January 2001 Archive
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 Almost Victimized. TUGATOG, MALABON, METRO MANILA - The place I grew up in isn't what it used to be. Up to ten years ago - when I first left for Davao City - picturesque horse-drawn calesas were the king of the road; now noisy motorized tricycles ply our narrow roads, making it a rather dangerous endeavor to even cross the street. We used to worry about stepping on horse dung; now we realize having dung on one's shoes is benign compared to having gas emissions in one's lungs.
 Better Late than Never. My wife, son, and I were at the Robinson's Galleria with my sister when we got news of the bombings on December 30. My sister's friend phoned her, saying he had heard the report on radio. Being a Davao-based journalist I naturally took the report with a grain of salt; because of the AFP-MILF war and the Abu Sayyaf kidnappings I have on occasion received reports that such and such establishment (and even Bolton Bridge) had been bombed. Jaded may be an apt word.
 Cell Phone Woes in Manila. One of the things I quickly learned in Manila is that cellular phone service there is terrible compared to that in Davao City. Upon arrival I sent a text message to a friend there and waited for a reply. I waited... and waited... and waited. As it turned out, I was waiting in vain because the text did not arrive at my friend's cell phone until that evening.
 Another Chance. Erap is invited to judge a beauty contest. An especially pretty contestant comes up and is asked, "What is 15 plus 15?" After 15 seconds she says, "Eighteen!"
 Smile. One out of every 500 Filipinos is born with a cleft-lip condition. While the cause is yet to be established, it is thought that poor diet on the part of the mother can contribute to this condition, which may explain why the Philippines and other third world countries seem to have more than their fair share of children born with cleft-lip. Now, in cooperation with Operation Smile, the world's largest humanitarian organization dedicated to treating facial deformities, geneticists from the University of Iowa are conducting scientific studies on the causes of this medical condition, with the Philippines as the focus of the study. Establishing the cause, scientists can then proceed to finding a cure.
 Interesting. These are interesting times we're living in (which reminds me of the old curse: "May you live in interesting times.") I've talked with three people who used the word "interesting" to describe the situation these past few days, and I guess that's a safe term considering the highly charged and polarized situation. While it is tempting to conclude, based on what we see on television, that everyone in the country is anti-Erap and anti-Onse (for the 11 Senator-judges who voted against the opening of the second envelope containing the Jose Velarde account), even an informal survey reveals that a number still support the beleaguered president.
 Christian Response. I have been asked many times what the Christian response to the events of the past few days should be. I am not one to tell anyone what to do, but I think there are a few basic things we as followers of the Lord must do. First is to pray; second is to pray; and third is to pray. That is not an original thought: those three things have been repeated over and over by godly men and women who know that "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16).
 Parallels. Prologue: As I write this Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado and AFP chief Gen. Angelo Reyes have defected to the anti-Erap forces. You will forgive me, then, if events overtake this article. We may very well have a new president by the time this sees print, but deadline forces me to submit this now, just when things are getting hot.
 Give Up the Whole World. Imagine, says Augustine, that God appeared to you and said He would make a deal with you, that He would give you everything you wished, everything your heart desired, except one thing. You could have anything you imagine; nothing would be impossible for you, and nothing would be sinful or forbidden. But, God concluded, "you shall never see My face."
 A Good Start. On Friday, as it was becoming apparent that People Power would again succeed in ridding the country of a corrupt leader, the peso's value against the US dollar jumped an incredible P7.29. It was proof positive that the crisis of the part months was caused by political unrest and not, as claimed by Mr. Estrada, regional economic instability.
 Peaceful Solutions are Possible. On Saturday my family and I were shouting as we watched the swearing in of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the 14th President of the Philippines. Not being able to fly to Manila to join People Power II, we had to content ourselves with shouting ourselves hoarse in front of the television set. The neighbors were of the same heart, and so shouting inside the house did not seem so strange.
 Panggulo. "So what do you think of Estrada's pronouncement on Monday that Arroyo is only Acting President?" my friend Phil asked. "What does that mean for Arroyo?" First off, I said, I agree with Senate President Aquilino Pimentel who said Estrada was laying the foundation for a challenge to the Presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who took her oath from Chief Justice Hilario Davide on January 20 on the crest of People Power. That installation, like it or not, was shrouded in some doubt since the Supreme Court cited extraordinary circumstances - the welfare of the people as the supreme consideration - in declaring the Presidency vacant.
 Bad Meters. Practically everyday I take a cab (Maligaya by default because the company's phone is easier to reach) from GSIS in Matina to our place in Mintal, and over the past months our fare has always stayed within the P47-49 range. It has been so regular that I make it a point to pay only a maximum of P50-whenever the meter goes beyond this, explaining to the driver that his meter is obviously fast. This used to happen very rarely - but not anymore.
 Poking Fun at Technology. Here's a "news item" emailed to me that pokes fun at technology, of which I am an avid fan: KABINDA, ZAIRE - In a move IBM office are hailing as a major step in the company's ongoing worldwide telecommunications revolution, M'wana Ndeti, a member of Zaire's Bantu tribe, used an IBM global uplink network modem yesterday to crush a nut.
 PUG@D. Unfortunately there were no photographers to capture the moment, but it was a sight to see: grown men and women pointing small gadgets at each other and "beaming" programs and business cards and other data from one device to the other. Palm users from all over Davao City, numbering about 15, were meeting for the second time at The Barceló Royal Mandaya Hotel last Saturday, and since the tentativeness of the first meeting last month had been left behind the gathering was a little more relaxed. "Beaming" - transferring data like business cards and programs through the Palm handheld computer's infrared port - was now second nature.
 Same Old People. With People Power II one would think the people would have gee enough of traditional (read personality-based) politics, but that will probably not be the case. From all indications this year's elections will be as dirty as ever, with no one giving serious thought to President Gloria's inaugural speech in which she said the days of traditional politics are over. The third point, in fact, in her four-point agenda is to "change the character of politics" in the country. The new politics, she said, is one that is not based on personality but on ideology.
 From "Talong" to "Tanging Yaman". One of the things I wonder about with the new administration is its stand on censorship, particularly on movies and reading materials. Under Erap and Armida Siguion-Reyna local movie producers were more or less given free reign to show what they want, which was pretty much every part of the anatomy. Pinoys also got to see foreign films in their entirety, without the cuts that often rendered movies nonsensical. Reading materials with nudity became daily fare for the man-in-the street.
©2001 Jon Joaquin. All rights reserved.