Wednesday, August 22, 2007

8th Session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan

Today, I will talk about what goes on during a session day at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Ilocos Norte.

It is August 21, Tuesday. Our regular session day is Monday. But since, there was no work yesterday, being a holiday, we moved it to the next working day.

I went to the office this morning. I finalized a resolution about the provincial library. We had funds for a new library, but it wasnt enough. So, we were going to solicit for more. It was certified as urgent by the Governor.

A friend visited me asking for a job recommendation. I made one.

This afternoon, I finalized a committee report on an ordinance passed by the sangguniang bayan of Pagudpud. It was a tax ordinance that was vetoed by the Mayor for non-satisfaction of the public hearing requirement, which was overridden by the council. Our committee found that the council did not muster enough votes (2/3 of all members) to override the veto, so we recommended the ordinance's disapproval.

There were a couple of people who visited me in the office. One was a barangay captain asking for 100 bags of cement. Another was a lady who is sick with breast cancer and she was asking for financial assistance. I told the captain to wait since my Barangay Dev't Fund hasn't been released yet. I prepared an endorsement to the PCSO for financial assistance for the sick lady. Kawawa naman siya.

I walked to the Capitol at 2:30. Some reporters interviewed me regarding that particular pagudpud ordinance. At 2:45 the vice-governor called the session to order. The pambansang awit was sung. And then the prayer.... I was assigned to lead the prayer this week. Ehehehe, para maiba naman, instead of reading a prayer, I sang one. I sang The Prayer of Generosity, as arranged by Bukas Palad. I practiced early this morning so I thought I was fine. When it came to the actual thing, I was so nervous. And it was obvious when I was singing. Anyway, that was done. We next sang the provincial hymn. I am still in the process of memorizing it.

Since my ordinance was urgent, we tackled it in the floor. I gave my privilege speech. I said it was a simple resolution. We already appropriated 11 million for it. we need more. I didn't want to get it from the provincial budget. So we'll ask from outside. after my speech, I was interpellated by some board members. I defended the resolution and after half an hour had it approved by the body.

Afterwards, we tackled ordinances of the different towns and cities. No ordinance from Laoag, my district,

Later on, I presented my Committee Report. I explained the facts behind the ordinance and gave the committee's recommendation. disapproval. It was approved by the body.

Then we discussed other matters.

We adjourned at 6:30pm.

And that's a day in the work life of a Bokal.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


My friend Chester told me about SICKO when we talked in LV. I've watched other movies by Michael Moore, such as Bowling for Columbine and the more famous Fahrenheit 9/11, and I've read his books, like Dude, Where's My Country. I was intrigued so I found myself a copy of this film.
Like every Moore docu, it is a very in-your-face, no-holds-barred report. This time about the Health Care System (or Industry) of the United States.
Even if you get paid in Dollars there, and they say it is the land of promise and new beginnings, mahirap din mabuhay dun. Akala natin ang sarap sarap ng buhay nila dun, hindi rin pala ganun kaganda.
Kaya pala umuuwi dito ang mga ibang fil-am for their medical needs, its more affordable here. Not so much because of the exchange rate, but more of the really, really high cost of medication in the US.
Moore starts his critique with those not covered by medicare. One guy cut his fingers while sawing. The hospital told him that it would cost him 60,000 to re-attach his middle finger and 12,000 for his ring finger. The guy chose the more "affordable" ring finger. Kahit na no, 12,000 pa rin yun. Kotse na yun ah.
By this time, you would assume that people covered by medicare are in a better postion. Not so, says Moore. He interviewed a lot of individuals, and they all said that HMOs would do almost anything to try to get out of paying insurance. They will try to find something in your documents that would show that you did not disclose a certain condition which affects your application. If there is a "pre-existing medical condition" that you did not disclose, patay ka. There was this lady who was already operated. Tapos na ha, bayad na lang. Her HMO "discovered" that she had a yeast infection many many years ago that she did not disclose. Ayun, hindi siya kinoveran.
And to think wala akong medical insurance when i was there. Panu kung naaksidente pala ako dun, eh di milyon-milyon na ang gastos ko.
I remember tuloy the time when my lola was on vacation there and she fell sa bathtub and had to be rushed to the hospital. Since she was not covered by any HMO (since tourist lang naman siya) the ambulance ride cost us 3,000!
And then Michael Moore takes a look at other countries medicare.
Ang ganda pala ng National Health Service ng UK. LIBRE! Socialized kasi (its sourced from taxes). Walang HMO.
Pag nagkasakit ka, libre ang stay, medicine at doctor mo. When Moore asked the patients how much they were paying for the medical attention, tinawanan lang siya. Naghanap siya ng Cashier to prove na may binabayaran sa ospital. When he found one, it turned out that it was the Cashier that paid the patients!
It was the hospital paying the patients for transportation! They pay for your cab ride home!
Sa pharmacies naman nila, iisa lang ang presyo ng gamot. 6.65 pounds. For everything! from the most basic over-over-the-counter tablet to the very expensive capsule, 6.65 for a set!
At pag-tourist ka? LIBRE din pag naaksidente ka!
Iba naman ang pakana ng France. There was this guy who had just returned from the US after 13 years, and therefore had not paid a single cent of tax to the French government. He checked-in a hospital. They diagnosed him, cured him, and after that allowed him to "recuperate" by going on vacation for 3 months...and get this, WITH PAY! The employer pays him 35% while the government shoulder 65%!
Ganun din sa Canada!
At mas-okay pa ang medicare ng mga prisoners sa Guatanamo Bay, Cuba!
Yung breathspray na ginagamit ng isang lady sa US cost her $215. When she went to Cuba, it cost only 5 cents.
WHOA! What's up, Uncle Sam?!
When Hilary Clinton tried to support a move for nationalized healthcare, the HMOs lobbied fiercely against it. They said it was a step towards socialism, only a few inches away from communism. Natalo si Hilary, and that was that.
I'm NEITHER a socialist NOR a communist, but I think, like education, healthcare should be for all.
BESIDES, France, the European bastion of democracy (liberte!), has universal healthcare.
The United Kingdom, the inventor of the Parliament, also has universal healthcare.
So it should be a non-issue with regard to democracy.
Those of you who have the opportunity to watch the film, I say, watch it. It is very educational and an eye-opener.
As for the Philippines case, although we are decades away from universal healthcare, I think we are in a much better position than our relatives in the US. Comparably, healthcare is more accessible here than it is there in the States.
Moral of the story?
We should not always follow in the footsteps of America. We should veer away from HMOs taking over our healthcare. We should take the path to UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Beyond the Call

I caught this film during the Cinemanila Festival last weekend. It is a nice documentary about 3 ordinary Americans who try to make a difference, all on their own. No government or big organization to back them up. Just their own resources.

One of the places they've been to was Basilan. They gave medical aid and supplies.

Incidentally, one of the good samaritans is my dad's friend. Nagkakilala sila sa Vietnam, when my dad was with the special forces and the guy was an air medic.

It is a very inspiring movie. It makes you feel that as long as you have the will, you can find a way. You don't need to be in the U.N. You don't have to be working for the World Bank. You don't need to be Bill Gates or Oprah Winfrey. If you want to help your fellow men, you can do it by yourself.

visit the movie's website at

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Random thoughts and pictures from my recent U.S. trip

Well, I am back in the P.I. after a two week visit in the States. I have a lot of catching up to do in terms of work in the S.P. and with my Miriam class. There are resolutions and ordinances to review, there is the allocation of my B.D.F., and the preparation of my class' midterms.

But before I continue with my life, I would like to pause, reflect and look back on probably my last trip to the U.S. for a long, long time.

Here are some random thoughts:

- Before passing through the security check in any U.S. airport, remove your laptop from its bag. Otherwise, the TSA (Transportation Security Authority) Officer will pull you out from the line and conduct a scrutinous inspection of your laptop. I experienced this when I departed Oakland airport.

- When renting a car, even if you prefer a mid-size or full-size sedan, choose a sub-compact. Usually, the rentacar companies will upgrade you to a full-size one at a sub-compact price. Neat, huh?

- To maintain communication with your friends and relatives, you don't need to spend lots of money using your Globe or Smart celphone. Go over to a Walmart and purchase a very reasonable disposable GoPhone for as low as $20 (with $10 load already).

- If you intend to drive in the U.S., make sure your Philippine Driver's License is still readable (i.e. your picture is clear and your number visible). My friend Barnett was not allowed to drive by the rentacar company when his face and number could not be read by the agent (dumikit kasi sa plastic cover yung tinta ng card. Cheapo talaga ng LTO).

Throughout my trip, I met a lot of friends and relatives. here are some pictures:

That's with my brother-in-law, Dr. Kitz Delusong, in San Francisco. He is studying there to enhance his specialization.

This is with my nephew CJ and travel buddy Barnett onboard the kiddie rollercoaster (it was the only ride the two would agree to ride with me) named Psycho Mouse in Great America theme park.

This is me taking down the number of an M-to-M chatline ad kuno. I saw this ad in SFO's Castro Valley. If you're wondering why I was there in the first place, well, my niece's friend, Xye, took me there for delicious pizza. Masarap nga. I would have enjoyed the pie better if not for the vivid PDA of the gay couple in front of me.

This is with my nanay Carmelite, at the Oakland Airport, before I flew JetBlue to Long Beach. She is currently a caregiver in Union City.

Eto naman, kasama ko si Lainie, high school friend ni Ria. I met her in Burbank. She was responsible for the Jay Leno tickets. Thanks Lainie and connections!

I visited my late lola's former driver, Mang Andy Manrique, in San Diego, where he currenlty lives with his family. They are originally from Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte.

With my niece Nicole in a casino in Henderson. I played 1 cent slot machine.

In front of The Venetian Hotel with my high school classmate, Ryan, in the Las Vegas strip.

Finally, Ked and I (the best men) and Earl (the groom) in the middle. Wynn Hotel, Las Vegas.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Earl and Che Nuptials

(Kris, Earl and Che)
Just a few hours ago, Earl and Cheryl tied the not. I am especially happy for them because both are my friends. Earl was my best bud in high school, while Che was my blockmate in college.

Their wedding was the primary reason for me going to the States. Honestly, I would have thought twice about going here, upon receiving the invite. But I could not refuse, when Earl told Ked and I that we were his Bestmen. We just couldn't. Earl was our partner in crime in high school. We had to attend his wedding!

The ceremony was at a five-star hotel in Las Vegas. It was an intimate ceremony. There were two professional photographers. No video cams in sight. I was told that there was going to be a dvd of the sedding, so i figured the cameras were hidden within the salon. I did notice two dark mirrors near the altar. Dun siguro yung camera. Earl, Che and the pastor had wireless mics in their person, although room-level lang naman yung boses nila. Siguro para sa dvd uli yun.

Ked's partner was Sam, Earl's younger sister. My partner was Jane, Che's best friend. Jane and I stood next to the couple the whole ceremony. My only role was to hand over to Earl the wedding rings. Yun lang trabaho ko but my hands were cold and sweaty the whole time.

The service was short and sweet. No mass. Just a pastor discussing love and marriage. Earl and Che made their own vows. I gave the rings. They kissed. And then that was that. They were married! Congratulations!

The reception was at a nearby posh restaurant. Masarap yung dinner. Open bar. I tried out this cocktail called Mojito. Masarap. Para siyang sprite na may mint.

After the first course, Ked and I stood up. We gave a toast to the newlyweds. Kampai!

We continued with dinner. Had photo-ops with the bride and groom. Kwentuhan ng kaunti. And that was that. Tapos na mission ko dito sa Amerika. Uwi na ako.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Baka mawala ka pag may sunog kaya basahin mo ng mabuti

A sign I saw at the Long Beach Airport. The evacuation plan was so complex, I just had to study it real well and take a picture of it.

My Best Friend's Wedding

I’m here in the US to attend the wedding of my best friend, Earl. Incidentally, he is getting married to my college blockmate, Cheryl. Both of them are now based in California. The ceremony, however, will be here in Las Vegas.

Ilan din kami na schoolmates ni Earl ang dadalo sa wedding niya. There’s Barnett and Ked, who I traveled with from Manila last week. There’s Ryan, who will be coming from Los Angeles, and Chester, who will be flying in from New York. Another barkada friend of ours, Kendrick, flew to NYC from Manila last week and will be flying in with Chester this Friday. Larry, our batchmate from Ateneo, will also arrive from Canada this week.

Masmadami siguro ang pupunta kung hindi lang sa mahal ang ticket at sa busy schedules. Among those invited, but who will be missing the wedding are Jamieson and Mike. Jamieson is busy with work and Mike has his family. Ria was also invited, but she maxed out her leave credits during the campaign. I would have second thoughts of coming over also, since I just started my job as Board Member, but I’m Best Man.

I’m happy to be here, nonetheless. It’s the first wedding I’m attending abroad kasi. In fact, I was so excited to wear a tux. Pero of all weddings, Earl wanted it Filipiniana. So I’m wearing a barong tagalog in LV.

This Friday will be the Bachelor’s Party. I will be arranging a 7-course sit-down dinner at the Bellagio, followed by coffee and dessert at the Venetian, and cap it off with Phantom of the Opera…NOT!

Joking aside, I wish Earl and Che all the best and I hope they have a long-lasting relationship.

To Earl and Che!