June 2000 Archive
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 Mariah vs Regine. Here's another good example of how technology, particularly email, can be misused. The following email was forwarded by a friend: "Dear Fellow Filipinos, It is truly unfortunate that MARIAH CAREY is Racist against us. In one of her concerts she asked her audience if there were any filipinos among them.
 Interviewing Gemma. I had the opportunity to interview Tourism Secretary Gemma Cruz-Araneta over the phone the other day, and from the looks of it I had the best chat with her among all those she called up in Davao City. She was a little piqued at first but gradually softened up. Reporter Mic-Mic Villaflor was not so lucky: she got a dressing down from the secretary, and it was so bad she could not even get a word in. Harangued and oppressed, Mic-Mic finally just hung up on Araneta. I hear the secretary did the same to other people here, including at least one government official and one from the private sector.
 What God hath Wrought. One day a friend of Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph, said to him, "Professor, when you were making your experiments, did you ever come to a place not knowing what to do next?"
 Human Genome Project. Last year Dr. Gina MacDonald, an assistant professor of chemistry at James Madison University (Harrisonburg, Va.), talk to a local Kiwanis club about modifying DNA. Macdonald focused on the Human Genome Project. For ten years now, international teams of scientists have been meticulously mapping the human genetic code - all 3 billion chemical "letters" that go into it. This spring scientists plan to unveil a working draft, and in 2003, they hope to have the entire sequence mapped. Genome combines the words gene and chromosome and refers to all the DNA in an organism or cell. DNA stands for something called deoxyribonucleic acid, which is the long molecule that carries the genetic instructions (heredity).
 A Matter of Time. Tourism Secretary Gemma Cruz-Araneta sent me a fax the other day thanking me for a "balanced" write-up I did last week regarding a statement she allegedly made to the effect that Davao City has been removed from the Department of Tourism's list of preferred tourist destinations in the country. In that write-up I simply said she denied having given the statement, or that 68 conventions in Davao City had been canceled (there were only three, she said, quoting Davao Tourism Association president Art Boncato). I was actually just doing my job: she said something, I wrote it down. No need to thank me.
 Take it to Manila. News item: "Moro rebels are staging bomb attacks in Metro Manila to divert pressure from a military offensive against them in Mindanao, the national police chief yesterday said." Talk about getting what one deserves! Ever since the start of the conflict in Central Mindanao, Manila media have been conducting phone surveys asking Pinoys - really residents of Metro Manila who do not have to pay long distance charges - if they prefer talking peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) or if the government should pursue all-out war. The other day ABS-CBN actually asked viewers if government should attack Camp Abubakar or not! Sadly - but perhaps not surprisingly - the surveys have consistently shown that Manilans want to end the war in Mindanao by force and not by reason.
 Update. Here's an update from Rafael "Nikki" Gomez, head of Infos and who coordinates Salaam Mindanao, a campaign to get relief goods to Cotabato residents forced out of their homes by the conflict there. If you want to help, there is a number at the end: Salaam Mindanao delivers dextrose supplies to Cotabato evacuees
 This and That. Ludwig von Beethoven, one of the world's greatest musicians, was born into a musical family in Germany. As a child he spent many lonely hours practicing his music every day.
 News. Again, here are some bits of news from the wire services you may have missed: The latest unproven health fad is using magnets to relieve pain. No one has shown they work any better than a placebo, but Dr. Thomas Mattioni of the Arizona Heart Institute in Phoenix has done a study that shows magnets indeed have a real effect on some patients. The magnetic field can kill people who have pacemakers or implanted defibrillators, so magnets should be kept at least six inches from such devices, he says. For instance, someone with a pacemaker and a magnetic mattress pad could find their pacemaker shut off if they roll over onto their stomach. (AP)
 Batang Mindanaw. Do you have old (or even new) school stuff that you can afford to give away? Notebooks (even used ones, with clean pages still remaining), pens, pencils, bags, textbooks, dictionaries, uniforms, shoes - anything that can be used? Then think about giving them to children of war now living in evacuation centers in Cotabato and Maguindanao. Last Saturday my kumare Carol Arguillas of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the Mirror's own Amy Cabusao launched the Batang Mindanaw drive at the Philippine Information Agency (PIA). The aim is to enable youngsters to go to school even in the midst of conflict. These kids have little going for them, but at least if they learn they will have a better grasp of the future.
 All That Trash. The other day my wife hired a tricycle driver to carry out our mounting garbage to a nearby "dump" where the government's garbage trucks will pick them up - only to find out that the trucks had not arrived for two weeks in our area (we had just moved there, see, and so we didn't know about it). A little later she saw some of our neighbors carrying their garbage in sacks, but they were moving to the opposite direction. "Where are you taking those," my wife asked innocently, thinking that perhaps there was another place to dump our garbage in. To my wife's chagrin, the neighbors said "to the river." They were actually dumping garbage straight into the river!
 BLISS. A few years ago one official - I can no longer remember if it was then-Mayor Rodrigo Duterte or Mayor Benjamin de Guzman - suggested that BLISS-type housing projects be put up in Davao City to address the growing need for low-cost housing. The context was a warning aired by scientists that the rapidly increasing number of subdivisions built in Davao City would damage the environment, since large areas are cleared of trees to make way for development. The scientists particularly pointed out the danger of flooding; most of the subdivisions were being built in the uplands, and without trees rainwater would flow straight to the low-lying areas.
 Solid Gold. Most people think the E-commerce Law was signed by President Joseph Estrada to ensure that the "I LOVE YOU" virus incident - which gained serious notoriety for the Philippines since the creator/s were allegedly Pinoys - is not repeated. Indeed, the passage of the law was expedited because of that occurrence, but the E-commerce Law is more than just penalizing people for hacking or creating viruses; it lays down the necessary framework for electronic commerce in the Philippines, which now joins Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, and India as the initial four Asian countries with such laws.
 The Necktie. Bitter and angry was Jim as he shared his early childhood years to the chaplain. He relayed the story of a teacher asking his Grade 3 class to color a piece of paper that was cut out in the form of a necktie. This would be a gift for their fathers on Father's Day. But Jim, being rather clumsy and uncreative, messed up quite badly; yet, he was proud of his work. He could not wait to give it to his father, come Sunday. On the way home, he dropped it accidentally in a mud puddle. It was slightly soiled but still, presentable.
 Fathers. When I was: Four years old: My daddy can do anything. When I was: Five years old: My daddy knows a whole lot. When I was: Six years old: My dad is smarter than your dad.
 All that Trash 2. My wife and I walked down to the river near our home in Mintal on Sunday afternoon and we were aghast at what we saw: garbage. I mean, we had known that some of our neighbors went down regularly to the river to throw their garbage, but we did not know that the practice was prevalent. Along the river as a stretch of barbed wire, and all through it all sorts of trash was clinging. Apparently the residents throw garbage right into the water, and while some of it goes downstream, some also get entangled in the wire. The result is one ugly stretch of garbage.
 Update. Again I want to share my friend Nikki Gomez' update on the delivery of relief goods to evacuees in Cotabato, with the purpose of encouraging readers to contact him (at 244-0618 and 298-2566). Nikki is campaign coordinator for Salaam, a "locally-initiated fund and relief campaign to assist the civilian evacuees in Central Mindanao." Here's the update: Salaam delivers milk, meds to Cotabato evacuees
 News. The joke in Big Lake, Texas, is that there is no lake. Well, once in a while there is: the 1,000-acre lake is dry, and has only had water when someone has bothered to pump some in. And mayor J.R. Dunn wants to do just that, drilling 50-100 wells to feed the lake continuously. The project would cost at least $2 million, far beyond what the town of 3,500 people can afford. A spokesman for State Sen. Troy Fraser is dubious, noting the drought gripping the state. "The state's priorities have to be on drinking water and irrigation before recreational use," he said. Indeed, says a local resident, "The evaporation out here is so bad, you are looking at least a million gallons a day." But Mayor Dunn is undeterred. "We are sitting here living in a town called Big Lake and we don't have a lake," he whined. (AP)
 Watch that Phone. Because my family and I recently moved to a place where there are still no phone lines, I was forced to buy a cell phone - and immediately plunged into its many uses. Now I could be reached anywhere, anytime - although sometimes I am not altogether sure that is an advantage (my cell phone, in fact, greets me with an "Are you sure?" whenever I turn it on). A few days ago, though, fellow writer Ana Basilio reminded me that cell phones may have some side effects, and so I endeavored to research these in the Internet. Here are excerpts from the many articles that I found:
 Watch that Phone 2. Here's the continuation on the effects of cell phones: Cell phones' RF emissions clearly can affect the brain, says Alan W. Preece of the University of Bristol in England. Last April, he published a study in which devices simulated a phone's RF emissions, in either digital or analog form, while volunteers sat at a computer. The researchers could switch the RF energy on or off without a user knowing.
 In the Key of F. Francis the Foolish felt little filial fondness for his flawless, fastidious father, Ferdinand the Fourth. Following one February fortnight, Francis, feeling footloose and frisky, forced and finagled his fond father to fork over five hundred forty-five farthings, then fled his father's fertile fief.
 News. Flight controllers at Oakland International Airport in Waterford Township, Michigan, speaking with an incoming corporate jet over the radio, clearly heard it in the background: "hijack". The pilot hadn't reported trouble, but perhaps a gunman was controlling what he could say. The tower called the police, which called in a squad of officers, the county SWAT team, and the FBI. But when the plane arrived, they discovered that someone had stepped into the cockpit to say hi to the co-pilot. His name is Jack. (AP)
 Convince Me Otherwise. This is a true story. My wife and I were talking about the then-brewing Dealco Farms controversy which had a major cattle raiser getting itself locked in a fight with Malacañang over the importation of Australian cattle. The Department of Agriculture had banned Dealco's importation because the company had allegedly faked import permits and veterinary clearance certificates. Dealco cried foul and accused DA Secretary Edgardo Angara of favoring Monterey Foods, owned by no other than Danding Cojuangco - whom we all know to be a close friend to Angara and President Estrada.
 Fact or Fiction. On Monday the lawyer for relatives of the victims of the crash of Air Philippines Flight 541 came out with a bombshell: the ill-fated plane, he claimed, had been bought by AirPhil from a junkyard and was thus unfit to fly. Not only that, the plane had been involved in a previous accident, proving that it was unworthy of being part of a fleet of commercial planes. When I saw the story my first reaction was, "AirPhil is fried."
©2000 Jon Joaquin. All rights reserved.