Monthly Archives: July, 2014

typhoon glenda and climate change

In the evening of July 15, through television broadcast, the government suspended classes in all levels and suspended work in all government agencies in Metro Manila and soon to be affected provinces. They advised everyone to stay safe at home or get ready for evacuation. Because according to Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical & Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Typhoon Glenda will arrive in the morning of the following day which already brought wreckage and chaos in the Bicol region.  Where we live was one of the target places of Typhoon Glenda.

Waking up in the morning of July 16, Typhoon Glenda was already making noise outside our home. Strong winds, heavy rains destroyed the banana tree that my father planted in this vacant lot beside our house . The surrounding outside our house was in disarray. The roof of our neighbor’s house, an informal settler, was blown away by the storm. (To help them recover, my father gave our neighbor some leftover yero and tools to repair their house. God is good because it wasn’t the whole roof, just a portion of it.)

Typhoon Glenda left at noontime, exactly what PAGASA predicted. I’m glad that PAGASA are doing their job better now unlike before. And if we suffered, we only suffered with no supply of electricity. Though work was suspended and we get to sleep more, we didn’t enjoy it because of the inconveniences of having no electricity. But we have running water, thank God. And when I finally got to watch TV and checked the news, I saw this man being interviewed sharing what happened to him and his family, his house behind him completely destroyed. I thought he was brave just talking about his misfortune in front of the camera, not showing any emotion, but while he was talking with what seemed like a deadpan expression, he suddenly broke down in tears. (If it happened to me, I would cry, too.)

If there is one thing you should know about the Philippines, well, we are highly susceptible to typhoons, near to the Pacific Ocean where 30% of tropical cyclones are formed which, according to PAGASA, 70% of these enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility. We’ve been visited by an average of 19 to 20 typhoons every year. Many have died because of these typhoons. And yet we keep on surviving. And they say it is because of our resilience that is innate in us, Filipinos.

But here is the bad news, there are more to come. There are more typhoons to come if we continue to conduct our business as usual—illegal logging, smoke belching, improper disposal of garbage, etc.

Last December 2013, we organized this forum called “Human Rights and Climate Change,” just a few weeks after Super Typhoon Yolanda hit our country. It is considered to be the strongest and deadliest typhoon that destroyed the province of Tacloban and its nearby areas. During the forum, where I was in-charge of its documentation, one of the speakers (a very excellent speaker, I must say) was Ms. Rina Maria P. Rosales, Senior Resource Economic Specialist actively involved in environmental projects, shared that there is only one thing to help us combat these series of typhoons—protect our biodiversity. This is the only thing.  

“Why do we want to protect biodiversity? Because this is what is going to give us resilience. This is what we need to be resilient in facing climate change. And that’s why protection and conservation are on top of the list when we’re talking about long-term adaptation measures. To face climate change, it’s really all about protecting and conserving our ecosystems and our natural resources,” Rosales said.

She also shared that “we need to have more coral reefs, we need to have more mangroves because that is what is going to protect us in the long term. There are engineering solutions that have been introduced like sea walls. Unfortunately this is really not a long term solution.”

It’s an advocacy that they are trying to popularize because “Seawalls can protect you but only for a while. Look at Japan. Japan has put up so many seawalls and they’re actually reverting back now to getting rid of those seawalls,” Rosales revealed.

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rage of a disgusted citizen

First there was Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF. This is a fund distributed to the officials of the government who are political allies of the President, helping them implement projects for their constituents. These allies could be a senator, a congressman, a governor, a mayor, etcetera. Meanwhile, the elected officials who belong to the opposition get their PDAF, too, but since they’re the opposition, there is delay in receiving their PDAF. To some, they don’t get to receive it at all. In short, PDAF is a prerogative of the President.

PDAF is a repackaged name for pork barrel. Previous presidents have this but they have a different name for it: National Aid to Local Government Units or NALGUs, Mindanao/Visayas Development Fund which became Countrywide Development Fund or CDF, Congressional Initiative Allocation or CIA, Rural Development Infrastructure Fund or RUDIF, etcetera. But at the end of the day, they’re pork barrel.

And since we are talking about funds, it is common sense that the one disbursing it (I’m referring to the senator, congressman, or any other politicians) should be meticulous in monitoring the amount of money being released and to monitor where it is being spent on. Because it’s a taxpayer’s money. Not a politician’s money. It came from the blood, sweat, and tears of every Filipino.

Last year, our whole country was outraged when whistleblower Benhur Luy revealed to media about the unscrupulous dealings of some senators, congressmen, and other politicians in making repetitive fund donations to the same NGOs for years. NGOs that are bogus. NGOs that Benhur Luy revealed are all owned by Janet Lim-Napoles, his second cousin. These fake NGOs made it possible for them to give huge kickbacks to the government officials involved. People trusted Benhur Luy right away because he admitted his crime to the public, that he worked for Janet Lim-Napoles as her personal assistant and that he got involved in those underhanded dealings.

There may be a lot like Janet Lim-Napoles in hiding, masterfully crafting mechanisms to earn huge amount money from government officials who are vultures in human forms. Janet Lim-Napoles then became one of the faces of corruption and Benhur Luy, because of his disclosure and his promise to tell more, was accepted as state witness.

Revelations came one after the other that shocked us all the more, thank God we didn’t die of heart attack. Instead, angry citizens went to the streets to protest PDAF and demanded for its abolition. For those of us who couldn’t participate, we watched on TV about the comings and goings of the rally. We listened to news, we watched closely about the turn of events. There were also angry protests in cyberspace particularly in Facebook. And because of our rage in different ways and forms, PDAF was removed.

Meanwhile, the state witness went all out naming names who were involved in those underhanded dealings and they were Senator Enrile, Senator Revilla, and Senator Estrada. But they denied the allegations. They said it’s not their responsibility anymore to monitor what happens to the money they donated to NGOs. They said the allegations are politically motivated. One of them asked why he is being singled out in this controversy when he is sure that there are other corrupt officials in the government. Why him? Or only them, the three of them?

And then they were arrested for further investigation. They were charged of graft and plunder over the P10-billion pork barrel scam, together with Janet Lim-Napoles. Their cohorts were also arrested. There were many others names that were revealed by Benhur Luy and these other names denied his allegations. Because the three main suspects are incumbent senators that belong to the opposition, and one of them is a senior citizen, President Noynoy (or P-Noy) detained them in a decent detention, out of fear of being accused of abuse of power by the opposition.

Justice-seeking people cried foul, they thought this unfair when there are a lot of innocent inmates languishing in jail, waiting for their trial to prove their innocence, and these senators are given special treatment as they await their trial to prove their innocence.

Senator Estrada fought back to defend his innocence, armed with so many bullets to shoot at P-Noy, as if he had already anticipated this was going to happen to him. His first shot: about the subtle ways of P-Noy in accomplishing his agenda that the general public do not know about. One of them was the impeachment of Chief Justice Corona. He revealed that senators (including him) who voted Yes to his impeachment were then given P50 million each. When the media asked Senator Drilon for confirmation if that P50 million were given as a form of “reward” for voting for impeachment of Corona, looking confused he then said, “They were meant to help the government meet its spending targets.”

Another bullet he tried to shoot at P-Noy was the Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP. This is also a fund, just like PDAF, but under a different name controlled by the President through Department of Budget and Management, if I’m not mistaken. And it hit the target because the people are now questioning P-Noy about this DAP. Even if this has caused him conflict with the Supreme Court, P-Noy is strongly defending it. That it has a noble purpose. Later, we’ve learned that its existence was the idea of Budget Secretary Abad.

The media invited Secretary Abad for interviews. One I caught was this interview by Karen Davila. It was only a snippet of the interview where she asked the same question. And Secretary Abad, despite his explanations, despite his eloquence, added more to doubts than give reassurance when he said that even previous administrations have it. I won’t ever forget the face of Karen Davila. It was a face of disbelief. I thought it was a lame excuse. Oh dear, the Aquino administration is hiding something and they’re not telling it to us, his boss. Remember? He said that during his inaugural speech. P-Noy said we are his boss. Remember?

What I know about the PDAF and DAP controversies are very limited. PDAF’s gone. DAP is there, just there for Secretary Abad to spend on. But regardless of whether DAP is “unconstitutional” to the Supreme Court and DAP is legally and morally right according to P-Noy, my questions are these:

If they were true that they were spending through DAP to help Filipinos, why can’t P-Noy use that money to improve the facilities and medical equipment of our public hospitals which, since time immemorial, are of pathetic conditions. Up to now, you’ll be scared of going to a public hospital that lots of sick, poor Filipinos go to for medical healing. Just by merely visiting its comfort room, you’d be very afraid to enter because of its filthiness, its bad smell, and there is no running water.

If they were true that they were spending through DAP to help Filipinos, why is it that in our public schools we still have these cramped, poorly ventilated classrooms, why is it we still have teachers that are overworked and underpaid? And why, for God’s sake, there are still no homes for the homeless, no electricity and water for those in the faraway provinces, no jobs for the unemployed and so many underemployed? (People like me have jobs. But salaries are only enough for food and transportation fare. As a result, ordinary workers like me have to request for loan to augment our other needs like clothing, education, hospital expenses, and any emergency that may arise.) And why is it that riding an MRT is a test of our sanity? Passengers are made to suffer inside the train like sardines in a can.

I can’t feel any improvement. The picture remains the same.

WHERE THE HELL ARE THEY SPENDING ALL OUR MONEY? Obviously, they are spending it for their selfish interests. Like giving the fund to benefit those who’ve helped them during their candidacy for election. I could be wrong. But I could be right.

To President Noynoy, we may be poor, even look dumb. But inside, we think, observe, and analyze. We are not morons. We want transparency.

On Lindsay Lohan

This is what international media would depict Lindsay Lohan, a picture of a girl who is so messed-up, miserable.  A crazy girl who is a bad example to the youth.  A garbage.

lindsay-lohan-courtBut this is how I see Lindsay Lohan despite all her bad decisions and misfortune.  (Although I hate it that she had a plastic surgery when she’s already beautiful! Just look at her picture below!)Lindsay-Lohan1I really like her.  Not like a fan but I like her because of the feel-good movies she participated in–“Freaky Friday,” “Mean Girls,” “Herbie,” “The Parent Trap”.  She was convincing as an actress and she really had a lot of potential.  So it’s really kind of sad that she is now a person recognized as the Mary Magdalene of the present times, being judged negatively and notoriously in every possible way.  And the people who sang praises to her before when she was popular and likeable are the same people who are now throwing stones at her when she had to stumble and fall because of wrong decisions (including an orange-colored tan). She had her worst moments and I hope that she’ll again possess that childhood innocence that she once had to help her get back on track.

I’d like to think that when we are too focused on playing our role as “adults,” that’s when we start to become really negative and gloomy and bad.  That’s when we get easily influenced by good-for-nothing people.

 

What I do when I’m scared

“Tales of Horror” is the title of a Korean TV series that my writer brother and I have enjoyed watching since discovering it two Saturday’s ago in Channel 7—even if in the middle of the night, when I am about to sleep, I would remember those images and scenes that would make me afraid.

But I have an antidote when scary stuff would leave me wide awake and afraid of the dark: I just search through my Alex Files in my head and remember my memories with him—especially those moments when we were kissing! Then all those creepy, demonic images go away.

song on a broken string

I’m not trying to be
Anybody’s favorite song
I’m not trying to fit in
I’m not trying to belong
I just wanna be heard
Just to hear myself again
I’d show you who I am
If there’s a way I can
Remember the words

 
Tired of playing out the scene
With someone else’s clichéd lines
Tired of playing by the scheme

Of someone else’s perfect rhymes
So here I am listening to the beat
Of this syncopated heart
How to write the truth
A song that’s not about you…

Two stanzas were all it took. The song is called “Song On A Broken String,” a favorite song of mine. A song I just discovered two days ago.

Actually I wouldn’t have known this if I didn’t go to Astrovision (a record bar) last Saturday, June 12. I just received half of my salary and to buy myself a present, I was going to buy this VCD of the Sarah-John Lloyd movie, “You Changed My Life.”

Not available.

But I still looked around, maybe it was just hidden somewhere and the sales crew was just lazy to search for it.  So I looked and looked, inspecting the CDs displayed from the shelves while OPM songs were being played one after the other in the background. New songs, actually. First time I’ve heard. I thought they were cool, especially when I heard this female voice that was so sweet, singing strongly about heartbreak, talking to herself not to fall in love again with the same guy who broke her heart—which I can relate! (I discovered later that the sweet voice was by Kiana Valenciano, singing “Dear Heart”).  And when I heard the track “Hangout Lang,” which according to the composer and lyricist is their tribute to Prince and Michael Jackson whose music rocked the ’80s, that’s when I became really interested.  That the album is not just songs about love.  It also has dance music in it! (Although I don’t dance.)

“Song On A Broken String,” “Dear Heart,” and “Hangout Lang” are tracks 1401449130-philpop-album-cover-insidethat can be found from the album “PhilPop 2014, Loud and Proud” which was what I bought in replacement of “You Changed My Life” that was out of stock. It’s a very nice movie, I must tell you.

Songs in “PhilPop 2014, Loud and Proud” are actually finalists of the 3rd Philippine Popular Music Festival to be held this coming 26 July 2014. I wonder which song will win. In my heart, the winners are—all of them!

Why?

Because I don’t get tired listening to them, blending well together despite their differences. They’re light and cool to the ears, they’re funky, and it can make you feel like you’re in love even when you’re not. It can make you feel like life is beautiful even when it’s hard. The first track “Awit Mo’y Nandito Pa” is an example. Good decision that it is the first song chosen to open up what is in store from this album. Did I mention that this album would make you go senti especially during quiet evening?

sandpaper

sandpaper

heart to heart

The story is told about a priest who was preaching about loving one’s enemies.  When he asked the gathered faithful who among them had plenty of enemies, no hand was raised.  When he asked who among them had a few enemies, a few raised their hands.  When he asked who among them had no enemies, an old parishioner raised his hand.  When the priest asked him why, he said, “Father, I am 102 years old, and all my enemies are dead.”

(Ha ha! Thanks Fr. Jerry for sharing this.)