Thursday, August 11, 2016

Ferdinand Marcos and a Hero's Burial


We knew sooner or later this question would no longer be purely hypothetical once it became clear that Rodrigo Duterte was going to be the president. Throughout his campaign, he maintained a close connection with the late dictator's son to the point that his running mate, Allan Peter Cayetano, was constantly hounded by questions on whether he was really pulling for the younger Marcos in the VP race. It seems that all systems are a go for the burial. Duterte understands that rallies are gonna be organized and he doesn't seem to have problems with people on the streets for a whole month. But as of now, Duterte is not budging on the issue.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

On Arthur Tugade's Apology Regarding NAIA



Well this is certainly a breath of fresh air. It's not as fresh as I would like. But it's fresh nonetheless.

NAIA has long been a running joke for the past few years now. It was named as the worst airport in the world by Guide to Sleeping in Airports for three years. It eventually improved. But it is still considered as one of worst by the website and even flight crews. The "Tanim Bala" issue got people riled up (link). And now, its already-oddly-designed runways, being perpendicular and all, are the ones causing problems... well one in particular.

Problems in NAIA have become the norm. And for the past administration, the problems seemed to revolve around... well... hmm... luck (link)? I kid... I kid... hehe.

But seriously though, the past administration was at a lost when it came to managing the transport sector. I was particularly irked with the then DOTC, the MMDA (link) and the leaderships stubbornness in keeping the officials in place. And as disheartening as it is for me to say, I wouldn't have blamed Tugade if he went after Honrado or Abaya. But he kind of didn't.



Transport secretary Arthur Tugade, in front of business leaders and executives last July 19, manned up and took full responsibility for the damaged runways that caused delayed and diverted flights as well as, pending investigations, damage on an Eva Air Boeing 747.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Quick Look: Duterte's "Change" is Upon Us

Well, here we go. As of writing, we are a few hours in under Rodrigo Duterte's presidency. Within the 6 years allotted to his rule, he will have ample chances to succeed and fail miserably. And contrary to what many in social media are saying, now is not the time to judge/praise him or otherwise predict a catastrophic future for the Philippines. What we can do as individuals though is hope that he fails in implementing policies we don't want and succeed in implementing those that we view as essential to get to where we want to be.

Leading up and right after the elections, I've written a few posts that would lead people to believe that I didn't support Duterte; I posted quite neutrally about his proclamation speech here (link), I was not happy with how he handled a question directed to him by a UPLB student (link), his friendship with Marcos is troubling to me (link) and him being an ardent supporter of the death penalty doesn't sit well with me (link). But with all the things he does that don't jive with my political ideals, there are things about him and things that he has brought up that give me hope for the next 6 years.


I can't help but admire Duterte. I don't know. Duterte is one of those people that, based on the few friends I have from Davao, got a lot done. Davao was apparently a rotting cesspool characterized by lawlessness before he came. And now, it is supposedly one of the safest cities in the Philippines. But then again, statistical sources are not conclusive about the claim. But the fact that people paint Duterte as this doer who actually got stuff done is amazing. I'm not sure if he was successful in improving Davao per se. But his constituents there certainly believe so. And that alone shows the potential he has when it comes to influencing people. And this is made evident by the balancing act he has done in appointing free-market followers in his cabinet and at same time getting Bayan Muna and other leftist groups to compromise. That right-leaning economic agenda they released in May got leftists fuming. But here we are now, just a month later, and we have militants rallying in support of him.

It is scary in a way that he may use his seemingly limitless political capital in getting what I believe to be detrimental policies done. But at least, the things that he may institute that I agree with won't have as many problems going through as they would otherwise. A good example of this is the Anti-Discrimination Bill. He has shown support for the LGBT community in the past and he has said that discrimination is one of the things that he hates the most. As of now, looking through the comments on Facebook about June's Pride Parade, it is apparent that people are not for this bill. I don't expect this bill to be a priority of his. But we have a president capable of swaying people and also seemingly willing to get it done. We supporters just need to actually organize and be heard.

Aside from the things that need more time to ripen, Duterte has already recognized certain issues that are close to my heart. Minutes into taking his oath, Duterte went ahead and called the attention of government agencies. He called for an end to redundant requirements for government permits as well as efficient service delivery in the matter. Regardless of the politics you are running, without an efficient, effective and accountable bureaucracy, it will be all for naught. Some are saying this is Duterte's version of Aquino's wang-wang bit. But it's not. Wang-wang was a political stunt aimed at making people think that the president is like them and a showcase of empathy while this is Duterte calling for better public administration.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

A Fat Commuter in the Philippines

Hi, my name is Aaron and I am fat or obese or whatever. I am 6'1'' tall and I weigh in at around 300 lbs. I am completely comfortable with my body regardless of the considerable mass and volume it may have. Sure, I do try to exercise through basketball and other things to improve my health. But my life expectancy is the only real driver for any attempt to get slim.

Unfortunately for me, my body's aesthetics always seem to be a cause for concern for others;I get teased by kids whenever I pass by streets in places I don't usually visit, my parents' friends always see me as "those two's fat son" and I'm sure looks have been thrown my way without me noticing them. But none of these things bother me. It may bother somebody else. But I see myself in too high regard to be bothered. But in the case of something like commuting, I can't help but be pissed off.


For my entire life, I've been a commuter. I know how to drive. But the gas prices and the damned toll prices from Alabang going north can really keep the car in the garage. And for my daily commute, I have to ride a bus, a jeepney and a tricycle. And of all of these, the bus has been the least discriminatory against me.

I've never experienced discrimination in a bus. Maybe it's because I always find a way to fit myself and two others on the seats on the driver's side. And the number of passenger always keeps the conductor preoccupied leaving no time to give a remark about me or any other passenger.

As for jeepneys, the barker and the driver sometimes insist I sit in front. I don't know why. But I always oblige. I always sit after another person sits next to the driver so that at least only one knee would be forced to suffer the pain of being squeezed onto the metal fabrication of the vehicle. This rarely happens. And letting it slide has always been my course of action.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Death Penalty!? What?!

From the very start of his campaign, Rodrigo Duterte made it clear that if he ever became president, he would look to reinforce the death penalty, otherwise known as capital punishment. Evidently, the people felt that death penalty is needed. It's that or they are just willing to compromise their beliefs regarding death penalty because of some of Duterte's other promises. I mean, they did vote for the guy.

Anyway, with Duterte firmly established as our leader for the next six years, I have to ask . . . death penalty?! What?!?!

Obviously, I'm not enthusiastic with the notion of my country reinforcing it. But what is death penalty?

According to Farlex's The Free Dictionary (link), death penalty is " a sentence or punishment of death by execution" or "the practice or legal sanction of allowing the imposition of punishment of death for people convicted of certain crimes". But the term "death penalty" already gives us what it is and there's no point in looking it up in our dictionaries. And yet, I doubt people know what it really is.

Death penalty has been a hotly-debated issue for decades. It has divided people and many personal reasons exist either for reinforcing it or keeping it a non-option. But of all the reasons that are given, one reason against reinforcement has always troubled me: it is a sin.

I know I've already stated I'm against death penalty. But I have always been a firm supporter for the separation of church and state. I have once posted a thought piece on this blog saying that the state has no business in meddling in the church's affairs (link). In that post, I put a premium on professionalism on the state's part basically saying that government employees cannot let their personal beliefs get in the way of whatever is good for the nation. I demand a lot from public servants. That notion still stands here. I can understand if the person in the streets uses his religion to justify keeping the death penalty out of our country. But we need to ask more from our leaders when they discuss this issue.

Now that I have shared why morality should not be used when discussing the issue, let's take a look at another thing people use to defend their stance on death penalty.

Statistics and their interpretation have been back and forth on the issue. For every research saying death penalty deters crime, there are researches saying that the methods used are flawed. From researches of Isaac Ehrlich to Naci Mocan, there have always been experts who have released papers countering their methods. Quite frankly, I don't have the technical knowledge to fully scrutinize them. But if experts don't agree on the causes and effects, regression analyses or correlations shouldn't matter in forming political stands.

Morality and statistics about the deterring ability have been the bases most thrown when people argue about the death penalty on social media. And both bases should not be used right now. We could have used morality back then when theocracy was a thing. And we can maybe use statistics in the future when further study can be done and conclusive evidence is formulated. But right now, both bases can't be used in my book.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Farewell Manny and Welcome Senator Pacquiao

I've been a fan of Manny Pacquiao since the late 90's. I remember watching this reckless kid who swung at everything that moved on Blow by Blow with my father. To me, he isn't a representation of any Filipino value. To me, he is one of the guys, along with Luisito Espinosa and to some extent Gerry PeƱalosa, who made boxing fun for me and gave me and my dad a common interest.

Boxing is boxing to me. It isn't about Filipino pride. I love Luisito Espinosa because he could knock anybody out in any given moment and not because of his nationality. The same goes for Manny. Both fighters are amazing and I'm not gonna cheapen their hard work and skills by saying their nationality had anything to do with the fame and respect they are getting.

Both fighters had their fair share of glorious battles. Espinosa had that hellish battle with Guty Espadas where he dropped multiple times only to fight back valiantly before ultimately losing a tiring battle in the 11th round. Manny had that same kind of battle with his first matches with Marquez and Morales; he suffered a broken hand against Marquez and a ghastly cut against Morales. Espinosa was cheated against Soto in their second fight and Pacquiao was cheated in his first fight against Bradley. Espinosa turned Alejandro Gonzales into a zombie in their second fight. And Manny did this to some Thai dude:

Manny Pacquiao vs Fahsan 3k Battery
make animated gifs like this at MakeaGif

That's pro boxing. It's brutal, nasty, exciting and can be a source of some sort of pride I cannot fully comprehend. But those, along with other grand adjectives, are all it is. It's a dangerous sport of brave, skillful warriors who put their bodies on the line to gain personal gratitude in the form of money, fame or whatever.

Be that as it may, I always gave Manny the benefit of the doubt. When he went into acting in the early 2000's in films with Mikey Arroyo and April Boy Regino, I instantly knew he would suck. But hey, it was his dream and there's nothing wrong with cashing in on his fame. Wapakman suck, but so what? When he had concerts, I saw nothing wrong with it. He's no Frank Sinatra, so what? People love him and they enjoyed listening to that "Laban mo, laban ko, laban nating lahat" thingy.

But here we are now. Manny Pacquiao is an elected senator and a retired boxer. More than that, he's a bible-thumping legislator who may very well have the capability to turn his personal beliefs into public policy. The days of me cheering and shouting profanities at the TV because of Pacquiao's fights are over.

When he decided to run against the Custodios and lost, I hoped his desire to go into politics would be quelled. But as we all know, that didn't happen. He decided to do what a normal trapo would do which is to move to an area with weaker political opponents and run for office there. He later on became Saranggani's congressman and this slowly changed my view of Pacquiao.

Monday, May 16, 2016

A Quick Message to Marcos Apologists

We provided him a bunch of stuff and yet we are made to believe we still owe him something. We gave him 24/7 security for decades, vehicles ranging from cars to planes to use, a beautiful palace and the financial support to make his plans come true a reality. And yet we still owe him? Forget the idea that Marcos is allegedly corrupt or that his plans allegedly sent us to a period of collapse. Ang kapal ng mukha ng ilan sa mga tao para sabihing i-boycott ang mga pinagawang yan ngayo't patuloy pa rin nating binabayaran ang marami sa mga yan.

Wala namang masamang suportahan sina Marcos per se. Pero kung itong mga basurang memes o mga post sa mga pekeng accounts ang ginagamit niyong sources, you are in no position to tell us to boycott anything since you're currently boycotting rational thinking.


Note: There is no evidence suggesting that Erwin Tulfo has anything to do with the Facebook page embedded in this post.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Ever-Present Bias in Philippine Politics

*** The following post may contain strong language ***

In deciding things, we always look to some things that would validate a choice; if I'm allergic to peanuts, then I won't touch the stuff. That's how decision-making works. It can be simple and objective like deciding what's the best way to get to work. Other times though, if and then statements are not as easily constructed.

In life, we have to face decisions where the choices aren't necessarily wrong or right and the factors are not necessarily tangible and/or quantifiable. It's like choosing Martin Nievera over Gary Valenciano. Both are undoubtedly talented and legends in their field. It's just that Martin Nievara is always playing and waking me up every weekend morning. And in subjective choices like these, we tap into our individual biases. Martin Nievera has always been better than Gary V. to me. Maybe it's because my parents love him and his voice always accompanies great early morning memories. It's not about talent; Martin is certainly incapable of dancing like Gary. It's just that, I like Martin better.

These biases, I accept them. I actually embrace them because overall, I see myself as a decent guy because/despite of them. And I'm sure most people embrace a few of their respective biases as well. I mean, if you attack Aldub, Lizquen or any other love team, their fans would blow their tops and won't hesitate defending their idols on social media with their names and pictures attached to their posts.

Now, what if the subjective question encompasses more than entertainment? What if the subjective question where we have to exercise our individual biases is something that would affect the state? Say, the elections?

Before proceeding, let's be clear that politics is a grey, if not subjective, area. If it weren't, then every state would be following the same political stance. Free market, command economies or whatever is not the one best way to get things done.

Now, what's ironic here is that the questions I put forth are examples of instances where bias is exercised. I'm sure that some reading this may simply say "hold onto your biases for just a day and vote for someone who will usher in a new era of prosperity for this nation" or whatever. But can we blame a desperate mother looking to feed her child who accepts money in exchange for her singular vote? It's easy to say she's a treacherous moron willing to sell out our nation. But isn't it us, the supposed intellectual elite, who are responsible for shaping the government that failed that woman?

Bias is hard to contain. Whenever people say mass media is biased, all I can say is "Duh!". Everybody is biased. Those who claim they are less biased have actually been proven to be the most biased of all (link).

So, what do we do now?

The urge to close this tab is most likely a manifestation of your bias against whatever I'm writing here. So why don't we just embrace it and actually start to scrutinize it?

Denial is a major speed bump in making sound choices in the elections. Let's accept the fact that some of us turn away whenever bad things about our candidates are discussed. The fear of being proven wrong or being humiliated can be immense. But in politics, sit's different. As I've said earlier that politics is a grey area where one plus one can equate to Lynyrd Skynyrd. The only time you can be proven wrong is when you lose your conviction through something like a complete absence of logic or whatever.