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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pasig's Barangay Officials' Seminar in Boracay, QC's Thousands of Ghost Employees

The 3-day seminar was meant to "empower" 330 Pasig barangay officials who stayed at Boracay Garden Resort "which has Triple A rating, the highest for local resorts," reported the Philippines Daily Inquirer today.

Neal H. Cruz's column at PDI today discloses that Quezon City has 26 councilors and each of them has 124 employees. Each councilor has an P800,000 monthly payroll. However, only 20 or so of the 124 employees can be truly flesh-and-blood accounted for. The employee data sheets of each councilor have photographs supposedly of employees. But lo! The owners of the photos are not even aware that their photos are being used to steal money from the Quezon City taxpayers! With all these ghost employees, it is a wonder why the Quezon City Hall is never featured in the Halloween Specials of Mel and Joey.

Now I know exactly why people kill and get killed even during barangay elections.

Where I live, the barangay officials went to Palawan for some seminar, too. This just a week ago. How did I know? Heck, I have the pics in my Facebook. One barangay official happens to be a friend of mine.

According to Interior Secretary Robredo, a memorandum circular released in February, "discourages local executives from conducting seminars outside of their region unless these are location specific like visiting a landfill or a project." Well, if you use the word "discourages" in a circular like that, expect it to be ignored. The memo ought to have been worded straightforwardly. They ought to have used "prohibits," "bans," "disallows," and other stronger, black-or-white words. "Discourages" is such a lukewarm, weak, chicken-hearted word. And I thought Sec. Robredo had balls?

Why is it difficult to change when personal comfort and gains are at stake? Or have I forgotten once again that this is the Philippines?

Still, I'm not losing hope.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

This Country Is the Strongest

That Japan and its people exemplify grace under pressure cannot be denied despite the latest headline that Japan government is losing public trust.

But for one to sing praises to one and spit mockery to another is questionable. True: Japan has the best laid-out disaster management plans. True: Japan has built only disaster-proof (well, almost) infrastructure. True: Japan has trained its people to be prepared at all times and to shun panic at all costs. True: Japan has perfected order in chaos. And yet, and yet.

And come our media and intelligent folks grabbing the microphones and hugging the limelight and writing editorials: if Japan had it almost perfectly planned and still crumble to pieces day by day after Friday's 9.0 earthquake and 40-foot high tsunami, where would that same catastrophe leave this country of corrupt government and careless, garbage-spewing people? Then you rehash news about this country's so-much-to-be-desired infrastructure and how a 7.2 earthquake in Metro Manila would leave hundreds of thousands of people dead and more than a million people homeless and countless of properties and industries destroyed. You paint a scenario a dozen times more horrifying than what Japan faces now. Isn't it enough that people of the world, including Filipinos, feel sincerely sorry for the Japanese and pray for Japan's safety? Is the world still lacking in monsters, you would have to rouse fear among our people?

Each day, about a third of our population faces tragedy worse than death: insane poverty and insurrection. Do you think they are still bothered by earthquakes and tsunamis?

True: when Ondoy struck, anarchy prevailed in some areas wanting food. But most of those who took part in the riot weren't fighting to get ahead in food distribution lines for themselves but for their children, parents, brothers, sisters and friends. They knew there was not enough food for everyone. Lack had forced people to be the fittest to survive.

And there is another truth, despite massive disasters, our people could still manage to smile and laugh and show V-signs for pictures. Waist-deep in the water, our people cracked jokes and poked each other urging those with gloomy countenance to smile. In another culture, laughing and smiling and picture-taking during a tragedy of this magnitude may be considered the height of insensitivity. But not in this country, not in our beloved country. We smile and laugh, thankful and happy for having survived and for being alive. Because, that which doesn't kill us makes us stronger, strong enough to laugh away the tears and fears.

Majority of our people, because they couldn't count on strong economies and sciences and technologies to tide them over, count on the Divine. Simplistic though that seems, this country has survived with the grace of God, saved by prayers of those who live under the bridge, by the creekside, and on the side streets. They are too simplistic to understand new inventions, they rely only on the One Creator.

Every day, being always the last, this country survives the worst. So please, stop the old comparison.

This nation is the strongest because we can look at disaster in the eye and smile.

Monday, March 14, 2011

In The Wake of Japan Earthquake

Reading the PDI news on Japan's worst crisis since WWII caused by the 9.0 magnitude earthquake last Friday, I couldn't help crying.

A part of the news that wrenched my heart was the last that says: "What's important in life." A 24-year old mother was playing origami, the Japanese art of making things out of paper, with her three children - aged 2 to 6 - when the quake struck. She gathered her children and fled in the car to higher ground with her husband. She said, "My family, my children. We are lucky to be alive. I have come to realize what is important in life."

When disasters strike, you don't come calling the banks to ensure that your accounts are safe. You don't go rushing to your vault to get land titles, stash of cash, and pieces of jewelry. You gather your family and flee to safety. The family is the most important in life.

But every day, when life is good, when the sun is up and gives sun showers, when the breeze is cool, when the job gives back rewards, we take people for granted. Always things first before people. Me first before others.

Then suddenly we are put on the spot for one of life's defining moments. We are made to choose what is important and choices become irrelevant because we know exactly whom to hold, whom to save, whom to give our lives to.

We sit in conference rooms and attend meetings. We wrack our brains hard for strategies that would keep the business going - either by leading or by surviving. We analyze charts and figures, but never poetry or the leitmotif in a novel.

Then reality sends a mesage. Nations strive to make the economy the most progressive only to be confronted one day by the truth: there is one power bigger than all of us. The power of the Unknown. Had we known this life is indeed not ours. That this life should be made useful for the sake of others. That this life maybe taken away from us without a siren, then we would have been more caring, more considerate, more forgiving, more generous. Then we would have spent more time reading the classics or simply the beautiful. Then we would have spent more time walking barefoot on the sand or on the grass. Then we would have spent more time playing, running with the kids. Then we would have extended our hands to those with nothing. Then we would have spent more time watching movies and less of Youtube. Then we would have spent less time at the office and more at home. Time is the most precious and priceless gift all of us have been given, yet we misuse it by going after things which may be bought by money.

Why? It is because we have discovered other types of happiness. That which is expensive and time-sacrificing. We invented bullet trains to get to destinations fastest. We invented insanely high technology telecommunication facilities to defy space and time. We invented make-believe scenarios because we don't have time to try the real thing. We have softened the rough edges only to slip into its sleekness.

For the past several weeks now, nature and life have been sending us wake-up calls. How do we respond? I hope not in text, but in action.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Who Are You When I'm Not Looking

It is country and I've listened to it a million times abusing the replay button.

Instead of complaining about not understanding what a woman is, this songwriter and singer asks who a woman is when a man isn't looking.

Once in a while a man makes sense when talking about us - women.

And here's my reply:

My oh my, if you think I'm good-looking
Hold myself together like a pair of bookends
You don't know the rest of the story
Haven't seen the lines on my face in the morning.

I put whisky and lime in my iced tea,
Dance in the mirror to cheesy rock by Skidrow
Sometimes in my pyjamas
Other times just in my Havaianas.

My oh my, if you think I'm so clever,
Looking real smart in my corporate number.
You don't know I curl barefoot on the floor
When I've been wrong ten times or more.

Do you still wanna know?

Do I break things when I get mad?
No, baby, that's just in the movies.
I get in the car and drive real fast.
I dial home to listen to children's voices
My nephews talking baby and I acting fairy.

I am this when you're not around
When the lights are out and I'm all I've got.
I read Og Mandino's self-help books
And listen to music, and yes, of David Cook.

My oh my, if you think I'm good-looking
I cry oceans without a sound, a typhoon slowly brewing.