July 2000 Archive
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 What's in it for me? Signs of the times: Pinoys must be getting stronger. Ten years ago it took two people to carry P500 worth of groceries. Today a five-year-old boy can do it.
 Beyond Threats and Yelling. "You do that to me one more time, and you're glue," said five-year-old Chris to his little cousin.
 News. Two girls, aged 16 and 17, were arrested in the murder of a friend, a 16-year-old girl, in San Fernando de Cadiz, Spain. The two girls allegedly told police the murder made them "feel good." Their motive? They said the killing would make them "become famous." Police refused to release the killers' names. (AP)
 Genome. Last week the Inquirer reported that scientists have completed 97 percent of the Human Genome Project, an ambitious undertaking to map out the human genetic code - all 3 billion chemical "letter" that go into it. The international teams of scientists had hoped to complete the project by 2003, but from appearances they are ahead of schedule. The word "genome" itself is derived from the words "gene" and "chromosome" and refers to all the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) in an organism or cell.
 The Complication. The first thing we should do for televangelist Wilde Almeda and his band of 12 preachers is pray. I must confess I do not know enough of the man's theology to decide if what he did - go to the Abu Sayyaf lair to pray over the 20 mostly foreign hostages who are in their third month of captivity - was right or wrong. I like watching televangelists, but I tire of Almeda's rantings so quickly that I do not actually hear what gospel it is he preaches. I do not, therefore, know if he truly heard God tell him to go to Jolo. I do know that he and his men are now hostages themselves, and for that alone they should be prayed for.
 Bad News. Being a fairly new cell phone user, I find it disturbing that telecom companies are saying they might raise the cost of prepaid cards because of a new National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) rule extending the expiration date of prepaid cards from two months to two years. In this case I have to side with the telecom companies because such a rule would mean extra expense for them, and ultimately for us: keeping an account active for two years means making room for the accounts in their network which would have otherwise been deleted to make room for others. Globe says all subscribers are kept in a home location registry, which may become saturated if accounts are kept active for two years. Being engaged in business, these companies will have no choice but to pass on the added expense to the subscribers.
 Slander. One night in a church service a young woman felt the tug of God at her heart. She responded to God's call and accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. The young woman had a very rough past, involving alcohol, drugs, and prostitution. But, the change in her was evident. As time went on she became a faithful member of the church. She eventually became involved in the ministry, teaching young children.
 News. Officials in Denver, Colorado, and its suburbs say they are astounded that there are so many federally licensed gun dealers in their cities. For instance many private homes are licensed dealerships, as well as car repair shops, a college bookstore, a doctor's office, a bank, and other unusual locations. Many "dealers" note that they simply get a license to be able to buy guns for themselves wholesale, and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms says that as long as applicants qualify for a license, they are required to grant one, even if it looks "unusual," an ATF spokesman said. "We've had mortuaries," he added. "What do you do at a mortuary with a gun?" (Denver Post)
 A Small Accident. Last week I was involved in a small road accident on the way home. I was on a jeepney which was running down Magsaysay Avenue to Ponciano; suddenly, and to my horror, I saw a taxicab coming from Bajada going to C.M. Recto Avenue on a collision course with us. I braced myself, and in a split second our jeep hit the left side of the cab. I was not hurt, nor were any of the four passengers and the driver. The cabbie was also unhurt since he was able to come out of the taxi.
 Ignorance. I don't know about you, but I think there is reason to be concerned when public school teachers in Davao City begin teaching high school students about HIV and AIDS without the benefit of teaching materials from the Department of Health (DOH). The intention is good: Department of Education, Culture and Sports schools division superintendent Dionisio Abitong said during a hearing conducted by the City Council's committee on health that he cannot wait for the DOH modules to become available "while HIV/AIDS continues to hammer even innocent victims in the community."
 Praying For Wilde. I think it's sad when we laugh at evangelist Wilde Almeda for the predicament he and his 12 men have found themselves in. While I do not agree with what he did, that is, go into the Abu Sayyaf camp to pray for the hostages, I think it is cruel when people say they deserve the worst that the Abu Sayyaf can give them. Sure, he complicated matters by becoming a hostage himself, but what he needs is prayer, not derision. Especially since, in all likelihood and for the sake of fairness, government has placed them in the last priority as far as negotiations are concerned. The original hostages should be the first to go.
 News. "I'm planning on being the first private human being to go to space in a home-built rocket," says Brian Walker of Bend, Oregon. The 44-year-old says he has wanted to build his own rocket since he was 8, and wants to blast off next year. The toy inventor is spending a quarter-million dollars of his own money to launch himself to a planned apogee of about 30 miles, about half-way to what scientists consider "space". Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineer Robert Frisbee says Walker's plan should work "in theory," though "it'll be a wild ride." Walker says his ambition is limited enough to succeed. "I'm not going orbital. I'm not going to the moon," he said. "I'm only carrying so much fuel. I can only go so high, and when I run out of fuel, I'll come back down." (Seattle Times)
 We Will Decide. The internet is really so full of garbage it's impossible not to stumble onto it while surfing. When I open my web-based email I also see an advertisement for a men's magazine that offers "sex! beer! parties!" All I need to do is click on it and presumably I will be taken to a world of carnal excitement. One time I ran a search for the anti-impotence drug Viagra and the first item on the list the search engine came up with was for a free porn site ("You won't need Viagra when you see these pictures!" the site proclaimed). In the internet, you don't have to look for trash; it's everywhere.
 Good Savings. This is an article written by my friend Marechiel Santos of Credit Union Empowerment and Strengthening (CUES) Philippines on an activity her office has embarked on. Her office address and phone numbers are printed at the end, so read on...
 Phone Madness. I stood at the center of the atrium of Gaisano Mall and was simply amazed at how many people were lining up to purchase cell phones. It was Sunday, the third day of Globevolution (pronunciation unknown), and I remember thinking the large crowd was understandable since most people were off work or school and so had the chance to troop to the mall to take advantage of the huge discounts. Still the number of people was astounding. At the Nokia stall in particular about a hundred people were pressing in to buy the popular 5110 and 3210, but the line was not moving because the phones were out of stock. Imagine that: only the third day, and they were out of stock!
 57 Cents. A sobbing little girl stood near a small church from which she had been turned away because it "was too crowded." "I can't go to Sunday School," she sobbed to the pastor as he walked by.
 Hours Old, Minutes from Death. Recently, in Pakistan, a young man came across two dogs fighting over a small package. As he saw movement in the mysterious package, he quickly shoed the dogs away and opened the mysterious parcel. In shock, he found a baby girl with tape wrapped tightly around her mouth to prevent her from crying. She was hours old but minutes away from certain death. He took her to a neighbor who knew a new mother that would give this child fresh sustenance and food.
 News. Kent, England, Sunday school teacher David Tate, 29, was having a hard time keeping the attention of his pupils. "All the students were doing was talking about Pokemon when they came into the classes," he said, so he came up with some competition: Power Cards. His new card set features 120 Bible characters which players can put up against each other based on the character's faith, strength, flaws and the number of times they are mentioned in the Bible, in a game based on trumps. One character is missing, however: Jesus. "Christians can get funny sometimes so I didn't want to offend anyone," Tate said. Besides, "it would defeat the purpose if Jesus was beaten by one of the bad characters." (PA)
 Demolition. Sunday evening I was commuting home from downtown when I saw a jeepney with a banner urging the people to protest the "De Guzman rerouting" scheme. That the protesters have chosen to prominently display Mayor Benjamin de Guzman's name is suspicious to me; in fact, a number of people pointed this out during the transport strike last week and the protest actions before that. Everyone knows that the rerouting scheme is not de Guzman's project alone but the city government's. The City Council, in fact, approved the experimental implementation. Why are the protesters singling de Guzman out and naming him alone?
 Looking Forward. My thanks to Mr. Gil Abarico who persisted in inviting me to the Club 888 forum last Tuesday. I was actually resigned to miss it because it rained pretty hard in Mintal where I live, but I decided to proceed to The Marco Polo even as a latecomer. I'm glad I did go: the forum was refreshing because it was as Sir Gil described it: freewheeling. There were no microphones, no special seats for guests. Everyone was in the discussion, and that made for an extremely satisfying exchange.
 The Reason.Like the rest of the 1.5 million or so Globe subscribers, I had my share of frustration for a few days when its network bogged down. Things were made worse on Wednesday because my family and I woke up to a waterless day. Our only recourse was to go to my in-laws' house in GSIS, but to do that we needed to get a taxi first. Since calling for one directly through my cell phone would have been expensive, we texted my wife's sister, who had a landline, to call one for us. Unfortunately that day Globe still had not fixed its system, and so our messages either could not be sent or it took hours for them to be received. We also couldn't call cell-to-cell because, as my phone reminded me again and again, the network was busy. I ended up trekking the half-kilometer to the highway and getting a cab there. Oh, well, as they say, all's well that ends well.
 Even When You Lose.When it comes to the Olympics, it seems as if there are always certain athletes that give the Games a personal touch for us. In the 1994 Winter Olympics, we all wanted to see the women's skating showdown between Nancy Kerrigan and Tanya Harding. In 1998, it was two teenagers named Michelle and Tara. Michelle Kwan was heavily favored to leave Japan with the gold medal; 15-year old Tara Lapinski was expected to bring home the silver. But in a stunning performance - and Olympic upset - Tara Lapinski captured the gold. Michelle Kwan - who had skated an almost flawless program - was disappointed, but gracious. She won a silver medal that so many would love to win, but you know it still had to hurt. Some of that hurt slipped out as she sent a message to her family as TV carried it around the world. She said, "I love you, Mom and Dad, and Karen and Jimmy. I hope you still love me."
 Mobility.We live in a mobile society. Modern transportation is so advanced, we take this mobility for granted. Everything seems to be something we can pick up and take with us. I have even seen vans for a mobile pet doctor, a mobile tree surgeon and a mobile chiropractor. They are all available to provide front door service whenever you call them. Cell phones are commonplace now, and often I see people at the grocery store with a phone to their ear, not to speak of the ones talking in their cars. Even meals are mobile, with fast food delivery available. Our society is mobile, with people being transferred from one side of the country to another, never really having an opportunity to "set down" roots in any one town.
©2000 Jon Joaquin. All rights reserved.