Saturday, September 27, 2008

Issue with Commemorative Plates

Last July, I ordered a commemorative plate commemorating the 90th year of Upsilon Sigma Phi.  I shelled out 2,500 pesos and submitted copies of my LTO Certificate of Registration and Official Receipt for 2008.  Weeks later, I received my plate with sticker and contract.  I followed the terms of the contract.  I placed the sticker on my windshield, I kept the contract in the glove compartment and I installed the commemorative plate on top of my regular car plate, to wit:
If you notice, my original car plate is behind or under the commemorative plate.  

Those were the instructions.  Any other interpretation would be stupid and ridiculous.

A few days ago, I was stopped by a Makati Policeman (MAPSA) and he told me bawal daw yung ginawa ko.

Dapat daw nakikita pa rin yung original car plate.  Sa taas daw yung commemorative plate, at sa ibaba yung original car plate, parang ganito:
First of all, walang butas yung commemorative plate ko sa baba para maikabit ng ganyan.  It wasn't designed to installed with the screws on the bottom.

Second, what country in the entire universe requires TWO plates placed in front of a vehicle?  That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard of.  

The very reason I purchased a commemorative plate is to replace my old car plate with it in front.  I don't see the reason why I have to maintain the front car plate if andun pa naman yung isa pang original car plate sa likod.

Third, I paid 2,500 pesos and submitted my registration papers to LTO prior to receiving it.  So, aren't I supposed to be cleared na?  

Eh kung palalagay niyo rin sa akin yung commemorative plate sa tabi ng original car plate, eh di I'm better off 

NOT paying 2,500 pesos, 
NOT sticking the large sticker on my windshield, 
NOT submitting my registration papers,
AND, just make my own custom-made car plate, and place it next to the original car plate.


Ganun din ang labas eh.  Naka-save pa ako ng pera.

I asked the traffic enforcer what law was he enforcing.

He showed me a newspaper clipping with an article that said ganun dapat yung pag-install.

Well, I'm sorry!  a newspaper article is not law.

I told him to show me the LTO regulation.

Wala siya mapakita.

I told him I was a lawyer and insisted that before he formally apprehends, to show me the LTO regulation.

He let me go and just told me to fix it at home.

The hell I will.

Having a commemorative plate in front of a vehicle is a privilege given by the state.

I PAID for that privilege.

If they're going to say I have to place it side by side with my original car plate, which defeats the purpose of why you bought a commemorative plate in the first place, then I want my money back.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Wedding, A Pageant, and A Race

Even if I want to concentrate in preparing for my wedding in Sarrat, I cannot avoid my duties and obligations as Board Member.

After 3 days of delivering the bulk of the Manila invites, I had to travel back to Laoag for a couple of weekend commitments.

The Wedding

On September 20 Ria and I attended the Reyes-Cua Wedding in Sta. Monica Church, Sarrat. Yep, the same venue of our wedding. We wanted to see how a wedding looked like in that church. At the same time, we also wanted to visualize how our wedding would look like. Thank you to Junie and Elaine for inviting us. Congratulations to the both of you!

Ria and I missed the reception in Fort Ilocandia because she had to fly back to Manila and I had to rush to a pageant.

The Pageant

I went to San Nicolas to attend the Ms. Primacare Pageant. I was excited to judge the event. I was expecting girls and a swimsuit competition. After all, it was the MS. PRIMACARE PAGEANT.

Hollee Mollee, it was a cross-dressing pageant!

Now I’ve judged everything. I’ve judged little kids in a pageant. I’ve judged young ladies in a pageant. I’ve judged senior citizens a pageant. And I’ve judged gays in a pageant.

Judging real men dressed as women completes my pageant bucket list.

I thought to myself, ‘I missed a wedding reception for this?’ I wanted to leave.

But that changed when the talent competition came up. My god, I never laughed so much in a long time. This guy, who looked like a government official in drag, stripped within 4 ft away from the judges’ table and shook his booty.

He was wearing a wig, a bra and a g-string.

A 230 pound man in his late 30s.

I couldn’t look at him straight in the eye. I was laughing so loud.

And then there was this other guy whose talent was to draw in a legal size pad for 20 seconds with a pencil, and show his ‘work’ to us at a distance of about 30 feet. I saw a blank white page. THAT was his talent.

Anyway, the pageant lasted until 1am! And there were only 9 contestants. It took us 5 hours to choose a winner. My gulay, daig pa namin ang Miss Universe. Imagine, there they get to select a winner within 2 hours from a pool of 80 contestants. And here we are taking us 5 friggin’ hours to choose one guy winner among 9.

And the guys smelled of liquor pa ha.

The Race

Early Sunday morning I had to wake up to participate in the 32nd Milo Marathon – Ilocos Norte leg. I only had 4 hours of sleep. I was the first Board Member there. Governor Keon came. So did Board Members Barba, Ranada, Galano, Peralta and Castro. But they weren’t in running attire. I thought we would all run, the governor at the very least. But he told me he was out of shape.

Anyway, before the race nag-ribbon cutting kami sa recently renamed President Ferdinand E. Marcos Memorial Stadium and blessing of its new synthetic track oval.

Afterwards, marathon na. Madaming participants. They said there were about 15,000 runners. First to run were the 21K participants. Mostly composed of runners from out-of-town (Baguio, Manila, Iloilo, etc.) Then the 3K runners—children 12 years old and below. Last to run were the 5K participants. Obviously, this is where I ran.

I am not fit. The only training I did for this race was last Wednesday when I walked around the village for about an hour. That’s it. I tried to run, but after one kilometer I was panting already. I had to slow down and brisk walk. But when I saw teenagers wearing jeans and sneakers and carrying knapsacks passing me, I just couldn’t take it. Imagine kids in heavy jeans, flat sneakers and bags beating me? Aba, di naman pwede yan. Kahit ang sakit sakit na ng tiyan ko, sige takbo, kris, takbo.

It took me 41 minutes to complete five kilometers. It was embarrassing.

But at least natapos ko.

And I beat most of the kids in jeans, sneakers and bags.

Now, my body is starting to hurt. Bring out the Alaxan FR.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Delivering Wedding Invites

Hirap talaga mag-wedding.

Ria and I got the invites from Paperflair two weeks ago.  Inayos namin yung invitation list namin, and then last Friday, I started distributing them around the metro.  Paunti-unti lang ng una.  Mga sampu muna.  And then another 10 nung Saturday.

I went to Laoag on Sunday to deliver cement in Bacarra and attend session at the provincial capitol.  I was supposed to stay in Ilocos to deliver more cement in Pasuquin, Piddig and Bacarra, but I had to go back to Manila this week to deliver the invites.

It had to be this week.

Next week would be too late.

So, yesterday, Tuesday, kinareer ko ang pag-distribute.

I drove 25 kms to Congress to deliver invites to my former officemates in IPRS-PSAS.  Then I went to Gateway Mall to meet up with Von Capulong and to have some invites LBCeed since I didn't want to go to Pangasinan, Cebu or Laguna just to deliver them.  

And then I proceeded to Makati.  I parked my car sa Valero Car Park and walked around the Salcedo area delivering the invites to my classmates in law school who were now working in law firms in the Makati CBD.  Ang init, grabe.  At ang sakit-sakit ng paa ko (especially my heels).  Biglang naawa ako sa mga messengers ng mga companies.  Ang hirap din ng trabaho nila.  I can imagine na butas butas na mga medyas nila sa kalalakad.

Anyway, I'm digressing.

After that side of Makati, I walked back to my car and crossed Ayala Ave. to continue delivering the invitations.  Ang init init ng araw at ang sakit sakit ng paa ko.

Pagkatapos pumunta pa akong San Lorenzo Village at Palanan.


All in all, i was able to distribute 42 invites.

Today naman was Manila day.  Nag-distribute ako sa Senate, sa PNB, sa BSP at sa iba pang lugar ng Manila.  Pumunta rin ako ng Dasma at ng Forbes.

Tomorrow is another delivery day.  And then I have to head back to Laoag for Board Member work.  Iba naman poblema ko dun.  Yung logistics at yung reception venue naman kelangan ayusin dun.

Ria and I both can't wait for this wedding thing to be over.  It's so stressful.  

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ferdinand Marcos Day 2009

September 11, 2009 was declared President Ferdinand E. Marcos Day in the Province of Ilocos Norte by Malacanan Palace.

This year, the celebration was held in Batac City, where the late strong man was laid to rest.

Unlike last year, Marcos Day this year was a big celebration.  I don't know why mas bongga this year.  It's not like it's his centennial.  In fact,  it is only his 91st Birth Anniversary.

I only say this kasi ang daming taong pumunta from all over the Philippines.  There were Marcos loyalists from nearby Ilocos provinces, that was expected.  But to have loyalists come from as far away as Metro Manila, Bicol, Leyte and Mindanao, now that's something.

The emcee said there were about 10,000 loyalists.  Personally, I don't know how many 10,000 looks like but there a lot of people.

The Marcos Family (Madame Imelda R. Marcos, Congressman Bongbong Marcos, Governor Michael Marcos Keon, Board Members Angelo Marcos Barba and Nonong Marcos) sat on the stage of the Imelda Cultural Center.  Local government officials, like moi, joined them.

The program started with a parade of floats, marching bands and what not.  The theme for this year was Marcos' Golden Years.  It showcased his achievements while in power for 21 years like the Masagana 99 program, his infrastructure programs, the BLISS projects, National Health Care, and the Barangay System, among others.  

Now I really, really know why they call Ilocos Norte as 'Marcos Country.'  My provincemates really, really love him.  

It was funny to hear the emcees' justification of Marcos' use of authority.  If I was a leftist I would've stood up and clobbered them.

You remember the history lessons we heard in high school and college, about Marcos' atrocities against the people.  During the program, you'd hear nothing of that.  Just Marcos' achievements.  It was very surreal.

If you only listen to this side of the story, you'd really think Ferdinand Marcos was the best president this country ever had.

But don't get me wrong, I do think he was a great leader.  In fact, I initiated efforts to make September 11 a permanent local public holiday here in the province.  Heck, we have Quezon Day, Magsaysay Day, Aguinaldo Day, Aquino Day, why can't the Ilocanos have Marcos Day.

Pero to say he was the BEST president?  Ain't that stretching it too far?

Anyhoo, who am I to question what my provincemates think.  The fact is Ferdinand Marcos was a great ilocano leader.  Period.  I mean to go from Congressman to President in less than 20 years?  That's an achievement in itself.

After the program, Governor Keon spoke.  His speech was in Ilocano and you have to hand it to the guy.  He really tries.  I admire him for that.

Next to speak was Madame Imelda.  Naku when she spoke, the loyalists trooped in front of her and took pictures.

It was so funny because some loyalists posed in front of her to have their pictures taken, WHILE SHE WAS GIVING HER SPEECH.  I found it so amusing.

And then, Congressman Marcos spoke.  He gave a very fiery speech about the Supreme Court not recognizing them as executors of his dad's estate and not allowing them to bury him at the libingan ng bayani.

And then there was a short dance that followed.

And then it was lunch time.  We were all hungry coz it was past 1pm na.

In the afternoon they inaugurated the President Ferdinand E. Marcos Hall in Mariano Marcos State University.

To my kailians, belated Happy Marcos Day, apo! 

Monday, September 08, 2008

Buying japanese bikes in Sto. Domingo, Ilocos Sur

Since I still had bike money from Wheels4Life I decided to purchase a different kind of bike for the remaining would-be recipients.  The recipients in Adams were asking if I could provide bikes that are ladies design or low-step, like the japanese bicycles.

So, I asked around the city where I could purchase those kind of bikes.  I was informed that they sold such a bike in Sto. Domingo, Ilocos Sur.

Last week, I went Sto. Doming, Ilocos Sur, in Poro Island to be exact and I found some houses selling japanese surplus and refurbished bikes.

They came in cheap.  The china-made mountain bikes I procured last month cost 2,600 each (wholesale price; otherwise, it would have cost as much as 2,800 to 3,000).  These bikes cost between 1,800 to 2,500, depending on the paint job, if there's a rack, bell, and/or basket.

Nakabili ako ng 7 bikes.  5 for Wheels4Life recipients in Dumalneg (to be delivered next week), 1 for my aunt Lydia and 1 for me (photo below)

Buti pick-up dala namin.  Pinagkasya namin yung 7.

Madami pang ibang klaseng bike meron nila.  Of course, they have mountain bikes and road bikes.  But they also have foldable bikes and kiddie bikes.

I only told them na dapat surplus talaga mga yun ha.  Di pwede na nakaw.  Umoo naman sila.

Gullible naman ako and I took their word for it.

Anyhoo, I plan on going back to buy more bikes to give away and pati na rin para pang-service sa bahay.

Wedding Gift List with Rustan's Bridal Registry

For the past couple of months, Ria and I scouted for a bridal registry fit for us.  Of all the places we went to, we wanted sa S&R/Price Smart Membership Shopping over at Fort Bonifacio.  Type namin yung mga selections dun.  Pero, walang gift registry ang Price Smart.

We were reluctant to go to Rustan's kasi sobrang high end naman ng mga products nila.  But with just one month to go before the wedding, we had no choice.

Last Saturday, Ria and I trooped over to Rustan's Makati to get ourselves registered (thanks to Ms. Amanda Nable who assisted us).  Afterwards, we went around the department store to fill in our gift list.

Ang mamahal nga.  There were a lot of items we wouldn't buy if we had the money, so why trouble our friends, di ba?

So we chose the most reasonable items (from as low as P395.00).  Although I couldn't help myself in putting in some novelty items (ex: 'Interlocking Butter Baby Corn Picks,' 'The Gripper Jar Opener,' "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" book, etc.)

After more than 2 hours going around Rustan's, we were only able to select 47 products.  Konti, 'no?  That's because may laman na magiging bahay namin ni Ria.  May mga plates na kami, so di na kami nag-lagay ng plato.

For our friends who will choose from our gift list, there's no need to bring the gifts with you to Laoag.  It can be delivered sa family house namin in Makati.

And for our friends na maubusan ng gift items sa Rustan's (or those whose conscience doesn't allow them to buy 'Interlocking Butter Baby Corn Picks') any kind of gift will be highly appreciated.  basta galing sa puso...

Although CASH is good

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Bikes for underprivileged students of Adams courtesy of Wheels 4 Life

Last September 2, I finally pushed through with my bike delivery mission, on behalf of Wheels 4 Life Foundation, to far away Adams town.

First, we loaded 20 mountain bikes on an Elf Truck in Laoag City.  Then we travelled 100 kilometers north of Laoag to Brgy. Pancian, Pagudpud town.

When we got there, we had to transfer the bikes to a dump truck because the Elf won't be able to handle the rough terrain uphill.

Since the climb up was 13.5 kilometers, I made sure all 20 bikes fit in the back of the truck.  I only wanted to make one trip on this delivery.

The road started easy.  A kilometer of rough road just like this.

But then it started getting harder.  This next picture shows a portion of the road affected by a landslide brought about by Typhoon Karen a couple of weeks ago.  We encountered around 5 obstructions like this:

And then there were the streams.  We had to pass through this...
and this.  There were others just like this river/stream along the way.
Finally, we reached our destination.  Adams National High School.  114 kilometers from Laoag City, 602 kilometers from Manila.

When I called up the mayor a few days ago telling him I'd deliver the bikes I told him that we'd just have a simple turn-over ceremony.  I thought we'd call the recipients one by one from their classes, I'd interview them, and then hand over the bicycle.
When I entered the high school, the teachers and students prepared a special program for us.  I don't think they get a lot of visitors in the school.
Here are some students dancing a tribal dance in front of the bikes.  70-80% of Adams residents are members of indigenous tribes.

After the short program, where I told the students that the bikes didn't come from me, but from Wheels 4 Life Foundation, we called on the recipients one by one.  And when we had everyone on stage, we posed for posterity's sake (and for my accomplishment report to the foundation)
All recipients are students of Adams National High School belonging to poor families, and living as far as 13 kilometers away from the school.

Afterwards, we followed the students to their home.
Here is picture with one of the recipients, Zaldy (in white shirt behind bike) in front of his home.  Actually, it's not his.  It's his aunt's.  He and his family just rent a small space inside.  His relatives were in tears when I told them the bike was theirs.

Here I am (in blue) with the school principal, the social welfare officer, Jason (on bike), Dr. Bawingan and the mayor.  Notice the clothes hanging on the right.  The photographer did not notice it while taking this picture.
I visited and inspected the houses of some of the recipients to make sure that they were indigents and really needed the bike.
And they really did.  Adams in a mountain town and it is hilly and most of the roads are unpaved.  The bikes will surely shorten their travel time to school and save them in commuting/transportation costs.
So, on behalf of the beautiful, pristine and rural town of Adams, Ilocos Norte, thank you Wheels 4 Life!  May your tribe increase!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Be careful in making promises

"It is as if Governor Padaca read my mind with regard to making promises.  More often than not, it is the people that put the promises in a public official's mouth, giving him no choice do decline.  I'm relieved to find out that I am not alone in this opinion.  Here is Governor Padaca's article:"


Be careful in making promises 

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 07:01:00 08/25/2008

Upon becoming a governor after years of being a broadcaster—switching from being an observer to being the one observed—one of the first things I learned was why people in government were often accused of making a lot of promises and not keeping them.

One possible reason is the sheer number of people who come to you, needing various things, often seeing you as their last and only hope. In my case, I was the answer that finally came to Isabela, after hearing almost nothing from those who came before me.

We have so many needy people in our country, and when they get the chance to talk to a mayor or governor any place, they will not let the opportunity pass.

One time, a lady who had just received holy communion saw me as she was returning to her seat. With the holy host still in her mouth, she stopped to tell me of a need in their barangay. I told her, “Manang, bumalik ka muna sa upuan mo at tapusin ang iyong dasal.”

Our poor people hang on to every little hope for their big needs. I have learned to be sparing of my gestures and expressions because even the slightest of smiles or a nod or two, as you listen to them, may be taken as approval of their requests, raising their hopes.

With the very limited resources of government, not every clamor can be granted. And even if one is able to grant a hundred requests, there are still a thousand waiting for a “promise” to be fulfilled.

Urgent needs

When the request is not delivered when it is needed (and it is always needed right away!) a promise is once again broken by a politician.

One reason I ran for government office (even if I can hardly walk) was the way many of our people had become constituents of “Barangay Veinte”: Give them P20 and they are fine. Give them free medicines and they are okay even if you do not address the problem of why so many of them are getting sick in the first place. Build them schools and big hospitals, as is SOP. Allow them to sleep, dream and wake up to bet on jueteng three times a day for a little chance to have a better life.

This was the recipe for perpetual poverty.

Having been physically handicapped since I was 3, I have learned that life is not worth living if you are dependent on others. I have learned that despite tremendous limitations, physical or otherwise, no one is ever too inadequate to cope, to adjust and even to shine.

The lessons I have learned, I am now teaching to my apo Isabelinos. I tell them, “Use me as your visual aid.” Perhaps the Lord gave Isabela a governor who is physically weaker than most of her constituents so that, when they see her, they will realize that one can rise above one’s difficulties as long as one chooses to do something about the situation.

I have to tell our people constantly that the battle is not yet over. We may have defeated the dynasty but there are other things we have to fight. We also have to free ourselves from our own wrong attitudes, our misplaced values, our bad habits.

After four years as governor, thankfully I have learned not to say yes mindlessly to the droves of people who come to me for the things they need.

We have devised systems like my weekly People’s Day or Ugnayang Bayan that gives me the chance to listen to them patiently and assess their situation objectively. I explain to them the need to prioritize because of the limited resources of government, especially if they continue to have big families by failing to practice responsible parenthood.

More importantly, I always remind them, challenge them: Mas masarap tulungan ang mga taong marunong tumulong sa kanilang mga sarili.

I know that our poor people, including the jueteng kobrador (collector) and illegal logging bogador (laborers), know how to help themselves. But what they are doing to support their families is not easy.

It is the duty of leaders to direct their energies, their devotion to their families and all their sacrifices towards what is right, sustainable and dignified.

Those of us in government should learn to be careful in making promises and deciding what to keep. We should also remember that there is, in every Filipino, the promise of becoming an honorable, self-reliant citizen if given the chance, as well as the respect, he/she deserves.

(Grace Padaca has been the governor of Isabela since 2004 when she won over a long-entrenched dynasty under the battle cry “Free Isabela.” She will receive the 2008 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service on Aug. 31 for empowering voters to reclaim their democratic right to elect leaders of their own choosing. Other recipients of the 2008 Magsaysay award are the RP-based Center for Agriculture and Rural Development Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD MRI) and Thailand’s Therdchai Jivacate for public service; Prakash Amte and Mandakini Amte of India for community leadership; Ahmad Syafii Maarif of Indonesia for peace and international understanding; Akio Ishii of Japan for journalism, literature, and creative communication arts; and Ananda Galapatti of Sri Lanka for emergent leadership.)

There are limits to charity

There are limits to charity, says Randy David

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:39:00 09/02/2008

MANILA, Philippines—University of the Philippines Prof. Randy David expressed sadness over the death of Mang Pandoy (real name: Felipe Natanio), saying that the gardener was a victim of the dysfunctional structure of opportunity in the country.

“There are limits to charity … They (the poor) will have to learn to help themselves,” David told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a phone interview, stressing that charity cannot solve poverty until the “entire structure of opportunity” is improved.

He said there was a tendency to ignore the structure and just focus on personal charity.

Mang Pandoy, David said, was made a “mascot” of the Ramos administration but he was given a regular income after he was appointed consultant on the poor and given a regular co-hosting stint in a television program.

The government, he said, tried to take care of Mang Pandoy but “there are limits to charity.”

Mang Pandoy was also given livelihood projects, including a hog-raising package, and scholarship grants for his children but they all failed.

“He had ended up expecting the government to help him all the time. But help was not always there,” David pointed out.

He said the moment assistance stopped, Mang Pandoy and members of his family were lost.

“I feel very bad about it but what can we do?” David said, explaining that in improving the structure of opportunity, the entire community instead of just one family must be targeted for investment and not doles.

David recalled that he first met Mang Pandoy in 1991 when he was selling vegetables to members of the faculty at the UP campus in Diliman, Quezon City.

“I was so impressed by his industry. He was always smiling. He was never oppressed by poverty,” David said, adding that it was the reason that he invited Mang Pandoy to be a guest at his public affairs program on Channel 13.

The witty and engaging Mang Pandoy shared his everyday “menu” for stretching the peso.

“Everybody was impressed by his practicality. Despite his poverty, he never lost hope,” the columnist said.

But several months after the program, David learned that Mang Pandoy was ill from an allergic reaction to pesticides and fertilizer and he could no longer raise vegetables to feed his family.

He helped Mang Pandoy as best he could.

In 1992, David interviewed Mang Pandoy as a case study of poverty because he wanted the problem to be the central issue in the presidential debate.

“He (Mang Pandoy) was pessimistic already due to his inability to feed his family,” David said, pointing out that the extent of his depression reached the point where Mang Pandoy offered to get himself killed if his family would be paid P100,000 for his life.

“That interview with him was aired. It became the focus of the presidential debate. Everybody forgot what the presidential candidates said and all offered to help alleviate Mang Pandoy’s family,” David said.

Face of poverty

“Mang Pandoy gave Filipino poverty its face. Many were made aware of the seriousness of poverty. The spontaneous reaction of the people was to provide assistance,” David said. Life eased up for the Natanio family then.

In the succeeding years, Mang Pandoy and his family were New Year’s Day guests at the David home until five years ago when they stopped coming.

“I thought he had gone off to live in the province. I never knew he was still in Metro Manila. It is only now that I found out,” David said.

Although the Natanio children knew his telephone number and where he lived, they never made any attempt to reach him, he said.

Nevertheless, David said nobody should be blamed for what happened to Mang Pandoy. “We cannot even blame Mang Pandoy because he was a victim of the dysfunctional structure.” Jeanette I. Andrade