Tuesday, June 30, 2009

All about Greek mythology

Here's a fantastic resource on Greek mythology.


Don't get me wrong, I'm happy enough to teach at Ateneo de Davao. Sometimes, though, it gets me wondering.

You see, I'm teaching because I want to give back. Ten years in corporate IT, several more years of fiddoodling with Linux and open source, I've certainly got something to share. And please don't tell me that I'm doing it for the salary because, heh, if I showed you my payslip, you'd probably snigger and snark. Let's not even talk about the silly bureaucracy inherent in any large organization.

I'm wondering, though, if an Ateneo falls within the community that I ought to be giving back through. Religious roots aside, Ateneo ranks way up there in terms of tuition and matriculation fees. The students can certainly afford. Will the knowledge that I'm imparting get passed on in turn? Or will it just be used to fuel selfish careers? I don't know, and perhaps I'll never know -- it's that old saw again about the sowing and the reaping.

On the flip side, Ateneo has excellent -- if underused -- facilities, and that fulfills the working environment that I need. I've been trading notes with friends from other schools and the labs I work with are miles ahead of what they have. I would feel constricted otherwise.

So now the dilemma: if I work with the less privileged, I would also be drastically scaling back the lessons I can teach, even far more than what I'm already doing now with my students at Ateneo. In terms of need, I might be reaching a more deserving audience, but they won't receive the best of what I'd be able to give.

And on the flip side: I wonder if teaching at an upper-class school matches the spirit of my original intent. Am I doing the good that I'm supposed to be doing? Or have I become a tool for just another capitalistic endeavor?

Ah, questions, questions.

Posting from an iPod Touch

Test post blogging from my iPod Touch using BlogWriter.

Yes, I do have an iPod Touch. Please don't laugh. It wasn't my idea. My Dad got it for me (I got an 8G but he bought himself a 16G.)

And no, I am not an Apple zombie.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Murder in Davao

When you live in a place where crimes go unsolved and unpunished, even a front-page atrocity manages to elicit only a shrug. "Poor fellow," you say, and you go on about your business.

That, in a nutshell, summed up my response to the recent murder case of Dr. Rogelio Peñera, head of the local DOH team monitoring swine flu in Davao. I wondered what could have prompted someone to kill him; after all, he was neither activist nor politician nor criminal. As I said, when crimes go on unsolved, callousness steps in.

But when you know someone who knows the victim, perspective changes somewhat. The victims no longer remains an anonymous name, but becomes a person, one you might have known. That, too, is what happened to me when I received an email from a Dumaguete friend.

Hi, Dom, he was my classmate in high school. Have you heard anything else about this? I've only just heard because I don't regularly open my PSHS email. Would appreciate any updates. Our classmates are planning to go to Davao for his funeral tomorrow.

Perhaps the way the media report the news goes a long way to desensitize us. This is how the Philippine Star covered the story:

Two unidentified gunmen shot dead last night the head of the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit of Department of Health (DOH) Region XI, who was tasked to address and monitor A(H1N1) flu cases here.

The victim, identified as Dr. Rogelio Peñera, in his early 40s, was reportedly killed when he arrived home at around 6:30 p.m. last night in Countryville Subdivision, Cabantian Road, this city.

DOH Region XI assistant regional director Dr. Salvador Estrera said Peñera was rushed to the Davao Medical Center but was declared dead on arrival.

Peñera’s teenage daughter also reportedly suffered minor injury when she sustained a gunshot wound in the hand.

Davao City Police Office said the two suspects were waiting for the victim at his house and fired at him when he got out of his car. Elements of the Buhangin Police Station immediately launched a massive manhunt for the killers.

Peñera was the one giving media updates on the flu. He had also been going around the barangays to give lectures on the viral infection. “I really do not know why he was killed. He was such a good man,” Estrera said.

He described Peñera as a good and efficient worker, adding that the victim’s death would be a big loss to the DOH Region XI office.

As it is, just another story.

First-person account previously posted here removed on request of original sender. Please don't ask me for a copy as I have also deleted it from my files. An official statement from Dr. Peñera's friends is coming soon.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Blender animation from my student

I previously showcased my summer student Angelie's work on Synfig on this blog and in Ubuntu Living. Now it's time to show off a character animation done in Blender by another student, Paul Jims Cabahug. Paul had just picked up on the tool last summer, did all the research (with only encouragement from me, as I don't know Blender), and put together the animation by himself in two weeks.

An touching side note: during his presentation, Paul said he named this character Rusty, after his beloved dog who passed away.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Girl Who Doesn't Age

Over at Slashdot, I found a link to the story of a girl who doesn't age. The original article came from a feature story from ABC News, with accompanying photos.

Brooke, left, at 16, with younger sister Carly, 13, on the right. Photos from ABC web site.

The amazing story in a nutshell: Brooke Greenberg, already 16 years old, still has the body of an infant; she stopped growing when she was two. Brooke's medical condition has left her with the mental and verbal capacity of a toddler. She's also had several bouts with tumors, cancers, and seizures, all from which she recovered quickly.

Brooke and Carly three years ago.

So far the only person known to have this condition, Brooke has baffled specialists. Brooke may hold the key to why and how humans develop and grow old. They're analyzing her DNA to determine specific mutations. However, she has not been diagnosed with any genetic syndrome or chromosomal abnormality.

The lead doctor involved in Brooke's case, Richard Walker, has a web site chronicling his findings. The original case study is available for download.

Friday, June 26, 2009


Weeks before the first reported case of swine flu in the country, the Department of Health already held daily press conferences on the spread of the virus. Perhaps that was meant to display the department's proactiveness in the face of an impending crisis. But as in the case of the boy who cried wolf, too much too soon may not be very wise either. After numerous warnings, but with no victims in sight, some broadsheets began to wonder -- in the front pages no less -- whether Filipinos had a natural immunity to A(H1N1). Of course, now we know that just isn't so.

Still, with all the attention the department and press coverage, the watch inadvertently became a waiting game. When the first case finally surfaced, well after all our Southeast Asian neighbors reported theirs, it sounded like sigh of relief: "Sa wakas, may swine flu na tayo! Hindi na tayo huli sa ibang bansa!"

Be careful what you wish for, so they say.

At first, the DOH's defensive stance seemed impenetrable. Infection number one, a young girl, flew in from abroad. Immediately the DOH sought out all other passengers seated within the vicinity. Smart move, and very aggressive, our tax pesos visibly at work.

And yet the screen of invincibility all fell apart come the first day of classes on June 8. Two infected DLSU students shut the university down for a week. Apparently eager to get in on the game, the Commission on Higher Education pushed back the opening of college classes a week later; surprisingly, the Department of Education, Culture, and Sports pushed through the schedule. The logic behind this? College students were more likely to have travelled abroad. Like, wow.

But you can't hold off school forever, just like you can't stop the wheels of business and everyday life. Classes started. Vacationeers reported back to work. And the reports of swine flu infections rose, and rose, and rose. As of this writing, the Philippines has over 700 cases, the highest of any country in Southeast Asia.

What happened to all the protective measures? What happened to the airport screenings? What happened to the vaunted proximity tracking? So despite all the early advisories and the panic-inducing daily press briefings, the virus has managed to spread so quickly after all? Are these 700 cases really A(H1N1) to begin with? No one seems to know.

Instead, we get confusing verdicts like "low-level" infection, the first such term I've heard in use since swine flu started. Does that mean that it's not a serious problem, after all?

Neither is the CHED any help in its new guidelines: "Suspend classes on the first infection, but proceed with classes if you already have two or more." What imbecility is this?

It seems to me that it all boils down to this: after feeding the swine flu panic, and unable to contain swine flu at all, both agencies ultimately fall back to the mechanism they know best: spin machines. Unfair to say, perhaps, of the doctors and nurses actually working on the problem, but it's not them I'm speaking of. I mean, instead, the top levels of these departments, secretaries Duque and Lapuz, who have used swine flu as their opportunity to, well, hog the headlines.

Oink to you, gentlemen, oink to you.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Steve Rude

Recognize the character above? If you do, then your comic tastes run along the same lines as mine.

If you're looking to follow his future adventures, head on over to Steve Rude Art to buy the PDF versions of the comic (sadly, Mr. Rude will go on hiatus after the latest arc concludes). Only 99 cents per issue.

And, no, you may not copy my files. It's only 99 cents, for cryin' out loud, you cheapskate!

Articles and conjunctions not included

From the Gawker comes this amusing report about Philippine Airlines niggardly ways:

Jeff Koyen got an email from a representative of "Mabuhay, Philippine Airlines' inflight magazine," asking permission to reprint an article he'd written. For 15 cents per word. Oh, but:

Dear Mr. Koyen,

My sincerest apologies, but I failed to mention that the words "a", "and", and "the" are not included in the rate. Would you still be interested in writing this piece for us?

Now I don't know if this story is actually true or not but knowing Philippine Airlines, I tend to think that it is.

It reminds me of another story, also unverified, about how Mabuhay ran a travel photography contest with the fine print that "all entries become the property of Mabuhay." End result: they built up a collection of stock photography without having to pay the non-winning photographers a cent. Smart, eh? Too smart.

May I suggest to future contributors of Mabuhay to drop all articles and conjunctions from their submissions. After all, if Mabuhay isn't willing to pay for them, there's no reason to include them, right?


Whoa. Has it been a week already?

If I haven't blogged for the past seven days, it's because of a confluence of events. In no particular order:

First, I've been busy with the first week of school. After the delay announced by the CHED two weeks previous, and despite the rising cases of A(H1N1), classes have finally started. With ten units for the Computer Science Division -- two lab-and-lecture classes -- I have had my hands full. And after classes, I just feel tired.

Mercifully, they took one class away from me; otherwise, that would have been 15 units.

Second, I've been feeling inexplicably down. Last week, it was a persistent dry cough. Towards the weekend, a strange tiredness. Early this week, a bum stomach. I've just had enough energy to attend to my classes, then head back home to sleep. Just sleep. Again, I don't know why I'm feeling this way. Does it have something to do with my biorhythms?

At least it's not swine flu.

Third, broadband access from home is as slow as molasses. Nothing kills the blogging vibe more than slow net access. Yeah, I'm just kvetching, I know. But there you go.

Fourth, I've been spending my down time reading. When you think about it, it's not such a bad thing. After the disaster with Philip Jose Farmer, I really needed something to get me back in the groove. That came by way of "The Eyre Affair" by Jasper Fforde and "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman. Two novels in the span of a week, but they came at the expense of blogging. Not a bad trade, in my opinion. Reviews to follow soon.

Fifth, I've been babysitting. Jerry's been with us for the past two weeks, owing to his parents' vacation. While the yayas can take care of him in the mornings, in the evenings he's our responsibility. That means playing with him from 8PM till 9PM, followed by a nappy change before bedtime. All fine, really, unless he soaks his diapers in the middle of the night; and then it's a four-alarm alert until we get him changed again.

Heh. But you know what? I wouldn't trade this experience for anything.

And that, my friends, is why I haven't blogged for a week.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Smooth Operator

Gotta hand it to this guy for his persistence and cheek. I wonder what CRM he uses.

Good morning!!!

It's been a long time (Sept. 12, 2008) since I read your letter publish in Phil. Daily Inquirer about only Filipinos can save themselves.. I have send you some emails regarding your opinions..

Well, I agree with you on that matter.. Nobody can save us and our Family but OURSELVES... Filipinos are hardworking people but we failed to plan for the future.. We rely to much on the goverment to help us. Sometime we blame the goverment for what the situation we are having.. In my 6 years in financial services, I tried my best to reach out for more people. Sharing with them the value of planning ahead such as our children college studies, retirement plan and savings.. With this, they will never suffer the sad fate of those who did plan..

Sir, I wish to take this opportunity to meet you and also to discuss with you our Financial Services in Manulife.. I'm sure thqat this will also benefit you and your Family.. Would it be possible to meet you next week??

Looking forward of meeting you and somehow be a blessing to your family..

Thank you very much & GOD BLESS YOU ALWAYS..

Sorry, bud, we're too far away, and I don't think I fit in your desirable clients profile.


Found this on someone's shirt yesterday:

"Sometimes a majority simply means that most of the fools are on the same side..."

Heh. Sounds like Congress.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Maker of Universes

As a rule, I always carry a book with me to read during those down-times. When I had my accident in Samal last month, I carried in my backpack Philip Jose Farmer's "The Maker of Universes." I had picked it up just a week prior, for the low, low price of P30. What made me buy it? The name, of course, because Farmer comes pretty well regarded in SF&F circles; and the cover. 'Nuff said.

So some four weeks later, I finally finished reading the book. Was it that good that I had to read it slowly, savoring each and every sentence? No. Was it that deep, full of artsy metaphors and meaning? No.

In fact, it was horrible. Horrible. Horrible. Horrible. Horrible. I can't repeat it often enough. It was horrible. Hor-riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiible.

Philip Jose Farmer, in this book, at least, writes with all the skill and vocabulary of a sixth-grader. The characters? Pure cardboard? The scenes? Slap-dash and careless. The narrative? Oh, Buddha.... Someone once said that Farmer wrote "The Maker of Universes" while he was on drugs. I tend to believe that.

So why did I take four weeks to finish it? And why did I stick it out?

But darn it, like an impending train wreck that you just can't keep your eyes off, I just had to read it through the end, no matter how painful each and every sentence became. This is what they probably mean by "it's so bad it's good." I just can't imagine, though.

On the other hand, it's been a real confidence builder. If a guy like Philip Jose Farmer can get this drivel published, darn it, why can't I?

For a kinder review, see www.sfreviews.net, from which I also lifted the picture.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A(H1N1) warning

A(H1N1) warning announcement posted at Ateneo lobby. Oh dear, and me with a dry cough.

Class Schedules, 1st Sem 2009

CS251 Lab IT3A F610 8:00am to 11:00am

CS251 Lab IT3B F610 11:30am to 2:30pm
CS251 Lec CS4 F607 2:35pm to 3:35pm

CS251 Lec IT3A/B F607 8:00am to 10:00am

CS251 Lab CS4 F608 11:30am to 2:30pm
CS251 Lec CS4 F606 2:35pm to 3:35pm
Lit2 6:00pm to 9:00pm

Published in Philippine Graphic

I had another story published in Philippine Graphic two weeks ago. I only mention it now because I wanted to post the magazine cover and a snap of the interior. Magazines arrive late in Davao, unfortunately.

This makes it my third publication this year.

Thanks to Charles for emailing me the good news, and to Ken for the first blog mention.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ubunchu, the Ubuntu manga

Apparently this comic has been around for a while, but only now have I gotten wind of it. Don't expect anything deep; the comic aims more to introduce Ubuntu to a younger manga-oriented crowd. All the same, worth a chuckle or two.

Download it from Doctor Mo. Available in several languages.

Thanks to Clair for the heads-up.

A bad week

Ordinarily I wouldn't place much stock in biorhythms. However, it just so happens that on probably the worst day of my life some six years ago, all my cycles all came at a crossing. As in all of them.

I've been feeling pretty crappy this week, and if the biorhythms are to be believed....

Oh, boy. Please let the next two weeks be over.


Good IT practice tells us to backup, backup, and backup. As with our files, the same with our blogs. You never really know when something can happen to your server, as recently befell a friend of mine whose web host, Netfirms, unceremoniously deleted 90% of his data. Or another friend whose Blogspot blog Google decided acted as a transmitter for malware and promptly took it offline now and forever. Scary stories, yes, but really, such things happen.

Good thing that most modern blogging tools now have Export options. I make it a point to use Export to back up my blogs weekly. It's not that difficult, too. For example, on Blogger, the Export link is under Settings.

Now if only it weren't so close to the Delete Blog link.

On the other hand, it's far from an ideal solution. Export only saves the posts in the blog, not the images or the template. So if Picasa were to go, well, that's a lot of lost pictures there. The only solution that comes to mind is to wget the entire blog, but restoring it becomes a whole other problem. Nothing to do but keep my fingers crossed.

On the other hand, Export is better than nothing. If Google decides to muck around with my blog, that's roughly 12.3MB of text posts that will be lost. Shudder! Five years down the drain!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Six-word stories for 6/12

Paolo Chikiamco posed a challenge for June 12, our Independence Day: write six-word stories, the same form that Wired previously featured. Egged on by Erika, I decided to churn out a few.

The exercise has proven worthwhile: for one thing, I haven't written really written any fiction the past few months, so it's a good warm-up; and for another, it reveals a bit of my subconscious thinking.

My very first entry betrays my secret hope come July:

A(H1N1) epidemic in Congress. Con-Ass cancelled.

Of course, it will take some truly dedicated soul to turn this fiction to reality.

It seems I really have a taste for alternate realities and what-if situations. Presenting in historical chronological order:

Rojo repulses British, consolidates Spanish defenses.

Maxim gana contrata. Pistolas a Mindanao.

Pasaron victorioso! Dewey derrotado! Viva España!

Hero's welcome for Rizal, Cuba veteran.

Lawyer convicted, executed for Nalundasan murder.

Ninoy: "Missed me by that MUCH!"

Envelope holds nothing, Erap impeachment dropped.

Now, I wonder if people would actually recognize some of the more obscure references I made above? Does Philippine history really have that many pivotal moments that would alter its course without actually altering its core essential nature? For example, if Philip II hadn't ordered Legazpi to set out, wouldn't it radically alter the Philippines that we know so as to be now totally unrecognizable?

More on what-if's, here's a riff on El Filibusterismo:

Bomb devastates wedding party. Jeweller suspected.

Some really terrifying scenarious, bordering on the horror genre, and involving GMA:

Malacañang murders uncovered: human sacrifice suspected.

GMA dying; Satan fears for throne.

Cloning perfected. GMA now and forever!

Now for some more mean humor:

Nograles comatose. Paulate hired to double.

Off-Broadway -- "Gloria and Kris: Daddy Issues"

And probably my favorite:

FGMA farts as FVR lights. Boom!

Selling my Stikfas on eBay


How to say "computer" in Spanish

The other day I received this email:

A SPANISH Teacher was explaining to her class that in Spanish, unlike English, nouns are designated as either masculine or feminine.

'House' for instance, is feminine: 'la casa.'
'Pencil,' however, is masculine: 'el lapiz.'

A student asked, 'What gender is 'computer'?'

Instead of giving the answer, the teacher split the class into two groups, male and female, and asked them to decide for themselves whether computer' should be a masculine or a feminine noun. Each group was asked to give four reasons for its recommendation.
Now, I don't appreciate jokes like this because they're really stilted towards one side or another, depending on who's telling it. As you can probably tell, the sender of this joke was a woman.
The men's group decided that 'computer' should definitely be of the feminine gender ('la computadora'), because:

1. No one but their creator understands their internal logic;

2. The native language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else;

3. Even the smallest mistakes are stored in long term memory for possible later retrieval; and

4. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your paycheck on accessories for it.

The women's group, however, concluded that computers should be Masculine ('el computador'), because:

1. In order to do anything with them, you have to turn them on;

2. They have a lot of data but still can't think for themselves;

3. They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they ARE the problem; and

4. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you had waited a little longer, you could have gotten a better model.

The women won.

Send this to all the smart women you know...and all the men that have a sense of humor.

See? I could have swapped the descriptions and just as easily have said that the men won. And point number 4 of the second set applies just as easily to both men and women. Either way, it's just stereotypically sexist.

Yes, yes, I am overanalyzing this joke, but only because I don't think it's particularly funny. Worth a chuckle, maybe, but nothing more.

As the upside to all this, it did prompt me to look for the Spanish translation for "computer". Apparently, the generally accepted form is "la computadora", and it's in use in all Latin American countries except Colombia, where it is "el computador."

In Spain, though, it is "el ordenador."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

How to lose the nerd vote

Update: Apparently the article I referred to was written in 2006. I assumed it was new because I saw it posted on my friend's Plurk. I don't know for a fact if Chiz Escudero still maintains the same position, or has already changed his mind.

Chiz Escudero can talk, all right, and that's why he's the darling of the opposition. But if this presidential wannabe wants to get anywhere with his ambitions, he better rethink his positions on education.

From a PDI story on what is ostensibly another salvo for next year's contest: Give provinces P1B a year and let them decide’ -- Escudero:

Essential subjects, he said, would include Languages, including English and Filipino, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies or History, Computer and Good Manners and Right Conduct.

Subjects like trigonometry, calculus, geometry, and algebra, should be taught only in college or as high school electives since these are not relevant to the everyday life of Filipinos, he said.

Way to go, buck-o. Spoken like a true lawyer, you and your fungible legal fictions. You've just lost the nerd vote.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tin robot

I featured this tiny tin robot here before, but as a GIMPed image. Since my friend Noel told me his daughter loved robots, I thought I'd post it here again, this time in its original colors.

It's not very big, by the way, just a little under three inches, and other than looking retro-cool, doesn't really do anything. But I'm kind of fond of it.

The Computer Generation

It's not that we encourage him to, but my nephew Jerry just gravitates towards computers. That's probably from seeing us in front of our laptops, and the natural inclination to emulate what we're doing.

Oh, we try to keep him out, but he can fenagle his way in. He has a method, too: he'll climb up my lap, or squeeze in the space between my knees. A twist here and there, and he's sharing the seat with me. It's at that point I disconnect the keyboard and just work with the mouse. I fear it won't be long, though, till he catches on.

Please ignore the mess around us.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Corner Coconut Peddler

Every time we pass by Marfori Heights, we make it a point to buy coconuts from this corner peddler. We get them six pieces for P100, and I doube we can find cheaper anywhere else in the city.

Their usual customers are drivers and commuters hankering for a quick snack. They cut the coconut in such a way as to show just a bit of the fleshy part and stick a straw in it. Once the customer is done, they cut it open and scoop out the meat with carabao horn so it's easier for the customer to eat.

The Junk Shop

Owing to the construction outside our house, we needed corrugated steel bars for our new driveway. We decided to buy them from a junkshop. Not a bad decision, as it turned out to be at least a third of the cost of new ones. And it turned out the shop was owned by an acquaintance.

It's not a pretty business but it looks profitable.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Minor fire in Damosa

Just as we were settling in for a quiet evening, we received distressing news about a fire in Damosa. We decided to head there because the fire was said to have come from Dimsum Diner, next door to my sister's pet shop. Foremost on our minds was Terence, our beagle, who sleeps at the shop.

Thankfully, Mom and I proceeded calmly. We made the requisite phone calls and contingency arrangements, then drove over to Damosa. Midway, we saw three fire trucks heading in the opposite direction, lights flashing, but no sirens. That was a good sign. We breathed easier.

As it turned out, the fire came from the other neighbor, Dencio's. By the time we got there, it was is nothing had happened, save for the lack of lights in the corner where Dencio's, Dimsum Diner, and our shop were. In front of Dencio's the ground was soaked with water.

My sister's pet store didn't quite escape unscathed, though. The firemen ran a hose across the ceiling, and someone's foot broke through the flimsy hardiflex ceiling. Some water also came through, but all told, there was minimal damage. Nothing that can't be wiped away.

Reconstructing from the accounts: around 8PM, Dencio's cooking exhausts began billowing smoke. A little while later, the ducts burst into flame. Fortunately, by that time, the firemen were already there. As a precaution, they flooded the inner ceiling to keep the fire from spreading. The fire must have been contained very quickly, a very good thing. However, I'm sure there will be some very unhappy stall owners come tomorrow morning (I'm thinking particularly of the graphics design shop behind my sister's store.)

As I understand it, Dencio's shop in SM City Davao has already had two similar fires, so this is not a first. I think it happens because their exhausts pile up with soot from their barbecue. Without the proper ventilation, the combustible material builds up, and bamf!

I'd hate to be in the owner's shoes over this next week.

Most comforting news of the night: Terence is alright.

Friday, June 05, 2009

No. No. Absolutely No.

To the members of the House of Representatives of the 14th Congress of the Philippines: No. No. Absolutely NO.

I say NO to your planned constituent assembly. I say NO to the resolution you passed under cover of darkness, in the dark of night of June 2, 2009. I say NO because you approved it without any specifics whatsoever as to what changes there might be. I say NO because I don't trust you. I say NO because I don't trust Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In fact, I say NO to any scheme that involves any change in the 1987 Constitution while you sit as members of congress. I say NO to any change in the 1987 Constitution while Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo presumes to lead the Philippines.

I say NO to your planned constituent assembly because I don't want any chance, even the hint of a chance, that either you or Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will remain at your posts after July of 2010. I say NO because I want you all out of government as soon as is legally possible.

I say NO to your planned constituent assembly because, come 2010, I want a change in government. I say NO because I want a government that is honest and transparent and upright and considerate of the plight and opinions of the minority; in short, I want a government that is the moral opposite of everything that you and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo have made this government out to be.

I say NO to your planned constituent assembly because I want a proper accounting of the plentiful crimes which you and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo have been accused of; because I don't want it swept under the rug by a complicit Department of Justice, or slept upon by a conniving Ombudsman, or crushed under the weight of the numbers of what you gloatingly call the majority in congress.

I say NO to your planned constituent assembly because the numbers of the majority alone cannot decide what is morally right; because as the majority, you have had the obligation to consider the good of all, not just of yourselves. I say NO because you have consistently failed this obligation by advancing primarily your personal interests and the interests of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

I say NO because there is more to development than what you can provide out of your pork barrels. I say NO because, no matter what gains you may cite, there is more to nationhood than mere economics. I say NO because there is the soul of this country to speak of, and it cries out for truth and justice, and it demands to be heard; and with you sitting in congress, there can be no truth, no justice, not even compassion, because you are morally bankrupt.

I say NO to your planned constituent assembly because enough is enough. I say NO because I have had enough of you, and to be completely truthful, I have had more than enough. I feel like vomiting already. I want to vomit you out.

Too often you claim to speak on my behalf but never once have you consulted me. Well, I'm speaking out now, whether you want to hear me or not.

I say NO to your constituent assembly. NO means NO.



Absolutely NO.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Conspiracy and Disappearance

Disappearances have become so commonplace in the Philippines that they almost no longer merit front-page coverage. Even if they do, we have learned to blind ourselves to the reality. After all, who is that person to us? Just another statistic.

But precisely this apathy allows government agencies to blithely ignore the situation, or even complicitly abet the groups involved in the abductions. Too often, the reports are swept under layers of official denial and red tape. In the end, inefficiency and ignorance become de facto instruments of state terror.

For example, follow the case outlined in the narrative below, a letter from the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) addressed to Eduardo Ermita:

Dear Honorable Ermita,

The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), after due consultation with our network regarding the abduction case of Melissa Roxas, Juanito Carabeo and Edward Handoc, strongly protests the dragging of the Coalition Against Involuntary Disappearances (CAID), particularly its member organizations the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearances (FIND) and the Asian Federation Against Disappearances (AFAD), to cover-up your office's lack of due diligence.
The deliberate manipulation of frank and truthful answers by FIND and AFAD that both have no information on the said case and that KARAPATAN would be the more appropriate organization to ask betrays an ill-intent of government to pit human rights organizations against each other to serve
as a cover to its dismal performance in implementing its obligations to respect, protect and fulfill human rights.

The case of Melissa Roxas et al, was duly reported "191630H May 2009" by Michael M. Manuel, Barangay Captain of Brgy. Rizal and President of the Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) of the municipality of La Paz, Tarlac, to the La Paz Police Station. This report was submitted on May 20, 2009 by Police Chief Inspector Ronaldo R. Fernandez as a Memorandum for the Provincial Director, Tarlac, PPO, in Camp Macabulos, Tarlac City, as a "Spec. Report re Alleged Abduction". The three persons were said to have been taken "by heavily armed men on board with [sic] two motorcycles and dark blue van" in Sitio Bagong Sikat, Barangay Kapanikian, La Paz, Tarlac.

And yet on May 27, 2009, one week (emphasis ours) after Police Chief Inspector Fernandez submitted his report, the Presidential Human Rights Committee's (PHRC) statement in "Update on the Recent Alleged Abduction of Melissa Roxas, Juanito Carabeo and Edward Handoc as Reported by Karapatan and Bayan", among other things, stated:

1. "As a policy, we consider with serious doubts all allegations of human rights violations from groups like Karapatan..

It is unacceptable that your deep-seated prejudice has blinded your objectivity and paralyzed your will to act on your obligations. Such attitude has no place in an office dedicated to the promotion and defense of human rights.

The gravity of human rights violations are not diminished by the discriminatory perception one has of the victims of these violations. You had the time, personnel and resources to pursue the leads in the Fernandez report. In this particular case, you were not unable, rather you were
unwilling to act with due diligence. In fact, extraordinary due diligence should have been the more proper course of action.

2. "[t]here is strong possibility that Roxas and company were on an "immersion" in NPA-infested areas".

This is a blatant attempt at vilification of the victims to justify the abduction, and places the still missing persons at risk to become subjects of enforced disappearance, illegal detention, torture and extrajudicial execution. Such insinuation from the human rights office of the President erodes the due diligence to protect the rights of a victim of enforced

3. The PHRC has for the conclusion:

There are no reports of this case in the local government office or with local police authorities of the Municipality of La Paz, Tarlac, where the abduction allegedly took place, filed by anyone.." Thus, "Simply put, there is high probability that the alleged abduction of these persons has been fabricated."

Simpler even, the incident of enforced disappearance is true. However, the PHRC contrived to deny it.

PAHRA welcomes the surfacing of Ms. Roxas while it fears for the lives of Carabeo and Handoc. PHRC nonetheless is duty-bound to use its personnel, resources and influence - its office being under the Chief Executive who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) - to immediately obtain the safety of Carabeo and Handoc. Each day that they remain missing entrenches impunity more deeply.

PAHRA expects that PHRC publicly apologizes for the wrong done to the human rights community by circulating the position papers of the organizations that were wronged - AFAD, FIND and KARAPATAN - through the same circuit and networks used by the Philippine government for its May 27
press statement.

PAHRA demands that PHRC effectively coordinates all agencies under the Executive branch of government along with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to break through impunity and obtain justice for Roxas et al. and to all victims of enforced
disappearances and other human rights violations.


Max M. de Mesa

None so blind as they who refuse to see.

Of course, this is just one side of the story, and I cannot claim to know what really happened. But consider if it is the unembellished truth: do you realize how frustrating it is for relatives of the disappeared?

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Day of Ignominy


Monday, June 01, 2009


As a comic, "Archie" is quite a lot like Barry Manilow or Air Supply. It has plenty of devoted fans, it's forever (but never) going out of style, and it always manages to reinvent itself. Despite its perennial and dependable nature, it doesn't quite achieve raging superstardom like the newer acts. "Archie" is barely worth a mention in the news. Until now, that is.

After more than 50 years in a love triangle, Archie is finally popping the question.

Despite the title, I still have my doubts about the ultimate outcome of this story. It's a 6-parter, and I expect quite a few twists to come along the way. Questions that come to mind: will the friendship with Jughead be strained? will Mr. Lodge have an aneurysm? what happens to Betty?

I've always been rooting for Betty, though if put in the same spot, I'm not sure I wouldn't go for Veronica either. Decisions, decisions.

In other news, it seems the folks behind Archie are stoking the fires further by offering some comics for free on iTunes.

Heh. Archie Year One.