Saturday, January 31, 2009

Our country is definitely a retail country

While driving from one end of the MRT to the other I noticed that most of the stations have a shopping mall.

Taft Station has Metropoint.

Magallanes Station will have the Southgate mall soon.

Ayala Station has Glorietta.

Buendia Station : none... yet.  Although Rockwell's Powerplant is nearby.

Guadalupe Station has the Guadalupe Commercial Center.

Boni Station has Robinsons Pioneer.

Shaw Station has Shangrila Plaza.

Ortigas Station has Robinsons Galleria and SM Megamall.

Santolan Station: none... yet.  Although Greenhills Shopping Center is nearby.

Cubao Station has Gateway.

GMA-Kamuning: none... yet.

Quezon Ave Station: none... yet.

North Ave. Station has Trinoma and SM North Edsa.

That's 13 shopping malls in a 17 km stretch.  (or 1 mall for every 1.3 kilometers)  

Forget manufacturing, mining, farming and other important industries a country needs to survive in this world, the Philippines is content with buying and selling products.  Retail.  Shopping.  That's it.

We don't need more factories.  We'll just put up malls.  That's it.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Militarization of the Executive Branch

I rarely agree with my leftist friends on matters about government because I think they believe that it's still 1972.  So, imagine my surprise when I found myself agreeing with them on this particular issue.

I agree that appointing all these ex-military brass to top civilian positions is very, very alarming.
To name a few:
1.  General Angelo Reyes in the DOE
2.  General Eduardo Ermita as Executive Secretary
3.  General Hermogenes Ebdane in the DPWH
4.  General Leandro Mendoza in the DOTC
5.  General Hermogenes Esperon as Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
6.  General Alberto Suansing in the LTO
7.  General Thompson Lantion in the LTFRB
8.  General Roy Cimatu as Special Envoy to the Middle East

In a TV interview about the issue, General Reyes said that there are best practices from the military that can be proven useful in government administration, or something to that effect.

True, but that doesn't justify the appointment of ex-generals to the positions.  I can also argue that there are a lot of best practices from the corporate sector that can be implemented in government, so why not appoint more business executives in the cabinet?  I'm sure there are some who are willing to take a leave from their profitable jobs to serve in government.

I can also argue that there are a lot of best practices from the academe just waiting to be adopted in the government bureaucracy, so why not appoint more technocrats?

So, it still begs the question, why appoint all these generals to high positions in government?

Baka nasa isip ko lang to, pero nakakatakot ha.  You know, I get scared when I watch General Reyes on TV.  Para bang any moment now pa-pa-push-up niya ako.

I know they are qualified, Madame President, but there are others who are as, or more, qualified than them.  I have no problem with a few token appointments for military officers, but a whole lot of them?  We're one general short of a military junta.   

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What does P500,000 look like?

Do you see the structure at the center of the picture?  That is an unfinished classroom building in a public school here.

Now this might get me in trouble, but I'll talk about it anyway because it affects me as a locally elected public official.

My dad allocated from his pork barrel funds P500,000.00 for the construction of a classroom building in this public school.

Does that look P500,000.00 worth to you?

I'm not an engineer, but I have been procuring cement and steel bars for the past two years and I can tell you that does not look like 500,000.

But that's what the contractor said to the school principal after the latter complained of the incompletion.

Ubos na daw yung 500,000.  Kung gusto daw nila matapos yung building, humingi nanaman daw sila kay Congressman.

And that's where I come into the story.  The principal went to me to complain about the project.  He showed me the picture and I must agree with him.  That did not look like 500,000.  Poste lang at flooring yun eh.  500,000 na yun?  Pwede ba yun.

You give me 500,000 and I'll come up with two classroom buildings (the way the Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce does its school building projects with Senators Drilon and Gordon).

So when I went to Manila I confronted my dad and showed him the picture.  He asked me who the contractor was.  I told him I didn't know.  He told me to go back to Laoag and confront the District Engineer of the DPWH about it.

And that's what I plan to do.

500,000 my ass. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Holding President Obama Accountable For His Campaign Promises

Today, 20 January 2009, the U.S. inaugurates its first african-american president.  I am no big fan of President Barack Hussein Obama.  I think he's all talk (but for the sake of the U.S. Economy, I hope I'm wrong).

To hold him accountable for all of his 500+ campaign promises, the good guys from came out with the Obameter.  Here's the link:

It's pretty cool.  I hope we have a local version of this after we elect our 15th President in 2010.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Interesting Joyful Attraction

Nubija, short for "Nearby Useful Bike, Interesting Joyful Attraction", is the bike sharing program of Changwon City in South Korea. 

It works similar to the bike sharing program of Paris (Velib) wherein there are bike stations all over the city.  You want to use a bike to get from Point A to Point B?  Just pay with your credit card at the terminal and a bike is released by one of the bike stands.  You bike to Point B.  If you get there in less than 30 minutes, the ride is free.  If not, there is a small fee.  You return the bike in a bike stand.  Electronic diagnostics will determine if the bike is fine (no flats, missing parts, etc.) and then okay na!  Eto yung "How to Use" Guide nila:

Galing!  Check out their website.  Sana someday, magkaroon nang ganyan dito sa Pilipinas.  Para ma-obliterate na yang mga pedicabs na yan na nakakainis.*

*:  Yes, pedicabs use pedal power and do not contribute to global warming, BUT THEIR DESIGN IS TOTALLY WRONG for me.  The passenger cars are at the side, making it wide enough to take up space of a regular car.  It takes up a lot of road space, which contributes to heavy traffic, which makes cars exhaust more polluted air.  Check out the rickshaws in China and Japan, the driver is in front while the passengers are at the back.  They're narrower in design, that way, other vehicles can pass them with ease.  Even in Thailand, the tuktuks have the passenger car behind the driver.

That's why unless mapalitan ang desing ng pedicab, galit ako sa kanila.  Mas mabuti na lang tong bike sharing program.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


533,000.  The number of U.S. Jobs lost in November 2008--according to TIME Magazine (22 Dec. 2008), the biggest monthly drop since 1974!


533,000 lost their jobs just before Christmas.  How f*#%ed up is that?

And it hits closer to home more than you could imagine.

Case in point.  I have a group of friends from law school who quit their regular law firm job last year to work for an outsourcing company doing legal work (due diligence) for companies based in the U.S.  They were sent to Texas for training and flew back here to do the job.  They worked reasonable hours and were earning in dollars.

And then late December, after Christmas day, they were informed that they were being laid off.

Another friend of mine, from high school, worked as an architect in Canada.  He had been with that firm for 3 years already.  Then, in November, his boss gave him his walking papers.  My friend was speechless as he didn't expect it.  But he himself told me that he should've known it was coming.  Architects earn income when companies hire them to draw buildings.  Those companies need extra capital from big banks.  If big banks go bankrupt, these companies can't borrow money.  If there's no money, there's no building.  And if there's no building, there's no work for the architect.

I'm actually scared of what 2009 has in store for us.  Already, hundreds of OFWs from Taiwan and the Middle East have lost their jobs due to this global financial crisis and they're all coming back to the Philippines jobless.

That's gotta affect us in a big way.  I'm sure liliit and mga remittances natin this year.  Then we'll see how that affects the local economy.

I sure hope our policy-makers and national leaders did their homework and installed the necessary safety measures to protect and preserve our economy.

Otherwise, the next time we 533,000 jobs lost, it might be in the Philippines. 

Friday, January 09, 2009

Checkmate, Bambee

Dad, Son and Daughter (Bambee) go to Golf Course to play a round of golf.

While playing, a group overtakes them in the course--a golf no-no.

Dad goes to group to complain.  They get into an argument.  Punches are exchanged.  Son intervenes to stop the fight.  The Group, headed by a mayor from Mindanao, instead of stopping, includes the kid in the brawl.

Daughter shouts for them to stop hurting her dad and 14 year old brother.  They beat the two to a pulp.

Dad, Son and Daughter report the incident to the golf course administration.  Their complaint is ignored.

They go to the police.  The latter is slow in processing the complaint.

Daughter turns to the internet and blogs about the incident.  It catches media's attention.

Spotlight on Mindanao mayor and his Secretary dad.  They wash their hands in TV land saying it was the Dad, Son and Daughter who started the fight and they were just acting in self-defense.

Pressure on mayor and secretary dad to apologize publicly.

The two refuse to, reiterating their claim that they didn't start the fight.

Dad, Son and Daughter persist on filing a criminal case against Mindanao mayor.

Mindanao mayor fights back by filing a LIBEL case against Daughter for her blog in MINDANAO.

Checkmate.  Mayor will win this battle.

"This is the story of Bambee dela Paz and her dad and brother.  Instead of pursuing the case, there are now talks of settling the case out of court.  You know why?  Because of the libel case filed by the mayor in his home town, which would require Bambee to physically go their to answer the charges.  The law on libel allows the aggrieved party to file his case in his place of residence.  This flaw was utilized by the mayor as a bargaining chip against the Dela Pazes who were hell bent in suing him.

And I think the mayor won.  Can you imagine Bambee travelling all the way to the mayor's territory to answer charges of libel?  It's not just about transportation costs, Bambee is a student athlete on a golf scholarship in the US.  How can she continue with her studies if she is in Mindanao?

Tsk, tsk, tsk.  Matalino lawyer ni Mayor.  Checkmate, Bambee"

[But I wouldn't call this game over yet.  Bambee's lawyer is Raymond Fortun.  This guy is smart enough to outwit the libel charge.  Let's see how it goes.]

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

"Death of a Laoag Heritage School" (from PDI)


As it stands (no pun intended), the Laoag Central Elementary School will be relocated to another site to give way to a commercial establishment.

Initially, I was against it since the condition of the donation by the church to the city was that the land be used only for educational purposes.  Since leasing for commercial purposes is not education, ma-re-rescind yung deed of donation.

That's why I attended the public hearing called by the mayor last year.  I thought magkakampi kami ng simbahan at ng DepEd.  Hindi pala.  Oddly enough, in favor yung church at yung DepEd.

So I said sa public hearing, "Eh ano pa masasabi ko, eh kung yung mga stakeholders ay pabor sa demolisyon at relokasyon, tapos na ang laban."

I thought that was that.  LCES would be transferred and a new mall would take its place in central Laoag City.

And then na-mention ko sa brod ko na si Ivan Henares, a trustee of Heritage Conservation Society, yung LCES.  Tinanong niya kung Gabaldon yung school.

Gabaldon?  Ewan ko.

I took a picture and MMS to him.  

He replied, "That's a Gabaldon school, Kris.  And it's two stories.  That's rare."

"That should be protected," my brod continued.

Yada-yada-yada, Ivan did his magic, and out came that article in Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Will it change anything?  I don't know.  Mayor Farinas is determined to put up that mall.