private cars na napapadpad sa loob ng yellow lane, mga Pinoy¬†na buwis-buhay kung tumawid sa hindi pedestrian lane…

Haaaaaaay. Hindi ka mauubusan ng ganitong mga eksena araw-araw. (Hindi ka rin mauubusan ng letter A at ng buntong-hininga sa pag-“Haaaaaaay.”)

Bahagi na yata ng buhay-commuter ang pagsingit sa pila, pag-uunahan sa pagsakay, at paglabag sa batas-trapiko.

Para saan pa ang pila, ang road signs, ang bus stops, ang terminals, ang sistema, at ang batas-trapiko kung hindi naman nasusunod at nirerespeto?

Uso bang maging pasaway ngayon? Nasa kulturang Pinoy na ba ang kawalan ng disiplina… pati ang pandaraya, panggugulang at panlalamang?

May matapat at masunurin pa bang commuter o driver?* O dahil talamak na rin naman ang paglabag kahit sa simpleng panuntunan dito sa Pilipinas kaya wala nang pag-asa?

Kailangan ba, may parangal sa bawat pagsunod sa batas-trapiko? Kailangan bang ipagyabang ang bawat tamang gawain?

Sino o alin ba ang dapat sisihin? Ang batas? Ang mga nakaupo sa gobyerno? Ang mga driver ng bus, jeep, at tricycle? Ang makitid na EDSA? Kahirapan? Tayo? O lahat ng nabanggit?

Sino ba ang dapat maunang magbago? Sila o tayo?

Masasagot ba lahat ng tanong ko? Ewan.

Darating pa ba ang panahong aayos ang magulong sitwasyon sa pampublikong transportasyon? Sana.

Darating pa ba ang panahong susunod ang lahat, commuter man o driver, sa batas-trapiko?

Sana, ngayon na.

—–

* Para patas, meron namang masunurin, mababait at matatapat na drivers at commuters.

Hindi ka mauubusan ng mga istorya tungkol sa taxi drivers na nagbabalik ng perang naiwan ng kanilang pasahero sa taxi nila.

Maraming anecdotes sa social media tungkol sa mga lumalaban sa mga hold-uppers sa pampublikong sasakyan.

Social media rin ang “bulletin board”¬†ng mga concerned commuters tungkol sa mga umiiral na modus operandi at mga kotong cops.

Kaso, sa araw-araw natin pagko-commute, mas kapansin-pansin kasi ang “bad habits and practices” natin kumpara sa mga “good Samaritan”¬†stories tulad ng mga nabanggit.

Kumbaga, mas frequent tayong maging pasaway kaysa maging masunurin at mabait.

Maging exception nawa ang pagiging¬†pasaway natin kaysa maging general rule. ūüôā

—–

“Be honest if others are not, even if others cannot, even if others will not.”

Back to (Elementary) School

It was "Moving Up" Day for the kinder graduates of East Rembo Elementary School last March 19, 2014.

It was “Moving Up” Day for the kinder graduates of East Rembo Elementary School last March 19, 2014.

Last Wednesday, March 19, I attended my younger brother Justine’s “moving up” ceremony ‚Ästthe new term for graduation from kindergarten, after the shift to the K-12 curriculum ‚Ästat East Rembo Elementary School (ERES) in Makati City.

The kinder graduates were very makulit¬†(restless) during the ceremony. Some got up from their seats and played with their classmates. Others ran to their parents (seated in another section), returned to their seats… then went back to their parents again. Even the teachers and a troop of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts cannot pacify them.

They were actually calm and obedient when the program started. But when the talent shows of each class and the awarding of ribbons dragged on, the kids became rowdy.

It was chaotic, but it was cute chaos. (See photos in the gallery below.)

———-

Justine got a “Most Cheerful” ribbon in his class. He’s more like “Most Makulit“, actually. Haha.

———-

ERES is my alma mater. My two sisters, Joyce and JM, also graduated from there.

Like in my previous visits, I roamed the floor-waxed hallways of the school’s three buildings. The steps of the staircases were already small for my feet. Haha.

The rooms for Grade 1 students have LED TVs now, for educational videos. The library and the computer room, my after-school¬†tambayan¬†back then, have received major facelifts and high-tech upgrades. Even the school’s backyard garden improved a lot.

But the school basically looked and remained the same. It’s like 2003 all over again.

The canteen, the waiting sheds, the audio-visual room (school auditorium), the “white spots” on the school grounds for Field Day activities… even the creepy staircases and fire exits at the far end of the school’s oldest four-storey building.

Some of my former teachers are still teaching there. Astig! (Cool!)

I am also happy that the mural on the wall, where we (my fellow classmates and two of our teachers) stood in front of for a picture back when I was in Grade 1, survives up to this day. And I think it’s restored regularly; the colors were as vibrant as it was in 1997.

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Most likely, I’ll visit ERES again soon. Justine’s studying there for 6 more years, while baby Beck would join him two years from now.

‘Til next time, ERES! ūüôā

Taxes, Elections and Game Shows

A friend posted this status on Facebook: “The harder you work, the more you pay taxes.”

With the pork barrel scandal still making headlines and with its perpetrators still roaming free, I can’t blame him for taking note of this. Ikaw ba, hindi magagalit kung malalaman mo na isang dekada na palang
napupunta sa bulsa ng mga pulitiko ang tax na dapat nilalaan sa matitinong government projects?

However, that is among the basic ideas behind taxes: that the more you earn, the more you should give back to help government via your income taxes.¬†It’s unfair to demand bigger taxes from those who earn less. It’s also unfair to give tax cuts to those who earn more. Besides, I think fair naman ang tax bracketing ng BIR. And there are legal (I repeat, legal) ways to lessen the tax deducted from your pay.

Kung walang tax, walang magagawang infrastructure, walang pang-maintain ng schools at hospitals, walang pang-sweldo sa government employees, etc. Kumbaga, our income tax becomes the government’s “income.”

Siguro malaki-laki ang tax na nababawas sa sweldo ng mga manggagawang Pinoy (isama mo pa ang 12% VAT sa pang-araw-araw na transaksyon) pero wala namang “return of investment” na nakikita o nararamdaman, kaya nakakadismaya.

P.S. Kung semantics ang pag-uusapan, iba nga naman ang “income” sa “work” — that is, the income you receive is an incentive for your hardwork.

———-

May suggestion sa Internet, saying that only taxpayers should vote during elections. I assume this sprung from the idea that those who do not pay taxes (and expect help from government) are making poor electoral
choices.

Some comments:
(1) Are taxpayers really the better voters? Matalino ka na bang botante dahil nagbabayad ka ng tax? Anong basehan noon? This can only be proven if one would go through past election data, remove non-taxpayers, then see if the results are different or more favorable than what we have now.
(2) Democracy is a two-way street: the government and its people should work together. Unfair nga naman na nag-e-expect ka ng tulong (at pagbabago) sa gobyerno pero nakatambay ka lang sa bahay at panood-
nood lang ng TV. But is it also unfair to deprive people of their right to suffrage just because they don’t have jobs, and therefore cannot pay taxes?

In the end, it all boils down to improving voter’s education. I agree with some people who are saying that the politicians we loathe right now are the ones we¬†elected to office. The political dynasties and “epal-iticians” we regularly “hate” are those we continue¬†to elect, partly due to lack of other alternatives.

(Eh kung lack of alternatives lang pala ang problema, edi let’s step up in contributing to our respective communities. Magpakilala at tumulong, pero huwag maging epal.)

Kung may isyu tayo sa non-taxpayers dahil “hindi sila magaling bumoto”, mas iparamdam pa natin sa kanila na mali ang pagboto nang basta-basta. Kung hindi pa sapat ang halos walang-kamatayang isyu ng corruption dito sa Pilipinas, naku, ewan ko na lang.

May Internet na ngayon. At onti-onti nang nagiging available sa publiko ang data tungkol paggastos ng national at local government units sa kaban ng bayan. (Kahit wala pa ring Freedom of Information Bill, may pagkakataon pa rin tayong makita ang datos ng gobyerno, dahil na rin sa transparency na dine-demand ng publiko matapos mabunyag ang pork barrel scam.)

Malayo pa ang 2016 presidential elections, pero pumoporma na ang mga kandidato. Dahil diyan, mas masasala natin sila nang husto. Ngayon nga, mukhang hindi na sila karapat-dapat eh. Haha.

Ang hamon sa atin ngayon ay maging mapagmatyag… at huwag maging makakalimutin.

———-

Speaking of being better-informed…

Natuwa ako sa isang palabas tungkol sa wildlife sa Nat Geo Wild, kasi isinalin sa Filipino ang narration.

Ang laki ng pinagkaiba sa ilang local TV shows na hinihiram ang footage ng mga ganitong palabas, pero nilalagyan ng pa-cute (not to mention pa-epal) na eksena. (Here’s looking at you, Kap!)

Those shows could stand for itself. Informative na naman siya on its own. Pero dahil (1) kailangang pumatok at (2) masyadong “formulaic” ang local TV scene kaya kailangang may pa-cute na eksena, IMO nade-deviate ang attention mula sa laman at aral ng palabas.

Ang hirap tanggapin, pero ganun talaga ang kalakaran sa TV: ratings would always be the basis.

But should it always be? Could they aim for greater viewership and make them a smarter audience at the same time? I think quiz-type and skills-type game shows fit the bill.

Fine, disclosure muna: I’m a big fan of game shows. I love the feeling na nakikisagot ka sa player sa TV, tapos matutuwa ka mali man o tama ang sagot mo:

Game K N B?, Jeopardy, The Price is Right, Family Feud, Wheel of Fortune, the Christopher de Leon-hosted Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?… If only we could go back to the 90s, I would watch those shows all day!

Isama mo na ang Minute to Win It (US version, sorry) at ang National Quiz Bee… pati Wipeout na rin, kahit medyo “physical”. Haha.

Besides the informative trivia questions and the creative games, it teaches the audience to strategize. The players rely on their own ability and intellect without bringing other people down. That’s a kind of competition I¬†dig: one-on-one, pero walang hilahan pababa. You could feel that they deserve to win.

OK pa ako sa talent searches eh, pero kung “popularity” lang pala ang magiging basehan, wala rin.

———-

One more thing before I sign off: Bakit kailangan munang sumayaw o kumanta para mag-audition sa Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? ng TV5? Kailangan munang magpapansin bago mo maipamalas ang talino? Kaya nga may Fastest Finger First na round eh, para malaman kung sino ang deserving maglaro sa hot seat. Haha.

———-

Last na comment na, promise: Kailangang hantayin ang score na i-flash sa board bago i-announce? The host is not keeping tabs himself? May episode nga na mas alam pa ng batang player ang updated scores kaysa sa host. Feeling scripted tuloy ang spiels.

#frustratedProducer xD

Fun with Numbers: Population Swap

Metro Manila. Nearly 13% of the entire Philippine population live here.¬†In fact, 10 cities here are among the top 50 cities in the world with the largest population density. (Manila, the nation’s capital, is at #1!)

But what if, suddenly, all the residents of a Metro Manila city/municipality magically swapped with those of a province with almost the same population?

Besides the “culture shock” that would ensue in both camps, here’s how that scenario would look like in Metro Manila:

Switching Populations: Metro Manila

And here are the “new homes” of Metro Manila residents:

Switching Populations: Provinces

All population figures are from the 2010 Census of the National Statistics Office (NSO). Blank maps used here are from Wikimedia Commons.

For comparison: the total land area of Metro Manila is 638.55 km2, roughly the size of Dinagat Islands (at 604.57 km2), the 7th smallest province.

Meanwhile, the total land area of the selected provinces (and regions… and city) is around 90,000 km2, or 30% of the¬†entire land area of the Philippines.

It’s interesting to note that arranging these provinces by size, Palawan (the largest in the country) is followed by Occidental Mindoro, the 15th largest.

You might say: Wait. Angeles City in Pampanga is obviously not a province.

I selected that because there is no province having a population closest to Mandaluyong City (with 328,699 people). The population of Romblon (283,930) would not match. Neither that of the next largest province, Tawi-Tawi (366,650), which closely resembles the population of another Metro city, Malabon (353,337).

The same reason goes to the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Region IV-B, which are technically, groups of provinces. They could play “host” to the people of Manila and Quezon City, respectively.

Here are more details about the “population swap”:

Metro Manila city/municipality Population (2010) Swap with region/province/city Population (2010)
Caloocan City (North) 908,394 Lanao del Norte
(and Iligan City)
930,738
Caloocan City (South) 580,646 Zamboanga Sibugay 584,685
Las Pi√Īas City 552,573 Surigao del Sur 561,219
Makati City 529,039 Aklan  535,725
Malabon City  353,337 Tawi-Tawi  366,550
Mandaluyong City  328,699 Angeles City  326,336
Manila  1,652,171 Cordillera Administrative Region  1,616,867
Marikina City  424,150 Nueva Vizcaya  421,355
Muntinlupa City  459,941 Surigao del Norte  442,588
Navotas City  249,131 Catanduanes  246,300
Para√Īaque City ¬†588,126 Northern Samar ¬†589,013
Pasay City  392,869 Basilan
(and Isabela City)
 391,179
Pasig City 669,773 Compostela Valley  687,195
Pateros  64,147 Camiguin  83,807
Quezon City 2,761,720 Region IV-B   2,744,671
San Juan City 121,430 Dinagat Islands 126,803
Taguig City 644,473 Agusan del Norte
(and Butuan City)
 642,196
Valenzuela City 575,356 Ilocos Norte 568,017
TOTAL 11,855,975 TOTAL 11,865,244

P.S. Being a Makati resident myself, it wouldn’t be a problem if we switched with Aklan. One boat ride, and we’re in Boracay, baby! xD

Less Pork, More Work

"Makibaka! 'Wag Magbaboy!" The rallying cry of Filipinos against pork barrel. Image from Facebook.

“Makibaka! ‘Wag Magbaboy!” The rallying cry of Filipinos against pork barrel. “August 26 * Luneta” referred to the date and place of the “Million People March”. Image from Facebook

A two-trillion-peso budget passed by Congress every year. Billions of pesos earned by government annually through various income-generating agencies. Millions of pesos paid by the working class every payday.

Yet, when you look around, progress is not evident in the Philippines. Poverty is still prevalent. Public services and infrastructure remain subpar. The strong economy is good news only to businessmen.

The question is: where did all the money go? The revelation of a “pork barrel scam” can aid the quest for answers.

At the center of this scam is the¬†Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), commonly known as the “pork barrel”. Included in the annual national budget, it is a lump-sum allocation given to Senators and congressmen – P200 million and P70 million each, respectively – for their “priority projects” in their constituencies.¬†This is on top of funds given to Cabinet departments and government agencies, as well as the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) given directly to local government units.

Despite rules governing the use of PDAF allocations,¬†crooked politicians and fake non-government organizations (NGOs) have perfected a scheme to¬†“embezzle” these public funds and funnel it into their own pockets.¬†These shameless people made a mockery of a well-intentioned system.

Public clamor leans toward the abolition of PDAF and the prosecution of all politicians involved. The government has also come up with an ‘overhauled’ pork barrel system.

I, for one, am supporting moves to scrap the pork barrel. I agree with people saying that the executive and legislative departments should focus on running the country and crafting laws, instead of thinking of their next local projects (or their next PDAF “paycheck”, for that matter).

With that said, please allow me to present a proposal that would replace the “pork barrel” system.

——–

This is how the pork barrel scam worked. [Rappler | GMA News]

In a nutshell, the current system goes like this: the PDAF allocation is given to the legislators, but they don’t actually get hold of the cash. They shouldn’t.

Instead, they submit to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) their project proposals and the budget needed for its implementation. They also nominate implementing agencies and NGOs that would receive the funds.

This is where the scam comes into play: there are some agencies and NGOs that are in cahoots with these legislators. Upon receipt of the funds, all of them get their share of it. Little, if not none at all, goes to the actual project. Reporting the use of the funds comes only after the project is completed. To circumvent this audit, the “scam bugs” either fake the reports or collude with the auditors.

——–

This is my proposal: remove the middlemen – in this case, the legislators – and increase the frequency of audit.

Solution #1: There will be no PDAF allocations given to Senators and congressmen anymore. Funding for all government projects will be given directly to the implementing agencies. Allocations to Cabinet departments (except Education and Public Works departments, which implement the bulk of hard projects like schools and roads, as well as the Social Welfare department) will mostly be for operational expenses.

This would prevent the “panggigipit” (withholding of approval) by legislators when approving departmental budgets, because they cannot attach themselves to local projects anymore.

Solution #2:¬†The¬†funds could be given directly to LGUs, thus maybe abolishing the IRA and doing away with all “middlemen” altogether. The Cabinet departments should and could only assist COA in monitoring and reviewing the implementation.

It would also entail changes in the computation of allocation, to be fair to all towns and cities of all shapes and sizes. The town’s income can also be taken into account, possibly encouraging them to be more dependent on themselves (their own revenues) instead of waiting for the national government to give them funds.

In both solutions, there will be less discretionary funds in the national budget. The remaining ones (especially in Education and Public Works) should be itemized and identified before approval by Congress.

The Commission on Audit (COA), with the help of DBM perhaps, should also be more involved in monitoring the implementation of government projects. Key performance indicators (KPI) should be met at certain stages of implementation, not just at the end.

Involve the public, too. Harness social media, tap traditional media.

Special purpose funds (like the calamity fund in case of natural disasters) should be monitored more closely and should only be given to the concerned/affected agencies.

Hefty penalties should be imposed on those who would get money for themselves. With no special treatment when proven guilty, if I may add.

ūüôā

One Long Walk, One Odd Protest

This could either be filed under “greatest personal feats ever” or “most stupid decisions ever”.

Earlier tonight, I chose to walk almost all the way home on a rainy evening without an umbrella and with an envelope containing important documents tucked under my shirt, instead of waiting in line at terminals and spending hours in traffic.

That’s eight kilometers of pavement, five major roads, five Jollibee stop-overs (I’ll keep the reason to myself), almost three hours on sidewalks, no idea how many calories burned, and absolutely no idea of the effects when I wake up later in the morning.

Here’s a map of my route:

Blue line shows my "walk route" on the night of June 17, 2013. Red line shows an alternate "C5 route". Red marker on top is Eastwood. Red marker on bottom is Brgy. Comembo, Makati City, where I live.

Blue line shows my “walk route” on the night of June 17, 2013. Red line shows an alternate “C5 route”. Red marker on top is Eastwood. Red marker below is Brgy. Comembo, Makati City, where I live.

(Funny. I should have taken the C5 route. It’s half the distance of my route tonight, at only 3.8 kilometers. Shortest way is going straight, indeed. But nah, it’s kind of “dangerous” to walk along C5, especially at night: lights there are too few if not dim, and the sidewalks are narrow.)

——–

Long story that I hope will be short for you: I was at Eastwood to get some important documents. Stayed ’til 8PM there to sit out the rain.

The commute from Eastwood is like being in the Mafia: it’s hard to get out from there. And what caused the C5 traffic along E. Rodriguez Avenue? Congestion at one particular U-turn slot and at the fly-over in front of Green Meadows Subdivision.

When I got to IPI along Ortigas Avenue, there were a few San Juan-Rosario jeepneys and a lot of commuters waiting at one corner. That’s when I decided to walk, despite the light rain. I’ll ride an FX at the SM Megamall terminal instead.

When I got there, I was appalled by the long line, and surprised by the low FX replenishment rate. Quickly, I decided, “I’ll ride the bus in EDSA instead.” Peering at both sides of EDSA from Shaw Boulevard, you could see all the red vehicle lights shining bright. You could also hear sirens. (I found out later on from Dad that there was a fire at Kalayaan Avenue in Makati.)

It’s a walk along EDSA, then, just like before. I’ll get some rest when I get to hop in a jeepney at the Guadalupe terminal.

——–

This is the part where I single out the Guadalupe jeepney terminal.¬†I thought I could get used to the commotion there, but tonight’s chaos was brutal. An added factor: the rain intensified. Twice, or even thrice.

Once the rain poured hard, those without umbrellas ran for cover under the terminal roof. Some (me included) broke away from the main queue and headed towards the terminal. Now we had a main queue that stood its ground, and a breakaway group that avoided the rain.

Then the Guadalupe-Pateros jeepneys started to arrive. The jeeps were not even parked properly yet, but both groups started hopping on the jeepneys. The main queue asserted their right to ride first; the breakaway group said, “f*ck it, it’s raining hard, and we want to go home already.”¬†The barkers can only shout to remind everyone that there’s a main queue.

After about half an hour of hoping that this would soon pass, I gave up. The main queue was almost not moving, and they’re irate! That’s when I started to walk again.

The weird thing about all this: J.P. Rizal Avenue was almost empty from when I started to walk until I got to ride a jeep in Brgy. West Rembo, two kilometers away! There was virtually no traffic! Where were the other Guadalupe-Pateros jeepneys that should have serviced all the waiting passengers at the terminal?

This is the part where I calm my nerves and never mention the Guadalupe jeepney terminal again. Haha.

——–

Why did I choose to walk tonight? Four things:

  1. Walking actually calms me down. Instead of thinking about long queues and the crazy traffic, I get to think about more important things: ideas I could suggest at work, ways to improve our commute in the Metro, opinions about anything under the sun, and my next Jollibee stop-over.
  2. It gives me an adrenaline rush. It pushes me to my limits. I have been through long walks before — either because in my past life I’m an old-school dude disdaining cars and trains or I’m just really that restless — but tonight was different. It was always a question of whether or not I can still continue. Do I hop on the next jeep or bus, or do I solder on?
  3. I love adventures, however unconventional it might be. Enough said.
  4. I personally can’t stand the traffic and the chaos. The rain lasted for only around six hours, but Metro Manila was congested as heck. Tunnels along EDSA were flooded. MRT trains are jampacked with annoyed commuters. The rain didn’t even cool down hot heads of passengers falling in line at jeepney terminals.

——–

In hindsight, this three-hour walk served as my “protest” against the unruly behavior of most Filipinos. I had enough of complaining about our lack of discipline at MRT stations, jeepney terminals, and bus drop-off points. It’s like creative suggestions and strong sentiments do not matter anymore. Are we too “hard-headed” nowadays to think of new ways and too “onion-skinned” to accept criticisms? It’s crazy!

To borrow a line from a John Mayer song, I cannot wait for the world to change. So I chose to move, even if it was irrational, even if it was crazy, even if it will be bad for my health later on. It might not affect you or the nation overnight – maybe not at all – but this three-hour walk mattered to me.

It confirmed my theory that however we Filipinos want change, it wouldn’t happen if we always submit to the idea that there’s really nothing we could do about our nation’s ills. If you can’t stand something, why just stand there?

Also, I discovered a braver Mike and his new mettle. I could only thank the Lord (and the street smarts I’ve learned over the years) for keeping me safe.

ūüôā

P.S. My only regret? I should have dropped by the Rappler office along Julia Vargas Avenue to either borrow our big-ass umbrella or wait for the rain and the chaos to settle down. It rained hard when I got to Guadalupe.

Oops, I mentioned it again.

27 Years Hence

EDSA: Then and NowTwenty-seven years ago, the Philippines ousted a dictator and reinstated democracy through peaceful means. Everyone rejoiced after four days of tension, drama, and suspense.

But what happened next weren’t exactly moments to be proud of. After accomplishing the mission, it seemed everybody just went home, and let people with vested interests take control. Again.

Coups, politics, showbiz mentality, crab mentality, more coups, and more politics. The country that should have been a second-world country by now is just starting to be one. We missed investments and chances that we should have taken 20+ years ago. We stopped short of thinking forward; as a result, we have a toxic EDSA traffic, a political arena filled with “dynasties”, and Filipinos under the poverty line for two decades now.

—–

I was born five years after the People Power Revolution. As I grew up, I have read and heard lots of alternative stories and conspiracy theories regarding this momentous event. I have entertained some of them, but there is that constant reminder to have faith in government, because it was the by-product of that Revolution. If those four days in February 1986 didn’t turn out as it had, perhaps you wouldn’t be able to read this — and even log-in here on WordPress in the first place.

However, between mother Cory and son Noynoy, it’s evident that nothing much has progressed in terms of having a firm social structure, a fair social justice system, and a strong societal support.

Malls are growing and condos are sprouting, but an employee’s minimum wage is still not sufficient to provide for himself and his family. The economy has been breaking records lately, but its benefits haven’t trickled down yet to the poor.

Most students of the late 80’s and the early 90’s, who should’ve been the yuppies of their generation and successful Filipinos by now, are stuck with sub-standard jobs, with little to no opportunity for growth. And sadly, this trend is somehow “passed on” to their children, who are struggling to graduate with a meager baon and would later face a cut-throat competition for employment.

My complaint about all this is not so much about the People Power Revolution per se, but more about its legacy and the huge disconnect between its intended purpose and the current situation. In short, to quote a popular meme, the expectation did not meet reality.

—–

I have always said that freedom is not absolute, that salvation is not in the hands of any mortal being. Allow me to add another: that freedom here in the Philippines is not yet fully achieved until almost all Filipinos have the freedom to pursue their happiness, to fulfill their dreams without harming anybody else.

I am not solidly for anybody in the coming elections, and in future polls. I may have stated who I’ll vote in 2013, but that’s part of my right as a voter: to elect those who I think deserves to be a public official.

Instead, I put my full support behind the Filipinos’ pursuit of happiness (and to the people and processes that will make it happen), because that, in my view, is freedom.

Read also “26 Years Hence“, a blog entry I posted also on this date last year.

Quick QWERTY: On the 2013 Senate Elections

What’s cool about this year’s Senate election?

1. Kaunti lang ang Senatorial candidates. Mas madaling tutukan ang bawat isa. At mas malaki na ang airtime ng bawat kandidato. This means, significant na ang number of news appearances ng Independent at third-party candidates, unlike before na ‘yung main tickets lang ang prominent sa balita.

2. Quality over quantity. Kudos to COMELEC for narrowing down the list from 85 to 33. Kaya mas makikilatis ng botante ang bawat kandidato at kanilang plataporma, at mas kailangang mag-step up ng mga Senatoriables para makumbinsi ang madla na karapat-dapat silang ihalal at bigyan ng six-year term sa Senado.

3. “Hindi na uso ang clean sweep.” Ang Team PNoy at UNA coalition, hindi nakabuo ng buong listahan ng 12 kandidato. Tatlo ang shared guest candidates sa parehong ticket. The way I see it, mas naghahangad na tayo ngayon ng mga dekalibreng Senador, kahit na sa magkakaibang ticket pa magmumula ang iboboto natin/mananalo sa Mayo 13. Hindi na tayo boboto nang basta-basta. Sa pagsagot nating mga Pinoy sa pre-election surveys – na isa sa mga naging basehan ng mga kandidato kung tatakbo o hindi – mas naging ma-alam tayo (kung hindi man matalino) sa kung sinu-sino ang mga dapat suportahan.

The National Museum

This was a trip Kuya Toney Sevilla and I did not pass up. Last November 18, we visited the National Museum!

The National Museum (and not-the-national car) xD

A little side story: Kenneth, Paolo and I have been to the National Museum three weeks prior, but it was not the National Museum we had in mind. We actually visited the Museum of the Filipino People (MFP), one of the three National Museum buildings around Rizal Park. Across the road was the National Art Gallery (the main museum, our actual destination), but somehow, we didn’t check it out.

(Oh, I remember now: we got out of MFP at around 4PM. No time left.)

Kuya Toney should have been with us on that day, but work (Sunday work, at that) wouldn’t allow him. He still would go to work after this trip of ours, but the important thing is, he and I finally get to step foot in the National Art Gallery, a historical landmark and “the Louvre of the Philippines”.

—–

The site of the inauguration of the Philippine Commonwealth 77 years ago (and the Manila City Hall a few blocks away)

Seventy-seven years ago, on November 15, 1935, on that stage/pedestal is where the Commonwealth of the Philippines was inaugurated. Pres. Manuel Quezon and Vice Pres. Sergio Osme√Īa, who now both “stand tall” as statues beside the Gallery entrance, were sworn in here.

The former Senate Session Hall

The building itself was also the former Legislative Building, housing both the Upper and Lower Houses of Congress, until the Senate moved to Pasay City and the House of Representatives moved to Quezon City.

Juan Luna’s Spoliarium

It is now the home of Juan Luna’s famous painting, Spoliarium, restored to and showcased in its full glory.

—–

We had an Art Appreciation class in college. For Kuya Toney and I, this National Art Gallery trip is an extension of it. xD

Nearly 20 galleries are there, and numerous artworks are on display. From Juan Luna to Carlos Francisco, from tapestry to sculptures, from animal bones to old Session halls, the National Museum is a history buff’s heaven, and an art lover’s haven.

I may not be an artist, but I personally got to “gawk at” numerous paintings and notice patterns in their work. I was introduced to new names, but by just looking at their masterpieces, it seems that I have known them for a long time.

For example, Hermenegildo Ocampo was fond of shapes and the colors of fire. Ang Kiukok’s paintings (or at least the ones I saw) were “teeming” with fishes. Some of Ben Cabrera’s works convey dark emotions.

I was also re-introduced to some artists, too. Fernando Amorsolo, one of Kuya Toney’s favorite artist, liked to paint scenes of the country side. There were many drawing and sketches by Amorsolo displayed in one gallery, too.¬†Juan Luna, Felix Hidalgo, and Vicente Manansala (I think) had numerous portraits, from Fr. Mariano Gomez of GOMBURZA, to Pres. Manuel Roxas.

—–

“The Progress of Medicine in the Philippines”, a quadtych painting by Carlos “Botong” Francisco

There’s this cool quadtych by Carlos “Botong” Francisco for the Philippine General Hospital that featured the progress of medicine in the Philippines. This was easily my favorite, because you can look at every corner and area in each of the four huge paintings, and you’ll never run out of things to discover.

“Study: Man in Industry”, a mixed media collage by Vicente Manansala that really amazed me

A gallery for Federico Alcuaz was full of portraits of Martial Law era personalities, from Dolphy to Fidel V. Ramos

—–

With Kuya Toney around, I got to have crash courses on art, and had a chance to pick his brains, too. I learned new terms such as the triptych, and got to know how sculptors create artworks out of plaster of Paris. We got to have lots of wacky “photoshoots”, too. xD

Kuya Toney and I having fun! ūüėÄ

—–

As a Filipino, it makes me proud that we are actually prolific in the world of art.

Also, it never ceases to amaze me that a style as simple as an oil “splatter” on a canvas would convey depth and texture, evoke emotions, and tell a story.

My respect and admiration for painters, sculptors, tapestry weavers and other artists was set even higher after seeing these artworks. I could only imagine the hardwork they put in each of their masterpieces, however big or small.

A visit to the National Museum is a trip every Filipino should have in their lifetime. As the saying goes in Filipino, “Ang hindi lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makararating sa paroroonan.”

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