Monday, November 30

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to run for Congress!


President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to run for Congress. There's something fundamentally wrong with this headline, don't you think? When you have been President of the Philippines, what do you have left to prove? Apparently running for Congress is up next for Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Is she this power hungry, that being President for nine years is not enough for her? And I thought I've seen it all in Philippine politics. Can you believe the nerve of this woman?

From the Inquirer:

MANILA, Philippines-- President Macapagal-Arroyo ended on Monday, months of suspense over her political future by announcing that she would seek a seat in the next Congress representing the second district of Pampanga.

Ms Arroyo claimed her decision to run was the product of both her desire to pursue public service and heed what she called “clamor” by her province mates.

“After much contemplation, I realized I’m not ready to step down completely from public service,” she announced in a guided interview with the government-run “Radyo ng Bayan”.

...(As you all know, I have been asked by the citizens of my home district in Pampanga to stay on in public life), so after much soul-searching, I have decided to respond affirmatively to their call,” she said.

Oh come on, spare us the drama Madam President. None of this "I still desire to serve the people" crap. Admit it, you have just gotten so used to power, you are probably afraid you'll have withdrawal symptoms like a two-bit crackhead when your term ends. I could understand that. It's preferable than hearing these platitudes.

I was there, dude!

I have never been a Gloria hater, in fact I joined the mass protests at EDSA 2. I was in the crowd (with my cousin Majin) when she was sworn in as the second woman President of the Philippines . I think there was a lot to admire in her handling of the economy. And honestly I just did not pay that much attention to the shenanigans of politicians. Apathy is my middle name, you know.

So what should we make of this? The woman who became president due to a peaceful popular uprising turned out to be just as power-hungry as the rest of the men. I guess it was too much to hope that Gloria Macapagal Arroyo would have even a little of the much beloved Cory Aquino's character and dignity. The first woman president knew when to relinquish power,the second clings to power like a desperate gecko (tuko!). I think when you are not secure about your presidential legacy, running for congress will do just fine.

Update: GMA is now congresswoman of Pampanga's 2nd district.


Saturday, November 28

A little break... this is comedy gold

This is in honor of my sister Anne's birthday. I remember she used to sing this at karaoke--rather badly too, lol. Growing up in the 80's this song was one of those that just got stuck in your memory, cheesy though it may be. I appreciate the guys who made this "Total Eclipse of the Heart" literal video version. It's hilarious.

Happy Birthday to you big sis and to my cousins Yang2, Belle and Lyn--they celebrated theirs this week too. With all the terrible stuff that's been happening in our world it's so easy to feel down and hopeless. But life goes on. Smile!


Friday, November 27

Something hinky about "global warming".

manipulated graph showing warming

Scientists of the Climatic Research Unit - University of East Anglia in Britain are in deep trouble with the release of hacked emails that contained their discussions on hiding the decline of temperatures, even encouraging the destruction of data that might show that temperatures have been cooling the last decade.

From the UK Telegraph:
The conspiracy behind the Anthropogenic Global Warming myth has been suddenly, brutally and quite deliciously exposed after a hacker broke into the computers at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (aka CRU) and released 61 megabytes of confidential files onto the internet.

When you read some of those files – including 1079 emails and 72 documents – you realise just why the boffins at CRU might have preferred to keep them confidential. As Andrew Bolt puts it, this scandal could well be “the greatest in modern science”. These alleged emails – supposedly exchanged by some of the most prominent scientists pushing AGW theory – suggest:

Conspiracy, collusion in exaggerating warming data, possibly illegal destruction of embarrassing information, organised resistance to disclosure, manipulation of data, private admissions of flaws in their public claims and much more.

But perhaps the most damaging revelations – the scientific equivalent of the Telegraph’s MPs’ expenses scandal – are those concerning the way Warmist scientists may variously have manipulated or suppressed evidence in order to support their cause.
graph from unaltered data

It is outrageous for purportedly non-partisan scientists to do something like this. Although if one considers how politicized the debate on global warming has become and how much money is being poured on this kind of "research"--this is hardly surprising. Science is supposed to be about the raw data, so it is doubly alarming that respected scientists would so willingly fudge or try to hide results they don't like. This is not confined to Britain too.

From the Examiner
Climate scientists in New Zealand today accused the foremost climate-research institution in New Zealand of data manipulation of the same type as the East Anglia Climatic Research Institute (CRU) is alleged to have done.

The New Zealand Climate Science Coalition today issued this paper saying that a graph published by the New Zealand National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) is not only wrong but is the result of painstaking and unjustified adjustment of raw temperature data covering the period from 1853 through 2008, Ian Wishart of The Briefing Room announced today.
At issue is a claim by NIWA that the average temperature over New Zealand declined from 1853 to 1909 and then began to rise, and has been rising ever since, at an average rate of +0.92 degree (Celsius) per century.

However, unlike the case with the CRU, NIWA's raw data remain readily available, at least to climate scientists. Richard Treadgold, of the Climate Conversation Group, and his colleagues requested and obtained the data used to produce the NIWA graph. Using these data, they produced a graph of their own. Their graph, shown here, displays no such decline from 1853 to 1909 and consequently no such steep increase from 1909 through 2008 as that shown on the NIWA graph. Instead, according to the CSC, the linear trend is a negligibly gentle +0.06 degree per century since 1853.
Read more here:

So the hysteria over global warming is encouraged by these poor excuses for "scientists". I'm all for being a good steward of the earth we live in. I segregate my trash, use environment friendly light bulbs and such. But I knew there is something not quite right with this global warming bandwagon that we're supposed to climb onto without question. Remember how when the temperature started dropping enough for people to notice, they started calling it "climate change"? So the whole premise of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signing the Climate Change Act of 2009 just a month ago is a fraud? How very sad.

Update: UN climate change panel based claims on student dissertation and magazine article

Update 2.0: Climategate U-turn as scientist at centre of row admits: There has been no global warming since 1995


Thursday, November 26

About Credit Cards and stuff

isn't it cute?

I love, love BPI! It may be odd to sing the praises of a bank/credit card company these days but I'm just so happy with BPI (Bank of the Philippine Islands) right now. I requested a mini-edge to go with my  'edge' card and it had arrived after 5 days. It may not sound like much but my Shop More credit card from Banco de Oro (BDO), I had to wait 6 weeks for and the card is ugly too. Look how cute the BPI mini-edge is, it has a loop on its side so you could use it as a key ring. They used to send this together with the main card once you get approved, but I guess they are cutting costs so you have to ask specifically for it now. My main edge card is so beat up and old--my signature on the back has become undecipherable it's starting to freak out cashiers. I did not want to pay for a replacement card so I asked for this instead. See, there's a method to my madness hehe.

my Jollibee Real Thrills loot

You do not think I'm going all fangirl on BPI just for that, don't you? Well here's the main thing, they have these promos called Real Thrills. If you charge a certain amount on your bpi credit card, you could exchange your charge slip for meals at participating restaurants or fastfood chains like Chowking, Greenwich or Goldilocks. They have Jollibee the past 2 quarters and I have just gotten around to availing of this promo so I'm stoked because I still have lots more charge slips from when my relatives vacationed in the Philippines from Europe. I charged their purchases on my credit cards, of course. My friend Jane tells me my banks must hate me. They have never had the opportunity to charge me any fees because I always pay in full and on time. Banks make their money on the finance charges they charge credit card holders on the revolving balance left on their bill. If you pay in full they can't charge you anything. They still have the merchant fees that's maybe 3-5% of the list price so I'm not crying for them either.

Christmas season promo 'til January 15

I use my credit card for buying just about everything, it's convenient and practical because I get to keep my cash in the bank for a longer time. Of course I have heard of horror stories about people getting into trouble with credit card debt. My cousin Rose made the mistake of just paying for the minimum amount due every month until she noticed 2 years later that she was just paying for the interest on her balance and took out a loan just to pay it all off. She has stayed away from credit cards ever since. Credit cards in my view are good as long as you do not treat it as extra money for you to splurge on stuff you don't actually need. Don't charge anything if you know you could not pay for it, it's pretty simple. It is a convenient tool for us. But if we don't use it responsibly, we should be ready to face the harassing phone calls of bank collectors--I hear they could be very rude. So charge wisely.


Wednesday, November 25

God keep you safe, Nonoy.

I've been following the media reports on the Maguindanao massacre online when I clicked on another story and a familiar name jumped at me Lt. Jimrhic Obias. He is my cousin's son, who is a nephew to me really. At first I thought there must be some mistake. He'd been hurt 11 months ago in an ambush, shot in the left arm and chest and almost didn't make it. He'd had a difficult recovery because his median nerve was injured so he couldnt oppose or flex his thumbs even after months of physical therapy. He went back to his unit 4 months ago - his family expecting he'd just sit on a desk doing office work. This doesn't read like a desk job to me.

Dumaguete City - A Philippine Army soldier was wounded when a small band of suspected New People's Army rebels opened fire on a military truck at about 8 a.m. yesterday along the national highway in Guihulngan, Negros Oriental.

A seven-member team from the Guihulngan-based 11th Infantry Battalion of the Army, led by Lt. Jimrhic Obias, was on board a KIA KM-450 military truck en route to Bacolod City in Negros Occidental, when some 10 perceived NPA rebels fired at them along the national highway at the boundary of Guihulngan and Vallehermoso towns.

Lt. Col. Franco Nemesio Gacal, commanding officer of the 11 th IB, identified the wounded as Private First Class Ariel Pangantihon, who was hit on his right arm.

Initial police investigation showed that during the ambush, the soldiers were able to fire back at the rebels as the truck they were riding continued traversing the national highway, Guihulngan police chief, Sr. Insp. Petronelli Gracia, said.

Gracia said the soldiers were fired upon twice, first in Barangay Hibaiyo in Guihulngan and a few minutes later at the boundary of Vallehermoso, about five to six hours ride north of Dumaguete City .

I could not for the life of me understand why he's being shot at again but if the army thinks he is fit now to lead his team, he must be physically up to it right? I tried to call him and when he did not pick up, I texted him about his safe 'office work'. He answered right back asking me not to tell his Mama and the rest of the family because he told them nothing, obviously. That is typical of him, when he got hurt before Christmas last year he did not tell his parents until he was out of the woods weeks later. He did not want us to worry about this latest skirmish, he is fine, he'll be careful... So I didn't nag too much though I couldn't help but try to plead with him to find another job. He could easily get one in the private sector, this is a very smart kid after all.

couldn't do the 'v' sign with big sis and auntie

But I remember too that when he was in his junior year taking up engineering at the University of the Philippines, he decided to enroll at the Philippine Military Academy much to his parents' dismay. He told me it had always been his dream to serve his country this way, he tried to make it work at the UP but the call of military service is stronger. He did very well at the PMA graduating with honors and given various awards for leadership. We might not be too excited about his chosen path (cannon fodder?!) but we are surely proud of him.

with his sisters and brother at the army hospital

He is a hero, living in a country that much too often ignores its heroes. When he was in the army hospital, we were shocked at the conditions there ( the bathroom's clogged, water supply unreliable). He had to buy his own medicines because the pharmacy did not have it in stock. That is why I marvel at his dedication. No matter the difficulties he faced the past year--with a slightly atrophied left hand and nerve injury pain that must still keep him up at night. He's still shooting back at rebel terrorists, still fighting. He and soldiers like him might save this country yet. We are blessed.

Update 2012: Jim is doing great. He got married and now has the most adorable baby girl. :)


Tuesday, November 24

Maguindanao massacre: Tragedy of Philippine politics

Politics in the Philippines is not for the faint of heart. The system is so corrupt I could count in one hand the politicians who are deemed honest enough to vote for. Most here see political power as their ticket to riches and family glory because once their terms end they could just 'transfer' their power to their wives, children, siblings etc. Sadly, these are done through elections and I suppose people voting for the devil they know is understandable but it doesn't make it less tragic. I'm a Christian so I'm naturally optimistic about things but today...

From the Inquirer

SANIAG, Maguindanao - Screams of anguish pierced the farming village of Saniag Tuesday as police pulled bodies from a mass grave, unearthing one of the most brutal political killings in Philippine history.

The victims had been dumped in the hastily dug graves on Monday, shortly after gunmen allegedly linked to a local political chief shot dead at least 46 of them from close range with what police said were M-16 assault rifles.

...from a small party of mostly female opposition politicians and a large group of accompanying journalists who were abducted on Monday morning as they embarked on a trip to an electoral office.

Several hours after the abduction, the military found the victims' six-vehicle convoy just off the lonely unpaved road of Saniag along with 22 bodies that had been dumped close by.

The southernmost part of the country has always been restive. Violence is normal, just part of life I thought, the Muslim insurgency there has been going on even before I was born. Having lived most of my life in Luzon the largest, most prosperous island in the Philippines it was easy to shrug off the news coming out of Mindanao. It's so far away from Manila, this city girl couldn't relate to the myriad of issues they are facing there. Even when separatist groups bombed trains in the capital and killed people just a few years ago, those were rare enough that after cursing the terrorist b*st*rds for their perfidy I went right back to my apathy. Out of sight, out of mind you know.

This latest barbaric act though is something else. I'm at a loss for words. These savages abducted and killed 46 people on their way to filing a certificate of candidacy for a politician to run for governor of Maguindanao province. Apparently the little tyrant governor there wanted his son to 'inherit' his governorship unopposed. People would do something like this for political power? There's never an election season in the Philippines without killings and all but never like this. What kind of animals are these murderers? What has this country become when merely filing papers to run for office is seen as a sin so egregious one has to kill for it? It makes me very sad for my country.

Update: death toll now at 57
 Update 2.0: Videos about the massacre victims:


Sunday, November 22

Kelly Clarkson is amazing, Adam Lambert is just desperate

I was watching the American Music Awards on TV and I couldn't help but notice that almost every performer had elaborate sets, choreography, fireworks etc. that after a bit the performances started to look the same to me. How refreshing then that Kelly Clarkson just sang her song 'Already Gone' without any gimmickry. Not trying to be edgy, racy or raunchy like the others(hello, Lady Gaga!) but just using her voice as her instrument and it worked. She totally deserved the standing ovation after her performance.

I think we have gotten too used to the outrageous that we sometimes fail to appreciate the beauty in simplicity. It's really wonderful to be reminded that most of the time less is more. Compare Kelly Clarkson's classy, understated performance to Adam Lambert's and you'll see what I mean.

Adam Lambert might think this is sexy but it just looked weird, desperate, degrading and utterly banal. Haven't we all seen this before? How many wannabe pop stars have taken this road, trying too hard to shock and push the envelope to the detriment of our culture? The result being that almost nothing shocks us anymore. Shoving a dancer in your crotch while screeching a song is hardly new. Meh. Adam might have been better off being like Kelly this time. Nice save on the fall though.


Tuesday, November 17

The Blind Side movie reviews are coming in!

I've written in a previous post how much I loved the book The Blindside: Evolution of a Game and how apprehensive I was that the movie based on it might not be any good. It's starting to look like my fear was unfounded at least in early reviews. From trade magazine Variety:

After swinging for the fences and scoring a sleeper success with "The Rookie" (2002), writer-director John Lee Hancock takes the field with "The Blind Side," another uplifting and entertaining feel-good, fact-based sports drama. The combo of top-billed Sandra Bullock's marquee allure and a true-life story with well-nigh irresistible emotional appeal probably would be enough to fill megaplex stadiums at any time of the year. But this Nov. 20 Warners release is particularly well positioned to be a four-quadrant hit as the consensus choice of family auds during the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

Critics though seem to have a problem with the ' too good to be true' aspects of the story. I guess it's normal for people to be cynical, to doubt other people's motivations for doing good. Some even say that this movie is racist because it depicts a white family saving a black young man. I mean what's wrong with these people? The life of Michael Oher speaks for itself really, from a homeless kid to millionaire football player in just a few years is an amazing achievement. I hope everyone could just enjoy the movie without looking for hidden meanings in it. For me as long as it doesn't mess too much with the facts in the book - I'm good.

a nice article by World magazine about Michael Oher and the Tuohy family who adopted him.

Opening in theaters in the Philippines January 27, 2010


Saturday, November 14

Proud of Manny Pacquiao. Hope he stays out of politics, though.

Manny Pacquiao is truly a great fighter. He just won the World Boxing Organization welterweight title from Miguel Cotto of Puerto Rico. This is his seventh title in seven weight classes which is a first in boxing history. I watched the fight live on the internet and was worried at first that Cotto looked so much bigger but hey, our boy came through and knocked out his opponent in the 12th round. I felt so sorry for Cotto, he was all bloodied and beaten up. His wife and son were at ringside watching and left when it got too much for them. I guess it's part of boxing but still...

Living in the Philippines, it's hard to escape the presence of Manny Pacquiao. He's literally everywhere. On billboards, TV commercials ( it seems he has gazillions of them), radio ( he sings too, don't cha know?) and movies( coming very soon to theaters). Everytime he has a fight the whole country drops everything just to watch him. The streets would be practically deserted. He is that BIG. He has political ambitions though - he ran for a congressional seat two years ago to represent his district, but he was defeated. He said he'd like a second crack at politics. I'd rather he steers clear of it and stick to boxing, he's an absolutely great boxer. He has a good thing going here. Even his mom is in the movies now for goodness' sake! No need to have politics taint or ruin Pacman.

Update: Oy.
Update 2: Manny wins seat in congress.


Friday, November 13

Edu Manzano for Vice President. Blech.

Here we go again, actor and game show host Edu Manzano has thrown his hat into the ring and is now running for vice president of the Philippines. Will Filipinos ever get over our penchant for voting for whoever is famous? I mean these actors, TV hosts, celebrities must think being on the screen is a good enough reason to run for any high office. After all, we had a former President ( who was impeached, jailed for plunder, pardoned and inexplicably now running again for president), several senators, governors, mayors plucked from their ranks. But seriously? It gets tiring after a while.

I'm sure Edu Manzano has good personal qualities, but being vice mayor of Makati City, chairman of the Optical Media Board chasing after cd and dvd pirates on side streets, and actor/TV host are not enough qualification to be as they say a 'heartbeat away' from the presidency. This reeks of blind ambition no matter the protestations to the contrary. I guess some would say I'm being too hard on him considering our current vice president was himself a TV newscaster but isn't that the point? Enough already.


Thursday, November 12

How drunk (and lucky) can you get?

This unidentified woman in Boston got too close to the edge of the subway platform and then tumbled into the path of an oncoming train. Thanks to the frantic waving of other passengers waiting on the platform, and the quick reflex of the train conductor, the woman survived.

Boy, she must have been really drunk, she couldn't even get up and just lay on the train tracks for a moment there. I hope after she sobered up she could appreciate just how close she was to killing herself and get some help. This reminds me of this baby's story which happened in Melbourne a month ago.

Both walked away with just minor bruises and a heck of a story to tell. Miracles still do happen, thank God.


Monday, November 9

Britney Spears lip synchs. Quick, call the police!

This is ridiculous. Why does it matter if she is singing live? She's not Christina Aguilera or Kelly Clarkson. People are not looking for Britney Spears to give powerhouse vocals, she's never been about that. She's an entertainer, more of a performer than a singer. Watching this YouTube clip could be an education for the innocent little lambs who are shocked that she mimes her songs in her concerts.

Granted she's not the dancer she used to be in her "Toxic" days but she still moves around a lot. Anyway if you're a Britney fan, just be thankful she's performing again and not shucking her underwear or shaving her head.

Remember this?

People should give her a break. She puts on a spectacle in her performances - a circus if you will. I would pay to see her if she's ever in my neck of the woods. She is a pop culture phenomenon, if that is not a good enough reason for you then don't buy tickets to her concerts. Let's not push her into another nervous breakdown over this. Britney Spears lip synchs, deal with it!


Friday, November 6

Fort Hood Shooting: This Psycho Shrink Did It

This just makes my blood boil. How could a doctor be so cavalier about killing. I mean, why do this? I'm offended on behalf of my profession. Just because you hate your job doesn't give you the right to shoot people. You have choices you know.

FORT HOOD, Texas – An Army psychiatrist set to be shipped overseas opened fire at the Fort Hood Army post Thursday, authorities said, a rampage that killed 12 people and left 31 wounded in the worst mass shooting ever at a military base in the United States.

The man was identified as Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, a 39-year-old, eight-year veteran from Virginia. Retired Col. Terry Lee, who said he had worked with Hasan, told Fox News he was being sent to Afghanistan.

Lee said Hasan had hoped Obama would pull troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq and got into frequent arguments with others in the military who supported the wars.

Officials were investigating whether Hasan was his birth name or if he may have changed his name, possibly as part of a conversion to Islam. However, they were not certain of his religion.

There's no excuse for this, religious or otherwise. This vermin could have easily just quit his job. But no he chose to kill a dozen people. Loser.Freak. Idiot. Evil.

Update: death toll now at 13.


Thursday, November 5

Hey you, don't speak like Kris Aquino!

This article from the Philippine Daily Inquirer made me think.

Read to your kids even when they’re still in the womb, but don’t sound like actress Kris Aquino when she’s speaking Taglish (Tagalog or Filipino mixed with English).

Organizers and participants of the First Philippine Summit on Early Childhood Education on Wednesday urged parents to “read aloud” to their children, including the unborn ones, to help improve their literacy later in life, but they warned against mixing languages or dialects.

Answering questions from reporters, educator Carolina Gustilo de Ocampo said Aquino, a sister of presidential candidate Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, should set an example to Filipino children and avoid mixing Filipino and English when talking.

American literacy specialist Laura Benson, a professor at the University of Colorado and a speaker at the summit, said it was important not to mix languages, adding that studies by Harvard University show that the language used at home “primes, prompts, patterns our children’s thinking.”

“Speak in the language of your home, not Taglish, Pampangueñoish, or Ilonggoish. The most important thing is for the parent to be very clear. She cannot mix it,” she added. De Ocampo said parents at home oftentimes inadvertently switch from one language to another even in just one sentence.

Don't confuse me bro! My adorable niece Aliyah

This hits a nerve because I see this in my own life. It's not just Kris Aquino - though she's certainly influential. It's everybody. I don't know anyone who speaks straight Tagalog. There's always English thrown in, it's become acceptable. In my experience even people who speak English fluently would deliberately speak Taglish to fit in. My nieces and nephews do the same too. So I guess we adults should cut it out for the children, huh?

More here


Wednesday, November 4

The Blind Side: Michael Oher's story gets the Hollywood treatment

The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis is the first sports book I've ever read. It tells the story of Michael Oher an essentially homeless kid from a Memphis ghetto. He came to the attention of the Tuohy family who later on adopted and helped him get into university to play football. It's a very inspiring story about how a life can change with the help of good hearted people. The book is beautifully written and I cheered when Oher got drafted by the Baltimore Ravens. He's currently playing very well for them as an offensive tackle. Now they've made a movie based on the book and I hope they don't mess too much with the story and make it too Hollywood.

I've always hated it when a book I loved gets mangled beyond recognition on the screen. It ruins it for everybody in my opinion. The trailer looks good though so here's hoping it gives the book justice.

Update: The Blind side has been certified 'fresh' by critics at Rotten Tomatoes and it claimed the number 1 spot at the US box office overtaking 'New Moon' on its third week of release. So excited for this movie to get to the Philippines!

Update 2:
Opening in theaters in the Philippines January 27, 2010

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