Monday, March 31, 2008

A Project of...

Whenever I drive around Metro Manila and other provinces (including Ilocos), I can't help but notice the different projects of the President, Vice-President, Senators, Congressmen, Governors, Vice-Governors, Board Members, Mayors, Vice-Mayors, Councilors and even Barangay Captains kasi naka-paskil mga mukha at pangalan nila eh.  More often than not ang nakalagay ay, "A Project of so-and-so."

I hate to say it, but I was also guilty of this.  I did this sa first tent na binigay ko.  It read, "A Project of the Office of Kristian R. Ablan and the San Mateo - Lataag Tricycle Operators and Drivers Association."

This got me thinking, sa akin ba talaga nanggaling yung project? 

Hindi eh.  

It's not MY money.  It's actually the people's money.  It's taxpayer's money.  So who am I to say na it's MY project.  Siguro, I'm responsible for facilitating and channeling the funds, but that doesn't still make it MY project.  It's still the people's project.

And if ever someone should be credited for the project, I think it should be the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, kasi kami collectively and nag-appropriate ng development fund.  Hindi pa rin ako.

So, my new policy is to recognize those who parted with their hard-earned money so that government could effectively deliver basic services and serve the general public -- the taxpayers.

And that is why, in my most recent BDF project, when I delivered cement and GI Sheets at CABEZA Elementary School and I had a photo taken for records purposes, we held a banner reading, "A Project of the Hardworking Taxpayers of Laoag City."

Because, ultimately, it is THEIR project.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Local Legislation 101

At the start of my term as Provincial Board Member, I submitted proposed measures under my name.  Siyempre ako yung nag-isip, nag-research, nag-type at nag-submit. So, sarili ko yung nilagay ko as Sponsor.  Ang ilalagay ko sa title, 'Sponsored by BM Kristian Ablan.'

Pero nagtaka ako nung hindi gumagalaw sa committee yung mga draft ordinances ko, habang yung iba naman gumagalaw.

And then I noticed that the proposals that were moving were the ones wherein the sponsors included the 'real' sponsor, the committee it would most probably be referred to and its chairman.  For example, 'Sponsored by BM Kristian Ablan, BM Juan Dela Cruz and the Committee on Environment." Pag-ganun, wala ng public hearing - public hearing.  wala na ring committee report. 2nd reading na kaagad. 

I further noticed that if you really want your proposal to breeze through the board, ang ilagay mo as sponsor ay 'Committee of the Whole,' which means it is authored by everybody, kahit wala silang cinontribute ni sinco.

There's no such thing as 'giving credit where credit is due' here in local legislation.  In order for your proposals to pass you have to credit as much people as you can.

Learning my lesson I started applying it.  The Blood Handling Fee for Indigents Fund was a personal request by the Local Red Cross Chapter.  It was asking for P150,000.000 for use for indigent patients who needed blood, but could not afford the P1,500.00 fee for laboratory examination.

So, I drafted an appropriation ordinance.  I knew if I put only my name sa proposal, it wouldn't pass through.  Instead of putting my name, I put 'Sponsored by the Committee of the Whole.'  And wouldn't you know, na-pass namin siya within a month!  Yun nga lang, hindi 150k.  Bumaba sa 100k.  Needless to say, at least may magagamit na ang mga indigent patients.  Although may gastusin pa rin sila, at least gumaan ang financial burden.

So, di bale na ang credit-credit na yan.  Ang importante magawa ko ang trabaho ko. 

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Zoom IN Postcard Project

My inspiration to hold a photo contest last year was to come out with a calendar that featured the different tourist spots in Ilocos Norte.  Kasi di ba politicos usually distribute calendars during Christmas and New Year with their faces on it?  Yung may "Season's Greetings from Mayor So-and-so."

I just think its to 'trapo-ish' and cheezy for me.  I told myself, kung maglalabas din naman ako ng kalendaryo, might as well one that features my province's tourist assets.  Kasi we lack in that department and I like to help boost our tourism economy.  Kasi it helps the mom-and-pop businesses dahil nga dumadagdag ang mga customers nila.  It also helps the working sector because more jobs are created.

And that's why I organized the ZOOM IN Photo Contest.  Unfortunately, by the time I got the pictures and awarded the winners, it was last week of December na.  There was literally no print work going on kasi holiday.  And when business resumed in January, the printer told me it would take them 3 weeks to print the 15-month calendars that I wanted.  So, February na lalabas.  That was too late.

It was my fault.  I should have held the contest earlier.

Anyhoo, here I was with a bunch of great photos of the province and no calendar to print.

What else could I do with them that wasn't schedule-dependent?  Naisip ko na we also lack in the post card project.  I mean seriously, you go to National Book Store and look at all the postcards, how many feature Ilocos Norte?  More often than not, wala.  Mostly Manila, Cebu, Boracay, Palawan and Davao yung mga postcards.  Kung from the north, usually Vigan.  Wala o bihira ang may postcard ng Ilocos Norte.  Kung meron man, Paoay Church lang.

And so, that's what I did with the ZOOM IN Photos.  I turned them into postcards.  I picked 12 photos that depicted the different tourist spots found here in the province.  Some are well-known, like Saud Beach, Paoay Church, Cape Bojeador Lighthouse.  I also put the lesser-known tourist spots, like Kapurpurawan Rock Formation, Kaangrian Falls and Pangil Beach, to spur up growth tourism in those areas.

I printed 500 sets of those 12 photos.  So that's 6,000 postcards.  I gave away 250 sets.  The other 250 sets, I sold by consignment so that I could recover the costs.  Kung maganda ang reception, I will print out more.  Pag-hindi, I will venture into other souvenir products like keychains or ref magnets.

Again, my little contribution to spur up growth in the local tourism sector.   

Friday, March 21, 2008

Manila Ocean Park

Last Monday, I brought my relatives to the newly opened Manila Ocean Park (MOP) located behind the Quirino Grandstand in the City of Manila.  Kasama ko si Ria, yung sisters-in-law ko and their children.

Ria and I wanted to go here for the longest time so that we could compare it with Singapore's Underwater World in Sentosa.

Although MOP is not completely finished (paper signages, exposed outlets, and unpaved flooring, to mention a few), Ria and I both agree that MOP is better.
First, because of this.  Upon entering the park, this is what you see.  An open-air, plantful aquarium with mini-waterfalls.

Then you enter a dark hall with more aquariums featuring marine life from the dee blue sea.  There are interactive touch-screen panels for those who want to know more about the animals.

Then you proceed to a round hall with even bigger aquariums featuring more fish.  This time with a sunken ship theme.

Afterwards, you enter the underwater tunnel where you are surrounded by different marine animals.

The last exhibition is an even larger aquarium which showcase sharks and manta rays.  Even the roof is not spared as it doubles as an aquarium for other manta rays.

Having said that, I wish the management would fast-track the completion of this marine zoo so that visitors could really enjoy their stay.  Sana matapos na yung mall na adjacent sa park, at yung mga finishing touches sa harap ng park at sa parkingan sana i-prioritize.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What's up with the pose, BF?

What's MMDA Chairman Bayani 'BF' Fernando up to these days?  

And what did he eat to suddenly decide to be MMDA's poster boy?

These big white tarps are all over EDSA.  Some have been vandalized with paint (quid pro quo, sir?)

And what's with the 'saudi' pose?

C'mon, sir, you're better than that!  I idolize you for what you and the missus did in Marikina.  Don't be another trapo by posting your face all over the place.  Nawawala po ang respeto ko sa inyo.

And if you must insist (for your 2010) bid, please, lose the pose.  A simple, sincere smile would do much better.  

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Gov. Spitzer Resigns Amidst a Prostitution Scandal

New York Governor Elliot Spitzer earlier announced, in a press conference, his resignation from office for being linked to a prostitution ring.

The scandal erupted just this Monday after US federal law enforcement officials disclosed that a wiretap had caught the 48-year-old chief executive spending thousands of dollars on a call girl at a fancy Washington hotel on the night before Valentine's Day.

"I cannot allow my private failings to disrupt the people's work," Spitzer said in Wednesday's presscon. He made the announcement without securing a plea bargain with US federal prosecutors.

Spitzer will be replaced by Lt. Gov. David Paterson next Monday.

Palabra de Honor and Delicadeza is very much alive overseas as Gov. Spitzer resigned only amidst allegations. And he did it swiftly--within a week. You got to give it to the Americans. Hindi sila kapalmuks.

This is not an isolated event. Just recently, Clinton fundraiser Geraldin Ferraro also quit her post because of her remarks about the Obama campaign. She allegedly said that the only reason why Obama was winning was because of his African-American image. This drew some flack and Ferraro was attacked in the media. So, she resigned.

And not to long ago naman, Obama supporter Samantha Power also resigned after telling a reporter that Hillary was a 'monster.' Yun lang ha, dahil sa isang comment, nag-resign na siya.

Kahanga-hanga sila, hindi dahil sa mga ginawa nila, pero dahil nagbitiw sila sa posisyon dahil sa mga ginawa nila. At hindi sila naghintay na maaresto, masampahan ng kaso at humarap sa husgado. They resigned immediately after the controversy erupted.

Ganito din in other countries, like Korea, Japan, Taiwan and the UK. Pagma-link ka sa controversy, resign agad. Better to keep honor and lose the job, than to keep the job but with a tainted reputation.

I hope I could say the same for people here in the Philippines, but I can't. Dito kasi politicians hold on to power no matter what. Kahit ilang controversies na ang ma-link sa kanila at kahit obvious na obvious na madumi ang kanilang mga kamay, sige pa rin--they hung on to their posts all the tighter. Pipigain nila ng pipigain hanggang sa kadulo-duluhan. Di bale na that they bring down the administration's credibility with them or that their actions hamper economic progress, their posts are apparently their vested rights.

Everytime I watch them on the news all they say is, 'intayin natin ang desisyon ng husgado', 'wala pa namang demanda', 'wala naman daw ebidensya', so on, so forth, and the worst is, 'hindi ako magbibitiw kasi malinis ang aking konsensya.' Oh, god, give me a break.

That's not the point eh. The point is you lost credibility. And without credibility, how can you demand respect from your subordinates?

Where are your senses of honor and delicadeza? Have you lost them together with the values of honesty and integrity?

Here in the Philippines, politicians are either really innocent of charges hurled against them, or are just plain thick faced.

Paging Gov. Spitzer, can we invite you here as guest speaker? Our embattled politicians could learn a thing or two from you (besides, we're all assumed to be frisky and womanizers anyway, so no moral problem in that department).

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Road Sign Project

This is another little project of mine.  One thing I noticed while traveling along the Ilocos highway is that there aren't enough road signs point to the province's tourist spots.  Not unless you're from the area or its your second time.  That's why I thought of making tourist road signs like the ones they have abroad--Brown with directional signs.

Now, I only had a small budget, so I had to choose my points-of-interest carefully.  I could only afford 4 signs.  I picked Cape Bojeador Lighthouse (pictured above) 'coz its signs were fading away; Kapurpurawan Rock Formation (pictured below) because it's a new attraction; the Bangui Viewdeck; and the Bangui Windmills.

If you'd noticed, there are two designs.  The one above was the prototype.  The fabricator didn't quite get what I wanted.  The edges are pointy.  Sa next batch, he got it right--rounded na yung edges.

Anyhoo, I had the 4 signs put up today, in time for those going on a road trip this Holy Week and for the summer season.  When I get more funds, magpapagawa pa ako for Mairaira Cove, Patapat Viaduct, Kaangrian Falls and Paoay Lake.

All for local tourism sake. 

Forgive the small "KRA" in the lower right corner.  I didn't want to be "trapo"-esque and put my whole name underneath the sign, like I owned it, but I couldn't not put a 'mark' naman.  I had to put something.  It's just for identification and future reference.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

CNN Interactive-Touch-Screen-Political-Map-Watchamacallit

Have you been watching the US political news in CNN lately?  They have this huge interactive touch screen showing the political map of the 50 States.  They're using it to explain the election results for the Republican and Democrat Primaries.
Ang galing!  With a flick of the finger, the screen scrolls east, west, north or south.  When the newscaster touches the screen with two fingers and slides them apart the map zooms in!  and when he slides them closer it zooms out!  He can highlight, draw, encircle.  It's like a multi-colored blackboard, minus the chalk dust!

I remember tuloy the movie Minority Report, when the character of Tom Cruise would operate a similar much advanced system.  Yung pinagkaiba lang sa movie, Cruise would draw in thin air, parang 3-D.  Sa CNN, plasma touch screen.  Pero the technology is there.

Wow, gusto kong magkaganun.  Tapos mag-google earth ako and stalk my brothers, sisters and friends living abroad.  Magkano kaya yun?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Super Tuesday

Super Tuesday is a day in February when over 20 States select their Democratic candidates for the Oval Office.  That race was won by US Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.  Sadly, it was all downhill from there as US Senator Barack Obama beat her in the States that followed.

Today, 3 March 2008, may not be super tuesday, but it sure seems like it.

For Clinton, it's do or die.  She must win in the states of Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont, whose primaries are today, otherwise she will lose the Democratic nomination.  She needs to win all four States.

Here in the Philippines, it's Super Tuesday in UP Diliman as the students there elect the new University Student Council.  My brod, Third Bagro from Law is running up against Steph Tan of CSSP and another candidate whose name escapes me, for the chairmanship.  Friends say it will be a very close fight.

Both contests are interesting to watch.

I can't wait to find out who came out the victor.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

USC Elections in Diliman

On March 4, the almost 25,000 students of UP Diliman will be electing a new University Student Council. From Chairperson to Councilor to College Representative.

I hope students start practicing this early on how to be responsible and thinking voters.

Here's what I do when I select who to vote for a position.

First, I ask what does the position entail? Does it require leadership skills? Does it involve project implementation? So on, so forth.

Second, I gather all the data I can get on the candidates gunning for that position. I line them up side by side. Pictures, Names, Credentials and most important, Platform of Government.

I try to remember if ever met the candidates and what were my impressions of them. Did they shake my hand, greet me with sincerity and explain his platform?

Then I absorb as much information as my brain can digest. I compare and weigh the candidates.

Who I think is best for the position, that's who I vote.

Now, it's been 4 years since I last voted in UP, but if I were to vote today, I would write THIRD BAGRO for USC Chairperson.

I know him to be a competent student leader. He was the Chairperson of the CSSP-SC when I was USC Chair, and that Council submitted to us the most comprehensive compilation report on the proposed new UP Charter. All departments of CSSP had their input.

Sure, he's my brod, but so is fellow USC Councilor Paolo Mapula, and I'm not gonna vote for the latter if given the chance because I don't see eye-to-eye with him in terms of program of action.

Yes, he's running under Alyansa, the party I ran under before, but that shouldn't be an issue because I've been out of campus politics since 2005. And I also have friends in Stand-UP and Kaisa.

What I'm trying to say is, we shouldn't base our vote on relation or filiation.

It should be principally based on competence.

Third, I think, is competent. So, I hope he wins this Tuesday.

Good luck, Third.