May 28, 2005

Bakit parang walang nakakaalam?


May 28 ang pambansang araw ng paggunita sa watawat ng Pilipinas. Sa araw na ito unang dinisplay ni Emilio Aguinaldo ang ating watawat pagkatapos ng kanilang tagumpay sa Battle of Alapan sa Imus, Cavite.

Ngayon ko lang ito nalaman. Malamang ikaw rin. Malamang wala halos sa atin ang nakakaalam. At malamang walang ginawang paggunita sa araw na ito maliban sa probinsiya ng Cavite.

May 27, 2005

Nice editorial sa Inquirer

Sabi ko na, hindi lang ako ang may position against tuition fee increases. :)

High cost, low quality
Posted 00:14am (Mla time) May 27, 2005
By Inquirer News Service

TENS of thousands of Filipino parents bought into pre-need educational plans because they wanted to assure quality education for their children. In the beginning, such plans were premised on the assumption that government-imposed limits on tuition increases would persist. When the government "liberalized" education in the early 1990s, pre-need companies were faced with a choice of either limiting benefits to plan holders to the amounts assumed when the plans were sold, or to simply honor the plans as open-ended commitments to their clients.

Companies such as the College Assurance Plan Philippines Inc. decided to pay out benefits to plan holders above and beyond what had been assumed when the plans were sold. This worked for a surprisingly long period of time. However, when concerns over the fiscal viability of this commitment began to erode the financial prospects of such companies, and government launched investigations and put a stop to the frantic selling of new plans to finance old ones, the whole system collapsed.

The result is the demise of a genuinely Filipino innovation -- the pre-need educational plan -- and untold misery for hard-working families who put their faith in these firms. The manner in which the industry collapsed does not speak well of how both the executive and legislative branches of government handled their responsibilities. However, educational institutions themselves have, so far, and unfairly, escaped their fair share of the blame.

When the government removed the cap on tuition, it did so on the urging of educators who maintained that the bulk of the increases would be used to increase the salaries of teachers and improve school facilities. The brain drain had already severely handicapped education in this country, and wider latitude in determining fees was, educators insisted, something that would ultimately raise the quality of education.

International test results, however, have shown that the quality of education has not improved -- at all levels. This is particularly glaring when one considers how most private educational institutions have continued to pay dismal salaries to their staff, while charging higher fees for academic and non-academic services and tuition.

Already caught between a rock and a hard place, parents have increasingly resorted to transferring their children to public elementary and high schools (which, surprisingly enough, are also in many instances increasingly able to attract teachers from private schools, as they now apparently pay competitive wages) and state colleges and universities. Aside from very well-known schools that don't feel the need to compete actively, only the diploma mills churning out nurses, for example, are showing increases in attendance.

Parents and students alike know that quality comes at a cost, but the increasing cost of education hasn't resulted in an increase in quality. What they have resulted in, apparently, is an increase in profitability. Education is big business, at all levels.

The country's leading economic players have aggressively entered the education market -- tobacco tycoon Lucio Tan in the University of the East and Thames, insurance and banking magnate Alfonso Yuchengco in Mapua Institute of Technology -- injecting an entrepreneurial approach to education, which wasn't there even when prominent families with business and political interests (the Laurels and Lyceum of the Philippines, or the TaƱadas who used to own Manuel L. Quezon University) established and managed colleges and universities. It is not unreasonable to expect that the widening exposure of prominent businessmen in the field of education will inject a more profit-oriented attitude toward the running of the institutions they've bought, as shown, for example, in the highly emotional debate over the absorption of Mapua into the newly minted Malayan University of the Yuchengcos (who themselves are facing difficulties with their educational pre-need firm, Pacific Plans Inc.).

We do not want a return to a regulated regime, as far as the management of institutions of higher learning are concerned. But it is time for the boards, faculties and students of such institutions to seriously consider where profit making and education serve complementary, or mutually exclusive, purposes. If the Commission on Higher Education, for example, due to political pressure, cannot shut down substandard institutions, can it be expected to enforce even minimum standards of quality? And if not, doesn't this place a heavy, but urgent, burden on parents and working students?

May 26, 2005

Nakow, trouble ito...

Mahilig akong sumulat ng reaction sa Inquirer. Minsan, may na-publish na sulat ko tungkol sa pagpapalit ng UP president. At ngayon, may na-publish na naman. At ang sulat kong ito, tiyak na pag-iinitan ako ng...malalaman niyo na pag binasa niyo.

Ang lakas kasi ng loob ko!!! Ano ba yan?!!! Baka mawalan akong trabaho nito. Hehehe. :p

Also blame greedy schools

Editor's Note: Published on page A14 of the May 26, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

WHILE I agree with Conrado de Quiros’ position regarding the liability of Pacific Plans Inc. to its customers (Inquirer, 5/18/05), I would like to question the validity of the data he used to refute Pacific Plans’ argument that the company was a victim of the rising tuition fees in private schools. De Quiros cited the Parents Enabling Parents’ assertion that tuition fee increases by private schools from 2000 to 2005 reached only an average of 11.37 percent, a far cry from the 40 percent cited by Pacific Plans as the average total tuition fee increase for the last decade. CHED (Commission on Higher Education) data show that for SY 2004-2005 alone, the average percentage increase in tuition ranged from 8 percent to 18 percent.

Most private universities and colleges, especially the “big names” which are usually preferred by education plan holders, take advantage of the maximum annual rate of tuition increase allowed by the law, which is 10 percent. These schools also take advantage of the technicality that the 10-percent ceiling is imposed only on the basic tuition fees, which means that they can “make a killing” by increasing their miscellaneous fees unashamedly. Personally, I know of a university that has more than doubled its tuition in just a span of five years.

That’s a compounding growth rate of 15 percent annually. This university has also consistently been among the country’s top 1,000 corporations. And from personal inquiries, I think that this university is not alone in exhibiting similar statistics when it comes to tuition increases. While De Quiros has rightfully condemned the unprofessional and unethical behavior of the troubled pre-need firms in the education industry, I would also love to see him condemn the private educational institutions whose unbounded greed has made life miserable, not only for a measly number of plan holders but also for a much, much larger number of people who only desired to enjoy the benefits of higher education.

ERWIN RAFAEL, 1578-C 8th St., Fabie Estate, Paco, Manila

May 23, 2005

Nawawalang Batibot

batibotPagmulat ng mata
langit nakatawa
sa Batibot!!!

Naalala mo pa ba ang Batibot? Ang ating Pinoy version ng Sesame Sreet? Isa ako sa mga batang lumaking nanonood ng palabas na ito. Kasama ko sa pagtanda sina Kuya Bodjie, Kuya Ching, Kuya Mario, Ate Joji, Ate Sienna, Pong Pagong, Kiko Matsing, Irma Daldal, Ningning at Gingging, Sitsiritsit at Alibangbang, Manang Bola, Koko Kwik Kwak at ang aking paboritong si Kapitan Basa. Sa tingin ko ito na siguro ang isa sa pinakamaipagmamalaking palabas na na-conceptualize sa Philippine TV. Sayang talaga at wala na ito sa airwaves.

Bakit naman bigla akong nag-nostalgia sa Batibot? Nalungkot lang kasi ako sa aking nasagap na balita na si Ate Sienna ay nagsa-suffer sa Pott's disease o Tubercolosis of the Spine. Mga tatlong taon nang nakakaraan, na-shock na ako sa balitang si Alexis ng Shaider ay namatay sa sakit sa atay. Ngayon, isa na namang popular figure ng aking childhood ang na-afflict ng matinding sakit.

Eto yung mga panahong nagtatanong ako kung bakit siya pa? Ewan ko ba, hindi ko naman siya kilala, pero parang ang laki ng naging parte ni Ate Sienna hindi lang sa buhay ko kundi sa buhay na rin ng napakaraming batang napasaya niya. Parang hindi dapat matapos sa ganito. Kasi sa Batibot, dun natutuklasan "ang tuwa, ang saya."

Kung malubha na ang sakit ni Ate Sienna, sino na ang kakanta nito?

Kung hindi pwede minsan
Kung ang kasunod ay di pa rin

Ganyan lang, ganyan lang
di dapat magmukmok
Harapin ang pagsubok, ngayon.

Lahat ay kayang gawin
Kung sisikapin
Kung wala pa ring mangyari
subukan lang kung pwede.

Ganyan lang, ganyan lang
di dapat iyakan
Harapin ang pagsubok
Kayang-kaya mo 'yan.

May 22, 2005

A future worth fighting for

I-share ko lang sa inyo ang latest article ni Randy David sa Philippine Daily Inquirer. In some way, this rather "grim" article has provided me inspiration. Sana kayo rin, ma-inspire. :)

A future worth fighting for
By Randy David
Inquirer News Service

ONCE again we find ourselves at a crossroad. We don't know where to turn, but we have a strong sense that we must alter course if we are to survive and grow as a nation. We are convinced that if we allow our current crop of politicians to continue governing the country, we are doomed to go around in circles. We have a vague idea of the kind of leaders we need: they must be firm, inspiring and trustworthy. But we are not sure who among our remaining leaders we can still trust.

The degrading poverty of the majority of our people remains our most daunting problem. Our historic failure to solve it has meant the waste of so much human capital. It has broken the spirit of our young people, who, increasingly, are unable to look at their nation's heritage with pride, or to imagine investing their lives in its future. We search our minds and hearts for any explanation for this failure. And always we arrive at one conclusion-the lack of a visionary and selfless leadership.

This insight is basically correct, but it does not give a complete picture. It overlooks the fact that there have been leaders of great integrity and capability in every generation. It glosses over the system that actively co-opts or excludes the visionary rebels among them, usually portraying them as enemies or fools, and installing them as heroes when they are safely dead.

Even now, it is not difficult to find many good leaders at every level of our society. But in their youth, they are typically broken until they learn to bow to the imperatives of the system. Subdued, they often become its cynical apologists. So it is important, when we ask for new leaders, to remember to also ask for new structures, new values and new practices.

The routines and forms of government are probably the easiest to change. The change may be done by executive order, by legislation, or by constitutional revision. Far more resistant to change, however, are the basic structures that determine the distribution of wealth and power across society's classes and groups. The operation of these structures is carefully masked in everyday life, or explained away as an aspect of the natural order of things. Access to wealth is the most contested part of social life, the final object of all politics.

Shifting from presidential to a parliamentary system, or from a unitary to a federal government, is nothing more than cosmetic change unless there is also substantive alteration in the distribution of economic resources, and in the nature and basis of state power. The present system, to state the obvious, remains in the hands of a small oligarchy, whose chronic inability to develop a robust economy and alleviate mass poverty is at the root of its recurrent crisis.

The economy's weakness is visible in its almost total dependence on the remittances of overseas workers. The country's agricultural base, where the majority of our people still work and live, is a picture of stagnation and neglect. Manufacturing has progressively contracted over the years. The remaining vibrant sector, services, thrives mainly on the resources made available by our overseas workers.

But the most significant index of the present system's bankruptcy is the gigantic debt burden that successive administrations have passed on to the Filipino people. The debt service constitutes the single largest component of the national budget. The senselessness of this burden is best exemplified by the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, a facility that Filipinos have been paying for since 1986 even if it has not produced a single kilowatt of electricity.

Our problem clearly is not just Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. It is the whole country's political leadership. It is not just corruption, patronage politics, or electoral fraud; or smuggling, jueteng and illegal logging. It is the entire system. It is not just the high population growth. It is the whole way of life that the poor have been forced to invent in order to deal with the pressures of unmitigated want.

We have not been lacking in people who tell us that the system itself must change as a precondition for solving our most pressing problems. However, it is doubtful if such people will ever be elected into office under the existing rules of the game. Yet ironically, the three extra-constitutional episodes in the nation's recent past-martial law in 1972, Edsa I in 1986, and Edsa II in 2001-have only nurtured in our people a distrust for political upheavals. This defensive conservatism is what is propping up the dysfunctional government of Ms Arroyo.

In the presidential elections of 2004, the upper and middle classes turned a blind eye to the massive cheating and gross misuse of public funds that attended the election of Ms Arroyo. They suspended their values and lowered their ideals in the belief that the alternative to her presidency could be worse. Their fear of chaos has made them politically quiescent.

I personally do not think that anyone needs to worry about a catastrophic breakdown of public order. What I find disturbing is the corrosive mood of surrender that is spreading among our people. Many are simply giving up and moving out. How to reverse this tide of demoralization is the challenge of leadership in our time. The country awaits leaders who can still mobilize trust, and instill hope in our people by offering them a roadmap to viable social reform and a vision of a future that is worth fighting for.

Bakit Kaya Kailangan Pang Manggaya?

Coching Lapu Lapu 2Alam ng marami rito na ako ay isang avid fan ng comics. Kung titingnan ang kuwarto ko, punong puno ng comic books iyon. Mula bata pa lang kasi napamahal na sa akin ang pagbabasa nito. Karamihan ng kinokolekta ko ay mga American comics, pero nitong nakaraang dalawang taon, bumalik ang pansin ko sa mga komiks na sariling atin.

Nagtataka nga lang ako kung bakit kaya halos lahat na ng komiks na makita ko ngayon, parang manga na. Nandyan ang W.I.T.C.H.. Nandyan ang Culture Crash. Tapos yung C.H.I.P.S.. Kahit nga ang komiks na kinlakhan ko, yung Funny Komiks, mukhang manga na rin.

Wala na bang interes ang mga komiks illusrators natin sa paggawa ng sariling identity? Oo, nandyan pa ang mga tulad nina Arnold Arre, Leinil Yu, Lan Medina, Carlo Vergara at Gerry Alanguilan na nagme-maintain ng pagka-Pinoy sa kanilang mga ginagawa, pero ang dami na talaga ang "sumamba" sa manga style at nakalimutan na mayroon naman tayong style na sariling atin.

Coching Lapu LapuTingnan niyo na lang ang mga artwork na kasama ng post kong ito. Ang gaganda, di ba? Yan ay galing sa seryeng Lapu-lapu na dinrawing ni Francisco Coching. Pinoy na pinoy, di ba? Ang nakakatuwa pa, 1954 pa lumabas yang artwork niyang yan. Ibig sabihin, noon pa lang, ang galing na ng Pinoy komikero.

Pero nasaan na ang Pinoy komikero ngayon? Ayun, nagpapanggap na nagdo-drawing siya ng anime at manga.

Kung gusto niyong makakita ng Pinoy komiks artwork at malaman ang dahilan kung bakit kailangan natin itong i-recognize at ipagmalaki, bisitahin ang Philippine Comics Art Museum. Mapapamangha kayo sa galing ng Pilipino na nagpapaka-Pilipino.

Nakabalik na...

Sangandaan...uli ako sa aking pagsusulat dito sa tambayan. Nung umpisa nang linggong ito, nasa Baguio ako, sinamahan ang present Student COuncil ng FEU-IABF. Tapos nang makabalik na kami, tambak na naman ako sa admin work kasi malapit na akong mag-turnover sa papalit sa aking coordinator na si Mam Badet Ramos.

Kanina, nag-jamming uli kami ng Sangandaan, ang aming "banda". Sumakit nga ang kamay ko kapapalo ng tambol, ang tagal ko na ring di pumapalo kasi. Pero kahit masakit at nakakapagod, ang laki pa rin ng ngiti ko kasi ginagawa ko na ang isang bagay na talagang gusto kong gawin.

Ang sarap tumugtog.

Mukhang hindi ako nagkamali sa aking desisyon. :)

May 15, 2005

Class Requirement: Manood!!!

Mga kids, kailan ang huling beses na nanood kayo ng Pinoy film? Sa sinehan ha, hindi diyan sa hinayupak na pirated na yan. Malamang ang tagal-tagal na nun. Marami kasi sa atin, idinadahilan na wala na naman kasing magagandang pelikulang Pilipino. Pero sa totoo lang, kapag may magagadang pelikulang Pinoy naman na ginagawa't ipinapalabas, hindi pa rin natin pinapaanood. Kaya nuong nakaraang taon, nilangaw sa takilya ang mga quality films tulad ng Santa Santita at Minsan Pa. Ang best picture ng nakaraang MMFF, ang Panaghoy sa Suba, nalugi rin.

Panahon na para baguhin ang ganitong attitude. Kung gusto nating gumanda ang quality ng mga pelikulang Pilipino, tangkilikin natin ang mga quality films na ipapalabas. Ngayong buwan ng Mayo, mayroong dalawang example ng ganitong de-kalidad na pelikula na ipapalabas sa sinehan - ang La Visa Loca na pinroduce ng Unitel Pictures at dinirek ni Mark Meily, at ang Bikini Open na pinroduce ng Seiko Films at dinirek ni Jeffrey Jeturian. Ang assignment nating lahat ay panoorin ang mga pelikulang ito. Pagkatapos, babalik tayo dito sa web site na ito at isusulat ang kanya-kanyang reaction paper.

Naintindihan? OK!!!

P.S. - Mamatay na ang manood ng mga pelikulang ito sa pirated copy.

May 13, 2005

KSP: Bastusan na! (version 2)

This version is dedicated to people who prefer to read in English. The way I argued my case was also different. :)

"Petron profit up 10.7% in Q1." (PDI, 05/13/2005) Gee, what a surprise (sarcasm intended). Every time Petron increases its pump prices, it always reasons out that the company is experiencing "losses" which it needs to recover. But we have always known better. Petron's, and practically every other oil company's, operations have been really profitable, and as this news item proves, it is actually getting even MORE profitable despite the country's economic crisis.

Of course, Petron was quick to point out that the main reason for the increase in the company's profit was increased operating efficiency, which allowed its operating expenses to go down from P1.39 billion to P1.26 billion. I beg to disagree. I say that the real main reason for the increase was their unabated increase in selling price. Let us have fun with some numbers so that I can prove my point.

According to Petron, its sales volume for Q1 2005 fell 9.9 percent to 11.85 million barrels. This means that for Q1 2004, its sales volume was roughly 13.15 million barrels (11.85 million barrels divided by 90.1 percent). With P786 million in total net profit, we could compute that the net profit per barrel sold for Q1 2004 was P59.77 (P786 million divided by 13.15 million barrels).

For Q1 2005, the total net profit was P870 million, and net profit per barrel was P73.42 (P870 million divided by 11.85 million barrels). Comparing with the Q1 2004 data, we can see that the net profit per barrel increased by P13.65 (P73.42 minus P59.77).

How much of this increase was brought about by increased operating efficiency? Well, there was an increase in total operating income of P130 million (P1.39 billion minus P1.26 billion) due to the decrease in operating expenses. Using the average net income to operating income ratio of Petron for the last three years, which was roughly 56%, we can compute that the P130 million savings contributed around P72.8 million (P130 million multiplied by 56%) to total net income. On a per barrel basis, increased operating efficiency accounted only for P6.18 (P72.8 million divided by 11.85 million barrels) of the increase in net profit per barrel.

This means that there was an increase in net profit per barrel of P7.51 (P13.65 minus P6.18) which was not due to increased operating efficiency. Under conventional accounting rules, since we already isolated the effect of the decrease in operating expenses, the most likely source of the P7.51 increase in net profit would be an increase in gross profit. Gross profit is equal to selling price minus the manufacturing-related cost per barrel. So an increase in gross profit can be caused by an increase in selling price and / or a decrease in cost.

A decrease in manufacturing cost is not likely for two reasons. First, the raw materials cost has increased because of the rise in the purchase price of crude oil in the world market. Second, the decrease in sales volume most likely means there was also a decrease in production volume. This means that fixed manufacturing costs were most likely spread out to less units, thereby increasing the fixed costs that would be absorbed by each barrel.

So that leaves us with one explanation. The P7.15 unaccounted increase in net profit per barrel was most likely caused by an increase in selling price. And this is not too hard to believe, considering that total sales revenue increased 19.7 percent while sales volume decreased 9.9 percent.

"This (increase in net profit) reflects the progress we are making in our efforts to improve our operating efficiency." said Petron public affairs manager Virginia Ruivivar. Sadly, Mam Ruivivar, whatever spin you put into it, the numbers Petron itself provided tell the truth. Petron unashamedly profited from its price increases, while we, the consumers, suffered.

May 12, 2005

KSP: Bastusan na!

Tingnan niyo naman ang balita na nakuha ko sa INQ7:


Petron profit up 10.7% in Q1

OIL refiner Petron Corp. said it booked a 10.7 percent increase in net profit to 870 million pesos for the first quarter to March from 786 million pesos a year earlier, mainly due to lower operating costs.

Sales volume fell 9.9 percent to 11.85 million barrels, but Petron said net sales revenue rose to 38.94 billion pesos from 32.54 billion pesos a year earlier.

Operating expenses were down 9.4 percent to 1.26 billion pesos from 1.39 billion pesos a year earlier, Petron said, without elaborating.

In a statement, the company said the weak sales volume was due to a decline in sales to the state-owned National Power Corp.

Petron added that its export volumes were also affected by a delay in the last shipment for March.

Petron's exports margin, however, improved by around 20 percent because of higher product prices in the Asia.

Petron declared a cash dividend of 0.10 peso per share for stockholders on record as of May 26. It did not disclose the payment date.

"We are pleased with the results of our performance so far, despite an apparent slowdown in the economy. Even with lower sales volumes, we were able to improve our bottom line," Petron public affairs manager Virginia Ruivivar said.

"This reflects the progress we are making in our efforts to improve our operating efficiency."


Ayan pala ang kumpanyang nalulugi kaya hinihingi nilang intindihin natin sila kung bakit nagtataas sila ng presyo. Sana naman makonsensya ang mga taong makakatanggap ng dibidendo sa Petron, na nagmula sa mga kinita mula sa overpricing nila ng produktong petrolyo.

Ngayon, ginagago na naman nila tayo sa press release na ito. Ang dahilan daw ng pagtaas ng kanilang profit ay ang pagbaba sa operating costs. Kung titingnan natin, ang pagbaba ng kanilang operating costs ay nakapagdagdag ng P130 million sa kanilang operating income (P1.39B - P1.26B). Kung gagamitin natin ang mga ratio sa mga nakaraang financial statements ng Petron, ang net income ay madalas na 56% ng operating income. Ibig sabihin, malamang na nacontribute sa net income ng savings mula sa pagbaba ng operating costs ay P72.8 million (P130M x 56%).

Ang total na pagtaas sa net income ay P84 million (P870M -786M). Ibig sabihin, may pagtaas sa net income na P11.2 million na hindi nagmula sa pagbaba ng operating expenses (P84M - P72.8M). Saan kaya ito nanggaling? Malamang dala ito ng pagtaas ng gross profit.

Paanong tumaas ang gross profit? Tatlo lang naman ang pwedeng panggalingan niyan: a) pagtaas ng sales volume, b) pagbaba ng cost ng ibinebentang petrolyo, o c) pagtaas ng selling price. Petron na mismo ang nagsabi na bumaba ang kanilang sales volume. Hindi rin naman pwedeng bumaba ang cost ng ibinibentang petrolyo kung susundan natin ang sinasabi ng Petron na laging tumataas ang presyo ng kanilang binibiling krudo. At dahil sa process of elimination, isa na lang ang natitirang dahilan - ang pagtaas ng gross profit ay mula sa pagtaas ng presyo. At malamang nga'y ito ang totoong dahilan dahil ang pagtaas ng selling price ay nakapagdagdag ng P9.62 billion sa kanilang revenue [P38.94B - (P32.54B x 90.1%)].

Sabi nga ng Kjwan sa kantang Daliri, "Bastusan na!!!"

KSP: Uncivil civilization

Alam mo ba na ang salitang uncivil ay iba ang ibig sabihin sa salitang uncivilized? Ayon sa, ang definition ng uncivil ay discourteous, rude o kaya ay "lacking civility or good manners." Halimbawa, kapag gabi na't tulog na ang mga tao sa barangay niyo, tapos magpapatugtog ka nang sobrang lakas sa stereo ng iyong owner-type jeep, uncivil ang tawag sa gawaing yun. Ang salitang uncivilized naman ay nangangahulugan na "without civilizing influences." Ibig sabihi'y hindi educated, refined, cultured o polished. Sa ating mga Pinoy, si Barok ang icon ng mga uncivilized.

Bakit kaya may distinction pa sa dalawang salitang ito? Kung pag-aaralan natin, ang archaic o lumang term naman na ginagamit para sa salitang uncivil ay uncivilized. Yun nga lang siguro, yung mga edukado o mayayamang bastos at walang galang sa ibang tao ay nao-offend kapag tinatawag silang uncivilized dahil ang salitang ito ay madalas na naa-associate sa mga taong itinuturing nilang mga primitibo at mga barbaro. Kaya siguro pinauso nila ang salitang uncivil, para kahit mala-barbaro ang kanilang pagkilos, hindi pa rin sila makukutya na hindi sibilisado.

Gawin na lang nating halimbawa itong nangyayari sa Pilipinas. Maraming mga edukadong tao dito sa ating bayan, ngunit nakakalungkot na napaka-uncivil ng kanilang ikinikilos. Ihalimbawa na lang natin ang kaso ni Mr. Rolando Golez, ang namuno sa Coconut Industry Investment Fund na siyang nangangasiwa sa coco levy fund. Matindi ang credentials nitong si Mr. Golez, talagang edukadong edukado. Yun nga lang, walanghiya. Sa panahon na naghihirap ang marami kasama ang mga coconut farmers na siyang may-ari ng pondong pinamamahalaan niya, nakuha pa niyang gamitin ang pondo para bumili ng isang mamahaling SUV, mamasyal sa labas ng bansa kasama ang asawa, at magbayad ng mga membership fee sa mga golf club. Sabi niya, legal naman ang ginawa niya kasi nakalagay naman sa kanyang kontrata na meron siyang ganitong mga perks. Oo nga, pero kung ikaw naman siguro ay may natitira pang hiya sa iyong katawan, hindi ka naman siguro magpapakasasa sa kayamanan ng iba habang sobrang dami sa paligid mo ang naghihirap.

Ano ang paboritong laro ng mga refined at cultured na tao? Siyempre, ang laro ng mga gentlemen - ang golf. At para makapaglaro ka ng golf, siyempre kailangan ng golf course. Ang golf course na umookupa ng kung ilang ektarya ng lupa, dinedevelop ng mga refined at cultured, kahit na ang daming mga tao walang matirhan o kaya'y nagsisiksikan sa kakapirasong lupa. Anong klaseng kakapalan ng mukha kaya ang kailangan para makapag-enjoy ka sa pagpalo ng maliit na bola sa malalayong distansya habang may mga squatter na nakatira sa may kabila ng bakod?

Ang pinakamalungkot sigurong halimbawa ng uncivil behavior ng mga civilized na tao ay ang ikinikilos ng mga taong nasa larangan na mismo ng edukasyon - ang mga administradors ng mga private schools. Sa panahong naghihirap na ang mga pamilya para sagutin ang kanilang mga personal na pangangailangan, nakukuha pa rin nilang magtaas taon-taon ng tuition fee sa maximum rate na 10%. Sa kasalukuyang level ng tuition, malaki na ang naibubulsang kita ng mga private schools na ito, pero patuloy pa rin ang pag-maximize nila ng kanilang kinikita. Hinihingi ang pagsasakripisyo sa mga magulang at mga bata, samantalang sila mismo ay hindi marunong magsakripisyo at bagkus ay nagpapakayaman pa.

Napakarami pang halimbawa. Nandyan ang mga petroleum companies na dinadahilang nalulugi sila pag di nagtataas ng presyo gayung nakakapasok sila sa Top 20 ng Business World. Nandyan ang mga makapangyarihang politicians na nakapagtapos ng law school ngunit nangunguna sa paglabag ng mga batas. Nandyan ang mga CPA na ginagamit ang talento upang makapandaya sa babayarang buwis. Nandyan ang mga malalakas na bansang ipinapangalandakan ang mga values ng freedom at democracy habang nambobomba at nananakop ng mga bansang hindi umaayon sa kanilang polisiya.

Sinabi minsan ng sociologist na si Randy David, "civility is the art of living with others, of assuming personal responsibility for the community in which we live, of taking pride in employing our individual talents in order to advance the lives of others." (PDI, 03/24/1996) Pagkatapos ng kung ilang daantaon ng tinatawag nating modern civilization, hindi pa rin natutunan ng ating lipunan ang virtue ng civility. Civilized, but uncivil - that's what we are.

May 9, 2005

At padating na sa lamesa ng aming Dean bukas...

May 10, 2005

Prof. Danny Cabulay
Dean - IABF
Far Eastern University

Dear Prof. Cabulay,

Good day. I am tendering my resignation from being the program coordinator of our institute's B.S. Accountancy program, effective at the end of Summer 2005.

I have spent the past month thinking a lot about this. While I have always been passionate about my teaching, sadly I can not say the same thing when doing the administrative work that comes with being a coordinator. A lot of times, I found myself asking the relevance of the tasks I am performing. While I can appreciate these tasks on an intellectual level, I found myself questioning its importance when viewed from a bigger picture. Also, I often found myself questioning more and more the managerial policies of the university, which, as an academic manager, I am expected to support and implement. I really feel that my lack of heart in my current job as coordinator would eventually be a deterrent to achieving FEU's organizational goals. I am still very willing to serve the university as a teacher, as a student organization adviser, as a coach, as a researcher or as a chairperson of a committee, but I do not see any future in being an academic manager.

I am now at a crossroads when it comes to my career. While I found my vocation in teaching, I have never really been comfortable in the field of business as I am more interested in the field of social sciences. By the second semester this coming schoolyear, I would be taking a big step towards that direction as I would hopefully be starting my pursuit for a PhD in Sociology. I am also planning to go back to playing again with my band, in pursuit of an advocacy I have been involved in since 1996. Pursuing these interests would take a lot of my time, and while I could still see myself being able to continue teaching while doing this, the same can not be said for performing adminstrative activities.

You once told me that you would respect the decision that I would make when it comes to my career choices. I hope that you would respect and accept this decision and try not to talk me out of it. Thank you.

Sincerely yours,

Prof. Erwin Rafael
Program Coordinator
B.S. Accountancy

May 8, 2005


Kanina pa ako dapat natulog. Nagpaalam na nga ako kay Ria sa e-mail kanina pang 9 pm. Pero hindi ako makatulog. Ang daming mga bagay na umiikot-ikot sa isip ko.

Malaki ang nagiging epekto sa akin ng pagtambay ko sa bahay. Nito kasing nakaraang dalawang linggo, hindi ako halos nagpupunta sa school. Naglalagi lang ako dito sa bahay. At pag sa mga panahon namang pumapasok ako, ang daming mga tanong na pumapasok sa utak ko tungkol sa ginagawa ko. Bakit? Para saan? Para kanino? Hanggang kailan?

Dahil sa mga pagtatanong na ito, napagisip-isip ako kung panahon na ba para gawin ang "desisyon" na matagal ko nang gustong gawin. May pananabik sa aking puso kasi kahit papaano, nabuhay na muli ang "desisyong" ito sa aking isipan. Pero may halong takot kasi malaking "desisyon" ito na malaki ang ipagbabago sa aking buhay. Matagal kong pinipigilang gawin ito dahil sa takot sa kung ano ang maaaring mangyari. Pero "maaari" lang naman itong kinatatakutan ko. Paano ko malalaman kung ano ang totoong mangyayari kung hindi ko gagawin ang "desisyon"?

Ang daming kailangang gawin. Ang daming kailangang isipin. Kahit nga ayaw ko munang isipin, nandito pa rin at ayaw akong patulugin.

May 7, 2005

Gusto Ko Ito :)

Sa aking pagtitingin-tingin sa Internet, may nakita akong picture ng isang billboard sa Bohol. Ang ganda ng message, nakakatuwa. :)

Bohol Bulletin Board

May 5, 2005

Repairing Basic Education

Next kong i-share ay isang article ni Randy David. Isa si Sir Randy sa pinakahinahangaan kong Pilipino. Isa siya sa iilan na nagpa-practice ng kanyang ipini-preach. Kaya nga nagbabalak na akong lumipat sa field ng sociology. :)

Ang kanyang article rito ay kritisismo niya sa mga naiisip na solusyon sa problema natin sa basic education. Tinackle niya ang issue ng length of instruction at yung isa sa paborito kong topic - ang medium of instruction. Una itong napublish sa Philippine Daily Inquirer noong February 6, 2005.

Repairing basic education

We all know there is something very wrong in the education of our children. Where the trouble lies and how we should repair it have been the subject of recurrent debate. Recently, a group of professors and researchers from the University of the Philippines offered their thoughts on this question in a position paper sent to the Department of Education and media. Their intervention signals the need to take a closer look at existing research in order to determine whether adding more years to the country's basic school system would solve the problem.

My own initial view is: By simply adding two more years of the same stuff taught in the same way in ill-equipped classrooms by the same ill-prepared and underpaid teachers to the same under-motivated and malnourished pupils may not remove us from the category in which we find ourselves today, together with the poorest African countries. But I keep an open mind.

Crucial to the analysis is isolating the key factors that affect children's performance at school. There are factors beyond the control of the school-like absentee parents and not having enough to eat. But of the variables within the sphere of educational reform, the following may be worth examining: teaching method, teacher preparedness, the curriculum, and the medium of instruction.

The proposal to increase the number of years is based on the single assumption that too much knowledge is being crammed into the existing 10-year basic program, giving rise to the need to layer or space the curriculum. I am sure there are studies that have already looked into the impact of such curricular congestion. Their findings must be considered in relation to studies that examine the effects of other factors like teaching style and medium of instruction. The UP education paper unfortunately does not go into these.

The position paper poses the question: "Could length of schooling be one reason for the dismal academic performance in local and international tests?" My UP colleagues answered the question only in an indirect way-by pointing out that the Philippines, with its six-year elementary and four-year high school programs, has one of the shortest basic education systems in the world. They did not offer empirical proof that the length of schooling is the most crucial factor in the performance of our students in international tests.

There is no question that adding more years to the 10-year basic education program will improve the test scores of our students. This seems to be supported by the limited success of the optional high school bridge program. But whether this is the best way to address the present deficiencies in the system remains unanswered. The tendency to cure problems of quality by adding quantity is so prevalent in our society that one cannot help but be skeptical.

As a teacher myself, I find that what is important in learning is not so much the amount of material one covers in a course but rather the clarity by which the most basic concepts are explained. Whether one is dealing with mathematical, aesthetic, or social science concepts, the quality of the interaction between teacher and student is crucial. The students should be free to ask for elaboration, without fear of censure or ridicule and in a language most meaningful to them. And the teacher should have the patience and, more important, the ability to explain the concepts. In this regard, I find that the use of a language that is foreign to both teacher and student can be a great barrier to understanding, and that the switch to a native language often goes a long way toward facilitating the learning process.

I suspect that, precisely because it is a second language to most of us, we tend to overestimate our relationship to English. That relationship is basically an artificial one; we still do not think in English and, maybe, never will, thank God. I won't be surprised if the most effective teachers of basic Mathematics in our country are those who do not hesitate to use a local language to explain concepts. Many conscientious teachers know this. They know that English is a key to modern and global learning, but they also know it can be a deterrent to learning.

English is all too often used by teachers to mask their own inability to grasp the concepts they are supposed to teach. They do not explain because they cannot. Instead they take refuge in seatwork, penalizing their students with interminable exercises on concepts they themselves do not understand.

I have seen this in many schools even at the tertiary level, where teachers carefully protect their own ignorance from exposure using the shield of an impenetrable language. They make their students copy entire books into their notebooks, and require them to memorize and recite portions of these. Their students learn nothing but the outer skin of ideas, unable to relate these to the circumstances of their lives.

I am aware that it may be counterintuitive to raise the issue of medium of instruction at a time when the siren song of call centers is seducing the country back to English. English is an important language, but it is a tool that can be acquired any time. Its acquisition must not impede or burden the learning process at the fundamental level.

We have gone a long way toward making our national life more inclusive by the extensive use of the Filipino language in the mass media and in public affairs. It would be tragic if our gains in these areas are nullified by the exclusion of large numbers of our children from the benefits of formal education because of English.

May 4, 2005

Preaching Nonviolence

Wala muna akong isusulat na mahahabang articles ngayong linggo. Medyo magulo ang aking utak kaya hindi ko ma-organize ang gusto kong isulat. Bilang kapalit, magshe-share ako ng mga interesting na articles na sinulat ng ilan sa aking mga nirerespetong tao para may bago pa rin kayong mababasa (at sana mayron ding matututunan) sa aking tambayan.

Ang una kong ishe-share ay isang article na sinulat ni Arun Gandhi. Si Arun ay apo ni Mahatma Gandhi, na alam naman natin na naipaglaban ang kalayaan ng India nang hindi gumagamit ng violence. Una akong nagkaroon ng correspondence kay Arun Gandhi noong ako ay nagsulat ng isang feature article tungkol sa 411, isang comic book na pinublish ng Marvel Comics tungkol sa nonviolence. Simula nung nakausap ko siya sa e-mail, napadalas na ang pagbasa ko ng mga article na pina-publish niya sa web site ng Gandhi Institute. Ang ipo-post ko rito ay isa sa mga paborito kong sinulat niya na pinamagatang Nonviolence - The Only Hope. Sana magustuhan niyo.

Nonviolence – The Only Hope
By Arun Gandhi

It is difficult to reconcile Gandhian thought with the modern theory that nonviolence is simply a strategy of convenience. In the words of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi nonviolence “is not a coat that you can wear today and take off tomorrow.” Although Gandhi emphasized the need for spirituality in the practice of nonviolence that was not the only reason why he believed nonviolence must be a way of life. For Gandhi living nonviolence was a practical necessity. Unless one lives it, one cannot practice nonviolence. Just as we are required to create a whole culture of violence around us to practice violence we need to create a culture of nonviolence around us to practice nonviolence.

The complexities of Gandhi’s nonviolence need to be understood holistically and not dogmatically. It is unfortunate that most scholars have looked at nonviolence only as the opposite of physical violence. We cannot appreciate the depths of nonviolence until we appreciate the breath of violence that is practiced in society today. Just as the absence of war is not peace superficial calm in a society does not indicate the lack of turmoil and conflict.

If Gandhiji was concerned about freeing India from the Imperial clutches of Britain he was more concerned about freeing human society from the stranglehold of the Culture of Violence. A culture that is so deep-rooted and pervasive that most of us have come to believe violence is our inherent nature. There is a problem with this argument. If violence is indeed our nature why do we need martial arts institutes and military academies to teach us to fight and kill? Why are we not born with these instincts?

The fact is it is not violence that is our true nature but anger, the fuel that generates violence. Anger is, to use an electrical analogy, the fuse that warns us of a malfunction. However, sadly, we have learned to abuse anger instead of using it intelligently because the culture of violence is based on the need to control through fear. Psychologists have recently concluded that an inordinately high number – over 70 per cent – of the violence that plagues human societies everywhere is the result of the abuse of anger. Anger is an important emotion that plays a significant role in our lives and yet we have ignored it totally.

Does our ignorance mean there is nothing human beings can do to stop the abuse of anger? I believe we have the commonsense and the capacity to learn and improve our nature. At Sevagram ashram in the late forties there were two things that Gandhiji stressed in our daily lessons. First, that we develop the ability to evaluate ourselves regularly – in the words of Socrates “An unexamined life is not worth living” – and second, that we learn to channel anger into constructive use rather than destructive abuse.

He told us anger is like electricity – just as powerful and useful when used intelligently, but as destructive and deadly when abused. Like electricity, the energy of anger must be channeled intelligently to serve humanity constructively. Writing an anger journal is one way of recording the offensive episode for posterity. However, the intention should not be simply to get the anger out of one’s system but to find an equitable solution to the problem that caused the anger. A problem nipped in the bud saves a lot of grief.

Gandhiji also emphasized the need to understand the manifold ways in which humans practice violence. Apart from the physical violence – wars, killings beatings, murders, rape etc. – we commit an inordinately large amount of passive violence both consciously and unconsciously in the form of hate, prejudice, discrimination, oppression, name-calling, teasing, looking down on people, speaking to people impolitely, classifying people by their religion, their economic standing, their gender, their habits and the millions of other ways in which our actions or even inaction hurt people. In a selfish, self-centered world we ignore the plight of people, we continue to over consume the resources of the world and continue to create an economic imbalance and generate anger. Passive violence is, therefore, the fuel that ignites physical violence so, logically, if we want to put an end to physical violence we have to cut-off the fuel supply.

We are building mega urban societies around the world that lack soul and substance. We ignore the basic question – can a society be cohesive, compassionate and caring if every member is taught to be selfish and self-centered? In Gandhian terms a society is an enlarged family and should possess the same positive characteristics – compassion and cohesiveness. However, the materialistic society we have created not only fosters selfishness but we encourage it in our children when we advise them to be successful at whatever cost. Passive violence festers in every society until it becomes unbearable and eventually explodes into physical violence. It incidentally, brings into question our concept of justice. In a world steeped in the culture of violence justice has come to mean revenge – an eye for an eye, Gandhiji said, only makes the whole world blind. In a culture of nonviolence justice would mean reformation by recognizing that those who do wrong do it out of ignorance or attenuating circumstances. Punishing the person instead of resolving the problem only aggravates physical violence in the form of crime and violence.

The story of the star fish has an appropriate moral lesson for us. A man once went early in the morning to the beach for a walk. Dawn was still minutes away from breaking. In the haze he saw a figure near the water’s edge picking something up and throwing it into the water. Out of curiosity he went to enquire and was told that during the night the tide came in and washed all the star fish ashore and when the sun comes out they will all perish. The curious man looked at the shoreline and saw thousands of star fish stranded. He said: “You aren’t going to be able to save all these starfish so what difference is it going to make?” The Good Samaritan was still busy throwing the star fish and had one in his hand that he was about to toss into the water as he turned and said: “It will make a big difference to this guy.” The moral clearly is that we should not be overwhelmed by the state of the world and do nothing to change the world. Gandhiji always believed that small acts of change can ultimately make a big difference. That is the essence of Gandhiji’s message.

May 2, 2005

Soundboard: Sa Pagitan ng Ngayon at Kailanman: Isang Review ng Bagong Album ni Gary Granada

GaryGranadaNoong nakaraang taon, mga bandang June yata, pumunta kami ni Ria sa Conspiracy Garden Cafe sa Visayas Avenue para manood ng isang gig ni Gary Granada. Bihira na kasing magpalabas si Mang Gary, isa sa paborito naming mga artists, kaya sinamantala na namin ang pagkakataon. Ok naman ang kanyang palabas kahit na nakakalimutan na niya ang ilan sa kanyang mga kanta dahil na rin siguro sa sobrang dami na ng kanyang mga sinulat na awit. Pero nalungkot kami nung kanyang ihayag na malamang titigil na siya sa pagkanta. Magpapalit na lang daw siya ng career at magko-concentrate na sa kanyang business na paggawa ng lamesang yari sa marmol at bakal. Sayang at di na siya mapapakinggan ng mga susunod na henerasyon, pero pagod na rin siguro siya sa lagpas dalawampung taon niya sa larangan ng musika.

Ngunit ngayong taon, sa aking kagalakan, nagbalik na muli si Mang Gary sa music scene. Tuwing Lunes nang gabi, siya ay tumutugtog sa Conspiracy Garden Cafe. Nakakalimutan pa rin niya ang lyrics ng kanyang mga kanta, pero ok lang dahil ang mahalaga'y kumakanta pa rin siya. At masaya ring manood dahil libre ang entrance. :)

Ngayon ay may mas maganda pang balita. May bago na uling album si Mang Gary, Sa Pagitan ng Ngayon at Kailanman, na nilabas na sa market ng GMA Records. Isa itong koleksyon ng labindalawang kanta: pitong bago, isang remake/adaptation, at apat na luma ngunit ni-rearrange. Siguro'y ilang daan na rin ang naisulat na kanta ni Mang Gary, at ang nakakatuwa'y wala pa ring kupas ang kanyang talento sa pagsulat ng magagandang mga awitin.

Ang bagong album ay sinimulan sa isang panalangin, "Dakilang Maylikha." Ito'y hindi lamang simpleng paghingi ng basbas mula sa Diyos, kundi repleksyon rin ng mga paniniwalang sosyo-politikal ni Mang Gary, na kanyang dinetalye sa VCD lecture na Introduction to Hierarchic Selection: The Evolution of Social Substructures. Ang panalangin ay sinundan naman ng isang Gary Granada classic na "Kung Ika'y Wala," isang headbanging rock song na tungkol sa pagmamahal sa kalayaan. Hindi ko maintindihan kung bakit ginagamit ito ngayon ng GMA 7 na theme song sa kanilang bagong Korea-novela, pero kung sa ikakasikat naman ng kanta, e di sige na nga. :)

Dahil sa isa itong mainstream release, marami ritong mga romantic love songs. Ang paborito ko rito ay yung "Pampalipas ng Sama ng Loob," na kanta ng isang taong kungtento na lamang sa pagiging panakip-buta ng isang bigo sa pag-ibig. Malungkot ang mga lyrics ng kanta. Halimbawa, "Ako'y kathang isip lamang Na di mo dapat seryosohin Palamuti na halamang Di kailangang diligin Hanggang makatagpo ka ng iba Huwag mag-alala Kung liligaya ka Ako ay masaya". Ang kakaiba nga lang, ang saya ng pagkakakanta nito na maiimagine mo na nakangiti si Gary habang inaawit ang malulungkot na lyrics. Kungsabagay, papaalalahanan ka rin naman niya na malungkot ang kanta sa kanyang closing lyrics: "Pwede mong iwan, pwede mo ring balikan."

Ang isang characteristic ng mga kanta ni Mang Gary ay ang poetic qualities nito. Babasahin mo pa lang ay maganda na. Halimbawa, ang kantang "Pinaasa Mo Ang Puso Ko," puwede nang isang love letter. "Pinaasa mo ang puso ko, binigyan mo ng pakpak At ako'y nangarap ng husto, nilipad hanggang ulap Pinaikot mo'ng aking mundo at bundok ay nilakbay Sa akalang ating pagsuyo sa tuktok naghihintay At ako ay halos mamatay-matay" Lumabas rin ang pagkamakata ni Mang Gary sa mga romantikong lyrics ng "Sa Pagitan ng Ngayon at Kailanman" at "Ibig Sabihin."

Dahil isang Gary Granada CD ito, hindi mawawala ang mga novelty songs. Hindi ala Lito Camo, ha. Novelty dahil sa kakaiba ang subject matter o kaya nama'y kakaiba ang treatment sa subject matter. Halimbawa, kinanta rito ni Mang Gary ang "That's All" na isang 1953 song na kinanta ni Frank Sinatra. Pero in the tradition of Dolphy and Panchito, nilapatan ito ni Mang Gary ng mga intervening na Tagalog lyrics kaya napasakanya na rin ang kanta't pinamagatan niyang "Yun Lang." Narito rin ang kantang "Noel" na isang love song para kay Noel Cabangon. Nung una kong itong narinig minsang ako ay nasa Conspiracy, kinilabutan ako dahil seryoso pa ang pagkakakanta ni Mang Gary habang nasa harap niya si Noel. Ang huling bagong kanta ni Mang Gary sa album na ito ay ang "Babadap-badap." Isa na naman itong kontribusyon sa mga kanta tungkol sa mga bakla, kasama ng "This Guy's In Love With You Pare" ng Parokya ni Edgar at "Hey, Jay" ng Eraserheads. Sa pagkakaalam ko, finalist ito sa 1st Levi Pop Songwriting Festival, pero sa aking pinagtataka'y parang di ko ito nakita sa CD na ni-release para sa festival na iyon.

Ang ilan pang natitirang kanta sa album ay mga re-issue ng mga dating kanta ni Mang Gary. Madalas niya itong gawin sa kanyang mga album, at ok rin naman dahil kahit papaano'y natatransfer na sa CD format ang mga luma niyang kanta. Nandyan ang nakakatawang "Pagkatapos" na bagay na bagay ang pagkakakanta ni Cookie Chua. Ni-release rin ang theme song ng nakaraang Philippine Centennial, ang "Tagumpay Nating Lahat." Ngayon naman, imbes na si Cris Villonco, si Jennelyn Mercado ang kumanta. Mas gusto ko pa rin ang original version, pero maganda na rin dahil wala na akong mahanap na ibang kopya ng kantang ito. Ang huling kanta sa album ay ang Gary Granada classic na "Salamat, Salamat Musika."

Nakakatuwa na ang isang haligi ng Philippine music ay nandito pa rin at patuloy na binabahagi ang kanyang sining sa atin. Pero nakakalungkot isipin na tulad ng dati, baka wala na namang makinig sa kanya. Nito nga lang bumili ako ng album, hindi man lang nilagay sa harap ng "new releases" ang Sa Pagitan ng Ngayon at Kailanman kahit na mas matagal na ng isang buwan ang CDng nasa harap nito. Nagkataon lang na naghahalungkat ako ng mga CD kaya natsambahan ko na makita ang kanyang album. Sana, mabigyan ng karampatang pagpapahalaga at exposure ang mga kompositor at mang-aawit na tulad nina Gary Granada, na di man alam ng karamihan, ay malaki na ang naiambag sa pagpapayaman ng musikang matatawag nating sariling atin.