Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Another Day, Another Revelation

During a public hearing this morning, I found out that some people are taking advantage of an old provincial government imposition to the detriment of the capitol.

The rent at the Ilocano Heroes Hall.

This is a government building owned and operated by the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte. It is a 4 storey structure housing offices of government agencies, cooperatives and other businesses. DOT, COMELEC, Bureau of Treasury, INEC, DILG, NCIP are a few of the government offices leasing office space there.

The rent is low. In the 1st floor, rent is at PhP100/sq.m. In the 2nd floor, it is at Php75/sq.m. Maliit lang. Pero okay lang to. This is not the controversy.

In the middle, there is an auditorium. Imagine the Atrium building in Makati. Those corp lawyers based in Makati would know this since andun yung BIR. Anyway, parang ganun yung design sa building namin dito sa Laoag.

Now we rent out that space. For concerts, graduations and other programs. We charge them mga PhP1,500/day. Mura to considering its around 800 sq.m.

In the old revenue code, we allow its use for commercial purposes. and we charge just PhP3,000/day. That's PhP3.75/sq.m.

You know how people take advantage?

They rent it out at 3,000. Then they organize a tiangge wherein they could fit around 100 concessionaires. And they charge them PhP500/day.

PhP500 x 100 = PhP50,000!

They make a 47,000 profit per day!

And they rent out the auditorium for one month. So they earn a gross of 1.5 Million.

The province gets a measly 90,000.

yung 3,000/day na yun, kasama na yung electricity at paggamit nila ng restrooms ha.

SOBRANG LUGI ng Capitol.

HINDI NA TO PWEDE. Not on my watch.

I proposed to change the rate. instead of flat out 3,000/day for the whole 800 sq. m., I am suggesting we impose a rental of 100/sq.m. So, a 2x2 stall would pay 400 a day to the capitol.

PhP400 x 100 locators = PhP40,000 TO THE CAPITOL!

The Tiangge organizer can still make a profit. sa 500 na fee niya, minus 400 that goes to us, may 100 pa siya.

PhP100 x 100 locators = PhP10,000 to the organizer per day. Okay na yun, no!

Anyhoo, the important thing is that the Capitol earns income. This way we can provide better services to the general public.

That's why yung mga assets namin, dapat kumita. hindi malugi.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Exit Plan

Last Saturday, I accompanied Ria to the birthday celebration of her officemate, Reyna, in Paranaque. The usual thing, kainan, kwentuhan and magic sing. After about two hours, Ria and I asked to be excused and said our good byes.

Yesterday, Ria told me that Reyna and her family were amused with our exit because I seemed to be an expert on it. I ate, did a little chit-chat, sang a song, greeted the birthday celebrant and said good bye, all in one single motion. Bihasang bihasa na daw ako sa pagiging politiko.


Not really.

This exit plan of mine can be traced back way before I became bokal. In 2001 to be exact. Right after I was initiated in Upsilon. You see, the junior brods are the workhorses of the fraternity. They are the ones ordered by the senior brods to do this, do that. They are also expected to attend all the functions and activities of the frat. And if you attend, the juniors should be the last to leave the venue.

This is where my 'exit' was born. Since the activities lasted until the wee hours of the morning, and I had work in Congress at 8am the next day, I really couldn't stay til the end. What I'd do is show myself to the Most Illustrious Fellow (MIF)and to the Officers; engage in a little chitchat with them; and 'participate' a little in the discussion or activity. Then when the time was right (meaning, immediately after the main activity), I would sneek up to the MIF to apologize about leaving. Valid naman yung reason ko kasi I was a working student.

And the exit plan came into being.

As the years went by, the exit plan evolved. For instance, when I became a senior brod, I would just do a 'french' exit. I actually don't know the etymology of the term, but it's whey you just slip out of the function. I would only whisper good bye to the brod next to me, pretend I'd go to the CR or get something from the car, then leave.

When I became bokal, I adopted this practice. I'm sure all of you know programs and fiestas in the province reach til as late as 2 or 3 in the morning. They are soooo long. And if you want to make good use of the morning the next day, you'd really have to slip out in the middle of the program. I stay until after I give my speech. In fact, I have already incorporated in my speech the part where I say I have to leave right after. Nagpapaalam naman ako ng mabuti.

Kaya siguro nung birthday party ni Reyna, nakapaggreet ako ng happy birthday at nakapagpaalam na ako at the same time while singing Journey's Without You. Na-perfect ko na ang exit strategy ko.

The exit plan. bow,

Monday, January 21, 2008

Overkill naman tong sina Papa Piolo at Sam

Ria and I were channel surfing the other day and we stopped on the live telecast of The Buzz. One of the 'Exclusibong Exclusibo' of Manay Boy Abunda was the court hearing of Piolo and Sam's case against Tita Lolit Solis over this gay holding hands thing.

The report said that the couple... er... I mean the pair... uhm... what I was thinking was the two brought with them an entourage of 14 witnesses.


Overkill naman yan. Every lawyer knows you can't examine 14 witnesses in one hearing. Minsan nga di makabuo ng 1. Half a witness nga lang eh. Isang direct examination, tapos next hearing na yung cross.

Show of Force na eklavu.

Mga artista talaga... dapat palaging bongga ang entrada.

So let me get this straight, Kapumilya...

Let me get my facts straight:

ABS comes out with fantastic ads declaring them No. 1 according to AC Nielsen (NIELSEN). This goes on for several years.

Meanwhile, as early as 2002, GMA filed a case against ABS for manipulating the survey results by influencing the respondents (visiting their homes, etc.)

2002, mind you.

Then came 2007, and this case went public. How it became public, I'm not sure. The only I remember is that ABS starts coming out with announcements (on TV) lambasting GMA. This time, ABS is the one accusing GMA of tampering with the NIELSEN survey.

Now instead of settling this quietly, or at least in court, these two media giants go after each other on the air wave like there's no tomorrow.

ABS comes out with station announcements. So does GMA.

ABS reports it on its evening news. GMA will do the same.

ABS fires back on radio. Dido GMA.

ABS prints its clarification on the major dailies. GMA defends itself also in print.

This is getting silly, guys. It's embarassing. Really.

Whatever happened to Journalism Etiquette. Are ethics in media dead?

I mean, if you have something against another journalist take it up to court. Or go for arbitration or mediation or something.

Don't abuse the privilege given to you and attack your adversary on the tv and radio. Its ungentlemanly behavior.

Now, the latest thing I heard was Kapuso would like to deal with this matter in court (like I said, a case was filed as early as 2002) and would like to avoid trading barbs on air. The only thing is, they will continue to defend via tv and radio as long as Kapamilya attacks them via tv and radio.

So, I guess the ball's with Kapamilya.

Please, guys, stop what you're doing. yes, you're media giants, but that doesn't give you license to use media to exploit an issue.

Settle this in Court. Just outside our view.

'coz frankly, we're not interested

Friday, January 18, 2008

unintentional discovery

And yet again, without me doing any intentional investigation, I stumbled into another 'irregular' practice in government.

(I am purposely being vague right now to protect myself from any possible incrimination in the future.)

Anyhoo, I was just being myself when I asked about 'it' on the floor, during session. Nobody knew the answer, so I reserved to raise it the next time.

So, two days before the next session, I called up the office of the Chair of the committee in charge and advised them to do their research because I was going to bring up the issue on the coming monday.

In less than 30 minutes I got a phone call from a high-ranking local official asking me if I could not raise the subject during session because it is his (or her) project.


I was speechless. I didn't know I was stepping on someone's foot. I was just being myself. Friends in highschool, college and law school would attest to the fact that I am simply an inquisitive person (except that time when Atty. Leonen told me to count to 5 before raising my hand).

Anyway, come monday time, out of respect of my manong (or manang), I kept quiet. I didn't want to ruffle any feathers at this point of my term, especially since there have been many unresolved killings in the province. I didn't want to be number __.

My question is, why does every activity or project here have to be connected to a public official. I can't launch an investigation or inquiry without me being called by Mr. so-and-so to slow down or to turn away. It's ridiculous.

And wala silang pinapalampasan. Every possible thing na pwede pagkakitaan, pagkakakitaan nila.

It's true, maliit nga sweldo naming mga public officials, but that doesn't give us the license to make a quick buck at the expense of the tax-paying public. If you want to get rich, go back to the private sector or work abroad.

Which is what I am planning to do after my 3 year term. Give up na kasi ako na mababawi ko pa yung ginastos ko nung election eh. Di ako makaipon-ipon dito.

Para makapundar for my family, I would have to transfer back to the private sector. Then, pag-yumaman na ako, I could probably go back to public service.

Meanwhile, hinay-hinay muna ako sa SP. Kahit kasi di ko sinasadya nadadapa ako sa mga anomalya sa gobyerno.

Friday, January 04, 2008

LM Boys at Texas Roadhouse

We graduated from college March of 2000. It has almost been 8 years. Wow! How fast time flies.

Here we are in Texas Roadhouse restaurant in Bonifacio High Street for our annual get-together. Clockwise from top-left:

Von works for, a job-marketing company, and is at the same time into other business ventures.

Allan is taking his LLM studies in Beijing, China, and is on-leave from Sycip Law Firm.

Jove is a Court Attorney at the Office of Supreme Court Justice Conchita Nazario.

Kris is a Provincial Board Member of Ilocos Norte.

Abel is a Senior Associate of the Britanico, Sarmiento and Franco Law Offices.

We've come a long way.


It's nice to see my batchmates, once in a while. They were good friends then. And they're good friends now.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Star City's Snow World

Last January 1, Ria and I both wanted to do something special, it being the 1st day of the year. We decided to go to Star City and check out the SNOW WORLD attraction.

Big mistake. I'm not sure if it was because it was New Year, but there were a lot of people. And I mean A LOT. Pagdating namin sa may Snow World, we saw a long line. So, we traced it. My gulay, ang haba. Umabot ng Little Mermaid Ride (which was very far) at nag-Snake pa. If I had anything better to do, I would have told Ria to come at another time. But I had nothing else to do. Besides, we met up with my nieces and grandniece,and they were there. So, naki-pila kami. We were there at 9pm. We got to the front at 11pm. TWO HOURS of waiting in line! The longest wait ever!

I was preparing to be dissappointed. I told myself, this must be a crappy attraction. I was even thinking of not wearing the provided jackets 'coz I thought I could take the temperature. Sabi ko pa nga sa sarili ko, 'di siguro ganun kalamig, baka parang aircon lang.'

Buti na lang sinuot ko. Malamig nga.

The sign said negative 15 degrees.

ganun nga. Dahil nangatog buto ko sa lamig.

Once in, the first thing you'd see are the ice sculptures. Now there's a big sign that says, 'NO CAMERA IS ALLOWED.' So I didn't use my Cybershot. But I still took pictures. The Hell, I waited 2 hours in line and I can't even take a picture?! Are you kidding me?

So of snap away I did, with my K750i. 2 megapixel lang, pero that's better than memories. I took pictures of my nieces and grandneices. They took shots of us.

As you proceed you will see a slide. So, siyempre, para sulit yung 100, trinay namin. Keep your hands to yourself, otherwise, maputol daliri mo sa ice.

Later, nag-picture uli kami sa tapat ng Christmas Tree at igloo. Nag-snow ng malakas kaya di kita grandniece ko sa igloo. Sayang.

I've only seen fallen snow (in Reno and Lake Tahoe), so I'm not sure if the 'snow' that fell was really what it'd look like. Pero parang grated ice lang yun eh.

Anyhoo, I wanted to stay longer, para sulit yung inintay ko na 2 hours, pero baka mag-frostbite na si little Miah, so we left after 10 minutes.

So is it worth it? If you'd like to experience extreme cold and see falling grated ice, why not?

Sulit yun sa 100 pesos. If you do decide to go, do so in the early afternoon.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

I am boycotting MMFF 2007

Every Christmas season, for the past 8 years or so, I make it a point to watch at least 1 entry of the Metro Manila Film Festival. I think it started with watching Jose Rizal, which starred Cesar Montano, in 1998. It was the first pinoy film that I thought was up to par with Hollywood movies. And then in 1999, Star Cinema came out with Muro Ami, another thought provoking film. Tapos Deathrow in 2000. Fantastic performances from Eddie Garcia and Cogie Domingo. Montano came back in 2001 with Bagong Buwan. In 2002, I watched Dekada '70 and Mano Po. In 2003, I remember watching Crying Ladies and Mano Po 2. In 2004 naman, I watched Mano Po 3 and Aishite Imasu 1941. In 2005, pinanuod ko yung Pinoy/Blonde. Then in 2006, I caught Blue Moon, Kasal Kasali Kasalo and Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah. These were pretty much good films.

Granted, not all MMFF entries are worth the watch (i.e. Lastikman, Pedro Penduko, Agimat, Enteng Kabisote, you get my drift), AT LEAST may isa na maganda every year.

Not this year. Ni isa wala.

That's why I'm sitting it out.

Di ko feel ang Bahay Kubo (a pinoy mano po). Can we please stop referring to Mano Po. I mean, you're beating a dead horse, man.

And then there's Enteng Kabisote 4. I watched one film of this series, and after hearing Alice Dixon's "...taga-lupa, Hmmmm!!!" for the 8th time within the first 10 minutes, I knew it was a crappy movie. I swore never to watch Enteng again. I can't believe this is a yearly top-grosser.

Katas ng Saudi? Jinggoy Estrada. I rest my case.

Sakal Sakali Saklolo. Ria and I didn't like the storyline of the first Ryan-JudyAnn team last year, so di kami naganahan panuodin to this year.

Shake Rattle and Roll 9. Is it just me or do most films this year rehash old formulas. SRR Part 9? C'mon, guys, talo niyo pa yung Friday the 13th franchise. A man-eating Christmas tree? Are you serious?

Finally, there's Resiklo. Was really tempted to watch this movie because of the teaser ads and Sen. Revilla's declaration that all stops were made to make this movie win the best visual effects category, but I remembered he said the same thing 3 years ago with Exodus and that was a dud. So, it's a no.

And then there was none.

I must say, I was really dissappointed with this year's entries. Wala man lang nag-tackle ng current events or history. sigh. How can we revive an industry that does not want catch up with the times. I mean, movie-goers are a lot more discerning now. We want quality films.

I guess, iintayin ko na lang si Will Smith at si Nicolas Cage.

Til next year!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Thank you 2007! Hello 2008!

2007 was a very fruitful year for me, my family and my loved ones. It was the year when Ria passed the bar. My father won as congressman. I got a seat in the provincial board. And Ria and I finally got engaged (after 7 years!).

Had a lot of blessings, and I am truly grateful for them. Maraming salamat, Lord.

Now for the semi-serious stuff. 2008. As a citizen and resident of this great archipelago, here is my short wishlist for the Philippines:

1. I hope that all of us elected officials look at ourselves in the mirror and come to realize that we are not princes or princesses, lords or dames, dukes or duchesses, to be worshiped by our constituents, but PUBLIC SERVANTS who work for the people. And as a start, we should all drop the title, HON., and stick with plain and simple, MR. or MS. Do you know we're the only ones who put a premium on being elected into office? For goodness sake, after the elections, we're all just employees, man! Pare-pareho lang tayong nagtatrabaho.

I really think one of the several causes of corruption stems out of the wrong belief that public officials are 'higher' than the common tao. Kasi pag-tingin mo talaga na royalty ka, feeling mo kelangan mayaman ka din. Well, something like that. Mahirap i-explain in a few words, but I hope you get my drift.

2. I hope that all of us criticize government only if we truly believe we are DOING OUR PART to uplift the country. Pay our taxes. Follow Traffic rules. Don't be hypocrites, man! Read "12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do To Help Our Country" by Alexander Lacson, and start following them.

Hindi lang kasi parati na lang si Gloria ang may kasalanan ng lahat ng poblema natin. Hindi parati ang kongreso, o ang mayor o ang gobyerno ang puno't dulo ng krisis. NASA ATIN din kasi.

Blame those responsible, yes. But do your part as well.

I can only echo what JFK said over 40 years ago: "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."

3. Finally, I hope that the Church stops meddling with politics, since there is suppose to be a separation between Church and State.

For example, if they don't favor contraceptives, fine. Tell that to your followers. Preach that during Sundays. No problem. If because of that, all catholics don't use condoms, well, then good. But don't interfere when government chooses to have a reproductive health program. Don't blackmail our policymakers by threatening them on election day, they're just their jobs. If it conflicts with Church teachings, blackmail is not the proper solution. Be more aggressive in your sermons during mass.

Madami pa akong ibang wishes for the country pero I need to go to another pakain. As you know, Christmas celebration in the Philippines doesn't end until the Feast of the Three Kings.

Happy New Year everybody!