November 2000 Archive

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[01] Booo!!!  That has got to be the scariest Halloween yet, and it's not because of the ghosts and ghouls that were supposed to be flying around that night. If you caught President Estrada's speech on Monday night you know what I mean. While that speech was nothing to be afraid of (in fact, it was nothing period), I shuddered at what followed: a grim Armed Forces Chief of Staff Angelo Reyes, surrounded by equally grim generals and other officers, addressing the nation and telling the people they (the AFP) are not going to tolerate any attempt to unseat the President other than through the impeachment process. He was followed by PNP Chief Director General Panfilo Lacson, who said much the same thing - although not as grimly.

[03] Reply.  Early this week I wrote down my apprehensions against advocacy journalism, saying I felt the news writers duty is to report the facts and not to embellish on them. The people, I feel, deserve only the real truth and not "truth" as seen through a certain bias. I received an email from a friend, also a journalist, giving the other side of that issue, and I'd like to share some of his concerns with you. Since he already has a forum I will just keep his name to myself, lest he be accused of over-exposure.

[04] Then What?  One by one they are falling. The other day it was DTI Secretary Mar Roxas, congressmen Neptali Gonzales Jr., what's his name - Mrs. Vilma Santos - oh, yes, Ralph Recto, and Rodrigo Duterte, and Mayor Benjamin de Guzman. Yesterday Senate President Franklin Drilon took with him colleagues Nikki Coseteng and Rodolfo Biazon, and House Speaker Manny Villar brought along 44 congressmen. Resignation is the order of the day, and with his support base gradually being eroded President Joseph Estrada's days seem to be numbered.

[06] Threnody.   U.S. Secretary of Education, Dr. William Bennett, was asked this question by a seventh grader: "How can you tell a good country from a bad one?" Secretary Bennett replied, "I apply the 'gate' test. When the gates of a country are open, watch which way the people run. Do they run into the country or out of the country?" Perhaps the same test can be applied to government: if its members run out of it, then it must be a "bad" government.

[07] Bad Seatbelts.  A couple of months ago I wrote about taking a Holiday Taxi one night and then finding it hard to buckle up because of the cab's seatbelt's bad design. First I couldn't find the buckle on the left side of the seat, and so the driver had to reach into the dark recesses of the cab to retrieve it for me - while driving in the dark up the slope from Ulas to Catalunan Pequeño. Then as soon as I clicked on the buckle I found that the belt was too loose, so I tried to tighten it - in vain. It was a strap which had to be manually adjusted, but no matter how I tried I couldn't figure out how to do it. I ended up just unbuckling the thing since it was useless.

[08] Squeak.  A few weeks ago I wrote an article about information technology and how I was hoping Davao Light and Power Company would pioneer in the delivery of the internet through its power cables, a technology called power line carrier or PLC. The good news is that PLC, which will make it possible to connect to the internet literally through your wall outlet, is being tested in some parts of the world. The bad news is that Davao Light is still years away from making this a reality in Davao City.

[09] A Bad Sequel.  "It feels like EDSA all over again." That's my sister telling me of the atmosphere in Metro Manila amidst the call for President Joseph Estrada to resign. Last Saturday's rally at EDSA was attended by around 50,000 people, a far cry from the hundreds of thousands in 1986 but enough to give one the same heady feeling that something good would come out of it all.

[10] Hanging Up on Smoking.  You may have read this somewhere, but it bears repeating: Research in the United Kingdom show British teenagers are smoking less and are talking more on cell phones. In a letter published in the British Medical Journal, scientists say cell phones seem to be competing with cigarettes as "teen statements of fashion." The scientists note that while cigarette smoking among British 15-year-olds has dropped from 30 percent in 1996 to 23 percent in 1999, cell phone ownership had risen sharply over the same period to about 70 percent.

[11] The Ad.  Let's leave the serious stuff behind for this, the last day of the week. Let me just share this story with you, one that illustrates our need to break away from our short-sightedness...

[15] Blasting a Banana Plantation 2.  In its petition to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Daliaon Plantation Farmers' Association for Health and Environment Protection (DPFAHEP) said it has observed that Soriano Farms, Inc. (SFI) "has already started cutting down trees and have moved their heavy equipment into Daliaon Plantation, Toril District, Davao City" to make way for a 200-hectare banana plantation. The petition asks DENR regional director Engr. Clarence Baguilat to "hold in abeyance the issuance of an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC)" to SFI "considering the magnitude and severity of the impact of the project on people and the environment."

[16] Late Christmas.  Yesterday my wife began decorating our place for Christmas. It's actually very late since, like many Pinoys, we normally start putting up decorations around October. But then I tried to survey some homes in our subdivision and found that most do not have Christmas decors yet. All throughout the city the Christmas cheer that should be present by now is noticeably absent. Somehow the country's reputation as having the longest Christmas season is not applicable this year.

[17] In the Palm of our Hands.  This week I had the opportunity to chat with some representatives of Globe Telecom, and what I learned will interest many of you. First and foremost is the fact that while the Globe team was here to launch the company's broadband - but landline - internet service (GlobeData and GlobeNet), Globe is not leaving its wireless service in the dust. In fact, while it has invested about US$15 million in laying the backbone of its broadband service, it is investing hundreds of millions more for its wireless service. Globe, after all, has 1.8 million cell phone subscribers, and it makes sense to provide not only voice and text to them but also internet content.

[18] The Future is Wireless.  Yesterday I talked about Globe Telecom's plans for the future and what's in store for us end-users, particularly in the area of mobile internet. Early this week the CEO of Ericsson, the third largest cell phone maker, predicted the same thing that Globe Telecom chair Jaime Agusto Zobel de Ayala II did early this year: that cell phones will overtake personal computers as the primary devices for internet access. In fact, Kurt Hellstrvm put a timetable to it: 2003.

[19] When Things Go Bad.  When things are bad - as they are now in the Philippines - I remember this story: A little boy is telling his Grandma how "everything" is going wrong. School, family problems, severe health problems, etc. Meanwhile, Grandma is baking a cake. She asks the child if he would like a snack, which of course he does. "Here. Have some cooking oil."

[20] Good News.  Lost in the growing list of bad news is this piece of good news from the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF): on November 12, at about 5:32 p.m., a new eagle weighing 140.10 grams was successfully hatched! According to PEF, technicians went on 24-hour alert starting 6:20 a.m. on November 11 - 55 days after it was hatched -after observing the chick's pip.

[21] Monitoring.  I was in college in 1984, the year in George Or-well's novel "1984" when Big Brother was "watching" one's every move and new-speak - in which bad is good and wrong is right - was the official language. Of course that year Orwell was proved wrong in his prediction: in 1984 technology had not advanced enough to allow a television set to also act as a camera through which government could monitor its citizens' moves. But the lack of technology did not stop the government then from monitoring the movement of its citizens.

[22] Enough Ground.  Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would not give a "fearless forecast" on when the political crisis would end. GMA was here yesterday for a series of meetings with businessmen, the masa, and civic leaders, and I was lucky enough to be invited to a more intimate gathering at The Marco Polo, Davao at 4 p.m. One of the foremost questions in my mind was: does she know when all this will end?

[23] The Veep on Mindanao.  What's in store for Mindanao if Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo becomes suddenly President? I asked her this during an "intimate" dialogue with a few media practitioners at The Marco Polo, Davao, and I was rather dissatisfied at her answer. It seemed like she hadn't given the question much thought, which is strange in light of the fact that she and the United Opposition have been setting up an "alternative national agenda" in the event that President Joseph Estrada resigns or is booted out of office.

[24] Karma?   I found it strange that Archbishop Fernando Capalla would use the term "karma" in his latest pastoral letter. That letter, a copy of which was handed to Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during her visit to the archbishop last Tuesday, warned aspiring politicians that "karma" or "gaba" await them if they betray the trust of the people.

[25] Be Thankful.  Here's something that should make someone very happy. Mirror photo-journalist Roland Jumawan found a cell phone at around 1:30 in the afternoon yesterday inside a Holiday taxicab which he and fellow photographer Rene Lumawag had taken from Linmarr Apartelle in Obrero. It's a blue Nokia 6150, fairly new. Roland will return it to the person who knows the phone's PIN. If you are the owner, call the Mirror to get Roland's contact number. He'll be more than happy to return the phone to you.

[26] Samalamig.  Samalamig. The word conjures up for me carefree days in my native Caloocan City and later Tugatog, Malabon where I grew up. Samalamig is either sago, gulaman, or sagolaman in cold water made sweet by syrup (just plain caramelized sugar). In those days samalamig was more popular than Coke to us kids; it was certainly cheaper, and there was a simple joy derived from chewing the sago and mashing the gulaman in your mouth.

[28] Dismiss?  Can you imagine the public reaction if the impeachment case against President Joseph Estrada is dismissed by the Senate? The response of the anti-Estrada forces is of course predictable: judging from their already substantial current activities, they will mount even bigger protest rallies and press stronger for Erap to resign. But even those who are pro-Erap are wondering at the President's lawyers' motion for the impeachment charge to be dropped.

[29] E-Commerce Comes of Age.  One of the reasons e-commerce is not hitting it off fast enough in Asia is that the computer systems available for electronic trade are made by and for North Americans and Europeans. Most of these systems use only English as a medium, and the monetary unit is the US dollar. No system exists to address the peculiarities of the Asian market. Until now, that is.

[30] E-Commerce Comes of Age 2.  Thomas Price, Chief Executive Officer, President and a Director of East West Electronic Trade Centre based in Manila, says the International Trade and Banking Facility (iTBF) "enables global trade of any product or service throughout the world, providing instantaneous transmission of information in the language and currency of the importing and exporting country." The system will use an internet network only; no other communication facility will be necessary. This means the average small- and medium scale enterprise - which is Smith's main concern - can benefit immediately since all it needs is a computer, a modem, and an internet account. The premise, of course, is that internet access is available in almost all countries.

©2000 Jon Joaquin. All rights reserved.