Stepping Down

For lack of anything better to say – I have re-posted here Mar Roxas’ concession speech delivered yesterday at Balay (LP Headquarters in Cubao):

Magandang hapon po sa ating lahat.

Sinulat ko po ang nais kong sabihin para wala akong makalimutan:

Gusto ko pong magsimula sa isang taos-pusong pasasalamat. Sa mga kababayan natin na kumaway, nakipagkamay, at kumopkop sa amin ni Leni nang bumisita kami sa inyong mga lugar. Marmaming salamat sa inyo.

Sa mga nagtiwala hindi lang sa akin, pero pati na rin sa mga prinsipyo na ipinaglalaban natin. Maraming-maraming salamat. Sa mga kababayan natin na habang kinakamayan ako, tiningnan ako nang mata sa mata at sinabihang ako ng “God bless you. Ipaglaban mo kami. Huwag mo kaming pababayaan.” Maraming salamat.

Salamat kay Pangulong Noynoy Aquino at sa kanyang pamilya. Sa ating partido, Partido Liberal, at sa kanyang mga kaalyadong partido. Salamat sa mga CSOs, mga NGOs, sa Silent Majority, sa mga ordinaryong mamamayan. Sa lahat sa inyo ng mga volunteers, sa aking pamilya—nandito ang aking misis, si Korina—sa ating mga kaibigan. Sa lahat pong tumayo, to all of you who took up the cudgels, who shared in our aspirations, na nakasama kong tumayo, maraming-maraming salamat sa inyong lahat.

Araw-araw, kasama ko kayo na humarap sa lahat ng hamon. Alam ko na marami sa inyo, stuck your necks out sa laban na ito. Pero sa kabila ng lahat, hindi kayo bumitaw. Nanindigan kayo. Sinamahan n’yo ako hanggang sa dulo. For that, I am very grateful.

Ngayon, hindi pa tapos ang laban ni Leni. Angat siya, lumalaban siya. Patuloy tayong magbantay, manalig, at sumuporta. Siguraduhin nating mabibilang nang tama ang kanyang boto.

At habang ginagawa natin ito para kay Leni, simulan na natin ang pagbuo sa minamahal nating bansa. Galangin at tanggapin natin ang pasya ng ating mga kababayan. Ayon sa unofficial count ng COMELEC, malinaw na si Mayor Rodrigo Duterte ang magiging susunod na pangulo ng Republika ng Pilipinas.

Digong, I wish you success. Ang iyong tagumpay ay tagumpay ng ating sambayanan at ng ating bansa.

Mga kababayan, higit pa sa pagiging supporter o kapartido ng kahit sinong kandidato – Pilipino tayo. Maka-Diyos, may pakikitungo, may malasakit sa kapwa, at naniniwalang lahat ng mahahalaga sa buhay ay pinaghihirapan.

Patuloy nating ipaglaban ang mga prinsipyong ito. Ibigay natin ang lahat ng ating makakaya para makamit ang ating kolektibong mithiin. Ipakita natin – sa bawat salita, sa bawat gawa, sa bawat kilos natin – ang tunay na diwa ng pagiging Pilipino.

I read somewhere that it is not the battle or the conquest that we remember. But the soldier who stood beside us, na tumutoo sa atin, who we treasure the most. Sa inyong lahat, maraming-maraming salamat. Hindi ko po kayo makakalimutan.

Mga kababayan, isang walang kapantay na karangalan na maging tagapagwagayway ng ating bandila. To have carried our flag. To have fought the good fight. To have kept the faith. To have finished the race.

Maraming-maraming salamat sa inyong lahat. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

I love you all!

There are many tears in the room. Let me tell you: this is not a time for tears. For our country, we have had a peaceful successful transfer of power. It’s not about me. It’s not about anyone. It’s about how we love our country and how we’ll do all that we can can for her. She’s the only one.

Maraming salamat po.

MAR ROXAS

We have stood and fought hard for him amid the criticisms of friends. We distributed campaign materials. We prayed. We believed.

Well, the country has chosen its leader and I support the winner. I sure hope he turns out the man his supporters believe him to be.

mar-she's the only one

Have We Lost Hope As A Nation?

With the Presidential elections just around the corner, everyone seems to have made up their mind who to vote. I have declared my choice of Mar Roxas as President and I am a known supporter of Leni Robredo since the beginning so my choice is clear.

But there are still undecideds among our midst that I try to campaign (convince) with my choice. Not that I want to impose my choice on them but that I want them to also go through the same process of rationalization I did for their choice.

The same rationalization process I push with those who’ve made up their mind also.

I simply begin by asking the innocent question of Why him (or her)? and follow up the answers with supplementary questions.

While some have been accommodating in answering my thought provoking questions even if it leads them to dead ends they can’t answer, others simply gave up at the first instance. But the saddest – and for me the worst answer I’ve received – is a declaration of hopelessness for the country.

I was dismayed when I heard that even with the elections coming up, nothing changes. It’s all just the same. The powerful stay in power, the rich becomes richer, the poor gets poorer, etc. Better go to another country. There’s no hope for change here.

I cringe at the lack of ownership. The lack of nationalistic spirit. We may all agree to disagree on our choice for president but to claim that whatever happens, whoever we vote for, nothing will change is tantamount to saying our democracy has failed us.

This lack of hope will be the downfall of our nation for we have resigned ourselves to the perceived lie that nothing can be done about the woes of our country.

But there is hope. Change is already happening. Let us not be blind to it. Let us not wash our hands of it. Change is happening – and we are part of that change.

Government Now Online

Applying for most government requirements are now conveniently online. In recent years, the Philippines has made a shift to automate many government processes that are prone to long queues. It’s not yet perfect but give it a little more time and we will surely have an efficient system hopefully like the developed countries. 

Since I’ll be taking the PRC Exam for Real Estate Brokers, I have to comply with several government requirements such as an NSO Birth Certificate and an NBI Certificate. 

First, the PRC Application was online. They wouldn’t accept walk-in applications. It’s ok although the website could use some more updating since I had trouble making the fields with search buttons work. 

NSO E-Census

The National Statistics Office now has an online portal where you can apply for your birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, CENOMARs, etc. Everything can be done online and you can just request for your documents to be sent to you via courier. It’s very convenient especially if you have work to attend to during regular business hours. You don’t need to take time off work just to fall in line and get these documents. 

I applied for my birth certificate online and made the payment via BDO Over The Counter payment mode. The payment options are a bit limited but still convenient. 

I’m now just waiting for the LBC to deliver my documents. 

To learn how it’s done, here’s a good guide. 

NBI Clearance 

Another source of headaches is the application for NBI Clearance. I distinctly remember my first NBI Clearance application. It was for my passport and since I was in college that time, I got it from the Quezon City branch. It was nightmarish due to the long lines and the dirty fingers (finger printing was a hassle) afterwards. When I started working, I applied at the provincial NBI office which had the same long lines until I discovered that it’s best to queue in the afternoons – when they’ll nearly close. When the biometrics way of fingerprinting was implemented, I was so grateful. 

Now, I’m thankful that we can apply online for the NBI Clearance especially that I’m now based in Manila. 

Application is really a breeze. Just create an account online, select your application, make the necessary payments and set an appointment to visit an NBI office. 

Here’s a guide. 

Everything was a breeze until I reached the NBI office. No blog I’ve read prepared me for what I experienced. 

I chose the NBI office in Robinsons Galleria because it’s the nearest to me and I surmise it’s better inside the mall (hello airconditioning). My appointment was in the morning and since the mall opens at 10am, I went to work first, left at 11am (lunch break) and arrived at 11:40. The line was long when I arrive at Basement 1. Thankfully I had enough common sense to look at signs and ask questions. 

Everywhere there were notices saying 

Huwag lang pila ng pila. Kumuha ng numero at antayin tawagin. 

(Don’t just fall in line. Get a number and wait to be called.)

The system at the office was you get a number, go to the waiting area and wait to be called. Make sure you have your online application and reference number for a faster process. And don’t lose the transaction number because you’ll need it. 

There were a lot of people in the waiting area and I was tempted to go home. I felt like my number would take forever to call. But the process was relatively quick. They call the numbers in batches of 50. Just be sure to bring entertainment or work to keep you occupied and make sure you’ve eaten so as not to be hungry. 

The entire process took me 3 hours mainly due to the waiting lines. But once it was my turn, everything was smooth sailing as long as my files are in order. 

Overall, I applaud the government for attempting to have an online facility to easily process these forms. Although not perfect, with everyone’s cooperation we can definitely come to a point when requesting government forms becomes a breeze through online applications. 

My Choice for President

As I promised myself, when 2016 kicks in, I will finally make up my mind who to vote for in May 2016.

Some may argue that I have known who to vote for and that I’ve been a vocal supporter of Mar Roxas even when he hadn’t officially stated his bid for Presidency but the truth is I have considered, seriously, voting for Duterte after I saw the personal accounts of friends who have experienced his leadership and after I saw the horror of Mar’s PR and his shortcomings.

Let’s be honest. Mar isn’t the perfect candidate. He has his faults – and they are many. It doesn’t help that the media glorifies such faults. But for all his faults, he also has his strengths and it’s sad that his strengths are not spectacular enough for the media to feature. As I read in Facebook, Mar is like your quiet and boring suitor. You know he’s right for he can deliver but there’s just no excitement with him.

When Duterte was rumored to be running for Presidency, I gave him no thought. I am aware of his tendency for violence and for me, it was a no-brainer. I wasn’t going to vote for a violent man. But as the months passed by and as the drama unfolded of his eventual consent to run for president, I began to consider that perhaps this guy was really the solution our country needed. As I read in a blog, Mar is an excellent driver – of a brand new automatic car. Duterte is a great driver of a pugak pugak second-hand car. And right now, the Philippines is that pugak pugak second-hand car.

I began to believe that our country is alright investment wise. PNoy’s administration has done a pretty good job getting investors into the country and with all the increase in credit ratings and the success of the APEC summit, investors are more likely to come knocking at our doors. What our country needs now is an iron-hand who can forge the security we badly need. Someone who can eliminate crime (or reduce it drastically) and who can make everyone feel safe and secure.

I believed that the solution was Duterte. All the personal anecdotes of friends from Davao and the rational posts they shared convinced me of such. It didn’t help that Mar started a series of bad PR stunts which seriously called his credibility into question.

However, I was hesitant to make my change of heart known publicly. Having a lot of friends part and campaigning for the Liberal Party made me hesitant to declare that I’ve had a change of affiliation. I’ve always been Liberal in my political views. In my opinion, our country needs to have the same party system as the US – one wherein we only vote between two parties: the Republicans (deemed conservatives) and the Democrats (deemed liberals).

So I went to Davao. I experienced the city first hand and observed what everyone was raving about. While it’s true that everyone there loved Duterte and that the man did live in a very simple abode, I was a bit disappointed it wasn’t what I expected. Well, I did expect a lot – all those stories made me think of a city like Singapore. Well, it wasn’t. There’s traffic – bad traffic. My friend said traffic lights have auto sensors so they can detect if there are really cars passing along and can adjust as necessary. I went out in the dead of the night and tried to observe it and what happened was I got confused when I can actually legally cross the street. Perhaps the lights worked as claimed, I just didn’t see it. But the city was deadly serious about their No Smoking rule. The warning signs were everywhere. My friend had to smoke – in secret – lest he run the risk of paying a hefty P10k fine.

The biggest issue was security. The city did felt secure. And in fact was very clean – no trash anywhere. The street sweepers were doing a good job. People were friendly – the taxi driver was fair and was very hospitable knowing we were newbies in the area.

It was a good city – something I even considered living in for perhaps a month or two. And I left with the distinct feeling that I’ll be voting for Duterte.

But experiencing Davao was not just the deciding factor for me. As the days passed, I got to know Rody Duterte better.

While I find his accomplishments amazing as well as his reputation untainted with corruption admirable, I still had qualms about his character. The recent brawls with Mar over Mar’s Wharton degree, his cursing the pope even in jest and his overall lack of diplomatic skills  (in my opinion) evidenced by his foul language makes me rethink if I do want him as my president.

The presidency is a serious post. It is way different than running a city, no matter how big that city may be. I have come to respect the position and to understand that no matter how hard you try there will always be compromise along the way. I have come to accept that no president can be perfect. He or she simply cannot please everybody.

What we need is a president who can deliver. Someone who can weigh his options and choose the one that’s best for the country, even if others criticize him or don’t agree. We need someone who’ll not be afraid to make unpopular and even boring decisions.

I like what President Obama said in this video when he was asked what question he would like to ask his successor.

Just as Obama said that the US is not a country ran in fear or cynicism, I would like to think of the Philippines as the same. Duterte supporters argue that he wouldn’t re-instate Martial Law but this post made me think otherwise. I began to feel that much as we want  the kind of iron leadership Duterte implemented in Davao, it is not the kind of leadership that the country needs. His brand of leadership may indeed work for Davao but I highly doubt it will work for the entire country – not with dire consequences.

I have no doubt that Duterte is not going after the presidency for the glitz and glamour of it. Just as I have no doubt that Mar is after the position because he really wants to serve his country and carry on the legacy of his father and grandfather. I have no doubt that both have clean intentions for wanting to run for the position (unlike Binay whose sincerity of serving the people I highly contest).

My question now becomes: who of the two do I see is fit to represent our country better?

In my opinion, Mar remains the better choice. In the end, I still chose him. (First lover never dies :D).

Why Mar? Simply because despite his shortcomings, I still believe that of all the presidential aspirants, he is the most qualified on the basis of what he can do in the diplomatic arena. For me, the number one job of the president – among his many jobs – is to make sure our country looks good in front of investors. That our country remains a viable choice for investments. Mar, being the economist he is, and having that advantage of being from the current administration (whose performance I am clearly satisfied) is the best option there is.

I am not saying Rody Duterte couldn’t do what Mar can do. It’s just that I believe Mar can do it better.

I don’t doubt that Duterte or Mar can deliver. They both can. Both are also flawed. They’re not perfect. For me, it’s just a question of whose flaws I can accept better.

I know Mar is not perfect. Just as PNoy was not perfect. But I know he can deliver. People may not understand what he is delivering – just as the masses didn’t understood what PNoy delivered but for those of us who can see it, or who can understand, we can’t deny that PNoy did something right. And that Mar is the best one who can continue it.

Like when I voted for PNoy last 2010, I also had doubts if he’ll make a good president. There were counts against him like how he was just riding the fame of his mother and how he really haven’t accomplished much in his stint in the Congress. But then I had to trust my own instinct that of all the candidates presented, PNoy had the better potential. This time, it’s Mar who have the better potential.

What about Duterte? He’ll make a good DOJ Secretary. I hope he considers joining Mar’s administration should Mar win and Mar reconsider him for the post. If only they could work together, for the good of this country, then I believe we are in better hands than the previous administrations combined.

But with all this talk and thinking of whether I’ll go for Mar or Duterte, I fear that in the end Binay would win. He tops the surveys – even after all the allegations of corruption and his tainted name. Let’s admit. A vast majority of voters are the CDE and for them, Binay is a hero. He probably goes around the countryside telling them he can turn their little towns into a replica of Makati.

I don’t know what 2016 Presidential Elections hold for our country. Surveys say that the race is getting tight. But one thing I won’t do is NOT vote. I won’t give up this right and responsibility. Even if Mar doesn’t win, I will still rest easy that at least I did my part in making my country a little bit better.

presidentials
Top Presidentiables 2016 | Source: Boom San Agustin FB Page

Oras Na! Roxas Na!

Since he became Mr. Palengke up until he stepped down to be PNoy’s running mate instead of LP’s Presidential Standard Bearer, I have supported Mar Roxas. To me, he is the logical choice to run the country. He came from a decent political family where all his relatives have served the country well without a hint of doubt to their integrity. He has worked diligently under the administrations who assigned him government posts and he has delivered what he’s supposed to do.

I know he is not perfect. There are times when he bungled up. Every time his PR team would come up with some cheesy campaign that will make him a laughing stock in social media I will cringe internally. I agree with them that the gimmicks are cheap but I disagree with the purported notion that Mar is not a viable choice for leadership.

When he was running for President during the 2010 Presidential Race, I was all out to support him. But when LP decided suddenly to switch to PNoy as their standard bearer, my heart went out to Mar when he decided to step down. I cannot forget what he said that day:

“Ito na ang pinakamabigat na desisyon sa buhay ko. Maniwala man kayo o hindi, ginagawa ko ito para sa bayan, para sa inyo. I do this for unity in support of change. And if that means that somebody must make the sacrifice, it must be me. Ako na,”

Mar Roxas, Aug. 1, 2009, Club Filipino

Now, we come full circle. After 6 successful years where Noynoy Aquino has successfully started the fight against corruption and began the positive change in our country, he is now announcing his successor. And this time, it is Mar.

Whereas in 2010, Mar began campaigning early, this 2016 he announced his Presidential ambitions last. He worked patiently, diligently and quietly with every responsibility assigned to him. Most of them even put him into bad light with the public who cannot comprehend how hard a position he holds. But he moved on, never once complaining.

This article summarizes beautifully why Mar Roxas is a game-changer; why he is the most rational choice for President after PNoy.

Grace Poe is a nice candidate. She’s a breath of fresh air since she’s not from a traditional political family. However, her experiences and capability to run the country is something debatable. Presidency is not just any ordinary position as I can see now. It involves a lot of other factors and winning it is certainly not as simple as it may seem.

Duterte is a popular choice because of his notorious reforms in Davao City but running a local unit is different from running a national unit. Besides, it would take more than social media to win the elections.

Who else? I totally agree with anyone who says Binay should not be President. Anyone who acts the way he does is someone who doesn’t deserve our vote. His pre-campaigns and his recent antics clearly smells of someone who is up to no good once he assumes office. Someone who tries really hard to secure his victory – to the extent of even leaving his Cabinet pose – is someone I will never trust in a million lifetimes.

Mar Roxas is the logical and most viable option we have. I hope Filipinos will start thinking rationally and strategically. Other candidates may be good but they need to have political allies, enough connections here and abroad, enough resources, and enough experience to be able to implement the changes that our country needs.

Roxas may have had his blunders but at the end of the day, he’s still the best option we got.

I am not ashamed to campaign for him for I believe in what he can do. And I believe we have no better alternative.

With Mar Roxas. Taken circa 2009 during the launch of GRF 50th Anniversary.
With Mar Roxas. Taken circa 2009 during the launch of GRF 50th Anniversary.

Related:

Mar Roxas: The Long Road to Endorsement by Rappler

Mar Roxas posts in this blog – because I’ve discovered that I’ve consistently written about him

Well Done PNoy! – Thoughts on SONA 2015

It may not be the best presidential term. It may have been riddled with criticisms and missed opportunities, but, for the most part, it was a good term.

Having lived through 5 presidents (Cory, Ramos, Erap, Gloria and PNoy), PNoy’s term is, by far, the best. He was able to accomplish more than all the 4 past presidents combined. It took 5 presidential terms to finally curb the adverse effects of Marcos’ dictatorship. After the Martial Law, we have spiralled downwards as the poverty of our country was slowly exposed. Corruption remained rampant and people, despite the nationalistic spirit during EDSA Revolution, remained apathetic and impassive – already disillusioned with the state of our government.

I recall how we, as the youth, were constantly urged to be more aware of political affairs; to care more for the country and who we vote and what reforms took place. Yet I will hear many in my generation simply refuse to care, choosing instead to dream of going abroad towards greener pastures. They long to take courses that will secure them a work abroad. Many became nurses and left the country.

But the case is different now. I see more of my generation becoming aware of the current state of our nation. I see more people beginning to care.

And this is because PNoy has given us hope. Hope that there could be a better Philippines.

He has shown us that good governance is possible. That it is possible to rise up in the middle of corruption, criticisms and dissents. He has inspired us that a TUWID NA DAAN is possible.

Oh yes he is not perfect. Yes he has his lapses. There are many things that could have been better. Yolanda and Mampasanao are his recent blunders. But for every blunder he made, there are many other praiseworthy items worth noting. The improved credit ratings due to increased trust by investors, the number of PPP projects which totaled to 50 vs the 6 in the past 3 administrations and the K-12 Program which to me, when given the chance, will put our education at par with the world’s standards (after all, before K-12 we are one of the only two nations not implementing K-12).

He knew it will be a tough job to lead this country coming from the blunders of the past administrations. But he still took the challenge. I can recall how he ascended to presidency right after his mother died. He must have been in grief still at that time when he took on the challenge. It was Mar Roxas who was supposed to be LP’s bet for President. I was all geared to support Mar. But the sudden turn of events saw Noynoy running for President.

I voted for him. And I was not disappointed.

There are many things I still wish would happen like the passage of the FOI Bill but six years is indeed a short time to implement all the good things the country needs. I also know that sometimes, in the pursuit of goodness, there would be certain decisions that will make you unpopular. Decisions that for now, the public may not understand, but when the right time comes everything will be made clear.

PNoy’s term is coming to an end. But his projects and what he accomplished will remain for long. The 2016 Elections is just around the bend. At this point, we should all be diligently doing our research on who the rightful candidates should be.

Instead of criticizing, let us think of solutions. And then determine who’s the leader who can best implement them.

We cannot expect perfection but we should demand excellence. And our next leader should be someone who will do his best – whatever it takes – to serve the country, and not himself.

Indeed you did Mr. President. You did.  -PNoy quoting 2 Tim 4:7
Indeed you did Mr. President. You did.
-PNoy quoting 2 Tim 4:7

Related Articles from around my blog:

PNOY: Lonely at the Top?

Where is PNoy?

Related Articles from around the web:

Aquino’s Legacy: His Final SONA by CNN Philipipnes

SONA 2015: Legacies and Missed Opportunities by Rappler

Full Text of SONA 2015 in English (courtesy of Rappler)

Great Insights of Friends working with the PNoy Administration

aika raffy

Week 2: Science in Action – the National Science and Technology Week

If last week was science in theory, this week it’s science in action. I was supposed to go visit the National Museum and explore the nearby derelict places of interest but instead I opted to attend two timely events. 

The first was DOST’s National Science and Technology Week held at SMX MOA. It’s a free event where the latest technological innovations by Filipino scientists are displayed. It’s like a giant science fair. I already saw this event last year but it was only this year that I got to attend. 

The theme was Philippines: A Science Nation Innovating for Global Competitiveness. The hall was divided into various sections so researches can be grouped into agricultural sector, IT sector, industry sector and etc. In every exhibit I visited, I can recall my Pisay days whenever we had to present our IPs (investigatory projects). The entire hall looked like a massive IP presentation. 

Audience

There were A LOT of students. As in, A LOT. I went alone and was glad I did. There was just so many students it was dizzying. Many of the exhibitors were also actively engaging with students so it was kinda hard to talk to them. These are high school students btw. 

I got a sense that the exhibit was mainly for the students – perhaps to inspire them to pursue science and technology; perhaps to complement what they learn in the classroom. It catered to other professions too and there  were even separate registration booths for entrepreneurs but if there were fellow entrepreneurs there, they are very hard to spot. 

  
I just hope that entrepreneurs and private businesses would also attend the fair. It’s because they will be the ones who can breathe life to the inventions of these scientists. As scientists their role is to invent better solutions – faster machines, better agricultural products, etc. They conduct groundbreaking research reminiscent of our thesis days. However, their study will remain a study if no enterprising business would get it and build it to scale. 

If their inventions don’t see the light of commercialization, how can it serve for the betterment of the people?

Philippines – A Start-up Hub

Good thing there are companies like Ideaspace who are ready to invest in solid groundbreaking ideas. 

Ideaspace has invested in Croo, a device that can be embedded in accessories so that when you’re in danger you can just click it and it will automatically send an SMS to your loved ones. They also invested in iHarvest, a technology by an Adamson student that seeks to hasten the milling process. 

  

Ideaspace is a startup incubator by PLDT where pioneering ideas are given the chance to flourish through fundings and an entrepreneurship mentoring setup. If your idea like those above are selected in the competition, then you have a chance to market them to the public because resources are made availble to you. 

Schools as Breeding Ground for Start Ups

When I attended the APEC’s Startup Summit (Slingshot MNL) they stressed how important it is to create a startup ecosystem in the country mainly in the universities. 

Going around the exhibit hall, I saw how possible it is to have a startup ecosystem in the country. 

  
  
The UP Diliman booth showcased their winning car in a Shell competition and their innovative guitar. I, of course, felt the UP pride but it was upon seeing the FEU booth that made me realize how truly innovative Pinoys are and that we can definitely compete in the global invention arena. 

The Hamis is an invention where in order to turn on your motorcycle, your helmet must be in place. The ignition is connected to the helmet. There is also the automated book drop collection where every book dropped is automatically linked to your library file. It follows the same logic as the resume scanner which can intelligently scan every paper resume. PUP was also innovative with it’s bamboo power generator. 

To me FEU and PUP were able to identify real world problems and come up with ingenious solutions. Now I hope they present it to Ideaspace and get funding to develop further. 

The Government’s Efforts

The government is also doing its part to innovate and provide better solutions. 

I particularly liked the concept of One Lab. It seeks to simplify lab testing of your products via any DOST lab. As manufacturers or budding entrepreneurs we need to have a product tested – for chemical content, biochemical reactions, etc. One Lab is an online platform that allows you to see what tests are availble in which lab, how much they costs and if vying for certain accreditations what tests are needed. Further, if the lab you chose cannot accommodate you for some reason, they will simply be the one to forward your samples to another lab but they will remain as your primary contact. 

  

  
Another government project I hope sees the light is the use of TV Whitespace as wifi signal. I’m not sure how it actually works but the government also has an initiave to digitalize everything – from obtaining records to transacting with government agencies. 

Perhaps the most impressive government initiative would be the Hybrid Road Train. It seeks to address the massive transportation issues in Metro Manila. I tried the demo ride and it’s a smooth vehicle. It can accommodate 240 passengers in one go and it runs with a mix of diesel and Lithium batteries. It’s environmentally friendly and 100% Pinoy made. It doesn’t need a track to run into but it will require a dedicated lane in the highway. It’s not yet clear when it can be implemented as they still need major investors to fund the initiative. 

   

This is how the train would look like on the road. The unusual roof drew flak in social media.
 
The concept is very similar to the tram except that this version is modernized. 

Addendum 

I saw this giant poster about statistics of S&T Human Capital throughout the years and I’m proud to say I’m part of the Pisay statistics. 

  
I also saw this research that when implemented will solve one of the Millenium Developmental Goals – higher access to potable water. 

It’s a candle-type ceramic water filter formulated with red clay that filters microbial contaminants in the water making it potable. 

  
Another innovation that caught my eye is this loom. It’s intended to improve the use of local fabrics like abaca, jute, pinya and cotton. I remembered Mr. Kengkoy, the social enterprise from Bicol that sought to provide better livelihood to mothers in a town in Albay by using their woven jute cloth as raw material for backpacks. 

  

There are many researches in the area. So many in fact I am confident that the solution to many of our country’s problem lies in the hands of these scientists. All they need is decent funding to bring their inventions to the masses. 

Note: My second adventure for the day was the Inspire Everyday event at the Ayala Museum but I was late and wasn’t able to enter anymore. 

The Peace in Mindanao

This morning, during my usual commute to the office, I heard the radio commentator discussing the current situation in Mindanao. With the recent tragedy involving the SAF Elite Unit, it appears the peace process is compromised – possibly altogether abandoned.

He said that before we all rush into emotionally charged decisions, we should consider first all factors involved – rationally. The peace process gave hope to our fellow Filipinos in Mindanao. Not the rebels, but the civilians. Civilans who have become too scared to seek means of livelihood. Innocent children who have become too scared to go to school. Thousand of innocent Filipinos, caught in the crossfire between the government and the rebels. They are the ones for whom the peace process is for.

And with the recent skirmish, abandoning talks of peace process all over again, is akin to dashing that single shred of hope to bits and pieces. A shred of hope that for years they haven’t even the slightest idea was possible.

While it is true that we must grieve and mourn the fate of the Fallen 44, that we must sympathize with the families who have lost them, we should not let ourselves be consumed with our emotions to forego all rational thinking. After all, these brave men died for the very same thing many wants to abandon – peace.

The Bangsamoro Issue, these peace talks and peace process with Mindanao, these are all issues that I have heard over and over again. Back in college, I gained a better understanding about the Bangsamoro and their plight. I gained friends who were residents of Mindanao, proud to be so, and longing to see peace in their land. I know they deserve it. Like us, who fight for our basic rights, these people also deserve the most basic right anyone can get – peace.

With the recent momentum in the peace process, I shared their glimmer of hope. That finally, after so many years, peace will come to Mindanao. It was a shock when the masacre happened. It was a shock even more when people reacted so strongly to the point that they wanted to abandon the peace process. I even read some hate messages to simply wipe out the rebels.

It made me wonder: are we still humans? Are we still capable of love? forgiveness? peace? even in the midst of tragedy? Yes, it was a loss. But it was not just a loss on the military (or police’s) side. There was also lost in the MILF side. There were civilan casualties as well. But as a friend from Mindanao put it, why would the media care? Why would people care? The Fallen 44 were the glorious heroes. The fallen MILF were the bad guys. The fallen civilians were the extras.

War is a lose-lose situation. Each side will suffer. One side may win but at the expense of what? The best course is to really forge peace. Peace is a noble thing to aspire for. It will not come without a cost; without challenges. But we must hold on. We must desire it and fight for it to not deterioate.

What can we do? We can do the most powerful thing we can. PRAY. Pray for our leaders. Pray for the people in power who have the ability to move things. Pray that peace really happens this time. Pray for healing in the hearts of those who grieve. Those who are angry. Those who are ignorant. Prayer can do wonders. It is time we do our part.

On Halloween Parties and Cemetery Visits

Today we celebrate All Soul’s Day. The day when we are supposed to commemorate our dearly departed loved ones. In the past week, we celebrated Halloween, a foreign celebration that has slowly crept in to the Filipino consciousness. Recently, the CBCP urged people that instead of donning frightening costumes during Halloween, Filipinos should wear super hero costumes or better yet imitate saints since our country celebrates All Saint’s Day and not Halloween. They were afraid that the scary costumes will create traumatic experiences in the child and the apparent glorification of frightening characters will pay homage to the evil side of the world. 

Growing up, I was never aware that Halloween ever existed in the Philippines. I would read about it in foreign books and watch about it in movies but I’ve always known that trick or treat and Halloween costumes were for the kids in the West. But I guess capitalism has found its way in our shores in yet another form – Halloween. Halloween gives us another reason to spend on costumes and parties and find a way to celebrate a merry occasion without much regard to the roots or meaning of it. It’s as if all the festivals and fiestas in our country is not enough that we have to still find another reason for celebration during October 31. 

Cemetery visits on the other hand have moved from becoming the once solemn and peaceful visits they used to be to a venue for merry making and for some, income generation. A trip to the cemetery on November 1 would be like a visit to a bustling night market where street foods of all variations abound. The cemetery likewise is filled with kids running around and adults taking and laughing boisterously. There are also foods and music in some unrestrained places. Filipinos have yet found another reason to celebrate and be merry. 

The adoption of Halloween parties and the merry making in cemeteries is yet another testament to the positive and merry Filipino spirit. Despite the challenges we all face, we always find time to celebrate and be happy. In the end, I guess there is nothing wrong with celebrating Halloween, so long as we know that it is just for fun and nothing to be serious about. Likewise, it should be that parents must always educate their children about the celebration. I believe that a sound explanation of all these gory costumes and how belief in the Lord Jesus makes us victors against them, would instill in the kids that there is nothing to be afraid of because we have the power to conquer the evil in this world.

Also, I guess that if it does get rowdy in the cemetery at times, then we should just respect those who choose to have a party in celebration of the demise of their dearly departed. After all, they must be probably happy that the dead loved one is now in a better place. For those seeking the solitude and solemnity of the celebration, I believe there is always November 2 and every other day of the year to visit graves in full solitude and commemorate the lives of the dearly departed.

Experiencing Flooded Manila

For the past 3 days already, I have been stuck in my condotel due to the heavy rains and flooded streets in Metro Manila. Although technically, the private corporations have not suspended work and I can easily go to the office to report, my co-workers who come from farther parts of the Metropolis are either stranded or worst, flooded, and hence can’t come to work. So rather than coming to the office to report to an empty space, it will be better to simply stay inside as advised by government agencies.

But being stuck inside in this weather, miles away from home, although comfortably dry and well-provisioned, is anything but fun. It does get boring after a day and a half of virtually doing nothing, just sitting in front of the computer. Soon, movie marathons become passe and staring at Facebook status and Twitter feeds become mind numbing. Reading online articles lose their appeal and I would want nothing more than to simply go out there and be part of the action.

Of course, I can be a volunteer but on second thought, I’d rather stay inside and keep dry. After all, despite everything being familiar, I am still on foreign grounds.

Metro Manila, in the past, didn’t get flooded this bad. I recall that it was my hometown in Bicol which was regularly afflicted with stormy weathers and the constant recipient of donated relief goods. But now, it seems the tides have changed and areas which didn’t use to be affected are now severely affected. So the question, begging to be answered, is why?

I found this information post in Facebook which summarizes the answer to that question – WHY?

10 Reasons Why It Floods in Manila

By:  Paulo Alcazaren

It’s the rainy season once again and we face the yearly problem of flooding in Metro Manila. I keep getting calls from broadcast media asking for interviews about the problem, its historical origins and urban redevelopment solutions. Giving these interviews I feel like a broken record enumerating the reasons for floods in the metropolis, so I figure it would be good just to list them once and for all. This list may not contain all the reasons but these, in my opinion, are the major ones:

1. It floods because it rains. The rains and the typhoons that bring them have increased in magnitude. Yes, it’s Climate Change. To deny this is futile. It’s here now and makes all historical flood levels well, history. The paths of typhoons have also become unpredictable (not that we have enough weather men to predict them—many of our good ones have left for better-paying jobs overseas). Typhoons now cross parts of the archipelago that did not use to have them regularly and so people are caught unprepared. Despite these changes in patterns, Metro Manila still gets dumped with rain, especially since its total area, and population in this area, is equivalent or larger than most provinces and many regions in the country.
2. It floods because of population and urbanization. Metro Manila has a population of 12 million and counting. Urbanization, specifically urban sprawl is a manifestation of all these millions living together and needing houses, buildings, roads, parking lots and infrastructure. All these cover ground that used to be open and which used to be able to absorb much of the storm water that fell on the metropolis. In our lifetimes we’ve seen fringes of the metropolis gobbled up and transformed from cogon and rice fields to thousands of subdivisions, hundreds of shops and malls, hectares of paved-over parking lots, dozens of business districts. All this hard covering serves to channel all the storm water much faster into an already inadequate drainage system designed decades ago when the reality was much more open land and much less rain. The open ground before served to mitigate the volume of rain that flowed into these drains, esteros and our rivers. We also had more plant cover and trees in the metropolis to help sop up all this water. Our previously open parks are now covered too with all manner of government buildings or basketball courts and parking lots.

Photo Credit: Paulo Alcazaren
Photo Credit: Paulo Alcazaren

3. It floods because the rain comes down from denuded uplands. Metro Manila floods come from elevated surrounding regions, all the way up to the Sierra Madres. There, we have lost almost all of our original forest cover from illegal logging. All this forest cover lost makes millions of hectares of upland a bald watershed that flows freely into the metropolis. This situation is repeated around almost all major urban areas in the country. The source is upstream and this is where solutions should start, although it is among the longest-term solutions. We need to recover our forest cover to reduce the amount of rain that floods our low-level metropolis.
4. Metro Manila is not only low but it is sinking. Ground water extraction due to deep wells is causing major areas of the metropolis to sink. The north section of CAMANAVA and the southern cities from Pasay onwards have sunk from a foot to over a meter and this has made those areas more vulnerable to floods and storm surges. Scientists have pointed to the fact that this flattening has increased the reach of storm surges from the seaside to as much as twenty kilometers inland. So we get it from both ends in a perfect storm—from the mountains and from the sea. The ground is also sinking due to the weight of all that concrete, buildings and infrastructure mentioned in reason no. 2 above.
5. It floods because we have less drainage than before. Reports have it that we have lost almost half of our metropolitan esteros and canals. We used to have over forty kilometers of them and now we only have about twenty. Many have been lost to development, disappearing without a trace (now it regularly floods where they used to be of course).
6. It floods because many of those esteros, canals and waterways of our metropolis we have left are chock-full of informal settlers. Because there are no alternatives for low-income mass housing, desperate people settle in desperate areas. These settlements have little by way of solid waste management and sewers. All these go to the waterways, filling many of them so solid that dogs can cross over them. And we wonder why it floods. Many of these drainage ways and easements were identified in the several master plans made for Manila and Quezon City. Planners over half a century ago had allocated as much as 50 meters of space on either side of these but greed set in and these easements disappeared and what little was left are now our favelas teeming with millions.
7. It floods because the main flood control system started in the 70s was never completed. The Manggahan floodway was only one half of the picture. It was meant to channel floodwater into Laguna de Bai. The lake was meant only as a holding area and the excess water was to have been flushed from there to Manila Bay via the Paranaque spillway. That spillway was never built. To build it now would cause trillions and urban sprawl has seen its path covered with more millions of people and thousands of structures.
8. It floods because what little left of our drains and flood control infrastructure is ill-maintained. Reaching many of them is a problem because of informal settlements. Overlapping jurisdictions of local and national agencies conspire to dissipate responsibility and funding for this vital task of ensuring our drains are unclogged and free. It’s just like homeowners not cleaning their gutters of debris before a rainy season. When the typhoons come the gutters overflow.

9. It floods because urban development is un-planned and unfettered. Mega-developments that see clusters of 30-40 story towers on retail podiums surrounded by hectares of parking cause havoc in districts planned with drainage infrastructure meant for low-density development. Because there is a lack of planning context (actually a lack of any planning at all) all drainage, road and traffic infrastructure is useless to carry the additional load—that’s why most flooded areas are also traffic-clogged.

10. The final reason it floods in this short list (and there are many other reasons) is politics. Metro Manila is made up of 16 cities and one town (Pateros). Floods do not respect political boundaries and will flow from one city to the next yet we continue to address flooding (as well as all other urban problems) within the confines of individual LGUs. It does not make sense. Politics also conspires to keep informal settlers where they are because they represent votes. The overlapping jurisdictions is also exacerbated by another layer—that of national government and yet a third layer on top of these, that of the MMDA. The ultimate fourth layer of discord is the fact that the source of floods is beyond the political jurisdiction of Metro Manila and in the hands of the provinces around it. Any sustainable solution to flooding must be at this regional context and the assumption that, within the metropolis, governance is rationalized to address this one big problem as one effort, not the uncoordinated effort of seventeen government units, the MMDA and national agencies. Politics has divided and conquered us …and it is also drowning us in yearly and constant floods.

Feedback is welcome. Please email the writer at paulo.alcazaren@gmail.com.

Given the above reasons, what is the best way to solve this flooding problem in Metro Manila? I say, we begin providing solutions for the 10th reason above. LGUs, not just in Metro Manila but also in the adjoining regions should come together as one and share the responsibility of addressing the solutions for the other reasons provided. If you look at it, it is never too late to start solving today’s problems for a brighter tomorrow. All it takes is the discipline and the drive to actually do something about all this.

Have a safe and dry week everyone!