Instead of Debates, Candidates should be put on a witness stand

So the latest trending news on social media is about how Davao City Mayor and Presidential Candidate was allegedly disrespected by a student from UPLB during the Q & A portion of a forum he attended. As expected, supporters of Duterte used social media to not only defend their candidate, they used social media to exact revenge on the offending student. It even came to the point of putting up a page on Facebook hinting or wishing death on the UPLB student who not only asked a question to Duterte, he asked that Duterte answer direct to the point and in no uncertain terms.

To be honest, I agree with the UPLB student. Not just with the way Duterte should answer questions about his policies, programs, and the things he will do if he does become President, but all Presidential candidates, heck, all candidates running for public office should be made to answer questions direct to the point. No rhetoric. No drama. No jokes or other smart-ass play with words designed to elicit humor and attract more points in surveys or give birth to viral memes on the Internet.

Now the trend of asking questions towards Presidential candidates have also become a trend in the new Presidential debates being sanctioned by the COMELEC the so-called PiliPinas Debates 2016. The first of which was held in Capitol University, Cagayon de Oro City, down south in Mindanao last February 21, 2016. It was a largely successful debate, a fresh format compared to the debates of previous elections where candidates where given questions, some of which were on point and really tested their personality, understanding of the issues, and how it compared to what they or their campaign has said in the last few months of the election season.

However, it’s not enough. The questions need to be tougher. They need to really push the candidates into cutting the BS and really taking on the issues like poverty, corruption, land reform, national sovereignty and the peace process, economic progress, even moral issues the country is facing today. Simply put, I want a Presidential forum where the candidates are asked questions just like in a cross-examination in a courtroom. This idea has been explored in the critically-acclaimed HBO series, The Newsroom, where a primetime evening news program dared to introduce a new format for the Republican primaries where the candidates are asked questions as if they were on a witness stand. See the clip below to see what it is:

For everyone’s convenience, below is the dialogue in the scene:

Your plan was to embarrass the candidates.
I want candidates who can answer those questions.
And if they know they’re going to be held responsible for the nonsense they’re shouting on the stump, they’ll be forced to stop shouting nonsense.
– This guy has lost his mind.
– He hasn’t.
Adam, this is exactly what we always talked about.
This is what we dreamed of.
We said we need real campaign reform and a way of letting Americans hear the two best competing arguments.
Nobody could stand up to that kind of questioning.
– You think that was brutal questioning?
– It really wasn’t.
And you honestly believe the candidates would submit themselves to this?
– They should welcome it.
– I don’t believe what I’m hearing.
Any candidate who can handle a cross is gonna find himself at the top of the polls in the morning.
And we should welcome it ’cause it’ll clear out the clown car and give us a serious discussion among serious candidates.
The only person who would welcome it is him.
This is about him.
He wants to look tough by making the candidates look like idiots.
No, he doesn’t.
I have known this man for 25 years and I vouch I don’t care what you vouch for.
I am not allowing the goddamn press to make fools out of our candidates.
I’ll remember that the next time you bitch about how the press never vetted Obama.

And to see how this new format would actually look like, please see this clip on YouTube.

Just imagine, each Presidential candidate being asked the hard questions, the real questions that will filter out the BS and ferret out the truth from them, where they stand on issues, what do they plan on doing once they get into office, or how will they stand their ground once their own words are used against them.

It will brutal, it will be hard, but it will be of great service to us the voting Filipinos. Now the question is, do we have a Will McAvoy who can ask the hard questions, who can ask the questions we want the candidates to answer?

Jason Bourne is back

He’s back! Jason Bourne is back!!!

From the short yet-awesome first look trailer above, Matt Damon has never been more bad ass. Sorry Jeremy, but there can only be THE one. It’s not only Matt Damon who’s back in the Bourne franchise but Julia Stiles as well. And they’re joined by action-movie legend Tommy Lee Jones, I just can’t tell you enough how excited I am with this movie.

Can’t wait for July 27!!!

Samsung TabPro S – a Surface Pro 4 clone?

Samsung has just announced its new tablet convertible device the Galaxy TabPro S:

Samsung Galaxy TabPro S

It comes with the following specs: runs Windows 10, sports 4GB of RAM, a 2.2 GHz Intel Core M chip, AMOLED screen with a resolution of 2160×1440 and weighs just 693 grams.

On the exterior though, it looks a lot like Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 doesn’t it?

Moving on, the TabPro S comes with a cover keyboard for free that connects to via a pogo-pin connector which eliminates the need for pairing before connecting. Samsung claims that the battery can charge within 2.5 hours and can last up to 10.5 for all day use. And for good measure, it comes with category 6 LTE modem so that you can use a mobile data connection to go online without a hotspot.

Samsung said it will be available globally staring February 2016 but no pricing details have been released. If Samsung prices this right, it might give Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 some serious competition. Which one will you go for? The real deal or the clone?

Source: Samsung News

If Jose Rizal ran for President, would you vote for him or not?

Last night, as I was thinking of what to write about Jose Rizal to commemorate his 119th death anniversary an idea dawned on me, well it’s more of a question really:

If Jose Rizal ran for President, would you vote for him? Why or why not?” And instead of answering the question my self through this post, I had another crazy idea and went on to Twitter and asked a few netizens the very same question. And the responses were just awesome:

First to reply was fellow blogger Arbet Bernardo:


He was referring to an interview by Philippines Graphic with historian and popular authority on Jose Rizal, Ambeth Ocampo on this very same idea – would Rizal even be elected as President?

I’ll get back to that later on, the second response was by veteran journalist and former lawmaker Teddy Locsin Jr who pointed out why the National Hero couldn’t even run for President:

Which brought up a rather interesting point given that Grace Poe’s Presidential candidacy is in serious jeopardy for the exact same reason.

In Rizal’s defense, @tagasalog gave a rejoinder pointing out a technicality:

So by the looks of it, Jose Rizal, if he ever does pursue being a candidate for the Presidency would have to join Grace Poe in the Supreme Court to sort this out. We’re hoping that the High Court does sort this out clearly and with finality.

From an issue about Rizal’s qualifications as a candidate, @Cocoy started a thread about an insight into why Rizal might not even consider running for President at all:

It all brings to mind other countries whose heroes that led a revolution eventually ended up being elected as President like George Washington who became the first President of the United States, Nelson Mandela of South Africa, and Jose Mujica of Uruguay.

So far though, the only one to gave a categorical answer was my good friend and colleague Albert John Puchero, an educator from DLSU-D:


I’m sure there are other more insightful and interesting answers out there and this quick poll on Twitter has been fun and something I’m eager to continue at another form later on as we get closer to the 2016 Presidential elections.

While waiting for COMELEC’s own James Jimenez‘ article on the Jose Rizal,

I return to that interview by Philippines Graphic of Ambeth Ocampo on Rizal running as President:

Philippines Graphic: Do you think Rizal would make a good president?

Ambeth Ocampo: Rizal will NEVER be elected president of thePhilippines. With his temperament he wouldnt even be elected Barangay Captain because he will not campaign the way polticians do today and will not bend on matters of principle. if Rizal were alvive today, he would not be president, they would shoot him in Luneta all over again!

With this, I turn to you my dear reader, would you vote for the Jose Rizal as President? What if were Jose Rizal running against Heneral Antonio Luna for the Presidency? Now that’s another discussion for another time.

Looking forward to new emoji, new keyboard, new font & new code for Android

The tweet of Android Senior Vice President Hiroshi Lockheimer says it all:

It’s been more than a week now since he made the announcement but it’s normal for Android updates to be delayed even for Nexus devices. Hopefully, the up coming update will also contain bug fixes and improvements as my Nexus 5 has been screwed up by the latest Facebook app that came out last week. The new keyboard, new font, new emoji and new code is something we all look forward to.

Not only skills, but values

Author’s note: The following is my response to a letter by Mr. Eric A. Gutierrez titled ”To protester-students: Go back to school” dated Sept. 21, 2005 that was posted on then October 19, 2005. Right below is a copy of Mr Gutierrez’ letter was first posted September 24, 2005.


I am happy that you are no longer teaching in De La Salle University, for you would no longer be able to poison the minds of my fellow students who for once are doing something useful with the things they have learned from school.

May I freshen you with the particular virtues my school, the one you are no longer teaching in (thank God) have taught me: “Religio, mores, cultura.” These are the things that are far more important than speaking and writing fluent English.
I would rather choose the student who speaks “carabao English ” than someone who says “So what?” to cheating. I would rather be with the student who takes hours to solve a physics problem than with the math wiz or the big-shot engineer who tolerates cheating and stealing.

We don’t want to build robots or an ultra-light plane or a solar-powered car just yet — we have plenty of time for that, because time is on our side. Now we are attending to a more important and urgent work: building a nation, a society that is just, honest, and has high standards of what is right and what is wrong.
This work surpasses all the schoolwork and assignments you could ever come up with.

We never claim to know everything under the sun, but we know for a fact that the country is being run by someone who has lied on our national hero’s grave and someone who stole our votes. That knowledge is enough to make us do something that is more than simply memorizing formulas, solving equations, etc.

We are scaring foreign investors because we don’t want them to be welcomed by someone whom we never voted for. We don’t want them to see us represented by someone who is a liar and a cheat. If that is all right with you, then fine.

We are thinking, we are using our brains, but we are also using something else that is also from God, our conscience. There’s no need to flunk me, because if I were to be one of your unlucky students, I would drop your subject and find someone else who would teach me not only the skills I would need later on, but also the values to live a decent life.

So shut up, step aside and let us be, for your time is up. Now it’s our turn.


To protester-students: Go back to school
First posted 04:28am (Mla time) Sept 24, 2005

AS A former College of Engineering teacher at De La Salle University, I am dismayed by what you students are doing these days. You students rally for causes that are self-dooming. You students help destabilize and embarrass this country that you think you love so much. You students seem to care more about politics and rallies than acquiring the more important skills to help you get good jobs when you graduate.

You students can’t even speak good English anymore. You can’t even write a coherent sentence in English. In fact, when I interview job applicants, out of 60 I am lucky to find one who can speak decent English without the heavy accent.
On top of all this, you seem to think you know everything under the sun, that’s why you students involve yourselves in matters that you should stay away from: politics.

You students are becoming the next generation of the same sort of people you hate the most: traditional politicians, whose sole purpose in life is to not do anything except argue with whatever current administration. I am amazed you have so much free time to participate in activities to oust President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, which you seem to have made it your life-long ambition.

Whatever happened to building a robot or an ultra-light plane or a solar-powered car in school? You students seem to have so much energy, which should be redirected to produce something more creative.

All this nonsense makes me believe that you students don’t have enough assignments or schoolwork. Are your schools second-rate? My former students certainly didn’t even have a social life while I kept them busy at school with their projects.

Study hard, that’s why you’re in school. You’re in school because you still have lots to learn. If you help destabilize this country, it is your families that could end up losing their jobs. You students are helping scare away the few foreign investors that this country needs so you can have jobs when you graduate. Don’t you just hate it when the investors end up in Thailand, China or Singapore because the political climate there is so much more stable?

Think! That’s why God put brains in your skulls. Use them. Stop acting like a bunch of freshmen. If I were your teacher, I’d flunk all of you out of your seats just for not knowing what on earth you are doing to this country and to your folks, who send you to school so you can do something positive with your lives when you graduate.

So, shut up and go back to your books.

ERIC A. GUTIERREZ, 8 Himalayas Street, San Pedro, Laguna, Philippines

On Mabini, paralysis and intrigue

There’s screencap of a tweet going around social media about how a girl who watched Heneral Luna was clueless as to why Apolinario Mabini was always seated in every scene he was in.

Netizens were quick to do a collective facepalm and throw some barbs, puns and memes about the said girl.

Push ARTICLE: Epy Quizon, nagbigay ng komento sa viral tweet tungkol sa isang netizen na hindi alam ang kanyang karakter…

Posted by Abs-Cbn on Thursday, September 24, 2015

I wasn’t that surprised at all, only fearful of what young folks today know and understand, or the lack of it, about our own history. The girl, is clearly ignorant of who Apolinario Mabini is and why he was stuck in a chair.

There’s also greater chance that the girl is not alone. Many others might also be unaware of why Apolinario Mabini is always seated in the textbook images, statues and iconography.

So why was he always seated in a chair or in a wheelchair? The latter would obviously mean he is paralyzed from the waist down. According to historical records, Apolinario Mabini was stuck by Polio in 1895 and he completely lost the use of his legs in January 1896, months before the Philippine Revolution broke out through the leadership of Andres Bonifacio and the K.K.K. or Katipunan movement.

What’s interesting is there were other theories about Mabini’s paralysis. Historian Ambeth Ocampo shares some of these theories as recounted by Alejandro Mabini:

“It was a rainy day and Manila was flooded when he [Mabini] noticed that his pet horse was missing, Kaka Pole ignored the rain and went out to look for the horse. When he returned hours later with his horse he was drenched to the skin. The following morning, Kaka Pole felt a numbness in one of his legs. The numbness kept spreading until a week later, his body was almost completely paralyzed.”

The other theory, and this one is more controversial, is that Mabini’s paralysis was caused by syphilis! Again, I refer to Ambeth Ocampo who had a great discussion about this in his column that appeared in the Philippine Daily Inquirer back in 2009:

“I still remember the afternoon in the National Library when senior members of the National Historical Institute were looking out the window towards T.M. Kalaw Street. Teodoro A. Agoncillo and E. Aguilar Cruz first commented on the statue of pre-war National Library director Teodoro M. Kalaw by National Artist Napoleon Abueva that stood guard in front of the library. Then they looked at the statue of Apolinario Mabini that also adorned the lawn. One of the historians quipped, “Oh, from the sublime to the syphilitic?” and both laughed like college students enjoying a dirty joke. I was to learn later that Mabini was supposed to have lost the use of his legs because of syphilis.

I was always warned that syphilis could lead to blindness and even madness, but paralysis? Both historians did not seem to know that in 1980 the remains of Mabini were exhumed by a team of orthopedic specialists, led by Dr. Jose M. Pujalte, whose son Brix is now the president of the Philippine Orthopedic Association. After careful reconstruction, X-ray and analysis, the team concluded that Mabini’s paralysis was not caused by syphilis, as some people would like to believe, but it was the result of adult polio.

Unfortunately, juicy rumors like this have a long shelf life because some people just want to believe the worst of someone as upright as Mabini. In contemporary times isn’t Elpidio Quirino remembered for a “golden orinola” under a P5,000 bed? One can only hope that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will be remembered for something more substantial than breast implants.

In case someone objects to the topic of today’s column, the rumor of Mabini’s syphilis should really be forgotten especially in the light of the findings that he had polio. But the story resonates as we approach the coming presidential elections when we will see, hear, and read similar mud-slinging.

The more important lesson in the Mabini syphilis rumor is why the story was created. If you take the time to study Mabini’s short stint in government, you would see how he rose to become the most powerful man in the First Republic. Mabini went through all of Emilio Aguinaldo’s papers, often drafting replies and recommending action. Mabini’s wise and principled counsel was always at Aguinaldo’s disposal so that he made many enemies who described him as the “camara negra (dark chamber) of the President. Mabini was not the same as a crony in the Marcos administration or “we bulong” in the Aquino administration or even the “midnight cabinet” in the Estrada administration. Mabini felt it was his job to protect the President and the Republic at all cost. He was criticized and insulted for doing his job. And when no anomaly could be laid at his door, his enemies concentrated on his disability and tarnished his reputation with the syphilis rumor.

Mabini was removed from office through political intrigue, which was probably a good thing because, failing in that, his enemies would have probably resorted to assassination in the same way they disposed of Antonio Luna.

It is unfortunate that few people read our history because they are jaded by boring textbook history. With the exception of Teodoro Agoncillo, who tried to write history and make it as engaging as fiction, most academic history is written by academics for fellow academics, their research buried in deadly prose and entombed in academic journals squirreled away in university libraries. Our history has everything, from the inspiring to the depressing. If more people read and learned from it, then the Philippines would be a better place today.”

Hopefully, the discussion about our national heroes, their lives, their deaths and even the trivialities would encourage the youth not just to study our own history more diligently, but ultimately, learn from the rich lessons it carries for I believe that we make our own history. It is entirely up to us whether the history that we make, is something that we can be ashamed of, or something we can be proud of.