Glorietta Bombing: Tragic but a bit suspicious

First of all, prayers are all I could offer to the families and friends of the victims of the Glorietta bombing.

I first heard about the bombing when some one who was with me in a meeting at the DLSU-D University Student Council office read out loud from a text message he just recieved from a friend that there was a bombing at the Glorietta. We first brushed off his pronouncement and even made jokes about it.

Until after the meeting, I checked out Inquirer.net and there it was, indeed a bomb has exploded in Glorietta. MLQ3 has a good round-up of first-hand blogger eyewitness accounts. It’s citizen-journalism at its peak again.

Update: Here’s a video courtesy of Gambito of the scene after the bombing:

The latest body count are 9 dead and 100+ wounded.

Flak may be thrown at this blog, but I cannot help sharing the sentiments of notes from the peanut gallery, that there is something suspicious about this tragedy. Let me quote:

I cannot help but suspect that the government is creating terrible distractions to draw attention away from the latest Malacanang bribery scandal, where 190 congressmen and officials were handed out glossy bags of cash ranging from 200k-500k. With the heat on our Lady President, her circle has transformed into a bastion of denial, deadma, and absurdist reasoning: that those were early Christmas gifts, that it did not come from the government, that the Lady President did not know about it despite the fact that she attended the very same breakfast meeting where the cash was distributed like loot bags for a children’s party. And when she denies any knowledge of such cash disbursements, the implacation is that she is not in control (how can she not know?, ask many observers).

In the light of so many important issues that our government needs to address, this explosive sleight-of-hand – if it is what I think it is – is simply too cruel.

The following questions are still stuck in my mind;

  1. Why was there no reports or warnings or intelligence alerts that we get to recieve every now and then during the height of the call for the GMA to resign and coup rumors to overthrow her administration?
  2. The government’s intelligence units were so quick to issue warnings of terror alerts or coup attempts or plots to destabilize the government last year. But now that something horrible did happened, why is the government acting too calm and collected, it’s as equally disturbing as the bombing itself?
  3. What happened to all that training and assistance, particularly anti-terror related training, exercises, assistance the AFP got from the US military?

Is this another ploy of the administration to distract the public from the recent wave of scandals that has once more ‘exploded’ into its face? Or is it a signal to all its opponents and critics that this administration would not go down without a fight? Or worse, it’s rehearsal of sorts for darker times to come. (read: pre-text for declaring martial law) I pray not.

Either way, it is not acceptable. It is downright inhuman, dastardly and utterly revolting.

Kung totoo nga talaga, p*t*ng in*!!! Garapal at masahol pa sa kampon ng kasamaan ang administrasyong ito. 👿

On Hello Garci, amnesties, 9/11 and Cris Mendez

Being uber busy with offline engagements of late has somewhat prevented me from blogging about the latest events that are making the mainstream media healdlines of late.

There’s the revived ‘Hello, Garci‘ issue, the recent proclamation of an amnesty for CPP-NDF-NPA and other communist rebels, and one of the hottest issues, the senseless and tragic death of Cris Mendez.

On ‘Hello, Garci’

I am in favor of the Senate’s investigation of the issue. This is in the absence of a more credible, more indipendent body or commission that would carry out the investigation armed by laws to give it teeth and brawn as it will have to weave through the myriad of corrupt and vile connections, collusions and collaborations that has enthralled the entire bureaucracy of the government.

As for Sen Santiago’s claim that playing of the ‘Hello Garci’ recordings in the Senate would be a violation of the RA 4200 and provisions of the Constitution safeguarding the privacy of communications between two persons; I am with Sen Escudero on this one. By saying that such laws and provisions of the Constitution would be violated if one Senator let alone the entire Upper House, would listen to the recordings is assuming and even proving that the recordings were indeed wiretapped conversations between two individuals.

As for the the contention of the Administration Senators that the investigation should focus only on the persons or groups, purportedly from the Armed Forces, who allegedly committed the wiretappings and not on the ‘material’ of the recordings; I agree and disagree.

I agree that the investigations should draw out those who were responsible for the wiretappings for clearly, they violated RA 4200 and the Constitutions. If indeed it was the military, the full strenght of the law should be applied because for once, this will show that indeed as enshrined in Sec. III Article II, 1987 Constitution, “Civilian authority is, at all times, supreme over the military.”

More so, if the military were to be proven to have violated the laws protecting the rights to the privacy of communication, what more about the allegations that the military has been violating the human and democratic rights of those who are not so friendly and critical of the current administration.

On the second point, I disagree that the investigations should not touch on the ‘material’ of the recordings. Is this possible? Is this practical? Can you listen, let’s say, to a song and only focus on who sang it, how it was sang and not what the song was about? If you’re a vocal coach or sound engineer perhaps you could. But if you’re a legal entity or body tasked by the Constitution to serve justice and the welfare of the people, your task does not end with pin-pointing who did the recordings and bringing them to justice, more to the point, you’re obligated to pin-point and prosecute if necessary the persons who conversed in the recordings if the nature of their conversation involves the national interests. And I tell you, talking about rigging the national elections is a paramount national interest.

If the Senate fails to deliver this time around, the years leading up to the 2010 Presidential elections would be more tumultuous than the years when the ‘Hello, Garci’ was unleashed to the public for the very first time.

The message here is clear and simple, if indeed Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo did not call Comelec Commissioner Virgillo Garcillano over the phone and conpired to manipulate the results of the elections to her favor, then the current occupier of Malacanang and her minions should not be afraid of this new investigation. Sure the burden of proof is with the opposition, but if GMA were indeed innocent, they would waste no time in presenting evidence that would prove as such, instead of stalling and watering down the investigations with smokescreen tactics like EO 464, the numbers game in Congress and flaunting the need of JDV, I mean supposed need to amend our current Constitution.

The question still stands, did GMA, Garcillano and the AFP conspired to manipulate the results of the previous Presidential elections? Looking back on all the actions GMA and her minions undertook ever since the issue first came out, the people still belives, “Mukhang guilty.

As for the Amnesty on communist rebels

I just hope the Government is sincere this time around, which is for the nth time if one would recall. However, this carrot-and-stick method would not be really effective if the root causes of the armed rebellion are not addressed. And I’m telling you, as long as the government listens to Uncle Sam and his pals from the West this will last even longer.

Aside from the amnesty, the government should also drop the cases against activists, progressive groups and their representatives in government. It should also really, really investigate the numerous cases of human rights abuses and forced disappearances. This will be a good start to really ending the armed struggle in the country.

Justice for Criz Mendez

There are no fraternities, officially recognized ones, in DLSU-D so my take on the issue of fraternities and sororities would be a bit handicapped. Nonetheless, this cannot prevent me from joining those who are mourning the loss of Criz Mendez and calling for justice to be done to him as well as all the other victims of frat-related deaths, injuries and abuses.

Banning frats is not the solution. However, I must stress that hazing is just plain dumb, neanderthal and barbaric. Do parents beat their children to a pulp in order to welcome them into their family and to teach them loyalty?

The video below is a tribute to Cris Mendez, may it all send the message loud and clear, justice for Criz, justice for all the victims of hazing and frat-related violences. Kudos to Shari and The Jester-in-Exile and of course adrianatorres1111 for the video.

Remembering 9/11

Today is the 6th anniversary of the terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. Prayers for all the victims and their families. Prayers as well to those who became the innocent targets of George W. Bush’s “War on Terror” in Afghanistan, Guatanamo Bay in Cuba and in Iraq.

In line with this, I’ll be attending a Forum on Terrorism organized by the District Justice and Peace Commission of the De La Salle Philippines at the College of St. Benilde this 1pm in the afternoon. I’ll blog about it later tonight or tomorrow.

Until then, sulong para sa karapatan, kalayaan, kapayapaan at hustisya!

Bad cholesterol, very bad cholesterol

Nagtatalo ang mga inis, galit, pagkapoot laban sa aking mapang-unawa, rasyunal at pagiging kalmado na personalidad. Matagal-tagal din akong hindi nakapagsulat ng isang Tagalog na artikulo sa blog na ito, nangangahulugan na ang paksa rito ay isang isyu na malapit sa aking puso at mga paninindigan.

Nagsimula ang pagninilay na ito nang una kong nalaman sa blog ni Ederic, may isang balasubas, este kolumnista sa pahayagang Manila Standard Today na nagngangalang Malu Fernandez ang nagsulat tungkol sa paglilibot nya sa bansang Greece kamakailan, at kasama sa kanyang isinulat ang mga engkwentro nya sa mga kababayan nating OFW. Mula sa mga karanasang ito, isinulat niya ang kanyang mga obserbasyon tungkol sa mga OFWs na siyang pinagugatan ng pinakabagong usap-usapan sa blogosphere ngayon.

Sa aking unang akala, pulitiko o isang kampon ng pekeng Pangulo ang tinutukoy ni Ederic sa pambungad niya. Hindi pala pulitiko, at hindi rin kampon ng mandaraya sa eleksyon, kung hindi isang ka-uri niya.

Nakakalungkot hindi ba? Kung sino ang may impluwensya sa lipunan, kilala at may dunong ay siya pang makikitaan mo ng kasuklam-suklam na katangian.

Bakit kamo? Hihiramin ko ang mga bahagi ng kanyang kolum sa isang magasin na binigyang diin ni Schumey sa kanyang blog, at dito ay bibigyan ko ng reaksyon:

“However I forgot that the hub was in Dubai and the majority of OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) were stationed there. The duty-free shop was overrun with Filipino workers selling cell phones and perfume. Meanwhile, I wanted to slash my wrists at the thought of being trapped in a plane with all of them.”

“While I was on the plane (where the seats were too small I had bruises on my legs), my only consolation was the entertainment on the small flat screen in front of me. But it was busted, so I heaved a sigh, popped my sleeping pills and dozed off to the sounds of gum chewing and endless yelling of “HOY! Kumusta ka na? At taga saan ka? Domestic helper ka rin ba?” I thought I had died and God had sent me to my very own private hell.”

Anong mali sa pagkakaupo mo sa loob ng isang eroplano na maraming OFW na naghahanap buhay sa ibang bansa? Oo nga pala, ikaw nga pala ay maglilibot lang sa Greece, hindi sa Geenbelt, sa Greece.

Pero nagtataka ako, bakit gusto niyang maglaslas ng pulso? Bakit siya umiinom ng sleeping pills para lang makatulog? Bakit naman naapektuhan siya ng mga tunog ng pagnguya ng bubble gum o kaya ay ang pagkakamustahan ng mga Pilipino sa eroplano? At sa huli, bakit kaya naisipan niya na bibigyan siya ng Diyos ng sarili niyang impyerno?

Marahil dahil sa nagkaroon siya ng pangit na karanasan noong bata pa siya. O sadyang may sayad lang ang kanyang pag-iisip. Sino ang matinong tao na gustong maglaslas ng kanyang pulso? Sino ang nasa tamang kaisipan ang nangangailangan ng sleeping pills para lamang makatulog?

O siguro ay “insecure” lang siya dahil tila siya lang ang hindi binati ng kanyang kapwa Pilipino sa eroplano? Minsang napagusapan namin sa mga klase ko sa Sikolohiya na ang pagiging insecure ng isang babae sa kanyang sarili ay siyang nagdudulot ng kanyang pagkataba, labis na pagkataba. Nasabi ko ito dahil sinabi niyang pinagkasya lang niya ang kanyang sarili sa upuan ng eroplano upang makaupo.

Nabanggit ko rin naman ang pagiging labis na mataba, may ilang pagtingin dito na ang pagiging mataba ay simbolo ng kagahaman sa mga bagay-bagay.

Karaniwan ay pagkain (kaya matunog sa tenga niya ang bubble gum), pera (kaya naglilibot-libot na lang sa Greece), materyal na bagay (kaya mainit sa mata niya ang mga binebentang cellphones ng mga OFWs) attensyon (biruin mo ‘yun, nangangarap siya na bibigyan siya ng Diyos ng bukod na impyerno para lang sa kanya? O baka naman ganoon na siya talaga kataba?) o kasikatan, (kaya ipinagyayabang niya ang kanyang paglilibot sa Greece at pumasok siya sa pagiging manunulat o kolumnista)

“On my way back, I had to bravely take the economy flight once more. This time I had already resigned myself to being trapped like a sardine in a sardine can with all these OFWs smelling of AXE and Charlie cologne while my Jo Malone evaporated into thin air.”

Muli ay may mga bagay na ipinapagtaka ko. Bakit kailangan niyang maglakas loob na sumakay sa economy class? At bakit Jo Malone pa ang ginamit niyang pabango?

Siguro ay hindi na siya kasya o kulang na ang pera niya para sa First class. Pangalawa ay kahit makasakay pa siya sa First class at magpabango ng Jo Malone ay wala pa ring babati at mangangamusta sa kanya na kapwa Pilipino doon dahil walang nakakakilala sa kanya. Ako nga, sa totoo lang ay ngayon ko lang unang narinig ang kanyang pangalan, at isa pala siyang kolumnista. Paumanhin, kasi kapag wala akong natututunan sa isang kolumnista, hindi ko na binabasa muli ang kanyang mga kolum.

Hindi lang ako ang nagbigay pansin sa kanyang kolum. Maraming mambabasa ng magasin na iyon ay nakatanggap ng mga mensaheng nagsasabing may mali o hindi nila nagustuhan ang isinulat ng kolumnistang ito. Narito naman ang kanyang tugon;

“Just recently, I wrote a funny article in my magazine column and my friends thought it was hilarious. It was humorous and quite tongue-in-cheek, or at least I thought so, until the magazine got a few e-mails from people who didn’t get the meaning of my acerbic wit. The bottom line was just that I had offended the reader’s socioeconomic background. If any of these people actually read anything thicker then a magazine they would find it very funny. Most people don’t get the fact that they need bitches like me to shake up their world, otherwise their lives would be boring and mediocre. I obviously write for the a certain target audience and if what I write offends you, just stop reading.

Although it may sound elitist to you the fact is this country is built on the foundation of haves, have-nots and wannabes. One group will never get the culture of the other. Although I could mention that it is easier to understand someone who has a lower socioeconomic background that would entail a whole other page and frankly I don’t want to be someone to bridge the gap between socioeconomic classes. I leave that to the politicians in my family who believe they can actually help. Now I seriously ask you, am I being a diva or are people around me just lacking in common sense? Perhaps it’s a little of both!”

Tama rin naman siya, hindi talaga mabilis na magkakaunawaan ang mga tulad niyang burgis at elitista dahil para sa mga ito, ang mga nakakababang uri ay nariyan lamang upang kanilang pagsamantalahan at gawing kasangkapan sa kanilang pagpapayaman at patuloy na pamumuhay sa karanghiyaan. Ang mga tulad niyang magkakape lang ay gagastos pa ng mahigit 100-piso, yung mga kakain lang ng butas na tinapay ay gagastos ng halos 500-piso, yung mga nagbabakasyon o naglilibot lang sa ibang bansa kapag naisipan, yung mga lumolobo sa kagahaman at katamaran at nangangailangang uminom ng sleeping pills dahil hindi na makatulog sa sobrang pagiging insecure sa sarili at sa kanyang ka-uri.

Muli ay tama siya na silang magkakauri lamang ang magkakaintindihan at magiging komportable sa kanyang isinulat, ngunit nalilimutan niya na ang uri nila ay iilan lamang. At kapag hindi nakapag-pigil ang mga nasa ibabang uri, na siyang higit na nakararami sa bilang at lakas, o dun na lang sa mga nakasakay niyang mga OFW sa eroplano, ay malamang hindi lang laslas sa pulso ang makukuha niya.

Ang mga ibang bloggero na nagbigay ng kanilang mga reaksyon:

Jae, Ailee, Arn-Arn, Selvo, Maru, Arbert, CVJ, Sparks, Nick at Pedestrian Observer

Update:

May sinimulang kampanya sa Tingog.com upang patalsikin sa kanyang posisyon bilang kolumnista sa Manila Standard Today ang balasubas walang kasing kitid ng isip at matapobreng sosyalista na si Malu Fernandez.

Kung sino man ang nais sumuporta sa kampanyang ito at labanan ang ganitong uri ng pamamahayag na lumalapastangan sa dignidad at pagkatao ng mga migranteng manggagawa (OFW) sundin lamang ang mga sumusunod na hakbang:

1. Mag email sa Manila Standard Today at hilingin ang resignasyon o ang pasibak kay Malu Fernandez.
2. Magsulat sa iyong blog tungkol sa iyong posisyon sa isyung iyo at manawagan ng suporta sa kampanya para sibakin si Malu Fernandez.
3. Huwag munang bumili ng Manila Standard Today hangga’t hindi nareresolba ang isyu.
4. Ipaalam sa mga kaanak at kaibigan ang tungkol sa isyu na ito.
5. Palaganapin ang isyu na ito upang mapagusapan.
6. Sumulat o tumawag sa mga lokal at nasyunal na pahayagan tungkol sa isyu na ito.

Kailan man hindi dapat maging sukatan ng pagkatao at dignidad ng isang tao ang materyal na yaman. Sa panahong ngayon na labis ang paghihirap ng mamamayan, lalo na ng mga migranteng manggagawa o OFW, walang lugar sa bansang ito para sa mga katulad ni Malu Fernandez.

UPDATE:

Nagbitiw na raw sa kanyang posisyon sa Manila Standard Today at People Asia si Malu Fernandez. Mabuti kung ganoon. Marami ang nagsasabi na hindi dapat magsaya ng lubusan ang blogosphere at akuin ng lahat ang glorya ng tagumpay na ito. Sa aking pagtingin, ang tagumpay na ito ay para sa lahat nang hindi sang-ayon sa mga isinulat ni Bb Fernandez.

May ilang nagsasabi na ang mga ibang kritiko ni Bb. Fernandez ay naging hipokrito sa kanilang mga reaksyon at aksyon. Yung tipong “bago mo punahin ang uling sa mukha ng iba ay siguraduhing wala munang uling sa sarili mong mukha.”

Balikan natin ang kwento kung saan sinabi ni Kristo, “Kung sino man ang walang pagkakasala, ay siyang unang pumukol ng bato.” Walang nambato diba? Ngunit dahil tayo ay may pare-parehong bahid ng dumi ay magsasawalang-bahala na lang tayo? Hihintayin pa ba nating may isa sa ating maging tuluyang malinis bago balikan ang pagtuturo ng mga uling sa ating sarili? Papano na lang kung hanggang sa katapusan ng panahon ay walang luminis, kahit isa? Papaano na tayo?

Ang punto dito ay sama-sama tayong magturuan ng dumi sa ating mga sarili. Kumbaga pupunahin ko ang iyong dumi at ganoon ka naman sa akin. Nang sa ganoon ay sama-sama at sabay-sabay tayong luminis at makawala sa mga dumi.

Nakakalungkot man, ang mga paraang marumi ang tanging paraan para mapansin ng ating pinupuna ang kanilang pagkakamali, dahil tanging yaong bagay na lang ang kanilang nakikita o nauunawaan.

Kailan hindi dumanak ang dugo sa tuwing may sanggol na isinisilang?

Dahil tapos na ang isyung ito, at para maisawan na rin ang iba pang bagay na hindi maganda o tama, sarado na ang pagkokomento sa artikulo na ito.

Hello, it’s the blogosphere

I tried to ignore this but hey, the commotions and agonies and some mud-slinging has finally provoked me to share my two-cents.

As Sir Yuga summarizes, it all started out when Noemi rang the bells after finding out(?) that the blog of a 13-year-old kid who’s been making money, making it big in the blogosphere and helping other bloggers to be the same has not been totally honest in terms of blog ownership and authorship, or so the critics cry out.

“Honesty is the best policy”

Or so the convention says, this is at the core of this entire brou-ha-ha in the Philippine blogosphere.

Mix in ethics or the morals of parenting (Christian morality in this case), making money online from a popular blog and that “Blogger’s Code of Ethics” is being tested once more. More so, this controversy has revealed some interesting inner-workings of the Philippine blogosphere. Something we’ve seen last year in the aftershocks of Philippine Blog Awards. And just recently from the mixed, yet profound reactions about the results of the recently-concluded search for the most influential bloggers in the Philippine blogosphere.

I agree that “honesty is the best policy.” But it’s a custom, a norm, a common practice; it’s just like the “Blogger’s Code of Ethics.” Sociology teaches us that customs, norms and common practices change over time as society changes. What could be right or morally acceptable today (again this depends on what morals are we talking here) could be the opposite tomorrow.

Plugin in the internets

Just now, as this latest controversy is showing us courtesy of the blogging and the blogosphere, the norms, morals, and ethics of our society has changed, and continues to do so. To drive home my point, I quote the comment I made on SexyMom’s say on this controversy;

It’s the price of being famous at such a young age. A completely honest disclosure is a remedy here. Hopefully it will close this chapter and help people, especially the concerned bloggers to move on.

A side of me is saying it’s “The old refusing to give way to the new.” -Avlin Toffler, Future Shock

Besides, it’s their own blog [so] unless they’re spamming you or hacking your own blog, let them be. If you can’t stand the way they blog, don’t read their posts, [and just] delete their feed from your reader.

Sure there’s that “Blogger’s Code of Ethics” but it’s not a binding contract or law or convention on all bloggers. It’s a ‘guideline’ a reminder of some sorts on how one should blog or should not.

But here’s where our dilemma starts, “Ang tama sa iyo ay mali sa tingin ng iba” this is from Joey Ayala’s song “Magkabilaan” it basically translates into “to each his own”. Now if you’re going to impose your own view of what’s ethical or not on somone just because you view yourself as a standard or vangaurd of that particular ethics, customs or norms and you don’t approve of others’ own view of what’s ethical or not; what’s your right to do so?

[inserted just now]
Is it because we’re famous or influential? Is it because we’re better-off than others? Is it because we’re surrounded by people who nods to almost everything we do or say?

And so we ask ‘who’s being unethical now?’

I know by this time I might be drawing some flak now, but I’ll go back to what SexyMom has pointed out [and has cleverly observed], it’s the parental instincts that are clashing here. One set of parenting standards and practices standing against another.

But hold on, do they really need to be opposing each other?

More so, should we tell parents what to do with their own child considering the fact parents would [inserted]almost always act in the best interest of their child?

Should we cast judgement on mere hearsay or observations?

It’s a good thing Sir Abe has done something which is what should’ve been done in the first place; meet and talk with the 13-year-old-blogger and his dad.

Hopefully things will be sorted out.

UPDATE:

Finally, something more sensible and more just has been done. Sir Abe has just shared some enlightening truths about Carl and his ‘partner-in-crime’ father.

Hopefully, in closing, it will end as I agree with what Dave Starr said;

One of the reasons I live in the Philippines is because there are not 10,000 “go-gooder” busybodies telling me what to do (and what not to do) every minute of the day. Now, do to the “magic” of the Internet … and a lot of people with too much time on their hands … it appears the suffocating US-style “child-smothering” approach to life has followed me here. I wonder why these crusaders aren’t worried about the 14 yo girl with forged papers who is working as a GRO or the 14yo boy with 2 years of schooling who spends 14 hours a day in his uncle’s jeepney collecting fares or the 14 yo girl who cleaned our house yesterday because her mom )who usual works for us one day a week) was sick and if the girl didn’t come by and work … and get paid … they wouldn’t have eaten last night?

Let’s put things in perspective here. A bright and interesting 14yo boy and his dad are collaborating on a blogging effort. How much does Carl do and how much does his dad do? Yuga took the time to give us a pretty decent perspective, but the bottom line is .. what difference does it make? If you think using a 14yo’s persona to make a blog better read and more interesting is ‘exploitive” of the child then I would submit you have a _lot_ to learn about exploitive behavior. Carl is not being “exploited” at all. How I wish I could have worked together on something like that with my dad when I was 14 … no matter which of us was the better “wordsmith”.

Here’s one last tip, go out into the streets, look for a sari-sari store and you’ll see that a vast majority has named their litlle businesses after their favorite child.

Should we call Bantay Bata now?

Milk Wars: Spare the children from capitalism

I rarely write about politics, social issues and topics that would reflect my Left-leaning frame of mind and advocacies (except for health or environment-related ones) here on the Four-eyed Journal ever since I got this .com.ph domain + hosting for free. They were reserved for my all-Filipino blog, Sumilang.

However, since this blog gets more traffic (I think) than Sumilang, I decided to post it here instead to give the issue more media mileage so that in the end, more and more Pilipinos would talk and do something about it in the not so distant future. Watch out folks, this geek is about hoist a red flag.

burns-capitalistThe title says it all. The capitalists’ – milk companies – essence for existence, profit has once again stood up and has poised to threaten even more the lives and future of our children as they engage the Department of Health, NGOS, health activists, lawyers, Church leaders and breastfeeding mothers in court all because their “right to unrestrained trade” were being violated by the revised IRR of the Milk Code or EO 51.

Keywords here: “unrestrained trade.” This is the bane of the capitalist mode of production, that capitalists would do almost anything just to gain profit. Never mind if their products and services are now causing more harm to the general public.

Translation in the reality of Philippine context according to the PCIJ:

The DOH has blamed the milk companies for the decline in breastfeeding rates, specifically, the aggressive and unethical marketing of breast milk substitutes. For 2006, milk companies have spent P2.5 billion in advertising for the first half alone, according to AC Nielsen Media Research. A small amount compared to the P21 billion annual profit of the milk companies, which, according to the DOH, is a conservative estimate. (Read the PCIJ report on breastfeeding.)

The health department has been advocating for tighter regulation against breast milk substitutes. They have good reason for doing so. In 2003, results of the National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) showed that:

  • Only 16.1 percent of infants are exclusively breastfed up to four to five months of age;
  • 13 percent of infants were never breastfed, making the Philippines the lowest in ever breastfed rates among 56 countries that have conducted a DHS in the past ten years;
  • 39 percent of infants are using infant formula in their first 12 months of life;
  • Half stopped exclusively breastfeeding by the third week of life;
  • Infants delivered in a health facility or by a health professional are less likely to breastfeed.

This decline in breastfeeding rates in the country has resulted in death and malnutrition of children under 5 years of age. In 2004, there was a reported 82,000 under 5 deaths in the Philippines, making the Philippines one of the 42 countries that account for 90 percent of under 5 deaths.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has also reported that at least 16,000 infants die in the Philippines annually, deaths that could have been prevented had there been exclusive breastfeeding in the first hour; exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months; and continued breastfeeding and appropriate complementary feeding to at least two years.

Aside from the deaths that could have been prevented, Unicef has enumerated the costs of inappropriate infant feeding practices:

  • 1.2 million more illness episodes;
  • 10 million more days ill;
  • 450,000 more health facility visits;
  • 36,000 more infants hospitalized.

Economically, this translates to:

  • P320 million in funeral expenses;
  • P1 billion in lost wages caring for sick infants;
  • P100 million on out of pocket expenditure for health facility visits and basic drugs;
  • P50 million out of pocket for hospitalizing their infants;
  • P230 million government expenditure on hospitalization;
  • P21.3 billion to purchase formula.

In the National Nutrition Survey conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) in 2003, it was found that 27.6 percent of Filipino children below the age of five were underweight and 30.4 percent were stunted.

Again, in the face of all these statistics by the government itself; the greedy milk/pharmaceutical companies cry that their “rights to unrestrained trade” are being violated.

What about our rights to a healthy life? What about our rights to protection from products with false claims and promises? What about our right to protection from deceptive advertising and marketing? What about the rights, nay the blessed opportunity of mothers to raise their child as nature and God intended it, nurtured and cared for in her own breasts and arms?

Looking at the quoted statistics, the milk industry is just a small part of the bigger picture. Since the milk companies are the same pharmaceutical companies that sell us medicines, health equipments and other related products and services, one could easily conclude that they could care less if their infant formulas would indeed produce “child geniuses” in the future or not. Because if the child gets sick, just sell them medicines and other health products instead. Either way, the pharma-cum-milk companies would still gain profit.

And that’s why they cry: “our rights to unrestrained trade” are being violated every time the government does something that IT IS SUPPOSED TO DO; protect and promote the common good and welfare of the general public.

Sadly, the Department of Health and it allies the NGOs, health activists, lawyers, church leaders and breastfeeding mothers may be alone in this battle for our children’s rights to a healthy life because the evil milk companies have pulled the string that could turn things around to their favor; a letter from the US Chamber of Commerce to the fake President saying that:

the implementation of the RIRR would have “negative consequences for investors’ confidence in the predictability of business law in the Philippines.”

The battle is now at a deadlock in the Supreme Court, and if the court would live up to its new, recently-built reputation of standing up for the rights and welfare of the people, it should not listen to Uncle Sam but instead to our breastfeeding mothers and their children whose lives are now at stake.

I’ll eat Krispy Kreme donuts only if it’s for free

In my previous entry, I mentioned that Krispy Kreme Doughnuts were present at the launching of the One La Salle Scholarship Fund and gave away all the donuts they had with them for free to all the Lasallites (my use of this term would be explained later on) who nearly stormed their tiny stall.

Krispy Kreme donutsRight before the main program started, a good friend of mine Jackner and I went down from the LSGH gymnasium with one purpose, be among the first to munch on some yummy Krispy Kreme donuts. Unfortunately, the stallkeepers told us that the donuts were not for sale, rather they were to be given away for free after the program. It was a bit disappointing because Jackner and I were really starved so we went to grab franks instead. But knowing that those donuts would be given away for free later on put a smile our faces.

So the program ended and after wrestling through the crowd for some photo ops with the big names of the night, Jackner and I hurried downstairs to grab those free Krsipy Kreme donuts. When we did got there, it was near chaos and mayhem.

A few minutes ago, we Lasallites from different La Salle schools were singing, clapping and joining hands boasting and basking under the banner or battle cry of “One La Salle” but in the face of free Krispy Kreme donuts, it was every Lasallite for himself!!!

Even the grown ups and faculty were in the fray, using their status and huge body sizes as an advantage over us students. Nonetheless, they proved to be powerless against my skills at jostling for those donuts and with my skinny and long arms I was able to grab 6 donuts in one pop. Then followed by another 4 and then another 3. All of which I gave to my fellow Lasallians from DLSU Dasmarinas to enjoy.

I helped my self with 5 donuts and I was a happy Lasallite (I can’t belive I just called my self one). So we herded into our bus and weaved our way through the EDSA traffic once more. Secretly, I had some 3 donuts kept for the trip home. Of course Jackner and I share them delicious donuts even though our throats were already suffering from the sudden sugar craze it has been subjected to.

For those who are not so familiar with the Lasallian Guiding Principles, they’d say that the night was a big success and a meaningful one.

Fastforwarding to yesterday’s Economics class, my aweome professor and fellow Silangueno, Mr Jan Phillip Mallari reminded me of a great many things about my self, my principles, dreams, the reason I joined so many organizations and one of the reasons I started blogging.

Of course in economics, we discussed about the fundamental questions in economics, the circular flow of goods, and the premises why economics came into being. It is said to be that “we live in a world of limited resources faced with our unlimited wants and needs.”

Another question or facet of the study of economics is how it will be used to serve man’s needs for survival, development and success.

Now what does economics, blogging, the term ‘Lasallite’ and One La Salle has got to do with Krispy Kreme donuts? It’s already been answered by the title of this post but let me expound on it further more.

This little yet profound reflection of mine started when Mr Mallari asked us in economics class “What’s the effect of eating donuts to the Philippine economy?” At first I was dumbfounded by the question and felt like it hit me dead center because I for one adores donuts.

To help us answer the his question, he asked another question; “What is the primary ingredient of donuts?” We answered flour and though we were correct he asked another one, “What kind of flour?” Again we answered wheat flour and that literally silenced our entire class.

Do we grow wheat in our farms? Do Filipino farmers plant wheat? The answer is a no. So everytime we buy donuts, regardless of the brand if it’s a commercial one, we are helping wheat farmers from America and Europe make a living while our own farmers are left out, drowned in the tons of cheap imported garlic, onions, and get this rice. These agricultural imports are the ones being bought by Filipino consumers because they are better in quality than their locally grown and produced counterparts. This is because the foreign farmers that grow these crops use better and more modern farming technologies, they have support from their own governments via subsidies and the most crucial of all, they own the lands they farm.

The exact opposite is the situation is found here in the Philippines so you shouldn’t wonder why farmers and peasants frequent our streets in protest rallies and marches. They mess up the traffic in the Metro not because they simply want to, it’s because they want us to stop with our own selfish existence for a moment, pull down the windshields of our SUVs and listen to their cries, they are the ones who farm and work the lands but they are the ones who are dying of starvation and could not afford to send their children to school.

Which brings me to the point why I mentioned something about the terms ‘Lasallite’ and Lasallian. We often hear the term ‘Lasallite’ from metro-based La Salle students, while we from Dasmarinas, Cavite prefer to use the term Lasallian. The difference is that the ‘Lasallite’ is someone who goes to a La Salle school, while the Lasallian, is someone who lives by the teachings of St. La Salle. Please refer to the Lasallian Guiding Principles for this as a further discussion would be given in another post.

The difference between the two terms were exbihited when the fiasco about the free Krispy Kreme donuts were given away;

A few minutes ago, we Lasallites from different La Salle schools were singing, clapping and joining hands boasting and basking under the banner or battle cry of “One La Salle” but in the face of free Krispy Kreme donuts, it was every Lasallite for himself!!!

But it’s all alright, because after all, we’ve just launched a Php1 Billion-scholarship fund so that more would be able to recieve a Lasallian education. Like I said before, it’s a great and noble cause, but I have bigger dream, that someday farmers would own the lands they farm and scholarships would be a thing of the past, because education would be affordable if not free for all.

I’m not saying that we teach our Filipino farmers to cultivate wheat, it’s stupid because it doesn’t grow in our tropical country. I also have nothing against Krispy Kreme or any other commercially-branded donuts, I love donuts. But if my cravings and fetishes are doing harm to my fellow countrymen then I’d stop or at least control it. So the next time there’s a Krispy Kreme or other branded donuts nearby, I’d help my self to them only if it is for free.

Arroyo must listen to Cruz

Reading the latest headline from INQ7.net put a smile on my face. Outgoing defense chief prefers civilian successor.

Resigned Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz, Jr is right on the mark by stressing that he prefers to have another civilian, with no deep military ties or connections to succeed him as the new defense chief.

This is by far one of the most sensible thing I’ve heard from the men and women who compose the Arroyo administration, or in Cruz’ case, once become part of.

Ever since Arroyo took over the reigns of power, the military has been at the center of scandals, controversies and most likely behind the scenes of the recent rise in political killings and massive human rights abuses suffered by the peasant, labor and even laity leaders critical of the Arroyo administration.

Though the charges are still yet to be proven in the proper courts and investigations bear their final fruits, justice finally served to those who deserve it, a civilian leading the Department of National Defense is an utmost need.

It does not only shield the military from politics, it also does it good by having a counter-balance to the military line of thinking prevalent and carried by the seasoned military officers that make up the military high command.

Lastly, having a civilian distant from the military replacing Cruz is in consonance and genuine execution of one of the principles of democracy and liberty enshrined in our present Constitution which states:

“Civilian authority is, at all times, supreme over the military. The Armed Forces of the Philippines is the protector of the people of the State. Its goal is to secure the sovereignty of the State and integrity of the national territory.” (Art. II, Sec. 3 1987 Constitution)

Experts and teachers of Law and Political Science would agree in saying that this is the reason why the President, a civilian, is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. This principle is line with the nature of our nation being a republican and democratic one.

To further support and fully implement this principle, it necessary and logical that other government positions that are closely linked with the armed forces be headed by civilians as well. The position of Secretary of Defense being one of them and an important one at that.

So now the burden of choice is once again on the President. If she is true to her oath of enforcing the law of the land and preserve our Consitution, she must choose a civilian, one that is without close or deep connections with the military, to be the new head of the Department of National Defense.

Magkaugnay ang lahat

*Submitted as a reaction paper for Ecology class on the topic of Pollution and deforestation

Marahil ay narinig nyo na ang mga katagang ginamit ko bilang pamagat ng sulating ito. Ito ay hiniram ko mula sa awitin ni Joey Ayala na pinamagatang “Magkaugnay.” Simple lang ang mensahe ng makulay, makabuluhan at magandang awiting ito. Lahat tayo, lahat ng mga bagay-bagay sa mundo – may buhay man o wala – ay magkakaugnay. Ano man ang mangyari sa isa, sa isa o iba pang paraan ay makakarating at makakaapekto sa lahat.

Kadalasan, hindi natin mabatid o maramdaman agad-agad ang ganitong pagkakaungay dahil tayong mga tao ay may maling akala na tayo ay hiwalay, nakaaangat at makapangyarihang nilalang kumpara sa mga bagay-bagay at iba pang may buhay dito sa mundo. Inaakala nating dahil sa taglay nating talino at kakayanang baguhin o kahit papaano hulmahin ang ating kapaligiran ayon sa ating kagustuhan; malaya na tayong gawin ang kahit anong naisin natin sa kapaligiran.

Kasaysayan at tunay na karansan na ang nagpapatunay na ito ay isang maling kamalian. Mga biglaang pagbaha sa Ormoc, ang mga pagguho ng lupa at bundok sa St. Bernard, Samar, ang pagkalibing ng mga inosenteng maralita sa bundok ng basura sa Payatas at ang pagtapon ng langis sa karagatan ng Guimaras ay ilan lamang sa mga patunay na hindi ganoong kalakas ang kapangyarihan, kakayanan at talino nating mga tao.

Sa simpleng pagbaha sa mga kalsada ng Maynila at iba pang siyudad at ang paninisi ng mga tao sa mga basurang nakabara sa mga ilog at estero na siyang sanhi nito ay isa muling patunay na hindi na natin kailangang lumayo pa para makita at maramdaman ang mga maling gawain at kaugalian nating mga tao kugnay sa kalikasan.

Mula sa walang pakundangang pagmimina, pagtotroso, pagusunog ng mga panggatong ng mga industriya at sasakyan, mula sa pagtatapon mga dumi ng pabrika at residensyal sa mga ilog, lawa at sapa, hanggang sa simpleng pagtapon ng pabalat ng kendi sa labas ng dyipning ating sinasakyan, patuloy na sinisira nating mga tao ang ating kapaligiran. At sa bandang huli, dahil na rin sa ating pagkakaungay-ugnay, tayong mga tao muli ang tatamaan ng mga problemang ito at kadalasa’y buhay ng mga inosente ang kapalit.

Ito ba ang kaakibat at senyales ng pagiging industriyalisado? Ito ba ang kaakibat ng kaunlaran? Ito ba ang paraan para magkaroon ng ganansyang tubo mula sa pangangalakal at pagnenegosyo? Ito ba ang kagustuhan ng Manlilikha para sa tao at sanlibutan?

Reming reminds me of the lessons I learned from Milenyo

Among the things that worries me is the coming super typhoon ‘Reming’. Over at dinner, I saw the news report saying that it will no longer directly hit Metro Manila due to a high pressure system which has pushed the typhoon more to the West. As of this writing, storm signal No. 2 is raised over here in our province of Cavite and already, though it’s not yet raining and the winds still calm, we are beginning to feel the creeping wrath of Reming. It’s that cold and eerie silence before the storm.

Pray that everyone in the storm’s path would be spared their lives and most of their vital properties. Selfish as I may sound, what really worries me is that Reming might cause massive power blockouts in our area that would last for days as Milenyo did back in September.

Sir Abe has written a thing or two about how we, the Pinoy netizens could and would last in those dark days without electricity powering our tech toys and essentials.

As my comment on that post goes:

I may be tech savvy but I’m not that tech-equipped. Just my AAA battery powered-mp3 player, my mobile phone and my desktops. (No laptops for me, nor wireless routers, nor iPods not even a 3G phone I could use to go online. Just your average Pinoy techie, lucky enough to get a broadband connection, a Mac mini and an Ubuntu Desktop.)

So I guess I’ll just occupy my self with my offline schoolworks, both academic and non-academic. Of course, there’s the three new books I bought from last weekend.

Why am I so worried about power blockouts and the inability to go online? It’s because I need my computer and the connection to accomplish my homeworks, extra-curricular stuff and the tools (read:paperworks) that would enable me to rewrite the history of DLSU-D. I could answer my e-mails when the power goes up again, I could survive without YouTube and my Google Reader for days, I have even learned not to blog when I have nothing good to blog about. The bottom line is, Milenyo has taught me to rethink my e-life – it’s purpose, what it should serve, what and whom it will affect – think more of the other lives around me, especially those who would rather spend their money to have their decent meal instead of spending it on gadgets and shameless self-promotion.

I take back what I’ve said a few months back, that I’ll die without the internet. That I’ll go insane without my mp3 player and I’ll jump off a cliff once I can’t access my e-mail. Now I’m thinking, how could I say such things when many others out there only have a candle to light their shanties that threatens to be blown away by a storm. The only thing that protects them while they huddle in the cold just to stay alive.

I don’t mean to poke the elites of the Pinoy blogosphere in the eye, I don’t mean to offend the tech-savvy and the tech-equipped. This is just me putting my thoughts into words. As I hit the publish button, the rains from Reming are now falling over here in Cavite. The prayers, preparations and the waiting for all this to pass comes into play.