Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Luck for New Year

Maybe most people are looking for anything that would give them luck for every New Year.  The kinds of luck they look for are different, like: luck for love, luck to have children, luck for health and, most of all, luck for money or wealth.

A popular source of what luck New Year brings is the horoscope.  There are many forecasts and predictions with both the regular zodiac and Chinese zodiac.  Some people also rely on fortune tellers who have a high success prediction rate and even pay for their services!

What I find funny every year, especially in the Philippines, are people believing in luck for New Year with round objects like coins, round fruits and red.  This belief, I believe, originated from the Chinese.  Television stations come up with features about these round things bringing luck for New Year.  Often it is a feature in their news programs.  It is funny because almost all families who can afford it will buy all the round fruits suggested to bring luck for the following year!

The question is, how come they can’t come up with people who bought these fruits and say they were really lucky for the year that passed?  They should at least explain to their audience that the luck they should expect is not more on winning in the lottery, get a high-paying job, landing a big contract or winning big or grand raffle prizes.  Have you ever heard anyone who really hit the jackpot attribute their luck on those round objects?

What kinds of luck should people be thankful for after every year:
  • That they are alive and kicking.
  • Did not have any real bad health concerns.
  • That everyone they love is still around and in good health.
  • Was not fired or laid off from work.
  • Luck enough to survive the year unlike others worse misfortune.

Those round things will not give the luck that you might be craving for.  Only very few or maybe only one will hit real good fortune out of luck.  The luck for New Year is really on the person and the people that matter most to them.  

Happy New Year and Good luck for 2011!

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Friday, December 24, 2010

New attraction at Camp John Hay

Beside the Amphitheater, a new attraction cum entertainment is going on.  It is called the “TreeTops”.  It is not exactly for all though, as there are some physical and fitness requirements for one to enjoy them.  Of course it will cost something as it is operated by an entity other than Camp John Hay management.
Thanks to Reich Francisco for sharing this foto.
The cheapest is ‘Trekking’ that will be 100 pesos per person.  This is recommended for the faint-hearted and scared of heights. What many might find thrilling is the “Superman Ride” where you would be on a harness in the prone position, holding on to a bar and the feet ‘hooked’ behind another bar.  This is like the “zip line” but moves quite fast, one forward and one backward trip.  A slower zip-like line is the “Silver Ride” where the rider is in an upright harness.  The feet stand on a bar while hands holding on to a higher bar.

Fotos compliments of Reich Francisco thru FaceBook
 There is also the canopy ride where you are seated on a harness – similar to ski lifts.  This would take you through the treetops that give an excellent view of the surroundings.  The ride will involve transfers from one tower to another.  Another that some would find thrilling will be the “Tree-Drop” from a height of 60 feet.  Those taking the tree-drop are warned not to grab the cable in the process as it could cause ‘hand burn’.

Packages are offered should there be those who would want to try at least three different thrilling experiences.  The physical and fitness requirements to enjoy these Camp John Hay attractions are:  Height: Not below 3’6” (or 3’9” I think); Age: Not for those below 10 years old; Must not be pregnant and does not have any heart condition.

Note:  This is not an advertisement – I just discovered this yesterday.  It is quite new because developments are still on-going.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Let's do something by leading not ranting

We are all well-meaning to see Baguio City again as it was or probably just preserve what we could of it.  We may be an organization shouting silently within ourselves that we want Baguio back on how or what it should be.  We can make protests and rallies but no one would just listen.  Why don't we start by setting an example that others might follow. 

Here's an example that I saw first in Batangas City during the wake of our grandfather in the mid 1980s:

Our Uncle Ted is a respected man in their barangay.  He initiated putting 'waste' in plastic bags and hang them high enough outside their wall so stray dogs can't reach them.  He just told the barangay how practical and clean it would be disposing of waste and plastic bags.  In short - every resident in the barangay followed the example.

In Baguio City, I am not sure if we started it first, but I am quite sure I was amazed seeing my wife do it.  I even bent a reinforcement bar from the top of our fence to help her hang our 'garbage' plastic bags then.  No - we still didn't have segregation of recyclables from non-recyclables then.  Not for long, many neighbors were doing the same - then almost anywhere you go around Baguio.  Maybe some others would claim they started it - but who cares - as long as it is being done.

If only genuine Baguio people can initiate something like that it is more worthwhile than ranting for everything we want for the City of Baguio.  Usually petitions or printouts get attention only if it is 'endorsed' or signed by a million people.  How could we have that when Baguio has than half a million in true and permanent residents?

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Save Baguio City Causes, Groups and Organizations

Looking around the place where you were born, raised and has raised your own family, memories of your childhood and youthful days come back. Sometimes tears would even well up in your eyes reminiscing the good old happy and carefree days. That’s how it is with us, the ‘old-timers’ of Baguio City. Many others also who used to come to Baguio regularly during Christmas and summer breaks ‘look’ for that ‘old feeling of Baguio', the City of Pines – the Coolest Place in the Philippines.

Photo courtesy of Willie Magtibay at FaceBook

As of now, the year 2010, there have been many groups, organizations and causes doing their best efforts to save what has remained of Baguio City. If there was a way to return the city to its former glory, they would! But that is already impossible. The best that could be done is to advocate cleanliness, discipline and respect for the city.

Efforts and intention of the groups like 'Kafagwayan' and 'Save Baguio' at Facebook are grand but it could hardly be done the way they want it. The best way to do it is to start from a well defined place or area and the specified work that needs to be done. All of the organizations can pick their own then subsequently work towards a common project.

The biggest problem though is getting the support of the city officials. Their main concern is to address the issues at hand which may not be parallel to the issues of the organizations. Vehicular and pedestrian traffic is the main problem especially in the central business district. The city tried overpasses and flyovers but they hardly eased the traffic. Now some organizations denounce those structures and say it is un-Baguio like!

If only these organizations can join forces and have each define a specific work they would want to work on to save Baguio. It will be better instead of all of them practically wanting to do everything, in the end nothing happens or is achieved.

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Angono Petroglyphs - History Channel

History channel on TV always features the Angono Petroglyphs, the oldest known work of art in the Philippines. The127 human and animal figures engraved on the rockwall was carbon-dated to 3000 BC. The inscriptions obviously show human figures, frogs and lizards. Other designs that may have depicted other interesting figures has been damaged by erosion making it difficult to distinguish.

The Angono Petroglyphs is within the boundaries of Angono, Binangonan and Antipolo of Rizal province. The site was discovered by the late National Artist of the Philippines awardee Carlos V. "Botong" Francisco in 1965 when they were boy scouts. Some of  the rock carvings have been damaged due vandalism and neglect. Presidential Decree No. 260 declared in 1973 it as a national cultural treasure by the Philippine government. A team then started archaeological site conservation led by the National Museum of the Philippines.  Site developments of the petroglyphs included a mini-museum, viewdeck and stone path were constructed. The effects of a quarrying operations a few kilometers from the site were conducted.

The Angono Petroglyphs preservation and development is a collective effort of the National Museum of the Philippines, the Dept. of Tourism, World Monuments Fund, American Express and a Philippine real estate company.  It is amazing that a TV channel like History Channel Asia provides this kind of information on a regular basis compared the Philippines' local TV Stations.

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

With 7,100 islands in the Philippines it will take 19 and half years to visit each island for at least one day.  Maybe more because of time travel.  To save on time, there are travel agencies online that offer great discounts for travel and accommodation. is an online travel agency that provide the convenience in assisting travelers, tourists and vacationing people on their travel needs.  Initially you will need to register at their website online. Of course this is a precaution to avoid online pranksters.  From thereon, it will be quite easy to make arrangements on how you plan to travel and where to go.

As always make sure you have the time and budget for your intended travels.  Don't be taken immediately without any plans.  You would not want to spoil the fun for the coming holidays.  Traveldotcom should be able to fully assist you on your planned holiday or vacation travel plans.

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Enjoy your vacation in Baguio

Baguio City is undeniably still a place to go for vacations, holidays and relaxation.  It has been and will always be because of the cool climate.  

Here are some tips to enjoy your stay in the City of Pines:
  • Plan your trip at least a month before your trip especially if you are coming from more than 250 kilometers away.
  • Try to contact someone you know in Baguio City to help you find a place to stay if it will not be in one of the hotels or inns.
  • Inform the person if you want to cook meals in the place.  Many places do not provide the cooking range because of risks.
  • Make sure there is good supply of water or reliable water delivery.  Many vacationists get frustrated because of lack of water.
  • Set your budget especially for food, drinks and night-outs.
  • Make sure you have bonnets or hats and thick jackets especially for the months of November to February.

What to expect in Baguio City:
  • Heavy traffic in the main thoroughfares and difficulty to find parking space within the central business district.  SM Baguio has pay parking.
  • Burnham Park is often crowded during weekends and holidays.  
  • Other places you can go to are the Mines View Park, Mansion House and Wright Park - all are close to each other.
  • From mid-morning to mid-afternoon it is not really very cold compare to early evenings and mornings.
  • Baguio City is very strict with people crossing streets.  Use pedestrian lanes or overpasses in the central business district.
  • Follow traffic rules and regulations.  Cars parked in a "No Parking" area will lose their license plates.
  • Plate Number Coding is applicable from Mondays through Fridays except when declared as non-coding due to special occasions or holidays.
Taking note of the above will help you enjoy your stay in Baguio City.

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

"Is no" (snow) show in Baguio City

The people of Baguio were very excited when the news came out that there is going to be a "Shower of Snow".  Of course it is only artificial snow but everybody living in the Coldest City in the Philippines would want to experience even just quasi-snow. The event was often a news on television over the past week or so and interviews were made with those handling the snow show in Baguio City.

Some friends at Facebook even posted that they were going to see and experience the artificial snow flakes (more appropriate to be "fakes").  My wife and special son went early, around 5 pm., to Session Road where the snow fakes were to shower down.

They were home at around 8 in the evening and what they first mentioned was there were more people than those attending "Panagbenga"!  Immediately, I refreshed my Facebook page and friends were quick to post photos taken on the event.  The crowd was packed like sardines!  My wife said they could hardly move around to get anywhere!  The crowd was so thick that anything that could spark a stampede will result to hundreds, if not thousands, of casualties!  The "is no" (snow) show in Baguio City was not really worth it.

My wife and son had a few of the artificial snow fakes (flakes) land on their hands.  When it melted (really quite fast) it had a strong smell of chlorine (like Clorox or Zonrox)!  If the fake snow was really that, pity the crowd that got most of the shower as their colored clothing could have white spots after.  Even the shower of the artificial snow was not impressive - in the photos, I could not find anyone that would have even been partly covered by it.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Coca Cola or Coke softdrink

Ever since I came to know about sodas or soft drinks, I could not exactly remember if had any favorite.  Maybe the taste was nothing really for me and they were just to sate my thirst.  Or, the Coca-Cola (Coke) was just another fluid to push down what I was eating.  There were other sodas like Canada Dry, Pepsi, Lem-O-Lime, Tru-Orange, Root Beer (am not sure if they were Dr. Peppers), etc. and all them came in glass bottles in different shapes and colors.  There were no twist-off caps yet at that time.  All had tin crowns that needs a bottle opener to uncap them if they were given with the lid still closed.

Coke or Coca-Cola was not a name for me to remember since I was in elementary or grade school.  The convenience of the shape of its bottle, I think, was more important to me.  It was easy to grip, especially it was small then at 8 ounces!  So, even while playing, you could hold on to it!  Maybe, spill some but most really gulped down. 

Anyway, after all those years and the cola wars, I am still a loyal Coke drinker.  Not that I don't drink other brands, but I prefer it.  Without coca-cola available, my next preference would be Root Beer - if none - Pepsi - if none - Seven-Up and if there's still none - whatever they've got! All are carbonated drinks and whatever has been said against them in the past - they're still here to stay.  Yes, I agree they could cause farting - but who doesn't fart?  The main thing that could have been said against Coke et al is the caffeine content.  After learning caffeine is a good anti-oxidant naysayers kept quiet.  Coffee, tea and chocolate drinks made a comeback! (Did they really fade away? - I don't think so!)

Going back to Coca-cola (Coke), the shape of their bottle became interesting in my teenage life.  It is the shape men look for in women!  LOL!  Funny because its shape was in direct contrast to the famed beer of the Philippines, San Miguel Beer (SMB) Pale Pilsen!  Filipino drinking males have canny thoughts of comparing shapes with women!  The SMB bottle is stout from neck to bottom and referred to as stout (fat for women) but "masabaw" (soupy - if I got it right).  Some men prefer "masabaw" for the 'cushion' effect!  Personally, I think there are more men who still prefer the Coca-cola or Coke bottle shape. 

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The many morality issues

Some 40 to 50 years ago, the Philippines had many morality issues that are not being accepted by its society.  One real issue during those times are married men having an affair with another or other women.  If it happens, it is almost certain that his neighborhood, community or even the entire township will condemn a married man in an illicit affair.  Very few men get away with it and usually end up a broken family.  It is a thing with married but it is worst when it is a married woman who goes into such an affair.  The simple reason is a married woman can get pregnant by the man she is in the affair with.  Even if the family is kept intact, it will be hard to live under one roof knowing that one was not sired by the father of the family.

That kind of morality is now, to many, a thing that has valid reasons and accepted if justifiable.  There are now bigger numbers of broken families and the society is more tolerant.  Finances are often the culprit when it comes to getting into an illicit affair.  Having too much money to spare spur married men and the lack of it can be reason enough for a married woman.  Is this where money becomes the root of all evil?  It is immoral when too much money gets one into such an affair.  Now, what about if the affair is to provide for the survival and existence of ones family?

The morality issue of the above is debatable.

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Call Center Services in the Philippines

The Philippines is known to have a respectable command of the English language.  In addition to that, literacy rate of 92.6%.  Call Center services in the Philippines, I believe, have already outdone India, if not equaled.  Having been with two of the top BPO companies, India is admittedly better when it comes to technical support but definitely not in the league with Filipinos when it comes to accent.

A good example is the last company I was with that had two offices.  The first one was in India and their second BPO in the Philippines.  Customer service was focused in the Philippines while the company made the more experienced India outfit as our supervisors we escalate to.  When we escalate the calls to them, almost all of the time callers will request to give back the call to us.  Why?  Callers complain that the supervisor we had escalated them to was hard to understand and could also hardly understand their issue!

Call center services has improved a lot especially with the agents.  Almost all have honed their conversation, listening and resolving skills.  Tight knit teams have agents helping out each other when it comes to customer issues.  Teams that are kept intact for at least 8 months to a year always perform better compared to those that are reshuffled frequently.  I should know it because in both companies, I've been with teams at least that long and other teams too with much shorter time than that.  It is the bond and camaraderie of a team that is kept intact for longer periods.

As agents get better, call center services to them are on a decline.  Benefits and incentives are no longer as good when I started with the first company.  Even if an agent could no longer talk and losing his/her voice, the company clinic just let them rest for an hour or two then sent back to take calls!  I know because it happened to me!  They always suspect that agents are feigning illness always!  There was even an incident when an agent died because of failure to be given the proper medical attention!  She was a young single mother who was just coming from or had just come out of training.  Reports on how it happened are sketchy and we were practically kept in the dark.

The Department of Labor should look into how agents are treated.  The Personnel or Human Resources Department (HRD) of the companies can hardly do anything because they have to follow HRD guidelines of their clients.  Call center services HRD seem to be just for hiring and firing, and implementing social security and other government required processes.

N.B.  This article has no intention belittling the accent of India-based call center agents, as some Filipinos would also have some heavy accents.

Update:  The Philippines bests India as BPO - is now No. 1!

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Manny Pacquiao vs Antonio Margarito

This blog was posted quite later than it should have been.  The reason - Manny Pacquiao training in Baguio City is to master the way of pinik-pikan.  This is the art of what has been termed as "killing-me-softly" for a chicken in preparing the recipe, original and unique only in the Cordilleras.  Maybe the Pacman has slowed down a bit in the same way that Muhammad Ali slowed down while aging.  But in the process of aging, wisdom improves and that is in general for most people.  With this, many tactics and strategies come about that are least expected by opponents or foes.

The preparation of Manny Pacquiao against his opponent Antonio Margarito on Nov. 13, 2010 might not be as intense in his previous trainings.  One real reason is his now being a Congressman representing Sarangani, Mindanao.  In his training in Baguio last 2009, he also did some time off to help victims of  Typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng.  Coordinating help and assistance for victims of catastrophes is not an easy task.  His recent camp in Baguio was not really that much in the news because of privacy and security concerns.  Tightened security might have deprived some to actually see and observe his training.

Going back to Manny Pacquiao for his upcoming fight, Margarito will have a problem which part of him to cover.  Standing upright covering his face will be offering the Pacman to practice the art of pinikpikan on his body.  Bending over to protect his abdomen (typo: badomen) will be an opportunity for Manny give killer hooks to side of his head.  This will be the first time the art of pinik-pikan will be used starting with the head.  Pinik-pikan was intentionally not described in full here because some it might find it be too gross and get the attention of the SPCA (lol).  Please note that I am not referring to Margarito as animal.

By the way, some humor was added in this article.  Trying to help Manny Pacquiao on some strategy here, as trainers of Margarito might come across this and be confused.  

Link to Manny Pacquiao Interview at CBS - 60 Minutes

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

P-Noy Aquino

This article was prompted by what seems to be a better job being done by P-Noy Aquino compared to his immediate predecessors.  During the campaign, naysayers were very particular with his lack of experience.  They could be correct on some mistakes of his administration

His lack of experience and lack of laws passed in the Senate might not necessarily what a good President needs.  What good are laws if they do not understand the people it is being imposed upon?  His ban of "wang-wang" (siren) has shamed those who were abusive of it.  Even his VP Jejomar Binay who violated traffic and was demanding Vice-Presidential residence had suddenly gone quiet.

It is sincerely hoped that the P-Noy cabinet  aides and other lieutenants follow his example.  He is a simple person not fond of extravagance of what usually rich kids were raised on.  He needs to clean out other bureaus and government agencies that are a nest for corruption.

It is difficult enough to raise an ideal family and the task of trying to come up with governing a nation even to just average good is difficult.  Critics should look at themselves first and see if they were able bring up their clan or family the ideal way they want a president to govern a country.  If they do, come up with portfolio and show it to the people.  If they don't, just try to help P-Noy and the government instead.

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

OFW Agnes Tenorio & Labor Attache Romulo Salud

Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) should know what they are getting into and know their options in case something happens like that of Agnes Tenorio.  As for embassies and labor attaches, they should have the decency of providing complete information on the options an OFW has on any given situation!

What Romulo Salud failed to do:
  • Clarify from Tenorio the events and who she had consulted.
  • Provide Tenorio a list of options she can take action for.
  • Advice Tenorio from his best points of view steps she should take.
  • Give her the time to think things over and decide.
What Agnes Tenorio should have done:
  • Made sure she knows how to get in touch with her agency or representative within Hongkong.
  • Consulted her case first before deciding outright. 
  • Inquire from Salud the best she could do at that time (not like a child crying and just wants to go home, then, decides to stay when she finds out there were 'playmates' around)
  • Inquire from Salud if they could get in touch with the agency that got her to HK.
The action of Tenorio of recording the conversation with Salud had ill intentions.  From her published accounts on their first meeting it seemed everything went well.  No reason for her to be suspicious on how things will go on her second meeting with Salud!

In conclusion, both Tenorio and Salud did not do things in the proper perspective.  They are both equally to share the blame of what happened.  It just so happened that Agnes Tenorio is a household help and Romulo Salud a Labor Attache.  In 'David-and-Goliath' like scenarios, it is always David who comes out the good.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Separated Wives

This could be happening in many countries around the world.  There are ex-wives who are not able to find another partner in life after the first one. A good number find themselves creating or leading  some organization or club for obvious reasons.  Their members or prospective members are a few "ex-s" like them but most of the other members are still good with a partner or husband.  The ex-wives who are not able to find another partner try to prove to their members that they did right.  Thus, they influence those still with partners to be like them.  The ex-wives 'snatch' their members time from their families.  They orient them to be like them, a "happy" ex-wife, destroying other families that have stuck together through thick and thin.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Major major discrimination

Until now beauty contests have minimum height to qualify.  Is is this not also discrimination?  Organizers should give consideration that as long as proportions are good to woman's height there should be no minimum height!  They're making it like a basketball team!

There are a lot of women both smart and beautiful below the minimum height.  They might just even outshine many of those taller!  It has been that way before until now it is still that way!  If women do not want to be discriminated they should include this discrimination because it will also be a career for women!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Dormitory Boom in Baguio City

Does the dormitory boom in the city of Baguio shows that student population is increasing with the cost of education?  New 3 or 4-storey, or maybe more, dorms have been constructed near the junction of upper Bonifacio and General Luna Streets!  These are the streets having very heavy traffic because of proximity to the schools and hospitals.  Aside from that, the streets are also a route for jeepney public transportation that comes from heavily populated residential areas.  Drivers of these type of public transportation do not care where they stop to unload or load a passenger.

The dormitories will cause heavier traffic because there are no sufficient sidewalks for students to walk on.  So, they will be practically walking on the narrow two-lane streets.  It used to be that students prefer to stay in dorms outside of the city business center because of much lighter traffic then.  What used to be just a 10-minute travel can be 30 to 45-minute ride!  Students too have become lazy to walk and many of them now take two rides to be at the school doorstep!  Considering the cost of two-rides, one way, might equate to the same cost of staying in a dorm at the city business center!

What used to be a real conducive place for education like Baguio City is no longer that conducive.  It's only the climate of the city that still attracts many students.  The climate though is getting a little bit warmer with more people.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bus Hostage taking Results

The bus hostage taking results are as follows:
  • 8 hostages perished
  • Ground commander on indefinite leave
  • Autopsies show that shots fired on hostages were fired from more than 3 feet
  • Shots on Rolando Mendoza: Forehead; two near base of neck; both hands and both feet; all with traces of powder burns except for the shot in the head
  • Raiding squad leader sacked
  • Some other raiding members either sacked or re-assigned
  1. Rolando Mendoza knows that if he had locals as hostage - results could be whitewashed; any survivor could be threatened if anything improper is said against authorities.  Foreigners can not be threatened by authorities in the same way.  This can not be be doubted because as a police officer he knows how they work around incidents like this.
  2. Those responsible were given due actions because it is somewhat like an international incident where they could not hide the facts from Interpol.  If the hostages were locals there will no international intervention and local authorities could juggle the investigation as they wish.
  3. Ground commander accuses Gregorio Mendoza of encouraging his brother not to give up.  The statement can only be testified to by the negotiators and the bus driver.  Whose side are they on?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

An Open Letter

We, the Filipino people, ask if not demand for change.  Our fingers point almost always point to the elected powers in our country.  The news media, especially television, cover incidents like the tourist bus hostage incident.  They see, comment and record almost all that is happening.  After all the fuss, they come up with one news choosing only one side to the story.  In spite the fact that it was seen on TV, some analytical minds interpret what they see and that's not what comes out in the newspapers and news bulletins.

Is this the result of what they call "debriefing"?  To guide witnesses and survivors to tell only what authorities want to be made known to the public?  The cover-ups, the shielding or whatever they call it, has caused many tragedies to many people.  They want to make something right out of what is wrong.  Is that the correct way of debriefing?

Maybe the best thing to do is to retire all those in authority.  Change them with people who have no relation or affinity to them.  Put brand new people in government offices.  Retire old government 'dependents' to their whims.  Whatever the cost is, it will be easily recovered by well-meaning people in government.

By the way, there many non-blood related people who are Kiss-A**!  They should be included in the list of not qualified for a government position and transact business with the government!  Lastly, let us Filipinos do away with convenience at the expense of many.  That's where corruption starts to no end.

To this, I say, "Mabuhay ang Tunay na Pilipino!"  To the "fake" Pilipinos, start licking your wounds and a**es and get back 'on stream'.  The next 'flash flood" might get you into the sewers!

Very respectfully yours,

JUAN TAMA (Tama = correct) (Tamad = lazy)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hostage taking of a Manila Tourist Bus

This is one hostage situation that reminded me of Manila Bulletin columnist Joe Guevara’s interpolation of the SWAT acronym for the Philippine Police and military.  He said it should stand for, “Simple Weapons ‘Alang ‘(no) Tactics.  This is what exactly what the police displayed when they decided to storm the tourist bus held hostage by a lone hostage taker.  The hostage taker is a dismissed captain (chief inspector) of the police force.

The hostage taker, former police Chief Inspector Rolando Mendoza, is a respected person/officer and interviews of people who know him say he is a nice and kind person.  News coverage showed that he received many commendations and was one of top ten outstanding policemen a few years back.  So he is a Rambo-like disgruntled police officer and his only demand was to be reinstated or retired with full benefits.

The story of negotiations started with ‘expert’ negotiators.  The only thing they were able to do is provide some fuel and food as demanded by Mendoza.  With that, he released a few hostages.  Then, out of nowhere, man approached the hostage bus who the police immediately arrested.  He came out to be the brother of Rolando Mendoza, also a police officer.  They used him also in negotiations but to no avail.  Not long after, a commotion came up with the hostage takers brother running out from where he was confined with policemen.  He claimed that he was being charged as accessory to the crime and fears for his life!  A drama ensued with members of his family surrounding and embracing him so he could not be taken by the police.  All the time, the drama was being shown on television which was also being watched by the hostage taker!

Let’s say the police used this strategy because the hostage taker is a nice and kind person who would not want his brother to be in the same mess.  Authorities were looking on the soft side of the hostage taker to give up.  The problem is they did not look at the other side of Mendoza!  They should have considered there is a Rambo in him!  What he saw and watched on television was exactly the same what authorities had done to him!  Anyone, maybe just about anyone, who sees the same injustice being done to a blood relative, will be enraged!  He fired some shots but maybe not to injure or kill a hostage.  Some time after he fired the shots, the bus driver was seen running from the bus.  He claimed to have escaped because “no one was longer alive in the bus” as quoted by some reporter on television. (Belated news:  According to a survivor Mendoza went berserk but did not mention at what point it happened)

This could have been the point the police decided to storm the bus.  The scenario of police approaching the bus was ridiculous!  It simply showed they had no plans on how to gain entry and neutralize the hostage taker!  They used heavy sledge hammers to smash some windows and the bus door.  They were only able to punch holes in them!  They did not even know how to open the bus door!  It was hours before they learned that the bus door is hydraulically operated!  They even tried to pull the door open with a rope pulled by a vehicle.  The rope snapped.  In between these attempts, there some shots fired from inside the bus but there were more coming from snipers.  The event looked like “hide-and-seek” by those storming the bus.

Going back to earlier shots, if Mendoza really shot some hostages, the others would have panicked after the first ones were shot, right?  Anyone in that imminent danger would do anything – shout, wave, bang on windows – anything to save them from the onslaught!  There was no commotion at all inside the bus when shots were fired inside.  It is possible that the bus driver’s message was just a ploy by the hostage taker to make authorities aware he was not giving up in spite of what they were going to do with his brother!

With the calm and quiet in the bus, authorities presumed that all the hostages were dead and no further harm could happen to them.  It was believable, adding the message of the bus driver to that!  The televised event showed police hurling tear gas and flash bang inside the bus.  Nothing happened.  Some of them even threw those carelessly and immediately bounced back to them!  OMG!  What incompetence!  When police were able to open the emergency doors, their attempts to enter were unsuccessful.  Mendoza would give them a burst of rapid fire.  He could have easily shot and killed some of the policemen but he did not.

In the end, probably when Rolando Mendoza was overcome by tear gas, he was seen by a sniper near the front door and took him out.  The hostage taking was over and there were still some hostages that survived.  Yes, the bus driver gave a message probably relayed by Mendoza, if not, an excuse of abandoning the ship of which he is the captain.

The demands of Rolando Mendoza were simple and could have been easily arranged with him or maybe even given.  The question is: Why were tactics and strategies used without studying them?  There was no deadline to be met!  Why did not even one of the authorities know that the bus had hydraulically operated doors and had an emergency door?  Why did they punch holes in so many windows?  A single hole where tear gas and flash bang would fit is enough and the effects would be much quicker without the ventilation they created!  They had to throw in so many!

To give justice to victims as the rescue done has many questions, there should be ballistic tests done on the bullets that killed the victims.  It is possible that sniper shots, before the last one that took out Mendoza, would have hit the hostages instead.  With the accuracy of the last sniper, there is no question that the earlier snipers also hit their targets but not Mendoza.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What are the changes in education?

There are so many changes in school education and maybe those of us who are 40 years old and above, would no longer be 'current' to what is being taught in school.  This is especially true with the math, science and electronics technology subjects!

Since my four children have been going to school in 1988 to the last that went to high school in 2009, their text books change every year!  In short, does it mean that what children learned in school the past year is no longer good for those coming in that school level the following year?  Books are major costs in education every year with private schools.  Public schools, well most of them, are content with their books that are hand-me-downs or donated.

In my last year in high school that was in 1971, we were using standard books rented out by the school library.  Those who are from our generation are good.   After college, it was incumbent upon us to learn along the way in our lives.  We coped up.  So what's the difference between now and before?  That way I look at it, the difference is just the cost.  The quality before is even better than now.  Sad to say . . .

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Why do we need more fluids now than before?

Before the 1990s, you hardly see anyone carrying a bottle of water or any container for hydration, to drink fluids from.  This is especially true in our city of Baguio. Except, of course, for those who have flasks with them that contains alcohol like gin, rhum, brandy or vodka. (that's more for dehydration ... hehehe)  Does this mean that people now easily get dehydrated?

During the earlier years there were soft drinks and other bottled fluids that you could easily buy almost anywhere.  They were sufficient to quench thirst or 're-hydrate' people then!  What is the difference between then and now?  Why does it seem that we need to water our mouths more now than before? 

I did not offer an answer here and that's the reason for the title of this post.  Any scientist out there to give an answer or explanation to this?  If your answer is global warming, forget about it, that's what I have in mind.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Passion Fruit - Masaflora (Pinoy)

More than 40 years ago, Baguio City had a lot of Passion fruit growing in the wild.  It is a vine fruit that did not need extra or special attention to grow.  It's almost the size and shape of a large egg.  Easy to crack open  by pressing it between the base of the palms.  For those with vivid imaginations, you might find it gross that contents of the fruit are like small eyes resembling those of chicken eyes!  Well, that's the variety we have in our city. 

To us, it has a unique taste especially before it gets fully ripe.  More on the sour side and hardly any sweet taste.  Unless there's already some purple color showing on its skin or shell, it would be quite sour.  Adding salt to the 'raw' passion fruit gives it much flavor.  Personally, I prefer it raw than fully ripe.  It also very flavorful making it into juice!

Now I don't see them anymore around the city.  It is a wonder why something so easy to plant and care for has been neglected.  I have not been in the city market for a very long time now and I don't know if they're still selling the same passion fruit.  I've seen some a long time ago for sale but they were not the variety that I am describing here.

The Passion fruit is not as hardy as the Sunflowers and Pine trees.  It is a wonder because there are no pests that harm them.  Bees visit the flowers but when it starts grow the fruit, not even ants would bother them even when ripe.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Jejomar Binay - True Oppositionist

The Philippines new vice-president Jejomar Binay in his campaign it was stressed that he is a true opposition.  Well, he took his oath of office and still stands pat at being an opposition.  The president was offering cabinet positions and he opposed all.  His convoy does not stop at traffic lights so he is still opposing what is supposed to be a good example being set by the president.  He is also opposing the fact that there is no vice-presidential home.
Maybe he was thinking the President anyway is not staying in Malacanang, it might just be offered to him.  To those who voted for him, look at what he doing now.  When he gets more power he will soon be also opposing you.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New Philippine President - Who or what should change?

A new Philippine President will be inaugurated on June 30, 2010. For my 56 years, there was no Philippine President that was truly appreciated.  To many a re-elected Philippine President cheated in one way or another.  Filipinos ask for a change in the the government.

It seems though that it is the Filipino that has not changed, no matter who the President would be.  Many criticized President Cory Aquino but when she passed away there were more praises.  This just simply shows that it is not the government but the people.

Take a look at Japan or the U.S. it is because of the people and not the government per se that changed or made improvements to their countries!  It is the people who changed for the better!

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

2010 Philippine Election Results

Sorry about the title, it's not about voting results.  It is about those who lost, especially in the top positions.  This is my first time to see losing candidates conceding to those leading in the race.  They did not even mention anything about being cheated!  They also gave reassuring words to help the winner.  That's more like it!  Finally, they realize they are not in a sporting world where helping the winner could mean more defeat on the losing party's end.

Maybe if Noynoy Aquino and Jejomar Binay win the two topmost positions, the losing candidates will be behind them to support the government.  In doing that, they will clearly show and display what they have been campaigning for.  They should realize that it is not only in winning the elections that they can contribute to the nation's needs.  The winning candidates should show flexibility wherein they could integrate the losing candidates' campaign promises with that of their own.

Filipinos will not mind at all if all of them will be appointed in critical positions in the government.  All of them have great ideas and objectives for the Philippines.  If they all could work on it altogether, I do not see any reason why the Philippines will still be suffering difficulties with that.  With all their campaign promises and pledges, the Filipinos need all.  It's just not possible to vote them all for a single position.

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Baguio City local Candidates - May 10, 2010

The multi-party system elections is more confusing, if not more disturbing.  Baguio City is such a small city with a population that shows to be around 292,977 (as of May 2007), according to the PLDT directory for 2009-2010.  The registered voters list is around 155,000 according to a local web site.  The number of candidates for the top positions is just crazy!  Let's hope that voters in Baguio vote wisely and intelligently.  There are ten (10) running for Mayor and here's the list: 
  • 01 Barcelo, Ruben Liwag "Ben"; (IND. )
  • 02 Busacay-lazo, Erlinda Adan "Erlinda"; (IND. )
  • 03 Domogan, Mauricio Gamsao "Morris"; (LKS-KAM )
  • 04 Go, Marquez Ocampo "Mark"; (PMP )
  • 05 Hernandez, Guillermo Codinera "Willie"; (IND. )
  • 06 Labo, Ramon Jr Lozano "Jun"; (IND. )
  • 07 Mandapat, Julius Javier "Butch"; (IND. )
  • 08 Molintas, Jose Mencio "Joe"; (LP )
  • 09 Puzon, Peter Dulay "Terminator"; (IND. )
  • 10 Sembrano, Elaine Dominguez "Kabsat"; (PDP LABAN )
For the Congressional seat, 9 running for it and they are:

  • 01 Avila, Edgar Mendoza "Ed"; (PMP )
  • 02 Balisong, Rocky Thomas Aspilan "Rocky"; (NP )
  • 03 Bautista, Reinaldo Asperin "Rey"; (IND. )
  • 04 Bello Iii, Dwight Nicolas Advincula "Ike"; (IND. )
  • 05 Quilala, Rabinrandranah Pablo "Kabagis"; (PDP LABAN )
  • 06 Ramos, Felipe Tribonalo "Felipe"; (IND. )
  • 07 Vergara, Bernardo Mangaoang "Bernie"; (LKS-KAM )
  • 08 Yangot, Leandro Jr. Bagto "Leandro"; (LP )
  • 09 Yaranon, Braulio Dacanay "Raul"; (LDP )
There are 57 candidates for the City Council and only three (3) running for Vice-Mayor!

If there are 10 candidates for Mayor and 9 for Congress, then this simply shows that each of these candidates do not believe each other for the benefit of Baguio!  Anyone who wins in those two posts will win in number or by popularity but not by majority.  The majority would have voted for someone else.  How would you let an election winner seat in an elective position who was not voted by the majority?

With the number of those running for mayor and congress it is a display that, except for the incumbents of course, the rest were not satisfied on how they served the city.  Both incumbents are now running for the other seat.  One has been a ping-pong ball on both seats while the other intends to jump to a higher seat.

Years before, I think even when the multi-party system was already in, there would be only at most, 4 candidates for each Mayoralty and Congressional seat in Baguio.  Very often, the winner wins by majority, if not real close to it.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

River View Waterpark - Asin

We were at River View Resort again at Asin, Tuba yesterday, April 17, 2010.  As with the previous times we were there, it was to celebrate my youngest son's, Ace, birthday for April 23, his 18th.  The park has expanded with a lower tier of swimming pools.  Weekend accommodation there is still as full as before.  The lower part where cottages are located beside swimming pools are now only for private functions and for those staying overnight or beyond.

Our routine was the usual.  I did all the grilling of pork chops, milk fish and eggplants.  Ace and four of his buddies enjoyed the swimming, strolling and girl watching.  Ace took care of most of the food costs as a treat for his good online work income doing web designs.  Lunch time came and only then did we realize that we had prepared more food than we can consume.  It was a real native feast of  'inihaw' (grilled) food and 'kamayan' (eat with bare hands).  

After lunch and short rest, as my usual, I strolled around the park to see other improvements.  What I wanted to see again was the small park with man-made 'automated' bamboo waterfalls and the hut with a pond of large water lilies. At first, I thought I was lost.  Walking back and forth to where I know it is (or was) located, it was nowhere to be found.  It was sacrificed in exchange for improvements for parking.  Good thing I had photos and here are two photos: 

I'm not really sure if they have relocated it or not.  There was no point exploring any farther because the resort's property boundaries were already in sight from the new parking spaces.  I was simply disgusted because I intended to stay around that small park for at least half an hour.  It's good we had more than the photos above. (That's a quick before and now here for River View).

After two hours more on the resort, we were on our way back to Baguio City.  Along the way, my eldest son, Ryan,and I were talking about the circumferential road we wanted to try passing on the way back.  About 4 or 5 kilometers on the road, we spotted a monitor lizard (bayawak) leisurely crossing the road.  My family was excited because we never expected wildlife to still be around in the area.  Slowing down and stopped, we watched the lizard cross and as we passed it my son gave it a 'reverse' whistle.  The only time it scampered into the green beside the road.  Actually, Ryan wanted to get the lizard and take care of it.  It was a happy encounter with wildlife unexpectedly.

Going back to the circumferential road, we came upon a junction that pointed there.  We all agreed to take it.  Well, what do you know?  Almost exactly the same distance with the original route but with wider roads and a lot less traffic!  It was a good experience and relaxation from the hectic job we do online.  Both Ryan and I do writing articles online, full time.
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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Camp John Hay - Before

The Camp John Hay (CJH) Air Force Base of before was originally a United States Armed Forces military reservation.  It was not really a military camp or installation but a recreation facility for USAF men stationed in various real military bases in the Philippines.  There was no airstrip or any military equipment in the base.  It has a beautiful golf course (I don't play golf) that is a main attraction to many, locals and military personnel alike.  The course is so well designed and had an annual event every December that foreigners and locals participate in.

The Main Gate, as they call it, was practically at the tip of  the main city road, Session Road.  A very welcoming main entry to the base.  Until the early 70s, I believe, to have access to CJH, you have to apply for a gate pass as long as you're 18 years old and above.  It was such as a great recreation center that it was the main center also for night life before.

Camp John Hay had the Half-Way House that featured nightly band performers and a dance floor.  In its earlier years it had some slot machines somewhere at back part.  Not far from there, maybe half a mile, is the Mile High Bowling Center.  It had only 6-lanes of fully automated Ten-Pin facility.  Aside from that there were pinball machines, pool tables, darts, table tennis and an unforgettable snack center.  For about the same distance more into the base is the 19th Tee Golf Club to the left and the Billeting Office to the right, coming from the fork of the road.

Farther up from the golf club is the Scout Hill that has more open-air recreation facilities. A baseball field, volleyball court, tennis courts, skating rink, ice cream parlor, snack bar, a mini-golf course and a children's playground.  It is actually a park within the main circumferential road.  Across the roads are beautiful cottages where military personnel are billeted.  Across the volleyball court is an entry leading to the Ambassador's residence.  I believe the location of the residence is where General Yamashita surrendered (or yielded his Samurai) to the U.S. armed forces after World War II (I hope I'm right with this one)
Okay, this one's getting too long - from here I'll to do a Part 2 next time - more on the surroundings of Scout Hill.  (I hope I can also get some old photos of CJH)
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Sunday, April 4, 2010


After three (3) long months, finally PLDT was able to resolve my DSL problems.  It really needed for their technician to come and see what's wrong.  Before coming over he checked with their Makati office.  He said that my "profile" was not updated in their system that's why it would disengage or lose connection with servers.  It seemed to have worked after my profile was updated.  It did not work very long.  The technician was as pissed off as I with the problem so he came over to check my PC internet connection.

At home, he called the Makati office to coordinate and track my connection.  He asked Makati to configure my system.  With that, my internet was able to connect with servers and access websites.  When the tech man tested the speed, he was not impressed.  It was too slow for what for the plan I subscribed to.  Finally he said he was going to replace the modem.  He said the my old modem was taking too long to find and access an IP address.  Besides the old modem is 3 years old and might have some problems.  After replacing it with their latest modem, everything worked well.

The problem could have resolved much earlier if PLDT's 172 agents knew what to look or trace for.  They should have known that we subscribed to PilTel before it was taken over by PLDT.  Being one of the top companies in the Philippines they should be able to train those people very well.

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Party Lists for May 2010 Elections

This is a current issue about the coming elections in the Philippines in May of 2010.  I have heard of the Party Lists and I never thought much about them until I was approached by a close friend whose brother-in-law is running under a party list.  There were other friends that previously ran for a Congressional seat under a party list and only solicited help by word-of-mouth as they were well funded.  In this one, I did a search on the internet about party lists because this was in particular for an indigenous party list.  One that came on top of the search is the Katribu Party List based in the same province I am in.
In the first part of their article "Progressive indigenous party list submits list of nominees, exposes dubious rivals" was an introduction of their nominees.  Immediately below were their suspicions on other indigenous party lists.  Very prominent were suspicions on those running that hold current positions in the government.  They were quick to mention that this is another ploy of the Gloria Arroyo Administration.
One party list they suspect is the "Agapay Indigenous Peoples Rights Alliance (A-IPRA)", where the lead nominee is Eugenio "Kenny" Insigne.  Kenny, who is known to me, rose from the ranks with different administrations.  He is a commissioner of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).  In getting to that position his intention is clear - to help indigenous people.  There are many positions in the National government, and if I were in his place being a lawyer, I would not chose that.
With the outgoing administration, chances are he might not hold that position for long after another takes over.  The only way he sees to continue helping indigenous people is to get elected under the same "field" he is in.  It is with much regret that hard-hitting indigenous party list is doing this to him, when he actually also has his roots in our city and province!  The nominees of that party list obviously have personal interests in running for a seat if they know that Kenny's roots is also in our city.  If they did not know, they should have researched a little and probably invited him to be among the nominees in their list.  In his current government, the position addresses the concern is on a nationwide scope.  The other party list can only truly represent their locality.  Doesn't that look selfish for a party list?
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