2001 ARCHIVE 2000 ARCHIVE GUESTBOOK 

 
PRINTERS NEED TO BE CREATIVE
Mindanao Daily Mirror, October 24, 2001

I remember the time when printers were noisy machines that churned out maybe one page a minute. Dot-matrix was the buzz word, and dpi was measured in the single digits (or at most two digits, but never more than 20). We still have printers like these; in fact many offices (including the Mirror) still use these workhorses for non-critical printing jobs. But these days printers need to do more than just punch out holes in paper; they need to make a statement for the creator, using color and detail that should come close to photographs. And they must do this in record time.

-oOo-

The printer arena is battleground to a number of companies, but one firm has the upper hand because it has managed to beat the others in the dot-matrix business: Epson. Go to any office and chances are you'll find at least one Epson printer sitting around waiting for someone to print something on it. Epson actually claims to dominate this market, and it doesn't take much to convince us of this. That being the case, Epson has an edge over the other companies simply because its name is practically synonymous to printers (although it has other products as well, like scanners and digital cameras).

-oOo-

It's not just name recall, of course. Epson does build some of the best printers in the market, and it has the disconcerting habit (well, at least for competitors) of pricing its products lower than the competitions'. Yesterday Epson launched four new printers in Davao City, and judging from the printout samples these are real killer machines. Here's a rundown on each of the new printers:

Epson Stylus C50 and C60

Designed for a variety of applications including printing of photos, newsletters, greeting cards and Internet pages, the Epson Stylus C50, which is targeted for advanced home users, features 1440 dpi resolution and a 6-picolitre minimum ink droplet size for exceptionally sharp output and unmatched printing quality. Printing at approximately 8.0 ppm for black text and approximately 3.9 for color prints makes the Epson Stylus C50 an exceptional value home printer.

Delivering unmatched high-resolution photo quality printing images and superlative print speeds, the Epson Stylus C60 is specially made for tech savvy small business who require an affordable, durable & speedy ink jet printer with no compromise in quality. The Epson Stylus C60 prints at approximately 12 ppm for black text and color prints making this model one of the fastest in its class. It allows users to print a maximum of 2,880 dpi with 4-picolitre minimum ink droplet size for photo quality outputs even without the use of a special photograde cartridge.

Epson Stylus C80

Touted at the fastest business printer in its class, the Epson Stylus C80 is a breakthrough model, with its extraordinary speed, pigmented inks and laser-sharp text. Aimed at personal business users, the Epson Stylus C80 is the first business-class inkjet printer to use Epson's new pigment ink formulation for both black and color cartridges, specially made to deliver superior quality black and color output on plain paper with better water resistance and extended life span and durability.

With the resin-coated pigmented inks, the ink stays on top of the layer of the paper, which makes it capable of double-sided printing on plain paper with minimal bleed-through. The Epson Stylus C80 boasts of a maximum of 2880 dpi resolution coupled with a minimum ink droplet size of 3-picolitre and an industry best print speed of appro-ximately 20ppm (page per minute) for black text printing and approximately 10.5ppm for color text printing.

"All our new printers represent our commitment to consumers to deliver the best of both words in color inkjet and photo printing - razor sharp photo quality printing and breathtaking speed at affordable price." said Hiroaki Ito, president, Epson Philippines Corpo-ration.

Equipped with a 150-paper sheet tray capacity for superior productivity, the Epson Stylus C80 also has four high capacity individual ink cartridges for multiple printing of documents such as flyers, price lists and presentation slides. These high capacity cartridges are also designed to reduce cartridge changing times for voluminous business printing.

Epson Stylus Photo 810

The new Epson Photo Stylus 810 offers graphic enthusiasts superb photo reproduction quality that caters to all photo-printing needs. Equipped with a 6-color ink system with 2,880 dpi resolution and a minimum ink droplet size of 4-picolitres, the Epson Photo Stylus 810 features Epson's PRINT Image Matching (PIM) technology that ensures perfect reproduction of images from camera to printer (using the Photo Quicker 3.0 software bundled with the printer) and Epson's BorderFree function that lets users print photos all the way to the edges, on all sides and up to A4 size. The Epson Photo Stylus 810 also offers the efficiency and speed of approximately 12.0ppm for black text, approximately 11.7ppm for colored printout and approximately 199 seconds for an A4 size photo.
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GOOD NEWS
Mindanao Daily Mirror, October 19, 2001

These days we've had so much bad news I actually get disoriented when good news reaches our desk. A few days ago we were told that the Credit Union Empowerment and Strengthening (CUES) Philippines based here in Davao City (where my wife happens to work) bagged the Outstanding Program Award in the 2002 Herb Wegner Memorial Awards, the highest award for credit unions worldwide, sponsored by the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF). In a statement, NCUF said the awards "represent the highest national honor available in the credit union movement and are named in honor of the late CUNA chief executive officer. They recognize 'innovative, creative, risk-taking' leadership in the spirit of Herb Wegner."

-oOo-

NCUF executive director Pat Brownell said this year's winners "truly represent the best of the global credit union movement." I have been having close contact with CUES over the past months, and I can tell you that CUES certainly fits this description. A project of the World Council of Credit Unions' Credit Unions (WOCCU), CUES will receive the Outstanding Program Award for its success as an innovative effort to provide affordable financial services to people, especially women, in some of the poorest areas of the Philippines.

-oOo-

The project consists of two main components: "building model credit unions" and "saving with education." In its first three years, the project has impacted more than 103,646 members, mobilizing P626.8 million (US $12.5 million) and financing P815.8 million (US $16.2 million) in loans. Over the past months I have learned from CUES project director Lois Kitsch and deputy project director Luis Sasuman the secret of their success: discipline. CUES trains credit unions to be strict in collecting payments for loans, thereby ensuring the coops' survival which ultimately benefits the communities because more loans are made available.

-oOo-

In fact, the single biggest reason for the closure of credit unions is lack of discipline. Somehow most people think of coops as institutions that give easy credit, where payment is either on an when-able basis or even completely optional. CUES makes sure coops press borrowers to pay them back, and this discipline has made CUES-affiliated coops in Mindanao some of the strongest in the Philippines.

-oOo-

The awards will be presented on February 24, 2002 at the Foundation's Herb Wegner Memorial Award Dinner at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. Held during CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C., the dinner raises money to support the continued worldwide development efforts of the Foundation. Congratulations to CUES, and we hope more successes come your way as you work hard with coops in Mindanao!
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ONE STONE
Mindanao Daily Mirror, October 18, 2001

Forgive me for writing about anthrax again, but this is too good to pass up. Yesterday's newspapers reported that an anthrax scare hit Koronadal on Tuesday when that city's Assessor's Office received mail suspected of containing the bacteria. What was it about the envelope that drew the suspicion? First of all it was placed inside a plastic covering; secondly the envelope had the names of such greats as US President George W. Bush, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Nelson Mandela, and others, in red ink, all crossed out, and finally the name of the recipient at the bottom of the list. The letter had appa-rently made the rounds, ending up in the table of the recipient. Other persons in other parts of the country also received the letter, including the Philippine Daily Inquirer's Rina Jimenez-David, who in a television interview said she was actually flattered when she received it and found she was ranked among the world's top leaders.

-oOo-

As in Koronadal, the recipients in other areas thought the letter may contain anthrax and re-ported it to the authorities. I myself was dumbfounded as I watched the news because the Mirror office had received the same letter - or at least the same envelope - last week when I was at the desk. My initial reaction to the reports was, "Get real. That was just a promotional gimmick." The letter sender - I forget now who or what it was - obviously meant to flatter the recipients by implying that he/she was as important as Bush or Gates or Mandela and so was worthy of the product they were selling (TV reports said it was a subscription to a magazine). No way had the letter made the rounds of all those important people. Gimmick lang.

-oOo-

Still, I think what the people who got the letter did was right: they suspected the letter had anthrax, and they proceeded to report the matter to the authorities. Some may call it OA (overacting), but as I have always maintained, it pays to be paranoid these days. I don't remember if I opened that letter or if I left it for our editor-in-chief (to whom it was addressed), but on hindsight such a letter should not have been opened and instead referred to the Department of Health or even the police. One could end up a laughing stock, but at least one would be a living laughing stock.

-oOo-

Atty. Ralph Jude Yap, a close friend of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte's and member of the Anti-Drug Abuse Council, told media during yesterday's Club 888 Forum that Davaoeños should all just "close our eyes" to the summary killings of drug pushers by suspected vigilantes, implying that we should just let street justice take its course until the city is cleansed of drugs. He was responding to allegations that Duterte is linked to the vigilantes, a charge he flatly denied - while virtually admitting he supports the summary killings. Davaoeños, of course, have a terse message to Yap: "Welcome to the club."

-oOo-

There is actually an easy way to stop these summary killings and rid the city of drugs at the same time: the Regional Anti-Narcotics Unit should whip out its so-called order of battle containing the names of confirmed drug pushers and then put these suspects under "protective custody." Not only will they be safe from the vigilantes, they will also be unable to peddle their wares. Two birds with one stone.

PAYS TO BE PARANOID
Mindanao Daily Mirror, October 17, 2001

I don't know about you, but I'm getting concerned about this anthrax scare, particularly since it's not limited to the US anymore: Australia recently had its share of the jitters when an anthrax alarm went off in several buildings there. But we are the Philippines, you may say, and compared to Australia we are insignificant. Remember, however, that our government has pledged all-out support for the US war against terrorism, and so we have become a legitimate target for terrorists. And I don't need to remind you that we have our own set of terrorists here with links to Osama bin Laden. So should we be concerned about anthrax? Yes, we should. Should we be careful with the mail we receive since that is apparently how anthrax is being spread in the US? Most definitely. Should we be paranoid? As I told some friends a few days ago, it pays to be paranoid these days.

-oOo-

This of course does not mean we should be paralyzed. Life must go on, albeit encumbered by a few precautions. The Department of Health has advised Pinoys to handle mail carefully, inspecting them for stains or powder marks before opening. Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit said suspicious packages containing white powder should be referred to the DOH, and persons who receive these pac-kages should consult a doctor.

-oOo-

The United States Postal Service is a little more detailed, so I'm sharing its tips on handling mail suspected to contain anthrax (I've taken the liberty of Philippinizing it):

1. Do not handle the mail piece or package suspected of contamination
2. Notify your supervisor, who will immediately contact the authorities (police, DOH, post office)
3. Make sure that damaged or sus-picious packages are isolated and the immediate areas are cordoned off
4. Ensure that all persons who have touched the mail piece wash their hands with soap and water
5. Call the post office to report that you've received a parcel in the mail that may contain biological or chemical substances.
6. List all persons who have touched the letter and/or envelope. Include contact information. Provide the list to the authorities
7. Place all items worn when in contact with the suspected mail piece in plastic bags and have them available for law enforcement agents
8. As soon as practical, shower with soap and water.
9. If prescribed medi-cation by medical personnel, take it until otherwise instructed or it runs out

-oOo-

That list includes items like, "Designated officials will notify local, county and state health departments," and "Designated officials will notify the state emergency manager," but I am not sure something like that has been set up here. Government should begin to do so, before it's too late. I believe we should not be panicking about anthrax, but as part of the alliance against terrorism (and a strategic one at that, with our air facilities being used by US planes as fueling stations) we must consider ourselves a target. Again, it pays to be paranoid.
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BEING MORE CAREFUL
Mindanao Daily Mirror, October 16, 2001

The front pages of two local daily newspapers yesterday kind of disturbed me, both depicting the apparently popular sport of soft airgun exercises. The Mirror had Royal Mandaya Hotel executive vice president Glen Escandor armed with an air rifle (although it looked like a real high-powered firearm) looking like he's hunting for terrorists in our midst, while SunStar had three "armed" men wearing masks shooting at an unseen target. At the risk of sounding like politicians and businessmen who criticize media for always playing negative stories about Mindanao (without acknowledging that they could be part of the problem), I feel these two pictures are unnecessarily graphic and tend to propagate the notion that Mindanao is a land of violence.

-oOo-

The pictures are, of course, of airgun enthusiasts playing wargames in a compound right here in Davao City. No one got hurt in the game, and everyone went home with their bodies - if not their prides - intact. I have no quarrel with the enthusiasts themselves, but I feel that newspapers - including my own - should be a little more restrained in showing pictures of this kind. There is, after all, a real war going on, both within our country and without. In Mindanao itself, the military is running after the Abu Sayyaf, and no one thinks that is a fun thing.

-oOo-

What bothers me most is that the other paper captioned its photo this way: ASG ON TRAINING. ASG stands for Air Soft Games Philippines, but in light of the current situation everyone will naturally take it to stand for Abu Sayyaf Group. One has to read the caption to get the right information, but you know how it is with people: many of us glance at newspapers in newsstands and do not bother to read the complete text. What many people get is the impression that the picture is one of terrorists in training.

-oOo-

I had a chance to talk with Glen Escandor yesterday, and he emphasized that the airgun exercise is just a game. He did not even plan on having his photo splashed on the Mirror's front page, but since the picture did find itself there (a matter of editorial prerogative) he wanted to stress that he is no war-freak. Like everyone else these days he is security-conscious, but engaging in a war game does not mean he is negating his essentially pacifist stance. It's just a game; it does not translate to real life, and he is not about to go and shoot everyone in sight. In fact, the Mirror photo was a lot tamer and could be interpreted as a businessman preparing himself for the worst.

-oOo-

I have said before that I am having a change of heart regarding the freedom of media to present literally anything they want. I am coming to realize that media do play an important role in either protecting or destroying the country, and in these delicate times we will do well to be a little more careful in our presentations. A hotel executive told me a few days ago that they are beginning to feel the effects of the September 11 attacks on the US, with many reservations being canceled as people become more and more afraid of Mindanao because of the perceived presence of allies of terrorist Osama bin Laden here.

-oOo-

This perception problem has also spoiled a much-awaited reunion for me. A close friend of mine whom I have not seen in about 11 years canceled a trip to Davao after his organization advised him to keep away from Mindanao. We in Mindanao all know it is not true that the island is dangerous, but outsiders do not. Since many of them base their opinion on what we in media put out, it stands to reason that we should be more selective in our choice of stories and photos. As yesterday proves, though, we still have a lot of work to do in this department.
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IS IT SAFE?
Mindanao Daily Mirror, October 10, 2001

Quite a number of ex-pats have approached me over the past days to ask me if I know of any specific threats to them in light of the US-led war against terrorism. Many are afraid that they could become targets of terrorists who may have made their way into the city or, as is feared in Indonesia, they could fall victim to violent mass protests against the US' retaliatory attacks on Afghanistan. I had no answer so I asked City Hall consultant Atty. Antonio Llamas, and he said the situation "could go both ways."

-oOo-

Before expats pack up, however, Llamas said the city government is doing its best to make sure that no terrorists enter the city. "I personally feel safe here," he said, meaning to the best of his knowledge terrorist groups like the Abu Sayyaf are either not here or do not pose a threat. With the police conducting checkpoints there is minimal chance that lawless groups could pene-trate the city.

-oOo-

What Llamas is afraid of is that popular sentiment against the US could grow and boil over into mass actions that could turn violent. Worldwide there is a growing resentment at the US for attacking one of the poorest countries in the world, and the fact that it is an Islamic state means Muslims worldwide can get polarized on the issue. Here is where Llamas feels things can go both ways, with many in the Islamic world being more sympathetic to Afghanistan.

-oOo-

But Llamas also offers words of comfort: here in Davao City the situation is a little different, with the Muslim community traditionally having cooler heads and opting for peace. "At the height of the Estrada government's war with the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) last year the Muslims held their peace," Llamas said, adding he feels confident the same attitude will prevail this time around.

-oOo-

Just the same, Llamas said the city government is working at the grassroots level through the deputy mayors to nip any violent moves in the bud. His word to the expat community: it's safe here. Everything is under control.

-oOo-

But as I write this piece I am also getting wind of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte's statement confirming the presence of a number of Abu Sayyaf members in the city. He would not give the exact number, or even their purpose here, but Duterte implied that he has things under control. I guess all this means that we can never take the security we have for granted; as government always says, we all must be vigilant.

-oOo-

I myself feel it is safer here than in Manila where there are more targets for terrorists to take down. That's why I think it was rather unfair of the US government to issue a travel advisory all but banning travel to Mindanao. If anything, it is the Philippines that should be issuing a travel advisory urging Pinoys to avoid the US.
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POSITIVE SIDE
Mindanao Daily Mirror, October 8, 2001

If the September 11 terrorist attacks on the US have any positive sides at all, it is that Davao City could benefit from the fear of travel now prevailing among former intrepid flyers worldwide. During yesterday's Club 888 media forum at The Marco Polo, Davao, hotel general manager Hartmut Ballin said corporate clients in Manila - which are one of the hotel's main markets - are canceling or postponing trips abroad and are instead looking for alternatives within the Philippines. "They have to get together (to meet)," Ballin said, but they do not want to go abroad (like Hong Kong) for two reasons: fear that terrorists could strike again and the need to control expenses.

-oOo-

"There are indications that Manila businesses are going to come down here (to Davao City) instead of overseas" for corporate meetings, Ballin said. Apparently there is less concern about flying within the Philippines, and so businesses are looking for resort hotels within the country in which to hold their meetings. This is also in spite of the P300 surcharge that airlines have begun implementing. "Davao City can benefit from this," Ballin said, adding we can be a preferred destination for such corporate meetings.

-oOo-

Last week in the same forum Ballin said The Marco Polo, Davao has not received any major cancellations yet, something that he said had "surprised" him. September was in fact a "good month," although it was impossible to tell what October would be like. Now with these "indications" of businesses scouting for local destinations we in Davao get a chance to turn the dire situation around. Yesterday Ballin said every Davaoeño must become an "ambassador" for the city: "Everyone has to sell the city," he said, adding he believes the hotel industry here "will be OK" as long as we snag these corporate meetings.

-oOo-

TEXT VIRUS. No one is calling it that, but what happened in a number of private schools in Metro Manila last Tuesday may very well have been mass hysteria. Education Secretary Raul Roco, in a morning TV show, noted that the "flu outbreak" occurred only in private schools, with "not a single case" reported from a public school. He seems to believe that the "virus" was imaginary, spread through text messages to which the rich have access. The students may have "contracted" the illness when they read that a flu outbreak was occurring, imagining that they, too, were sick. That's mass hysteria, in which people actually fall ill when they see their peers getting sick. Ruth Engs, an Indiana University applied health science professor, notes that schools are "ideal settings" for the appearance of mass hysteria.

-oOo-

In a feature story appearing in the Indiana University's website, Engs says during the past three decades most cases of mass hysteria have taken in place in schools. "The majority of outbreaks are attributed by the victims to toxic fumes, gases, chemicals or environmental pollutants... Odor seems to be the number one factor," Engs says. "There was a case in which 17 adolescents and four teachers became sick from 'toxic fumes' in their classrooms, and no evidence of toxic gas or pathogen was found."

-oOo-

Engs adds: "Other characteristics can include: sudden onset of dramatic symptoms, with both rapid spread and rapid recovery; a triggering stimulant identified by the victims as a toxic gas or chemical, bug bites or environmental pollutants; victims who aren't sick until they see another victim become ill; underlying psychological or physical stress that can be caused by hot weather, crowding, boredom or other factors; and victims' perceived lack of emotional or social support." Engs says victims can relapse, experiencing a renewal of symptoms after apparent recovery from an earlier episode.

-oOo-

The Department of Health had itself said no flu outbreak - or, as many preferred to believe, a biological weapon attack - had occurred, adding the number of cases was within normal range. I guess it's safe to say that the text menace had struck again. When will we ever learn to use the medium wisely?
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CONGRATS!
Mindanao Daily Mirror, October 1, 2001

First of all, congratulations are in order for the Mindanao Daily Mirror for bagging eight awards - the most for any publication - at the third Catholic Mass Media Awards held last Saturday. My kumare Ayan Mellejor won for best news reporting on environment and natural resources, Judy Merquita for best news reporting on patriotism and political participation, Bert Tesorero for best column on environment and natural resources, Bert Tomas for best new photography on patriotism and political participation, my kumpare Roland Jumawan for best news photography on family life, and Arlene Pasaje for best editorial cartoons on environment and natural resources, patriotism and political participation, and family life. Last year the Mirror failed to send in any entries, and so winning so many this year means so much to all of us.

-oOo-

The good news is that so far no major cancellations have been made by visitors to Davao City. According to Department of Tourism regional spokesperson Roger Layson during last week's Club 888 Forum, tourists still come to Davao in spite of the global terrorism scare after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington. The bad news is that the DOT still has no idea what October and the rest of the year will look like, although Layson is conceding that things are not looking so bright for the tourism industry. Part of it is the pervading fear of flying: in the US and elsewhere people are flying only when absolutely necessary. Traveling, both for business and for pleasure, is at an all-time low, and this has direct bearing on the tourism industry all over the world.

-oOo-

The situation in Davao and the rest of Mindanao is compounded by the Japanese government's recent travel advisory urging its nationals to avoid going to Mindanao - even though the terrorist attacks were made on the US and not the Philippines. In my opinion travel advisories are always overstated, the issuing government always overrating the threat in certain localities. If anything, the Philippine government should be issuing a travel advisory urging Pinoys to avoid the US and other "first world countries" because they are the prime targets for terror attacks. Justified or not, however, Mindanao stands to lose big-time from the Japanese advisory because Japan is our number one tourist market. Worse, Layson said the other countries will probably follow Japan's lead.

-oOo-

The DOT, however, is not going to sit around and sulk at our misfortunes. Almost immediately after the attacks on the US, it launched (or relaunched, since we've heard of this many times before) a campaign to get Pinoys to visit tourist spots right here in our own country. "We want to urge Filipinos to travel. We want them to see the Philippines first before they go abroad," Layson said. This is so true. Right here in our own backyard there are so many tourist spots that we rarely, if ever, go to. The other night at Jack's Ridge I overheard a woman, apparently from Manila, saying she had been all over the world but has never been around the country until now. Those of us with money think nothing is worth seeing in our own country and proceed to spend on trips abroad. If only that money were spent at our own tourist spots!
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