Showing posts from 2011

New Year toast to the contributors and commentors of Get Real Philippines!

I'd like to take the time to extend my thanks to the men and women who set apart the Get Real Philippines Network and communities from the rest of the noise of the Philippine National "Debate".

Kudos to Kanin Club restaurant!

I'm not a food writer by any stretch of the imagination, but I just have to do a hats-off to this resto Kanin Club. I had the pleasure of having lunch at their Westgate Mall, Alabang branch one weekend and it was by far the best meal I had during my short stay in Manila.

If I recall right, I had a green mango salad (I forget what it is called), some sort of grilled talong (eggplant) thing-a-ma-bob, some tinola (chicken soup), and what looked like a deep-fried tilapia that had been pulled apart into a flower-like sculpture. The turon (deep-fried banana, I think it is) topped by a scoop of mango ice cream was great too.

English vs Tagalog - Manuel Buencamino comes out a chump telling James Soriano off

As usual, resident Mr Important is trying to be cute in his latest blurb where he presumes to tell current hero of the Illustrado class, James Soriano a thing or two. Too bad that thing -- even two of it -- falls short on sense. Nice try, Mr Manuel Buencamino. But do think again.

English is just another means of communication.

That is true -- among a people who have strong traditions of scientific, technological, and commercial achievement. Thus among successful societies, it does not matter whether you speak English, Japanese, Korean, German, French, Swedish, or Singlish. These languages -- and the people who speak them -- are peers among themselves.

Women should be allowed to take their place among the boys of the Roman Catholic Church

In my own personal experience, I have for often observed and compared households and families, mainly around relative degrees of religiosity between husband and wife. Based on my small sample size and my armchair evaluation, I find that in instances where, between husband and wife in a household, it is the man who is more religious, the family as a whole tends to be more stressed or suffer from strained relationships amongst its family members than in households where the husband is less religious compared to the wife.

A social experiment to be performed on the commentor known as 'GabbyD'

Most people in the small subset of the Philippine blogosphere that I have come to know best in the last several years are familiar with a commentor who goes by the name "GabbyD". The following is a little social experiment I proposed to him in reply to the most recent of his typically non-added-value commentary.

A fine specimen of an apologist ranting on behalf of Noynoy Aquino's 2011 SONA

Poor Manuel Buencamino. The title of his latest article on alone already sufficiently describes the sort of attitude that apologists of Philippine President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III tend to take. In "A clear message. Period", Buencamino makes his appeal to the public on how they should regard Noynoy's recently concluded State of the Nation Address (SONA) delivered to joint sessions of Congress -- the message is clear, basta it is! End of conversation, right gramps?

The about-face of Bagong Alayansang Makabayan (BAYAN)

Ok, help me figure this out. Militant commie group Bagong Alayansang Makabayan (translated "New Nationalist Alliance" - BAYAN for short) is a top preacher of the doctrine of America as source of all the world's evils. So what's up with this placard?

And since when did "solidarity" with the "jobless of America" coming from anyone in the Philippines for that matter make any sort of sense?

What separates the men from the boys: When people with something critical to say remain silent

Every now and then I get news about the who's-who (and some who think they are a who who's a who) of various message forums and online groups "grumbling" about the success of GRP, its network of bloggers, and its community of critical no-nonsense thinkers who've gravitated around its cutting-edge insight, and the profile we've so far built on the Net. And then I check out the comment threads of Get Real Post and wonder...

If there are so many of these yahoos who supposedly beg to differ to the ideas we put on the table to be subject to public scrutiny, the question to ask is: Where are the comments that aim to challenge these views? audience base: most highly-educated among Filipino collective blogs!

After just three months online newly-equipped with its collective blog, Get Real Post, it is interesting how now holds third place in world traffic rankings among the top six known (to me) Filipino collective blogs focused on politics and social issues. This is according to data.

Here are the rankings as of the 26th May 2011:

Bandwagon Commentators, Critical Commentators and the Philippine National 'debate'

In the Philippine National "Debate", I've observed two general types of participants which I've classified under two labels -- (1) bandwagon commentators and (2) critical commentators. Perhaps it might be a worthwhile exercise to classify noted participants in the Philippine National "debate" into these two labeled buckets. Labeling after all is a natural inclination of the human mind, and perhaps when we use a cognitive device that the average person can relate to, we can get a better understanding of what separates the men from the boys in the world of "debate."

Manuel Buencamino and other Noynoy Aquino apologists on the loose!

Seems like self-described political expert Manuel Buencamino focused on the form rather than the substance of what "Senator" Juan Miguel Zubiri had to say about President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III's non-performance over the last nine months of his presidency. Quoting Zubiri, thus...

A chat with Ayn Rand fan and objectivism advocate Froilan Vincent

I had a nice chat with Ayn Rand online fan Froilan Vincent on the blog post "An advice to a dimwit" [sic] which he authored on his Randroid site Vincenton Post. Unfortunately much of the record of this revealing chat had been deleted from public eyes by Mr Vincent. Forunately I discovered that simply clicking on the "Back" button on my browser brought up cached pages of the site with the original text still on the comment submission form of the site. I thought I'd share these gems for those who are up for a bit of a laugh.

A demonstration of the Filipino's Heritage of Smallness at work

Quibbling on terminology. The hallmark of small minds. It's like how the Law and its letter attempts to articulate a society's ethical framework. In the process of doing that, it creates an entire industry of professionals who are schooled for years to know the Law to the letter. The question however is this:

Does knowing the letter of the Law necessarily make one a proponent of its spirit?

Freedom of speech is a 'right': Says WHO exactly?

A notion that needs to be challenged: that "freedom of speech" is a "right"? Where exactly did that notion come from? That's up there with the notion that everyone has the "right" to pursue "happiness". Is it now? Is everyone entitled to be "happy"? Both of those notions are enshrined in Western philosophy. But just because they are such does not make them absolutes in the natural scheme of things. Both of these are human constructs and it just so happens that we live in societies that have woven these notions into the very fabric of their thinking.

It seemed like a good idea at the time

Famous last words: "It seemed like a good idea at the time." How many times have we heard those words? We recall harbouring ideas and notions in our minds and expressing these in words that go on to sound ridiculous in hindsight. Tragic that for many of us, wisdom usually comes when it is most useless -- when it is too late.

How easy it is for people to lose touch with reality

Do we really experience reality? Think about it. Where does our personal concept of reality really exist? We think that we are in touch with our surroundings through our senses. That is of course true -- up to a point. Without minds that have been honed by years of experience turning nerve and neural signals (generated by our thought processes and our five senses whenever these capture external stimuli; i.e., light, vibration, texture, etc.) into mental constructs, there would be no experience as we, well, experience it now. Indeed, our minds piece together mental models of the world based on how it interprets data, and we "experience" those models as proxies of the real world.

The opportunities we miss as a result of a failure to imagine

There are many artifacts, ideas, and beliefs in our lives that hang on to us with emotional hooks. Often these hooks remain securely fastened to our psyche even as the sense of their continued presence in our lives begins to wane. Recall how you would unhook a clothes hanger from your closet rack. The act of unhooking something requires one to first work against gravity to clear the hook from the object you want to move it away from. Some of us fail or wait an entire lifetime before that small, but perhaps uncomfortable step is taken. Others are lucky enough (or have the presence of mind) to recognise every opportunity to unhook themselves from old baggage as soon as these present themselves.

Get Real Post: The official blog of Get Real Philippines is online!

Get Real Post is now online! This is the forum where issues will be discussed from well-considered perspectives. Check it out right here, or logon with the following URL:

Filipinos cannot progress if they cannot follow even simple guidelines

A noted blog commentator once made an assertion that the Philippines will never be a great nation unless Filipinos learn to live by the principle of the "rule of law". Indeed, some people even insist that none of the calls by certain sectors of Philippine society for a system change like a shift from a Presidential to a Parliamentary system or even constitutional amendments will work to uplift the status of the nation because Filipinos simply cannot follow the "rule of law."

A scenario where Filipinos can aspire to world domination

Our minds are wired by millions of years of evolution to react to vermin with very primal -- often reflexive -- responses. Not only do we recoil in horror at the sight of decomposing biological matter our other senses are exquisitely attuned to detecting evidence of vermin infestation -- the smell of rotting flesh elicits the gagging sensation, bitter tastes repel us, touching something slimy or squishy disgusts us. All of the chemical agents that oppress our senses are the products of decomposition caused by vermin (of both the microbial and multi-celled varieties).

Nuclear energy: too hot to handle for "macho" Filipinos

In the aftermath of the 11th March super-earthquake that devastated Japan and caused a health and environmental crisis after damaged nuclear reactors started releasing radioactive material into the atmosphere, the Philippines remains mired in a too-little-too-late soul searching along two key areas: (1) its capability to respond in the event of a similar-sized disaster hitting its main population centres, and (2) the future of its nuclear energy program.

Population and disaster preparedness: still part of the poverty equation

Recall in the whole debate on over-population in the Philippines and how we've established the logical link between population increase and poverty through our simple, robust, and scalable definition of poverty: "a habitual entering into commitments that one is inherently unable to honour". The spectre of the scale of death and destruction that could slug the Philippines in the event of a strong earthquake occuring near or within Metro Manila demonstrates how even more impoverished we are than conventional measures indicated.

Doom and gloom - the best of times for religious enterprise!

Now is a great time to start a business! As evident in the raft of information "products" being churned out by that well of reliable factoids, Philippine Mainstream Media, doom and gloom sells like lechon manok in an ignorant medieval society such as the Philippines. The earthquakes that recently struck Japan and New Zealand, the prospect of a "big one" striking the Philippines itself, the spectre of radioactive clouds descending upon most of East Asia, civil war in the Arab world displacing thousands of henceforth unemployable Filipino Overseas Foreign Workers (OFWs), "super moons" unleashing super storms and even more natural disasters over the face of the planet, even alien species threatening to overrun the archipelago -- the possibilities and opportunities are infinite!

Japan after the earthquake: no need for our prayers

I keep reading about people encouraging one another to "pray" for Japan in this time of great tragedy after a massive earthquake and accompanying tsunami devastated its coastline and killed hundreds of her people. I'm not quite sure Japan needs our prayers. Japan is regarded as the country in the highest state of constant preparedness for earthquakes. As such, the disastrous earthquake that struck Japan is a tragedy, but one that is not tragic in the sense of it being a preventable loss of life.

Google Philippines' Top 20 most influential Filipino women

I recently got a load of Google's list of most "influential" Filipinas (Filipino women) for 2010. The list is utterly dominated by performers along with a handful of notable exceptions: Senator Miriam Santiago (no. 10), Doris Dumlao (journalist, no. 12), Monique Lhullier (designer, no. 17), and Korina Sanchez (journalist, no. 19). These 20 ladies supposedly "grabbed the greatest online mindshare in 2010". So presumably, they reflect the substance of the Filipino collective mind.

Where none exists

The human brain is a wondrous instrument. It starts out as a blank data processing device that is wired to five data collection channels -- our senses. From the minute we are born, our senses kick into operation, collecting information about our environment and feeding it to the brain.

One can't really imagine what it is like receiving such a deluge of data with no starting point to work with.

Most likely the first image to be captured by the eyes of a newborn baby would be its mother's face. But then how does its brain make sense of a face when it does not have any prior concept of an eye, a nose, a mouth, much less the entire package these elements comprise -- said face?

Simplifying the unknown

While people seek comfort in religion for assurance that they simply wouldn't blink out when they finally croak, religion for its part has dismally failed to deliver on its end of the deal and provide a convincing concept of eternal existence that the modern human mind could at least explore in the way that it does best.

Instead of a coherent framework to simplify the unknown, we get an appeal to the mysteriousness of the unknown. Not satisfying to say the least. This appeal quite simply no longer cuts it in a modern society (which last I heard, Filipinos aspire to becoming).

Security, empowerment, and access

Oftentimes it is the most mundane of things going on around us -- things we take for granted as business-as-usual that, when regarded from the point of view from a lateral thinker so effectively highlight some the most disturbing aspects of our society.

Picture these scenes, for example:

- The ubiquity of heavily armed uniformed private security personnel detailed at every other corner shop, bank branch, and entrance to residential enclaves.

- Stonewalling automaton-like sales clerks and bank tellers trained in a narrowly-defined transactional scope; police officers fearful of applying the law to what may turn out to be a high-ranking politician or government official.

- Homeowners -- from the wealthiest down to even lower-middle-class families -- cloistered in gated communities that require specially issued passes for outsiders to enter.

These are but a small subset of a vast landscape of what are mere symptoms of the underlying deeply-entrenched rot in Philippine society.

False anger: to the Filipina on International Women's Day

[Reviving this gem in commemoration of International Women's Day.]

Rape cases often boil down to a her-word-against-his and a his-word-against-hers battle. As if that weren't enough, in the Philippines, the pervading primitivism brought about by our cultural baggage routinely adds a thick wrapper of moronic drama around rape, reducing the facts-and-logic component of most rape cases to an insignificant nucleus within a thick morass of "public scrutiny".

A shared sense of belonging

At the coffee shop where I routinely get my morning fix, customers mill around the counter in a way that often makes it difficult to distinguish those who are (a) in the process of ordering and paying, or (2) waiting for a concluded order to be served. So it is a normal and routine courtesy to politely ask: "Where do I get in line?". The remarkable thing here is that even where a queue is not readily apparent, one actually exists. Each person just makes a mental note of who came first -- and the collective outcome simply comes together in a natural way.

Crock for the flock: The official communication strategy of the Roman Catholic Church

How I choose to exercise my spirituality is a personal matter. However, what can be readily observed from the ideas I make public in what I write and what I say to family in friends makes evident my lack of respect for the Roman Catholic Church. I do not differentiate between individual officers within this institution. If a person sees himself or herself as an officer of this institution (a priest, a brother, a nun, or whatever title that implies position within its hierarchy), it pre-supposes his or her adherence to its dogma. So to the argument "not all priests think like that" whenever another instance of moronic ideas propagated by the Church makes headline news, I say I don't think so.

English opens doors

We'd like to believe that we deserve a society that treats people fairly regardless of how well they speak and write English and regardless of whether they speak it with a regional accent or not. We think, if we continue stomping our feet enough in a loud appeal to nationalist sentiment, that we could one day see a society where people with a fourth-grade level of English language proficiency are as well-regarded as those of us who are privy to the kind of thinking and knowledge that only the English language (as well as the languages of cultures with extensive track records of achievement) can efficiently convey.

Unfortunately what we think we deserve is not usually what we actually get.

Winds of protectionism

[I wrote this article in June of 2009 as the world reeled from the aftershocks of the 2007 to 2008 global financial meltdown. It remains relevant today as we evaluate development paths we need to take as a nation in a world that is undergoing fundamental change in economic order. It is relevant because Filipinos continue to foolishly look to foreign capital and import-driven consumption as a source of its economic salvation.]

Bottled water: suckering an entire generation

Imagine getting your power supply from big 220-volt cylindrical batteries that are charged at power generating plants and then delivered to you every week by truck to be hooked up to your home's wiring. You then load the spent battery from the previous week onto the truck which then hauls it back to the nearest power plant to be re-charged.

Doesn't this sound like a ridiculous way of being supplied electrical power?

The bullshit of "Earth Hour"

Why subject yourself to an hour of unsustainable inconvenience (and maybe have to miss a favourite TV show while you are at it) when leading a life that quietly reduces your "carbon footprint" on an on-going basis without all the grandstanding involved in half-arsed spectacles like "Earth Hour" (to be observed 26 March of this year, 2011) is simple, easy, and sensible.

What it takes for Filipinos to learn from the presidency of Noynoy Aquino

It's been eight months and there have been soooo many complaints about the performance of Philippine President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III. From his dud of an inaugural speech, his misinformed State of the Nation Addresss, the litany of gaffes and debacles in his handling of relations with erstwhile friendly foreign governments, his oft-exhibited bratty politicians' son behaviour, his broken promises, etcetera, etcetera... -- the list of things to complain about with regard to Noynoy's administration is long, and getting longer by the week. Perhaps there will come a time when a critical mass of gaffes and no-results outcomes is reached and a tipping point crossed. When that happens, talk of impeachment will surely come or, worse, winds of fiesta revolution.

Open defecation in Bangladesh applied to Filipinos' efforts to change

I have often asserted that Filipinos are a people who are primarily driven by hiya (shame). Unmoved by any calls to higher purpose or noble pursuit, Filipinos continue to do the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. As such I remain convinced that any political solution pitched as a "cure" to the malaise that grips the Philippines at the very threads that weave the very fabric of its society (whether it be the latest "messiah" running for office or the current top-down change initiative in vogue) delivers incremental improvements at best.

What the Twitter cat fight between Gringo Honasan and Jim Paredes reveals about the Edsa "spirit"

I read with bemusement the catty exchange between Jim Paredes and Gringo Honasan that was immortalised on last Friday, the 25th February. Imagine two senior citizens of the Republic -- both household names and key figures in a "revolution" touted as one that defines Filipinos' place in history at that -- engaged in a tiff of the sort that would draw cheers and hoots the way a mud wrestling match would. Hold that thought and draw a hard association between that and this "spirit" of Edsa that we are supposed to re-visit, and there you have what the whole exercise was really all about.

Heroism with trainer wheels: commemorating the Edsa People Power frolic

Not being in Manila at the height of the festivities marking the 25th Anniversary of the Edsa "People Power" "revolution", I was relegated to some semblance of keeping tabs on events in real time via a live feed courtesy of Google set to display content with the keyword "edsa". The feed normally captures news reports as they come through the wire. Unfortunately it also captures "tweets" made on the popular "social media" website So literally every second, some kind of update from someone somewhere in the world with something to say with "edsa" in it scrolls in.

The persistent myth of economic growth

Development in understanding in recent years is making real limits on growth a lot more palpable since it is becoming quite evident that our approach to measuring economic value and the costs of acquiring said "value" (i.e. our monetary system) is woefully incomplete. Yet economic growth remains the be-all-end-all that pervades every aspect of human aspiration. Corporations scramble over one another to get into the next market to expand into. Shoppers are continually trawling vast malls looking for the next must have. Credit is wantonly extended to grease the entire endeavour.

Senator Bongbong Marcos's safe assertion: Philippines could be Singapore today if not for Edsa I

Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. in a recent statement made crack that the Philippines "should have been a Singapore" by now if the Edsa "People Power" "revolution" of 1986 had "not prospered". This is of course debatable and an easy assertion to make since it is by all intents and purposes unknowable and unprovable anyway.

Remembering the 1986 Edsa "revolution"

I was a teenager in 1986 when the first Edsa "Revolution" erupted. The sound of this "eruption" for me was the murmer of a crowd queueing at a fishball stand or playing pusoy dos with their pals on a sidewalk while smoking Marlboro "Blue Seals". An anticlimactic account, yes, but the thing about the first Edsa "revolution" was that it came together spontaneously as ordinary people milled rather than massed into Edsa as what was to become the seminal event emerged from the collective stand. Indeed, back then the stand was clear, the phenomenon was emergent, and the sponteneity was very evident. That phenomenal nature underpinned by such clarity cannot be replicated -- specially if the attempt is engineered by people with top-down agendas (as what's happened since). For the first Edsa revolution was, at its most fundamental, a bottom-up movement.

Have the advocates of Filipino reproductive health lost the plot?

Of late, there is the issue of (1) "the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill" and (2) President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino's backflip on his earlier promise to prioritise it. Without having to get off my armchair and just from browsing the little niche of the Net that I inhabit, it seems the "advocates of the RH Bill" have been up at arms over the above two challenges -- getting the Bill passed in Congress and overcoming the hurdle of Noynoy's backflip on his promise.

What is wrong with this picture?

It often helps when one is merely a bemused outside observer. Because for me, the issue remains quite simple.

Reproductive Health and Mortal Sin: Filipinos know better

The Catholic Church has been progressively taking its gloves off in recent weeks as it steps up its Inquisition against the "evils" of the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill being pushed by law makers and activists alike. In a recent development marking the Church's steepest descent yet into its old Medieval habits, a local parish issued a statement where it said that it will refuse communion to people who support the RH Bill.

Short of implying that people who support the RH Bill are evil, the Parish Pastoral Council of Santuario de San Jose in Mandaluyong City encouraged those who favoured the passing of the RH Bill to cleanse their soul through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Why indeed should we not bury former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Fort McKinley Libingan ng mga Bayani?

Why not bury former President Ferdinand E. Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Filipino Heroes' Cemetery)? That is the question that came to light recently in the wake of the burial there of former Secretary and retired General Angelo Reyes, who was in the middle of being implicated in a big-time corruption scandal at the time of his death on the 8th of February this year. Marcos's son, Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr today "reiterated his call for the burial of his father, the late former President Ferdinand Marcos, in the Libingan ng mga Bayani". Television personality Karen Davila was quoted by ANC 24/7 as having quoted Bongbong saying that "if Angelo Reyes was buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, my late father should also be buried there".

Why the Church failed to make its position on the RH Bill intellectually appealing

The forces of modernism are in the midst of a fight for the progression of the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill. That powerful bastion of Filipino-style primitivism, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), has in recent months brought to bear its vast fear mongering communication channel -- the "Holy" Catholic Mass -- to disseminate its threats of fire and brimstone to those in its flock who dare harbour impure thoughts on contraception. Among those who had so far succumbed to this might is no less than Philippine President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III who earlier withdrew from a commitment to prioritise reproductive health in his list of legislation to push.

Love and other vices on Valentines Day

Valentines Day. This day always brings out the best and worst in people. It’s hard not to feel sorry for the rest of the population whether they be men or women, or boys or girls who feel left out on that day -- a day which in the cosmic scheme of things is really just another 24-hour segment in the Earth's journey through space and time as it orbits the sun.

The age of "people power revolution" needs to be supplanted by a modern "institutionalisation revolution"

What do (1) the disastrous ascent to power of Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, (2) the crystallisation of trial-by-media into the backbone of Philippine criminal justice, and (3) an over-reliance on noise-making and stunts to instigate change movements all have in common? Answer: people power. The idea that spectacular and noisy mass movements -- in all their chaotic and unstructured glory -- can result in a deep structural change of the sort that yields enduring value started in the Philippines with the transpiring of the 1986 Edsa "Revolution".

Retired General Angelo Reyes: a high price to pay for a "committee report"

The Philippine Congress mirrors not only its constituents. It mirrors its constituents' favourite form of entertainment -- low-brow noon time variety shows like Wowowee. Not much comes out of Congressional "inquiries" and "hearings" other than an opportunity for our honourable politicians to rack up media exposure mileage. But while shows like Wowowee turn the desperation of its impoverished contestants into mass-audience entertainment, the entertainment value of Congress is more akin to a bullfight -- where a bloodthirsty audience cheers on a flamboyant matador's graceful ritual killing of a maddened beast.

To those who presume to judge former Secretary and retired General Angelo Reyes

We, mere observers, who do not know former defense secretary and chief of staff retired General Angelo Reyes at a personal level only have the Law to frame our regard for him. Granted, Reyes was a primary suspect in the on-going probe of massive corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). But in the eyes of the Law, he remains innocent for now as the Law presumes a person innocent until proven guilty.