Saturday, September 29, 2007

Definitive version of the Ateneo stabbing incident

The definitive version of the Ateneo de Davao stabbing incident, received through my Friendster account. It's a dead issue, I know, but this vernacular account is just so darned funny.

If nothing else, it makes a great study on the development (or is that regression) of language.

cast of characters: para deretso deretso na akong pag story.hehehehe...

krezia - ang nadunggaban
cristine - ang nanaksak
jose - BF ni krezia and classmate din ni cristine
hannah & 2 other classmates (boys) - mga main witnessess (kani si hannah among working student)

bale si hannah & 2 other clasmates, jose & cristine, nagtambay sa f301 kay nagstudy2. tpos, niabot kalit c krezia and gisulong si cristine ky naga-igat igat lagi dw kay jose. word fyt lng
gud dw, yawyawanay. ana si jose, dli lng awaton ky babae na away. so wala lng pud nag reak mga witness, nag observe lng. den, wyl shouting at each other, krezia grabbed cristine's hair. kanang napulupot ang buhok ni cristine sa arms ni krezia. pero, nabira pud ni cristine ang buhok ni krezia tpos, cge gihapon cla yawyawanay.

tpos, nishagit mn na si cristine na "hoy, imong uyab gani ang naga-igat igat sa akoa. gi-invite gani ko mag watch ug bamboo.."

tpos, nitubag si jose, "ikaw nlng pud. kagwapa sa akong uyab para mupatol sa imoha." tpos, niduol sa duha ka babae. ambi nila hannah, awaton na niya ang nagbirahanay ug buhok. instead, ang
gihimo ni jose kay gituok (from the back ha?) & gisumbag-sumbag c cristine sa nawong ug tiyan. (GAGU JUD!)

niawat na cla hannah ky siempre, clasmate nila, ginakulata ngud. tpos, ang mrmmber nlng nila s naa gikuot c cristine sa bulsa tpos mrg naigo ni cristine c krezia.

ambi nila, ngtry ug sumbag. wla pa cla kbalo na naa na diay knife. tung nakakita na cla ug dugo, nhadlok na cla. wla pa kbantay c krezia na naa na sha samad. nidagan c cristine gawas sa
klasrum tpos, gisundan pjud sha ni krezia, cge ug yawyaw.

den nxt na, naa na sila sa OSA. gsakay c cristine sa patrol car na hubag kaau ang nawong.

PARA SA AMOA, DPT GIDUNGGAB ANG INUTIL NA UYAB. WLA NLNG JUD SHA NIAWAT. NANGULATA PJUD UG BABAE. PAKSHET KAAU. TPOS, GABA NLNG PUD KAY KREZIA KY MRG SHA UG SI KINSA, NAA PA'Y PASULONG-SULONG NA NAHIBAW-AN. self defense jud 2ng ky cristine oi. tpos, ana c sir fred alpas, ang kanang c jose, dghn pud chix sa lain skul. tpos, possible na sha ang naghimo-himo ug story pra malagot c krezia ug awayon si cristine. IN FAIRNES, PIRTE KAPANGIT JUD NI SI JOSE. bugo pjud. icheck nlng
iyang friendster profile. heheheheh, kami njud ang best in reseacrh no? hahahaha =) c cristine, gwapa jud sha. pution At my dimples.

krezia's site:
(Friendster account URL -- deleted)

jose's site:
(Friendster account URL -- deleted)

higlhlight sa friendster profile ni jose is "basketball is my fashion...." haller? baka passion? MAO NANG GIKAMATYAN NI KREZIA? duh!

ang kabataan na nga nmn ngayon...mao lng. bye! hope ur curiousity is satisfied =) enuff na ang chismis...

Burma, September 2007

Shade of holy robes
Stained with streak of crimson that
My tears cannot wash

Friday, September 28, 2007

Decency and Common Sense

A scandal is a scandal because it offends our commonly held sensibilities of what's right, just, and fair. Just when we thought that we'd become inured to the atrocities that our so-called leaders can inflict on us, along comes something like the ZTE-NBN deal, the magnitude and brazenness of which is truly mind-boggling.

Looming large in the news these past two weeks, the ZTE-NBN transaction has been analyzed seven ways to Sunday, and with still no end in sight. There's precious little additional commentary that I can put in that hasn't already been said by someone else. What does intrigue me is the larger context of Philippine society within which it takes place.

It's been said that per capita we have the most number of lawyers in the Southeast Asian region. We certainly have one of the most robust system of laws, one which covers everything from crime to labor to graft to e-commerce to motorcycle helmets. And yet none of these poses any deterrent to the crime, even in the class of something like ZTE-NBN.

If nothing else, our system of laws only seems to encourage mischief by way of the challenge of finding loopholes to exploit. Is this typical Filipino behavior? An exemplar, perhaps, is Ferdinand Marcos Sr., of whom someone once said:

"Crony capitalism began when some of those cronies began to work out cunning schemes with him. He was seduced by the intellectual challenge of it… He really wanted to know what he could get away with. It’s a Filipino trait, this constant testing to see how far we can go. He loved all that.”

I contend that, by our nature, we Filipinos have never really felt comfortable with this complex system of laws and regulations. Inherently, we are a cheerful lot, given to pathos for our fellow man (or more to the point, "malasakit sa kapwa tao.") By this token, laws tend to be ignored or selectively applied. Therein often lies our own undoing.

More than laws, it's relationships that take primacy in our civic life. Rather than a rigid set of traditional customs, ours is one based on hierarchy, sympathy, respect, and above all, reputation. In the face of this system, even truth is fluid and pliant.

Anarchic? Yes, but so long as we all adhered to the norms of this social network, all was well. So long as this system held, we could be the most humane society in the world.

But through the years this system has been fraying at the edges. Now that corruption is threatening to reach the core, if it's not already there. From below, we are afflicted increasingly violent crimes; and from above, we are subject to increasingly sociopathic leaders who know neither decency nor shame.

This is the social dynamic at play in the ZTE-NBN deal and others of its ilk. We have in the echelons of power a cabal that has dissociated itself from the rest of the community. This cabal -- of presidents, cabinet members, senators, congressmen, governors, and yes, even of mayors -- is answerable only to itself and relies solely on political numbers as the final arbiter of right and wrong.

This is the dark side of a society that's built on relationships. What happens when a group sets itself apart and above the rest? They are no longer subject to the communal mechanics of respect and reputation. Hence, they breed the capacity for monstrous behavior. Case in point: the devious minds that have the gall to seek a $130-million kickback.

Quoting Adam Smith: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public."

What is the alternative? Can we then seek refuge in the impartiality of our laws? Sadly, no, because that system is long damaged from our extensive application of exceptions.

If anything, its our complex system of laws that provides this pititless cabal with its shield. Witness how, in the course of the Senate inquiry, there seems to be no one person or agency that can be ultimately held culpable in the ZTE-NBN fiasco. By strictly following regulations, they are able to bypass all blame completely.

Perhaps this is why it took an expose that consisted of lurid details of orgies and astronomically outrageous bribes to bring the ZTE-NBN deal to the forefront of public outrage. Neither we the public nor they the cabal could be moved by the sheer irregularity of the transaction; but we all could finally take interest when it involved sex and a mad amount of money.

ZTE-NBN is not likely to be the last of its kind. Cover as we might the loopholes that allowed it to spawn, there are still so many others. I fear that it will take a scandal of even more outrageous proportions to move us to action the next time around.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Marcel Marceau, 84

Now the show is done
In the spotlight one last time
The clown takes a bow

My first glimpse of Marcel Marceau was in Mel Brooks' "The Silent Movie." He had the only speaking part in the film.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Martial Law Memories

September 21, 1972: a date forever etched in mind, not so much because of a prodigious and precocious memory -- I was just turning two years old, then -- as it was because of endless repetition in grade school. That was, after all, the supposed turning point in Philippine history when we cast of our shackles and entered into the greatness that was the New Society.

I was a Martial Law baby. For the longest time that was my badge of distinction and of those around me. Today, I'm caught between generations -- that of my parents, who lived through that period as adults, and that of kids in their tweens, who know Marcos (Ferdinand Sr., not Borgy) only from the history books, if they know him at all. I confess that it feels a little odd.

I never took to the streets. I was much too young, then, and nevertheless, it wasn't in my social and educational upbringing. The teachers in the private school that I went to carefully toed the Marcosian party lines, following that fantastical rewriting of Philippine history with an endless litany of names of ministers and programs. When I did come of age, Martial Law was technically over; but growing up in Davao, the hotbed of counterinsurgency, you learned to keep your voice and your head down.

There are bits and pieces of remembrances, trivial though they may be: Of my mother would share with me the op-ed pieces of Arlene Babst and Ninez Cacho-Olivares, back when Manila Bulletin was still Bulletin Today and when it still had some shred of respectability. (Where is Arlene Babst nowadays, I wonder.) And of me, asking a local newscaster at a forum why his reporting seemed so one-sided (answer: "Because we have to support the government.")

But there were the harrowing moments, too. Memories of one midnight when my Dad woke up with the excruciating pain of kidney stones, unable to leave the house because of the curfew. And of another evening with my Dad frantically unbolting the locks of our extension stockroom so we could hide from the three drunken soldiers who had come banging on our doors earlier.

More than all these, one incident left me (and others like me) devastated, one that showed that even children were not to be spared the exercise of power of a ruthless dictator. With that one thoughtless and cruel act, we cursed the name of Marcos forever and ever. That, of course, was when he banned the much-beloved robot cartoons from the airwaves, supposedly so his crony's "educational TV" programming could get an audience. My generation had to wait almost twenty years to see how Voltes V would end.

Yes, it's trivial, almost laughable, but way back when, the wound cut very, very deep.

So now it's September 21, 2007, some 35 years after what was supposed to be The Great Turning Point in Philippine History.

What do you remember?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

In Manila tomorrow...

...until September 19. Schedule will be unpredictable, what with my Two Senior Citizens being the focus of the trip, but if anyone wants to meet up, you know where to reach me.

What's definite is: September 15, AM: Software Freedom Day in UP Diliman; September 15, PM: SciFi Philippines Movie Marathon.

That, and book-hunting.

Guilty Verdict

On TV today, 9:30AM:


Former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada was found guilty of plunder at around 9:30AM today. He was acquitted of the lesser charge of perjury.

His son, Senator Jinggoy Estrada, and his lawyer, Ed Serapio, were acquitted of all charges.

Sentence is reclusion perpetua, but he will continue to stay at Tanay, Rizal until further notice.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Opening sequence for a story I was planning, but have shelved for the moment.

The unseasonal December rain came pouring in torrents, splattering the windshield of our taxi with a steady steam that came so fast and thick it seemed we had entered a waterfall. There, too, was that endless drumming of the water on the hood of the car and on the roof, with intervals between beats so short as to coalesce into one low roar. The only respite from this monotony was the occasional strong gust of wind that came howling between buildings, driving the water up and down and about in crazy waves all around our windows. Behind us and in front of us blared the muffled cacophony of horns played by drivers impatient to head home and escape from the storm.

A solitary drop penetrated the rubber lining of my side of the window, penetrating the sleeve of my shirt. It was followed by another, and another, and still another until the wet spot grew to a large circle around my forearm.

"Damn it," I muttered, but no one seemed to have heard. Not Jenny, who was intently studying the pattern of water on the window and the handkerchief in her hands and the sleeve of her jacket and the strap of her handbag and the driver's nape. And not the driver, either, whose tapping fingers on the steeering wheel kept time with the beat of the rain outside, and who kept his eyes on the car in front of him waiting for the break in the gridlock that would soon get us moving. "Damn it," I said again, and dabbed the forming droplets away with my handkerchief.

I glanced at my watch for what must have been the hundredth time within the past hour. Now it said 8:30. "Hey, driver, station still far? We'll miss our flight, you know."

"Jam, ah," the driver said with a shrug and a general wave of his hand. He did not even bother to look at me. "Signal 8, everyone hurry to go home."

I sighed and slumped back into my chair and crossed my arms. From the corner of my eye, I thought I saw Jenny shoot me a look. But then she was back to studying her handbag and the window and her shoes. I let my hand drop in the space between us, but even after a long while, it still came up empty.

Excerpt: Facester

An excerpt from a story I'm writing. Apologies if the situation seems a bit trite -- it's really part of a much longer work and this isn't even at the heart of it. But I had a good time writing this bit.

Six years ago, Myra was my date for the senior prom. I was to pick her up at Manong Mario's. I came an hour early and so I waited in their living room. The loud argument that came from the room above as Myra wrestled with her mom was my early evening entertainment. "No, I'm not wearing that!" "Myra Zephira Lleynes, you are putting on this ribbon!" "Mo-oooommm!" Manong Mario cocked an eyebrow and looked at me sternly as I struggled to contain my bemusement, but I could tell he was only doing a better job than I was.

But the vision that finally floated down the stairs? Aah, she was celestial. That was the first time I saw Myra with her long hair down, draped around her bare shoulders and guided only by two small clip bows. Her dress, the color of champagne, hugged her tiny breasts and showed off her curvy waist before blowing outward bouffant. As she navigated the steps, Myra precariously balanced on heeled shoes.

Only Manong Mario clearing his throat made me snap my slack jaw shut.

The dress must've done some magic to Myra. When she landed in the living room, she said nothing, but only fluttered her eyelids at me. She had the barest of makeup on, just a touch of foundation and highlight and lip gloss, but it all only served to highlight her natural beauty.

Then she punched me in the arm. I let out a yelp.

"Just to let you know who you're dealing with," she grinned evilly, "the dress changes nothing. Let's go, Romeo."

All eyes were on her that night. Hardly anyone could believe it was Myra. I had my hands full keeping away the evening's lecherous vultures. I ought to have done a better job, too -- Myra would have been chosen prom queen if she hadn't walloped a persistent amorous junior over the head with her handbag.

Update on the Stabbing Case

Here's an update to the stabbing incident at Ateneo de Davao University:

THE City Prosecutor's Office dismissed the frustrated homicide charges filed against a 17-year-old female student of a private university accused of stabbing her classmate.

The prosecutor's office tells police to instead initiate diversion proceedings instead of pushing through with the case.

A "diversion proceeding", as defined in RA9344, the Philippine's Juvenile Justice Law, is "any act with the end goal of disposing the case involving a youth offender without resorting to formal trial by the competent authority." In other words, an out-of-court settlement, possibly with the parents.

In a resolution penned by City Prosecutor Carlos B. Castaños Jr., said he found probable cause to charge the respondent, who was acting with discernment, for attempted homicide.

But since the penalty imposed is not more than six years imprisonment and there is no proof that respondent has undergone diversion proceedings as required by Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, then there is no other recourse but to dismiss the case.

Castaños, in dismissing the case, ordered the police officer to conduct the required diversion proceedings with the assistance of the City Social Services and Development Office of Davao City.

Accused Gina (complete name withheld for being a minor) was charged for stabbing Ana (not her real name), a Mass Communication student, inside the school campus at around 8:30 a.m. of September 6.

The accused was charged based on the testimonies of their classmates who saw the incident.

Chief City Prosecutor Raul B. Bendigo explained that the ruling of Castaños was in accordance with law, saying that since the respondent was a minor, even if she was acting with discernment, Section 23-A of RA 9344 requires that she will undergo diversion proceedings with her and her victim's parents at the CSSDO because the penalty for frustrated homicide does not exceed six years of imprisonment.

"They will go to the CSSDO and mediate. Pag usapan doon ang mga babayaran, ang mga damages. Kasi kung nag-exceed ng six years, we will file the case and ang court na ang mag-mediate," Bendigo said.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go watch Robocop 2 all over again.

Gina and Ana

Only found this news story today:

POLICE authorities have filed attempted homicide charges against a 17-year-old student for stabbing another while inside the classroom of a private university.

Charged was Gina (complete name withheld for being a minor) for stabbing Ana (not her real name), a Mass Communication student, inside their school campus at around 8:30 a.m. of September 6.

The accused was charged based on the testimonies of their classmates who saw the incident.

In one of the affidavits, a classmate said that at around 8:30 a.m., they were in their room at the third floor reviewing their notes for their next class when Gina and Ana, together with her boyfriend, entered the room fighting.

The classmate said he saw Ana pull Gina's hair and a brawl ensued. He said he stood up to pacify the girls because Ana's boyfriend, instead of pacifying the two, punched Gina in the face.

He held Ana to stop her, but Gina did not stop from attacking Ana. He noticed Gina's hand whip past Ana's side but he thought Gina has just thrown another punch at the girl he was holding. He was shocked when she saw blood coming out from Ana's side and Gina brandishing a bloodied knife.

The witness said he pleaded to Gina to put down the knife, but the suspect was so incensed she refused to if not for the arrival of the school guard who disarmed Gina.

Gina was detained at the Sta. Ana Police Precinct while the victim is confined at the San Pedro Hospital after undergoing first aid treatment at the university clinic.

I was discussing the story with a friend who knew someone with inside information. Apparently, the knife had been purchased at "Lots for Less." As I gather from one story, "Gina" bought the knife because she had been getting threatening text messages. Story had it that while she was detained at the CSSDO (not DSWD, as I earlier thought), she was calmly texting. When they asked her why she did it, the alleged response:

Wala lang.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

5-km Fun Run

Participated in my first 5-km Fun Run today. Who would've thought that a thin loop of plastic rope and a painted number on thick parchment paper would be so hard to get, and that once gotten, would give so much satisfaction?

I saw the invitation posted on a banner at the nearby Victoria Plaza the other day: the 3rd Ekiga 21-km Corporate Relay and 5-km Fun Run. I've been wanting to join one of these short runs ever since Dumaguete but I never really had the chance.

So I got up nice and early this morning -- as in 4:30AM early -- and marched over to Victoria Plaza, which is so close to our house, and still managed to get lost. Though I made it to the stands with time to spare, there was a long moment of hesitation. Did I really want to run this race even though I'm horribly terribly out of shape? Maybe next month would be better?

Ultimately I decided to bite the bullet. I signed up. Waited. Stood statue-like during the aerobics warm up because, well, I don't dance.

And then, off we went.

I was in the middle of the pack when we got started. Somewhere along the way, a 12-year old kid and his mom passed me by, then a trio of distinguished-looking gentlemen with streaks of black in their mostly gray hair, and finally, a chubby woman in her fifties whose shirt hugged her curves. I was alternating with this fellow racer for most of the way.

Our route would take us to Bajada, a little past the Davao Regional Hospital and the halfway mark near the Shell gasoline station. I tell you, 2.5 kilometers never seemed so far.

At the halfway mark, they gave us a loop of yellow rope to signify that we'd hit the checkpoint. Then it was back to Victoria. By then, the woman I was taking turns with on the lead was far far away.

I think I must've been the last to finish the race.

But I am proud of two things: I kept pace throughout. And I finished the race.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Best in Show

Today is World Rabies Day and as part of the celebrations here in Davao, the local dog clubs got together for an early-morning parade around city hall. The event drew various pedigrees: German shepherds, labradors, golden retrievers, boxers, pit bulls, dalmations...and one mongrel pup carried by a very loving owner.

Said owner was an old lady, hair unkempt, clothes ragged and dirty, and she had a habit of mumbling to herself and throwing her head back to laugh for no obvious reason. Her right eyelid was locked in a permanent squint, owing to its empty socket. When she smiled, you could see only gums where her upper front teeth were supposed to be. The crowd gave her wide berth, that old lady, but if you were kind enough to go up to her, she would nod and smile and show you the pup that she carried so lovingly in her arms.

Friday, September 07, 2007

An Assault in Ateneo

I was all set to go to class at Ateneo de Davao yesterday when two guards accosted me at the entrance. One guard was in the standard uniform, the other was in a barong. I flashed them my school card, which, instead of a graduate school ID, was an undergrad's.

"Why aren't you in uniform?" the uniformed guard asked.

"I only have two classes this semester," I said.

"Are you a second-courser?" Sigh. They so love that word around here.


"Where's your pink slip? You need a pink slip."

"What the...? I've been coming here for three months now!"

"I'll call admin to check," the guard in the barong said. He picked up the phone on his small table.

By then, I had had it. "Forget it!" I said, "I'm not attending classes today."

I headed back to our store, seriously reconsidering the wisdom of proceeding with a degree in Ateneo de Davao. For this sort of hasslin', I pay P11,000+ per semester? I fumed. AdDU is a freakin' sandbox!

In deference to my professor, I sent him a text message summarizing what happened. Then came the reply:

"Haven't you heard? A deplorable thing happened this morning. A student was stabbed."

That certainly put my troubles in perspective. No wonder security was so tight. They were checking everyone who went in.

By this morning, the lines outside the school were snaking as the guards throughly inspected bags and people. Not even the women were exempt. Which all struck me as a little silly -- after all, the crime had already been committed. This was like closing the proverbial barn door after the proverbial horse had run away...proverbially, of course.

But what could have happened? Several scenarios swirled in mind. Was it frat-related? That seems to be all in the news today.

Perhaps an outsider in civvies had gone in under false pretenses to seek out a rival? Then follows the requisite confrontation ending in violence.

Or perhaps it was a theft gone horribly wrong? What if the thief was found out, and in desperation, stabbed his victim?

I texted my classmate to ask if she had the details of the news. All I got was a cryptic "It's a long story, too long to explain over text." I shrugged it off. I would simply find some voluble Atenean to spin out all the sordid details.

This morning, waiting in line for a printout at the corner cybercafe frequented by Ateneo students, I pounced on a skinny freshman in glasses.

"Heard about the stabbing yesterday," I said without much preamble. "What happened?"

"Yeah, it was pretty bad," he said.

"Was it an outsider that did it?"

"Oh, no. It was a student that stabbed another."

"Why? What reason?"

"Over some guy."

"What?! Are you serious? So you mean...they were girls?"


I'm sure my jaw must have gone slack at this revelation. Truth, as they say, is stranger than fiction. I couldn't have imagined one girl going at it with another, much less going so far as to stab her. And even less so while they were both wearing their immaculate Ateneo uniforms. I couldn't think what else to ask.

A fellow classmate of his, obviously less informed than he, picked up the thread where I left off. "Is that so?" she said. "Details, c'mon!"

"Well, one gal had the hots for this guy. Turns out the other gal was also the close friend of the guy. And I guess they fell into some argument."

"What did she stab him with? A box cutter?"

"No. It was a balisong."

"Cripes!" I said.

"Yep. She stabbed the other girl right here." He pointed to a spot just below his left ribcage.

"So what happened to the victim? She all right?"

"They brought her to San Pedro. Stable, I think."

"And the attacker? They take her to jail?"

"Couldn't. They were both freshmen. She was underaged, so they couldn't take her to police custody. She's at DSWD, I think."

I let out a sigh. It was all a bit too much to take in. Two first-year college girls, fighting over a guy: one girl takes out a fan knife from her bag (was it unfolded already? was she just so quick with it?) and stabs another. I wanted to laugh at the absurdity of it all, the shallow depth of the reason, the unthinking instinct to violence, and at my own incredulity that two young girls should be at the center of it all.

And then I thought of the two lives ruined, or at the very least, spun out of control. Of the victim, recovering in the hospital: one hopes that the blade missed the vital organs and that her young body can bounce back from the trauma. But would she be able to face coming back to school?

And of the attacker, too: for her one thoughtless moment of passion. What faces her? Expulsion, certainly. With that blight on her record, what school would take her in? What of the parents, now probably wrapped in fury and disappointment and doubt and pity?

What a waste, what a waste.

"Thanks for the info, man," I told my informer, as I picked up my printouts.

"No problem." He smiled back.

I waded through the crowd of Ateneans in their blue and white uniforms, waiting for their turn at the printing station. With the exception of stricter security, life seems pretty much back to normal in Ateneo.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Song of Iroh

Leaves from the vine
Falling so slow
Like fragile tiny shells
drifting in the foam

Little soldier boy
come marching home
Brave soldier boy
comes marching home

This is the song sung in one particularly touching episode of Avatar: The Legend of Aang, Tales of Ba Sing Se.

The segment was dedicated to Mako, original voice actor for Iroh, who died of esophagal cancer.

Why study?

I posted this as a comment on ExpectoRants, and thought I'd reproduce it here. This is an old joke I found in a pre-war hardbound compilation of jokes. With the stereotypes then, you can probably guess what the A and F stand for.

A: "Why are you just sleeping and fishing all day? You should be studying?"

F: "Why?"

A: "If you study well, you'll finish school and land a good job."

F: "What for?"

A: "If you land a good job, you'll be able to earn money."

F: "And then what?"

A: "With the money you'll be able to save up so you can retire."

F: "And then...?"

A: "And then you can just sleep and fish all day."

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Hee haw!

"What the hell do they think they'll accomplish with that?" groused my Dad during a long-distance call. My father, who is not usually given to grousing on community matters, finally had something that caught his ire and attention: the police parade through the streets of Dumaguete to kick off yet another high-visibility crime-prevention drive.

Perhaps if we ourselves hadn't fallen victim to a burglary, my Dad wouldn't be as concerned. Crime, after all, is Something That Happens to Other People. But not anymore: our Piapi home was broken into just a couple of months ago. Perspective changes rapidly once you have first-hand experience.

Out of that incident came a greater awareness and sympathy for (and from) fellow victims. That's when the stories start to come out. Not too long after our house was robbed, we heard that a judge and a pastor has also had their homes burgled. Just lately, a Korean family would have fallen victim had the thieves not been spotted clambering over their fence. How many more crimes like this have gone unreported?

What's happening to Dumaguete? That's the oft-repeated lament. It's echoed so often and just as quickly forgotten that perhaps its lost much of its impact. Perhaps it's necessary to revisit this question again and again with greater force each time until we find sufficient answers. What, indeed, is happening to Dumaguete?

If you need a picture of the situation, look no further than the lead photo of the front page of the August 12, 2007 issue of the Metro Post. In it, a jolly Mayor Tuting Perdices and two city hall officials hold court with a gaggle of teenage copycat hiphop gangsta wannabees as they sign a 'peace covenant.' Behind the blacked out eyes are gleeful smiles, mayor and staff included, as everyone mugs for the camera flashing L's and V's.

Peace covenant? Ri-iiight.

I look at this picture and I wonder if I'll ever see Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in a similar position. In all honesty, I don't think I ever will. Any picture of Mayor Duterte with teenage copycat hiphop gangsta wannabees will most likely not be fit for print...which is why there are no teenage copycat hiphop gangsta wannabees in Davao City. If you know what I mean.

Two Sundays past I caught Mayor Duterte's interview on a community program on TV. He had just come back from a long vacation and he was back in fighting form. On the agenda: local government acquisition of private property along the boulevard to make way for a wider drainage system ("Kinahanglan man himu-on...bahala na kung masuko sila nako"); landgrabbing scammers from Metro Manila ("Gi-ingnan nako, pama-uli sila, kung dili...."); decisions to suspend classes in case of flood ("Ako'y magbu-ot kung kanus-a i-suspindi...dili ang DepED...amaw ma na silang taga-Manila...."); and a plan to make bus trips terminal-to-terminal to avoid bomb attacks ("Dili...kay lu-oy kaayo nang mga pobre nga manakay...doble ang ilang biyahe...kung mabutohan, aw, wala tay mahimo.")

The pictures of a smiling Duterted patting someone's back are rare indeed. He's ever slouched forward, the scowl only occasionally giving way to a smug yet well-deserved sneer.

Duterte is brusque and crass and dangerous as heck. But he's straight-talking and effective. He knows how to use his political collateral and exert his political will. Some people -- myself included -- may not agree with the rumored summary executions but that certainly does not eclipse his achievements overall.

And that's why he's a well-respected mayor and will be long-remembered as a giant in the history of Davao City.

Having been back in Davao the past eight months (with no signs of a return to Dumaguete), I can't help but compare and contrast the mayoral styles. And the question comes to mind: what is happening to Dumaguete City?

Listening to the stories coming in from friends and relatives in Dumaguete, I am filled with concern. Is it as bad as they say it is? When will the next break-in happen? Whose house will it be? When will the next drive-by shooting near Hayahay and El Camino occur? When will the next fire strike? Most importantly, will anyone I know get hurt, or worse?

And as I look at the city response -- pathetic parades and pointless photo-ops and pitiful promises -- I can only say:

Hee haw!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Greed without end

Debating with a worldly wise friend over which candidate to vote for, he argued in favor of the incumbent. "Compare him to a mosquito," he said, "he's already had his fill. He won't steal as much. His opponent, on the other hand, is probably just getting started...."

My friend's assumption was that greed had certain limits; that, past a certain point, someone can say "Enough! I've had my fill!" Benjamin Abalos Sr. proves just how wrong this assertion is.

Unless you've been insulating yourself from the world, you'll know all about the National Broadband Network. In brief: it's a project that aims to connect all government agencies via their own special private network. It will be owned by the government, operated by the government, and used exclusively for the government.

Is the NBN infrastructure really needed or not? That point is moot. In a shady midnight deal, the contract was signed in China by DOTC officials without any public bidding whatsoever. Mere hours after sealing the deal, the contract was conveniently 'stolen.'

The price tag for the NBN is $330-million, roughly P15-billion at the prevailing exchange rate.

What's truly staggering is that the kickback is pegged at $198-million (P9-billion.) It's more than half the total contract price.

Add to this all the lurid details of hotel orgies in China in between which they hammered out the details of the deal. Not the technical details, I would surmise, but rather, whom to pay how much and when. Up-front payment for brokering the deal: $3-million (P135-million.)

And who's the personality allegedly behind all this? COMELEC chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr.

Here's a man who's already a millionaire many times over, holding in succession several sensitive political positions. In the sunset of his years, he ought to be taking stock of his life and making his peace with the Lord.

And yet...P9-billion?

What are you going to do with P9-billion? How many homes can you really live in? How many cars can you drive? How many women can you bed? Isn't what you have enough?

Is there no end to your greed, Mr. COMELEC Chairman?

Apparently not.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Clay Tiger

On the request of Dungeons and Dragons gamer Jac Ting Lim, a tiger was my sculpting project over the weekend. Dimensions were such that it could be used as a D&D miniature.

For this project, I used Sculpey polymer clay. Polymer clay, unlike the plasticine that is more common in local bookstores, can be oven-baked to hardness.

I wanted to pose the tiger as if it had just landed from a pounce. I started with a wire frame model soldered together from thick paper clips.

The next step was to coat the wire frame with clay. It's not shown in the photos (didn't want to stain my expensive camera), but the technique I used was to wrap a strip of clay around wire and just pull it down. Any exposed wire could be patched up with more clay.

I added more clay where I thought there ought to be more mass and muscle. Not to boast, but I was working without any model, just from an image in my mind. (Which is why I still might have to correct some parts of the sculpture later on.)

Having done the body, I then did the head. I started with a tetrahedron base, flattened it down at some corners, and added ears and a jaw.

Doing the tail last was a sensible decision. It was the easiest bit to do. While I was sculpting the rest of the body, I could use the exposed wire for that part as a handle for my table vise.

Front view of the tiger. Note the tools in the background for size comparison.

Unbaked Sculpey is a bit softer and less resistant than plasticine, and this works out to both good and bad. It's good because it's easier to shape, but it's not so good as it sometimes gives when I don't want it to. But on the whole, it's not bad material to work with.

Next step is baking, but that's for another time.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Outlook RSS Feed Reader Yuckiness

Warning: more geekiness up ahead. Must be because the moon is full.

This morning I had an email exchange with a pal from Dumaguete, the topic and direction of which brought a couple of laughs. (And I'm sure he won't mind if I post the thread here.)

Here's how it starts off:

...I have subscribed to the RSS feed of your blog using Outlook so that it would be delivered straight to my inbox to read every morning. I just noticed though that the date of each post is always “Sunday, 12/31/2006 8:00AM”. So all the new post are at the bottom of the list in a folder. I’m not sure if it is on the blog engine itself or it’s something you can tweak but you can check on that.

Response from me:

Anyway...the problem you mention is a bug on your Outlook feedreader.

Really it is.

;-) Ha ha ha!

Seriously, though, I just checked my feeds on Google Reader and the dates are okay. So I think it's how your feed reader handles Atom dates.

Response from my friend:

Hmmm.... I'm using the most advanced Office suite (office 2k7) running on the most advanced OS (vista ultimate) in the whole wide world, i don't think it's my feedreader having the problem... hehe..

But you're maybe right :-)... I just check the raw XML from your feed. I can see that it has the correct date in its node.

Interesting... I still don't think it's my most advanced office suite having the problem... hehe

And an addendum from him:

Alright... just did a quick google... it's a confirmed bug (Atom dates) in Outlook. They might have just overlooked this as they are very busy preparing Windows Server 2008, the most advanced server in whole wide world... hahaha

The final word, this time from me:

So now I can only say: "Beee-laaaaaat!" Ha ha ha!

Score another -1 for Microsoft!

Belat: goodness gracious, it's been ages since I've used that word.